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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 6-7-24


Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for June 7, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Man Who Posted KKK Flyers Sentenced (CDH)

Santa Fe man Daniel Walls was sentenced in Maury County Criminal Circuit Court to three years of jail time this week in connection with his involvement in posting racist flyers on Black churches in Columbia in July 2023.

Walls, 39, pleaded guilty on four counts of civil rights intimidation Tuesday. In addition to his three-year sentence, Walls will also be given six years of probation.

Circuit Judge David Allen, 22nd Judicial District, presided over the hearing.

Walls' arrest and charges initially stemmed from the incident last year, in which flyers associated with the "Old Glory Knights of the Ku Klux Klan" were discovered on the doors of Faith United Missionary Baptist Church, Bethel Chapel AME Church and Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, all in Columbia.

Walls discussed the charges with media following his arraignment on Aug. 14, 2023, confirming at the time that he heads the Old Glory Knights, as stated on the group's website.

Walls' sentencing, which will be served in the Maury County Jail, also includes a no-contact order to the three churches, as well as the ACTS Christian Center.

"It's unfortunate, but when things like this happen you have to send a clear signal to anyone who may want to do the same thing. Hate is just not going to be tolerated in any fashion, and so I think the sentence was fair and just for what took place," Pastor Kenny Anderson of Mt. Calvary said.

Footage obtained by the Columbia Police Department last year also showed images of a male individual placing an additional flyer on the side of Muletown Pizza's food truck.

Following the initial reports, Anderson, along with members of Columbia police, citizens, as well as city and county leaders gathered together at Mt. Calvary with the message that this kind of behavior would not be tolerated. Or rather, that the community would face it with love and support, not hate.

"We came together in unity, love and oneness. We came together against anyone who wants to bring racism and hate to our city," Anderson said. "Love can always outweigh hate and will always be victorious in any matter such as this."

At the time of Walls' arrest, a 17-year-old white male was also arrested in connection with the incident but was not identified.

District Attorney Brent Cooper issued a statement Tuesday regarding the verdict.

"I hope the sentence handed down today to Mr. Walls serves two purposes. One, it makes the minority community feel safer and, two, it sends the message to those like-minded with Mr. Walls that this type of intimidation will not be tolerated in our community," Cooper said.

Upgrades for Unity Psychiatric (MSM)

Unity Psychiatric Care Columbia, a leading provider of mental health services for seniors in Columbia and Maury County, announced recently the opening of a new wing, increasing its capacity from 16 to 24 beds. This expansion comes alongside the introduction of outpatient mental health treatment and therapy services, extending care to adults aged 18 and older.


The hospital hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, May 21 to unveil the new wing attended by community leaders.

Lisa Hogan, Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Assistant Vice President of Operations for Unity Psychiatric Care, said, “This expansion represents a significant step forward in our mission to provide accessible, high-quality mental health care to people in Columbia and all across Middle Tennessee. By increasing our capacity and introducing outpatient services, we want to bridge gaps in mental health care and ensure that individuals receive the support and care they need.”


Unity Psychiatric Care Columbia specializes in short-term care for adults aged 55 and older experiencing mental health crises or behavioral disturbances, including those related to dementia. With the addition of eight beds, Unity Columbia reaffirms its commitment to meeting the mental health needs of the community. The hospital is also expanding its service offering to provide outpatient mental health care and therapy to adults 18 and older with both in-person and telehealth care options.


“We are thrilled to unveil our new wing and expand our services to better serve our community,” said Morgan Reddix, Administrator, Unity Psychiatric Care Columbia. ”Mental health care is essential to overall health and wellbeing, and we are dedicated to breaking down barriers to access.”


The expansion of Unity Psychiatric Care Columbia addresses critical gaps in mental health resources, particularly in rural areas. Rural communities often face shortages of mental health professionals, leading to unmet needs and increased stigma surrounding mental health care.


“As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I’ve seen firsthand the impact of limited mental health resources on rural communities,” said Hogan. “With our expanded capacity and outpatient services, we are better equipped to meet the growing demand for mental health care and support individuals and families in their journey toward healing.”

Tornado Relief Continues (CDH)

Maury County's ongoing efforts to provide relief from the May tornado, which left many families displaced and hundreds of homes damaged, continues with something a little unique, fun and "magical."

Magic & Melodies for Maury is a grassroots effort spearheaded by a couple of local entertainers in an effort to give back to those affected, while also providing a fun night of music, magic and more.

The variety show event will take place Saturday, June 22 at Rory Feek's Homestead Hall, 4544 Highway 431. Tickets are $25 for VIP, $15 for general admission and $10 for children. Tickets are available for purchase at the door or online at

Emceeing the show will be event organizers and "escape artists extraordinaire" Sher'ril and Samantha Knox.

"Pretty much the day after the tornado happened, I started working on this, started making calls for performers," Sher'ril said. "This is my first time ever organizing a charity event, and so this has been a very big learning curve, but I am so grateful for everyone who has helped."

These modern-day Harry Houdinis said this event is particularly special to them, not only as a way to show off their talents to benefit their community, but because like so many others, they too were affected personally by the tornado.

"Our aunt and uncle, their house was damaged, and they have a daughter with Down's syndrome and who is non-verbal," Sher'ril said. "It broke the kitchen window and knocked glass everywhere."

Proceeds from the June 22 event will be donated to New Lasea Church of Christ, 1570 Lasea Road, which has been a set-up spot for donations since the May tornado occurred.

"They've been great," Sher'ril said. "I think just about everybody has some kind of personal investment in this, because we all know someone somehow that's been affected."

The Magic & Melodies lineup will also include Elevator to Space Barbershop Quartet, Fletcher (formerly known as Kentucky Linemen), songwriter Anica Meyerhoff, Us Two and Him bluegrass group and Columbia's own Classic Vinyl 931.

Former Maury County Commission Chair Don Morrow, who plays drums in Classic Vinyl 931, recalls the aftermath of the tornado. Though he wasn't personally affected by the damages, he certainly knows many who were.

Morrow stated that an event like this should be supported because, while it isn't hammering nails and shoveling debris, it is a way for people to use what they have to give back.

"We all want to donate our talents for this, which is a no-brainer for all of us, donating our talents for those in need," Morrow said. "All of us can't trim trees and cut wood, but we can do this."

While Magic & Melodies was the Knoxs' brainchild, it could not have been accomplished without donations and the efforts of many others, ranging from Feek donating his venue to the show's performers and many sponsorships.

"It's been really awesome making all of the connections, and everyone working together has just been great," Sher'ril said.

So far, the event's sponsors include:

Copycats Printing

Patrick Sandow

Providential Broadcasting 1460 WXRQ

Homestead Hall

Dixon's Fine Jewelry

Catfish Campus

William C. Barnes Attorney at Law

Nathan's Electrical and HVAC

Middle TN Homesavers, LLC

Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home

Individual and business sponsorships are still being accepted by calling (931) 774-6951 or emailing

Health Coalition Started to Stop HCA (MauryCountySource)

Maury Regional Health announced the launch of the Coalition for Responsible Health Care – a community organization created to serve as a collective voice for health care in opposition to the HCA TriStar certificate of need application to build a second hospital in Maury County.

“High-quality, responsible health care is a foundational need of our community; however, it must be delivered in a responsible manner to ensure that our citizens do not incur high charges and are not needlessly transferred to Nashville hospitals,” said Maury Regional Health CEO Martin Chaney, MD. “While on the surface HCA TriStar’s proposed hospital may sound appealing, the reality is that it will not offer the level of specialty care currently available at Maury Regional Health and Williamson Health, and it will only serve to exacerbate the national shortage of physicians, nurses and other health care providers.”

According to Dr. Chaney, the Coalition for Responsible Health Care was formed to provide a voice for health care providers and community members across the region who want to ensure that patients remain the top priority, without regard to shareholder benefits.

“As a long-time physician in Maury County, I am deeply concerned that a second hospital in Maury County will increase costs for patients, worsen local health care recruiting and staffing issues and, ultimately, impact patient safety for the residents here in Maury County,” said Mark Seago, MD, a specialist in internal medicine and pediatrics.

As a patient advocate organization, the Coalition for Responsible Health Care is designed to oppose unnecessary or potentially detrimental health care and opposes the proposed HCA TriStar facility for several key reasons. The Coalition for Responsible Health Care believes it will:

Increase costs for patients

Exacerbate health care staffing shortages

Duplicate certain services, while not offering advanced specialty care

Shift the focus away from prevention and wellness to more costly episodes of care, such as ER visits, procedures and hospitalizations

The Coalition for Responsible Health Care launched a new website,, to provide crucial information about the proposed HCA TriStar hospital to Maury County and Middle Tennessee residents.

“We are here to take care of the people of this region,” said Dr. Chaney. “For more than 70 years, we have succeeded in that mission, and with our community’s support, we’ll be able to continue our mission for decades to come. Among our most recent advancements are a $1.9 million improvement to the cardiac catheterization labs in our Heart Center and the addition of a fourth da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical system. Not only do we offer more advanced care, but our charges are also much lower than for-profit hospitals. All hospitals are not equal, so we urge our community to seek more information, which is available at”

There are several ways people can voice their opposition to the proposed HCA TriStar project:

Write a letter opposing a second hospital in Maury County and send it to the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission, c/o Certificate of Need, 502 Deaderick Street, Andrew Jackson Building, 9th Floor, Nashville, TN 37243.

Go to and complete the form to show your support.

The Coalition for Responsible Health Care is encouraging people to act quickly as the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission will vote on the proposal on June 26, 2024.

“Time is of the essence,” said Deborah Lumpkins, chief nursing officer and chief operating officer at Maury Regional Health. “As a career nurse and long-time resident of Maury County, I cannot stress enough how important it is for our community to come together and support responsible, locally managed health care.”

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, 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

Ophthalmologist Joins MRMC (MSM)

Dr. John D. Bonner, 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, Ala. He completed his internship and residency at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. 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. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To make an appointment, call (931) 840-3501.

Sobriety Checkpoint (Press Release)

The Tennessee Highway Patrol will be conducting sobriety roadside safety checkpoints during the week of June 7th on State Route 50 East, .2 Miles East of the 19 mile marker in Maury County starting at 10pm.

Impaired driving is a serious crime that kills more than 16,000 people and injures 305,000 people every year in the United States. Troopers will evaluate drivers for signs of alcohol or drug impairment. Troopers will target those who operate a vehicle while impaired and take corrective actions for other violations observed while ensuring the protection of all motorists.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol recognizes that sobriety checkpoints are highly visible and effective tools in the battle against impaired driving.

CSCC Summer Camps (Press Release)

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

The Game Design Unity Camp will run from June 10 - 14 for rising 6th through 8th grade students. Campers will craft virtual worlds, master optimization techniques and bring their video games to life with sounds and animations. Join us for an adventure in creativity and technology!

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 or email

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

Mrs.  Joyce Anne Duckworth Parks, 84, retired employee of Farm Bureau, and widow of Douglas R. Parks, Jr., died Saturday June 1, in Manchester, TN at the residence of her Daughter where she had made her home for several years. Funeral services for Mrs. Parks will be conducted Saturday June 8th at 1:00 p.m. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until the time of services at the funeral home.

James Maron Thompson Jr., 70, retired butcher for Super Rama Foods, and resident of Hampshire, died Wednesday, June 5, 2024 at Maury Regional Medical Center.

The family will visit with friends Sunday, June 9, 2024 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the funeral home. Condolences may be extended online at 

Free Fishing Day (Press Release)

The 2024 Bobby Wilson Free Fishing Day is set for Saturday, June 8 in Tennessee. All state residents and visitors of any age may fish for free without a license in Tennessee’s public waters. Additionally, youth ages 15 or younger may fish for free the entire week, beginning on Free Fishing Day and continuing through the following Friday, June 14.

Every year since 1991, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has provided the annual free fishing opportunity in hopes of introducing children and families to fishing and outdoor recreation. Each year, the agency stocks several thousand pounds of fish across the state to ensure high-quality and exciting fishing for participants. Fishing is not only a great family activity but also helps bring awareness to the natural environment. 

TWRA and numerous communities and partner organizations have planned special fishing events across the state. A special thanks goes to Academy Sports + Outdoors for its continued statewide sponsorship for Bobby Wilson Free Fishing Day. Visit the TWRA events page for a full list of locations and details Tennessee TWRA License - Events Home (

Free Fishing Day is named in honor of Bobby Wilson who retired in 2022 after more than 40 years of service to the TWRA. He served in the Fisheries Division for 35 years, before being named TWRA Deputy Director in 2015 and Executive Director in 2020.

Bobby Wilson Free Fishing Day and Free Fishing Week applies to Tennessee’s public waters, TWRA owned and operated lakes, and state park facilities. Some privately owned pay lakes continue to charge during this special day and week.  Anglers will need to consult with those operators if there are any questions about a facility.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

A new month means a new First Fridays, and this time it really will be "new," as Columbia's monthly downtown gathering initiates a few changes for summer.

As always, First Fridays events will occur from 5-8 p.m., but this month will feature street closures along West 7th Street and the adjacent half of the square. Also be sure to stop by Maury Alliance's Strolling on 6th block party along West 6th Street for even more live music, vendors and food trucks.

"Changes were imminent for First Fridays, as the event continued to skyrocket in attendance and more vendors were setting up on the sidewalks to showcase their products," a Columbia Main Street Corporation press release states. "Safety concerns were mounting, so the decision was made to close the streets for this event rather than discontinuing it."

With the new changes, First Fridays will now feature a vendor market on the street, opening up a more walkable environment for pedestrians. Food trucks will also be set up, as well as a new Cruise-In display of vintage and classic cars.

First Fridays INSIDERS, another new feature, will include a few downtown merchants bringing the monthly event indoors. Just look for the blue and gold balloons placed outside of participating shops.

All vendors, food trucks, street performers and cruise-in participants are also now required to apply each month at, which includes a vendor fee. All proceeds will benefit Columbia Main Street Corporations continued downtown beautification efforts.


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