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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for September 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…

Spring Hill Water Shortage (MauryCountySource)

The City of Spring Hill is kindly requesting all residents to temporarily suspend non-essential water usage including irrigation activities until further notice. This advisory comes as a result of unforeseen mechanical issues within the municipal and regional water system, which require immediate attention and maintenance.

The city is taking proactive steps to ensure the swift resolution of these mechanical issues. By temporarily halting irrigation, the city says they can conserve water resources and expedite the repair process, minimizing the likelihood of additional restrictions to users.

Updates or changes regarding the irrigation advisory will be provided as new information becomes available.

Maury County Marine Remembered (MSM)

The Flagman’s Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to honor the men and women who have died in service to the country, will be coming to Columbia to set up flags in honor of Lance Corporal Joseph D. Whaley, who was killed during a nighttime live-fire training exercise at Camp Pendleton on Aug. 23.

The organization is requesting anyone who would like to help with the set up or break down of the flags to join them Thursday, Sept. 7, at 4 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home for the placement of the flags, or Sunday, Sept. 10, to take down the tokens of appreciation.

Jeff Hastings, CEO of The Flagman’s Mission Continues, said the purpose of the 501(c)(3) organization is to give the community a way to pay honor to a fallen soldier or active duty member.

The organization, headquartered in Illinois, reaches far and wide to honor those soldiers.

“In the case of any active duty deaths within a 400 mile radius of our operating area, we notify and contact the family to get their permission,” Hastings said.

In doing this, the organization then surrounds funeral homes and cemeteries with flags to honor service members who have paid the ultimate price.

In Whaley’s case, Hastings is preparing to set up 600 flags — and he needs the community’s help.

“The more volunteers we have the more flags we can set up,” Hastings said. “We can put up more flags if we have more people. How many flags we set up and how much area we cover will be based on the number of volunteers who show up that day.”

Whaley was a 2022 graduate of Columbia Central High School, where he was a member and co-captain of the football team. He was in his fourth week of training in the 13-week-long Basic Reconnaissance Course.

The circumstances leading to Whaley’s death are unknown at this time. He was just 20 years old at the time of his death.

Whaley isn’t the first, or the last, active duty service member who will receive this recognition. The Flagman’s Mission Continues was created about 18 years ago by Larry Eckhardt, who served two years in the Marine Reserves.

“Nobody ever knew it until after his death because he never acknowledged it,” Hastings said.

According to their website, after attending a funeral for a fallen soldier, Eckhardt was heartbroken to see so little had been to commemorate the man’s sacrifice and service.

Soon after, Eckhardt bought 50 3×5-foot flags and began posting them in the small towns in the region of Illinois when funerals were held for local servicemembers.

To learn more about The Flagman’s Mission Continues and how you can help, visit

My Day at the Fair (CDH)

One of the most-celebrated and happiest times at the Maury County Fair is when the community bands together to open the park for a day focused on the special needs community.

My Day, now in its 11th year, continues to get bigger and better every year, breaking attendance records, as well as sponsorships and support from volunteers, local businesses and area nonprofits. This year's My Day reported a record of more than 600 registrations, not including the additional 300 family members and caregivers in attendance.

When it began, the first My Day only had about 100 attendees, and seeing it now reach nearly 10 times as many people has been "quite a journey," King's Daughters' recreational therapist Shannon Neff said.

"This is just a wonderful experience for the families, the teachers and the caregivers. A typical night at the fair can be a sensory overload for individuals with all the lights, the crowds and the noises," Neff said. "With this, it's kind of more toned down."

Neff added that this year's attendees include participants from more than 20 area schools and four adult agencies, as well as a long list of sponsors and volunteers pitching in.

"They are the ones that make it happen," Neff said.

Amy Bryson, a pre-school teacher at Joseph Brown Elementary School, said she and her kids look forward My Day every year, because it allows them to be outside, play with other kids, experience the thrill rides, pet animals and wear some of their biggest smiles, while having good, genuine fun.

"So many of the parents don't even know about My Day at the fair and so many opportunities. It's great to see so many that now know this is available. There is a big population of kids with special needs, and they are all excited to come back again next year," Bryson said. "And it creates a good network among the parents and caregivers."

Among this year's My Day volunteers were staff members from Ultium Cells, who spent most of the day packing nearly 1,000 sack lunches. Austin Kelly, Ultium Communications Specialist, said experiencing the company's first Maury County Fair was a "good first step" in Ultium's goal to give back, and that an event like My Day sounded like a great place to start.

"We might be a new company in the area and under construction for a couple of years, but now that our hiring is ramping up, it's an opportunity to be a bigger part of the community because the people that work for us live in this community, and we want to give back, not just as an economic generator, but to be a force for good," Kelly said.

"As a former educator, kids have a special place in my heart, and it's really wonderful what all of these volunteers do."

It also comes in handy when you have employees highly skilled in manufacturing and assembling.

"We've been packing since about 8 a.m. and are doing about 900 brown bag lunches. Thankfully, we have some manufacturing experts that sort of set us up in an assembly line," Kelly said.

One popular site this year was the fair's Kids Zone, which featured animal shows by local wildlife biologist Bob Tarter, as well as science demonstrations by Mr. Bond's Science Guys, horse riding, a petting zoo and more.

Having worked with children as a profession, Tarter said My Day is special because it gives the kids an opportunity to interact and enjoy things they wouldn't normally do, such as getting their picture taken with a giant eagle owl, snakes and other exotic critters.

"With the special needs kids, you have a smaller window when it comes to their attention, but to get them excited and get them to see these animals up close, for some of them it's the only chance they have to experience that hands-on type of sensation," Tarter said. "We try to bring something new to the fair every day, but what we have lined up for the special needs kids is especially suited to them."

Steele Remains Suspended (MSM)

Columbia Central principal Dr. Michael Steele remains on suspension following a meeting last Friday where Maury County Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Ventura spoke with staff about Roy Brooks, who allegedly was an unauthorized, armed responder being at the school during a May 3 school shooting hoax.

Maury County Public Schools does not comment on personnel matters, but Steele said he was told the reason was “creating a hostile work environment,” which he believes is directly in relation to how he handled learning of the aforementioned situation.

A recording of a portion of the meeting was circulated throughout the student body and staff where Steele was told to leave. Steele referred to a meeting held on Aug. 22, 2023, that included himself, Ventura and Sonya Cathey where he learned of the incident.

Others may have been present, but have not been identified.

“Did you or did you not tell me that you felt like he was a threat and should have been arrested in May, yes or no? Because you did,” Steele asked.

Ventura replied that she told Steele not to leave the room and talk about the situation. Steele disagreed and alluded to having audio evidence to back up his claim.

Main Street Maury has obtained the audio of the near-hour long meeting, and noted only that Ventura told Steele, “We shouldn’t talk about this.”

Students at the school planned a walkout in protest of Steele’s suspension last week, but were ultimately asked to report to the school’s auditorium, rather than leave the school building. The students complied with the request.

According to the school system’s suspension policies, Steele has the right to appeal the suspension, which he indicated he plans to do.

Board policy states: “The Superintendent of Schools may dismiss or suspend for more than three days any non-tenured teacher during the contract year for incompetence, inefficiency, insubordination, improper conduct, or neglect of duty after giving the non-tenured teacher, in writing, due notice of the charges.

“The Superintendent of Schools shall give the non-tenured teacher an opportunity for a full and complete hearing before an impartial hearing officer.

“The Board will appoint an impartial hearing officer to conduct such hearings. The hearing officer will hear the case and the employee shall have the right to:

1. be represented by counsel; 2. call and subpoena witnesses; 3. examine all witnesses; and 4. require that all testimony be given under oath.”

Following the hearing, either party may appeal the decision to the board of education, which would have the final decision in the matter.

Fall Fest (Press Release)

Columbia Main Street and the Kiwanis Club of Columbia are excited to announce the first annual Fall Fest, a community festival happening in the heart of downtown Columbia on Saturday, September 30th from 3pm to 7pm.

 The event will feature a variety of activities and attractions, including:

The Kiwanis Chili Cook-off where guests can pay $10 to sample chili from competing teams & vote for their favorite;

Food trucks: Mostarda Catering, Hot Dog Mafia, Loco Lemon, Holy Smoke BBQ, D's Kettle Corn, and Bri's Homemade Ice Cream;

A fun zone with games and activities for kids of all ages;

Live music from Majestic - a Journey tribute band, Classic Vinyl, and Chief Smiley Ricks & the C-Town Special;

A craft marketplace featuring over 40 vendors selling candles, hats, jewelry, plants, clothing, desserts, and more.


"We are excited to partner with the Kiwanis Club to bring Fall Fest to downtown Columbia," said Kelli Johnson, Columbia Main Street Manager. "This is a family-friendly festival with everything from food trucks and craft vendors to live music and the Kiwanis chili cook-off. What a great way for families to kick off the fall season and celebrate the community. We hope to see everyone there!"

 Admission is free for Fall Fest and all are welcome to attend, while a fee is charged to participate in the Kiwanis Chili Cook-off. For more information, please visit the Columbia Main Street’s website or the Kiwanis Club of Columbia Facebook page

Feek Starts Series (MauryCountySource)

Singer, songwriter Rory Feek will host a new series called ‘Songs or Stories’ this fall at Homestead Hall at Hardison Mill.

On Fridays, Rory will share an evening of songs and music, and on Saturdays, he’ll spend the evening with the audience sharing intimate stories, thoughts, and observations from his life.

Mark your calendars for September 8 + 9, October 20 + 21, November 17 + 18, and December 14 + 15.

“These weekends will give me the opportunity to share two parts of storytelling that I love: the songwriter/singer side of me… and also the author/writer part, which I’ve never had the chance to share live before. Although different, they complement each other and I think for the folks who decide to come for both nights, I think will be a unique, life-giving experience for all of us,” writes Feek.

Homestead Hall is located at 4544 US-431, in Columbia.

Boys & Girls Club Gala (MSM)

Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee will host its third annual Great Futures Gala from 5-8:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 22 at Puckett’s Downtown Columbia.

First Farmers & Merchants Bank is the presenting sponsor for the 2023 Great Futures Gala. The event will feature a cocktail hour, live music, online auction, a wine pull, elegant dinner and moving performances from Club youth. This year’s event theme is “Growing Bright Futures,” with Gale Courtney Moore and Julian Pierre-Griffin serving as committee co-chairs in planning the event.

“I would like to personally invite you to one of the most exciting evenings in Columbia,” Moore said. “The Gala provides an opportunity to have an action-packed evening while benefiting one of our most important community resources – our children. When Boys & Girls Clubs brighten our kids’ futures, we all benefit.”

The exciting auction item lineup includes a 14K white gold diamond pendant necklace donated by local Tillis Jewelry, vacation stays and getaways, autographed Nashville Predators memorabilia and a two-year lease on a 2023 GMC Acadia from Parks Motor Sales in Columbia.

“We are super excited to partner with Boys & Girls Clubs again this year,” said Robert Rogers, Parks General Manager. “We’ve been doing the car lease giveaway for a long time, and we are glad to do it again this year. It’s one of the best causes in town, I think your money goes the furthest with the kids who need it the most at the Boys & Girls Club. That’s why we support this great mission.”

Gala tickets are $260 each and tables for 10 are available for $2,500. Limited space remains, so contact Missy Naff to reserve your table or tickets today! Email or call (931) 490-9401, ext. 2604.

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation (Press Release)

The Duck River Electric Membership Corporation is hosting free home energy workshops. Learn how a few simple improvements can increase heating and cooling efficiency, lower energy bills, and create a more comfortable home at one of the FREE Home Energy Workshops sponsored by Duck River Electric Membership Corporation.

The Home Energy Workshop planned for the Maury County area is set for Thursday, October 5, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the DREMC office located at 798 New Lewisburg Highway in Columbia.

The workshop includes a light supper and an educational program presented by DREMC’s Residential Energy Advisor Pat Garrett. Workshop attendees will receive an energy efficiency starter kit; limit one per household.

Information about rebates available through the TVA EnergyRight Residential Services Program will be announced for retrofit upgrades and new homes to encourage energy efficiency. The rebates are designed to assist DREMC members in achieving their goals to improve energy efficiency year-round and create a more comfortable home.

Due to limited space, please reserve your seat in advance.

For more information about DREMC’s Home Energy Workshops or to enroll, visit or call (931) 680-5880.

Crossroads to Home Coalition Fundraiser (MauryCountySource)

Crossroads to Home Coalition, which strives to unite entities throughout the community in making progressive steps to improve homelessness, will be the beneficiaries of a new event called Arts in Maury on September 9, 2023. The event will take place at the Memorial Building from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Tri-Star Bank is their title sponsor.

The event will feature artists, makers and artisans who will be selling their creations and they will be on hand to discuss their work with the public. Music will be provided by local musicians. Tastings of wine, cheese and other foods will begin at noon as part of the price of admission. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here. Or they can be purchased in person at the Crossroads to Home Café. Children 10 and under are free.

“We hope you will join Crossroads as we celebrate the talented artists in Maury County,” says their website.

Crossroads to Home Coalition was formed in 2018 to address the growing needs of the homeless in Maury County, Tennessee. The coalition consists of local non-profit organizations, churches, and individuals who each offer a unique program or service to assist the homeless. The goal of the coalition is to strengthen the programs and services offered by these groups and individuals by creating partnerships, fostering close communication, sharing resources and developing long-term solutions for the homeless

The Crossroads to Home Café provides homeless individuals with coffee, a lunch, a shower, some clothing items and a listening ear in a nurturing nonjudgmental environment. While talking with their cafe clients, the staff makes note of their client’s stated immediate needs and helps connect them with organizations that specialize in their biggest area of need.

“Our goal is to provide a hand-up, not just a handout,” says the website.

The Arts in Maury event will also provide a hand-up to local artists and artisans involved in the local art scene by providing them with an opportunity to introduce their work to the public. According to an article on the Maury County Alliance website, “The arts are a driving force in Maury County’s growth and in the revitalization of its communities.”

Arts in Maury will take place at the popular community event spot, the Memorial Building. Built in 1907 and 1908, for many years it was the Columbia Post Office. It is located at 307 West 11th Street in Columbia.

…And now, news from around the state…

Flight Delays on the Rise at BNA (Tennessean)

Packing books, games and work in your carry-on for down time at the airport may be more important than ever.

Delays in scheduled airline flights from Nashville have risen 5.6% in the past 12 months, landing at 28.35%, airline-data firm FlightTracker found. That's almost one in three flights.

Post-pandemic jet and pilot shortages continue to put pressure on thinned-out airline fleets. Nationally, air carriers average on-time flights dropped from 79% in 2019 to 69% in 2022, according to the Department of Transportation.

"The U.S. is operating less aircraft now but moving pretty much the same passenger numbers as 2019 – especially on busy holidays," FlightTracker spokesperson Kathleen Bangs said. "Airlines are accomplishing this by using larger aircraft as many smaller regional airplanes are parked due to the pilot shortage felt most critically at the smaller carriers."

The average on-time rate for 26 commercial airlines departing from Nashville International Airport was 71.65% from Aug. 24, 2022 to Aug. 24, 2023, according to a Tennessean review of FlightTracker data.

The average length of a delay at BNA during this period was 53 minutes ― a 3-minute increase from 2019.

"Less flights means less flights to get on if you miss a connection due to a delay. It also means there may be a flight but not any open seats since the load factors are so high," Bangs said. "The cancellation rate nationwide, which is the biggest factor, is actually down compared to 2019 pre-pandemic – the busiest year on record."

Southwest, the largest carrier at BNA, had 46,947 scheduled flights and delayed 9,855, or 21.5%, of those in the 12 months ending Aug. 24.

The largest commercial fliers were led by Delta, which had the lowest percentage of delays at 13.84%, having arrived late for 1,171 of its 8,552 flights.

Airlines that operate less than 1,000 flights and flew international service had the most delays. Of WestJet's 206 flights, one was cancelled and 126 were delayed. Jazz Aviation experienced 325 delays out of 501 scheduled flights, and Air Canada flights from BNA were on time 48% of the time. British Airways was late on 159 of its 330 flights.

Low-cost carriers also had higher rates of delay.

JetBlue delayed 34.8%, or 836, of its 2,471 flights and canceled 65 of them; Frontier canceled 27 and was late on 33.7% of its 1,151 flights; Spirit delayed 30.4% of its 3,074 scheduled arrivals and canceled 78 of them; Avelo had no cancelations but arrived late for 29% of its 207 scheduled flights and Allegiant was delayed 27.7% of the time and canceled 37 flights of its 3,761 flights.

American had 1,791 delays of its 8,163 flights, arriving on time 22.3% of the time, United was on time for 24.2% of its 6,100 flights.

Cancelations were down overall. Delta had a 1% cancelation rate, American didn't fly 1.5% of its planned routes, and United canceled 2.3% of its scheduled service. The nationwide rate of airline cancellations in 2022 was 2.7%.

Passengers are entitled to compensation for canceled flights but have little recourse when their flight arrives late. The Department of Transportation does not require airline payments for late service. However, the DOT has a website that conveniently lists airline guarantees for disruptions.

The most common airline delay reimbursement is food vouchers in the airport, and airlines sometimes provide payments for hotels when flights are delayed overnight.

Some airlines, like American, United and Southwest determine whether to compensate passengers on a case-by-case basis that is typically based on the length of delay.

"When planning a trip, passengers should keep in mind that airlines do not guarantee their schedules," DOT says on its website. "Some problems, like bad weather, air traffic delays, and mechanical issues, are hard to predict and are often beyond the airlines’ control. 

"In the United States, airlines are not required to compensate passengers when flights are delayed or cancelled. Compensation is required by U.S. law only when certain passengers are 'bumped' from a flight that is oversold."

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Following his nationwide run of summer tour dates, Grammy Award-winning guitarist Peter Frampton will continue the Never Say Never Tour with a string of November shows. The tour kicks off in Louisville, Kentucky at The Louisville Palace and includes stops at Austin, Texas’s Moody Theater, Birmingham, Alabama’s BJCC Concert Hall, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on November 22.

Tickets available at

The upcoming performances add to yet another landmark year for Frampton, whose spring tour announcement was unexpected by fans. The legendary musician announced a farewell tour four years ago after a diagnosis of the degenerative disease inclusion-body myositis, but with the aptly named Never Say Never Tour, Frampton is back, appearing on stages across America.


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