top of page

Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for May 10, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Man Charged with Vehicular Homicide (MauryCountySource)

A man is facing charges after authorities say he is responsible for a crash that claimed the life of a 64-year-old woman in Maury County on May 4th.

Ricardo Walker, 34, has been charged in Thursday’s crash that happened around 11 p.m. on Old Highway 43 and Lawrenceburg Highway.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol crash report states that Walker was driving in the southbound lanes on Lawrenceburg Highway in a 2012 Dodge Challenger when he failed to travel over a curve. The Challenger then exited the roadway through a ditch, went airborne, and overturned in a field.

Before coming to a rest, the Challenger struck a 1995 Ford Windstar Van in the northbound lanes on Highway 43.

The passenger inside the van, 64-year-old Vivian Walls, was killed during the crash. The driver of the van, a 60-year-old woman, was injured in the crash. Her current condition is unknown. The THP report states that neither of the victims were wearing a seatbelt.

Walker was charged with vehicular homicide.

Maury County Government Hires (CDH)

Maury County and Mt. Pleasant governmental bodies have welcomed new faces into its respective finance departments earlier this year, and a new Mt. Pleasant municipal judge was appointed.

Rebecca Holden, the county’s youngest-ever person to serve as the Maury County Office of Financial Management assistant director, took over the responsibility after Shiphrah Cox, left the position last year to join the Mt. Pleasant finance department.

Cox was hired to serve as the Mt. Pleasant City Finance Manager.

The new hires are settling into the job just in time for budget season.

While Holden is the youngest assistant director for the county at 22 years old, Lukonen was also the youngest when he was hired as director in 2017 as well.

Holden has worked closely with Lukonen and Cox, as a senior accountant for Maury County, attending commission and school board meetings, learning budgetary practices and the process of making governmental decisions most take for granted.

“It’s been a really great learning experience,” Holden said.

It was in college that Holden said she really blossomed into the leader that prepared her way for her new role with the county.

Holden earned her masters degree in 2020, entering the Maury County Finance Office during COVID. Lukonen said she was exposed to more and more challenges, but went forward with her job, relentlessly.

“She clearly cares about doing a great job and doing it right,” Lukonen said. “A lot of education can be taught, but you can’t teach hard work. Rebecca has both things.”

Similarly, Cox is bringing a strong history of work ethic into her new role as Mt. Pleasant’s Finance Director.

Cox originally took her leave with the county in October to work as finance director for an out of state company, but a recommendation for her leadership in Mt. Pleasant, led her back to the government financial sphere.

Starting in her new role on March 1, Cox said she is learning the difference between county and city municipalities, which will require learning how Mt. Pleasant’s finances are set up and differ in policy from the county.

“The challenge is to learn these things as quickly as possible,” Cox said.

Mt. Pleasant City Manager Kate Collier said Cox's quality work is evident in her past role.

“I had worked with her [when she was with the county],” Collier said. “I have seen her, and she’s going to be fabulous on this job.”

Along with director Lukonen and staff, both Cox and Holden have been tested through challenging financial times in Maury County, facing the task of helping to clear state financial audits, in addition to a county strained by the pandemic and a hard-fought budget season that resulted in a 31-cent tax increase for property owners this fiscal year.

Kevin Latta was appointed as Mt. Pleasant municipal city judge, replacing Judge Jake Wolaver, who had served since 2006.

Collier said Latta was chosen by the county commission in December, under a new judicial appointment process. Latta was selected from eleven applicants for the vacant position and was sworn in by the Honorable Caleb Bayless, 22nd Judicial District Circuit Court Judge, in a brief ceremony on Feb. 27. He began presiding over the City’s Municipal Court on March 8.  

Latta previously served as both an Assistant District Attorney General under former District Attorney Mike Bottoms and as an Assistant Public Defender under former District Public Defender Claudia Jack. Most recently, Latta has served as an Associate Attorney at the Columbia firm Parks, Bryant & Snyder, PLLC at which he will maintain his private practice while serving in the part-time position of Municipal Judge.  

The city judge handles invoices for services, making judgments on speeding tickets, property maintenance code compliance and similar decisions.

Maury Regional Heart Care (Press Release)

Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) has received the American College of Cardiology’s National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR) Chest Pain  ̶  MI Registry Gold Performance Achievement Award for 2023.

 The award recognizes MRMC’s commitment to providing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients as outlined by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association. MRMC was one of only 56 hospitals nationwide to receive the honor.

 “We take our commitment to delivering rapid, state-of-the-art heart attack care very seriously, and we’re proud to earn this award again,” said Maury Regional Health CEO Martin Chaney, MD. “The care provided to patients experiencing a cardiac emergency by our physicians, nurses and entire heart team saves lives. Responding quickly and getting those patients into our cardiac catheterization laboratory at MRMC as soon as possible is critical, and I’m proud of our exceptional door-to-balloon time average.”

 In order to receive the Chest Pain  ̶  MI Registry Gold Performance Achievement Award, hospitals must demonstrate sustained achievement in the Chest Pain  ̶  MI Registry for two consecutive years and perform at the top level for specific performance measures.

 Full participation in the registry empowers health care provider teams to consistently treat heart attack patients according to the most current, science-based guidelines and establishes a national standard for understanding and improving the quality, safety and outcomes of care provided for patients with coronary artery disease, specifically high-risk heart attack patients.

 “It is an honor to award Maury Regional Medical Center with the Gold Performance Award for their valuable national leadership and dedication to meeting comprehensive performance measures in patient care,” said Michael C. Kontos, MD, FACC, chair of the NCDR Chest Pain – MI Registry Steering Subcommittee and cardiologist at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. “The receipt of this award indicates that Maury Regional Medical Center remains committed to providing top quality, guideline-driven care for heart attack patients. Their success ensures patients are receiving the highest quality cardiovascular care.”

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than 800,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year. A heart attack occurs when a blood clot in a coronary artery partially or completely blocks blood flow to the heart muscle.

 MRMC’s emergency responders are equipped to begin treatment immediately and relay vital information to the hospital while in route to the Emergency Department. Physicians and staff are then waiting for the patient and can begin treatment immediately in the cardiac catheterization lab to open the blocked vessel or, in severe cases, open heart surgery.

 The communication and rapid response have led to MRMC’s current 53-minute average door-to-balloon time — the time between a patient’s arrival at the hospital to when a blocked artery is opened — according to Maury Regional Health Administrative Director of Cardiovascular Services and Assistant Chief Nursing Officer Cathy Malone. That is 37 minutes ahead of the standard time recommended by American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association guidelines (90 minutes). 

MRMC’s newly renovated, state-of-the-art cardiac catheterization lab features a team of expert cardiologists who work in tandem with a highly skilled and experienced team and cutting-edge technology to investigate heart conditions and perform an array of interventional procedures.

 Learn more about the heart services offered at MRMC at

Santa Fe School To Celebrate Centennial (WKOM)

Santa Fe School in rural Maury County will be celebrating their 100th birthday this year on Saturday, May 20th from 2-5pm. A parade of classes through the years will start at 2:00 and come through Santa Fe, down Fly Road and by the school. Organizers are expecting many former alumni to participate. Everyone is invited to come watch the parade and join in on the fun afterwards. The event is free. There will be bounce houses, cupcakes, food trucks, guest speakers and school tours. Once the event is over at 5:00 everyone who would like can make their way to the gym for the Santa Fe Alumni Basketball game starting at 5:30. The cost of the alumni game will be $5. 

“I went to Santa Fe School K-12th grade and I am so excited to be back teaching here. All of my family went to SFS, my parents, grandparents, me and now my own children”, said teacher Rachel Kennedy. “There really is something special about this town and this school. I feel that the school is what holds this community together. There is something we say ‘Once a wildcat, always a wildcat!’ and that is so true. If you ever attend a basketball game you will certainly see that. We bleed black and gold here. 

Fast Pace Clinic Opening (WKOM Audio 2:00)

Yesterday, Fast Pace Urgent Care walk-in clinic in Columbia held a ribbon cutting. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy attended the grand opening and spoke with nurse practitioner Treavor Hawkins…

CSCC Graduates Anesthesia Students (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College recently honored eight anesthesia technology graduates in a pinning ceremony in the Waymon L. Hickman Building.


“Our graduates have completed a very rigorous program that has tested and challenged their cognitive abilities, their psychomotor skills and behaviors in clinical rounds to assist with the safe delivery of anesthesia for the members of our community,” said Sue Christian, Columbia State program director and assistant professor of anesthesia technology. “Several of our students have already secured employment and Columbia State is fortunate enough to have incredible employers in our service region!”

The Anesthesia Technology Associate of Applied Science degree academic plan involves two or more semesters of general education coursework followed by a 12-month, three semester, series of core courses designed to provide classroom and clinical-based competencies which provide students with the skills required for credentialing exam success and immediate in-field employment.

“Columbia State sponsors the only accredited anesthesia technology program in Tennessee,” said Dr. Kae Fleming, Columbia State dean of the Health Sciences Division. “These graduates will help continue to raise awareness of the profession and the important contribution formally educated technologists make for an anesthesia team.”

Anesthesia technologists support the licensed anesthesia provider with the acquisition, preparation and application of various types of equipment required for the delivery of anesthesia. Other job responsibilities of the anesthesia technologist include maintaining the anesthesia machine, assisting with vascular access and regional anesthesia procedures, troubleshooting equipment, assisting with difficult airways, performing point of care lab tests and operating rapid infusers. More advanced duties might include the operation of autotransfusion equipment or intra-aortic balloon pumps. 

AAHSMC Fundraiser (Press Release)

The African American Heritage Society of Maury County announces a fundraising luncheon for the creation of an African American museum and cultural center in Columbia.

The fundraising luncheon is scheduled for Saturday, May 27, 2023, at 11:45am at West 7th Church of Christ, located at 405 West 7th Street in Columbia. Tickets to the luncheon are free, though a $10 donation for the catered lunch is suggested.

Funds raised from this event will help establish an African American museum and cultural center in Maury County. Jo Ann McClellan, President of the African American Heritage Society of Maury County, serves as the featured speaker for this event. Her presentation is titled “Making a Way for Themselves: Faith, Family, Education, and Entrepreneurship” and showcases the courageous stories of African Americans in Maury County. The event is co-sponsored by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Columbia.

“The Society’s vision is an indoor museum space to tell the stories of the struggles and triumphs of African Americans," said McClellan. "The exhibits and programming will include stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to build the African American community by establishing churches, schools, businesses, and benevolent organizations."

Other presenters at the event include Representative Scott Cepicky, the Reverend Father Chris Bowhay from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, and Bishop Phoebe Roaf from the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee.

“St. Peter’s is delighted to be a part of raising the voices and stories of resilience, success, and influence in the African American community in Columbia, both before and after the Civil War,” said Bowhay. “The experience of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been particularly important to the African American Community in Maury County and has played a vital role not only in religion but also in education.”

To register for the event, please visit by May 15, 2023.

Founded in 2012, the African American Heritage Society of Maury County is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to preserve the heritage and history of African Americans of Maury County, Tennessee.

Homestead Festival (Press Release)

The second annual Homestead Festival will be held June 2 & 3 in Columbia on Rory Feek’s farm.

Combining music and meaning, the two-day affair features musical performances, from Rory Feek, Collin Raye, Craig Campbell, and Paul Overstreet, as well as masterclass lectures by prominent homesteading community leaders such as Dr. Temple Grandin, Joel Salatin, Jill Winger, and many others.

Buy tickets at

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

Mrs. Irene Wertz Race, 79, retired employee of Vanderbilt University, died Friday, May 5, 2023, at her home.  A memorial service for Mrs. Race will be conducted Saturday, May 13, at 3:00 P.M. with visitation from 1:00-3:00 at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Travel a Boon in Tennessee (MainStreetMaury)

Tennessee received a state-record $27.5 billion in spending by travelers in 2022 according to preliminary data from U.S. Travel and Tourism Economics, Gov. Bill Lee announced in Pigeon Forge on Tuesday.

Among the top 25 states, Tennessee is the fastest-growing state in travel spending since 2018 and has risen from 14th to 11th in the nation for travel spending.

Tennessee’s travel spending total marked a $3 billion increase (14 percent) over 2021, according to U.S. Travel.

“Tourism is a top driver of economic growth and job creation across our state, giving Tennesseans even greater opportunities to thrive,” Lee said in a news release from the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development. “As we celebrate another record year for tourism in Tennessee, we’re committed to ensuring that our state remains a top destination for travel.”

The leisure and hospitality industry plays an essential role in Tennessee’s economy and employs over 352,000 Tennesseans. As the state’s second-leading industry, tourism is a significant source of tax revenue for Tennessee contributing $1.8 billion in state sales tax collections in 2022.

Cheekwood Exhibit (Tennessean)

The newest exhibition at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens arrived in Nashville months ago in two large shipping containers full of crates containing pieces and parts. It took trucks, boats and cranes to get it here, and teams of people putting in thousands of man hours to install it.

But before any of that, it took the artistic vision of British artist Bruce Munro to conceptualize it and bring it to light — literally.

"LIGHT: Bruce Munro" opened May 4 at Cheekwood and represents a 10-year anniversary of the last time Munro exhibited at Cheekwood. In 2013, the massive illumination exhibition drew visitors from all 50 states and more than 25 countries.

One of the centerpieces of the exhibition is "Forest of Light," which Munro originally created in 1992 and has expanded upon for the Cheekwood installation. It includes 80 miles of fiber optic cable, 51 LED light sources, 12,750 frosted glass spheres, 12,750 stems in 51 pods and 250 stems per pod.

It is only one of eight exterior installations, and it is accompanied by three interior displays in the mansion's main gallery.

"It took me 12 years to get 'Field of Light' from a sketch book to our field at home," Munro told The Tennessean. "There are not many places in the world you can do it to the scale you can here. Now it's 'Forest of Light' so it will be an entirely new experience for people."

In addition to illuminating the grounds and gardens at Cheekwood, Munro says its also about spending time in nature because, as he says, "gardens are good for you."

The artist remembered working on a project where he saw visitors walk into a garden and walk out at the end of the day looking different.

"They looked more fulfilled. Happier. Being surrounded by beauty in nature is what we all need more of in our lives," he said. "I think doctors should be prescribing a visit to Cheekwood. It's a lot better than taking a load of pharmaceutical products. Hopefully what we are doing here is adding a little bit of something positive to that already bigger story, which is nature."

Jane MacLeod, president and CEO of Cheekwood, said during a staff walk-through of the exhibition, she kept hearing gasps from her staffers.

"It's a very different show," she said. "It's equally mesmerizing and spectacular. It truly is a showstopper. It's otherworldly, so it requires you to stop and take it in."

The exhibition is open now through Oct. 27. Go to for more information.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band – Steve Lukather, Colin Hay, Edgar Winter, Warren Ham, Hamish Stuart, Gregg Bissonette – have added more dates to their upcoming tour in 2023.

The spring dates for the tour begin in May and Starr will be at The Ryman on September 24th. Ticket sales begin on Friday, May 12th.

“The joy for me about touring is playing live to an audience with the All Starr Band – so I’m always happy when we can add some more dates. See you in May!” said Ringo in a statement released.

Find tickets at


bottom of page