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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for October 3, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Shootout and Chase (MauryCountySource)

A suspect has been arrested after being apprehended in an officer-involved shooting in Maury County on Sunday.

Maury County deputies and Columbia Police responded to an incident concerning a possible suspect from a shooting they were investigating.

Deputies encountered suspect Devin Edwin Rice who shot at law enforcement, leading them on a chase throughout south Columbia. Deputies were able to disable Rice’s vehicle during the chase.

Rice was then arrested and taken to Maury Regional Medical Center to be treated for injuries.

After being released from the hospital, Rice was transported to the Maury County Jail where he is being held on other unrelated charges at this time. Additional charges stemming from Sunday are forthcoming.

The officer-involved shooting is currently being investigated by multiple agencies.

Court Date Set for Armed School Responder (MSM)

A court date has been set for the terminated firefighter who allegedly responded to an active shooter hoax at Columbia Central High School on May 3 armed with an AR-15.

Roy Brooks, who was terminated from Columbia Fire and Rescue last year, was indicted by a grand jury on Aug. 25 on the charge of carrying a weapon on school property. He was booked into the Maury County Sheriff’s Office and released the same day on a $10,000 bond.

Brooks is now scheduled to appear before a judge at the Maury County Circuit Court on Nov. 8, where he will enter a plea or the case will be set for trial.

According to Tennessee Code 39-17-1309, carrying a weapon on school grounds, or any other property owned and operated by any board of education or school, is a Class E felony.

According to state law, the penalty for carrying weapons on school property is a maximum of six years imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $3,000.

Local Cemetery in Financial Trouble (CDH)

The Rose Hill Cemetery Association is currently facing funding woes, which could become an issue in 2024.

The association met this week to discuss its annual expenses and is now seeking donations to fund its annual mowing and trimming budget.

Founded in 1853, Rose Hill is Columbia's largest cemetery, with an estimated 13,000 graves, including multiple soldiers ranging from Private to Brigadier General, political leaders, as well as Maury County's only Medal of Honor recipient John Harlan Willis.

Association President Kayla Southern said that the current Rose Hill mowing contract is due to expire in October with approximately 10% of the needed budget remaining for next year.

"Next year’s budget is projected at $86,000. Mowing and trimming the cemetery is the bulk of the projected budget. To mow and maintain the 40 acres of Rose Hill Cemetery, the association pays roughly $80,000 annually," Southern said in a press release. “Unless we raise $80,000 between now and February 2024, we will not be able to sign the mowing contract in good faith."

Rose Hill is also a popular site for annual tours, including an upcoming paranormal investigation Oct. 22 and historical tour Oct. 29.

“This is where Columbia’s history rests and we are charged with protecting it,” Southern said. “Not only that, but we realize this is the final resting place for loved ones. All of the trustees have family members in Rose Hill, and we want the cemetery to be mowed and cared for as much as anyone else."

Rose Hill sponsorships will be broken into multiple blocks, each with an $8,000 tax deductible donation. Sponsor names will also be featured on a 12"x12" sign on display at the cemetery.

For more information, visit or call (931) 797-3316.

Prince Guitarist Opens Church in Columbia (MSM)

In the fall of 2017, a new church was launched in downtown Nashville called We Are Here. The fellowship met at The High Watt, a music venue located in the Cannery Ballroom complex in downtown Nashville. A church meeting in a bar actually isn’t unheard of, but there was another unique factor – the church community’s founding pastor is original Prince and the Revolution guitarist Dez Dickerson.

“As a musician, I’ve played in rock and roll bars most of my life. As someone who is both an ordained pastor and a life-long music business guy, I always thought the ideal venue for a church was a place where folks were accustomed to going on a Saturday night – they may be open to the idea of attending a church gathering Sunday morning in the same place,” commented Dickerson.

In 2020 COVID hit, and the city of Nashville shut down all its public music venues. We Are Here was forced to suspend in-person services, and, like many churches, moved online. After over 2½ years of streaming Sunday services and seeing the We Are Here ‘audience’ extend to other parts of the country and the world, the Dickersons believed it was time to return to live gatherings once again. As a family, they had moved from their longtime home of Franklin to Columbia and felt a strong leading to re-launch the church in their new hometown.

In the spring of 2023, the opportunity arose for We Are Here to join hands and link arms with Westminster Presbyterian Church in Columbia. Westminster graciously opened its doors and hearts for We Are Here to share space in their building in order to help facilitate their relaunch. The church now holds Sunday services in the Westminster chapel.

We Are Here is focused on a few simple, but profound, principles. They’re built on three pillars: 1. We are God’s idea…not the other way around; 2. The Truth is not a concept, but a person named Jesus; and 3. God loves us too much to leave us the way we are.

“We’re not necessarily out to build a big church, but to simply build big lives around these principles,” said Dickerson. “Although some of what we’re doing may be a bit different, it’s not because we’re trying to be different, we’re just really committed to being obedient to what we heartily believe God has directed us to do.”

The re-emergent We Are Here at Westminster Chapel meets at 9 a.m. every Sunday morning. Westminster Presbyterian Church is located at 2800 Trotwood Ave., Columbia. You can also find We Are Here on Facebook at, and online at

Heffington Named Circuit Judge (CDH)

Gov. Bill Lee announced Thursday the appointment of Columbia attorney Julie Heffington to 22nd Judicial District Circuit Court Judge, one of three key judicial appointments for newly-created state courts.

Heffington, who was raised on a farm in Summertown, currently serves as an attorney and partner at Middle Tennessee Law Group.

The 22nd Judicial District covers Giles, Lawrence, Maury and Wayne counties.

"I am honored to have been selected as Circuit Court Judge to serve the people of the 22nd Judicial District," Heffington said. "I had the privilege of growing up on my family’s farm in Summertown, where my family still resides. My upbringing instilled a love for and understanding of this community – a community I look forward to serving in this new role."

Heffington, a partner at Wolaver, Carter & Heffington, practiced in the areas of insurance litigation, divorce, adoption, property disputes, wills and estates.

She earned her bachelor’s degree at Middle Tennessee State University and juris doctor at Nashville School of Law.

The new judicial position was created by the Tennessee General Assembly through Public Chapter No. 396, enacted May 11.

“I am proud to announce the appointment of these highly qualified individuals and value the significant experience they will bring to their respective roles,” Lee said. “I appreciate their leadership and am confident they will serve Tennesseans with integrity.”

Prior to attending law school, Heffington was a Registered Nurse for 14 years, specializing in labor and delivery, recovery and pediatrics. She earned a nursing degree from Middle Tennessee State University and juris doctor degree from Nashville School of Law, where she also received the Moot Court Award. 

She remains licensed in the State of Tennessee and is active in promoting the nursing profession. She also is a part of the Maury County Bar Association and Tennessee Bar Association.

Celebrating Our American Heritage (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College will host 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. 3, Greg Mewbourn, Columbia State associate professor of history, will present “Triumph and Tragedy in the Civil Rights Movement: The March on Washington and the Bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.”

To many Americans, the March on Washington, held in August 1963, appeared a crowning achievement in the Civil Rights Movement. Only weeks later, the nation was shocked by the brutal bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, an attack which claimed the lives of four young girls. Mewbourn will examine both events and discuss the impact of each on the Civil Rights Movement.

On Oct. 16, Emily Senefeld, Columbia State adjunct professor of history, will present “The Lone Rock Stockade: Convict Leasing in Tennessee.”

Senefeld will use the history of the Lone Rock Stockade in Grundy County, as well as the uprising that occurred there, to explore the history of convict leasing in Tennessee in the decades after the Civil War — a story that culminated in the passage of a recent amendment to the Tennessee State Constitution.  Among other sources, Senefeld will draw upon her own archival research for the ongoing Tennessee Convict Stockade Project. 

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.

Bunco and Boos Fundraiser (Press Release)

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs Spring Station chapter will hold a “Bunco and Boo’s” fundraiser on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. at the Royal Event & Social, located at 4926 Port Royal Rd. Suite D, Spring Hill. Not only will you have an opportunity to play Bunco, but there will also be a silent auction. Food and beverages (spirited and non-spirited) can be purchased.

For the creative souls, please dress in your best Halloween costume to get into the mood of the event.

Raised funds will be supporting the volunteer activities undertaken in the Spring Hill and Thompson Station area, which include supporting a new teacher, starting a scholarship fund and building out a park bench.

To sign up for this event, please visit,/232378882312159.

The GFWC Spring Station ladies welcome other ladies of all ages who share a desire to volunteer to help the community. Meetings are held on the first Monday of the month, except when it lands on a holiday, at the Winchester Community Center Lower Level, 563 Maury Hill St. Spring Hill. The meetings start at 6 p.m. with some time to catch up with friends before the business portion of the meeting starts. Please contact for more information; and follow us on Facebook at GFWC Spring Station Woman’s Club.

Schools in Need of Staff (Press Release)

Although they are in a much better position in terms of staffing than the last two years, Maury County Schools are still looking to fill a number of positions. They are in need of teachers…especially math and special education teachers, school nutrition associates, and bus drivers. Want to be a bus driver, but don’t have your CDL? No problem! Training will be provided. For more information on job openings and how to apply, visit

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

Mr. John Mallory Church, 88, retired realtor and auctioneer and resident of Columbia, died Friday, September 29, 2023, at Poplar Estates. Funeral services for Mr. Church will be conducted Wednesday at 11:00 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. until 7:00 P.M. at the funeral home.

Gary Wayne Poe, 73, musician, entertainer, and resident of Columbia, died Saturday, September 30, 2023, at Maury Regional Medical Center.


Funeral services will be conducted Friday at 3:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Reverend Jeff Kane officiating. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 5:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. and Friday from 2:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Alvin Moore, 94, passed away on September 29, 2023, at his home in Columbia, Tennessee, surrounded by his family. Mr. Moore was a long-time employee of Tennessee Farm Bureau

A memorial service will be conducted Saturday, October 21, 2023, at 2:00 P.M. at First United Methodist Church with Reverend Tommy Vann and Reverend Frank Smith officiating. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the church. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

…And now, news from around the state…

Funding Bill (Tennessean)

With just hours to spare, Congress this weekend passed a temporary funding bill that will at least delay a government shutdown until mid-November.

The bill passed the U.S. House with broad bipartisan support, particularly in the Senate, but Tennessee Republicans were among the few lawmakers to vote against the measure.

Lawmakers will need to pass a dozen long-term funding bills within 45 days, or approve another temporary measure, to avert a government shutdown that would disrupt services ranging from veteran benefits to national parks.

In the Senate, the stopgap funding bill was approved on an 88-9 vote.

Tennessee U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty were among the nine Republicans who voted against the bill.

In the House, lawmakers voted 335 to 91 in favor of the funding measure.

Tennessee U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, voted in favor of the bill.

U.S. Rep. David Kustoff, R-Germantown, and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Ooltewah, also voted in favor of the bill.

"Today, I voted YES on a Republican bill to fund the government and pay our troops and border patrol agents," Kustoff said on social media after the vote. "It is critical that we keep our government open so we can continue to work on bills that cut wasteful spending and get our country back on track."

The remainder of Tennessee's Republican delegation voted against the bill, including:

U.S. Rep. John Rose, R-Cookeville;

U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Columbia;

U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Clarksville;

U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-Kingsport;

U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg;

U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville.

Smile Direct Club Struggles (Tennessean)

Nashville-based SmileDirectClub Inc. has filed for relief from debts while it reorganizes to remain solvent.

The startup, hailed as a major coup for Middle Tennessee's thriving technology sector when it relocated in 2016, was valued at nearly $9 billion in 2019.

On Friday, it petitioned U.S. Bankruptcy Court for voluntary protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas as its stock plummeted to 42 cents.

Shares were worth only 16 cents on Monday morning.

The company issued a statement outlining rough plans to a recovery via this "comprehensive recapitalization transaction," starting with a $20 million investment from founders Jordan Katzman and Alex Fenkell to "bolster the company's balance sheet and to protect its near- and long-term financial health."

The investment could rise to $60 million if the company enjoys short-term financial success.

"This transaction is designed to ensure our future financial structure reflects the talent of our team members and the quality of our business, and I am excited about the future ahead," said David Katzman, chief executive officer of SmileDirectClub. "I look forward to continuing to work alongside leadership and our talented team to transform smiles with the reliability and quality our customers deserve."

The company did not immediately announce layoffs and said they will continue normal operations.

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce lists the company as having 2,118 employees and being the twenty-first largest employer in Nashville. There is an arm of the company located in Columbia.

"During this restructuring process, SmileDirectClub intends to continue to provide affordable and accessible oral care to its customers without disruption," the statement reads. "The additional liquidity the Company received from its founders, coupled with its normal operating cash flows, is intended to ensure SmileDirectClub is able to continue meeting commitments to stakeholders without disruption throughout this process."

In 2019, SmileDirectClub received $10 million in Tennessee government subsidies as it planned to quadruple staff to 2,000 employees for its expanded Antioch facilities that include state-of-the-art three-dimensional robotic manufacturing plants.

Gov. Bill Lee praised the company, which uses advanced technology to provide low-cost, teeth-straightening treatment and other dental services, when it promised to deliver more than $200 million in local investment.

"Companies like this one are the ones that change our state and take it from where it is today and make it a leader in the country," Lee said at the time. "They had a decision of many places to go for this expansion and they decided to do it here."

But its $23-per-share valuation in a late 2019 initial public offering never materialized and the company's stock never topped $20. In the following two years, the stock dropped more than 80%.

SmileDirectClub also has been involved in numerous lawsuits with competitors and established dental-industry organizations.

Gas Prices (MSM)

For the second week in a row, gas prices across Tennessee have decreased.

On average, gas prices across the state fell seven cents over last week. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.30 which is 12 cents less expensive than one month ago but 11 cents more than one year ago.  

“Despite oil prices stubbornly staying elevated, pump prices have declined for the second consecutive week,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “With the summer driving season behind us, gasoline demand has declined as expected. Gasoline futures are also moving less expensive, which means it’s likely we’ll see another round of falling prices at the pump this week.”

Quick Facts

46% of Tennessee gas stations have prices below $3.25 

The lowest 10% of pump prices are $3.05 for regular unleaded 

The highest 10% of pump prices are $3.71 for regular unleaded

Tennessee is the third least expensive market in the nation

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Olivia Rodrigo joined Sheryl Crow to rock out a duet over the weekend at one of Nashville's historic venues.

The two singers sat together for an acoustic take on "If It Makes You Happy," off Crow's second album "Sheryl Crow," at the famed Bluebird Cafe on Sept. 29. Both Crow and Rodrigo shared the experience on their Instagram accounts Friday night.

"Pinch me!" read Olivia Rodrigo's post. "Sang one of my favorite songs of all time with the greatest of all time @sherylcrow !!!! what an honor!!!!"

Crow captioned her post, "Funnest day ever with the amazingly brilliant @oliviarodrigo! What a talent!! And the loveliest young woman!"

Rodrigo recently released her second album "GUTS" back on Sept. 8 where it debuted as the No. 1 Album on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart. She is also set to play Nashville March 9, 2024 at Bridgestone Arena.

Earlier this year, Crow was announced as one of the 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Inductees. It was also announced last week that Crow would be one of the performers for the induction ceremony.


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