By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Business Pulse - Welcoming new doctors
Ascension Saint Thomas River Park anticipates bright days ahead as the hospital continues to add quality doctors to enhance its level of service to Warren and surrounding counties.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and a successful Black Friday. Personally, I am thankful for many stores' moves to offering weeks of Black Friday deals which lessens the need to get up ridiculously early or to wait in lines for hours with thousands of other people for a one-day event. 

Several years ago I spent the bulk of Thanksgiving sitting on Walmart's floor making friends with strangers waiting for a 65" TV to go on sale. This year was a much more pleasant experience as I was able to walk in a couple Sundays before Thanksgiving and get an even more comically large TV for a fantastic Black Friday price without any hassle or lines.

It's a trend we at the Southern Standard have followed, extending our Black Friday subscription sale to an entire week, and it's been a big hit. As of the time I'm writing this, over 500 customers have taken advantage of our lowest price of the year to resubscribe and many have come on board as subscribers for the first time. Thanks to all the customers who have stayed with us and welcome aboard to all the new subscribers who are joining us. I'll throw in a special welcome to my next-door neighbors, Billy, Lauren and William Welsh, who just became subscribers this week. 

I think this will be a trend many businesses will continue as it only extends the time shoppers have to spend money and stores seem to have had good results with the change.

New doctors in town

A blessing we enjoy in Warren County that many communities our size don't have access to is a quality hospital and a strong stable of doctors. Ascension Saint Thomas River Park Hospital has added doctors to the community within the past few months and they are welcome additions to the local medical community.

Dr. Steven Cooper, family physician, began practice in Dr. Trey Kirby's former office on Sept. 1. 

Psychiatrist, Dr. Aaron Hampton, began seeing patients in River Park's Serenity Behavioral Health Unit for geriatric patients on Aug. 1. Dr. Hampton works at the local hospital as well as at Stones River and is the first psychiatrist Ascension Saint Thomas River Park has hired to cover those units full-time.  His wife, Dr. Sharon Hampton, is a family physician working full-time with Ascension Medical Group in Sparta.

President and Chief Executive Officer at Saint Thomas River Park Hospital Dale Humphrey says the hospital is also recruiting for an interventional cardiologist for McMinnville to join the Saint Thomas Heart group.

Humphrey is pleased with what the new doctors bring to the area. "Dr. Cooper brings a high level of expertise to our community as well as providing a wonderful patient experience. He is a home run in terms of what any hospital wants in a primary care physician for the community. Dr. Aaron Hampton is a huge win as well. He raises our level of service to a higher degree than we've ever had for our behavioral health programs in the region. His wife, Dr. Sharon Hampton, also brings all her great skills in primary care to the region and they all recognize the benefits and rewards of practicing in rural communities," Dale said.

On a personal note, I became much more familiar with our local hospital than I would like to be around this time last year as my dad was enduring many medical issues that saw him making many return trips to the hospital. Everybody we dealt with at Saint Thomas River Park was tremendous both to him and to our entire family and I'd like to publicly extend thanks to Dale and his entire team.

Veteran doctor


While we welcome some relatively new doctors to town, one longtime doctor would like it to be known he's still going strong at age 78 with no plans of retiring. Dr. Murphy Martin is beginning his 39th year as a licensed professional counselor.

Dr. Martin, a Florida native, began his counseling practice in McMinnville in 1984 in the old clinic building. Thirty-eight years later, he's still there. 

A graduate of the University of Florida and Vanderbilt University, Martin says he still enjoys serving the mental health needs of Warren and surrounding counties. Martin is especially concerned about mental health in general after recent years. "With all that has happened the last three years, many of us are experiencing a great deal of stress. Besides a person's own individual issues, we as a society are experiencing what I call 'existential anxiety' that is bombarding us every day. Political, economic, spiritual, relational, medical and other major stresses take their toll. We must find coping skills to deal with these concerns to have a balanced life," Dr. Martin said.

Dr. Martin says we are fortunate in our community to have a number of well-qualified mental health counselors as well as local pastors who provide help to deal with daily stresses.

"Call my wife and office manager, Dianne, to set up an appointment or if I can't be of help, I will give the names of other qualified persons to assist you. Everybody, take care," Dr. Martin concluded. 

Dr. Martin's office is at 201 W. Main St. and can be reached at (931) 473-8279.


business closed

At age 80, Mike "Whitey" Cantrell still wasn't quite ready to retire, but a series of untimely deaths forced his hand. Owner of Whitey's Small Engine Repair, Mike is well-known to many Warren Countians who needed help keeping their lawn mowers running from season to season. 

When asked if he was ready to retire, Mike said, "Not really. I was still going to keep it going, but we had to close. Ellsie Felty, our office manager, died from a stroke. Bryan Beckham, our mechanic who had been with me since the early '90s, died from a stroke. And Chris Roller, my son-in-law and head mechanic who had been with me since '96, died from a massive heart attack after having COVID. Bryan and Chris were both fantastic mechanics." 

Mike has been working on mowers and small engines since 1976. "I met some fantastic people. You remember all the fine people you meet. Less than 1 percent were not so nice but that other 99 percent were great people and I made a lot of great friends along the way."

Mike worked at Century for 30 years, coached T-ball and soccer for 15 years and worked on engines and lawnmowers on the side before opening his shop on Sparta St. in 1993. He could be found there until this summer when he shut the doors for the last time. "I hated to have to do it, but I didn't have a choice," Mike said. 

"I appreciate all the fine people that patronized me all of those years. I got to meet some fantastic people. It's amazing how many great people you get to meet when you go into business," Mike said.

The property is currently for sale through Donald Hillis Realty & Auction.

Until next time,

same biz time

same biz page

Come back next week for a fresh batch of business news and, as always, send your tips to or call (931) 473-2191.