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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for November 6, 2023

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

We start with local news…

City and County Get Tourism Grant (MSM)

Tourism is getting a boost in communities across Tennessee, as the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development announced last week that the state awarded 29 communities over $2.22 million in Tourism Enhancement Grants.

Tennessee’s Tourism Enhancement Grants support cities and counties seeking to invest in their local tourism assets, lift visitation and increase economic impact. Eligible projects include stages, signage, historic preservation, ADA compliancy and other improvements to local attractions and venues.

Both the City of Columbia and Maury County will receive $100,000 in grant funding. Columbia’s portion is designated for creating two Blueway access points on the Duck River at Riverwalk Park, which Maury County’s portion will fund construction of a Blueway river access point along the Duck River in Yanahli Park, including wayfinding and instructional signage.

“The city of Columbia is so excited about this latest grant announcement from the Tennessee Department of Tourism, and anyone in our community who loves the Duck River and increasing recreational opportunities will be excited about this one, too,” said Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder. “This grant will allow the city to oversee the installation and enhancements of two access points for the Duck River, above the dam and below the dam which, coupled with the access points at two of our county parks, we will now have a full Duck River blueway from Yanahli Park all the way to Chickasaw, with a nice Riverwalk Park stop for park activities and even visits to our historic downtown in the interim. I love efforts where the city of Columbia and Maury County can work together for the betterment of everyone, and this effort is an example of just that!”

“Tourism is vital for the growth and sustainability of communities throughout Tennessee, especially in our rural communities,” said Melanie Beauchamp, Assistant Commissioner of Rural Tourism and Outreach, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “These projects create opportunities for visitors, enhance the quality of life for residents and ultimately, bring more funds back into the communities.”

Muletown Pottery (WKOM Audio 2:27)

On Friday, Muletown Pottery held their grand opening in their new location in the Factory at Columbia. Front Porch Radio’s Mary Susan Kennedy attended the ribbon cutting to learn more about the business…

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

Christ Chapel (WKOM Audio 2:20)

Christ Chapel of Spring Hill celebrated their new location this past weekend with a ribbon cutting. Our own Mary Susan Kennedy spoke to the senior pastor Jeremy Cannaday to learn more about what the church has to offer its communicants.

Hits Funding Mark (MSM)

Miracle League of Columbia held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially announce the plans for the park, located at the former Babe Ruth league field at Maury County Park.

A rendering of the future project has been placed at the site depicting the ballfield as well as the all-inclusive playground equipment that will be built at the site.

Juli Beck, board member of The Miracle League of Columbia at Maury County Park, said this was the celebration following the organization meeting its fundraising goal.

“When Robin Estep asked me to come on board two years ago, we immediately started fundraising. We have raised more funds in the least amount of time than any other Miracle League has ever done,” Beck said.

Estep fell in love with the program through her time watching her nephew Taye Ramer participate in the Murfreesboro league.

“My nephew Taye means the world to me. He’s such a bright light to everyone,” Estep said. “I would love to see something like (Miracle League) closer to home for not only Taye, but for all the other children who could use it.”

Miracle League baseball fields are custom designed with cushioned rubberized surfaces to help prevent injuries. The fields are completely flat to eliminate any barriers to wheelchair-bound or visually impaired players. The complexes also feature wheelchair-accessible dugouts, restrooms, concession stands and picnic pavilions.

Unfortunately, despite the quick work in fundraising, prices for construction have risen in that timeframe, which means fundraising is still ongoing, but that won’t stop the group from getting started on the project.

Beck said the generosity of the community has been overwhelming, especially following the annual Benefit Ball, which raised $100,000 for Miracle League to get them over the top of that initial goal.

The Benefit Ball began in 1972 as The Military Ball to support Columbia Military Academy. In 1980-81 the organization took the current name (Maury County Historic Benefit Association) and became a 501(c)3 in its own right. Annual proceeds are awarded by application exclusively to other Maury County charitable organizations.

In addition to the baseball field, the all-inclusive playground is likely to see many visitors.

“We’ve got the baseball field, but the big attraction on the playground is the zip lines. Any child – regardless of their ability – can ride the zipline, Beck said. “Most Miracle League playgrounds only have two zip lines, but they’re the most popular so there are always lines. Every time we go to see a playground, there is a line for the ziplines, so we decided to do four ziplines.

“We have swings, a tilt-a-whirl, we have slides and roller slides – a slow incline slide for those with limited ability. Because the playground is so close to the ballpark, you can have families playing ball and maybe another part of the family can be on the playground.”

Once the project breaks ground, Beck said she believes it could be from nine months to a year before the project is complete, but the entire board is working toward that day, including Mike and Dan Uggla.

Dan, a former Major League Baseball player, pledged a donation that will allow the field to bear his name.

“This is the stuff that’s really cool. The kids who need help to do these kinds of things, it’s character building, loving kids, loving other people, people who are different from you,” he said at the initial launch in November 2021. “Helping people and giving them a chance to play a game they love, but didn’t have a place to do it before is really cool.”

A new era of baseball at Maury County Park will begin with this project.

“Maury County families grew up playing baseball at this park – the Ugglas grew up playing at this park. It’s a major part of our community’s fabric, and to have a new generation of Maury County children making memories here is going to be a blessing,” Beck said.

Polks at Preservation Park (WKOM Audio 2:32)

On Friday, the City of Columbia and Maury County governments unveiled a new pocket park on the corner of W. 7th and High Street. The Polks at Preservation Park feature two bronze statues of President and Mrs. Polk. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy attended the unveiling and spoke to Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder about the new park…

Duck River Jam (WKOM Audio 3:06)

Yesterday afternoon, Duck River Jam, a benefit concert developed to raise funds to help protect the Duck River was held. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy joined the concert and spoke to event organizer Gary Grau…

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Country Music Association has revealed the second round of performers for “The 57th Annual CMA Awards.” Kelsea Ballerini, Kenny Chesney, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Jordan Davis, HARDY, Alan Jackson, Cody Johnson, Post Malone, Mac McAnally, Ashley McBryde, Morgan Wallen, The War And Treaty and Zac Brown Band will all take the stage at this year’s star-studded CMA Awards.

Additional collaborations at this year’s show will include a tribute to recently passed songwriter, cultural force and CMA Award winner, Jimmy Buffett.

Hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, Country Music’s Biggest Night™ broadcasts live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Wednesday Nov. 8 (8:00-11:00 PM/ET) on ABC and is available next day on Hulu.


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