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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for November 7, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Aldean Song Triggers Concern (CDH)

A local minority group has spoken out against Columbia Central High School Principal Michael Steele in regard to a certain song choice used during a September football game.

The song in question, Jason Aldean's "Try That in A Small Town," was allegedly used in a pre-game video montage, honoring CHS players over the years. It was also chosen mere months after the song, of which the video was shot in downtown Columbia, raised national controversy.

The process in choosing the song for the montage remains unclear.

The issue centered around how some viewers interpreted the news clips used in the video, and the song's subject matter, included themes that could be considered offensive to some.

In response to the song's choice, local Maury NAACP representatives issued a letter to Steele and other school leaders, following the Sept. 29 game, voicing their grievances and requesting a meeting to discuss the matter.

"This song has already been banned on several media outlets and social platforms across the nation," Maury NAACP President Terry Hannah states in the letter. "We want to go on record that as an organization we have received numerous complaints and calls voicing major concerns.

"We are troubled and very concerned that the special programming at the pre-game included former players from multiple classes of football players in the history of the school were present and this song choice was very insensitive and a divisive display that they and their families were exposed to. The disturbed looks on many attendees’ faces visually expressed their disgust. Over the past couple of days, complaints and negative comments turned into a full week of disbelief."

The letter goes on to request a meeting to discuss the song's choice, as well as raising awareness as to the sensitivity of taking community members into consideration who might consider it offensive.

"As a local organization that supports all people and inclusiveness, we cannot help but wonder what the intent of the choice of this song that has already caused major division and chaos across multiple communities, states and regions in America," the letter states. "We are requesting a meeting with you and several leadership representatives of our local organization to provide an opportunity to ask your reasoning in an amicable and professional setting."

Steele and other Maury County School representatives did not wish to give comments at this time regarding the issue.

In speaking with The Daily Herald, Hannah said initially there had been communication between Steele and the NAACP following the letter's submittal.

However, progress appears to be at a standstill for what the organization requests, and that no formal meeting has yet been made, or agreed to.

"We asked him to have a meeting with us, but he chose not to meet with a committee of people, which I didn't care for," Hannah said. "We plan to reach out again and have him meet with us."

Hannah added that the issue hits home personally to him, as he was one of the players on the CHS field at the time the song was played.

"It was played on a night they were honoring the all-black high school football team, along with past players of the local Columbia Central High School, of which I was one of the athletes also," Hannah said. "When we were out on the field and the song was playing, we were like, 'What's going on?'"

Hannah later said the ultimate goal is to simply ask Steele to present a public apology for the song's choice, and to discuss why it could be a sensitive subject for some.

"It's not about apologizing to us and our organization, but to do a public apology because he did it in a public setting," Hannah said.

"That's really what we want. It's not asking much, and with him being the school principal he could do it during another football game. He did it at the game, and so why can't he make the apology at a game? We're definitely not through with it and are still awake on all of this."

Firefighter of the Year (WKOM Audio 2:14)

Yesterday, Columbia Noon Rotary presented the annual Firefighter of the year award. With more is Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy…

Worldwide Stages Ends Spring Hill City Lease (TheNewsTN)

The City of Spring Hill has approved two resolutions to end its office lease agreement with Worldwide Stages early and enter into a new lease with John Maher Builders.

The city will now lease two floors of more than 12,000 square feet at 8060 Station Hill Drive in Spring Hill for five years and three months starting this month. Worldwide Stages told the city the space would no longer be available after the lease agreement expires in June 2024.

The city’s development department has been housed at the Worldwide Stages on Northfield Lane. Earlier this year, Spring Hill signed a lease renewal through the updated expiration date. City officials increased the amount of space leased at Worldwide Stages as well as accepted an increased rate per square foot to $21.11. The city also added early termination terms to the lease agreement with Worldwide Stages. The last 90 days of the lease agreement increases from the current amount of $9,043 to $12,471.

In addition, Spring Hill officials approved a resolution to initiate the early termination with Worldwide Stages at the Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting on Oct. 16. They also approved the new lease agreement with John Maher Builders in which they will not pay for the first three months of the agreement, October through December. In January, the city’s new rental agreement will cost $22,524, which is about $22 per square foot for the new space. The cost increases each year after that.

At Worldwide Stages, the city has been leasing 5,141 square feet. Now, Spring Hill will have more than double that amount of space, which city administrator Pam Caskie noted should be taken into account when seeing the increased cost.

Alderman John Canepari expressed concern about waiting until this short time frame saying now they are “scrambling to find space.”

“Considering that our lease with Worldwide Stages was entered into years ago, we had plenty of time, the city had plenty of time, city staff had plenty of time to plan ahead to move these people,” Alderman Canepari said.

He said he has concerns about spending the city’s funds on rent.

“Just like anybody renting,” Canepari said, “It’s really a sad way to spend our money, our citizen’s money, instead of having a building for us to own.”

Alderman Trent Linville said this allows the city time to figure out what to do next.

“If you’ve looked for commercial space in Spring Hill recently, you know that there is not much available,” Alderman Linville said. “That puts the ball in our court. If we need space for our staff, do we want to build something? Do we want to buy something? Or, do we want to rent something?”

Linville said because of the current capital improvement projects the city already has, for example the new police department facility, they need to continue to consider other needs like roads.

“I believe that [this rental agreement] provides a solution without impacting our debt capacity for other important projects at this time,” Linville said.

The voting result for the lease with John Maher Builders was 5-2-1-1. Jim Hagaman, William Pomeroy, Jason Cox, Matt Fitterer and Linville voted in favor. Brent Murray and Canepari voted against. Kevin Gavigan abstained and Vincent Fuqua was not present. The resolution to end the Worldwide Stages lease was passed 8-1 with all in favor except Fuqua, who was not in attendance.

Johnny Gaines Award Named (WKOM Audio 2:26)

Recently, firefighter Captain Phil Mash was awarded the Johnny Gaines award for his service to the community. Our own Delk Kennedy stopped by to learn more about Capt. Mash’s honor…

United Communications Offers Flight Vouchers (MSM)

While fiber internet makes it easier than ever to connect with family and friends online, United Communications knows that there’s no substitute for spending time with loved ones live and in person during the holidays — which is why the broadband provider will give away over $2,000 in airline vouchers to Middle Tennessee residents through its “Making Connections” contest.

Until Nov. 10, Middle Tennessee residents can enter the contest by submitting a personalized 30-second video online at explaining who they would most like to visit this holiday season or in 2024 and the reasons they want to spend time together.

“United’s fiber service makes it possible for our customers to keep in touch with their closest family and friends, regardless of the miles between them,” said United President/CEO William Bradford. “As we approach the holiday season, all of us at United Communications are excited to help some of our neighbors bridge that distance by traveling and connecting with those who matter most to them.”

United Communications team members will review each video submission and select the top three entries, awarding a Flightgift airline voucher valued at $1,200 for the first-place winner, $800 for second place, and $200 for third place.

The top 10 video submissions determined by United will compete in a round of public online voting for the opportunity to win a People’s Choice award and $150 VISA Reward Card.

Participants must be at least 18 years old at the time of entry and reside within the Middle Tennessee eligibility area, which includes the following counties: Bedford, Davidson, Franklin, Giles, Maury, Marshall, Rutherford, Williamson and Wilson. Contest winners will be announced on Nov. 22.

More information about the “Making Connections” contest, including detailed rules and requirements, is available online at

Co-Work (WKOM Audio 2:21)

Yesterday, Co-work, Inc. held their ribbon cutting in Spring Hill. WKOM/WKRM’s Mary Susan Kennedy attended the grand opening and spoke to Chris McKinley to learn more about what Cowork, Inc. has to offer…

Spring Hill Memorial Veterans’ Program (Press Release)

Spring Hill Memorial Funeral Home is hosting a Veterans Memorial Service, which will be held at 2:00 PM Sunday, November 12, 2023 at Spring Hill Memorial Park, Funeral Home and Cremation Services, 5239 Main Street, Spring Hill, Tennessee 37174.

The keynote speaker will be Lt. Col. Jeff King. Special music will be provided and veterans will be honored!

CSCC Exhibition Opening (Press Release)

From November 6-December 20, the Pryor Art Gallery at Columbia State Community College will be hosting the exhibition “Native American and the West” featuring the pen and ink drawings of artist Bob Jones.

Bob Jones achieves a level of detail in his pen and ink drawings that boggles the mind. His passion for western art depicting Native Americans and cowboys goes back to second grade.

Jones attended Harris School of Advertising Art in Nashville which let to an illustrious career beginning in the 1960’s photographing and designing album covers for country music greats like Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.

An artist, illustrator and photographer, Jones has many stories to share about his experiences in country music and his narratives of the West through pen and ink. Jones resides in Spring Hill.

Pryor Art Gallery on the Columbia Campus will feature an artist reception on Thursday, November 16 from 5-7pm. The reception is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

…And now, news from around the state…

Metro Investigates Covenant School Records Release (Tennessean)

Nashville Mayor Freddie O'Connell has ordered an investigation after conservative media personality Steven Crowder released what he said were documents from the Covenant School shooter online Monday.

“I have directed Wally Dietz, Metro’s Law Director, to initiate an investigation into how these images could have been released," O'Connell said in a statement. "That investigation may involve local, state, and federal authorities. I am deeply concerned with the safety, security, and well-being of the Covenant families and all Nashvillians who are grieving.”

Dietz said Monday that he couldn't confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents because of pending litigation.

"At this time, we have limited information about this possible leak of documents related to the tragic shooting at Covenant School," Dietz said in a statement.

The Metro Nashville Police Department released a statement late Monday afternoon, saying the images were not affiliated with its investigation. The agency also confirmed it is cooperating with Metro legal as it investigates how the documents were released.

"The photographs are not MNPD crime scene images," police said in their statement. "The police department has been in contact with a representative of Covenant families. Police department counselors are available to assist them in coping with the emotional trauma caused by the dissemination."

Crowder's release comes amid an ongoing legal case involving the release of the writings and other documents.

Tennessean reporters requested several records within days of the shooting on March 27, when the former Covenant student entered the school and killed six people, including three children.

Several groups, including The Tennessean, sued Metro Nashville after those records requests were denied. The school and Covenant families are intervening in the lawsuit and seeking to prevent the city from releasing the records. The case remains pending in court.

Some organizations, like The Tennessean, cited an interest in bringing to light "additional facts regarding this incident, societal and mental health issues, and issues regarding firearms more broadly, which have not yet been revealed through other means," according to the news organization's complaint.

The records requested by The Tennessean are the documents in the shooter's possession prior to death, including those in the shooter's car and home; all police reports of the shooter in the Metro Nashville Police Department's possession; all calls for service to The Covenant School and the shooter's home from the past five years; and incident reports from MNPD's responses to the shooter's home on March 27.

Gas Prices (MSM)

Tennessee gas prices are once again trending less expensive. Over last week, prices at the pump fell eight cents, on average. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.02 which is 26 cents less expensive than both one month and one year ago. 

“Thanks to a drop in crude oil prices, the seasonal decline in driving demand, and strengthening gasoline supplies, Tennesseans are getting quite a bit of a break at the pump this week,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “It’s likely that drivers will see the state gas price average fall below $3 per gallon this week. It’s also likely that these lower prices could stay through the holidays, unless oil prices suddenly spike, or there’s an unexpected disruption to fuel supplies.”

Quick Facts

63% of Tennessee gas stations have prices below $3.00 

The lowest 10% of pump prices are $2.74 for regular unleaded 

The highest 10% of pump prices are $3.49 for regular unleaded

Tennessee is the 9th least expensive market in the nation

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Geodis Park announced the first concert for 2024.

Green Day with special guests Smashing Pumpkins, Rancid, and The Linda Lindas will bring The Saviors Tour to Nashville.

In a statement, Green Day shared, “We’ve never been more excited to unleash new music than with Saviors, a record that’s meant to be rocked live, together. So let’s thrash. We’ve got some amazing friends who are coming along for the ride!”

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Green Day’s 1994 certified Diamond album, Dookie, and the 20th anniversary of 2004’s juggernaut, American Idiot.

Tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday, Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. CT at


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