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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 4-19-24


Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for April 19, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Duck River on Endangered List (CDH)

The Duck River, touching seven counties as the most biodiverse river in North America, joins the list of America's Most Endangered Rivers® of 2024, according to a recent American Rivers report.

The river's endangered status, according to a press release by American Rivers, is due to "excessive development and unsustainable water consumption." The organization says urgent action is needed to safeguard the vital river's ecosystem. 

Through the work of local preservation activists and locally-elected officials, the Tennessee General Assembly approved in 2023 legislation that expands protections for a portion of the Duck River in Maury County. The law classifies approximately 30 river miles of the waterway as a Class II scenic river area.

The designation generally prohibits certain activities like mining, commercial timber harvest or the construction of roads within a certain proximity of the river.

Local Save the Duck group formed and flooded Capitol Hill in Nashville last year, pleading with legislators to protect the waterway after Louisiana-based developer Trinity Group pulled permits to build a solid waste landfill within a couple of miles of the river at the now defunct Monsanto Superfund site.

After the legislation was passed Gale Moore, a Columbia resident who serves on the Save the Duck board, said "the battle is not over."

Four permits to build the proposed landfill by Trinity Group are still pending in the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Local leaders as well as Save the Duck remain vigilant to protect the river.

The Duck River ranks as the third most endangered river after those in New Mexico and the Big Sunflower and Yazoo Rivers of Mississippi.

“If we want reliable clean drinking water, and if we want the Duck River to continue sustaining its communities, we must take action now to protect it,” said Anabel Winitsky of American Rivers. 

As the most biodiverse freshwater river in North America, the Duck is recognized as one of three global hot spots for fish and mussel diversity and is home to many endangered and threatened species. It also serves as the drinking water source for nearly 250,000 people and provides water for the region’s growing population and industry. 

"The river is the backbone of the local outdoor recreation economy, with more than 150,000 people enjoying the river and its tributaries each year," the press release states. "Tennessee remains one of the fastest growing states in the nation, and explosive growth in the Mid-State is having a major impact on local waterways, including and especially the Duck River.

"Population and industry growth has led to extreme development pressures, and local water utilities are trying to dramatically increase the amount of water they withdraw from the Duck."

Inadequate long-term management and unsustainable overconsumption of water from the Duck threatens to drain the river during periods of low flow and drought, putting the river’s aquatic inhabitants at risk and threatening long-term water supply for local communities, American Rivers explains in the release.

“Right now, we’re on a collision course. This river is our lifeblood, but poorly planned growth will suck the river dry," Grace Stranch, CEO of Harpeth Conservancy said. "The good news is, we can change course and wisely manage our water to protect the river, our economy and quality of life." 

American Rivers and partners are now calling on Gov. Bill Lee to protect the Duck River by convening a technical working group to develop a comprehensive water use plan and by securing funding for studies to understand the flow needs of the river.

The Duck River flows 269 miles through seven counties in Middle Tennessee. It is one of the top three most biodiverse rivers in the world, home to 22 aquatic snail species, 56 mussel species and 151 fish species. Many species in the Duck are federally listed as endangered or threatened, including some whose only remaining viable populations are found in the river. 

The annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® report is a list of rivers at a crossroads.

In recent years, other rivers in the region have been listed as most endangered due to toxic chemical pollution, sewage pollution and excessive water withdrawals. They include the Mississippi River in 2022, and the Holston River and Harpeth River, both listed in 2015.     

American Rivers reviews nominations for America’s Most Endangered Rivers® from local groups and individuals across the country, and selects rivers based on three criteria:  

1. The river’s significance to people and wildlife 

2. The magnitude of the threat to the river and communities, especially in light of climate change and environmental injustice 

3. A decision in the next 12 months that the public can influence 

Over the years, the American River report has helped in the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.    

American Rivers is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has been advocating for 50 years for the protection of "a million miles of river" for waterways across the U.S.

I-840 Bridge Closure (TheNewsTN)

The Interstate 840 eastbound bridge at mile marker 28 in Williamson County will be reduced to a single lane for an estimated three months after the bridge was damaged on Tuesday.

The bridge was damaged after a CSX excavator working on the railroad tracks under the bridge struck the underside of the bridge.

Emergency crews shut down the interstate and diverted traffic, and hours later, the Tennessee Department of Transportation announced an “emergency bridge repair contract” with Bell and Associates Construction.

“After a thorough inspection, they deemed the untouched portion of the bridge safe to cross, but the right lane of the road will remain closed until the necessary repairs can be made,” TDOT said in a news release.

“One lane of travel will remain open for most of the project, aside from some temporary, short-term full closures of the bridge during work.”

TDOT is asking drivers to slow down and exercise caution in the work area. Travelers can also call 511 for statewide travel information and see the latest construction activity traffic updates by using the TDOT SmartWay map.

Turner Named Airport Manager of the Year (CDH)

Paul Turner, manager of Maury County Regional Airport in Mt. Pleasant, has been named as the Airport Manager of the Year by the state.

The annual award was presented by the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission and Tennessee Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division.

The Airport Manager of the Year award recognizes the Airport Manager who contributed the most to the development, safety, customer service, airport promotion and/or airport operations for the previous calendar year in the state of Tennessee.

Turner has been at Maury County Regional (KMRC) for 15 years and has served as Airport Manager for the past 14 years. 

The safety record at KMRC over that time speaks to Turner's commitment to keeping the airport in top shape, and always making the right decisions regarding airfield operations in challenging conditions.

During that time, Turner led the airport from requiring annual local subsidies to having yearly positive cash flows, the TAA award announcement said.

Yearly fuel sales at Maury Regional Airport exceed 200,000 gallons with only 25 based aircraft, according to the announcement.

The regional airport, one of 78 airports throughout the state, has made a name for itself as one of the busiest airports of its size in Tennessee, housing one of the longest runways among small airports in the state and selling 20,000 gallons of fuel per month.

Turner achieves this result by being the preferred destination for cargo operations in support of the automotive industries operating south of Nashville. 

General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, and 26 other manufacturers are frequent users of KMRC’s 6,000-foot Runway. Automotive executives, retail executives, and world-famous performers routinely utilize KMRC. 

"These individuals value the enhanced security which comes from how rigorously Paul and his team maintain their privacy regarding arrivals and departures," the announcement says.

"Everyone who lands at KMRC gets the same outstanding service from Paul. He provides 24-hour fuel, catering, courtesy cars and always with the same smile and friendly conversation. A check of the 5-star reviews posted about Paul on Airnav tells you everything about how much passengers and crews appreciate Paul’s efforts to make a stop at KMRC as part of their future flight planning. 

The local leadership has also recognized Turner's efforts.

The City of Mt Pleasant declared a “Paul Turner Day” in recognition of his contributions to the community. 

Turner hosts classroom visits, annual youth aviation events, and joint community events at the airport. 

The support Paul receives is best represented by the recent reopening of the airport. The county mayor, two city mayors and two state representatives attended the ribbon cutting. 

Last year, the Maury County Regional Airport was closed for about three months to undergo a much-needed facelift of its aging runway, an $8 million project that included resurfacing of the 6,000-foot runway, laying the foundation of future travel in Middle Tennessee. The project also included installing LED lighting, upgrading electrical systems and adding hangars.

Behind the scenes during the project, Turner was in constant communication with the cargo operators, corporate flight departments, and his other customers. As a result, within the first months of re-opening, the airport’s fuel sales exceeded previous record highs, the announcement said.

The airport will be able to absorb the losses related to the closure without any local assistance. 

"Paul’s passion for the airport and his commitment to outstanding service have made KMRC an invaluable asset for the flying public," the announcement said.

The TAC and TDOT Aeronautics give these awards to commend recipients for their hard work, diligence, and devoted efforts in improving airports, airport safety, and aviation in Tennessee. The awards, in a small way, reflect the respect that the TAC and TDOT Aeronautics have for the many airports and airport managers within the state who have dedicated themselves to excellence in aviation and aviation safety.

Haucke Appointed to School Board (CDH)

The Maury County Commission voted this week to appoint Justin Haucke to fill the unexpired term for District 5 School Board member Laura Nutt, who recently resigned from the position.

Haucke's term will run from now until August, when the position will be open once again for election. Prior to the vote, District 7 Commissioner Aaron Miller said Haucke was also endorsed by outgoing member Nutt to serve as her replacement.

Other nominees included David Moore, who previously served District 5 on the school board, but was defeated in his 2022 race for re-election by Nutt.

Prior to the vote, the floor was opened to the public and the nominees for comments.

This included former Maury County Commission Chairman Michael Fulbright, who endorsed Moore as the right choice based on his past work experience alongside him. Fulbright also served three years as school board chairman during Moore's tenure.

"Any time I had any questions with what was going on with the school board, David was going to be able to answer it," Fulbright said. "We are very blessed to have two people who have volunteered to serve in this role. That is something we should be very proud of, and whoever is nominated we will be blessed to have that person."

Former commissioner Sue Stephenson suggested that, oftentimes, an outgoing board members' role is filled by their spouse, or the person named at the member's request. Since Haucke was the replacement Nutt had endorsed, Stephenson also endorsed him as the proper candidate.

"The school board needs fresh minds, and has struggled over the past years, particularly with audit findings," Stephenson said. "David served on the school board for two terms already. I support Justin and think he will do a good job ... and this is something that has been taking place for a number of years. Filling unexpired terms is a pretty rare event, but when it does happen, it is very important."

Following public comment, both Moore and Haucke were provided time to speak on their nominations.

Moore argued that his two-term experience on the board would bring an advantage, such as overcoming the initial learning curve of serving, as well as his personal attachment to the schools. This includes not only bringing his children up through the Maury County system, but also preparing for his first grandchild's early education experience.

"There is a bit of a learning curve, and I hope my experience can get past that, especially going into the budget season coming on very quickly," Moore said. "To be able to step right in, I can start doing my homework and be able to fill the seat as the 11th member to be able to move forward with that board."

About Maury County opening a charter school, a recent controversy which failed to pass twice, as well as at the state level, Moore said, "it remains an open topic worthy of discussion," but that he could not state his support or opposition.

Haucke, a 14-year Spring Hill resident, said he has experience in budgeting, and wants Maury County to set better long-term goals. This way the schools can grow and develop in conjunction with the county's overall growth.

"When people ask, 'If something isn't broken, why try to fix it?' I like to say, well if it isn't broken, can you not make it better?" Haucke said. "Of course, nobody on the school board is going to agree on all of the same things, but you can get things done by talking it out, being civil."

Haucke added that he is also in support of Maury County opening a charter school, if that were to reappear as a topic of discussion.

"I have zero problem with us having a charter school in this county," Haucke said. "As far as I know from what I've seen, it's kind of a lottery, while some people say it's not and that they pick and choose. That is not how I've been informed on how a charter school works, and so if we had a charter school I'm sure I'd apply for at least one of my children to go there."

In the end, Haucke received 12 votes against Moore, who received seven votes.

AAHSMC To Host Lecture (MSM)

Continuing the theme “African Americans Making History” in the field of sports, the April speakers of the African American Heritage Society of Maury County will be Bernard Childress and Chris Poynter.

The lecture will take place on Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m. at the Maury County Archives, 1446 Oak Springs Dr. Suite 100 in Columbia.

Childress was named the Executive Director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) in 2009. A native of Columbia, Childress graduated from Columbia Central High School. While at Central, he served as the vice president of the Student Council and was a member of the basketball team.

In 1978, Childress received a Bachelor of Science from Belmont University, where he was a member of the basketball team for four years. Continuing his education, he received a master’s degree from Trevecca University.

He began his career in education as a teacher and coach at Columbia Central High School. In 1985, he was the assistant basketball coach at Middle Tennessee State University. He returned to Columbia and was the assistant principal of Columbia Central High School for five years before becoming the Principal of Whitthorne Middle School. In 1995, he was named the Assistant Executive Director of the TSSAA.

Childress was inducted in the Belmont University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. In 2005, he was honored for his contributions to high school athletics as a recipient of the prestigious National Federation of State High School Associations Citation Award. This citation is one the most highly regarded achievements in high school activities.

Poynter was named the District Athletic Director of Maury County Public Schools in 2017, becoming the first African American appointed to this position. A native of Columbia, Poynter graduated from Columbia Central High School.

In 2005, Poynter received a bachelor’s degree from Austin Peay State University, where he received All-America and Ohio Valley Conference baseball honors. Continuing his education, he received his master’s degree in 2008 from Austin Peay State University.

Again, the lecture will take place on Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m. at the Maury County Archives, 1446 Oak Springs Dr. Suite 100 in Columbia.

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

Kerry Blaine Huckaby, 57, died Monday, April 8, 2024 in Columbia.

Funeral services will be conducted Saturday, April 20, 2024 at 11:00 AM at First United Methodist Church.  Burial will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens.  The family will visit with friends Friday, April 19, 2024 from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home and Saturday from 10:00 AM until 11:00 AM in the Atrium at First United Methodist Church.  Online condolences may be extended at

Patrick Steve Compton, 78, a resident of Sunnyside, died Sunday, April 14, 2024, at Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, surrounded by his family and friends.  

A memorial service will be conducted on Sunday, April 21, 2024, at 3:00 PM at St. John’s Churchyard,

Military honors will be provided by Herbert Griffin American Legion Post 19.  Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with the arrangements, and online condolences may be extended at

…And now, news from around the state…

Ogles Sponsors 100th Bill (MSM)

With only a little over a year in Congress, Congressman Andy Ogles has submitted his 100th piece of legislation. This is not only the highest number of legislative proposals submitted by any freshman member of Congress in several decades but also the second-highest amount of legislation among all current members of the House of Representatives.

Of his 100 legislative proposals, 37 have been passed by the House and three have been signed into law; additionally, Congressman Ogles has co-authored legislation with Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Steve Daines and others on several occasions. This achievement places Ogles at the forefront of his class, with the highest number of standalone pieces of legislation passed among all freshmen members of Congress.

“I came to Congress to participate in meaningful policymaking and hold Biden accountable. My legislative record reflects just that. Fighting for Americans requires active and effective legislators, and I am proud to be one. I am tremendously grateful to my staff for the long hours they dedicate every week, to my family for their unwavering support, and to my constituents who have the time to share their concerns and encourage me,” Ogles said in a press statement. “I am also grateful to my esteemed Senate colleagues, Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Steve Daines (R-MT), for leading senate companion bills for some of my legislation.”

“My three legislative submissions that have been signed into law include an amendment to prohibit the use of federal funds to delist the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. This amendment was the result of a bipartisan letter I sent with Democrat Congressman Jared Moskowitz (FL-23) to the House Appropriations Committee. The IRGC is guilty of injuring and killing thousands of Americans and continues to provide material support to the Houthis, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorist entities.”

“Another one of my legislative victories prohibits the removal of companies from the Section 1260H List of Chinese military companies. This increases oversight over Joe Biden’s potential to collude with the Chinese Communist Party with regard to Chinese military companies. Biden’s appeasement policy towards the CCP has enabled him to remove these corrupt entities from a DOD ‘blacklist’ of companies that undermine American national security.”

“The third amendment, which was included in Section 1308 of the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), increases Congressional oversight of the Biden Administration’s adherence to the Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act. Biden has been notorious for undermining the implementation of this law and weakening the American deterrence posture against China. This amendment strengthens the United States’ ties with our ally Taiwan and is essential to preventing a needless conflict in the Indo-Pacific. This amendment was included within the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act and unanimously adopted by voice vote in the House.”

Congressman Ogles’ 100th piece of legislation, the Defunding Unscientific Mask Mandates Act of 2024, would ensure that federal funds could not be used to create a COVID-19 mask mandate. This would allow individuals to decide for themselves whether to wear a mask or not rather than forcing them to comply with arbitrary rules.

“It is a privilege to serve the people of Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District. I will continue to work diligently for the interests of my constituents and the preservation of our nation,” Ogles said.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Folds of Honor TN announces the return of the highly anticipated 4th annual Rock ‘N Jock Celebrity Softball Game, scheduled to take place on Monday, June 3rd with first pitch at 6:30pm CST at First Horizon Park. Get ready for the electrifying showdown as the hottest musicians, professional athletes, comedians, influencers, honorary military and first responders go head-to-head in the upcoming softball game. Visit for more information and to purchase tickets for an evening of star-studded entertainment, all for a noble cause.

Folds of Honor TN, a nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to the spouses and children of fallen military members and first responders, is teaming up with companies dedicated to making a positive impact who champion various charitable initiatives and community outreach programs. 

Get ready for an unforgettable night of entertainment at the 4th annual celebrity softball game, featuring confirmed celebrity players including, Jelly Roll, Riley Green, Sam Hunt, Brett Young, ERNEST, Raelynn, Charles Esten, Mitchell TenPenny, Chris Lane, Danae Hays, Julia Cole, Warren Zeiders, John Crist, Ashley Cooke, Shawn Booth, Jeremy Looper and special performance of “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood during the 7th Inning Stretch, this event is one you will not want to miss.

Learn more and get tickets at 


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