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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 7-3-24


Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for July 3, 2024

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

We start with local news…

4th of July Festivities (CDH)

Maury County shows its patriotic pride this 4th of July, with events for all ages including parades, workouts at the park and, of course, fireworks.

Kicking things off Thursday morning will be Rotary & Kiwanis' 4th of July Event at Maury County Park, sponsored by both Breakfast and Noon Rotary, as well as Columbia Kiwanis.

The event will begin with a special honoring ceremony at 8:30 a.m., followed by a Kid's Bike Parade at 9:15 a.m.

The park will later light up with Maury County Parks and Recreation's annual fireworks showcase. The show is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. Thursday on top of Monsanto Hill and is expected to last about 20 minutes. Arrive early to secure a good view.

In Mt. Pleasant, this 4th of July brings something a little more as the city will also be celebrating its Bicentennial Anniversary.

Guests are invited to gather in the downtown Mt. Pleasant Square, 100 Public Square, starting at 7 p.m. Thursday. The 200th event will kick off with live music, food and more, culminating with a dazzling firework display at the end.

Spring Hill will start the day with its annual Run for Hunger benefiting The Well Outreach food pantry. The event, which begins at 7 a.m. Thursday at Summit High School, 2830 Twin Lakes Drive, will include a 5K race, as well as a color foam fun run, followed by Spring Hill Parks & Recreation's July 4th Bicycle Parade.

To register for the Spring Hill 2024 Run for Hunger, visit

UT Polinator Garden (MSM)

Columbia’s UT Extension office recently announced the creation of a pollinator garden at its 4H Camp. This garden, which was dedicated at a June 21 ceremony, will serve as a place where people can learn about how pollinators impact the environment.

The garden was curated by UT Extension Education Director Lisa Vassar and the grant for the garden was provided by Corteva Agriscience and the National 4-H Council. The Extension office registered to receive milkweed seeds from TDOT.

There were several donors for this project, including T Center for Profitable Ag, Home Depot of Giles County, Giles County Seed Library, Rogers Group, Columbia Power Co., Plant City, Barry Brown and Jody Pritchett.

The celebration included a ribbon cutting and a keychain-making workshop for all to enjoy.

Vassar spoke on how this program affects the people of Columbia, saying, “This garden will impact the City of Columbia and area wide cities by teaching their young people about pollination and encouraging students to develop gardens at home and at their schools.”

One of the key things that the garden does is to take concepts from the classroom and puts them into a physical space for children to see. This bridges gaps between school and home as 4-H Camp can become an awesome place for children to understand the wonderous world around them. Children can learn how the pollination process not only affects the garden, but what it does for the world they interact with daily.

Vassar stated that the children can learn a vast amount of information from the pollinator garden, such as, “parts of plants, plant cycle, life cycle, the role insects play in the pollinator process, that most of our food comes from pollinators, and how human impact can deter the process.”

There are things within the garden Vassar noticed that everyone could latch their brains onto, saying, “Everything has a purpose. Pollinators not only feed from the flowers but they carry pollination to other areas which reseed. Even as flowers die, they feed organisms that in turn develop a healthy soil. The pollination process is a cycle that happens without human assistance.”

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."

Columbia 101 (Press Release)

The City of Columbia is pleased to announce the launch of Columbia 101, an innovative program designed to engage residents with local government and community services. Participants in Columbia 101 will have the unique opportunity to interact closely with city officials and staff, gaining firsthand knowledge of how municipal services are delivered and learning about avenues for community involvement and advocacy.

This consecutive two-day program will be open to all City of Columbia and Maury County residents and offered twice per year, with the official kick-off occurring on September 17th and September 18th. Participants can expect to begin each day at City Hall before learning more about all 12 city departments and touring select city facilities, such as the Fire & Rescue and Public Works Departments.

Applications for Columbia 101 are available now and will close on Friday, August 9th at 4:00 pm. Learn more and apply today at

Maury Regional Offers Sound Tech for Heart (Press Release)

Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) now offers an innovative treatment called intravascular lithotripsy (IVL), which is a safe, efficient and proven treatment for heart (or cardiovascular) disease, specifically related to calcium buildup in heart arteries.

Each year, almost 700,000 people die from heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. As people suffering from coronary artery disease age, plaque in the arteries evolves into calcium deposits that narrow and harden the artery, limiting blood flow to the heart.

IVL was inspired by the principles of kidney stone treatment, or urological lithotripsy (UL), but was adapted by Shockwave Medical, Inc. to tackle calcium buildup in the cardiovascular system. Lithotripsy uses ultrasonic energy or shockwaves to gently and safely break calcifications.

In April, David Houff, MD, a board-certified specialist in cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology on MRMC’s medical staff, completed the first ostial disease case in the state of Tennessee, utilizing the Shockwave Intravascular Lithotripsy System alongside a specialized dual-balloon by Ostial Corporation called the FLASH Aorto-Ostial Angioplasty System. Ostial disease, a blockage in the very first segment of an artery, is well-known to be associated with high restenosis rates, which is when a blockage to blood flow recurs after initially being opened. With the combination of these newly implemented technologies, MRMC is providing advanced coronary solutions to their patients and referring physicians.

“Being the first hospital in Tennessee to use these combined technologies (Shockwave’s IVL and Ostial Corporation’s dual-balloon) for ostial disease is rewarding for our staff and demonstrates our commitment to leveraging proven innovations in healthcare for a great patient experience and stronger outcomes,” said MRMC CEO Martin Chaney, MD.

“The cardiology team at Maury Regional Medical Center is committed to giving our patients access to the latest cardiovascular innovations to treat heart disease,” said David Houff, MD. “Empowered by this novel shockwave IVL technology, we are excited to be treating some of the most complex forms of heart disease in our most challenging patient cases, all while remaining committed to improving patient outcomes for the benefit of the Maury County and surrounding communities.”

As southern Middle Tennessee’s only Heart Center, Maury Regional Medical Center provides a vast array of cardiac services that include interventional procedures as well as pacemaker and defibrillator implants. Physicians are members of Vanderbilt Heart-Columbia and Ascension Saint Thomas Heart Columbia who are complemented by a highly skilled and experienced team that strives to achieve the best possible outcomes.

MRMC is a part of the largest health system between Nashville and Huntsville and is the only hospital in Tennessee to receive the excellence in patient safety and outstanding patient experience awards from Healthgrades® in 2024.

School Board Candidate Forum (Press Release)

Maury Alliance is hosting a forum for the School Board candidates running in the August 1 elections. This event is for the public and everyone is welcome to attend. The forum will take place at Columbia State Community College - Ledbetter Auditorium, located at1665 Hampshire Pike on Tuesday Jul 9, 2024 from 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM CDT. Doors open at 5:00PM. The forum begins promptly at 5:15PM

FREE to the community! RSVPs are appreciated. You can do so by calling Maury Alliance at 931-388-2155.

Candidates who have been invited to attend include:

School Board Member District 2

     - Franklin (Frank) A. Bellamy

     - Robert Plageman

School Board Member District 4

     - Darryl Martin

     - Chandler Anderson

School Board Member District 5

     - Justin Haucke

     - David R Moore

School Board Member District 6

     - Susan Stephenson

School Board Member District 8

     - Brendan Babcock

     - Gregory D. Hanners

School Board Member District 10

     - Lesa Webster-Dawson

You will also want to remember these important election dates:

>> July 2nd is the last day to register to vote!

>> Early voting is from July 12 - July 27, 2024

>> August 1st is Election Day.

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.”

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 by July 19th and be part of a network of passionate leaders dedicated to making a difference! Learn more at

CSCC Summer Camps (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College’s Columbia Campus is excited to announce one last summer camp for 2024. 

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

Maury County Clerk Satellite Office (Press Release)

The Maury County Clerk’s office can now help residents with renewals of license plates or placards each Wednesday from 8am to 3:30pm at the Maury County Senior Center located at 1020 Maury County Park Dr.

Please drive around to the back of the building and look for the car tag renewal sign near the back door.

Forms of payment include credit/debit card or check – no cash.

Any Maury County Resident can use this office.

All other transactions will still need to be done through the main office located at 10 Public Square.

Also, you can renew online at or at kiosks in Spring Hill City Hall or Mt. Pleasant Courthouse.

…And now, news from around the state…

BNA Launches Sunflower Program (Tennessean)

Nashville International Airport will implement The Sunflower Program on July 1 to support passengers with disabilities that are not visible to the naked eye. 

According to airport officials, The Sunflower Program is intended to enhance the travel experience for passengers with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, anxiety or chronic illnesses and other often-unseen disabilities.

Customers with cognitive and neurodevelopmental disorders and visual and auditory disorders can wear lanyards to discreetly signal airport staff that they may need extra assistance than other passengers. 

“By offering discreet support to travelers with hidden disabilities, we’re ensuring a smooth and positive experience for everyone who walks through our doors,” said Stacey Nickens, vice president of corporate communications and marketing, in a written statement. 

As an extension to the BNA Cares program, customers who need additional support acquire sunflower lanyards at the Information Center, located on level one. Customers are not required to divulge their disability, nor will they be asked. 

Airport staff have been trained to notice the sunflower lanyards and offer help, including: 

Providing clear instructions

Offer additional time during check-in, TSA security screenings or boarding an airplane

Helping guide through the terminal

Offering a quiet space to relax 

Once received, customers can keep their lanyards for future travels at BNA and any airport participating in the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program. 

“The Sunflower Program launch at BNA is a small gesture with a big impact, and it reflects our commitment to inclusivity,” Nickens said.

Gas Prices (MSM)

Tennessee gas prices reversed course last week and rose 10 cents, on average. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.10 which is the same as one month ago and two cents more than one year ago.  

“Gas prices are proving to be volatile as we head into the Independence Day holiday, thanks to a recent rise in oil prices,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Even with gas prices moving more expensive, it’s not likely significant enough to impact Tennessean’s travel plans. We have seen oil prices flatten out over the last week, which will hopefully limit any significant jumps at the pump in the coming days.” 

Tennessee is seventh least-expensive state in nation for gas prices

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

On the heels of his Netflix comedy special, WOKE FOKE, comedian Katt Williams announces the HEAVEN ON EARTH TOUR. The upcoming tour, with new material, kicks off in January 2025, making stops across the U.S., including Bridgestone Arena on March 7, 2025.

Katt Williams, born Micah Williams, is a comedian and actor known for his energetic and often outrageous stand-up routines. Rising to fame in the late 1990s, he’s landed roles in films like “Friday After Next” and “Norbit,” while also receiving an Emmy Award for his guest appearance on the TV series “Alligator Man.” 

Tickets will be available for a presale on Monday, July 1, at 10 a.m. local time and for the general on sale on Tuesday, July 2, at 10 a.m. local time on


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