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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 28, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Duck River Bill Progresses (WKOM Audio 3:49)

Yesterday, the Government Operations Committee in the Tennessee House voted on the Duck River Scenic Waterway Bill as it progresses toward a vote on the full House floor. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy spoke with Representative Kip Capley about the bill…

Alexander’s Mattress World to Close (MainStreetMaury)

A staple in downtown Columbia since 1987, Alexander’s Mattress World announced it will close either Friday, March 31 or once all of its inventory has been sold. 

Owner Ronnie Ezell, along with his wife Kelly, are stepping away from the store to lighten their workloads after a tumultuous past couple of years.

“It is very difficult as a single, standalone mattress store to make a living. That, along with my wife and I both having some physical issues in the last year, made this a tough decision, but the right decision,” Ronnie said. “This has been the hardest year of my life in terms of my physical and mental wellbeing and in the last six months business has basically died.”

While online shopping and bed-in-a-box has taken over the industry, the Ezells and Alexanders stood strong for as long as possible, all while continuing to serve the Columbia and Maury County communities. 

“Serving this community has been such a blessing and a joy for many years, but physically I just can’t continue to do it,” Ronnie said. “We’ll miss helping people in our community and donating to the places we have always supported, and I’m personally going to miss Rotary – even though I’ve not been able to be there over the past few months due to those issues.” 

Ronnie, who worked under founder Rick Alexander for 30 years, said he learned to be humble and to give back when he could from his former boss, and that he served him and his family well when the favor needed to be returned.

Kelly fell ill with COVID-19 and the impact the Ezells had on the community was immediately returned to them.

“When Kelly was sick with COVID-19, we saw such a huge outpouring of love – blood and plasma, too. That is the kind of thing we are going to miss. It’s been humbling to own this business,” Ronnie said. 

The former Polk Theatre building on 8th St. in Columbia is now available for rent, according to Ronnie. The landlords are open to new tenants, and Ronnie said he hopes to see a new mattress store in the building soon.

“That’s the hope,” he said. “This is a very special building and a very special place to us and this community.” 

The store is offering deeply discounted merchandise, sometimes as low as at cost for cash customers and will be open until Friday, March 31 or until their current inventory is sold out. 

FNP’s Join MRMG (Press Release)

Family Nurse Practitioner, Millicent Rooker, FNP-BC-C, has joined Maury Regional Medical Group (MRMG) Primary Care in Spring Hill.

Rooker is a family nurse practitioner certified through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and board certified through The American Nurses Credentialing Center. She received her master’s degree in nursing from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of North Alabama in Florence, Alabama. Rooker’s experience includes working in Maury Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department for nearly three years, as well as clinical experience in a primary and urgent care practice.

 At MRMG Primary Care, Rooker will provide her services in collaboration with Nathanael Lafferty, MD. The two will work together as a care team to manage a cohort of patients. This collaboration allows for an enhanced patient experience and communication with access for same day sick appointments and health maintenance visits.

The practice is located at 5421 Main Street in Spring Hill. For more information, call 931.486.2500 or visit

Family Nurse Practitioner, Martha Kristin Woodside, FNP, has joined Maury Regional Medical Group and will provide services in both Hohenwald and Mt. Pleasant.

Woodside received her master’s degree in nursing from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a bachelor’s degree in nursing from American Sentinel University in Denver, Colorado and an associate’s degree in nursing from Columbia State Community College in Columbia, Tennessee. Prior to joining Maury Regional Medical Group, Woodside was a registered nurse for five years, with two years at Maury Regional Medical Center. She has experience in areas of surgery, wound care, pediatrics and obstetrics. Woodside will see patients at both Lewis Health Center in Hohenwald and Maury Regional Medical Group Primary Care in Mt. Pleasant.

 At Lewis Health Center, Woodside, joins Jawaid Kamal, MD, Nicky Edwards, FNP-C, Ashley Hancock, CPNP-C, and Bailee M. Horton, FNP-C. To learn more about Lewis Health Center and the services available, visit or call 931.796.4901.

At Maury Regional Medical Group Primary Care in Mt. Pleasant, Woodside joins Dianne Davis, FNP-C. To learn more about MRMG Primary Care in Mt. Pleasant and the services available, visit or call 931.379.5821.

Mule Day Queen (MainStreetMaury)

With Columbia’s annual Mule Day right around the corner, visitors can expect traditional events such as the Mule Wagon Train, live music, Liars’ Contest and the Mule Day Parade, among others.

Many of these events will be attended by 2023 Mule Day Queen Addyson Codling, who took home the title last month. Codling, a junior at Columbia Academy, moved to Columbia three years ago.

Despite being fairly new to Mule Town, Codling said last month’s pageant was her fifth overall.

“It’s like having a job,” Codling said, who is originally from Franklin.

After moving to Columbia, Codling was encouraged to get involved with the Mule Day pageant to meet new people. In addition to being the newly named Mule Day Queen, Codling also currently holds the titles of Miss Maury County and Maury County’s Fairest of the Fair, whose mission is to promote agriculture awareness and education.

Codling admits nerves get to everyone, including herself.

“I go in knowing it’s not just about the crown, it’s about the impact I can make on the community and meeting new people,” she said.

After graduation, Codling said she plans to go to Belmont University to get her degree in interior design, before getting her real estate license, after which she plans to restore homes in Columbia.

“Even though I’m not a Columbia native, I appreciate Mule Day for the traditional values of integrity and hard work,” she said.

Codling’s event schedule includes riding the Mule Wagon Train on Wednesday, March 29, hosting Miss Mule Day on Thursday, March 30, and attending the Liars’ Contest on Friday, March 31. On Saturday, Codling will join her Mule Day Queens runners-up in the annual parade.

“Unless you have participated in a pageant or know someone, you will never know how much work and integrity goes into the events,” she said.

Where’s Maury the Mule? (MainStreetMaury)

The Maury County Chamber & Economic Alliance kicked off their annual shop local passport adventure, “Where’s Maury the Mule?” last week. This event, presented by Stan McNabb Chevrolet of Columbia, encourages people to discover, explore, and support small businesses across Maury County.

Maury Alliance launched this event in 2016 to support local businesses and provide a fun activity for families during spring break and Mule week. “Where’s Maury the Mule?” is just one initiative from the Maury Alliance to help support the small business community, but it is one that both people and businesses look forward to each year. The event has grown every year since its inception and is now a two-week event with 35 participating businesses.

“I’ve lived in Maury County my whole life and discovered many new businesses while participating in Where’s Maury the Mule last year. It was my first time to participate in that event and me and a friend went to 30 businesses in a single day!” said Marvin Russel, the 2022 grand-prize winner.

Those interested in joining the search for Maury the Mule this year can pick up a passport from event sponsor Stan McNabb Chevrolet of Columbia, Maury Alliance, or any of the 35 participating businesses, beginning Monday, March 27. Once you have a passport, visit as many local businesses as possible, find the Maury the Mule image hidden at each business, and get your passport stamped or signed by an employee.

Visiting at least five businesses will enter you into a participation drawing for Local First gift cards.

Visiting 20 businesses qualifies you for the grand-prize drawing. If you visit 25 businesses, you will get a double entry into the grand prize drawing, and if you visit 30 businesses, you will get at triple entry into the grand prize drawing.

To be entered into the grand prize drawing, passports must be turned in at the Maury Alliance office by Tuesday, April 11 at 5 pm. Winners will be randomly selected on Tuesday, April 12. Two lucky people will win the Grand Prize – which is $450 in gift cards from participating businesses. Maury Alliance’s Local First Gift Cards will also be given away.

Visit for more information.

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 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.”



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

…And now, news from around the state…

Nashville School Shooting (TennesseeLookout)

Three children and three adult staff members are dead after a mass shooting event Monday at The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville’s Green Hills neighborhood.

Among the victims are three nine-year-old children: Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney. The adult victims are Cynthia Peak, 61,  Mike Hill, 61, and Katherine Koonce, 60. Police said Peak was a substitute teacher, Hill a custodian and Koonce Covenant’s head of school.

The shooter, identified as 28-year-old Nashville native Audrey Elizabeth Hale, was killed by responding officers, police said. Hale is believed to be a former student of the school, Nashville Police Chief John Drake said. Police said they have found a “manifesto,” a map detailing entry points into the school and other materials. Local and federal law enforcement on Monday afternoon continued a search of the Nashville home Hale shares with parents and said they have found no prior criminal history.

Drake identified Hale as transgender, and said Hale may have had plans to target another school.

“It’s a very unfortunate situation,” Drake said of the tragic loss of life. He said he was moved to tears to see children being ushered out of the building following the shooting. “My heart goes out to the families of all six” victims.

All of the victims’ families have been notified, according to police. Families of students and staff gathered at a nearby church that served as a reunification center.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden on Monday morning also addressed the tragedy at separate public appearances.

“It’s sick … heartbreaking … a family’s worst nightmare” the president said. He called on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban and urged students and teachers to seek out counseling.

“We stand with Nashville in prayer,” Jill Biden said.

The shooting took place Monday morning inside the school where 209 students and 42 staff are present on a typical day. The school, operated by Covenant Presbyterian Church, is located in one of Nashville’s most affluent neighborhoods.

Nashville Police responded to a report of an active shooter incident made at 10:13 a.m., said Don Aaron, a police department spokesman.

At 10:27 a.m. the shooter was killed by two of a five-member police team that responded, he said.

Aaron said the shooter was armed with at least two assault rifles and a handgun. Hale entered by shooting through a side door at the school and went to the second floor, police said. The shooting took place on the second floor, who said the shooting took place in a “lobby type area,” not inside a classroom.

Drake said they believe two of the weapons were legally obtained in Nashville.

One officer suffered a hand injury from cut glass, Aaron said. “That is the only other injury I’m aware of,” he added.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center confirmed students from the pre-K-6th grade school on Burton Hills Road were transported to Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital, where they were pronounced dead. 

The private school had no onsite school resource officer, Aaron said. The school did have security cameras.

“There is video from the school we are viewing now to try and learn exactly how all of this happened,” Aaron said. 

Nashville Police plan to release video of officers confronting the shooter.

A nearby vehicle yielded clues to law enforcement about the shooter’s identity, the police chief said.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will investigate the officer-involved shooting portion of the investigation, while Nashville police will handle the larger shooting investigation, law enforcement officials said during a 2 p.m. briefing.

“It’s a horrible, senseless tragedy, and we will be here working with our partners to get through this,” said TBI Director David Rausch.

The Senate and House adjourned out of respect for the victims.

Gov. Bill Lee said on Twitter he is monitoring the situation.

“As we continue to respond, please join us in praying for the school, congregation and Nashville community,” Lee said.

The House Republican Caucus issued a statement calling the shooting deaths “a horrific act of violence carried out by a disturbed individual.”

Nashville Author Earns Medal (MauryCountySource)

Ann Patchett, Nashville resident and owner of Parnassus Books in Green Hills, was honored with a National Humanities Medal at the White House.

The 12 medal recipients include writers, historians, educators, and activists. National Humanities Medal honors an individual or organization whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens’ engagement with history or literature, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources.

In talking about Patchett, the White House stated, “Ann Patchett, for putting into words the beauty, pain, and complexity of human nature. With her best-selling novels and essays, and her bookstore, readers from around the world see themselves in the pages of Ann Patchett’s books that take people to places of the heart and feed the imagination of our Nation.”

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Following the shooting that took place Monday, March 27 at The Covenant School in Nashville, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has established the Caring for Covenant Fund to manage donations.

Gifts can be made to the Fund at

All donations made to the Fund, minus credit card fees, will be directed to The Covenant School to support the healing of those affected by this tragedy.

“Together, we will send a message of love and compassion to the entire Covenant community,” says The Community Foundation in a press release.


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