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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for August 30, 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.

Charter Commission Asks for Comment (MauryCountySource)

The Charter Appeals Commission wants to hear from Maury County residents!

On September 21, 2023, the American Classical Education Charter (ACAM) appeal will be heard in Maury County at Horace O. Porter School, 1101 Bridge St., Columbia, TN 38401.

The Appeals Commission wants to hear whether Maury County citizens are FOR or AGAINST.

The Maury County Public Schools Board of Education voted down the amended application by American Classical Education (ACE) to open the county’s first public charter school this summer.

The Charter Commission is accepting written public comments for the public hearing on the American Classical Academy Maury public charter school appeal. The Commission will continue to accept written public comments until one week after the conclusion of the public hearing, September 28, 2023 at 4:00 P.M.

In accordance with the Tennessee Open Records Act, any comment submitted by a member of the public and the name and basic contact information of anyone who signs up to make a comment is considered a public record and may be provided in response to a public records request.

Please contact with any questions.

RSV Vaccine (Press Release)

For the first time this fall, adults ages 60 and older have a powerful new tool to combat respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

 The Food and Drug Administration approved the first RSV vaccines for adults 60 and older this spring, and organizations like Maury Regional Health are encouraging those eligible to talk to their physician about getting vaccinated.

 “It’s important that the older members of our community are aware of these new RSV vaccines, because they’re typically the demographic that has the most risk of developing serious complications from the virus,” said Dr. Christina Lannom, DO, chief medical officer for Maury Regional Health.

 Most RSV infections cause cold-like symptoms, but some can be more dangerous for older adults, especially for those who have chronic heart or lung disease, certain underlying health conditions, a weakened immune system or for those living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. They could develop severe complications like lung infections, bronchitis or pneumonia.

 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 60,000-160,000 adults 60 and older are hospitalized annually in the U.S. due to RSV, and between 6,000-10,000 die due to RSV infection.

 “Our immune systems weaken as we age, which is why our older population is more susceptible to serious complications from RSV. That’s why the vaccine is so important for seniors,” Dr. Lannom said. “If you’re 60 or older, talk with your physician about if the RSV vaccine is right for you.”

 Symptoms of RSV usually appear within four to six days after infection and include a runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, high fever and wheezing. Over-the-counter fever reducers can help manage fever, and it’s also important to drink plenty of fluids if experiencing any symptoms.

 “Some easy ways to help limit the spread of RSV include washing your hands often, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, disinfecting surfaces often and, most importantly, staying home when you’re sick,” Dr. Lannom said.

 Those 60 years and older who are interested in receiving the RSV vaccine should talk with their health care provider.

 For more information on respiratory illnesses, visit

First Farmers Gets Boys and Girls Clubs Award (Press Release)

First Farmers and Merchants Bank, a Columbia, Tennessee-based bank wholly owned by First Farmers and Merchants Corporation (OTC Pink: FFMH), announced that it received the C.A.R.E. award from the Tennessee Area Council of Boys & Girls Clubs. The C.A.R.E., or Children are the Reason for Excellence, award recognizes an individual or business for their outstanding in-kind or direct support to their local Boys & Girls Club. First Farmers was chosen from many nominations from 22 Boys & Girls Club organizations with over 70 Clubs in Tennessee.

First Farmers has supported Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee since its inception in 1999, including financial support, involved volunteer board members, and organizing volunteer efforts from financial workshops to serving meals to children.

Commenting on the award, Robert E. Krimmel, Chief Financial Officer, said, “First Farmers has been a long-term supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee, and I have been very impressed with their high quality leadership and programs. I was fortunate to be invited to join their Board earlier this year and realized their need for more funding to support their programs.

“I am pleased to announce that First Farmers increased their corporate giving to Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee by 250% to $25,000 per year for the next four years. We are very excited about increasing our sponsorship and look forward to their continued support of their programs that serve Maury and Giles counties.”

Commenting on the award, Ginny Wright, Chief Executive Officer of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee, said, “First Farmers and Merchants Bank has supported our Boys & Girls Club since its inception in 1999 and in 2023 became the single largest corporate sponsor. Their corporate gift will provide funding to our endowment and allow us to provide more financial aid and scholarships to families in need to ensure no child in our community is turned away based on household income.

“Their continuing sponsorship over the years literally kept the lights on for us. They have provided dedicated bank employees to serve on the Board of Directors who have contributed hundreds of hours of community service. Their employees volunteer to serve Club youth directly through opportunities like serving Thanksgiving meals to Club kids and families, participating in “Career Talks” during the Teen Center’s career week, serving at the local soup kitchen alongside Teens in our Keystone & Torch Clubs, and more. We are very proud that First Farmers and their entire team was recognized with the C.A.R.E. award for their past and continued support to Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Tennessee.”

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.

Crossroads to Home Coalition Fundraiser (Press Release)

Columbia’s first annual “Arts in Maury” will take place at the Memorial Building on Saturday, September 9 from 10 am to 4 pm. A fundraiser for the Crossroads to Home Coalition, the event will feature local artwork including paintings, photography, sculpture, stained glass, pottery and jewelry. Additionally, a tasting of both food and wine can be enjoyed from noon to 4:00 pm. Grinder’s Switch and Natchez Hills will provide the wine and delicious food.

This Art, Wine and Cheese event is sponsored by TriStar Bank, and all proceeds benefit the Crossroads to Home Café. At the café, homeless individuals can have a cup of coffee, eat lunch, take a shower and find needed items of clothing. They also find people who listen and care. Every effort is made to connect them with organizations that specialize in their area of need.

With a stated goal “to provide a hand-up, not just a handout” the Crossroads works toward connecting people with what they need to live as valued, comfortable residents of Maury County. According to organization board president, Dr. Mark Kirschbaum, PhD, “‘Arts in Maury’ provides a connection between those with a great need in our community and art, which is a great gift in our community.” No stranger to organizing art shows, Joe Kilgore and the art show committee have put together an exciting event that celebrates Maury County while making it a better home for all its people.

Admission to “Arts in Maury” is $25 per person; ages 10 and under can attend free of charge. Tickets are available online at or in person at the Café at 1001 Galloway Street, Monday through Friday from 10am to 3:00pm.

Worldwide Stages Seeks Investors (MainStreetMaury)

Spring Hill’s Worldwide Stages, the premier production campus for the world’s entertainment industry, announced this week that it has launched its Regulation A stock offering to raise $75 million to build new soundstages and facilities to support the growing demand for music, TV, film and virtual production in the Middle Tennessee area.

The offering was qualified with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week and allows anyone to now invest in the company. The launch of the Reg A offering was covered by major financial news reports in Yahoo Finance, Benzinga, MarketWatch, Seeking Alpha, MarketsInsider, Morningstar and over 250 other global press outlets.

Worldwide Stages, located in a 320,000-square foot facility in Spring Hill, offers a luxurious and secure environment for A-list entertainers and production companies to rehearse, record, and film. The campus features four soundstages ranging from 3,000 to 21,000 square feet, thousands of square feet of green rooms and production suites, a private 70-seat theater, grand lobbies and atriums for industry events, on-site food and beverage service, on-site industry vendors and over 1,000 parking spaces on 38 acres of beautiful rolling countryside.

The company plans to use the proceeds from the Reg A offering to construct additional soundstages and amenities, as well as to acquire state-of-the-art equipment and technology to enhance its services.

“We are excited to share this opportunity with our community and invite them to join us in our vision of transforming the entertainment production landscape in Nashville and beyond,” said Kelly Frey, CEO of Worldwide Stages. “We believe that our campus provides an unparalleled value proposition for our clients, who can enjoy the convenience, comfort, security and quality of our facilities without compromising on their creative vision.”

Regulation A, or Reg A, is a type of exemption from registration with the SEC that applies to public offerings of securities. Worldwide Stages has chosen to proceed under Tier 2 of Reg A, which allows the company to offer its securities to both accredited and non-accredited investors around the world. The company’s offering circular can be accessed on the SEC’s website.  Individuals interested in investing in Worldwide Stages can visit the company’s investor portal.

Worldwide Stages was founded in 2019 by entertainment industry veterans and its CEO, Kelly Frey, was recently recognized by the Nashville Post as one of the most influential people in Nashville. Since its inception, the company has hosted numerous feature film and TV production companies and music artists on its campus. The new Amazon Studios/Nicole Kidman feature film “Holland, Michigan” was recently shot at Worldwide Stages.

For more information about Worldwide Stages and its Reg A offering, please visit or contact

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.

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…

Special Session Gridlock (Tennessean)

The Tennessee special session ended with shouts and shoves, with taxpayers footing a $58,000-per-day bill as lawmakers fought over how best to proceed in the wake of the deadly Covenant School shooting in March.

Though Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday he was encouraged by the special session he called, many lawmakers left the Capitol on Tuesday disgruntled, frustrated with stubborn politics between chambers and boiling partisan tempers in the House.

Despite House ambitions to do more, a days-long stalemate with the Senate led lawmakers to pass just three bills, several of which direct state departments to continue work they already currently do. They also passed an appropriates measure to pay for it all and send more money toward mental health services.

The bills passed were:

House Bill 7012, which directs the Tennessee Department of Safety to provide free firearm locks and exempts the retail sale of firearm safes and firearm safety devices from sales taxes. The Department of Safety had previously had a lock giveaway program and had excess locks on hand.

House Bill 7041, which directs the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to submit a report on human trafficking to the governor's office and legislature. The TBI already collects and manages this data.

House Bill 7013, which reduces the maximum time within which court clerks must notify the TBI of the final results of criminal proceedings against a person.

Lawmakers approved more than $100 million toward certain public safety issues, though most of the money was earmarked as one-time, nonrecurring funding. These appropriations included:

$1.6 million revenue decrease to permanently ending sales tax on gun safes (recurring)

$1.1 million nonrecurring for a public service announcement campaign on gun storage

$10 million nonrecurring for school safety grants for public and charter schools that do not already have full-time school resource officers for the 2023-24 school year

$50 million nonrecurring for community mental health agencies to provide mental health services

$12.1 million nonrecurring for sign-on and retention bonuses for behavioral health professionals at the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

$3 million nonrecurring for a behavioral health scholarship program to provide a stipend for Tennessee residents pursuing a degree in a behavioral health related field

$4 million nonrecurring for a behavioral health safety net program to provide mental health services 

$30 million nonrecurring for school safety grants for public and private colleges and universities

Funding to pay for staff, per diem, travel expenses incurred to hold the special session

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Specific schedules for the ninth annual Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival were released today with stages and times for each of the weekend's performances.

Musical acts The Black Crowes, The Lumineers, Ashley McBryde and Zach Bryan among a myriad of others were previously announced for the two-day event's multiple stages happening at the Park at Harlinsdale in Franklin, Tenn., Sept. 23 and 24.

Other acts include Better Than Ezra, Mike Farris, Bones Owens, Margo Price and many more.

Children under the age of 7 are free with an adult general admission ticket holder. Tickets and parking passes are currently on sale at


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