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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for September 7, 2023


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


Today is Thursday, September 7th, and we start with local news…

Spring Hill Water Shortage (MauryCountySource)

The City of Spring Hill, in close collaboration with Columbia Power and Water Systems (CPWS), is continuing to address the water service challenges necessitating the temporary irrigation shutoff currently in place throughout the Spring Hill community.

As of Tuesday afternoon, repairs have been made to the mechanical issues within the CPWS system.

While the system has been repaired, the current irrigation shutoffs in place at this time will continue as the system restores to full capacity. There is no current timeframe for when these restrictions will end.

Currently, Spring Hill residents are asked to continue their voluntary shutoff of irrigation systems.

Large commercial properties in Spring Hill are still under a mandatory shutoff.

City officials have been in constant communication with CPWS throughout this endeavor. The cooperation and coordination between the City and CPWS are aimed at minimizing long-term inconvenience to residents while maintaining the highest level of water service for essential needs.

If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact the City of Spring Hill at commdept@springhilltn.org.


The Crossings Development Update (MSM)

The Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce hosted Southstar Holdings at its most recent luncheon to update the business community on the ongoing project behind The Crossings that includes a future regional US Tennis Association facility.

Glenn McGehee, president of Southstar, said this project has been unconventional from the start, but that once it’s completed it will be a shining example of what Spring Hill can be.

“Our goal was to create a very special project that was truly a sense of place and destination in nature. The name will be announced very soon,” he said. “This project will be one of our greatest. I believe this will be a recognized project throughout the Southeast.”

According to McGehee, the project wouldn’t be possible without the USTA’s backing. 

“We put together a model without tennis – what if tennis doesn’t come, will this work? We met with the city and they said, ‘No, not interested. It’s a great mixed use project that you’re looking at, but we really want tennis.’ That’s what we wanted to hear from the city – what was the level of commitment from the city on tennis,” he said. 

USTA’s facility will have a major impact on the area, including regional tennis tournaments and local pay-for-play options. 

“From a major tennis perspective, that’s not what this facility is focusing on. Regional tournaments will get people spending money and dollars. You never know,” he said. “The facility is designed in such a way that you could hold an event. There is the potential for that, no guarantees.”

MeGehee said he and his team visited the UTSA facility in Orlando, which helped to sell them on the idea of building a community around their idea. 

“We drank the Kool-Aid. That facility is world-class,” he said. “We can go on and on about the benefits for those who might want to pay to play there or those who want to get the experience who might not be otherwise able.”

Southstar has gone through much of the city’s process to this point, and has made concessions that are unusual compared to other projects, McGehee said.

“The city told us they were not going to give us any (certificates of occupancy) until the road is in. That’s not typically how you do it. Typically, you will phase your way into development without this giant upfront cost of two miles of road. We said, ‘Makes sense,’” McGehee said. “We’re going to need you to give the land and the development, along with offsite improvements to the USTA – which is about a $15 million give on our part. If you do this, we’ll partner with you on the (tax increment financing) process for infrastructure and building a public parking facility. 

“That’s another large give, but it will have tremendous economic impact for this community and for this project – all in our goal to produce that sense of place.”

The connector road is set to begin construction after the first of the year in 2024, but the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is already working on adding lanes to the exit ramps off Saturn Parkway. 

There are plans to widen Kedron Road from the development to Hwy. 31. 

McGehee said the Southstar project will butt up to the historic Spring Hill Battlefield, and the developer is committed to upgrading the historic site by adding a parking lot nearby, along with stake and rider fencing.

“Next door is home to the Spring Hill battlefield. Many of you know a lot about the history in this community and we knew the history. We’ve developed other sites that are very historical in nature and you’ve got to deal with those things up front,” he said. “We had conversations with the Battlefield Trust and what they thought about a project like this. We’ve had a great relationship with them from the very beginning – even some collaborative efforts as we move forward that we believe will not only highlight what’s going on there, but enhance the experience. 

“We’ll put a stake and rider fencing around their site. It sets the site apart that it is something historical in nature and will be preserved.”

McGehee told Chamber members the impact on schools will not be as large as one might think for a project with 1,490 dwellings. 

He and his team estimate – based on their studies – the project will yield about 150 children. The economic impact, however, will be more than sufficient to cover those pupils.

“There are insignificant county taxes on this property and over 20 years it would create about $15,900 for schools. Through our studies, the same 20-year period from the go-forward date, which is about three years from now – we estimate about $59 million going toward schools,” he said. “When we’re having conversations with the county, they were concerned, but once they did their studies they determined that our numbers were accurate.”

Southstar will name the project in the coming months and begin construction in 2024. 


Homeschool Tennessee Promise (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College will host Homeschool Tennessee Promise Information Nights at each campus during the month of September.

“Columbia State recognizes that homeschool families are sometimes unaware of the deadlines associated with Tennessee Promise,” said Cissy Holt, Columbia State vice president of Student Affairs. “Completing the application by November 1 is essential for high school seniors to remain eligible for the scholarship. We are happy to partner with the Ayers Foundation and Tennessee Achieves to support these families with this assistance no matter where the student plans to attend.”

Tennessee Promise is a statewide program that allows graduating high school and homeschool seniors the opportunity to earn a degree or certificate from a community or technical college regardless of financial status. Tennessee Promise is a scholarship, mentoring, and community service program that began fall semester of 2015. It provides students with a last-dollar scholarship, meaning the Tennessee Promise will cover tuition and fees not covered by the Pell Grant, the HOPE scholarship, or Tennessee Student Assistance Award funds.

A critical component of Tennessee Promise is the individual guidance each participant will receive from a mentor who will assist the student as they navigate the college admissions process. In addition, participants must complete eight hours of community service prior to each term enrolled, as well as maintain satisfactory academic progress (2.0 GPA) at their institution.

At the Homeschool Tennessee Promise Information Nights, students and their parents will gain knowledge on Tennessee Promise, receive assistance with applications, and be given tutorials on how to access the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation grant website to begin the application. Any in-depth questions will be answered by a Columbia State financial aid representative or Ayers Foundation/TnAchieves staff.

To view the full list of steps to apply, or to sign up, please visit ColumbiaState.edu/TNPromise.

Spring Hill Names Trail After Late Businessman (CDH)

The city of Spring Hill plans to honor the memory and legacy of one of its former business leaders by renaming a multi-use trail located in the Kingsley Place mixed-use development off Old Port Royal Road.

Jim Grimes, who formerly owned AutoBody Advantage, served the city for more than 15 years, including his work with The Well Food Pantry, Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce, and as chairman of the Economic Development Commission, in addition to contributing to several community events, groups and programs. This includes restoration of the Spring Hill Fire Department's antique Fire Belle truck in 2014.

Grimes' life was tragically cut short April 19, 2021 when he was murdered at his Lynnville home.

"He was a very loving person who was taken from us in a very violent way, and we want his love for this community to be what stands, and our love for him," Spring Hill Chamber Executive Director Rebecca Melton said.

A request to dedicate the multi-use trail in Grimes' honor was brought before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday, where it received a unanimous vote of approval. The trail in question will be located directly across the street from his former auto-body business.

"[Mrs. Dawn Grimes] is an incredible human being who has been through a lot, but we stand by her, support her and appreciate this being taken into account," Parks and Recreation Director Kayce Williams said.

Melton added that the trail's proposed dedication is a "great way to honor Jim."

"He was part of the team that hired me seven years ago, and was a good friend and trusted advisor, which he was to so many," Melton said. "We've been working with the family in a way to honor him, his legacy and what he did for this community as a business owner, a philanthropist and so many more things. We really wanted to have his name attached to something in the community he loved and served."

Local financer Will Tenpenny, who also spoke Tuesday, said the dedication will serve as a positive conclusion to a tragic event.

"It's been a hard few years, and this community lost a giant," Tenpenny said. "We need to remember those giants that helped build the city, and Jim and Dawn are both those kinds of people who helped do so much. This is an unbelievable opportunity for us to be able to name something after Jim, for what he did for this community."

Mayor Jim Hagaman concluded Tuesday's discussion by saying, while he did not know Grimes personally, he certainly understands the impact he had on Spring Hill during his life.

"In this position as mayor, as I went around the city shortly after this tragic event happened, he had a legacy and a statement in this community that is just a testament to who he was," Hagaman said. "Blessings to his wife, and for coming here and staying strong."


Polk Sculptor Nearly Finished (CDH)

It's not every day that someone is tasked with commemorating a piece of history that will last many lifetimes, especially when you live in the hometown of a former U.S. President.

The Polks at Preservation Park project is entering its home stretch of completion, with an estimated opening in early November. The project will include renovating the pocket park located at the northwest corner of West 7th and N High St, along with a couple noble guests to celebrate the revitalization — former U.S. President James K. Polk and First Lady Sarah Childress Polk in shiny bronze form.

Statues of James and Sarah Polk are being designed and created by local sculptor Jennifer Grisham, a lifelong artist, who has sculpted many iconic works, her most recent being a life-size statue of country music icon Minnie Pearl for the comedienne's hometown in Centerville.

Columbia City Council approved the project in April of 2022, placing it into the hands, quite literally, of Grisham. Once finished, the statues will be featured at the border of the city's arts district.

To be commissioned to commemorate arguably Columbia's most famous resident family, Grisham said, is "an honor I can't even begin to describe."

"I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to commemorate the Polks, because they're hometown folks. I think this will be a big tourist draw. You have the Polk Home, which is beautiful, but now you have something different," Grisham said.

One of the joys Grisham finds in sculpting, she said, is researching the subject of the piece. For James and Sarah Polk, this included reading books on each, as well as examining portraits and historical photographs from when the medium was in its infancy.

"I didn't realize how powerful of a First Lady Sarah was until I read the book 'Lady First.' There are also some old photographs of him, but the process was so slow nobody ever smiled," Grisham said. "So, what I did was try to blend what people have seen with the paintings and portraits with those old photographs. When the final statues are made, he'll be five-feet-eight, and she'll be about five-two."

The project has been a longtime city strategic planning goal, coming in at a cost estimated at about $200,000 funded via city tourism and general fund dollars.

City Manager Tony Massey noted that the Polks at Preservation Park project dates back about five years, and has taken many iterations throughout that time, at first featuring other Tennessee Presidents Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson, as well as First Lady's Park with Sarah Polk sitting on a bench.

Finalizing the project to solely feature James and Sarah together, especially considering the significance of the location felt most appropriate, Massey said.

"This project goes back about five years ago, and we've had different variations of it off and on, different concepts that were discussed," Massey said. "We not only wanted to honor James K. Polk, but Sarah as well, since she was quite the individual in her own right. You could almost argue that she can be considered the first 'modern' First Lady, because of how she took it from more than just a ceremonial position."

Massey added that the renovations will also include replacing the brick and stone features, as well as upgrading the park's fountain. There will also be two historical markers added to the park. Most of the renovations are expected to be completed by the November goal, but Massey said a few other features might take a little longer, such as replacing the fountain.

"We're going to try and get as much of it done by November as we can, and we feel confident that we'll get a lot of it, if not all of it done," Massey said. "The historic markers will take a year to get, and so we know we won't have those. With replacing the fountain, we may or may not get that done in time. It just depends on how long the delivery would be. It'll be something to see, something noteworthy."

Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder said he is excited to see this years-in-the-making project come to fruition, especially when the plan was to coincide with the recent West 7th Street revitalization project.

"I'm really excited about this project and one we've been talking about for quite a few years now. And while some of the delays have been frustrating, they actually kind of benefited the project as a whole, because the project is now going to be a much better end result than the initial phase," Molder said. "It will be a great place to visit, with the historical markers providing a story to the park itself and will blend in well as you enter the downtown district."

The intention for the Polks at Preservation Park is indeed to include another way to preserve and celebrate Columbia's history, but there are other ways it will also create a positive effect.

The artform of displaying bronze statues depicting notable figures has been a much-celebrated tradition, especially in big cities like Nashville, New York or Austin, Texas. It is also a trendy thing to get your picture taken with them, sharing it on social media and promoting the town as a must-see destination.

"I am just thrilled to see this come to fruition, and to see that we are finally approaching a grand opening date is so exciting," Columbia Tourism and Marketing Director Kellye Murphy said. "And Jennifer Grisham is just awesome, to see her work and the intricacies, the details, everything she does is just amazing. It breathes new life into the presidential home as a whole, as an attraction, and is another way for people to experience it when they come to Columbia."

Murphy added that she hopes the project can reach its estimated November date, and that a proper reveal ceremony can take place. The sculptures will not only attract new visitors to Columbia urging them to learn a thing or two about local history, but also gives locals a new way to appreciate it as well.

"This will just elevate the experience there, and will be located across the street from our President's ancestral home," Murphy said. "If people stop by the park, it might inspire them to learn more about him and Sarah, take a tour and enjoy the gardens. It just elevates that entire experience and gives us so much more to talk about with visitors. I am so excited to see this finally happening."

The only thing remaining is to ship the statues to Atlanta, where they will be cast in bronze before their installation.

"It feels good, and I'm glad I was able to do it," Grisham said. "I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and I hope that I've done them justice. And I hope people like it too."

Dallas to Run for State Senate (Press Release)

– James Dallas, current chair of the Maury County Democratic Party, announced today that he is organizing a campaign to contest the District 28 Tennessee State Senate seat next year.

“It’s time for a change, y’all, and whether you live in Pulaski, Lynnville, Lewisburg, Chapel Hill, Hohenwald, Summertown, Mt. Pleasant, Culleoka, Columbia, Spring Hill, or Thompson’s Station, you deserve better representation,” Dallas said in a video posted to the campaign website, dallas4tn.com. “And that is why I am going to seek the Democratic nomination for State Senator in District 28 next year, 2024.”

Dallas resides in Columbia and works as a database administrator at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston Law Center.

In his announcement video and on his campaign website, Dallas emphasized the need for reform in Tennessee, specifically contrasting his views on gun control, civil liberties, and social services with those of the incumbent, Dr. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald).

Dallas, a progressive Democrat, will issue detailed position statements as the race progresses and invites southern Middle Tennesseans to inquire about specific issues. He says that he was particularly inspired to enter the race at this time due to the failure of the Republicans in the General Assembly to pass significant gun control legislation during a Special Session last month, and the inability of local legislators to pass a bill allowing Maury County to enact impact fees on new development over the past several sessions.

The 28th District covers all of Giles, Lewis, Marshall, and Maury counties, as well as parts of Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station in Williamson County. A Democratic candidate has not challenged Dr. Hensley since 2012.


New Endocrinologist (Press Release)

Brenda Goodwin, MD, recently joined the Maury Regional Medical Group (MRMG) Endocrinology practice.

 Dr. Goodwin obtained her medical degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee and completed her residency at Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Goodwin went on to complete a fellowship in endocrinology and metabolism at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She has been an endocrinologist for 20 years and brings a great wealth of knowledge to MRMG Endocrinology.

 Dr. Goodwin is board certified in internal medicine, as well as endocrinology and metabolism.

 At the practice, Dr. Goodwin joins Dr. John McRae, Dr. Bushra Osmani and Karalyn Champion, FNP-C. Conditions treated include adrenal disorders, diabetes management, osteoporosis, parathyroid disorders, pituitary gland disorders and thyroid health. For treatment at MRMG Endocrinology, patients should be referred by their primary care physician.

 MRMG Endocrinology is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The practice is located at 854 W. James Campbell Blvd., Suite 100, in Columbia. For more information, call 931.490.7050 or visit MauryRegional.com/Endocrinology.

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 www.ColumbiaMainStreet.com or the Kiwanis Club of Columbia Facebook page www.facebook.com/kiwanisofcolumbiatn.


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 mnaff@bgcsctn.org 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 www.dremc.com/workshop or call (931) 680-5880.


Charter Commission Asks for Comment (MauryCountySource)

The Charter Appeals Commission wants to hear from Maury County residents!

On September 21, 2023, the American Classical Education Charter (ACAM) appeal will be heard in Maury County at Horace O. Porter School, 1101 Bridge St., Columbia, TN 38401.

The Appeals Commission wants to hear whether Maury County citizens are FOR or AGAINST.

The Maury County Public Schools Board of Education voted down the amended application by American Classical Education (ACE) to open the county’s first public charter school this summer.

The Charter Commission is accepting written public comments for the public hearing on the American Classical Academy Maury public charter school appeal. The Commission will continue to accept written public comments until one week after the conclusion of the public hearing, September 28, 2023 at 4:00 P.M.

In accordance with the Tennessee Open Records Act, any comment submitted by a member of the public and the name and basic contact information of anyone who signs up to make a comment is considered a public record and may be provided in response to a public records request.

Please contact CharterSchool.Appeals@tn.gov with any questions.


Watershed Theater Production (Press Release)

Watershed Public Theatre announced that the first production of their 2023-24 season is the musical Anastasia, created by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Terrence McNally. Six performances will run September 15-24, 2023, at Columbia State’s Cherry Theater.

The stage musical is inspired by the 1997 animated movie of the same name and the legend of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, who was rumored to have disappeared during the fall of the Russian Imperial Romanov family. The story follows amnesiac orphan Anya who is looking for answers about her past, and the con men she meets who convince her that she could be the long lost Duchess Anastasia.

Spring Hill resident McKenna Steel, who recently appeared on the WPT stage as Mercutia in Romeo & Juliet, is taking on the lead role. “Anastasia’s story is beautiful and I love being able to bring her to life on the stage,” said Steel. “She exudes faith, hope and determination in the darkest of moments, something I think we all could learn from.”

“This production sets a company record for the most artists we have employed for a single project, confirming Watershed Public Theatre’s commitment to growing the arts community and supporting local artists,” noted WPT Executive Director Kate Foreman. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the talent and dedication of the team working on this elaborate production. Director Payton McCarthy has worked with WPT to assemble an incredible group of designers, instrumentalists, dancers and performers who are collaborating to bring this beautiful story to life.”

Performances are September 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:00 pm, September 17 and 24 at 3:00 pm. The production is hosted at Cherry Theater, located inside Hickman Building at Columbia State Community College, 1665 Hampshire Pike, Columbia. Tickets are $25 for general admission, $20 for senior adults and $15 for students/children, available for purchase on Watershed’s website (watershedpublictheatre.org) or in person at the performance.

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 www.mauryk12.org.


9/11 Memorial (Press Release)

Join the City of Columbia and Columbia Fire and Rescue as they conduct their annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony. Located at Firefighters Park at 1000 S. Garden Street at 8:00am on Monday September 11th, local leaders will honor the brave men and women of emergency services. The public is invited to attend.


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


Hometown Memorials is sponsored by Oakes and Nichols Funeral Home. Serving with dignity and consideration for over 150 years.

…And now, news from around the state…

UT Guarantees Spots for Top Students (Tennessean)

Top seniors at every public and private high school in Tennessee will be guaranteed a spot at any UT System campus they apply to – including the flagship Knoxville campus – under a new policy the UT Board of Trustees is expected to vote on Sept. 9.

This guaranteed admissions policy would go into effect for students applying to start school in fall 2024 if it's approved. Students and families will need to meet the application deadlines and one of three criteria to receive a spot:

Finish in the top 10% of their graduating class

Achieve a 4.0 or higher grade point average (GPA)

Achieve a 3.2 or higher GPA and a composite ACT score of 23 or higher (or an SAT score of 1130-1150 or higher)

This also means that if a student doesn't finish in the top 10% of their class, they can still receive guaranteed acceptance if they meet one of the other two criteria.

There are some additional notes: class rank and GPA will be based on the semester transcript following their junior year; UT Knoxville uses a weighted core GPA to calculate a student's GPA in 16 academic subjects; ACT and SAT scores are required for applications; and UT Knoxville requires a minimum math and English ACT subscore of 19.

The UT System is trying to ease stress on high school seniors trying to get into a UT school. UT System President Randy Boyd said that the system will try to notify seniors in the top 10% early so they can begin applying.

Boyd said the initiative is a continuation of the system's efforts to make higher education more accessible.

"Typically, we're underrepresented in some of our inner city schools and some of our rural schools. And this we think will be an equalizer in giving students and those schools a better chance," Boyd told Knox News in an exclusive interview. "That's one of the things that we're striving for is that our student body reflects the population of the state. If you admit top 10% of every high school across the state - or they're eligible - it gives us a better chance to be more representative."

There were 64,580 students who graduated from public high schools in Tennessee in 2022, according to the board's agenda for the Sept. 9 meeting. Under the guaranteed admission initiative, about 6,400 students from last year would have qualified.

Enrollment leaders at the flagship Knoxville campus project 5-10% more applications from in-state students for fall 2024.

This initiative will work in tandem with UT Promise, a university program that pays last-dollar tuition and fees for students (last-dollar aid means the program covers tuition and fees not covered by other grants or scholarships). It will be easier for students to qualify for UT Promise in fall 2024 because the threshold will increase to $75,000 of adjusted gross income, meaning that students in households making that much or less will receive the scholarship after financial aid is applied. Boyd said that close to two-thirds of all Tennessee households will qualify for UT Promise.

Students who receive guaranteed admittance also will receive UT Promise funding if they meet the qualifications. Even if a student doesn't apply for UT Promise, the financial aid office will alert students who qualify.

Under the early admissions initiative, Boyd said he hopes to fight the misconception that prospective students in Tennessee can't even get into the flagship university by making sure there's a seat available to them.


Shows in September (Tennessean)

It won't come as a surprise to any music lover that the month of September holds a little something for everyone when it comes to live music. As Nashville's music scene continues to grow way outside its traditional country roots (which still run deep), the live music options this month are once again rich and varied.

During the month of September alone, live shows range from The Chicks and Willie Nelson to Lana Del Rey, SZA and Wu-Tang Clan. Some nights are even double booked with acts such as banjo legend Béla Fleck and rapper Lil Baby on the same night. Not to be outdone, another show has a pop star (Pink) and an Americana star (Brandi Carlile) playing the same bill.

National News

In national news that affects our listeners…

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Hattie Jane’s, a local ice cream shop has just released its fall and special flavors for the season.

Toasted S’mores: Toasted homemade marshmallows, homemade graham cracker crumbles and a fudge swirl

Dairy-Free Salted Caramel with Apple Butter: Dairy-free salted caramel with locally made apple butter swirl with apples from North Alabama


Styling-expert, photographer, cookie connoisseur and author Katie Jacobs has officially launched her flavor collaboration with Hattie Jane’s Creamery, now available in all scoop shops.

The Brown Sugar & Cookie Dough flavor features a brown sugar ice cream with cookie dough chunks and salted caramel swirl. The limited-edition flavor is now available in honor of Katie’s cookbook The Chocolate Chip Cookie Book releasing on October 3 and now available for pre-order. The book includes more than 100 chocolate chip cookie and cookie-inspired recipes for everyone.

Hattie Jane’s shops are located at Fifth + Broadway, 5055 Broadway, Nashville; 116 Church Street, Murfreesboro, and 16 Public Square, Columbia.


That’s all for this edition of Southern Middle Tennessee Today on WKOM/WKRM radio. I’ll be back tomorrow to update you with the latest news. I’m Tom Price. Thanks for listening! Be safe and have a great day!


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