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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for October 24, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Houses Hit by Gunfire (MauryCountySource)

Spring Hill Police are investigating a shooting that took place over the weekend.

Increased police presence was called to Ruben Road on Sunday after two houses were hit with gunfire.

Both houses were occupied at the time but there are no injuries. Witnesses observed a black Jeep Wrangler leave the scene shortly after hearing gunfire.

One possible suspect is described as a black male with dreads wearing tan shorts and a tank top.

There is no known danger to the public at this time.

Columbia Fire (Press Release)

Columbia Fire & Rescue was dispatched around 1:06am on Monday, October 23, 2023 to a residential structure fire on Belle Meade Pl. Truck 5 immediately responded, and upon arrival found a single family home engulfed in flames. Fire crews from Station No. 1, 2, 3, 5 along with Spring Hill Fire Department on automatic aide worked to extinguish the fire. Maury Regional EMS, Columbia Police, and Columbia Power and Water Systems all responded to the scene. Columbia Fire Marshal’s Office along with Columbia Police Department was called to the scene to investigate. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Grecian Family Pays It Forward (WilliamsonHerald)

A sign advertising free meals is probably the last thing you’d expect when entering a restaurant to dine, but that’s the first thing you’ll see inside the front door of the Grecian Family Restaurant and Bakery in Spring Hill. 

The “Pay it Forward” board’s invitation is simple: “If you are hungry and have no money, these tickets have been paid in advance. Grab a ticket and enjoy.” 

“So many people are hungry,” owner Anastasia “Sasa” Georgalos said. “So many are living out of their cars, and it can happen so fast. Overnight, we could all be without.”

There are no fewer than three other collection boxes around the sign. A coin jar for breast cancer, a cash box for a mother and daughter in need, and a large bin collecting jars of peanut butter for National Hunger Action Month. 

It’s clear that benevolence is at the heart of the restaurant. “Our accountant wishes I wouldn’t give so much away,” Sasa said, hiding a laugh behind her hand. “But we don’t do this to get rich. I want to pay my bills and help as many people as I can.”

From school teams to animal shelters and nonprofits to individual families, Frank and Sasa Georgalos have seven fundraisers scheduled in the month of October alone. 

Their impact is huge and personal, like for Brianna Schafran who lost her first husband when her children were ages 6, 3 and 1. The restaurant held a fundraiser. “And for the first six months or so, if I ever stepped foot into Grecian, Frank would make sure the bill was on him and just wanted me and the kids to eat,” she said. “He’s more than a restaurant owner, he’s a friend.”

Emily Wetherby, a soccer mom at Battle Creek Middle School, was tasked with securing food for their team’s banquet. “Frank was the only place out of five restaurants that I contacted that was happy to help out. And I mean more than happy to.”

Grecian’s largest outreach project of the year is its annual free Thanksgiving dinner. Now entering their sixth year as hosts, Frank and Sasa hope to provide more meals than ever. “We made exactly 1,577 meals last year,” Frank said. “I know because we cooked 65 turkeys!”

Sasa said last year’s celebration was what she’d always hoped for. “We filled up the restaurant twice. Everyone was sitting together, making friends and taking pictures. The community coming together, that’s what I wanted.”

Anyone in need can come to the restaurant and eat for free from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23. Meals ordered by phone or email in advance can be delivered. 

But they can’t do it alone. 

“The price of food has gone up so much. We really need the community’s support,” Sasa said. 

To sign up to donate or volunteer, visit, or stop by the restaurant at 2003 Wall St. in Spring Hill.

MRMC Pill Disposal (Press Release)

Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) will again offer an opportunity to dispose of expired, unused or unneeded prescription drugs. The drug take-back event allows community members to dispose safely and anonymously.

The free drug take-back event will be held in front of the MRMC Medical Office Building at 1222 Trotwood Ave. in Columbia on Saturday, October 28, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

The event, which will feature a convenient drive-through disposal process, will be staffed by members of the MRMC security team. Staff members will receive items from drivers in their vehicles. The service is free and anonymous with no information required.

“We are pleased to offer our community members a convenient, anonymous way to safely dispose of unneeded medications,” MRMC Security Director Michael Johnson said. “We highly encourage all residents to take advantage of this opportunity to dispose medications.”

For multiple safety and health precautions, safely disposing of unused medications is extremely important. Medication should not be flushed down a toilet or tossed in the trash. In addition, medicines that are kept in home cabinets are susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that most misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including medications taken from home medicine cabinets.

Only medications in pill or patch form should be brought to the upcoming event. The site cannot accept liquids, needles or sharps. Items should be in their original container, if possible.

Spring Hill Passport (Press Release)

On Monday, October 16, 2023, the Spring Hill Chamber 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.

Manufacturing Day (Press Release)

JC Ford, Fuel Total Systems, and GCP Applied Technologies will host 120 Advanced Manufacturing, Mechatronics, and STEAM Engineering students from Maury County Public Schools for a Manufacturing Day event on October 27th as part of a national effort to showcase the reality of modern manufacturing careers and connect with America’s future workforce. During the lunch hour (sponsored by Maury Alliance) a team from Ultium Cells will present to the students and they will have an opportunity to tour the Engineering Systems Technology Program at Columbia State Community College.


The three manufacturers were selected to highlight the diverse industry opportunities available in Maury County. JC Ford is a leading manufacturer of high-speed corn tortilla production equipment. They also manufacture flour tortilla production lines, tortilla chip production lines, fryers to produce tortilla chips and corn-based snacks, and complete systems for processing corn into masa. Fuel Total Systems, located in the Cherry Glen Industrial park, manufactures automotive plastic fuel tank systems and related automotive components, focusing on development, design, and manufacturing. GCP Applied Technologies is a leading global provider of specialty construction products technologies, such as PREPRUFE® PLUS – a waterproofing membrane that protects building infrastructure.


The Manufacturing Day events have been coordinated via a collaborative effort between Maury County Public Schools, Columbia State Community College, and Maury County Chamber & Economic Alliance.

There is an increasing demand for highly skilled professionals in the manufacturing sector who can design, program and operate technology. Over the next decade, manufacturers will need to fill 4.6 million jobs. Organized by The Manufacturing Institute—the education and workforce partner of the National Association of Manufacturers—MFG Day (established in 2012) is designed to introduce young people and others in the community to the thriving manufacturing industry to change perceptions of manufacturing and highlight the high-tech and innovative companies that are solving tomorrow’s challenges today. More information is available at

Breakfast With The Mayor (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance for their next Breakfast With The Mayor event October 31st at 8:00am at Puckett’s Restaurant on the Square in Columbia.

For this session, Maury Alliance is enhancing their quarterly Breakfast with the Mayor event by featuring a City of Columbia panel discussion with Mayor Chaz Molder, Tourism and Marketing Director Kellye Murphy, and Development Services Director Paul Keltner.

Tickets are $25 for members and include breakfast.

To submit a question or topic in advance, email 

For more information, visit

Duck River Jam (Press Release)

Duck River Jam, a community event intended to raise awareness and funds to fight a proposed landfill along the Duck River, will take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5, at Cherry Theater at Columbia State Community College.


The event, which will feature performances by local musicians as well as a silent auction, is being organized by the concerned citizens' group Protect the Duck River. 


The group has advocated against plans by Louisiana-based Trinity Business Group to build a 1,300-acre trash disposal complex as close as 1,000 feet from the Duck River at a former Monsanto phosphate processing site in Maury County. The property contains multiple Superfund sites and is mandated for EPA rehabilitation because of hazardous waste contamination. 


Protect the Duck River was previously involved in successful efforts to convince state lawmakers to pass legislation designating that segment of the Duck River as a Class II scenic river. In April, Gov. Bill Lee signed the new law requiring certain water resource projects to be permitted.


Trinity Group filed a lawsuit in May appealing the Maury-Marshall Solid Waste Regional Planning Board's rejection of its landfill application. Funds raised at the Duck River Jam will help defray legal fees for opponents of that appeal. 


"The Duck River is the most biologically diverse river in North America as well as the source of drinking water for more than 300,000 people in this community," said Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder. "The Duck River Jam is an opportunity for Middle Tennessee residents to support this precious, fragile resource while enjoying a great day of music and fun." 


For more information about Duck River Jam or to purchase tickets, please visit

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.

To register, please visit

For more information, please contact Murphy at

Artists Wanted (Press Release)

The City of Columbia is inviting professional artists to submit their qualifications for the creation of public sculpture installations to be permanently displayed outdoors in the Columbia Arts District and in historic downtown Columbia, Tennessee.

These public sculptures serve to inspire further development of the arts, culture, and tourism in Columbia.

Copies of the solicitation (#999-1023-28) are available at 700 North Garden St, Columbia TN 38401 or by contacting the purchasing agent at 931-560-1580.

Sealed qualifications are due no later than 2:00 PM CT, Monday, November 6, 2023.

Celebrating Our American Heritage (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College is hosting its 37th annual “Celebrating Our American Heritage” lecture series this fall, with presentations sponsored by the Columbia State Department of History designed to illuminate the past and enhance our understanding of the present.

On Oct. 30, Halloween eve, Dr. Barry Gidcomb, Columbia State dean of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division and professor of history, will present “Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the Harrison Horror.”

Gidcomb will reprise his presentation, with new material, on the odious practice of grave robbing, or “body snatching,” which was fueled by the founding of medical schools in America in the 19th century and the demand for cadavers to be used for instructional purposes. Among the stolen was the body of a prominent citizen whose father and son were both elected President of the United States. 

On Nov. 14, Zach Kinslow, Columbia State alum and executive director of the Governor Frank G. Clement Railroad Hotel Museum in Dickson, Tennessee, will present “WELCOME? A History of the Quest for United States Citizenship and the American Response.”

From the founding of the United States to modern day America, the idea of who could immigrate and obtain citizenship has been a continually contentious debate. Kinslow will present a program detailing the history of U.S. Citizenship and its evolution (and sometimes devolution) from the formation of the Constitution to modern citizenship laws.

The American Heritage series lectures are free and open to the public. Each lecture will take place from 4–5:15 p.m. in room 118 of the Frank G. Clement Building on the Columbia Campus at 1665 Hampshire Pike.

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

Mr. Gary Ronald Willis, 71, retired owner of Columbia Construction and successful cattleman and farmer, died Tuesday, October 17, 2023, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Willis will be conducted Wednesday at 10:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

Mr. James Ray Stewart, 81, retired Quality Control Engineer for Union Carbide and resident of Columbia, died Sunday, October 22, 2023, at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Stewart will be conducted Thursday, October 26, 2023, at 1:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Wednesday, October 25, 2023, from 4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Blue Alert Issued for Police Shooting Suspect (Tennessean)

Residents around the state were jolted on Oct. 21 when the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation sent out a rare Blue Alert for John Drake Jr., who is wanted for two counts of attempted first-degree murder after allegedly shooting two La Vergne police officers.

Officers Ashely Boleyjack and Gregory Kern were shot outside a Dollar General store while chasing a suspected stolen vehicle. Kern, who was shot in the right groin and right forearm, was released from the hospital Oct. 22, a department spokesperson said. Boleyjack was shot in the left shoulder and released on Oct. 21.

TBI has been using Blue Alerts, similar to Amber Alerts, since July 1, 2011. These alerts are posted on TDOT road signs, lottery displays and social media platforms, and are sent out to mobile phones using the statewide infrastructure of the existing Amber Alert system.

TBI uses Blue Alerts "for the rapid dissemination of information to the public to assist in apprehending violent criminals who kill or seriously injure law enforcement officers in the line of duty or to aid in locating a missing officer where foul play is involved."

Why does TBI send out a Blue Alert?

When TBI receives a request from a law enforcement agency that a death or serious injury of a law enforcement officer has occurred, administrators will ensure that the Blue Alert criteria has been met, then proceed to issue the alert. Five criteria must be met:

A sworn law enforcement officer is killed, sustains life threatening injuries or is missing in the line of duty under circumstances warranting concern for the officer’s safety.

The suspect(s) pose(s) an imminent threat to public safety and law enforcement personnel.

A description of the offender or vehicle is available for statewide broadcast to the public and law enforcement 911 centers.

Prior to activation, if the suspect(s) is/are identified, the requesting agency will immediately place the suspect in the temporary felon file in the National Crime Information Center, obtain felony warrants as soon as possible and enter the offender into the NCIC database.

The head of any Tennessee law enforcement agency, colonel of the Highway Patrol, chief, sheriff or their designee of the investigating law enforcement agency of jurisdiction asks TBI to activate the Blue Alert system.

Blue Alert systems currently operate in 37 states, but are not used very frequently. This is the first time Tennessee has used the system this year.

One of the most high profile uses of the alert in Tennessee involved Steven Wiggins, a suspect in the fatal shooting of a Dickson County Sheriff's Office deputy in May 2018. Wiggins was located and taken into custody two days later.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

A new celebrity bar has just opened on Broadway in Nashville.

The “Born to Boogie” welcomed guests at 419 Broadway, located between AJ’s Good Time Bar and Ernest Tubb Record Shop.

Named after Hank Williams Jr. popular song, The Boogie Bar has four levels of entertainment, a rooftop, live music, and drinks.

An official ribbon cutting will take place on November 12th.

“With a recognized style all our own, across all of our diverse Big Plan Holdings subsidiaries, including Edgehill Music Publishing, American Paint and our family business’ philanthropic wing, The Joseph Family Foundation, the Hank Williams Jr Boogie Bar will reflect BPH and BPH Hospitality’s continued commitment to delivering uncompromisingly memorable experiences,” said Co-Founder and CEO of Big Plan Holding. “We are privileged to play our part and add to the historic Lower Broadway community, in proud partnership with Hank Williams Jr.”

Recently, Garth Brooks announced his bar, Friends in Low Places will open on Friday, November 24th.


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