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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for November 20, 2023


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


We start with local news…

Grecian Thanksgiving for Needy (MSM)

Frank and Sasa Georgalos are getting ready for their sixth annual Thanksgiving meal giveaway on Thanksgiving Day by preparing more than 1,200 traditional meals for anyone who is in need of a meal for the day.

Meals will be available at Grecian Family Restaurant and Bakery from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and is open to anyone who needs a meal. Delivery options are available for those unable to get to the restaurant by calling to reserve a plate.

After a smaller dinner in 2020 due to COVID-19, Frank and Sasa served 1,200 meals in 2021 and 2022 and expect a large crowd once again inside the restaurant this year.

“We are so happy to be able to have this event again,” Frank said. “Seeing the restaurant full of our caring volunteers and the families who just want to have company on Thanksgiving Day is such a blessing.”

A restaurant devoted to community service, Grecian Family Restaurant is always looking for ways to serve Spring Hill and the surrounding communities. Consistently hosting “Spirit Nights” where a portion of proceeds goes to local schools, ball teams and other entities, Frank and Sasa know how important being good members of their community is. 

“We really try to reach out to the community and find ways we can build relationships with those who need support here,” Frank said. “Spring Hill is a very large community, and if we can help facilitate fundraising efforts through our reach as a restaurant, we want to do that as much as we can.”

Spring Hill recently reached the 50,000 citizens mark, according to the 2020 census, and the vast majority of those residents are not from Middle Tennessee, which means family can be hard to come by during the holiday season.

“If we can create an atmosphere of family through our Thanksgiving meal, and also provide for those who are sick, working, or otherwise unable to spend time with family with a meal, we are going to do that,” Frank said.

The traditional meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, yams, sweet potato casserole, dinner rolls and an assortment of pies to choose from.

For those who would like delivery up to 15 miles from the restaurant, please contact the restaurant at (615) 302-4808 or send a message through Facebook.

Rotary Thanksgiving (WKOM Audio 1:18)

On Sunday morning, Columbia Breakfast Rotary prepared turkeys for needy families in the community. With more is WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy…

Carver-Smith Legacy Game (MSM)

With nearly 200 alumni, staff and faculty from Carver-Smith High School, the community’s pre-integration all-Black high school, on hand for Legacy Night at Columbia Central, Friday was a success before tipoff of the scheduled basketball doubleheader between the “Lady Yellowjackets” and “Yellowjackets” and visiting Whites Creek.

A pair of on-court victories were, as first-year boys coach Brandon Levier said, “the icing on the cake”.

“To watch our community come together to re-recognize a legacy that’s always been there and bring it back to life – it’s important for all our community to see, especially our young people,” girls coach Megan Moore said after seniors Anaya Mulholland and Saviya Morgan each scored 16 points in a 58-27 win.

“We know the legacy Carver-Smith started, and it’s important to see what they left. That’s exactly what we need to see our young women do in the future.”

Both teams wore green-and-gold replica uniforms to represent the school, which enjoyed its own successful athletic history from its opening in January 1950 until its students were folded into Columbia Central’s enrollment at the end of the 1968-69 school year.

“It was important for our guys to get a sense – to be able to put on that jersey, come out and play in this magnitude of game, the atmosphere, the buzz,” Levier said following his team’s 51-48 victory. “There’s so much we could benefit from.

“We told them, the icing on the cake would be if we could come out and win the game, and that’s what we did.”

That win in the nightcap was significantly tougher to come by than the initial contest. Following a 41-27 win over Oakland in Thursday’s season opener, the Lady Yellowjackets scored the game’s first 18 points Friday and led by double digits for the next three periods.

“Anaya’s leadership is unrelenting, and Saviya and Anaya’s competitiveness is unrelenting, and it’s contagious,” Moore said.

The boys game was a back-and-forth affair that the hosts didn’t take control of until opening the fourth period with a 10-0 run, turning a three-point deficit into a 47-40 lead with 4½ minutes to play.

“We just had one goal, to go out and get the win,” senior Jordan Davis said after scoring a game-high 17 points – including three key foul shots in the fourth quarter to help the Yellowjackets hold the lead down the stretch.

“Our biggest struggle right now is getting (defensive) stops and hitting free throws,” Levier said after the Yellowjackets went 18-for-34 from the foul line. “But what we pushed in the offseason was adversity, digging out of the mud, seeing what we were about character-wise.

“With 2:59 left, I looked at the bench and said, ‘how bad do we want it?’ “

Leading by five, 49-44, at that time, the hosts let Whites Creek (0-1) get to within one before a pair of Kenneth Jackson free throws with 1:24 remaining provide the margin of victory.

“It’s still early in the season,” Davis said. “This was our second game in two days. We’ve still got players coming back from football. Once everybody’s healthy, we should clean things up.”

Akai Hunt added 10 points, as did Jhrevious Hall off the bench, to help cap the night in a celebratory fashion.

“It was a way bigger crowd than we expected,” Davis said. “We felt it was special. It meant something for the ones that came before us. This was a way to show respect for those people.”

UAW Approves Contract (Newschannel5.com)

United Auto Workers union members have voted to approve a new contract with General Motors, making the company the first Detroit automaker to get a ratified deal that could end a contentious labor dispute and a series of crippling strikes.

A vote-tracking spreadsheet on the union’s website shows that with all local union offices reporting, the contract passed by just over 3,400 votes, with 54.7% in favor. A union spokesman on Thursday confirmed that the spreadsheet had the official GM totals.

The outcome was closer than expected after the UAW’s celebrations of victories last month on many key demands that led to six weeks of targeted walkouts against GM, Ford and Stellantis, the maker of Jeep and Ram vehicles.

On Thursday the contract had a big lead in voting at Ford and Stellantis. Ratification was leading at Ford by more than 10,000 votes, with 66.7% of ballots in favor. At Stellantis, the lead was over 5,700, with 66.5% voting for the deal, according to the UAW website.

Voting continues at Ford through early Saturday with only two large factories in the Detroit area and some smaller facilities left to be counted. At Stellantis, three Detroit-area factories were the only large plants yet to vote, with tallies expected to be complete by Tuesday.

The three contracts, if approved by 146,000 union members, would dramatically raise pay for autoworkers, with increases and cost-of-living adjustments that would translate into a 33% wage gain. Top assembly plant workers would get immediate 11% raises and earn roughly $42 per hour when the contracts expire in April of 2028.

At GM, about 46,000 workers were eligible to vote on the deal, and about 36,000 cast ballots.

Of the four GM plants that went on strike, only workers at a large SUV factory in Arlington, Texas, approved the contract. Workers in Wentzville, Missouri; Lansing Delta Township, Michigan; and Spring Hill, Tennessee, voted it down. Workers said that longtime employees at GM were unhappy they didn’t get larger pay raises like newer workers, and they wanted a bigger pension increase.

“I'm not ungrateful, but I feel like it could have been better,” said Andrea Repasky, a body shop worker at GM's pickup truck factory in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, who voted against the deal.

Repasky said she's happy that temporary workers will be hired faster and won't have to wait multiple years to reach the full assembly worker pay rate, now about $32 per hour. She's also glad that workers at parts warehouses and component factories will get the top wage.

But she says she'll get only $4 per hour more at ratification, and her pay will have gone up only $7 per hour since 2006 due to concessions made to help the company out of dire financial straits during the Great Recession. “I would have been happy if we would have gotten a bigger jump up front,” she said. “I just think in 17 years, $7 more is not too good of a deal.”

She also wanted to see larger pension increases as well as defined benefit pensions and health care in retirement for workers hired after 2007. With GM making healthy profits, she's worried that the union may have missed the chance to get more because the company may not be doing as well in 2028.

Many newer hires wanted defined benefit pension plans instead of defined contribution plans. But the companies agreed to contribute 10% per year into 401(k) plans instead.

Keith Crowell, the local union president at GM's Arlington plant, said the factory has a diverse group of workers from full- and part-time temporary hires to longtime assembly line employees. Full-time temporary workers liked the large raises they received and the chance to get top union pay, he said. But many longtime workers didn’t think immediate pay raises were enough to make up for concessions granted to GM in 2008, he said.

“There was something in there for everybody, but everybody couldn’t get everything they wanted,” Crowell said. “At least we’re making a step in the right direction to recover from 2008.”

Citing the automakers' strong profits, UAW President Shawn Fain has insisted it was well past time to make up for the 2008 concessions.

Marick Masters, a business professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, said GM has more older workers than the other two companies, so he expected the vote to be closer there. About half of GM's factory workers were hired before 2007. “They may have felt they were not listened to enough,” Masters said of the workers.

He expects the contracts to be ratified at Ford and Stellantis and said only lopsided votes against the deals that run counter to the current trends could sink the agreements. “It certainly seems that they're on track to pass,” he said.

President Joe Biden has hailed the resolution of the strikes as an early victory for what he calls a worker-centered economy. But the success of the contracts will ultimately hinge on the ability of automakers to keep generating profits as they shift toward electric vehicles.

Thousands of UAW members joined picket lines in targeted strikes starting Sept. 15 before the tentative deals were reached late last month. Rather than striking at one company, the union targeted individual plants at all three automakers. At the peak of the strikes, about 46,000 workers were walking picket lines.

King’s Daughters Christmas Drive (CDH)

The King’s Daughters’ School and Heritage Bank & Trust are once again seeking help to make many Christmas wishes come true with the 23rd annual Santa's Mailbox gift drive.

The annual drive will kick off Wednesday, Nov. 22 and run through Thursday, Dec. 14.

Wish letters can be picked up from Santa’s Mailbox at Heritage Bank & Trust branches in Columbia and Mt. Pleasant. The letters are from disadvantaged King’s Daughters’ students and state-custody kids who will be spending Christmas on campus.

Students have written down their Christmas wishes in letters to Santa.

"Santa’s Mailbox should be easy to spot when you walk into a Heritage Bank & Trust lobby. Each letter contains one Christmas wish item for a student," a press release states.

“We are so grateful to Heritage Bank & Trust for their support of our Santa’s Mailbox program. Many of our students cannot go home for the holidays, so the contributions of the bank, their customers, and our entire community make their Christmas wishes come true,” KDS Executive Director Shauna Pounders said.

Once gifts are returned, they will be wrapped by the King’s Daughters’ staff members and placed in Santa’s bag ready for delivery at the KDS campus Christmas Eve.

"The school and bank members thank you ahead of time for helping make Christmas special for each and every child at KDS," the press release states.

Heritage Bank & Trust is resuming hosting duties this year as a continued valued partner to KDS.

"Heritage Bank & Trust is proud to be a part of the wonderful work being done by The King's Daughters' School," says Shelli Golden, KDS Board Member and EVP, Chief Risk Officer of Heritage Bank & Trust.

"Over the years, I have served on the Board of Directors of The King's Daughters' School, and I continue to be impressed with the care and compassion given to each student to make their lives the best that it can be. Heritage is honored to partner with an organization making such a great impact on our community." Santa’s Mailboxes are located in two Maury County Heritage Bank & Trust lobbies: 217 South James Campbell Blvd., and 109 South Main St. in Mt. Pleasant.

The King’s Daughters’ School is a nonprofit residential school that has provided academic, vocational, and life-skills training to students with developmental delays for over 60 years.

Mt. Pleasant Tree Lighting (Press Release)

Main Street Mount Pleasant is proud to announce the much-anticipated first annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, this event will usher in the holiday season with a brilliant display of 14,000 LED lights, festive entertainment, and community spirit. This new tradition is scheduled to take place on November 25th at 6 PM on the square.

“My hope is for the Tree Lighting Ceremony to become an event in the Mount Pleasant community to bring residents and visitors together to celebrate the magic of the holiday season. I look forward to creating a memorable experience for all who attend,” says Director of Main Street, Haverly Pennington.

Highlights of the event will include:

• Official Tree Lighting: Watch in awe as Main Street's majestic tree is illuminated in a dazzling display of lights, marking the start of the holiday season at 6 PM.

• Holiday Entertainment: Enjoy live performances from Mount Pleasant Elementary who will sing timeless holiday classics. Followed by performances from the Middle School Dance Team and High school Cheer Squad

• Visit from Santa Claus: The jolly old man himself, Santa Claus, will make a special appearance to greet children and hear their holiday wishes on the square from 5 PM until 5:45 PM. Feel free to grab your camera to snap a photo with the man in red!

• Food and Refreshments: The Connection Church will be on hand to provide delicious treats and hot beverages to attendees from 5 PM until 5:45 PM.

• Holiday Shopping: Stroll Main Street before the festivities and start your holiday shopping.

Main Street Mount Pleasant is dedicated to creating memorable and engaging events for our community. The Tree Lighting Ceremony is just one of the many initiatives we undertake to enhance the charm and vibrancy of our downtown area.

“We believe that this event will be a heartwarming and unifying experience for our community. We can't wait to celebrate the holiday season with our friends and neighbors,” says Mayor Bill White. All are invited to attend this free, family-friendly event. Please mark your calendars for November 25th and join us on the square to kick off the holiday season in style. Dress warmly and bring your holiday spirit as we light up the night together!

For more information about the Tree Lighting Ceremony and other Main Street contact us at info@visitmountpleasant.com.

…And now, news from around the state…

Covenant Officers Receive Award (Tennessean)

The roar of the crowd echoed through the almost sold out Grand Ole Opry House Thursday as the audience stood and clapped for the three Nashville police officers receiving the Fox Nation Patriot Awards' biggest honor.

Detectives Michael Collazo and Zach Plese, Sgt. Jeff Mathes and officer Rex Englebert were given the the Stephen Siller Patriot Award for their response to the March 27 Covenant School shooting.

In a special surprise, the group was also honored with a mural, and they received a standing ovation as they took the stage to receive the award, named for New York Firefighter Steven Siller, who sacrificed his life to save others during the 9/11 terror attacks.

"That decision, it wasn't even a decision," Mathes said when asked why he went in the direction of gunfire that March morning. The audience roared with clapping. "One of our personal mantras is we put others first. On behalf of Metro Nashville Police Department, there are patriots that I'll accept this for, patriots like our friend and detective on our team, Eric Wegner.

"He ran outside... he got shot at and that's what we needed to find in order for what we needed to do."

Three adults and three children were killed at The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, that March day. The shooter was also killed in an altercation with police.

It wasn't the first time the group of responders had been honored.

Collazo, Plese and Mathes along with Nashville fire paramedic Paul Gilmer and emergency dispatcher Jeffrey Bolin were each awarded medals at an October First Responders Children's Foundation's annual "Roll Call of Heroes" in New York. Police Chief John Drake and fire Chief William Swann were present at that ceremony.

The presentation of the Stephen Siller Patriot Award was one of several highlights from the evening.

State Military Asking for Flood Money (WPLN)

Flood preparedness may be the top safety priority in Tennessee next year. 

The Tennessee Department of Military requested about $5 million during a budget hearing with Gov. Bill Lee last week to develop “flood preparedness tools.”

There are two tools. About half of the funding will be used to create new flood models for every county by studying how water will move through the physical features of each area — potentially displacing the standard 100-year or 500-year floodplain maps, which are widely considered outdated and inaccurate.

The second tool will be focused on early warning systems for storms like floods and tornadoes. The department is proposing to fund a “mesonet,” which is a statewide network of weather stations that record continuous, real-time data on rain rates, wind speed, soil temperature and more. This information allows weather forecasters to essentially see what is happening at the ground level, in every county, as opposed to relying on radar estimates from thousands of feet in the air.

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

It is that time of year once again, time to find the boughs of a live tree to decorate for the holiday season. Buy early! There are a number of live tree vendors in Maury County.

Southern Grace Tree Farm

1215 Bear Creek Road

Culleoka, Tennessee

For several years, Frank and Nichole Musgrave, owners of Southern Grace Tree Farm, went to tree farms and chose the PERFECT Christmas tree for their home. After years of purchasing from other tree farmers, they decided they could grow their own trees and families could come to their farm and create the same wonderful memories. They now have beautiful trees to sell. They have pre-cut Frasier Firs and You Cut Virginia and White Pine, as well as wreaths and garlands.

Hours: November 24, 25, December 2, 9, 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

 November 26, December 3, 10, 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm

 

6. Holcomb Farm

2257 Arthur Hutcherson Road 

Columbia, Tennessee

Holcomb Farm is a family owned tree farm with roots going back five generations. The farm provides a unique experience for families by offering fresh, choose and cut Christmas trees, as well as pre-cut and wreaths. Trees are $50 and $60 each.

Hours:  November 24, November 25 and December 2, 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

          December 1, 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

          November 26 and December 3, 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.          

7. The Yard at Row and Company

206 Depot Street

Columbia, Tennessee

Row and Company will be selling live Christmas trees and offering holiday cheer again for their fifth season. They will have a bonfire, a walk through the forest, Christmas music, and getting visitors ready to celebrate the holiday season. 

Hours: November 24, 25 and December 2, 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

          November 26 and December 3, 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

          November 27, 28, 29, 30 and December 1, 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.


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