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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for March 7, 2023

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

Original sources are cited.

We start with local news…

Schools Get STEM Grants (Press Release)

J. E. Woodard Elementary and Randolph Howell Elementary both

have been awarded grants from the Tennessee Valley Authority, in

partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers, Inc., a TVA retiree

organization, to develop science, technology, engineering, and math

education projects to help spark student interest in future careers in

STEM-related fields.

Teachers across TVA’s seven-state region applied for funding of

up to $5,000 for projects, and 238 applications were selected.

“We are excited to have this funding to support hands-on activities

and programs that help students develop skills that can apply to real-

world problem solving,” said Amy Roberts, CTE Director for Maury

County Schools. “We want to open doors to high quality, rewarding jobs

for our students, and the grant will help us introduce them to these

subjects from a young age.”

Schools who are awarded grants must receive their power from a

local power company served by TVA. Woodard and Howell Elementary

are both served by Columbia Power and Water System.

J. E. Woodard Elementary School will use its $5000 grant to get

students engaged with nature and protecting our environment. Part of

enjoying nature is learning to protect our environment. This will be

accomplished by sharing the marvels of nature, highlighting/partnering

with National Parks, and utilizing STEM content/challenges that focus

on the environment. Learning will be framed with literature &

immersive experiences. The students will be challenged to find beauty in

nature & share their discoveries. These discoveries will be displayed in

the school & in dedicated outdoor spaces. One of the inspirations is

“Camp Carol Ann”. Woodard’s principal, a passionate naturist has

extensive collections of artifacts from her years of outdoors adventures.

Those artifacts become the foundation for discussing rocks, fossils,

animal habitats, and mysteries of nature. Coupled with Camp Carol Ann

will be extensive learning guided by immersive studies of National

Parks, STEM challenges and a live STEAM event with challenges

revolving around real-life challenges faced by 6 different national parks.

In the end, our students will be identifying human impact on nature and

creating solutions that minimize that impact.

A $3500 grant awarded for Randolph Howell Elementary STEM

Schools Nature Trail will be a collaborative effort between students,

staff, families, and community partners. The intention of the project is to

create a natural and usable green space for both learning and community

enjoyment. They anticipate that all stakeholders will join together to

create a learning space that highlights local flora and fauna and provides

education about how to live within the natural world. This will be

achieved by creating the physical trail and installing attractive and

durable signage. This space will also include opportunities for meeting

the gross motor and sensory needs of our community. The anticipated

result is that students and community will have access to green learning

spaces within our rapidly expanding community.

“TVA is committed to supporting STEM education to help develop

today’s students into tomorrow’s engineers, scientists and IT

professionals,” said Jeannette Mills, TVA executive vice president and

chief external relations officer. “It’s inspiring to be able to contribute to

the innovators of the next generation.”

Since 2018, TVA and BVI have awarded nearly $5 million in

STEM grants to support local education.

A full list of grant recipients, and information on how to apply for

a future STEM grant can be found at

Midstate Classic (CDH)

Other than perhaps Mule Day, one of Columbia’s biggest events is the

always popular and competitive seventh annual Midstate Classic softball


The collegiate doubleheader, which kicks off Wednesday, March 15 at

Ridley Sports Complex, was part of Columbia City Council's study

session discussion this month, where the city will vote on a resolution to

accept $19,000 generated by sponsor donations to help fund the


Tickets to the Midstate Classic are $10 and available by contacting

Columbia Parks and Recreation at (931) 388-8119 or online


Parks and Recreation Director Mack Reagan said the event typically

sells out at about 2,000 seats. As of now, fewer than 500 tickets remain

to be sold, and the ones still available are going fast.

"It's going to be another big year, and everything is planned, itineraries

are set and right now we're working on the final details, such as meals,"

Reagan said. "Everything is set to go, and we are looking forward to a

great day. The only thing we can't control is the weather."

This year's games will once again feature the University of Tennessee

Lady Volunteers, who will face off against the Austin Peay State

University Governors beginning at 5:30 p.m.

"The University of Tennessee is bringing probably one of the best teams

in the country," Reagan said. "They are just unreal."

Earlier in the day, Columbia State Community College will face Motlow

Community College at 1 p.m.

In addition, Columbia Central High School will kick off the tournament

against Tullahoma High School starting at 10 a.m.

“I am so excited about this year’s Midstate Classic between the

Tennessee Lady Vols and Austin Peay State University Govs," Mayor

Chaz Molder said. "Once again, Columbia serves as the host site for one

of the most highly attended softball games in the state; and once again,

Ridley Sports Complex will serve as a showcase venue for this event.

"Most of all, I am proud of our team at the Parks and Recreation

Department for their good work in putting on this event every year and

helping our youth, in particular young women in our community, see

first-hand a collegiate sport being played in our community at a very

high level.”

Duck River Bills (CDH)

After a state House subcommittee's unanimous vote Tuesday in favor of

expanding protections to the Duck River, cautious optimism is settling in

for county and state elected leaders hoping to keep waters clean for the

“most biodiverse river in the world."

But lingering questions are keeping community advocates vigilant.

House Bill 0447, sponsored by Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, would

expand the state’s Class II Scenic status along the river in Maury

County, acting as a guardrail of protection.

With Maury County commissioners in tow Tuesday, Cepicky stood

before the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee

advocating for the expansion of protective boundaries for the Duck

River under the bill.

Subcommittee chairman, Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, said Tuesday,

the committee had seen a large run of contentious bills in the past couple

of weeks, but none with such support as the bill to protect Duck River.

“I never got as many emails as I got from your people in Maury

County,” Hulsey told Cepicky.

Cepicky told committee members that there was a time when the river

was not the most biodiverse, referring to when pollution from the former

Monsanto Chemical Company imperiled the river.

“It’s taken a long time to get this river back to where it was,” Cepicky

said. “We have already protected the eastern side as a class II pastoral

scenic waterway,” Cepicky said. “We’re asking to protect its western


Also leaning on the river’s use for outdoor recreation, Cepicky

punctuated his comments with the importance of protecting the fastest-

growing county in Tennessee — Maury County’s water source for “the

next hundred years.”

Maury County Commission Chairman Eric Previti, along with Mayor

Sheila Butt and other commissioners present at the subcommittee

meeting in Nashville, said “hats off” to citizens who voiced support for

the bill by sending almost 1,000 emails to elected leaders.

Rep. Chris Todd, R-Madison County, raised questions Tuesday about

how expanding the river's scenic status could create limitations to

agriculture under the new protections, though the bill would protect

existing agriculture developments with some exceptions.

While highlighting decades of progress to keep water protected from

pollutants, Todd said his other concern was property rights.

“Protecting this resource is very important,” Todd said. “But I’m always

concerned about property rights and how something is going to affect

someone else.”

Todd asked Cepicky about further ramifications for property owners

regarding land use and discharge of materials into rivers.

Cepicky deferred to TDEC's goal of maintaining water quality, stating

“their job is not to prohibit business or land use, but to protect the

water’s pristine nature.”

While the bill’s language focused on waterway protections, language for

the designation of Class II rivers prohibits activity such as mining,

timber harvesting and building of roads. 

Meanwhile in the Maury County community, some questions remain

about a lingering solid waste landfill proposal by Baton Rouge-based

Trinity Business Group, which has applied for multiple building permits

on the former Monsanto Chemical Company site through the Tennessee

Department of Environment and Conservation.

Last fall, community advocates moved swiftly to rally against the solid

waste landfill, including a tire recycling center, that would be located

approximately two miles from the Duck River at the Monsanto site. The

old Monsanto property is designated as a Superfund site, which is

mandated for EPA rehabilitation due to the presence of hazardous waste.

According to de facto expert and former Maury County Commissioner

Sue Stephenson, the Monsanto property contains four buried capped pits

containing phosphorus.

Elected leaders hope that the legislation will thwart landfill

developments, that could cause pollution of the biodiverse river.

Last fall, the Maury County Commission added further protections to the

Duck River by adopting the Jackson Law, a state law that would prohibit

the construction of landfills without the approval of city and county


Jeremy Hooper, TDEC Solid Waste Management representative, spoke

before the committee Tuesday, explaining that the bill would expand the

scenic status, which could in-turn challenge landfill development.

“I can speak to solid waste management,” Hooper said. “There is a two-

mile buffer [from the Duck River], in which solid waste landfills cannot

be permitted. If this [status] is extended to that, we’d have to consider

that in the permitting process.”

County Mayor Sheila Butt recently made five new appointments to the

existing Maury-Marshall Solid Waste Board at February’s commission

meeting, which will begin to seek solutions for new landfill sites.

The bill will be heard by the full House committee on March 8.

CSCC Performance Series (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College welcomes Appalachian Road Show

to the Cherry Theater on March 16 as part of the First Farmers

Performance Series.


Appalachian Road Show is a visionary acoustic ensemble, bringing new-

generation interpretations of traditional Americana, bluegrass and folk

songs, as well as offering innovative original music, all presented with a

common thread tied directly to the heart of the Appalachian regions of

the United States. Appalachian Road Show invites us to come and sit a

spell on its porch as the band shares its dynamic musicianship through

songs and stories emanating from the mountains and hollers of North

Carolina and Virginia to the coal mines of West Virginia and Kentucky. 

“We are excited to welcome this talented group of musicians to our

Performance Series,” said Bethany Lay, Columbia State vice president

for advancement and executive director of the Columbia State

Foundation. “Their authentic bluegrass sound is beloved by many, and

tickets are selling fast! Don't miss the opportunity to join the celebration

of genuine Appalachian music.”

Individual tickets are on sale for $30 each plus tax for adults and $20

each plus tax for Columbia State students. To charge tickets by phone

using a major credit card, call 931.540.2879 or purchase them in person

in Room 113 of the Pryor Administration Building on the Columbia

Campus, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

On the night of the performance, the box office opens at 6 p.m. in the

Kenneth and Ramona Cherry Theater, located in the Waymon L.

Hickman Building on the Columbia Campus. Theater doors open at 6:30

p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. The Columbia Campus is located at

1665 Hampshire Pike in Columbia.

For more information, visit


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


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 .

“The Mule Kick has become one of the great annual events for Maury

County, and we are honored to be involved again as presenting sponsor,”

said Brian K. Williams, chairman and chief executive officer of First

Farmers. “We’re thankful for the tremendous work of the Foundation in

helping to serve the health care needs of others throughout our region.”

In addition to presenting sponsor First Farmers and Merchants Bank,

sponsorships ranging from $350 to $2,500 are still available for those

who are interested in marketing exposure at this event. For additional

information, contact the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation at


To learn more about the Maury Regional Health Care Foundation, the

Mule Kick 5K & 1-Mile Trot or to make a direct gift to support the

mobile medical unit fund, visit

 Design Competition for City Flag (MainStreetMaury)

The City of Columbia has established a design competition to create an

official city flag and Columbia residents are invited to take part in the

process by submitting their original flag designs from now through

March 15 th .

The final, winning design will be announced on April 20. The City is

excited to give the public an opportunity to participate in the design

process, as it will reflect and symbolize our community. Designs can be

submitted on the City’s website at


All entries will be judged based on flag criteria presented in the

competition guidelines then narrowed down to three final designs. The

public will have a chance to vote, from April 1-15, on the final three

designs chosen by the Columbia Arts Council. The winning design will

reflect Columbia's pride, rich history, promising future and embody

what makes Columbia special and unique, using meaningful symbolism

and minimal color & design features.

“I couldn't be more excited about this flag design competition that will

result in the first official flag for the city of Columbia,” said Columbia

Mayor Chaz Molder. “A flag creates identity, establishes symbolism,

and promotes unity, and I can't wait to see the final product. Our

community is full of creative individuals from all walks of life, and I am

particularly pleased that this will be a public driven process. And, I am

also excited that this project is being led, in part, by Nathaniel Bliss, a

local Scout with Troop 111, who brought forward the idea as part of his

Eagle Scout project. I encourage all members of the community to

participate in what will be a project that will be historic in nature given

its long term, lasting effects.”

Nathaniel Bliss is eager to see the end result of this process.

"I chose the flag design competition as my Eagle Scout project because I

am interested in flags and what they represent, as well as the impact they

have on a community,” stated Bliss. “I recognized that Columbia did not

have a flag and felt it was time our city got one. A flag symbolizes a

city, its history, culture, and people of all backgrounds. It unifies the

community and provides something to rally around. As a proud resident

of Columbia, I thought our historic city deserved such an important


Basic rules and guidelines include but are not limited to: (1) Submit an

original flag design by March 15, 2023; (2) Competition is limited to

Columbia residents only; (3) No compensation will be given for any

designs submitted; (4) Only one entry per resident; and (5) All ages and

skill levels are welcome to participate.

For a complete list of rules and information regarding the Columbia Flag

Project, visit the City’s website at


And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by Oakes &

Nichols Funeral Home…

Mr. Thomas Harry Anderson, husband of Columbia native, Josephine

Elizabeth (Jo Beth) Folger passed away on March 2, 2023 in Los Altos,

California. A graveside service for Mr. Anderson will be held Saturday

at 11:00 A.M. at Williamsport Cemetery. Oakes & Nichols Funeral

Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

…And now, news from around the state…

Gas Prices (MainStreetMaury)

After moderate decreases in gas prices two weeks ago, pump prices

across the state saw quite a bit of variation. Today’s state gas price

average is three cents higher than last week’s. The Tennessee Gas Price

average is now $3.04 which is 15 cents less expensive than one month

ago and 77 cents less expensive than one year ago.  

 “This past week we experienced fluctuation in our gas prices across the

state, and it’s likely that we’ll continue to see this fluctuation throughout

the spring driving season,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman, AAA –

The Auto Club Group. “Warmer weather is encouraging people to

travel, which increases demand for gasoline. It’s also very common this

time of year to see fluctuating gas prices as this is the time of year when

refineries conduct seasonal maintenance and begin the process of

producing summer blend gasoline, which is more expensive to produce

than winter blend gasoline.” 

Quick Facts

 54% of Tennessee gas stations have prices below $3.00 

 The lowest 10% of pump prices are $2.84 for regular unleaded 

 The highest 10% of pump prices are $3.36 for regular unleaded

 Tennessee is the 7th least expensive market in the nation 

Daylight Savings Time (Tennessean)

Like it or not, the annual ritual of changing our clocks to daylight saving

time is coming at 2 a.m., Sunday, March 12.  

Since most of our computers, smartphones and DVRs automatically

change the time for us, it's not as much of a chore as it used to be. But

unless you have smart appliances, microwaves and ovens are among

the household items that will need a manual adjustment.

We all lose an hour of sleep when going to DST, as the day is only 23

hours long.

When clocks go forward, that one hour of daylight is basically shifted

from morning to evening as daylight saving time begins. We won't go

back to standard time until Sunday, Nov. 5.

Only two states don't observe it – Hawaii and Arizona. Other non-

observers include American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin


According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in the past

five years, 19 states have "enacted legislation or passed resolutions to

provide for year-round daylight saving time, if Congress were to allow

such a change, and in some cases, if surrounding states enact the same

legislation. Because federal law does not currently allow full-time DST,

Congress would have to act before states could adopt changes."

Changes Happening in DCS (WPLN)

The Department of Children’s Services commissioner gave an update to

the legislature that showed improvements to the troubled system.

Margie Quin went before the state’s Finance, Ways, and Means

Committee, last week, as part of the department’s budget request.

Quin highlighted several ways that DCS has made changes already this

year, and how more funding could help it continue that upward


“We’re not doing all that we want to be able to do,” Quin says. “And

we’re here looking for a better solution.”

She says one of the biggest victories is that kids are no longer sleeping

in office buildings, except for in Shelby County, which includes


“I’m very hopeful that in the next 30 to 60 days that that will be solved

as well,” Quin says. “And that no more children are sleeping in offices,

state office buildings.”

Instead, kids are being placed in transitional homes.

“Obviously, this has been a very difficult season for DCS,” Quin says.

“The need is critical now.”

Children sleeping in offices across the state was a symptom of several

problems within the system that have become more public over the last


That includes a shortage of foster care placements and a shortage of case


Quin says the worker shortage has also started to show signs of a

turnaround. The department has gotten more than 500 applications for

case manager positions since increasing pay a few weeks ago.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival is returning to The Park at

Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin, TN on September 23 & 24.

Ahead of the official lineup announcement, fans can purchase tickets

during a blind presale today, March 7th  beginning at 10 a.m. CT.

2022 marked the annual festival’s eighth year with headlining sets from

Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Jon Batiste and The Avett Brothers

alongside wares and food from local artisans, chefs, brewers and more.

A true family-friendly experience, festival-goers are going to want to

mark their calendars for this year’s event.

As we wait for the 2023 lineup, who are you hoping will be the

headliners this year?

Grab your tickets today and sign up to be the first to know about all

things Pilgrimage at


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