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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for November 17, 2023

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

We start with local news…

UAW Approves Contract (

United Auto Workers union members have voted to approve a new contract with General Motors, making the company the first Detroit automaker to get a ratified deal that could end a contentious labor dispute and a series of crippling strikes.

A vote-tracking spreadsheet on the union’s website shows that with all local union offices reporting, the contract passed by just over 3,400 votes, with 54.7% in favor. A union spokesman on Thursday confirmed that the spreadsheet had the official GM totals.

The outcome was closer than expected after the UAW’s celebrations of victories last month on many key demands that led to six weeks of targeted walkouts against GM, Ford and Stellantis, the maker of Jeep and Ram vehicles.

On Thursday the contract had a big lead in voting at Ford and Stellantis. Ratification was leading at Ford by more than 10,000 votes, with 66.7% of ballots in favor. At Stellantis, the lead was over 5,700, with 66.5% voting for the deal, according to the UAW website.

Voting continues at Ford through early Saturday with only two large factories in the Detroit area and some smaller facilities left to be counted. At Stellantis, three Detroit-area factories were the only large plants yet to vote, with tallies expected to be complete by Tuesday.

The three contracts, if approved by 146,000 union members, would dramatically raise pay for autoworkers, with increases and cost-of-living adjustments that would translate into a 33% wage gain. Top assembly plant workers would get immediate 11% raises and earn roughly $42 per hour when the contracts expire in April of 2028.

At GM, about 46,000 workers were eligible to vote on the deal, and about 36,000 cast ballots.

Of the four GM plants that went on strike, only workers at a large SUV factory in Arlington, Texas, approved the contract. Workers in Wentzville, Missouri; Lansing Delta Township, Michigan; and Spring Hill, Tennessee, voted it down. Workers said that longtime employees at GM were unhappy they didn’t get larger pay raises like newer workers, and they wanted a bigger pension increase.

“I'm not ungrateful, but I feel like it could have been better,” said Andrea Repasky, a body shop worker at GM's pickup truck factory in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, who voted against the deal.

Repasky said she's happy that temporary workers will be hired faster and won't have to wait multiple years to reach the full assembly worker pay rate, now about $32 per hour. She's also glad that workers at parts warehouses and component factories will get the top wage.

But she says she'll get only $4 per hour more at ratification, and her pay will have gone up only $7 per hour since 2006 due to concessions made to help the company out of dire financial straits during the Great Recession. “I would have been happy if we would have gotten a bigger jump up front,” she said. “I just think in 17 years, $7 more is not too good of a deal.”

She also wanted to see larger pension increases as well as defined benefit pensions and health care in retirement for workers hired after 2007. With GM making healthy profits, she's worried that the union may have missed the chance to get more because the company may not be doing as well in 2028.

Many newer hires wanted defined benefit pension plans instead of defined contribution plans. But the companies agreed to contribute 10% per year into 401(k) plans instead.

Keith Crowell, the local union president at GM's Arlington plant, said the factory has a diverse group of workers from full- and part-time temporary hires to longtime assembly line employees. Full-time temporary workers liked the large raises they received and the chance to get top union pay, he said. But many longtime workers didn’t think immediate pay raises were enough to make up for concessions granted to GM in 2008, he said.

“There was something in there for everybody, but everybody couldn’t get everything they wanted,” Crowell said. “At least we’re making a step in the right direction to recover from 2008.”

Citing the automakers' strong profits, UAW President Shawn Fain has insisted it was well past time to make up for the 2008 concessions.

Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, said GM has more older workers than the other two companies, so he expected the vote to be closer there. About half of GM's factory workers were hired before 2007. “They may have felt they were not listened to enough,” Masters said of the workers.

He expects the contracts to be ratified at Ford and Stellantis and said only lopsided votes against the deals that run counter to the current trends could sink the agreements. “It certainly seems that they're on track to pass,” he said.

President Joe Biden has hailed the resolution of the strikes as an early victory for what he calls a worker-centered economy. But the success of the contracts will ultimately hinge on the ability of automakers to keep generating profits as they shift toward electric vehicles.

Thousands of UAW members joined picket lines in targeted strikes starting Sept. 15 before the tentative deals were reached late last month. Rather than striking at one company, the union targeted individual plants at all three automakers. At the peak of the strikes, about 46,000 workers were walking picket lines.

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

Graphix Garage Opening (WKOM Audio 1:33)

Yesterday, a ribbon cutting was held for Graphix Garage in Columbia. WKOM/WKRM’s Taft Ayres attended the grand opening and spoke to proprietor Katey Durkin…

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.

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

CSCC Hosts Leadership Course (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College’s Office of Workforce and Continuing Education will launch a leadership development program designed to benefit new and emerging leaders to help them develop the necessary skills and a toolkit of resources to help them excel as they move into and grow in their leadership roles.

 “I am extremely proud to be bringing this program to our communities,” said Melody Murphy, Columbia State Workforce and Continuing Education director. With ‘Now Hiring’ posted on almost every storefront, it is becoming harder for employers to find and keep good employees. This program is an excellent opportunity for a company to identify dedicated employees' value and hard work and build them up through this program for leadership and supervision roles.”

The Columbia State Leadership for Operational Excellence program nurtures success and provides participants with the skills and resources for them to excel as leaders within their organizations.

Topics covered will include leadership styles, generations and teams, employee engagement and productivity, communication and leading your team, business finance and budgets, presentation skills and networking as well as delivering outcomes and managing change.

“Many of us have seen firsthand how promoting internally for these positions based on performance can be problematic, because doing a job and leading others to do a job are very different things that require somewhat different skill sets,” Murphy said. “This program aims to give participants the necessary leadership skills to be successful leaders.”  

Registration is now open for the program, which consists of eight full-day sessions with two full days conducted back-to-back. Participants should plan to attend all sessions, which will take place at Columbia State’s Williamson Campus. The program begins in 2024 with the dates of January 11 – 12, February 8 – 9, March 7 – 8 and April 11 – 12. Cost is $2,995, with lunch and coffee provided.

For more information, please contact Murphy at

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

Linda Gail Garner, 80, died Wednesday, November 15, 2023 at Maristone Assisted Living in Mt. Juliet.

A funeral service will be held Saturday, November 18, 2023 at 12:00 P.M at Oakes and Nichols Funeral Home with Charles Norman officiating. Burial will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be Friday, November 17, 2023 from 4:00 – 7:00 P.M.

…And now, news from around the state…

Uptick in BNA Passengers Expected for TGiving (CDH)

Nashville International Airport® (BNA®) is preparing for an expected increase in travel activity surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday. BNA projects the peak days as November 19 and November 22 before the holiday, as well as November 26 immediately afterward, anticipating more than 35,000 departing passengers each of these days.

Travelers are urged to follow the following tips for a seamless travel journey:

· Sign up for BNA Text Alerts. Click on BNA Text Alerts at the top of for valuable tips and updates, ensuring a seamless travel experience to BNA with the latest traffic information.

· Arrive early. Give yourself plenty of time to park, check in, and get to your gate.

· Take alternate routes to BNA. With the increase of travelers during the holiday season, there will be more passengers arriving and departing from the airport. Consider alternate routes to BNA – 216B and Murfreesboro Pike during heavy travel periods.

· Allow extra time for parking. Heavier passenger volume means more people are parking and those areas will be busy. BNA has six parking options to choose from. If parking in valet, passengers coming from I-40 will only be able to access this area from Exit 216B. Check parking details and availabilityat

· Utilize the new cell lot. To alleviate traffic congestion, drivers waiting to pick up their loved ones are encouraged to use BNA’s new cell lot located at 1415 Murfreesboro Pike.

The new lot provides ample space and digital signage that displays real-time updates on incoming flights.  Please allow 20-30 minutes from landing time for your loved one to reach the curb.

· Check the status of your flight before arriving at BNA. We are advising passengers tomcheck the status of their flight before coming to the airport.

· Pack smart. Familiarize yourself with TSA’s Top Travel Tips for a more efficient travel experience.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

It might be Thanksgiving next week, but Christmas and the holidays will be in full force this weekend with an annual Columbia shopping tradition.

Columbia's largest holiday shopping event returns for its ninth year this weekend featuring more than 80 curated vendors.

A Very Maury Christmas will take place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Factory at Columbia, 101 N. James M. Campbell Blvd. beginning with a VIP preview party hosted by aMuse'um Children's Museum on Friday from 5:30-8 p.m.

Tickets to the Friday VIP party are $55.20 and are available at

The market will be in full swing starting at 9 a.m. Saturday. Admission is $5, with children ages 12 and under getting in for free.

This much-loved Columbia holiday tradition will feature a vast selection ranging from unique gift ideas to clothing, baked goods, handmade crafts and a whole lot more.

Santa Claus will also be paying a visit to this year's market for the first time since its inception.


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