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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for August 29, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Former Maury Firefighter Indicted (MSM)

Roy Brooks, a former Columbia firefighter who was terminated last year from the city, allegedly responded during an active shooter situation at Columbia Central High School on May 3, 2023, wearing tactical gear and carrying an AR-15 rifle.

A true bill of indictment was returned by a grand jury on the charge of carrying a weapon on school property – a Class E felony – according to District Attorney Brent Cooper. 

Columbia Police Chief Jeremy Alsup confirmed to Main Street Maury he saw video of Brooks on site and around Columbia police officers, but that he was not an authorized member of any local response team.

Alsup said the reason Brooks was not arrested immediately is neither he, nor his team, deemed Brooks to be a threat and were concerned more about the safety of the students and staff in the school building.

In a YouTube video posted two years ago on the city’s website, Brooks can be seen training with the special response unit in similar tactical gear. 

“When I was alerted that (Brooks) was there, I spoke with the sheriff, other chiefs around and with the EMS director where he worked, and he was not there representing any of those people,” Alsup said.

According to the city’s website, the S.W.A.T. team’s purpose is to complement the Department’s total service program by providing for the deployment and use of specialized equipment and tactics when necessary to contend with unusual and high-risk situations that cannot be effectively handled by normal operations. 

This unit will provide efficient and effective law enforcement service to the community by providing highly trained and motivated personnel schooled in the use and deployment of special weaponry and advanced tactics.

Among that special weaponry is an AR-15 rifle.

Post-termination, Brooks told Main Street Maury he was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. His personnel records indicate he did take additional leave time under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) through the first of June 2022, but was terminated before the end of the leave. 

He appealed his termination to the city’s civil service board where the board found sufficient evidence to uphold his termination. 

Columbia Central principal Dr. Michael Steele learned about the unauthorized person on site on Aug. 22, 2023, which prompted him to question district leadership as to why he was not given that information beforehand.

“Why are we finding out in August that a guy with a white T-shirt and khaki pants brought an AR-15 to my school,” Steele, a Marine and former law enforcement officer, asked. “I’m not a cop anymore. If I brought a loaded weapon into the school, I would go to jail.”

Maury County Superintendent Lisa Ventura first told Columbia Central High School teachers at a meeting on Friday morning about the incident and Brooks’ potential involvement, leaving several staff and administrators perplexed with the lack of communication. 

Ventura said when she was alerted to the fact in May an unauthorized person may have been on campus she immediately turned over the information to the sheriff’s department. 

Ventura told Main Street Maury on why she did not alert administration, “I didn’t want to create mass hysteria. The only people who knew were my chief of security and his supervisor.”

Steele was suspended without pay by the district following the meeting for allegations of policy violations, which Steele says were conveyed as creating a hostile working environment. 

“Protecting my staff and students trumps any disciplinary action that would come my way and always will,” Steele said. 

Brooks was booked into the Maury County Sheriff’s Office Friday on a $10,000 surety bond.

Maury County Fair (CDH)

Neighbors of the Maury County Fairgrounds might be accustomed to the roar of a tractor pull during the first weekend in September, but horses whinnying will be a new experience.

The rodeo returns for its second year at the fair and will be the arena event on Thursday night, beginning at 6:30 p.m.. This year is the first time the rodeo was organized by locals.

The Maury County Fair and Exposition will run Aug. 31 through Sept. 4, bringing family fun with a line up of livestock shows, carnival rides and a thrilling series of back arena events.

This year's specialty act for the Maury County Fair's Bulls, Barrels and Broncs night will be a team of Capuchin monkey cowboys called Team Ghost Riders who ride border collies and herd sheep in the arena.

Each evening will feature an arena event. Friday is the tractor pull, where three classes of tractors and one truck class will compete for a full pull.

Motocross, an off-road motorcycle race, presented by Southern Supercross MX Racing will headline the arena on Saturday.

Both Sunday and Monday nights will see the Junk Car Jump N Run event.

The rodeo is taking the place of the Monster Truck show that has made the arena line up in years past.

Carnival rides will be in abundance, courtesy of Kissel Entertainment, and Sevier County Aviation will return with helicopter rides above the fairgrounds.

For tots who aren't quite big enough for the carnival rides but still looking to enjoy the fair, the Kid Zone will be making a reappearance with science shows and animal exhibits aplenty.

The fair is host to five livestock shows, including dairy, beef, sheep, goat and poultry. Maury County University of Tennessee Agriculture Extension plays a leading role in organizing the livestock shows.

Line dancing, both traditional and soul, can be found in the Senior Citizen Building on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as Zumba and Tai Chi on Saturday afternoon.

What to know: Hours and admission

Fair gates opens

Thursday and Friday — 4 p.m.

Saturday — noon

Sunday and Monday — 2 p.m.

Midway opens

Thursday and Friday — 6 p.m.

Saturday — 2 p.m.

Sunday and Monday — 3 p.m.

Admission fee

Thursday — $10 for both adults and children

Friday — $10 for adults, $5 for children

Saturday and Sunday — $12 for adults and $5 for children.

Three-day passes available online. A child’s three-day pass is $12, an adult three-day pass is $25.

Free for veterans, first responders and children under age 6.

Tickets and passes are available at the gate and in advance on the Maury County Fair website at The website also features the Fair Book with more information about each event.

CA Safety (WKOM Audio 5:48)

Yesterday, Columbia Academy updated their campus safety measures. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy met with Head of School, Dr. James Thomas and others on the campus to learn more about what new safety measures and equipment were put into place.

Critical Care Doc Expands Practice (Press Release)

Dr. Brett C. Norman, MD, MPH, a specialist in pulmonary and critical care medicine, is now seeing patients by appointment at Maury Regional Medical Group Pulmonary & Critical Care. Dr. Norman joined the medical staff in 2018 as a critical care physician in the hospital setting and recently broadened the scope of his practice to include outpatient services.

 Dr. Norman received his medical degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of Washington Hospitals in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Norman completed a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease and critical care medicine.

 Maury Regional Medical Group Pulmonary & Critical Care is located in suite 503 of the Medical Office Building at 1222 Trotwood Avenue in Columbia. For more information, call 931.490.7775.

In other Maury Regional News, Several Maury Regional Health practices were rewarded recently for their commitment to providing health care services to rural and underserved communities.

 Maury Regional Medical Group’s (MRMG) Rural Health Clinics (RHC) received reaccreditation with Exemplary Provider® status after a recent on-site evaluation conducted by The Compliance Team, Inc. (TCT).

 Likewise, the organization’s Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) practices received recognition by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) in its Patient-Centered Medical Home program.

 “We’re extremely proud to earn these reaccreditations,” said Nathan Miller, PT, MMHC, interim president of Maury Regional Medical Group (MRMG). “Providing access to exceptional health care for our entire community — especially those who are underserved in our community — is important to us. I want to thank our team for their hard work and dedication to our patients.”

 The RHC practices were judged during the on-site evaluation on their compliance with TCT’s patient care practices and comprehensive quality standards. The reaccreditation is valid for three years.

 The Rural Health Clinics program was created in 1977 to address the unmet health care needs in rural America. Rural health clinics receive enhanced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, and all rural health clinics must utilize the skills of a physician assistant or nurse practitioner and focus on primary care. There are more than 5,300 federally certified rural health clinics that provide primary care services to more than 37.7 million people in 45 states.

 The practices awarded RHC reaccreditation include:



MRMG Primary Care and Pediatrics

MRMG Pulmonary and Critical Care

MRMG Primary Care Suite 403

MRMG Rheumatology

MRMG Endocrinology

MRMG Primary Care in Mt. Pleasant

MRMG Primary Care in Spring Hill

MRMG Urgent Care in North Columbia

MRMG Urgent Care in Columbia

 NCQA is an independent, nonprofit organization that accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. Its Patient-Centered Medical Home Program was developed to assess whether clinician practices are functioning as medical homes and recognize them for these efforts. It reflects the input of the American College of Physicians (ACP), American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and others.

 The NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home standards emphasize the use of systematic, patient-centered, coordinated care that supports access, communication and patient involvement.

 MRMG’s designated FQHC practices include PrimeCare Clinic in Columbia, Lewis Health Center in Hohenwald, Lewisburg Pediatrics, Lewisburg Family Practice, Primary Care-Waynesboro and Maury Regional Medical Group Primary Care in Collinwood. Physicians and nurse practitioners at these locations are provided by MRMG.

 To learn more about Maury Regional Health’s FQHC practices, visit

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

Billy Keith Martin, Sr., 91, retired Sergeant with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and resident of Columbia, died Monday, August 28th, at NHC Maury Regional Transitional Care. 

Funeral services will be conducted Thursday at 2:00 P.M. at Graymere Church of Christ. Burial will follow in Haynes Cemetery. Honors will be provided by Tennessee Highway Patrol Honor Guard. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the church.

Betty Ruth Berry Bates, 89, retired Bookkeeper for Bel Aire Health Care and resident of Columbia, died Saturday, August 26, 2023, at Life Care of Columbia. 

 Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Pleasant Mount Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. at the funeral home. 

Mr. George Otis Cochran, 90, retired employee of Ford Motor Company, custodian for Kaiser Elementary School and resident of Ypsilanti, Michigan, died Saturday, August 26, 2023 at Angela Hospice in Livonia, MI.  Graveside service for Mr. Cochran will be held at 11:00 A.M. Friday, September 1, 2023 at Anderson, Stephenson, Hunt Cemetery in Hickman County, TN. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 6:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Janice Gilley, of Atlanta Georgia, passed away on August 26th. 

A memorial service will be held Friday, September 1, 2023, at 3:00 P.M. at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 311 West 7th St, Columbia TN, 38401. Burial will follow in St. John’s Churchyard at Ashwood. The family will visit with friends Friday from 2:00 P.M. until service time at the church. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

…And now, news from around the state…

Kindergarten Vaccination Rates (Tennessean)

A new report from the Tennessee Department of Health shows that the state's Kindergartner vaccination rates continued to plummet last year, helped by sharply rising rates of religious exemptions that coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Davidson County had a vaccination rate of 92.5% last year — below the state goal rate of 95%. Thirty-two schools in Davidson County had rates below 90%, which experts say is a rate that could lead to breakthrough diseases, such as measles.

The statewide rate for public school students was 93.5%, the lowest rate in at least five years, according to the report. In 2020, the statewide average was 95.4%. Private school student rates increased slightly from 89.4% to 91.1%.

Religious exemptions from required immunizations in Tennessee jumped from 1.8% in 2020 to 3% in 2022. Again, this is the highest rate in at least five years, according to the Department of Health.

"I think there's probably a kind of COVID vaccine effect that's playing a role here because I don't think it's a coincidence that the (vaccination) rates have gone down over that past couple of years when the COVID vaccine got introduced," said Dr. Joseph Gigante, a professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University.

It's not just Tennessee. Public health agencies have been sounding the alarm about declining vaccination rates since the pandemic and worry that it could lead to outbreaks of dangerous vaccine-preventable viruses. A recent measles outbreak in central Ohio sickened 85 mostly unvaccinated children, 36 of whom required hospitalization, according to news reports.

The Tennessee Department of Health officially recommends vaccinations for children.

Lawrence Deputies File Continuance (TN Lookout)

Two Lawrence County officers who have been indicted on five counts of federal civil rights and obstruction charges are asking for a continuance in their case, which came after the two allegedly slammed a 61-year-old man to the ground during an October 2020 traffic stop.

Sheriff’s Investigator Zach Ferguson and Deputy Eric Caperton are scheduled to go to trial Oct. 10 after being indicted on one count for allegedly pulling the victim from his van and throwing him to the ground, causing the man’s head to strike the pavement. Two counts allege the two officers lied while filing their use of force reports after the incident, claiming the victim was on his knees when they removed him from his van and failing to disclose that they threw him on the ground and struck him multiple times in the head.  

The final two counts allege the officers lied to criminal investigators when they said the victim’s upper body never touched the ground during the arrest and that he sustained injuries from their punches while still in his van.

If convicted, Ferguson and Caperton face a maximum of ten years in prison for the excessive force charge and up to 20 years for the obstruction charges. They face up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

Caperton and Ferguson’s waiver of the right to a speedy trial is the latest move in an almost three-year long case.

The FBI began its investigation of the pair in 2021. Nashville NewsChannel 5 obtained court filings claiming the officers texted photos of the victim’s injuries to former Assistant District Attorney for the 22nd Judicial District, Emily Crafton. In April of 2022, the Pulaski Citizen reported that Crafton was fired but pleaded not guilty to charges of official misconduct.

The two Lawrence County officers were on unpaid leave at that time.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Middle Tennessee will have a unique opportunity to take a peek “behind the seams” at global superstar Dolly Parton’s iconic outfits in a special exhibition at Lipscomb University this fall.

Lipscomb University’s Department of Fashion and Design presents “Dolly Parton and the Makers: My Life in Rhinestones” Oct. 31-Dec. 9 in the John C. Hutcheson Gallery in the university’s Beaman Library. The one-of-a-kind, limited time fashion exhibition will feature 25 of Parton’s fashions from throughout her storied career and will highlight the makers behind the looks, the songs, the stories, and the true magic that happens behind the seams. This fashion exhibition will be the first physical interpretation of Parton’s new fashion-focused book, Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones, set for release October 17th via Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House.

Tickets for the fashion exhibition are $25 per person for a 45-minute tour. The tickets are limited and are for timed entry. All tickets must be purchased online in advance. Tickets go on sale Sept. 1. The exhibit hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Find tickets


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