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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for October 25, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Six Fires in a Day (MauryCountySource)

The Maury County Fire Department was kept busy this past Saturday. They fought six fires in a ten hour period.

Units responded to the fires throughout the day, including of an:

– Outbuilding fire- Chestnut Ridge Rd @ 7:34am

– Grass fire Booker Farm Rd @ 9:47am

– Tractor fire – Fred White Rd @ 10:25am

– House Fire – providing mutual aid to Giles County @ 3:15pm

– Brush fire – Rally Hill Rd @ 3:46pm

– Grass fire – Murphy Lane @ 5:22pm.

There were also several motor vehicle accidents and medical calls throughout the day that units responded to.

MCFD is reminding citizens to practice safe burning due to the dry forecast.

The Arts Bolsters Community (CDH)

Over the past several years, the Columbia City Council has approved development plans and supported initiatives proposed the city's Arts Council that would bolster the arts and culture in Columbia for years to come.

A new study shows that the council's focus on enhancing the arts has helped the city make strides by increasing the city's economic prosperity and the number of its visitors.

The arts and culture sector in Columbia generated $6.1 million in economic activity during 2022, according to the recently released Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study, a recent city press release stated.

This included $2.6 million in spending by arts and culture organizations and an additional $3.5 million in event-related expenditures by their audiences, according to the AEP6 report. The economic activity supported 100 jobs, provided $3.4 million in personal income to residents, and generated $973,986 in tax revenue to local, state, and federal governments.AEP6 is an in-depth economic and social impact study of the nation's nonprofit arts and culture industry.

"The Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 study demonstrates that the arts are a driving force behind our city's economic growth and community pride," Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder stated. "We’re grateful to our Arts Council members who played an important role in this national study. Columbia is enriched by a vibrant arts and culture scene, and this study underscores the importance of continuing to invest in and support this industry. The arts play a pivotal role in making Columbia a wonderful place to live, work, and visit. "The study highlighted the vital role arts and culture play in building livable communities, acting as catalysts for entrepreneurship, and enhancing nighttime economies. Additionally, the AEP6 study expanded beyond economic data to include social impact measurements, revealing that 89% of attendees reported that the events they attended inspired a sense of pride in their neighborhood or community, while 86% stated they would feel a great sense of loss if the activity or venue were no longer available. Arts and culture strengthen the visitor economy. In the City of Columbia, 48.1% of attendees are nonlocal visitors who traveled from outside Maury County who spend an average of $23.98. Additionally, 90.2% of nonlocal attendees reported that the primary purpose of their visit was specifically to attend the performance, event, exhibit, venue, or facility where they were surveyed.

The study also emphasized the importance of equitable funding for arts and culture organizations, highlighting that proportional economic and community impacts were observed regardless of an organization's racial or ethnic composition. These findings underscore the need for fair and proportional financial support for all ethnic and cultural organizations. "The AEP6 study reaffirms that investing in the arts and culture sector is an investment in the economic vitality and well-being of communities. By supporting this industry, leaders are creating more livable, inclusive, and vibrant environments for residents and visitors alike," the city press release said.

For more information on the AEP6 study, visit

The study includes 373 regions across all 50 states, ranging from rural to large urban communities.

Nationally, in 2022, the arts and culture industry sector generated a staggering $151.7 billion in economic activity. This included $73.3 billion in spending by arts and culture organizations and an additional $78.4 billion in event-related expenditures by their audiences.

This economic activity supported 2.6 million jobs, provided $101 billion in personal income to residents, and generated $29.1 billion in tax revenue to local, state, and federal governments. For Columbia’s role in the study, the Columbia Arts Council spearheaded all survey data collection efforts for more than a year, attending local arts-related events to gather completed surveys from event attendees.

Agricultural Field Day (WKOM Audio 3:16)

Yesterday, the Agricultural Experiment Station in Spring Hill held an Agricultural Field Day for students. Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy paid a visit and spoke to some students about their experiences with agricultural…

City Parking Garage (MauryCountySource)

City officials, along with the City Structural Engineer, recently met with N&S Waterproofing to discuss delaying the City parking garage renovations.

N&S Waterproofing has agreed to delay construction on the garage until after the holidays.

The decision will be mutually beneficial since N&S Waterproofing would prefer to begin the garage renovations until late winter.

The new start date will be January 29, 2024.

Jon Morrison of Morrison Engineering presented the project to Columbia City Council earlier this month, which included details of its timeline and how the updates will improve the facility, which originally dates back to the 1830s.

"Our scope of work for this parking garage is basically a lot of waterproofing ... with a polyurethane traffic coating on approximately two-thirds of the garage, everything that is basically elevated," Morrison said. "It will create good traction for traffic going up the ramps and prevent any water intrusion. Underneath that coating we'll have to clear out any calking joints, since everything has deteriorated pretty far in the garage currently."

The bid for the project came in at $675,790.

The garage will also receive a heavy-duty pressure wash clean, as well as a new paint job and rejuvenating areas of the top level, which Morrison said has begun to "flake off" in parts due to moisture accumulation over the years.

Steel surfaces, including drainpipes, fencing and other structural barriers will also be recoated to prevent further deterioration. Once the main bulk of the renovations are complete, the garage will then be restriped as it is today. The project is also estimated 7-10 years of life to the building, depending on its usage.

Once again, this project will be postponed until January.

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

And now, Your Hometown Memorials, Sponsored by Oakes & Nichols 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.

Tyler Christopher Vaughn, 25, resident of Olive Hill, Tennessee, died Friday, October 20, 2023 at Jackson – Madison County Hospital. A graveside service for Tyler will be conducted Saturday, October 28, 2023 at 1:30 P.M. at Pisgah Cemetery in Hampshire. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 11:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Welcome back to Southern Middle Tennessee Today on WKOM, 101.7 and WKRM 103.7. This program is sponsored in part by George Vrailas and the great team at The Way Realty. I’m Tom Price.

…And now, news from around the state…

State Sues Meta (Tennessean)

Tennessee has sued Meta after a multi-state investigation into the Facebook and Instagram parent company, which is accused of violating consumer protection laws and deceptively marketing their platforms to adolescents to the detriment of their mental health .

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said Tuesday research indicates social media has played a significant role in a worsening mental health crisis for American youth by exploiting a vulnerable population with an increasingly addictive product.

"The company has been taking advantage of an inherent vulnerability in the teenage brain in a way that has caused a devastating impact on a generation," Skrmetti said.

The lawsuit focuses specifically on Instagram, which Meta has "known for years" causes pschological harm to young users, Skrmetti said.

“Rather than take steps to reduce or disclose the harm, Meta leaned further in to its profit-maximizing approach that hurts kids," Skrmetti said. "Targeting kids with a harmful product and lying about its safety violates the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.  Meta knows every last design decision that made Instagram addictive to kids, and that means it knows exactly how to fix the problem. We’re suing to make the company fix the problem.”

Tennessee, the District of Columbia and six other states filed related lawsuits in local courts, while dozens more joined a federal lawsuit filed in California this week.

The lawsuits allege Meta misled its users and ratcheted up marketing toward adolescents to take advantage of the demographic, which is "susceptible" to social media manipulation, Skrmetti said.

"Meta is one of the biggest and most powerful companies in the history of the world. They have unfathomable troves of data on their users and others," Skrmetti said.

The federal lawsuit alleges Meta knowingly built tools to maximize and increase youth engagement at the expense of young users' safety, highlighting features such as "face and body image manipulation filters" and algorithmic recommendations.

Skrmetti said the lawsuit is "not about money."

"Our lawsuit is to make the company stop hurting kids," Skrmetti said. "We know there were a series of decisions to make the product more and more addictive. What we want is for the company to undo that."

Skrmetti said the states' investigation into detrimental social media practices spanned the industry.

"This is not just about Meta,” Skrmetti noted, but he said the company is one of the ‘biggest players” in the social media sphere. “I think it is appropriate we lead off with this particular lawsuit."

The initial complaints include numerous redactions, which Skrmetti said Tuesday included some information Meta claims is proprietary. Tennessee has filed a motion to release the redacted information.

Gas Prices (MSM)

Tennessee drivers saw another week of falling prices at the pump last week, as Tennessee gas prices fell five cents, on average, across the state. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.09 which is 29 cents less expensive than one month ago and 23 cents less than one year ago.  

“We’ve now seen prices at the pump decline for the fifth consecutive week,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Prices are still falling on the momentum created by the seasonal downturn in fuel demand, coupled with stronger gasoline supplies and the switch to cheaper winter blend gasoline. If oil prices remain flat through this week, it’s likely that momentum could continue and bring further price drops at the pump for drivers again this week.” 

Quick Facts

43% of Tennessee gas stations have prices below $3.00 

The lowest 10% of pump prices are $2.81 for regular unleaded 

The highest 10% of pump prices are $3.55 for regular unleaded

Tennessee is the 6th least expensive market in the nation 

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Patty Loveless, Bob McDill and Tanya Tucker became the 150th, 151st and 152nd members of the Country Music Hall of Fame as they were formally inducted during a star-studded Medallion Ceremony in the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s CMA Theater.

Loveless, McDill and Tucker received country music’s highest distinction and were honored with heartfelt remarks and inspired performances of songs associated with their careers. 

Produced by the staff of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the annual Medallion Ceremony celebrates the unique talents, personalities and backgrounds of each Hall of Fame inductee, as well as the important turning points and the breakthrough artistic achievements that defined their careers. The ceremony includes speeches, live musical tributes and original video biographies, created by the museum staff using recorded performances, past televised interviews and historic photos culled from materials in the museum’s Frist Library and Archive.


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