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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for July 31, 2023

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

We start with local news…

ACA Charter Denied (CDH)

The long-awaited final vote by the Maury County School Board on whether to allow the organization of an American Classical Academy charter school resulted in a denial on Thursday.

The proposal to bring an ACA school to Maury County has been a polarizing process, which has generated differing opinions about whether the school would provide an educational, as well as financial benefit. The application was previously denied in April, but was granted a 60-day appeal that would have expired at the end of July.

The vote was initially taken last week during a special called meeting, but was unable to garner the six votes needed either in favor or opposing the application. The lack of votes was due to two board members not being present, therefore another special called meeting was scheduled Thursday to meet the 60-day deadline. Had no vote been taken, the application would have been approved by default.

"This has been something that is a divisive issue across our state, across our nation, and here we were basically 11 strangers from different ways of thinking to pull this together and determine what is best for the students of Maury County," school board chair Michael Fulbright said.

"Each of us have different views of what that is, but I have no doubt there are 11 people up here ... and a room full of people who only want the best for the children of Maury County. Even though we have different ways of looking at it, different expectations of what that looks like, we can at least walk out of here knowing we all share that goal as caring, concerned citizens of Maury County."

Fulbright, who has been openly in favor of establishing the charter school, initially motioned to approve the application during the Thursday meeting, but was unable to garner enough votes in support. The motion was then made to deny the application, which resulted in a narrow 6-5 vote.

American Classical Education, the umbrella company overseeing the charter school, can now appeal its application to the state, who could approve or deny it.

ACE board member Dolores Gresham released a statement about the denial.

"The Maury County School Board sided with special interests instead of local students and families. It denied a high-quality classical public charter school for local families – a school that would bring time-tested instruction including phonics as an option to a community struggling with the continued illiteracy of its students," Gresham said. "More than 7,000 Tennessee families have expressed interest in classical education, and a core of that group includes Maury County parents. In fact, hundreds of Maury County families voiced their desire for a tuition-free public school with a classical curriculum."

Gresham further criticized the board in failing its "duty to students."

"They will continue to be forced to attend zoned schools that might not be the best fit for every child. Their families will not have additional curriculum or instruction options. The students will not have phonics," she said.

Gresham assured that local ACE board members and its families are evaluating all options, including an appeal to the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission.

Muletown Musicfest (MauryCountySource)

Muletown Musicfest is returning to Columbia on August 18 and 19. It offers two days of outdoor music concerts by both local and touring artists. Also on hand to keep the sound alive will be DJ Sizahanz and DJ Catfish. The gates officially open at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, August 18 and close at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 20.

More than 50 bands will be participating in the event. The first day will focus on country, rock and metal bands. The second day is devoted to hip-hop, rap, and R&B. The music each day of the festival will begin at 1:00 p.m. and end at 1 a.m.

Artist performing on Friday include: Sidney Mays, San Pedro, King Lazy Eye, Quentin Wade, Zack Jennings, Chunder, Brandon Bartley, Nero Vatra, Jawfane, Julius Armstrong, Connor Doak, BryLew, and Ciara Adams, as well as headliners Pull, Tennessee Holy Water and Autumn Lies Buried. The second day will feature: Embler, FN Yung Coke, RD, Kapable, SoDeezy, Ben Cold, CountUp, Jary Da Capo, LSK da Goat, Direct Music, Playa Patna Panther, Mocca B., Purgatory, Coorkedsouf, Butcher Knife Bandit, Cease, Significant Records, CG The Reverend, DhD, Big Money, Buttermilk, Dark Side Thugs, Adrian Raps, Sweetz and Dixie Trix. The featured artists on Saturday are Colt Montgomery, Rob Dee, Grey Matter, and Derrick Matthews. Both days will be closed out by EDM DJ Hamp10.

Vendor booths will also be on hand at the festival, as well as delicious food from Jelly Roll’s “Rolling with Jelly” food truck. The food truck offers Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders, fried fish, burgers and chicken wings. Sides include fries loaded or plain or chips. However, it is the jelly doughnut that they are known for.

Begun in 2015 as a downtown event spread out across many different venues, it has been moved to 1804 New Highway 7 in Columbia. This space offers places for free tent camping and campers under 30-feet for a small fee. However, no camp or bonfires will be allowed on the property.

Originally a low-key event that featured professional musicians and local school jazz bands, it has really amped up this year to be a mini Bonnaroo. All attendees will be asked to sign a waiver and security will be strictly enforced.

Muletown Music Fest is Sponsored by Alienated Records/ Space Vision Entertainment/ Studio65South and WhoDat Podcast.

Tickets can be purchased at  Use Code “MULETOWN” to receive 50% off any ticket purchase or multiple ticket purchases. Tickets begin at $10 for kinds under 14 and $30 for adults. Keep up with all things Muletown Musicfest on Facebook.

Fire Department Recruiting (MauryCountySource)

Maury County Fire Department is accepting applications for their fall recruit class.

The department provides fire and rescue services to 618 square miles in Maury County, Tennessee. In addition, the team offers public fire education, CPR certification classes, and smoke detector installations to the citizens of Maury County.

No previous experience is required to join the annual recruit class. MCFD training program helps you obtain the skills, certifications, and state-level requirements to become a support member or firefighter.

Visit and fill out an application today!

Sheriff’s Department Positions (MauryCountySource)

Looking for a new career in law enforcement? Maury County Sheriff’s Department announced on July 26 that they are hiring for multiple positions.

Current open positions include:

Communication Dispatcher

Correctional Officer


Sheriff Administrative Clerk

To apply, visit

Legislative Lunch (Press Release)

Join Maury Alliance for a Legislative Lunch featuring Congressman Andy Ogles for a stimulating discussion around the current issues facing our business community and nation. This exclusive event offers the opportunity for you to engage with one of our federal representatives and gain valuable insights into current legislative matters. You may submit questions in advance by emailing them to

The event will take place on August 15th from 11:30-1:00pm at Puckett’s in downtown Columbia located at 15 Public Square. The cost is $25 for Maury Alliance Members and $30 for non-members.

CMYC Applications Coming (MauryCountySource)

The Columbia Mayor’s Youth Council consists of Maury County high school students selected by a panel who will have the opportunity to serve as a council member until graduation if they choose. Applications for the 2023-24 Columbia Mayor’s Youth Council Class will go live on August 1st.

Through the Mayor’s Youth Council, students in Columbia will grow to become the next leaders of our city, and their participation will create a foundation for expanding our population of informed high-school students.

In addition, a council of student representatives will create an ideal avenue for local politicians to interact and learn from their constituents.

Applications for the 2023-24 Columbia Mayor’s Youth Council Class will go live on August 1st.

Learn more at

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

Mr. James Thomas “Tommy” Beard, 70, retired employee of Nissan, former employee of Oakes & Nichols, and a lifelong resident of Santa Fe died, Thursday, July 27, 2023, at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Beard will be conducted Monday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Knob Creek Cemetery.

Mr. Samuel Thomas Wrather, Sr., 91, retired Electrician for Union Carbide and resident of Columbia, died Sunday, July 30, 2023 at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Wrather will be conducted Wednesday at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Rock Springs Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 4:00 P.M.  – 7:00 P.M. with a Masonic service following at the funeral home.

…And now, news from around the state…

Governor’s Gun Proposal (Tennessean)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is beginning to sound doubtful that his policy response to the deadly shooting at The Covenant School in March, which took the lives of six — including three 9-year-old children — will get legislative approval. 

But the Republican governor continues to push forward his ideas and remains hopeful the special session can produce legislation to "make Tennessee safer."

Still, with three weeks to go before the Aug. 21 special session, he hasn't yet finalized an alternative plan.

Lee first pitched his proposal in April, just a few weeks after the Covenant shooting as a direct response to the tragedy, saying "Tennesseans deserve a vote" on the policy, which would allow the courts to remove firearms from those considered a danger to themselves or others.

Lawmakers were reluctant to take it up before adjourning, so Lee immediately committed to calling a special session for the legislature to consider it.

While Lee said he still plans to introduce his proposal to establish “extreme risk orders of protection,” he seems doubtful that his controversial bill will pass.

“You know, whenever you bring a piece of legislation, you certainly hope that it does,” Lee told reporters during a news conference Friday. “But that’s up to the General Assembly.”

Only seven members of the legislature have publicly shared support for the governor’s proposal. 

The governor declined to say Friday whether he has identified a Republican Senator to sponsor his legislation. No bill can pass without being filed in both chambers.

Lee said he is “really encouraged” by the conversations he’s had with more than 100 lawmakers since the legislature adjourned this spring, and hopes for “a very productive session.”

Lawmakers have shared widely varying ideas for other legislation around public safety, though public feedback has overwhelmingly been in support of gun reforms. As a result of the special session, which could cost $124,000, the governor hopes for legislation that can improve public safety for Tennesseans.

His team is working to come up with other proposals as well, and taking feedback from lawmakers behind closed doors. 

Among the alternate proposals, Lee said he plans to bring forward proposals around “juvenile justice, mental health, and violent crime.” When pressed, he declined to provide details, saying that more information would come "in the next three weeks."

“We haven’t defined the language on them yet,” Lee told reporters Friday. 

Indycar Season Ends in Nashville in 2024 (Tennessean)

Officials with Penske Entertainment and the Music City Grand Prix are set to announce plans to host IndyCar’s 2024 season-finale on the streets of Nashville on a yet-to-be-unveiled course, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the series’ plans told IndyStar and The Tennessean. IndyCar will “crown a champion on historic Lower Broadway,” those sources said.

An announcement is expected to come Aug. 3 ahead of IndyCar’s third visit to Nashville’s streets. In concert with the race news, IndyCar is expected to announce plans to hold the series’ season-ending banquet days after the season-finale in Nashville. It had been held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum in recent years.

The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plans publicly.

The revamped street course layout is expected to use several blocks of historic Broadway Street in downtown Nashville near the Cumberland River, Country Music Hall of Fame and Bridgestone Arena, home of the NHL’s Nashville Predators. Notably, the city serves as the headquarters of Bridgestone Americas, an arm the parent company of IndyCar’s longtime tire manufacturer.

Currently, the series uses a 2.17-mile track that circles a large portion of the parking space for Nissan Stadium, the home of the Tennessee Titans, before zipping down the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, touching briefly in downtown Nashville via five tight, slow corners then heading back up the other side of the bridge. The race’s start-finish line currently stands midway down the stadium’s east side, allowing the promoters to use its East Side Club as high-end hospitality space for the weekend that features addition races and concerts.

At the moment, it’s unclear where the bridge – which served as a major promotional focus and is a racing oddity – will return in this newest layout.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Using tongues so long Gene Simmons would be green with envy, the Komodo dragons slowly explored their new digs at the Nashville Zoo last week. Funds for the enclosure — the largest in the Americas — were donated by the Patton family, who were on hand for the VIP reception. The new habitat is built to house two male and three female adult Komodo dragons and is located on the path to the zoo’s HCA Veterinary Healthcare Center. It offers visitors a chance to safely watch as the Komodo dragons run for treats during their keeper’s talks and demonstrations. The new habitat also allows for winter viewing, with an indoor enclosure to keep the dragons warm during colder months.

Komodo dragons have a healthy appetite and generally prey on smaller mammals — though they have been known to take down mammals as large as a horse or a water buffalo. An imposing predator, the Komodo dragon is listed as endangered — primarily due to habitat loss — and is on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List with less than 1,400 left in the wild. Known as the largest lizard in the world, an adult Komodo dragon can reach up to 10 feet in length and weigh more than 300 pounds. By comparison, the eldest male Komodo dragon resident at the Nashville Zoo — Lil Sebastian — weighs in at a dainty 200ish pounds and is only 9 feet long. After being coaxed into the new habitat with the promise of some tasty snacks, Lil Sebastian spent the evening exploring his newly expanded home.

The Nashville Zoo is committed to preservation and conservation of this endangered species, and hopes to have even more Komodo dragons as the exhibit grows. As part of a conservation effort, the zoo has partnered with the Komodo Survival Program through the Species Survival Plan — an initiative created by zoos to help promote the long-term survival of various species — to help protect Komodo dragons in their native habitat. The zoo has donated more than any other single organization to the Komodo Survival Program. 

Learn more at


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