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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 6-28-24


Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for June 28, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Locals Win Daytime Emmy (CDH)

While the show's theme often finds creative ways to dive into the past, "Reconnecting Roots" with roots in Columbia has broken new ground by achieving its first Daytime Emmy Awards wins.

Hosted by Columbia resident Gabe McCauley, the PBS show took home two top prizes at the 51st Daytime Emmy Awards on June 7.

The program won Outstanding Original Song, "We're Home," which has served as the show's theme and is performed by McCauley's wife, Mandy McCauley, along with Dillon Hodges and Heidi Feek. The second award was for Outstanding Original Writing Team for a Daytime Non-Fiction Program.

"It's the first time we ever submitted for the awards, and when we finally did it was like, 'Oh wow, we actually got nominated.' That's pretty cool," Gabe said.

"It feels validating and pretty awesome, though I'm still trying to make sense of what it actually means. It's like it's the same show it was before, only now there's more purpose to the show."

Now prepping to release its fourth season, "Reconnecting Roots" delves into many topics, which focus on iconic industries, cultural movements, music, topics that have influenced and help shape the world today.

"I was very hopeful that Mandy, Heidi and Dillon were going to win for the song, but I did not expect the writing team to win just because it was in a category with some pretty big shows," Gabe said.

Head writer Dave Boyd recalls the surreal moment, and that it took a few seconds to process before the crew was making their way up to accept the awards.

"It took the table a few seconds to really catch up to what had happened. So, there was like a two or three-second lull of silence of everybody waiting for us to react. It was hysterical," Dave Boyd said.

Mandy McCauley said one of the biggest surprises wasn't just in winning, but the supportive community in the Daytime Emmy world.

"I didn't expect No. 1 to win, but No. 2 for everybody to be so supportive. That surprised me so much," she said. "And it's crazy that we wrote this song almost seven years ago, and now it's winning an award."

To celebrate the show's Emmy wins, Muletown Coffee Roasters hosted a special party to honor Columbia's local award winners.

Kelli Coyne, who serves multiple jobs producing "Reconnecting Roots," said this was a way to take a pause, celebrate the achievement and get ready for another busy year of filming, recording and more.

"I've known Gabe and Mandy for so long and feel like they have been worthy of this for so many years," Coyne said. "It felt just so good to see them be recognized for their phenomenal work."

As far as what "Reconnecting Roots" viewers can expect out of the next year, there will be quite a lot to choose from, with Season 4 set to premiere in September.

"We are putting out singles every month until the show comes out, and then we will put a whole album out," Mandy said. "So our Season 4 album will be coming out in September, and then start working on our Season 5 album not long after that. We've got a lot coming up."

HCA Tristar Hosptial Approved (Press Release)

Plans for a new hospital in Spring Hill cleared their first major hurdle with the approval of a Certificate of Need for the proposed 68-bed facility.

At its June 26 meeting, Tennessee’s Health Facilities Commission approved the application by HCA TriStar for the Certificate of Need by a 6-2 vote.

“We are grateful for the incredible support we received from community leaders and residents in the Spring Hill community,” said Mitch Edgeworth, president of HCA Healthcare TriStar Division, in a statement. “This decision brings us one step closer to fulfilling a promise we made to the Spring Hill community 18 years ago. We are thrilled to expand our services with the addition of a full-service hospital.”

Over the past few months, TriStar Health hosted community meetings to learn about what healthcare services the community wants and needs. More than 1,100 people wrote letters of support for the hospital project, including many Spring Hill elected officials.

“I am thankful that the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission approved the Certificate of Need for a hospital in Spring Hill. This is a major step in the right direction and an enormous win for Spring Hill residents,” Spring Hill Mayor Jim Hagaman stated. “With our current population and projected exponential growth, a hospital is an absolute necessity. I’m proud to continue this push to get Spring Hill residents access to the healthcare their families deserve.”

TriStar said more details about construction will be announced in the coming months.

The decision came despite joint opposition by Maury Regional Medical Center, Williamson Medical Center and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“We are disappointed with this decision and believe another hospital in such close proximity to Maury Regional Medical Center and Williamson Health, both highly respected and nationally recognized, will only serve to substantially increase the cost of healthcare for the Spring Hill and surrounding communities. However, the HFC’s decision does not dampen our commitment to expanding exceptional health services to our entire region, including Spring Hill,” Maury Regional CEO Martin Chaney, MD, said in a statement provided by the hospital.

Maury County commissioners had declined to take a stand against the proposed hospital after those representing the Spring Hill area cited their constituents’ support of the project.

“After all the debate, my opinion is let them build it, Spring Hill wants it. Once built, let the competition begin,” said Commission Chairman Eric Previti. “In the end Maury Regional will have superior service and better care. It’s really not even apples to apples here. Maury Regional will be full service, better service, of this I’m confident. Tristar, will not. Tristar is for profit, and will cause health care costs to go up. For that reason, this does not help Maury County. That’s my concern.”

Scott Sumners, whose district includes part of Spring Hill, added, “The Tennessee Health Facilities Commission 6-2 vote in favor of the new hospital in Spring Hill will give residents quicker access to healthcare. My constituents overwhelmingly supported the new hospital and now they will have an option to stay in their hometown for their healthcare needs.”

TriStar Health announced in April its intention to apply for a Certificate of Need to bring a $250 million, full-service hospital to Spring Hill, that would be at the site of the current TriStar Spring Hill ER.

The proposed hospital would include 68 beds and would provide an estimated economic impact of nearly $870 million and over 3,000 new jobs to Spring Hill, according to estimates provided by HCA.

The Tennessee Health Facilities Commission agenda stated that “the proposed project also seeks to initiate diagnostic and therapeutic cardiac catheterization services, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services, and will include a Level II neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).”

Maury Regional has expressed its intention to expand services in Spring Hill and referenced those plans in its statement, with Chaney saying, “Maury Regional Health remains committed to expanding health care services in a responsible manner in Spring Hill with a strong focus on primary care and physician specialists and is looking forward to continuing discussions with Spring Hill leadership about healthcare needs of their community and how we can expand our services in ways to best address those needs.”

Columbia Infrastructure Work Begins (Press Release)

In case you happen to see a few extra construction teams in downtown Columbia, it's because the city has begun its latest project to enhance the Columbia square.

The Columbia Infrastructure and Greenspace Improvement Project was made possible via a $50,000 national GM on Main Street Program Grant. It was also accomplished through the city's partnership with Columbia Main Street. who were one of only five nonprofit organizations and municipal government entities to receive the grant.

Columbia City Council previously voted to accept the grant in March.

Construction for the project began Tuesday and is expected to be completed over "the next several months," according to a City of Columbia press release.

"Ensuring the safety and well-being of our residents is paramount," City Manager Tony Massey said. "The Columbia Infrastructure and Greenspace Improvement Project underscores our commitment to enhancing downtown's vitality while prioritizing pedestrian safety.”

The project's details include several significant improvements to the downtown district, such as curb extensions at three of the four intersections, as well as increased green space. The curb extensions will serve as an innovative traffic calming measure aimed to increase pedestrian safety by reducing crossing distances and slowing downtown motorists.

"Basically, we are designing the curb out into the white-striped no parking area," Columbia Tourism and Marketing Director Kellye Murphy said in March. "It extends the view for the pedestrians trying to cross the street. They will be able to go further out into that area, and it's traffic calming for the cars that are coming through the square as well."

There will also be two information kiosks to provide visitors with details about local businesses, restaurants and attractions. Increased green space will also offer more areas to gather and relax.

“We are excited to begin this project that has been in our imaginations for quite some time, with many city departments being involved in brainstorming, design, and the construction and implementation. The improvements will provide increased safety and beautification to match more recent improvements downtown.”

Chapman Appointed to Spring Hill Middle (Press Release)

Maury County Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Ventura is pleased to announce Kendra Chapman as the new principal of Spring Hill Middle School.

Kendra Chapman brings a wealth of experience and a dedication to academic excellence to her new role. With over twenty-five years in education, she has served in various capacities, including classroom teacher, instructional coach, principal, and district leader across two states and seven diverse school districts. Most recently, she served as the Middle and High School Coordinator for MCPS.

Kendra holds a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Criminal Justice from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and an M.S. Ed in Special Education from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. She received her credentials in School Administration from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and is licensed to teach and administer K-12 education in both Virginia and Tennessee.

Kendra resides in Lewisburg, Tennessee, with her husband and triplet sons. When she’s not coaching and supporting teachers and families, she enjoys traveling abroad, gardening, sewing, painting, and drinking coffee.

As the new principal of Spring Hill Middle School, Kendra shared, “I look forward to fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment where every student can thrive. I am eager to work with the dedicated staff, supportive families, and the broader community to continue the tradition of excellence at Spring Hill Middle School.”

Superintendent Lisa Ventura shared, “Kendra Chapman’s extensive background in education, her proven leadership across multiple roles, and her commitment to fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment make her an excellent fit for Spring Hill Middle School. We are confident that under her guidance, Spring Hill Middle School will continue to thrive and excel.”

Mt. Pleasant Library Seeks Grant (MSM)

Mount Pleasant commissioners moved forward with their own application for a grant to benefit the town’s library during their June 18 meeting.

The resolution authorizes the city to request up to $2 million in funding with a 10 percent local match for a Connected Communities grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.

The Columbia branch of the Maury County Public Library has already applied for and received such a grant, and it was pointed out that the Mount Pleasant branch needed to apply for its own grant.

“We’re kind of mirroring what the Maury County Library did, where we’re going for a new roof, new doors and a lot of improvements to the facility,” said City Manager Kate Collier. “But we’re going to add programs that allow employees to maybe have a health kiosk, where they can come and have their blood pressure taken.

“Our goal is to expand the kitchen where we can do cooking classes. Everything has to be tied to broadband, so if we do cooking classes, it’ll be on the internet so people can see it.”

The grant is funded through federal dollars via the 2021 American Rescue Plan, which have to be spent by next year.

The group also approved on second reading the city’s FY 2024-25 budget, which totals $15.023 million and has no tax increase.

In her report, Finance Director Shiphrah Cox said the city was working to improve its billing system to get away from postcards.

“The amount of calls we get, people not receiving bills, the amount of people who get two bills at the same time, the amount of people who get wrong bills… we started the research process on this about a month ago,” Cox said, adding that she hoped a new system would be in place within two to three months.

Mayor Bill White noted that he himself had a problem with his bill not arriving on time during June.

Collier noted how people were responding to the downtown construction that began in early June as part of the Downtown Improvement Project, and that the bridge work was supposed to begin in August.

Collier also reported on ongoing wastewater projects, saying that Rainey Street sewer improvements were near completion. The wastewater treatment plant had an issue, she said, because “the contractor did not get the state inspector to come in and inspect the electric.”

“They’re probably going to have to dig up some of their work to look at it because they should have gotten the station inspected before they covered it up,” Collier said.

The trunk line project which rehabilitated roughly 4,300 feet of sewer pipeline was also complete, according to Collier.

The Commission also approved nonprofit appropriations of $1,500 for the Mount Pleasant-Maury Museum of Local History, $25,000 for the Mount Pleasant Forward Foundation/Main Street and $1,500 to  the Mount Pleasant Senior Citizens.

Commissioners also approved the reappointment of Jacqueline Johnson to a three-year term on Mount Pleasant’s Board of Zoning Appeals.

Commodity Distribution

The South Central Human Resource Agency announced that they will be conducting a commodities distribution through the US Department of Agriculture. The food distribution will take place from 9-10am on Monday, July1st at Graymere Church of Christ, located at 1320 Trotwood Avenue in Columbia.

This food distribution is intended help with food insecurity in the community and will be distributed on a first come-first serve basis to those who are eligible. Eligibility will be based on total household income that is within the income guidelines. Anyone receiving aid from SNAP, Families First, SSI, LIHEAP or proof of residency in public housing are eligible for USDA Commodities.

Athenaeum Fundraiser (Press Release)

The Athenaeum, one of Columbia’s premier historic sites, will be hosting the Annual Membership Meeting and Bean Supper/ Auction this Saturday, June 29th, at the Athenaeum Rectory, located at 808 Athenaeum Street. Supper begins at 5 followed by the meeting and Auction. There will be many items to choose from. Please join us and help with the upkeep of the historic Athenaeum Rectory.

Run for The Well Outreach (Press Release)

Join The Well Outreach on July 4th at Summit High School in Spring Hill, for an action-packed day of fun in support of your local food pantry! Lace up your shoes and choose from a Timed 5K or Color Fun Run (complete with a FOAM pit!). There is a 1 mile turnaround option for those young ones who still want to get in on the fun!

 Not a runner but still want to support the Well? Opt for the Sleep In Option and still grab some awesome event merchandise!

 Plus, don’t miss the Bicycle/Stroller Parade (hosted by Spring Hill Parks and Recreation), perfect for the whole family!

Come and be part of this unforgettable event as we Run For Hunger in Middle Tennessee! Sign up today as spots will fill up fast!


Your participation can make a difference to help feed families in need in Middle Tennessee!

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.

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

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.

Mrs. Barbara Ann Head Duvall, 76, retired educator for Maury County Schools, and resident of Columbia, died Thursday, June 20 at her residence. Funeral services will be conducted Saturday, June 29 at 2:00 p.m. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Hardison Cemetery on Joe Brown Road. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the funeral home.

Mrs. Cathy Lee Sellers Cullum, 66, retired elementary school teacher for Columbia Academy, and resident of Columbia, died Monday, June 24 at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services will be conducted Sunday, June 30 at 2:00 p.m. at West Seventh Street Church of Christ. Burial will follow in Lasting Hope Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Operation Dry Water (Press Release)

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) participates in Operation Dry Water (ODW), a year-round boating under the influence (BUI) and enforcement campaign. ODW’s heightened awareness and enforcement annually takes place around the July 4th holiday.

The July 4th holiday means an increase in boater activity, and the TWRA will be on heightened alert for boating under the influence infractions. Over the course of the July 4th holiday period, law enforcement officers will also be working to increase public awareness of the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs, for both operators and passengers. Boaters will notice an overall increase in officer patrols on the water. The combined efforts of the participating law enforcement agencies will result in the removal of impaired operators from the state’s waterways, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for boaters.

“Boating under the influence is a 100 percent  preventable crime that will not be tolerated by wildlife officers” said Lt. Col. Matt Majors of TWRA’s Boating and Law Enforcement Division. “It is very selfish and irresponsible to endanger your life or the safety of others by consuming alcohol or drugs and operating a boat in Tennessee.”

To support the enforcement and education initiative, the TWRA is partnering with the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Operation Dry Water was started by the NASBLA in 2009 and has been a highly successful campaign drawing public attention to the dangers of BUI.

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths. Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications. Operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 percent or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle. Penalties may include fines, jail, boat impoundment and the loss of boat driving privileges.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

A little rain can't prevent Columbia's second annual Field Day at Riverwalk Park, which will celebrate on a rescheduled date this Saturday.

Field Day at Riverwalk will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Riverwalk Park Splash Pad, 102 Riverside Drive. This all-ages event is free to attend.

Activities will include games like tug of war, sack races, corn hole and yard games. There will also be refreshing ice pops available to cool down, plus a whole lot more.

For more information, contact Ireland at or call (931) 982-2298.


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