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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for May 31, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Columbia Shooting (Press Release)

On Sunday, May 28th, at approximately 2:30 pm, the Columbia Police Department responded to reports of a shooting incident on Westview Street.

As officers were responding to the scene, a 14-year-old female and a 23-year-old female arrived at Maury Regional Medical Center suffering from gunshot wounds. Both victims were flown to Vanderbilt Medical Center. The 14-year-old suffered non-life-threatening injuries, and the 23-year-old victim is in critical condition.

Initial investigation has revealed that a large crowd gathered on Westview Street, during which a physical altercation occurred between two females in the crowd. A black male with a handgun approached the women and became involved in the altercation, at which time shots were fired.

A 15-year-old male juvenile has been taken into custody and charged in connection with this incident.

This investigation is ongoing at this time.

Anyone who witnessed this incident or anyone with information to assist in this investigation is encouraged to contact Columbia Police Department at 931-388-2727.

Memorial Day Celebrated (CDH)

Many say giving the ultimate sacrifice in service to others is the greatest gift a person can give to another human being, especially if it's someone they've probably never met before.

On Memorial Day, the country honors those in military service who have given their lives to preserve the nation's freedoms. For nearly 40 years, Memorial Day has always been marked by a special service hosted by Williams Funeral Home and the Polk Memorial Gardens.

Now in its 39th year, the service continues to honor local veterans who have lost their lives, featuring soldier-themed songs performed by local singer Drew Ryder Smith, a demonstration of the "thirteen folds" of the U.S. Flag presented to the families of fallen soldiers, as well as a keynote speaker.

"[Our staff's] diligence and the way they honor veterans interred in this park is something we value and respect," Williams Funeral Home director Alan Blevins said. "We will continue to do this every year as long as we are all Americans and free to do as we please."

Monday's keynote speaker was U.S. Army National Guard veteran Dalton Susee, who spoke about his involvement in service, as well as the toll it has taken on many of his comrades.

At 16, Susee was homeless, working multiple jobs and without a clue about what he wanted to do in life. Faced with a need to create a better, more promising future for himself, he later joined the service at age 21. Now at 25, Susee serves as a mechanical engineer for the m1136 Strykers/ LAV III, while also training closely with Ranger Regiments.

Susee said he was honored to speak at Monday's service, primarily because he knows the feeling of losing close friends in service, and what that sacrifice means to the country. He was also grateful to be part of a ceremony that has been going on for nearly four decades.

"I've met families that have been coming to this event since the beginning, and it's just heartwarming to see the vast amount of veterans that are here, that they brought their young ones, their teenagers as well," Susee said. "Because Memorial Day is more than a day to honor those we have lost, but to inspire the younger generation to hopefully continue to do the same."

Susee added that while many soldiers have lost their lives overseas while on deployment, the fighting doesn't always stop once a soldier returns home. If anything, it is just the beginning of a lifelong battle with the aftermath of war like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other health issues resulting from their experiences.

"They stood on those lines and fought back, but when they come home they can still see those bullets flying right past their head," Susee said. "Some of them don't make it out."

Susee concluded his speech by listing three things he hopes people consider when thinking about veterans. The first is to be grateful for every day we get to wake up knowing the country is free to celebrate each other.

The second is to wake up every day and to choose excellence, because the ones who fight for freedom are doing so because they were called to something greater than themselves.

"It was those who died before us that gave us that chance, and they didn't die for no reason. They died to inspire us to carry their legacy forward," Susee said. "All of those aspirations and dreams continue in us, in our hearts and our souls."

The third and final thing is to remember "We are all united together" despite our individual differences. In the end, we are all Americans.

"Every day we are united together knowing they fought together, as we should fight together for our country, Susee said.

Pinecrest Memorial Service (CDH)

Families and citizens gathered for a Memorial Day ceremony at Pinecrest Memorial Gardens in north Columbia to honor service men and women who lost their lives protecting the country's freedom.

Keynote speaker Col. Scott Gaines, who was born in Columbia, delivered a speech before the crowd, drawing from his 35-year experience in the U.S. Army, retiring from the Tennessee Army National Guard in 2019.

"We do not forget. Whether it's an hour ago or a century ago, regardless of the decade or century, we remember," Gaines said.

Gaines also recognized the nine soldiers killed on March 29 when two Black Hawk helicopters crashed near Ft. Campbell.

"It is felt here as well, and you can rest assured that we will always be pained for the Gold Star families who will mourn for them for the rest of their lives."

Gaines said fallen heroes of battle represent the "patchwork" of America.

"Whether rich or poor, black or white, male or female, representing every political spectrum, they all took an oath to call," he said.

The Columbia Central High School JROTC members performed the presentation of colors and led a flag-folding ceremony for fallen heroes lost in the line of duty serving America.

Acclaimed violinist DeMetri Moon performed "God Bless America" and other patriotic songs during the program.

After the ceremony, families visited the gravesites of lost loved ones, and flags were placed on the graves of veterans.

Attendee Charline Crosby attended the event with her brother, both showing respect for members of their family buried at the cemetery who served in the military.

"Memorial Day is an important day to me," Crosby said. "I have two brothers who served in the Navy and the Army and fought in Vietnam. My father was a veteran in the Army. It's important to come out and honor them. They fought for our country to stay free. It's a blessing."

Marisa Johnson attended the ceremony to watch her daughter, Ariana Johnson, perform the presentation of colors as part of the Columbia Central High School JROTC.

"It means a lot for the students to be involved in the community and honor the service men and women who perished serving our country," Johnson said.

In 1989, Gaines graduated from the Tennessee Military Academy and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. He served as a platoon leader, company commander, staff officer, battalion commander with his final assignment as commander of the 117TH Regional Training Institute.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He also graduated from the United States Army War College in 2015.

Gaines earned numerous awards including the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and the Tennessee National Guard Distinguished Service Medal.

Gaines also served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, supervisor and assistant superintendent in Maury County Public Schools before retiring last June. He now lives in Mount Pleasant, Tennessee with his wife Ann.

CSCC Graduates Nurses (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College recently celebrated 42 nursing graduates in a pinning ceremony in the Webster Athletic Center.


“We congratulate these graduates for completing the nursing program, one dedicated to preparing nurses who deliver excellent, safe, competent and patient-centered care” said Dr. Amy Huff, Columbia State nursing program director. “As they enter the nursing profession, their patients and communities will benefit from the knowledge and skills gained during their time at Columbia State Community College.”

Columbia State nursing graduates completed four semesters of classroom instruction and 540 hours of clinical instruction to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing.

Next, graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination in order to earn licensure, which is required to practice as a registered nurse. The 2021 Columbia State nursing students’ first-attempt pass rate for the NCLEX is 92%, exceeding both the state average of 86% and national average of 80%.

Nursing students are prepared to provide direct patient care in various areas, including medical, surgical, pediatrics and more. After graduation, these nurses will work in various settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, schools and home health care.

“These graduates know the goal to become a nurse requires academic ability coupled with heavy doses of determination, focus and resiliency,” said Dr. Kae Fleming, Columbia State dean of the Health Sciences Division. “The ability to impact futures for patients and families is a constant reminder of the value and importance of the journey!” 

The Columbia State nursing program is committed to excellence in nursing education. It has received full approval from the Tennessee Board of Nursing and is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. The program’s three-year average graduate job placement rate is 99.3%. 

Columbia State’s nursing program has a competitive admission process with applicants admitted twice per year. For more information about applying to the program, visit

Merited Favor Safe House (CDH)

Some men in Columbia are getting a chance at renewed life as residents of the new Merited Favor Safe House in Columbia.

Maury County Chamber & Economic Alliance held a ribbon-cutting at the home, 1206 East End Street, on May 11.

Cynthia Marlow-Foster, executive director of the house, told about a resident, whose name she withheld due to privacy, who was recently released from jail, desperate to find a safe place to set his life on a positive track.

She explained that the new home is such a place where residents will find that “love greets them at the door,” Marlow-Foster said.

She explained that the home will serve those experiencing various difficult life setbacks such as homelessness, incarceration and previous addiction.

As announced by Maury Alliance, the house is meant to follow in the tradition of the program's companion women’s house, now with two locations, to “reclaim the life they envisioned.”

City leaders and proponents of a second chance lined up at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to help celebrate with a broad range of county difference-makers and the first four residents of the safe haven.

Four men who have different stories are finding their way at a reliable place to heal from drugs, alcohol and incarceration. Others who have some time of healing under their belt are also taking the opportunity to learn a better way.

Maury Chamber Director Kara Williams hosted the ribbon-cutting, passing welcoming remarks to Columbia City Vice Mayor, Randy McBroom.

“I have heard the testimonies given here,” McBroom said. “We appreciate you being here and know there is a need here. Thank you so much,” McBroom said to Marlow-Foster, who once received her own second chance in a home just like Merited Favor.

Marlow-Foster and her husband Patrick have opened the home with a goal of giving folks a second chance.

Years ago, Marlow-Foster said her own recovery journey began with a lady who is a legend in the recovery community, Ms. Annie Hardison, a Maury County resident, who helped so many women before she passed away.

Marlow-Foster remembers that she “wasn’t ready” to receive the instruction and guidance yet, and that she was once lost and broken, wrapped up in her addiction.

Today, she reflects that the house at 300 Second St. in Columbia, where she once lived, while stuck in her own addiction was later used to offer women like herself, another attempt at a steady life.

She acknowledges her own lack in that process, turning instead to God in her ongoing recovery journey, as He provides her strength to stay clean and sober, she said.

“We are looking for sponsors,” Marlow-Foster said. “As for right now, me and my husband are paying out of our own pocket to rent. This is our passion.

“It’s not about the money, but it is."

Marlow-Foster added that funding continues to allow men the ability to stay at the house as they organize their priorities.

The same journey that Marlow-Foster began is the one that she and many other recipients have taken, to continue driving forward in the same direction.

Annie Hardison died in 2020, but she was known by the ones she helped as a guiding force in navigating a life to recovery. She was recognized for her volunteer work and even acknowledged by then Gov. Bill Haslam.

Former editor of The Daily Herald, James Bennett wrote that Hardison was a local legend who will be sorely missed.

Today, Hardison’s predecessors are picking up where she left off – sustaining hope for the community, from where life can renew and start over.

“She was my first sponsor back in 1999,” Marlow-Foster said. “I couldn’t stay clean, because I wasn’t done yet. It took what it took and [Ms. Annie] never gave up on me.”

Starting out with nothing and no money, she and her husband Patrick provide a haven for recovery from life’s troubles.

“As long as you stay on the right path, the sky is the limit,” Marlow-Foster said.

Alzheimers Walk (Press Release)

Alzheimer’s Tennessee invites you to join them for their second annual walk to support families impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease or a related dementia. The 2023 Maury County Walk will be held on Saturday June 3rd at Maury County Park and Senior Center 1016 Maury County Park drive in Columbia. The festivities begin at 9:00AM with music from Chris Yow, line dancing, children’s activities and a pet area. Kona Ice and Munch’s food trucks will be on site. Dress up your furry friend and enter them in the best dressed/ most purple pet contest. Register on their website . We hope to see you there as we Walk to Make Alzheimer’s a Memory! And remember, all funds raised stay local!

Columbia Lions Football Camp

The Columbia Central Lions Football program is hosting a youth football camp on Saturday June 10th for kids ages 5-12. The University of Tennessee football players and 1 cheerleader will be coming to help all the coaches with the camp.

The cost of the camp is $50 and will take place at Eva Gilbert Park located at 120 Cord Drive in Columbia. Registration will take place on the 10th from 9-10am, the camp will last from 10-12 and will feature skills and agility training. There are 150 spots reserved for football players ages 5-12 and 50 spots reserved for cheerleaders ages 5-12. From Noon-1:00 kids will get to have autographs signed by UT players Dayne Davis, Squirrel White, and Austin Lewis and cheerleader Willow Martinez.

From 1-4, will be family fun day with food, a dunk tank, and water slide.

For more information, you can visit

Meredith’s Toy Drive (Press Release)

Meredith's Toy Box is hosting its Barbies and Hot Wheels annual toy drive through May 31 benefitting Kid's Place: A Child Advocacy Center, which services children and their families affected by abuse in Maury, Giles, Lawrence, and Wayne counties.

Drop-off locations are:

Faith Fellowship Cumberland Presbyterian Church on Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m.

Columbia Farm Supply during normal business hours

Betty's Parkway Restaurant during normal business hours

Online donations can be made at Meredith's Toy Box on the special events tab at

For all items shipped, mail to 614 West Point Rd., Lawrenceburg, TN 38464.

The toy drive is in memory of Meredith Campbell-Bybee.

Breakfast With the Mayor (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance upstairs at Puckett's in downtown Columbia on Wednesday, June 7th at 8am for Breakfast with Maury County Mayor, Sheila Butt, sponsored by Caledonian Financial. This is part of an ongoing Breakfast with the Mayor Series.

During this event Maury Alliance President, Wil Evans will lead an informative Q&A discussion with Mayor Butt about the current state of Maury County.

 To submit a question or topic in advance, email 

Tickets are $20 for members and include breakfast.

For more information, visit

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

Mrs. Jessie Lee Harris Burt, 90, died Thursday, May 25, 2023 at her residence in Columbia. Funeral services for Mrs. Burt will be conducted Thursday at 11:00 AM, June 1, 2023 at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Wednesday from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM and Thursday from 10:00 AM until 11:00 AM at the funeral home.

Sandra Peery Pogue, 84, retired Cafeteria Manager for Hampshire Unit School for 30 years and resident of Hampshire, died Monday, May 29, 2023 at West Meade Place in Nashville. 

 Funeral services will be conducted Friday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Stephen Kelley officiating. Burial will follow in Worley Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. and Friday from 10:00 A.M. until service time at the funeral home. 

…And now, news from around the state…

Children’s Mental Health Problem (Tennessean)

It should probably come as no surprise that a string of recent surveys and reports find that children's mental health in the United States and Tennessee has suffered greatly in recent years.

It doesn't help that mental health services are in short supply nationally and here in Tennessee, said Heather Kreth, a pediatric psychologist with The Center for Child Health Policy at Vanderbilt University. And while state lawmakers this year passed a $230 million school safety bill that included $8 million in new behavioral health funding, a quarter-billion-dollar K-12 mental health trust fund sits in the bank, collecting interest.

"We don't have enough evidence-based comprehensive intervention and prevention services to get people's needs met before they are in crisis," Kreth said. "And so that is why we are seeing this incredible increase (in mental health service demand) over the last few years. It was worsened by the pandemic with children and adolescents being in psychiatric crisis and ending up in emergency departments because they can't access care before things get to that point."

A report published this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that child and adolescent visits to hospital emergency departments, while now declining from COVID-19 pandemic era peaks, were troublingly high. It also noted that "the U.S. adolescent mental and behavioral health crisis is ongoing" and remains above pre-pandemic levels among some demographic groups, including young girls.

The Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy found that nearly a third of Tennessee parents are worried their children have undiagnosed anxiety or depression, according to the results of a survey also published this month. That poll, fielded in the fall of 2022, found that more than 30% of parents said their children had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety or depression — a 7% increase since the question was based three years before.

And, last week, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory warning parents that social media presents a "meaningful risk" to the mental health of young people. In particular, Vivek said, some studies suggest that too much exposure can potentially increase the risk of depression, anxiety, bullying and poor body image.

The results of the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy poll show that many parents worry their children have undiagnosed mental illnesses. Also, more than half of those who have been diagnosed reported that their children were not receiving treatment for their mental illnesses.

Among some of the other findings:

Twenty percent of parents reported worrying their child had undiagnosed anxiety

Nearly 14% reported they worried their child had undiagnosed depression

More than 11% said their child may have undiagnosed ADHD/ADD

Nearly 30% of parents said their children get mental health treatment from their pediatrician, rather than a mental health provider

According to the non-partisan health policy organization KFF, Tennessee has 73 mental health care health professional shortage areas — adequately meeting the need of about 16% of the population. Though, as the KFF data show, the problem is one faced by every state and territory in the nation.

Gas Prices (MainStreetMaury)

Tennesseans that took a holiday road trip over the weekend were greeted with pump prices over a dollar cheaper than last year’s holiday. Gas prices, on average, only moved three cents higher over last week .The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.18 which is four cents less expensive than one month ago and $1.09 less than one year ago.  

“After fluctuating in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day, pump prices ultimately landed at $1.09 per gallon cheaper than last year’s holiday,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “As we head into the summer driving season, it’s very likely this fluctuation will stick around. If overall market conditions remain similar to what we’re seeing now, it’s possible that the fluctuations we’ll see could be minimal.”

Quick Facts

12% of Tennessee gas stations have prices below $3.00 

The lowest 10% of pump prices are $2.94 for regular unleaded 

The highest 10% of pump prices are $3.51 for regular unleaded

Tennessee is the 7th least expensive market in the nation

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Fairview Park Pool in Columbia has opened for the season!

Hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 12:00pm-6:00pm and Sundays from 1:00pm-5:00pm. The concession stand is open during these times as well.

Admission is $3 on Friday and Saturdays and is $2 on Sundays.

Fairview Park Pool is located at 1015 Hannaway Rd, Columbia, TN 38401.


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