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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for November 16, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Spring Hill Gets Millions for Water Infrastructure (MSM)

Thanks to the diligent work of the City of Spring Hill Administration, millions of dollars in grant funding is coming to the city to assist with resource protection.

On Nov. 3, 2023, the City of Spring Hill was awarded two grants — totaling nearly $3.2 million from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) through the State Water Infrastructure Grants (SWIG) Program. The SWIG Program is designed to provide financial assistance to local entities for the planning, design, construction and rehabilitation of water infrastructure.

“We are thankful for all of the local representatives, administration and staff members who had a hand in making this achievable,” said Spring Hill Mayor Jim Hagaman. “Ultimately, this comes down to providing our residents with the infrastructure and resources that make Spring Hill the great city that we all call home, and we believe this funding will set us up for success moving forward.”

The City of Spring Hill is committed to providing the best utilities service to its residents, while also protecting its main water source — the Duck River. To this end, the city plans to allocate this money to fund an Advanced Purification Pilot Project, exploring how Spring Hill can maximize its fair share of water from the Duck River.

More details about the Advanced Purification Pilot Project can be found on the City of Spring Hill website at

What Ag Means in Maury (MSM)

University of Tennessee Extension recently released reports outlining the estimated agricultural contributions of all 95 counties in Tennessee. The updated reports highlight agriculture’s impact on the output and employment of each county in 2021, providing key information for local and regional policymakers, the agricultural community and general public.

“While agriculture continues to make an important contribution to economic activity, there have been few efforts to estimate agriculture’s contribution to local economies for every county in a given state,” said author David Hughes, professor and Greever Chair in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. “These reports represent UT Extension’s ongoing efforts to identify and meet key needs in Tennessee.”

According to the report, total direct agricultural output in Maury County is estimated at $389 million. With multiplier effects, agricultural output has a total estimated economic impact of $475.9 million. These results mean that for every dollar of direct output from agriculture, the total economic impact on the county’s economy is $1.22. The report also estimates that 2,124 workers are employed in county agriculture.

The reports define agriculture as crop and livestock production; food and fiber processing, such as ice cream plants and textile mills; farm inputs, such as fertilizer plants and feed mills; and forestry-based production, such as sawmills and paper mills. County contributions also include a multiplier or spinoff value that accounts for the impact on the non-agricultural part of the economy. Examples of multiplier effects include local spending by agricultural workers and owner-operators, and farmers and other agricultural businesses purchasing local inputs such as utilities.

“The reports document the continuing importance of agriculture at the county level in Tennessee, even in highly urbanized areas,” said Hughes.

The updated contributions are based on the 2021 economy and are available online at

King’s Daughters Christmas Drive (CDH)

The King’s Daughters’ School and Heritage Bank & Trust are once again seeking help to make many Christmas wishes come true with the 23rd annual Santa's Mailbox gift drive.

The annual drive will kick off Wednesday, Nov. 22 and run through Thursday, Dec. 14.

Wish letters can be picked up from Santa’s Mailbox at Heritage Bank & Trust branches in Columbia and Mt. Pleasant. The letters are from disadvantaged King’s Daughters’ students and state-custody kids who will be spending Christmas on campus.

Students have written down their Christmas wishes in letters to Santa.

"Santa’s Mailbox should be easy to spot when you walk into a Heritage Bank & Trust lobby. Each letter contains one Christmas wish item for a student," a press release states.

“We are so grateful to Heritage Bank & Trust for their support of our Santa’s Mailbox program. Many of our students cannot go home for the holidays, so the contributions of the bank, their customers, and our entire community make their Christmas wishes come true,” KDS Executive Director Shauna Pounders said.

Once gifts are returned, they will be wrapped by the King’s Daughters’ staff members and placed in Santa’s bag ready for delivery at the KDS campus Christmas Eve.

"The school and bank members thank you ahead of time for helping make Christmas special for each and every child at KDS," the press release states.

Heritage Bank & Trust is resuming hosting duties this year as a continued valued partner to KDS.

"Heritage Bank & Trust is proud to be a part of the wonderful work being done by The King's Daughters' School," says Shelli Golden, KDS Board Member and EVP, Chief Risk Officer of Heritage Bank & Trust.

"Over the years, I have served on the Board of Directors of The King's Daughters' School, and I continue to be impressed with the care and compassion given to each student to make their lives the best that it can be. Heritage is honored to partner with an organization making such a great impact on our community." Santa’s Mailboxes are located in two Maury County Heritage Bank & Trust lobbies: 217 South James Campbell Blvd., and 109 South Main St. in Mt. Pleasant.

The King’s Daughters’ School is a nonprofit residential school that has provided academic, vocational, and life-skills training to students with developmental delays for over 60 years.

Midstate Classic Coming Back (Press Release)

Columbia’s collegiate softball doubleheader, the Midstate Classic, is back for the eighth year on April 2, 2024. Hosted by the City of Columbia, the Midstate Classic is held annually at Ridley Sports Complex, one of the top recreational complexes in the state. This year's Midstate Classic will feature the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers facing off against the University of Memphis Tigers at 5:30 PM. Earlier that day, Columbia Central softball will play Spring Hill High School softball at 10:00 AM. Also, Columbia State Community College Lady Chargers will be playing against an opponent to be determined at 1:30 PM. Tickets to the Midstate Classic are $10.

City Manager Tony Massey stated, “The Midstate Classic has grown as an annual event since it began in 2014. We are especially excited this year to host the defending South Eastern Conference Champions and World Series participants, the UT Lady Vols, as they take on the Memphis Tigers. It’s another East Tennessee vs. West Tennessee game played right here in Middle Tennessee.”

UT and Columbia State have been participating in the Midstate Classic since 2014, making this their eighth appearance. This annual event at Ridley Sports Complex has become a staple in the community's calendar, drawing support from locals and fans across the state. It provides the opportunity for fans to experience collegiate-level softball at all ages.

“We look forward to the Midstate classic every year,” stated UT Coach Karen Weekly. Weekly went on to say, “Nobody puts the time and effort into an event quite like the City of Columbia. Both participating teams feel very special and welcomed by the entire community. Memphis will be a great opponent. I have no doubt Stephanie VanBrakle Prothro will build them into a consistent winner.”

Spearheaded each year by the City Parks and Recreation Department, this longstanding tradition not only showcases the athletic abilities of the participating teams but also fosters a sense of community spirit, making the Midstate Classic a much-anticipated annual event for residents and visitors alike. Parks and Recreation Director Mack Reagan stated, “Once again, The City of Columbia is excited to host one of the best days of softball for the coming year. The Midstate Classic is our chance to give back to our residents and provide them a chance to see an action-packed day of top-level softball.”

The City is thrilled to have the University of Memphis Tigers back this year to spearhead against the UT Lady Vols. University of Memphis Coach Stephanie VanBrakle Prothro stated, “We are super excited to participate in the Midstate Classic this year. Part of building a strong program is elevating our level of competition. The Weeklys have been influential in softball in the state of Tennessee. Karen’s program and staff are first class and coming off last year’s WCWS run will be a great opponent that I hope to keep on the schedule yearly.”

Mayor Chaz Molder stated, “I am so excited for what will be our 8th Annual Mid-State Classic in Columbia, which will, once again, bring world-class collegiate softball talent to our community. I look forward to welcoming the participants and teams to our community and am grateful that our region will have access to such high-level collegiate softball. We've seen first-hand the benefits of the Mid-State Classic in inspiring our local softball community, and I know that inspiration will only continue.”

Tickets will be available for purchase closer to date through the City’s website. For questions, please call (931) 388-8119.

City Honors Two (CDH)

Columbia City Council voted this month to dedicate portions of two city parks to former council members and public servants Steve Boshers and Ken Wiles.

The proposals were brought before the council last week, in which members voted on two resolutions. One was to dedicate the soccer complex building at Ridley Park in Boshers' honor, and the other to dedicate a playground and pavilion off Wheeler Drive at Woodland Park for Wiles.

Both resolutions passed unanimously.

Prior to Thursday's vote, council members shared memories of their former colleagues, while also paying tribute to Boshers and Wiles' families, who were in attendance.

"It's a profound honor for me and for all of this council to be part of an organization that gets to make known and sketched in history his name forever in our community and the work Steve Boshers did," Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder said. "He was a giant of a man and was such a good man, and we will remember as those who served with him. But now, more importantly, the community as a whole and at large will honor Steve Boshers."

Boshers, a Columbia native, passed away on July 31, 2019. In addition to his service on council serving the second ward, Boshers was also a Maury County constable, a reserve deputy for the Maury County Sheriff's Department, a pastor and territorial manager of O'Reilly Auto Parts for many years. As an avid sports fan, Boshers also served as president of the local Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball League and was a little league coach.

Molder added that having Boshers' family present during the vote is a "snapshot of his continuing legacy to the community."

"One of his biggest legacies was his family, who continues to give back to this community to this very day," Molder said. "For that, we are proud."

Wiles first came aboard the council in 2019, taking Boshers' former seat overseeing the second ward, and later securing reelection in 2020. He later passed away, also on July 31, in 2022. His surviving wife, Debbie Wiles currently presides in the position.

"When I think of Steve Boshers and I think of Ken Wiles, I think of a good man, no matter what, where or when," Molder said. "It was an honor to serve with Ken, and equally an honor to now serve with Debbie."

In addition to his service on council, Wiles also served on the city's planning commission. He was also an avid musician and would often be seen playing guitar on the square during First Fridays.

"I served with Ken on planning commission, and we always had a great time, always respected him and it was a joy to be with him," Vice Mayor Randy McBroom said. "He was always at First Fridays down at Puckett's playing. He always had joy in his heart, and he lived that way every day."

Wiles' son Brent Wiles later commented thanking the council for this dedication.

"Thank you all, though I think my dad would probably be a little embarrassed by all this attention given to him," Wiles joked. "But we all appreciate it."

Debbie Wiles added that Boshers was actually a former student of her late husband at Highland Park Elementary School, which adds to the sentiment and legacy of both their lives.

A date for a public dedication has yet to be set for the two former council members.

Mt. Pleasant Tree Lighting (Press Release)

Main Street Mount Pleasant is proud to announce the much-anticipated first annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, this event will usher in the holiday season with a brilliant display of 14,000 LED lights, festive entertainment, and community spirit. This new tradition is scheduled to take place on November 25th at 6 PM on the square.

“My hope is for the Tree Lighting Ceremony to become an event in the Mount Pleasant community to bring residents and visitors together to celebrate the magic of the holiday season. I look forward to creating a memorable experience for all who attend,” says Director of Main Street, Haverly Pennington.

Highlights of the event will include:

• Official Tree Lighting: Watch in awe as Main Street's majestic tree is illuminated in a dazzling display of lights, marking the start of the holiday season at 6 PM.

• Holiday Entertainment: Enjoy live performances from Mount Pleasant Elementary who will sing timeless holiday classics. Followed by performances from the Middle School Dance Team and High school Cheer Squad

• Visit from Santa Claus: The jolly old man himself, Santa Claus, will make a special appearance to greet children and hear their holiday wishes on the square from 5 PM until 5:45 PM. Feel free to grab your camera to snap a photo with the man in red!

• Food and Refreshments: The Connection Church will be on hand to provide delicious treats and hot beverages to attendees from 5 PM until 5:45 PM.

• Holiday Shopping: Stroll Main Street before the festivities and start your holiday shopping.

Main Street Mount Pleasant is dedicated to creating memorable and engaging events for our community. The Tree Lighting Ceremony is just one of the many initiatives we undertake to enhance the charm and vibrancy of our downtown area.

“We believe that this event will be a heartwarming and unifying experience for our community. We can't wait to celebrate the holiday season with our friends and neighbors,” says Mayor Bill White. All are invited to attend this free, family-friendly event. Please mark your calendars for November 25th and join us on the square to kick off the holiday season in style. Dress warmly and bring your holiday spirit as we light up the night together!

For more information about the Tree Lighting Ceremony and other Main Street contact us at

Spring Hill Passport (Press Release)

The Spring Hill Chamber has launched its 2023 Think, Shop, Explore Local Passport presented by Groove Life, encouraging residents to explore the local community and its businesses through November 17, 2023.

Residents who collect at least 15 stickers from participating businesses will have a chance to win a grand prize featuring gifts from local businesses worth thousands of dollars.

"Empowering our community with a local passport program is not just about promoting business; it's about promoting community pride through local discovery," said Rebecca Melton, executive director of the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce. "With the opportunity to win a generous grand prize from some of our local businesses, the passport program offers an exciting way for residents to explore the community's assets and make new connections."

Passports are available at all participating businesses and the Spring Hill Welcome Center located at 5326 Main Street, Suite G in Spring Hill. The Welcome Center will also serve as the official drop-off location for all completed passports. A list of business addresses, a map with directions, grand prize details, and passport rules can be found at

The local passport includes thirty-three stops, encompassing various local business types and community photo opportunities.

This year's community photo opportunities include Spring Hill Public Library, Walnut Street Skate Park, and Cannon Hill. Participants can take photos at these locations and share them on Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #SHPassport23 or complete the entire passport to earn extra entries in the grand prize drawing.

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

Mildred Casey Stewart Kelley, 76, a resident of Columbia and member of Highland Baptist Church, died Tuesday, November 14, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center.  


A funeral service will be held Monday, November 20, 2023 at 2:00 P.M at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. A visitation will be held before the service from 12:00 – 2:00 P.M. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements and condolences may be extended online at

…And now, news from around the state…

Federal Ed Money Debate (Tennessean)

A legislative panel considering rejecting federal school funds for Tennessee concluded two weeks of meetings Wednesday with more questions than answers about whether to decline federal funds and replace them with state dollars.

The Joint Working Group on Federal Education Funding wrapped Wednesday after holding hearings over the course of two weeks. More meetings are expected after Thanksgiving.

Russell Moore, director of the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability, laid out a framework of dozens of questions on Wednesday for the panel to consider as they move forward with a policy recommendation for when the General Assembly convenes again in January. 

The panel also heard testimony Wednesday from representatives of two conservative groups who highlighted advantages of rejecting federal funds. They were the only special interest groups permitted to testify during the hearings. No disability rights groups, for instance, addressed the group.

Sal Nuzzo, senior vice president of the Tallahassee-based conservative James Madison Institute, told House members Wednesday afternoon that school districts receiving federal funds are required to leverage them for student services in federally determined proportions. 

He said federal rulemaking has conflicted with state laws passed in Florida, citing a new state law that requires school staff to refer to students using pronouns based on their biological sex. New proposed federal guidance, if adopted, would create a legal basis for school employees to sue the school district if preferred pronouns are not used. Nuzzo said this puts school districts in the dilemma of having to “choose whether to risk their state or federal funding.” 

Nuzzo also told lawmakers that Florida "didn't suffer" when officials declined more than $2 billion in federal school funding, but student achievement has since risen. He later noted that those funds were post-coronavirus supplemental funding and did not support day-to-day school operations.

Florida has not rejected funding for federal Title 1, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or school nutrition programs, as Tennessee lawmakers are considering.

Steve Johnson, a fellow with the State Policy Network's Center for Practical Federalism, encouraged the panel to reject the funding in order to “guard the authority you have as a state.”

He claimed that Individualized Education Plans for students struggling academically – which he praised because “we don’t want a one-size fits all policy” – are burdensome for teachers to administer because they involve “hours and hours of paperwork” to ensure federal compliance. He considers those hours an opportunity cost that could be saved if the state allowed districts to administer IEPs without federal compliance requirements.

“If you turn down these federal funds, it would allow you to innovate in a way nobody has ever done,” Johnson said. "With the federal regulations right now, it doesn't allow for that innovation."

Johnson also cited extensive requirements connected with the USDA's school nutrition program ― such as permitting schools to serve a protein-enriched macaroni and cheese as a meat alternative ― and said that school districts would be free to innovate and compete if the state just provided funding for school lunches in a block grant.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Santa is stopping by Living on 6th, located at 113 East 6th Street in Columbia, on the Saturday before AND after Thanksgiving for free photos from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

Grab your camera and round up the kids (and even the pups) for this free family event! The goats of Sweet Swizzle Farm and Spider-man will be there too from 1:00pm-3:00pm.

It’s an event packed with fun, laughter, and unforgettable memories for families.


Free Photos With Santa

November 18 & November 25

11am – 3pm

Living on 6th

113 East 6th Street, Columbia


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