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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 5-1-24


Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for May 1, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Ultium Partnership Plants 300 Trees (CDH)

Ultium Cells, in partnership with multiple organizations, planted 300 trees during its Earth Week celebrations, putting a green border around the facility, which has been under construction for over two years.

On April 10, volunteer crews began planting 8-foot and 18-foot locally-grown native shade trees atop the berms surrounding the 2.8 million square foot building to provide a natural buffer between the factory and Highway 31.

“This is the third year that Ultium Cells has planted trees, and this year we’re planting native tree species like sugar maple, persimmon, blackgum, white oak, poplar and birch,” said Matt Phillips, Ultium Cells Spring Hill Environmental Engineer.

“Planting a wide variety of native trees promotes biodiversity in the area and will support our ecosystem’s need for birds, insects, and other organisms. In addition, the trees help enhance the local environment and restore the landscape.”

The tree planting continued through Earth Day, when Ultium Cells partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of South Central Tennessee to provide hands-on Earth Day educational activities. Students learned about the importance of native tree species and helped plant approximately 100 16-inch trees, which will provide shade and greenery for years to come.

“We’re thankful to the people of Spring Hill, Columbia and Maury County for supporting us during the construction process. We’re committed to beautifying our grounds, and we believe this event is a great start to bringing more greenery to our site,” said Chris Desautels, Ultium Cells Plant Director in Spring Hill.

Youngduk Kim, Ultium Cells Regional Director addressed the company’s goal of sustainability.

“Ultium Cells believes in increasing sustainability at a global scale. Our battery cells and manufacturing process contribute to a cleaner environment and atmosphere. We also believe in acting locally,” Kim said. “This Earth Day we planted hundreds of trees around our site with our valued company and community partners, and we look forward to continuing this practice in the years to come.”

Ultium Cells will continue hiring for all positions through 2024.

Interested applicants can review the open positions at and apply online.

Ophthalmologist joins Maury Regional medical staff (Press Release)

 John D. Bonner, MD, a specialist in ophthalmology, recently joined the medical staff at Maury Regional Medical Center and is associated with SouthEast Eye Specialists. 

 Dr. Bonner has more than 25 years of experience, most recently practicing in Chattanooga, Tennessee, prior to joining SouthEast Eye Specialists in 2019. He provides comprehensive ophthalmology services and devotes a large portion of his practice to glaucoma and ocular surface disease management.

Dr. Bonner obtained his medical degree from the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile, Alabama. He completed his internship and residency at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Dr. Bonner is board certified in ophthalmology and is a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

 SouthEast Eye Specialists is located at 927 North James Campbell Boulevard, Suite 103, in Columbia, Tennessee. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To make an appointment, call 931.840.3501.

City Unveils Artistic Crosswalk (Press Release)

The City of Columbia is proud to unveil its first artistic crosswalk, a vibrant testament to the local talent and the city's thriving arts scene.  This innovative project, partially funded by a generous Arts Build Communities (ABC) Grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, brings a splash of color and creativity to the heart of Columbia. The crosswalk is located in the Columbia Arts District on South Garden Street and Depot Street where a recent streetscape project has transformed the area.


The creative talent responsible for the engaging design titled ‘Patchwork Pathway’ is local artist Whitney Herrington.  “I am honored to be the artist behind this project. Having the opportunity to add art pieces to our budding arts community makes my heart full and hopeful for the future of the district,” Herrington commented.  “This project was inspired by quilt blocks and Turkish tile designs. It connects our city with the colorful arts district. The crosswalk entices pedestrians to crossover into the arts district and see what hidden gems can be found.”


"This artistic crosswalk, a first in our community, is a vibrant symbol of Columbia's commitment to the arts," said Mayor Chaz Molder. "It's a testament to the power of public art to transform our spaces and ignite creativity within our community. How fortunate we are to have both talented artists and supportive corporate partners right here in our own backyard. We're grateful to the Tennessee Arts Commission for this grant opportunity which helped bring the first, but hopefully not our last, artistic crosswalk to Columbia. Thanks to local artist Whitney Herrington for her colorful design and artistic abilities, to Swarco, Inc. for their contribution to the project, and our Public Works Department who always answers the call of creative service."


An eye-catching crosswalk like this is more than just a place to cross the street; it's a canvas for artistic exploration and an invitation to engage with art in a new and interactive way. Beyond the talented artist and the vital grant funding, the City of Columbia would like to recognize and thank the other local partners it took to complete this project including the Columbia Arts Council, Swarco, and Columbia Public Works.


This artistic endeavor helps foster a deeper appreciation for the arts, spark creativity in everyone, and further establish Columbia as a cultural hub in Tennessee. So next time you're strolling through the Columbia Arts District, take a moment to experience the vibrant new crosswalk and let it ignite your imagination.

Columbia Farmers Market (Press Release)

The eagerly anticipated kickoff of the Columbia Farmers Market is just around the corner, heralding the arrival of a season filled with the freshest produce, local meats, and community spirit. On May 4th, from 8 a.m. until noon, the Columbia Farmers Market will open its doors at Riverwalk Pavilion, inviting residents and visitors alike to celebrate the start of another vibrant market season.

As one of the highlights of Columbia's spring calendar, the extended hours of the farmers market promise a feast for the senses. From the scent of freshly baked goods to the sight of colorful fruits and vegetables, to locally raised meat, attendees can look forward to an abundance of locally sourced products.

"We're thrilled to kick off another exciting season of the Columbia Farmers Market," said Trevor Pennington, of 1822 Farms at the market. "This event is not just about shopping for locally sourced goods; it's a celebration of our community's rich agricultural heritage and supporting local farmers. We invite everyone to join us each Saturday morning. It’s a great opportunity to know exactly where your food comes from. ”

Attendees can explore the market and engage with local farmers behind each product. "The Columbia Farmers Market is more than just a place to buy groceries; it's a gathering place for our community," added Pennington. "We're excited to welcome back familiar faces and introduce newcomers to locally grown products like our beef available right here in Maury County from our pasture to your plate."

The extended market hours at the Columbia Farmers Market is scheduled for May 4th, from 8 a.m. until noon at 102 Riverside Drive Columbia, TN. Admission is free, and ample parking is available onsite.

The Columbia Farmers Market is a beloved community institution dedicated to promoting local agriculture, supporting small-scale producers, and fostering connections between farmers and consumers. The market has served as a vibrant gathering place where residents can access fresh, healthy foods while supporting the local economy. With a commitment to sustainability and community engagement, the Columbia Farmers Market continues to be a cornerstone of Columbia's cultural landscape.

Foster Care Awareness Month (MauryCountySource)

The City of Columbia is proud to proclaim May 2024 as #FosterCareAwarenessMonth.

Tennessee Kids Belong is part of the America’s Kids Belong family, a nonprofit focused on three key areas: Family Recruitment, Community Engagement, and Coalitions for Change.

They work to improve the experiences and outcomes for kids in foster care in Tennessee, and aim to make all 95 counties in Tennessee “Foster Friendly Communities.” TN Kids Belong empowers people to recognize that regardless of one’s occupation, skillset, and life stage, they can impact the lives of children in foster care.

Learn more and how you can show your support at

ESFP Grant (Press Release)

The Maury County Emergency Food and Shelter Program Board is announcing the Open Application Process for: EFSP Phase 41 Grant Funds. EFSP Funds are Federal funds made available through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Award amount for Maury County, Phase 41 is $ 33,132.00. The purpose and priority of the distribution of these funds is to provide Emergency Food and Shelter for our neighbors in Maury County. To understand if your organization is eligible to apply, please go to: for requirements. If you have any questions, or would like to request an application, please email: or call Laura Truelove at 931-381-0100.

Deadline to Request Application: May 10th

New Song Praise Fest (Press Release)

Praise-Fest ‘24 is coming to Columbia on May 4th. The event will take place from 11am-9pm at the New Song Church located at 2585 Zion Road in Columbia. The Praise-Fest will feature artists Rhett Walker, Mac Powell, as well as Modern Day Cure, Adrienne Acosta, Gospel Mule, and Catchfire. The music festival will also host food trucks, a kids’ zone, petting zoo, and arts & crafts demonstrations.

You can find tickets at

CFR to Host Car Seat Safety Event (Press Release)

Columbia Fire & Rescue will be hosting a Car Seat Safety Event in collaboration with General Motors and the Maury Regional Healthcare Foundation, on Friday, May 17th, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm at Fire Station 2.

According to research conducted by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Adminstration nearly half (46%) of all car seats are installed incorrectly! To address this alarming issue and ensure the safety of

our local young passengers, Columbia Fire & Rescue will be offering parents and caregivers the opportunityto have their car seat checked by one of our nationally certified child passenger safety technicians!

In addition to car seat safety checks, Columbia Fire & Rescue will be offering free car seats to parents who are unable to provide an appropriate seat for their child. We will have free car seats available for all ages and stages of development! All attendees will be treated to a complimentary Hawaiian shaved ice cone as a token of our appreciation for coming out to learn more about child passenger safety! This

event is designed to educate, empower, and protect our community's most vulnerable members.

It's important to note that the child must be in attendance in order to ensure the seat is fitted properly. No free seats or inspections will be provided if the child is not present.

Columbia Fire & Rescue extends its sincere gratitude to General Motors and the Maury Regional Healthcare Foundation for their generous support, which has made this essential program possible!

Don't miss this opportunity to ensure your most precious cargo is traveling safely! Join us at Fire Station 2 located at 711 Lion Parkway on May 17th, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm for Car Seat Safety Checks and

Shaved Ice!

Spring Hill Founders’ Day (MauryCountySource)

Join the city of Spring Hill this Founders Day Weekend, May 2nd through 5th, as history and traditions of the influential leaders who created the city are honored.

All events are free unless otherwise noted, but library space is very limited and many programs require online reservations to guarantee a seat. You can reserve your spot at

Please bring a non-perishable food donation for The Well.

Times, locations and presenters subject to change, but no rain dates are planned. Please direct any questions to Dana Juriew at or (931)451-0723.

Speakers include: Author Brooks Lamb presents his book Love for the Land: Lessons from Farmers Who Persist in Place; Spring Hill Artifacts with Gwynne Evans; Democracy in America: African American Voices of Maury County (1860s-1960s) with Jo Ann McClellan; The Formation of Spring Hill: Frontier’s Cutting Edge with Tom Price; Historically Significant Site plaque presentation with Mayor Jim Hagaman, Alicia Fitts and Rebecca Estrada; Story Mapping of Historic Sites in Spring Hill with Rebecca Estrada; Tours of Rippa Villa; aTractor Show on Library grounds; Cemetery Tour at Historic Spring Hill Cemetery on McLemore; a tour of historic churches on Sunday and the event winds down with Vintage Baseball at Rippa Villa 5700 Main Street.

Dana Juriew at or (931)451-0723.

Athenaeum Free Day (Press Release)

The Athenaeum Rectory, one of the main historic sites in Columbia, will have a Free Day on May 5th from 2-4PM.  The Athenaeum is located at 808 Athenaeum St. Free tours and refreshments will be served. Tour the home and become a member of the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities. 

Mt. Pleasant Touch-A-Truck (Press Release)

Buckle up, young readers and families, for an exciting adventure awaits at the Mount Pleasant Touch-a-Truck event on June 1st. In celebration of the upcoming Mount Pleasant Library Summer Reading Program, this interactive and educational event will bring the community together for a day of hands-on exploration with a variety of vehicles.

Date: June 1st Time: 10 AM until 1 PM Location: Haylong Ave and the Square in Mount Pleasant, TN

The Touch-a-Truck theme is about community heroes and lots of different trucks lining the street for kids to check out and learn about their community heroes that help us every day! This unique opportunity will allow children and families to get up close and personal with an array of vehicles, from fire trucks to construction equipment, police cars, and more. This free family-friendly event not only promises a day of fun and excitement but also serves as the perfect kickoff for the Library's Summer Reading Program.

The event is designed to inspire a love for reading and learning in children while offering a memorable experience that fosters a sense of community. Participants will have the chance to climb aboard and explore the various vehicles, interact with local community heroes, and even learn about the roles these vehicles play in our daily lives.

"We are thrilled to present the Touch-a-Truck event as a dynamic kickoff to the Mount Pleasant Library Summer Reading Program. It's an opportunity for families to engage with the community, spark curiosity in children, and promote a love for learning," said Haverly Pennington, Director of Main Street.

In addition to the vehicle displays, the event will feature entertainment, food trucks, and activities. Mount Pleasant Main Street, Mount Pleasant Library, Heritage Bank, First Farmer’s Bank, United Community Bank, Southside Baptist Church, Norman’s Body Shop, and Staggs Simple Shine have joined forces to make this day unforgettable, ensuring a festive atmosphere for all attendees. Families are encouraged to bring their children, explore the trucks, and discover the joy of reading. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information about the Touch-a-Truck event and the Mount Pleasant Library's Summer Reading Program, please contact Haverly Pennington, Main Street Director, at

Maury County Clerk Satellite Office (Press Release)

The Maury County Clerk’s office can now help residents with renewals of license plates or placards each Wednesday from 8am to 3:30pm at the Maury County Senior Center located at 1020 Maury County Park Dr.

Please drive around to the back of the building and look for the car tag renewal sign near the back door.

Forms of payment include credit/debit card or check – no cash.

Any Maury County Resident can use this office.

All other transactions will still need to be done through the main office located at 10 Public Square.

Also, you can renew online at or at kiosks in Spring Hill City Hall or Mt. Pleasant Courthouse.

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

Shirley Ann Davis Corder, 78, resident of Murfreesboro, died Monday, April 29, 2024 at Ascension Saint Thomas Rutherford.

A memorial service will be conducted Friday, May 3, 2024 at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with John Vaughan officiating. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 3:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.   

…And now, news from around the state…

Domestic Violence Offenders Monitored (WPLN)

People arrested for aggravated domestic violence in Tennessee will now have to wear a GPS monitoring device until their court date. The victim would be provided with a device that would notify them if their abuser is within a certain distance.

That’s because of the Debbie and Marie Domestic Violence Protection Act, HB 2692, which was recently passed by the state legislature.

The new law is named for Marie Varsos and her mother, Debbie Sisco. On April 12, 2021, both women were murdered by Marie’s estranged husband after he was arrested — and then almost immediately released — for strangling her until she lost consciousness. He waited outside their home for 45 minutes in a rental car stocked with guns, a taser and zip ties.

Alex Youn, Marie’s brother and Debbie’s son, has been advocating for this bill for over two years. He said he believes this measure could have saved his family members’ lives.

“In spite of my grief, I’ve pushed forward because I believe this measure would have added an additional shield of protection for my mom and sister,” he said on social media. “While this legislative milestone is bittersweet without them, I am hopeful this bill will save lives.”

The bill passed with broad bipartisan support in both the Tennessee House and Senate.

Gas Prices (MSM)

Gas prices across the state held relatively steady over last week, moving only two cents more expensive on average. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.26 which is 11 cents more expensive than one month ago and three cents more than one year ago.  

“It was a relatively quiet week for pump prices across the state, with many parts of the state seeing little movement over last week,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Barring any major changes in the market or crude oil pricing, it’s likely that we could see gas prices hold steady again this week.” 

Tennessee is 11th least-expensive state in nation for gas prices

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Nashville Zoo is squealing over the exciting news of the birth of four red river hog piglets!

The piglets, three girls and one boy, were born on April 11 and are the first red river hogs to ever be born at the Zoo.

The Zoo revealed their names Tuesday as Fig, Peach, Persimmon and Clementine.

Their mom, Truffles, and the piglets are doing well and will continue to live behind the scenes until the babies are big enough to move outside into public viewing.

Learn more at


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