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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 6-21-24


Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for June 21, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Lawrenceburg Murder Suspect Arrested (MSM)

  A second arrest has been made in connection with the 2021 murder of 52-year-old Loretto resident Sharon Gillespie that took place outside The Summit of Lawrenceburg.

  Gillespie had been working at The Summit on April 13, 2021, at the time of her death.

 Witnesses reported hearing gunshots, and Gillespie was found unresponsive in the parking lot shortly afterwards. She was transported to nearby Southern Tennessee Regional Health System-Lawrenceburg, where she succumbed to her injuries.

  In August of 2022, detectives presented evidence to a Lawrence County Grandy Jury, who opted to return indictments against 40-year-old Columbia resident Brandon M. Waire.

  Waire was subsequently arrested on charges of first-degree murder, criminal homicide, attempted especially aggravated robbery and criminal conspiracy to sell Schedule II narcotics. Waire was incarcerated under a bond of $1,000,000.

At the time of Waire’s arrest, officials with the Lawrenceburg Police Department indicated that additional arrests were expected in the future.

  On May 31, a grand jury returned indictments, charging Columbia resident Victoria A. Cash, age 40, in Gillespie’s murder, as well.

Cash was indicted on one count each of first-degree murder, criminal homicide, attempted especially aggravated robbery and criminal conspiracy to sell Schedule II narcotics.

  Cash has since been arrested and incarcerated under a $3,000,000 bond.

  Investigation in the case was conducted by detectives with the Lawrenceburg Police Department in conjunction with Special Agents with the Office of Homeland Security.

Home Sales (CDH)

The median home in Maury County listed for $469,998 in May, down 2.2% from the previous month's $480,325, an analysis of data from shows.

Compared to May 2023, the median home list price increased 7.2% from $439,445.

Maury County's median home was 2,069 square feet, listed at $228 per square foot. The price per square foot of homes for sale is down 3.6% from May 2023.

Listings in Maury County moved steadily, at a median 29 days listed compared to the May national median of 44 days on the market. In the previous month, homes had a median of 30 days on the market. Around 248 homes were newly listed on the market in May, a 3.9% decrease from 258 new listings in May 2023. 

Across the Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin metro area, median home prices rose to $588,450, slightly higher than a month earlier. The median home had 2,204 square feet, at a list price of $273 per square foot.

MRMC Great Place to Work (MSM)

Maury Regional Health has earned a 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 percent 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.

First Farmers Adds New Manager (MSM)

First Farmers and Merchants Corporation, the holding company for First Farmers and Merchants Bank, announced last week that Teresa Matthews has joined the bank as Secondary Mortgage Operations Manager.

“We are pleased to welcome Teresa Matthews to our team as Secondary Mortgage Operations Manager,” stated Brian K. Williams, First Farmers’ Chairman and CEO. “Teresa brings over two decades of extensive experience in mortgage operations and secondary market management. Her expertise will be invaluable as we continue to expand our mortgage services.”

“Teresa will be transitioning into her new role with guidance from our existing leadership team to ensure a seamless integration. We are confident that her background in managing risk, quality assurance, and secondary markets will significantly contribute to our strategic objectives,” Williams added.

Prior to joining First Farmers, Matthews served as Mortgage Operations Manager and Senior Vice President at Lineage Bank in Franklin. Her responsibilities included overseeing all aspects of mortgage operations, implementing software solutions like the Encompass Loan Origination System, and key investor relationships, as well as establishing a relationship with Freddie Mac. Matthews also managed secondary market activities such as pricing, rate establishment, and interest rate risk management.

Previously, Matthews held mortgage related roles at Franklin Synergy Bank, Cumberland Bank, and Franklin Financial Mortgage, Inc. At Franklin Synergy Bank, she managed all secondary market operations and developed comprehensive management reports for secondary marketing controls. At Cumberland Bank, she oversaw mortgage operations, implemented essential software systems, and monitored production volumes and budgets. At Franklin Financial Mortgage, Inc., she handled pricing, rate establishment, and ensured that mortgages met investor standards.

Matthews has completed numerous courses and certifications from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the American Institute of Banking, and Cannon Financial Institute.

First Farmers and Merchants Corporation is the holding company for First Farmers and Merchants Bank, a community bank serving the Middle Tennessee area through 22 offices in seven Middle Tennessee counties. As of March 31, 2024, First Farmers reported total assets of approximately $1.9 billion, total shareholders’ equity of approximately $124 million, and administered trust assets of $6 billion.

Arby’s Gives Back (MSM)

The Arby’s Foundation is dedicated to giving back to its communities across the country, and throughout 2024, it will donate $4.5 million to organizations that support childhood hunger, youth leadership and career readiness initiatives. Of the total donation amount, $1 million will go toward No Kid Hungry, $500K to Folds of Honor and $3 million to support hundreds of other local community groups throughout the US.

In Columbia, the Arby’s Foundation proudly donated $15,000 to Carmack Boulevard Church of Christ.

“Giving back to communities through local grants and our nonprofit partners is an integral part of what we do,” said Rita Patel, Arby’s Brand President. “We also know that for many kids, summer is the hungriest time of year. That’s why in addition to our local grants, we are launching a summer match campaign with No Kid Hungry.”

Through the end of July, Arby’s Foundation will match up to $250,000 on all donations to No Kid Hungry, a national campaign run by Share Our Strength, a nonprofit working to solve problems of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world. The Arby’s Foundation believes reliable access to meals is ground zero for a child’s success and is proud to support this important initiative this summer – a time when children and communities need additional resources when school isn’t in session. To donate, visit to have their contribution matched through July.

To learn more about the work the Arby’s Foundation is doing throughout the year, visit

Groups Join for 4th Festivities (MSM)

Join the Breakfast Rotary, Noon Rotary and Kiwanis of Columbia for the 10th anniversary of the clubs’ 4th of July celebration.

The clubs will be sponsoring this free event on Thursday, July 4, at the Kiwanis shelter located in Maury County Park.

“We honor citizens that day that have done just an outstanding job to our community,” Noon Rotary member George Vrailas said, adding that three such citizens will be receiving a “Great American Service Above Self Award.”

The Honoring Ceremony will be at 8:30 a.m. and the Kid’s Bike Parade will follow at 9:15 a.m.

“Everyone comes out in their colors – red, white and blue – and decorations and just has a good time,” Vrailas said.

He said that “everyone is welcome,” but bikes are for younger children, “like elementary school kids,” and if they need help decorating their bikes, red ribbons will be provided.

In years past, along with the bikes, Vrailas said that children have been in wagons and strollers and dogs have also been in the parade that begins at the Kiwanis shelter, located next to the Kid’s Kingdom, and goes around the back of the playground and ends back where it started.

Along with the ceremony and parade, there will also be a children’s essay contest “on what the 4th of July means to them,” Vrailas said.

There will be free drinks and snacks for children, and they are also invited to participate in other activities (face painting and charactures) as well.

Vrailas included that the event is intended to “give honor to our veterans and local community heroes that have served our community well and to inspire patriotism in our youth.”

The celebration is expected to wrap up at 11:30 a.m.

Water Rates to Increase (MSM)

Increases for water rates and impact fees received approval on first reading at the Columbia City Council’s monthly meeting on June 13.

Columbia Power and Water System (CPWS) made a request to increase the water rates it charges for large volume customers.

The rate increase is part of a proposed two-year rate plan in which the customer charges for residential customers would increase by $5 and customer charges for commercial/industrial customers will increase by $10.

The new usage rates are broken out into two areas — Urban and Suburban. 

Urban Residential/Commercial customers with monthly usage from 0-8,000 gallons will pay $3.30 per 1,000 gallons. Those using 8,001-20,000 gallons per month will increase to $3.80 per 1,000 gallons. Users over 20,000 gallons per month will pay $4.05 per 1,000 gallons.

Suburban Residential/Commercial customers with monthly usage from 0-8,000 gallons will pay $4.30 per 1,00 gallons. Those using 8,001-20,000 gallons per month will increase to $4.80 per 1,000 gallons. Users over 20,000 gallons per month will pay $5.05 per 1,000 gallons.

A second year of rate changes is also part of the CPWS proposal, but has not yet been considered or approved.

The ordinance establishing the new rate schedules passed on first reading. A public hearing for the ordinance has been set for July 11, prior to the next voting session of the city council. Second and final reading is expected to be on the agenda for that meeting as well.

Another CPWS proposal, also passed on first reading last week, increases the water impact fee on new water customers in an effort to serve the demand for water system capital facilities and public improvements.

“The resolution recommends three impact fee increases of $500 per single family unit (SFU) equivalent, and CPWS would desire to implement the first $500 increase on Aug. 1, 2024, after two readings with the City Council and a 30-day notice period,” a memo concerning the impact fee proposal states. “The next two fee increases would occur on July 1, 2025 (FY26), and July 1, 2026 (FY27).”

The memo goes on to explain that the increases proposed are on the cost of a three-quarter inch meter service, which represents one SFU equivalent. Larger meter costs, it goes on to explain, are normalized to the number of SFU equivalents it can serve. A table of the costs for meter sizes from three-quarter inch ($5,500) to 10 inch ($1.577 million) is included.

“I would like to thank CPWS and the board for what they’ve done,” councilmember Danny Coleman said. “It will help improve things, but also having growth pay for growth.”

Maury Democrats To Hold Debate (Press Release)

The Maury County Democratic Party (MCDP) announced there will be a debate on Monday, July 8, 2024, at 6 p.m. between two Democratic candidates running for the Tennessee State House of Representatives in District 64.

The event will be held at Macedonia Recreation Center, 501 Armstrong St., Columbia, and is open to the public. It will begin at 6 p.m. and will last for approximately one hour.

Eileen Longstreet and Alex Pierce will participate with Justin Kanew of the Tennessee Holler moderating.

Alex Pierce is from Columbia and Eileen Longstreet is from Spring Hill.

House District 64 includes the eastern part of Maury County. The seat is currently held by Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka).

James Dallas, MCDP Chair said, “We are excited to offer voters in House District 64 an opportunity to learn more about our candidates.”

 Experience Spring Hill (Press Release)

Spring Hill's popular annual community event, Experience Spring Hill, The Event, presented by TriStar Spring Hill ER, is back on Saturday, June 22, 2024. This jam-packed event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Summit High School.

Experience Spring Hill, The Event offers attendees a chance to explore all that Spring Hill has to offer in one day under one roof. The free event features over 140 exhibitors from local businesses and nonprofits, a children’s activity area, a food court, community and city information, games with prizes for all ages, dance performances, and much more.

"We're thrilled to host this popular event again this year," said Rebecca Melton, executive director of the Spring Hill Chamber. "Experience Spring Hill, The Event offers an excellent opportunity for residents to explore local businesses and access community information while enjoying family-friendly fun."

Experience Spring Hill, The Event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available at Summit High School. 

For more information, visit

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

Robert Hardison "Bobby" Walker, 97, of Lewisburg, TN, passed away peacefully on Monday, June 17, 2024.

Mr. Walker is best known as the longtime president of Walker Die Casting, Inc., which he founded in 1958 and presided over for many years.

The funeral service for Mr. Walker will be held at the Lewisburg Methodist Church on Saturday, June 22, 2024, at 11:00 am. Visitation will be at the McKnight Center in Lewisburg on Friday evening from 4:00 until 8:00 pm.

Linda Roberts Harris, 83, died Sunday, June 16th at Vitality Living in Franklin. Funeral services will be conducted Saturday, June 22 at 11:00 AM at West Seventh Street Church of Christ. Burial will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be Saturday from 10:00 AM until 11:00 AM at the church.

Mrs. Kathleen Fay Akin Coates was born in Columbia, Tennessee on April 25th, 1939 and passed away on May 20th, 2024 at the age of 85. 

A memorial service will be held at Riverside United Methodist Church at 11 AM on June 29th. The family will visit with friends prior to the service at the church. A private inurnment will be held at Polk Memorial Gardens Mausoleum. Online condolences may be extended at

…And now, news from around the state…

Coolest Thing Made in Tennessee (Tennessean)

The Nissan Rogue joined 15 other finalists for a "Coolest Thing Made in Tennessee" online voting contest, according to a press release.

The top 16 are among over 100 applicants to enter submissions for consideration for the Tennessee Manufacturers Association competition, according to a press release from Aldo Amoto, a spokesperson with Cooley Public Strategies in Brentwood.

Other organizers of the first ever Coolest Thing Made in Tennessee competition include Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services, Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association, and Smart Factory Institute Tennessee.

Those interested in voting in the online Coolest Thing Made in Tennessee poll have until June 24 to participate through the event website:

Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed stated that she's pleased to learn that the Nissan Rogue built in her town has gained statewide recognition.

Voting for the top eight in the competition will commence June 26 and run through July 2. The Top 4 will be announced on July 8 with final voting starting on July 9 through July 24.

The winner will be announced on July 25 at The Coolest Things Made in Tennessee Luncheon at The Commons at PIE Innovation Center in Cleveland. 

Other “Coolest Things” that made the list include:

American Paper Optics Eclipse Glasses

Gourmet Flavored Bacons - Hitman Smoked Products: Hitman Smoked Products

Helicopters - Bell Textron

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey 

John Deere Z370r Electric Zero Turn Mower

Bryan Helps Open Hospital Expansion (NewsChannel5)

Williamson Medical Center celebrated a new expansion with some special guests on Tuesday.

Country singer Luke Bryan and his wife Caroline who live just down the road were there to cut the ribbon for the expanded and renovated West Tower on Carothers Parkway.

Caroline is the campaign co-chair and Luke the honorary co-chair of the renovation's fund-raising effort.

A sign was unveiled with their names on it, honoring their hard work.

The day also included facility tours, free food, and lots of children's activities!

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Columbia Powersports Supercenter, 800 S. James M. Campbell Blvd., invites the community for its Bike Day charity event this Saturday.

The event will raise money for Lighthouse Kids, a center specializing in children with autism.

The event will include food, a kids' bike race, bounce houses, face painting and more.

Bike Day will start at 9 a.m. Saturday.


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