top of page

Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 5-2-24


Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for May 2, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Structure Fire (Press Release)

At approximately 2:32pm yesterday afternoon Columbia Fire & Rescue was dispatched to a commercial structure fire at a storage facility on Main Sail Drive. Upon arrival, crews found heavy smoke emitting from some of the storage units. Crews swiftly extinguished the blaze and cleared the scene. No injuries have been reported. The Columbia Fire Marshal’s Office is currently investigating the cause of this fire.

Man Convicted of Child Abuse (MSM)

A Maury County jury convicted Cameron Cunningham last week on multiple counts stemming from abuse of his infant child.

A press release from District Attorney Brent Cooper’s office stated that Cunningham was found guilty of two counts of Aggravated Child Abuse, Aggravated Child Neglect, Aggravated Child Endangerment and six counts of Facilitation of Aggravated Child Abuse.

The charges stemmed from an incident in which Cunningham’s four-month-old child suffered 16 bone fractures, including both femurs and multiple ribs.

Cunningham is in custody awaiting sentencing.

“I am blessed to have some of the best trial attorneys, Victim Witness Coordinators, and support staff in the state of Tennessee. Add them to our dedicated law enforcement agencies and we can be very effective at protecting our communities by locking up violent offenders,” Cooper stated via his Facebook page.

Hickman For The Duck Calls for Action (Press Release)

The non-profit “Hickman County for the Duck” is calling on Governor Bill Lee to provide leadership and help in protecting the Duck River from potential overconsumption.

In a press release and accompanying letter to the governor, Douglas E. Jones of “Hickman County for the Duck” cited the recent designation for the Duck River as the third most endangered river in America by the American River Association.

The letter states that on March 15, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation approved Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit NRS23.288, allowing Columbia Power and Water Systems to withdraw 32 million gallons of water per day from the Duck River at the border of Maury and Hickman Counties. “This amount of withdrawal alone is detrimental, however, there are also six other permits pending to remove higher volumes of water from the Duck,” the release states.

It continues, “The Duck River reaches “drought level” every summer. During this time, the Duck River in Hickman County resembles a creek more so than a river. There are currently 18 endangered species in the Duck River in Hickman County. There have been no scientific studies conducted showing how these species will be protected when Columbia Power and Water Systems drains this portion of the Duck River,” the release concludes.

In the letter sent to Governor Lee, Jones states, “Your leadership as Governor is urgently needed to save and preserve the Duck River from excessive withdrawal permits which have been requested to support new industry and development. Jobs, housing, and development are important, but must not come at the expense of this important river. Growth must be balanced with preservation of the beauty and resources which draw people to Tennessee.

Please act now before it is too late. Convene a working group to provide technical expertise on water management and conservation of the Duck River. Direct TDEC to develop a comprehensive watershed plan for the Duck River to manage its long-term and sustainable use, proactively; and fund much-needed scientific studies to understand the flow needs of this river. These are the recommendations of the American Rivers Association and are a reasonable pathway to find solutions.”

Besides the governor, the letter was also sent to three state senators, five state representatives as well as Commissioner David Salyer of the Tennessee DEC.

County Special Called Budget Meeting (MSM)

The Maury County Budget Committee held a special called to discuss department head proposals for the 2024-25 fiscal year budget.

The total cost of new employees in the proposed budget came to a total of $770,000.

The commission approved the majority of positions requested by department heads, including the Circuit Court, which is in need of a chief deputy and two deputy clerks.

Though additional help will be needed for the new Maury County Courthouse, which is on track to open in October, Circuit Court Clerk Sandy McLain said the request was for several reasons.

“In September, a fifth circuit judge was appointed,” McLain said. “We had four circuit judges and now we have five,” she said, also listing the new juvenile court magistrate.

County Commission Chairman Eric Previti said additional staffing is needed for the growing county.

“We talk about growth being schools, but this is the only part of growth that we only talk about at budget time,” Previti said. “Good growth brings bad growth.”

Sheriff Bucky Rowland, who presented the Sheriff Department’s budget, did not request any additional positions. However, Rowland did request $334,518 for inmate meals.

“We had a very good contract that we had just bid out last year that we were really happy about. Just because a little clause was not placed in there that it could continue up to the five years, we had to rebid it,” Rowland said.

The committee also approved a waste pickup litter grant, which was previously listed under the Solid Waste Department.

Additional positions approved by the committee included an administrative assistant position requested by the Department of Emergency Operations and an animal intake coordinator for the Maury County Animal Shelter.

The Budget Committee discussed the remaining county department proposals during a special called meeting on Monday, April 29. All department budgets ultimately will have to be approved by the full County Commission.

Mt. Pleasant HS and Santa Fe Unit School Recieve Ann Dallas Dudley Gold Award (WKOM Audio 5:11)

Yesterday, Mt. Pleasant Highschool was awarded the Ann Dallas Dudley Gold Award for its high level of voter registration. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy stopped by the school and spoke to Secretary of State Tre Hargett, and individual award winner Devania Benson.

Santa Fe Unit School was also a recipient of Ann Dallas Dudley Award. Delk Kennedy also paid Santa Fe a visit and spoke to Valedictorian Aniston Slaughter and Salutatorian Cannon Rogers about the honor.

Mahlon Moore Development (MSM)

The Spring Hill Planning Commission met on Monday, April 22 for its monthly work session, and discussed potentially rezoning approximately 126.47 acres of Mahlon Moore Road for the construction of 213 single-family homes.

The request, which was submitted by Anderson, Delk, Epps and Associates, requests rezoning from rural residential and agricultural district to single-family district with a conservation design overlay.

The proposed development, which is located west of Mahlon Moore Road and east of Jackson Road, would develop at roughly 50 lots per year beginning in 2026.

The property would include several amenities, including a pool, community gardens, an open space farming area and multi-use trails.

Alderman Matt Fitterer brought up concerns regarding neighborhood access to the amenities.

“With the placement we’re almost forcing it to be drivable instead of walking to the neighborhood pool, so I’d be open to seeing some other suggestive placements of it to incorporate it more into the neighborhood,” he said.

Joe Epps with Anderson, Delk, Epps and Associates said the placement was due to the development being a conservation subdivision, or cluster subdivision.

“With the theme of it being a conservation subdivision, leaving the areas between the lots is more of a natural state,” he said.

According to the Spring Hill Comprehensive Plan, conservation subdivisions are an alternative to conventional residential lot designs. Designers identify land resources worthy of conservation to design development in a way which preserves resources.

Following discussion, citizens expressed their concerns over the proposed development during public comments.

Resident Brigitte Ward cited safety concerns along Jackson Road, which would serve as a second point of access.

“We know that Jackson Road is a Maury County road, and I’ve already talked to some commissioners who have some concern with that,” Ward said. “That is our concern, that the road will not be accessible at all and it’s going to affect our rights as property owners.”

Ken Loveless, who lives on Mahlon Moore Road, said he was worried about the traffic study, which was done two years ago.

“We’ve built two schools and are about to finish a third in the last two years,” he said.

Staff requested many items be addressed by the applicant prior to the submittal of a full-plan application, including a traffic impact study conducted by the city’s third-party contractor.

Due to the item being a planned development, it would require approval from the city’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen as well. The Planning Commission’s next voting meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 13.

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.

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

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…

Teacher Appreciation Month (Press Release)

Throughout the month of May, the Tennessee Department of Education invites all Tennesseans to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Month, Week, and Day, proclaimed by Governor Bill Lee. Additionally, the department launched the ‘Year of Tennessee Teachers’ campaign, highlighting teachers for shaping the minds of the over one million K-12 students across the state to ensure they have access to a high-quality education and are successful in the classroom, workforce, and life. 


The ‘Year of Tennessee Teachers’ campaign will spotlight and recognize teachers who have been nominated by their peers and are going above and beyond the call of duty, wearing many hats, to meet and support the needs of all students. Teachers from all areas of Tennessee will be featured on the department’s social media channels to further celebrate the important work they are doing in their classrooms, districts, and communities.  


“Teachers have a significant impact on their students, mentoring and leading them to success in and outside of the classroom,” said Lizzette Reynolds, Commissioner of Education. “I want to personally thank all Tennessee teachers for their daily passion and dedication to helping their students learn and be all they can be.”  


The department will be promoting Teacher Appreciation Month on our social media channels, highlighting Teacher Appreciation Week May 6-10, and Teacher Appreciation Day on May 7. Tennesseans can join the conversation and share why they love their current or previous teacher(s) on social media using #TNSupportsTeachers. Furthermore, current Tennessee teachers are encouraged to share why they love teaching using #WhyTeachTN.  


This legislative session, Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly continued their steadfast support of Tennessee teachers by providing an additional $125 million for teacher pay raises. This investment supports the state’s commitment to increase the minimum starting teacher salary to $50,000 by 2027.  

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

From Aug. 1-4, 2024, Vince Gill will return to the Ryman Auditorium for the return of his solo, multi-night residency series, which last occurred at country music's "Mother Church" in 2022.

During his 2022 residency, the 22-time Grammy-winning superstar performed for a total of roughly 10,000 people for four hours a night, playing a total — encores included — of somewhere in the range of 120 songs.

"I get to play there with just me and a guitar in the room," Gill said. "When I play, I get this spiritual kind of rush that flushes my entire body."

Tickets for the series of events will be available at on May 3.


bottom of page