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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 6-12-24

WKOM/WKRM Radio

Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for June 12, 2024


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

We start with local news…

Motorcycle Crash (MauryCountySource)

The Maury County Fire Department responded to a motorcycle crash on Monday.

At 12:44pm, units were alerted to a single vehicle motorcycle accident on Bear Creek Pike near Hwy 431.

The driver was injured and was requested to be airlifted for medical treatment.

The driver’s current condition in unknown.


Commissioner Jeter Running for State House (tnfirefly.com)

Ray Jeter says the construction company he manages in Maury County operates with one key motto for its staff. Build people, move dirt.

Jeter says he’d apply a similar approach to building up Tennessee’s education system if elected to House District 64 this year.

“You’ve got good and bad apples in every organization, and I think you find the good apples in that public school education, and you build upon that. And you work with those individuals, you get back to the basics,” said Jeter. “We can stand up all day long on a platform and scream we want change, we want change, but if you don’t get the people involved who are actually the boots on the ground in the classrooms, if you don’t get them excited about the change and the opportunity to right and better the situation, I’m sorry it ain’t never going to happen.”

Jeter’s approach contrasts his opponent in the August Republican Primary, incumbent Representative Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka.

Earlier this year News Channel 5 in Nashville aired a recorded meeting between Cepicky and home school families, where the Maury County lawmaker explained the path he hoped to follow to improve education in Tennessee.

“We’re trying to just throw the whole system in the trash at one time and just blow it all back up,” said Cepicky.

Jeter says those comments upset teachers in Maury County.

“They’re absolutely livid,” said Jeter. “I had a teacher tell me two days ago, that she feels like she was spat upon.”

Jeter says he believes improving education in Tennessee will come through working with public schools, along with private and home schools. He’s also a supporter of providing parents with more school choice and believes Governor Lee’s plan to let parents use taxpayer dollars to send their kids to private school could help provide it if there are protections that keep government from interfering with private and home schools.

He says comments like his opponent made, aren’t helping move needed changes forward.

“You can’t alienate a whole group of educators and families and children and just say you want to destroy it and burn it down and blow it up,” said Jeter. “He can’t see the forest for the trees, and I feel very strongly, I think there is reform and there (are)things that have got to happen within our public school system but you come from it with from a stance of, you want as many people to help you right that ship as possible.”

Jeter has spent almost his entire life in Maury County, where House District 64 is located.

His family moved there when he was three years old, and he met his eventual wife a few years later while both were students at Riverside Elementary School in Columbia.

Over the years he’s served the community as a business owner and the Chief Deputy of the Maury County Sheriff’s Office. Jeter is currently a county commissioner and the Chief Operations Officer of Harness LLC.

“This area has been my home and I live and breathe and sweat and bleed Maury County.”

In recent years the area has seen a lot of growth and traffic and inflation challenges that come with it.

Jeter says one of the main reasons why he’s running for a State House seat is to advocate for smart growth in Maury County and Middle Tennessee and to help protect those impacted by it.

Jeter says one of the first bills he plans to submit would freeze property tax rates for low-income elder homeowners in Maury County.

“We are seeing a huge amount of property value increases in Murray County and some of these elderly, fixed income property owners, they’re losing their properties. They’re losing their homes, and these folks just want to retire in peace and live the remainder of their lives without fear of being homeless.”

The winner of the House District 64 GOP primary in August will be heavily favored in November over the winner of the House District 64 Democratic primary.

Maury Regional Awarded (Press Release)

Maury Regional Health has earned 2024 Great Place to Work Certification™, a prestigious award from Great Place To Work® based entirely on what current employees say about their experience working at Maury Regional Health. The organization is one of only six companies in Tennessee, two of which are health care providers, to achieve this certification.

 “We firmly believe that our greatest asset is our people,” said Maury Regional Health CEO Martin Chaney, MD. “They are the driving force behind our success, and their unwavering commitment to excellence is truly commendable. Receiving this honor not only validates our commitment to fostering a positive and supportive work environment but also reflects the exceptional contributions each team member makes to our organization every day. It's a true testament to the culture we've built together, one that values collaboration, respect and innovation.”

 Great Place To Work® is the global authority on workplace culture, employee experience and the leadership behaviors proven to deliver market-leading revenue, employee retention and increased innovation. To become certified, companies must use Great Place to Work’s Trust Index Survey to gauge employee experience and complete a culture brief. The survey asks questions about employees’ attitudes, perceptions and opinions regarding credibility, fairness, respect, pride and camaraderie. Among the highest ratings achieved on Maury Regional Health’s survey include employees feeling they are treated fairly regardless of race or gender, positive perception of Maury Regional Health’s contributions to the community and safety in the workplace. Companies that score above 65% or higher achieve Great Place to Work Certification.

 "Great Place To Work Certification is a highly coveted achievement that requires consistent and intentional dedication to the overall employee experience," says Sarah Lewis-Kulin, the vice president of global recognition at Great Place To Work. She emphasizes that certification is the sole official recognition earned by the real-time feedback of employees regarding their company culture. “By successfully earning this recognition, it is evident that Maury Regional Health stands out as one of the top companies to work for, providing a great workplace environment for its employees."

 Maury Regional Health provides an environment where employees can grow and excel in their chosen profession. In addition to offering robust professional development opportunities, the organization provides one of the most comprehensive and competitive benefits packages in Middle Tennessee, including medical, dental and vision insurance plans; merit-based pay increases; flexible shift options; an on-site daycare center; education assistance for qualifying candidates; access to earned wages before payday; financial counseling and career navigation support; local discounts; and more.


Columbia Student to Study in New Zealand (MSM)

John Farris of Columbia is one of eight Middle Tennessee State University students who received the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study abroad this summer.

The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program enables students to study or intern abroad, enabling American students to gain proficiency in diverse languages and cultures, skills that are critically important to their academic and career development.

Applicants must be federal Pell Grant recipients to apply. Students chosen as Gilman scholars can receive up to $5,000 toward study-abroad or internship expenses. Preferences are given to students who are studying critical languages, have never studied abroad before, choose unconventional locations and are first-generation college students.

“Receiving the Gilman scholarship isn’t just about funding a study abroad program; it’s about unlocking doors to global experiences and transforming lives,” said Paige Brake, director, MTSU Office of Education Abroad. “It’s a beacon of opportunity, empowering students to immerse themselves in cultures, broaden their perspectives, and shape a brighter, more interconnected world.

Honors student and Army veteran John Farris of Columbia studies aerospace engineering and will be studying in New Zealand this summer.

Other 2024 Gilman recipients, their majors, and the countries in which they will study are:

Bryce Tall-LaRue, of Louisville, Ky.: audio production major, Senegal.

Honors student Victoria Grigsby of Taft: political science and foreign language double major, Germany.

Grace Sandidge of White House: geosciences major, Switzerland.

Aya Sharif of Nashville: speech language pathology and audiology major, Spain.

Biochemistry major Solyana Asefa of Smyrna, data science major will study in Germany, Jessica Stites of Murfreesboro and psychology major will study in the Czech Republic, and Mairiam Ibrahim of La Vergne will all be headed to Belgium.


City Budget Calls for 5% Wage Increase (CDH)

Columbia elected officials are now in the home stretch of adopting the city's annual budget, which totals about $75.8 million for the 2024-25 fiscal year, while also including a 5% raise citywide for employees.

Columbia City Council will vote on the proposed budget during its June 13 regular meeting, which will also include items which set the city's tax rate, as well as employee compensation plans.

The city's tax rate for all taxable property stand to remain at $0.8251 per 100 square feet.

During Thursday's meeting, council members discussed a few potential amendments to the budget, which if approved would see additional funding to certain civil organizations.

"We had a request from the South Central Resource Agency for an additional $1,000 to their annual appropriation for a grant match with the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] to help with their Meals on Wheels program," city manager Tony Massey said.

Maury County Animal Services is also seeking to expand its animal shelter, which would also include additional funding.

"We understand that they need additional space, and they are looking to their partners to provide some assistance," Mayor Chaz Molder said. "I think, considering the growth and the continued need, and the numbers that show Columbia is utilizing that shelter more than our fair share. And considering there has not been an increase in over a decade, I would support at least some show of good faith."

The city currently allots $50,000 quarterly to the animal shelter, or $200,000 annually. Molder suggested council increase that amount by %10 percent, or an additional $20,000 per year.

Massey added that Mt. Pleasant has already pledged an additional $7,000 per year as well.

"That sounds like a pretty good faith effort on Mt. Pleasant's part, and in my opinion that would also be a good faith effort on our part to show a 10% increase," Molder said.

The proposed amendments and allotment increases will be voted on prior to the council's budget vote, which will take place during its regular meeting at City Hall starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13.


Columbia Central Names Principal (Press Release)

Maury County Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Ventura is excited to announce that Shanda Sparrow-Lang has been named the new principal of Columbia Central High School.

Shanda Sparrow-Lang has distinguished herself as a professional of the greatest dedication, ability, and integrity. Her exemplary leadership has earned her the title of 2023-2024 Maury County Schools Principal of the Year, recognizing the positive influence she has on many young lives. She was previously named the 2018-2019 Principal of the Year, further demonstrating her outstanding leadership and dedication to education.

Shanda holds an associate degree from Walters State Community College, a Bachelor of Science degree from Tennessee State University, and a Master of Education degree in Special Education, along with an educational specialist degree in administrative leadership from Middle Tennessee State University.

Shanda has served as an educator for twenty-three years, including ten years as the principal of Spring Hill Middle School. In her tenure at Spring Hill Middle, the school accomplished the highest rating in areas of academic growth & achievement. This year the school was designated an “A” by the state of TN.

Shanda shared, “I'm excited about this new opportunity and very thankful that Ms. Ventura and her staff have instilled their faith and confidence in me to support and lead one of the BEST high schools in America! It has been an honor to serve the students, parents, staff, faculty, and the community of Spring Hill Middle School for 10 years. I look forward to beginning a new journey with the CHS family. As the Lion family, we will continue to provide students with a learning environment that is safe, engaging, and forward-thinking while utilizing the active support of our teachers, parents, and community. RESTORE THE ROAR! Regardless of WHERE you teach, if HOW you teach doesn't connect to WHO you teach, then WHAT you teach is USELESS."

“Shanda Sparrow-Lang is an inspiration to the faculty, staff, and students of Maury County Public Schools. She illustrates the role of dedicated principal; she is wholly committed to the highest ideals of public service and quality education for all,” said Superintendent Lisa Ventura. “We are confident that her selection as the principal of Columbia Central High School will bring continued excellence and inspiration to the students and staff.”

Maury County Public Schools commends Shanda Sparrow-Lang for her exceptional service to the children of Tennessee, salutes her professional expertise and personal excellence, and wishes her all the best in her new role at Columbia Central High School.


Leadership Maury (Press Release)

Maury Alliance is excited to announce that applications for the Leadership Maury Class of 2024-2025 are now open!


Leadership Maury offers a unique opportunity to connect with local decision-makers, gain insights into various sectors, and explore all the great things Maury County has to offer. Whether you live, work, or volunteer here, this program is your chance to contribute to the future of our community.


Apply now and be part of a network of passionate leaders dedicated to making a difference! Learn more at www.mauryalliance.com.



Reagan Day Dinner (Press Release)

The Maury County GOP Invites YOU to celebrate Reagan Day & the birthday of Donald J Trump at Puckett’s Restaurant’s Guitar & Cadillac Hall – Upstairs located at 15 Public Square, Columbia, on June 14th at 6pm.

Special Guest Speakers Include: Congressman Andy Ogles & Tim Burchett as well as Tomi Lahren, Conservative commentator, host of "Tomi Lahren is Fearless" on Outkick.com, and Fox News regular, who will share her views on many topics impacting the Conservative movement, current political events, and more. 

Also joining the event will be Todd Starnes, a Conservative columnist, author, speaker and radio host of the Todd Starnes Show, will address many of the challenges facing America and perhaps delve into some of the broader points made in his most recent book, “Twilight’s Last Gleaming: Can America Be Saved?” Signed books will be available.

Puckett’s cuisine will be served, and an exciting silent auction will be held featuring everything from condo stays to local crafts, collectables and much more.

A limited number of individual tickets are still available for $100, each. Find yours by visiting www.maurytngop.com.


Spring Hill Record Fair (MauryCountySource)

Hundreds of music collectors and enthusiasts are expected to gather in Spring

Hill on Saturday, July 13 for the inaugural Mid-Tennessee Record Fair.

Hosted by Rock-A-Rolla Records of Spring Hill, the fair takes place at the 14,000 square foot UAW Local 1853 Union Hall on 125 Stephen P. Yokich Pkwy, conveniently located right off Tennessee Route 396 in Spring Hill.

“We’re excited to finally bring a real record show to Music City,” says Matt Baade, the owner Rock-A-Rolla Records. “There will be several well-known, established dealers from all parts of the South, as well as Kentucky and Ohio, who’ll be selling some rare and hard-to-find items. If you’re a music collector, this is the place to be.”

music memorabilia, vintage clothing and t-shirts, stickers, pins, and more.

In addition to door prizes and giveaways, there will be food trucks out front for hungry record collectors.

Early entry admission at 10:00 AM is $20, while general admission is $5 between 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM .

There are still a few tables left, so prospective dealers should call 615-302-8080 or email midtennesseerecordfair@gmail.com to reserve their table today. The deadline for dealer registration is June 12.


CSCC Summer Camps (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College’s Columbia Campus is excited to announce summer camps for 2024. 

Rhythm Retreat – Music Camp will run from June 24 - 27 for rising 4th through 6th graders. Student participants will experience drumming, comprehend new piano skills, enjoy music games and take part in choral singing.

Innovate & Illuminate will run from July 8 – 12 for rising 6th through 8th graders. Participants will learn to make fun and useful projects using the fundamentals of circuit building and microcontroller programing.

For more information and to register, visit www.campusce.net/columbiastate/course/course.aspx?catId=22 or email WorkforceDev@ColumbiaState.edu.


…And now, news from around the state…

Fortune 500 Companies in Tennessee (Tennessean)

As Tennessee's vibrant economy continues to expand, so does its roster of major corporations.

The Volunteer State's representation on the newly-released 2024 Fortune 500 list grew to 10 companies — five in Nashville — compared to nine the year prior.

FedEx, based in Memphis, is Tennessee's highest-ranked company, landing in 46th place on the annual list of the most profitable U.S. corporations. FedEx won the distinction by earning $90.6 billion in revenue.

HCA Healthcare, based in Nashville, ranked 61st with $65 billion in revenue.

Of the Fortune 500 companies located in the Nashville area, HCA and Community Health Systems moved up in rank from the year prior, by five and seven spots, respectively. Meanwhile, Dollar General moved down three spots; Delek US Holdings dropped 46 spots and Tractor Supply was two spots lower than last year.

Walmart, with $648 billion in revenue, was ranked in the top in the nation for the 12th year in a row, followed by Amazon, with $574 billion, and Apple, which garnered $383 billion.

Additional information about the rankings, including revenue for each company, can be viewed at fortune.com/ranking/fortune500.


Wilson County Automotive Site Closing (FOX17.com)

A Middle Tennessee auto parts manufacturer will permanently close next year, laying off nearly 100 employees.

Tachi-S Automotive Seating USA, LLC, located in Mt. Juliet, has filed an official WARN Notice with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, notifying the agency of a permanent closure.

According to the WARN Notice, employment separations will begin on Sept. 15, 2024, and end on or around March 31, 2025. The total number of affected workers is 90 employees.

The employees at the facility are not represented by a collective bargaining agreement and do not have bumping rights, the notice says.

The Northern Middle Local Workforce Development Board's rapid response team, employed by Workforce Essentials, has been notified to coordinate services with the employer and affected employees

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Visitors to the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum will have until this Sunday, June 16, to see the exhibition Eric Church: Country Heart, Restless Soul, presented by Gibson. The exhibit, which opened last July, chronicles Church’s path to stardom, from his early years playing late-night gigs in bars and writing songs in Nashville to his prominence as one of country music’s most authentic voices and revered rule-breakers.

Cultivating a sound and approach uniquely his own, Church has held tight to his artistic identity throughout his more than two decades in Nashville, earning a devoted audience and amassing an impressive list of accolades, including 11 Billboard #1 country radio hits and multiple gold, platinum and multi-platinum-certified albums. With songwriting always at the center of his career, Church has written or co-written almost all of the songs he has recorded and released. He continues to fill sold-out venues with his live show, as well as challenge his own musical approach with every new level of success he achieves.

Items featured in the exhibit include musical instruments, song manuscripts, stage wear, tour memorabilia, awards, photographs and more from Church’s personal collection. Read more about the exhibit and the items featured at www.countrymusichalloffame.org.

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