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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for October 18, 2023


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


We start with local news…

Teens Charged with Terroristic Threats (MSM)

Two juveniles have been arrested and charged with terroristic threats following a disturbing social media post which showed an image of multiple firearms with threats of targeting Columbia Central High School, Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland confirmed in a statement on Monday.

At approximately 10:15 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15, the Sheriff’s Department announced they had identified and located the two individuals responsible for the post, which had been circulated online. Because they are juveniles, the names were not released.

“Thanks to the quick work of our patrol division, we were able to identify and locate the two individuals that are responsible for the social media post. They have been taken into custody,” MCSD said.

MCPS Communications Director Jack Cobb said the district is thankful that the individuals were located.

“We’re thankful that the Maury County Sheriff’s Department was able to uncover who was behind it and all the students are safe,” Cobb said in a statement.

This is not the first time Columbia Central High School has received threats.

In May, the school went on lockdown after a call came in reporting an active shooter at the facility, which proved to be a hoax.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Columbia Police Department said that call appeared to be part of a pattern of calls taking place across the state.


GM PILOT Passes Commission (CDH)

The Maury County Commission approved Monday a resolution that would terminate an existing tax incentive agreement with General Motors in order to enact a new agreement, a decision that sparked controversy among commissioners.

The resolution passed, 13-2, a simple majority with six commissioners abstaining, terminating the existing 60% abatement as part of a Payment in Lieu of Tax with GM in place for 38 years. However, upon termination, a new PILOT agreement will now go into effect extending stipulations of the original agreement, plus a tax break on the new GM paint facility and a separate PILOT with Ultium Cells.

Ultium Cells, a branch of South Korean company LG Solutions, leases property located at the GM plant, visible from Hwy. 31.

Commissioners debated about whether to terminate the old agreement for over an hour.

Some commissioners agreed that the new agreement, devised and approved in 2020 by the Industrial Development Board and state officials, should be upheld whether current commissioners like it or not, based on a legal perspective.

“The train has left the station,” commissioner Gabe Howard, District 8, said.

Several commissioners agreed.

“This is not how honest people work,” Ray Jeter, District 8, said. “I don’t like the deal either, but the deal is done. l thought this is not the greatest deal that’s ever been done, but it does bring in money to the county.”

Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt conveyed a firm warning to commissioners about the consequences of not terminating the existing agreement.

“We have worked this over the coals for a long time now,” Butt said, adding she doesn’t "love" the agreement either.

“The fact of the matter is we have made agreements. … They [GM] have invested billions on the [IDB’s] word. Going back on that, will only cost us exponentially in court … It’s not just about this business … we have given the authority to the Industrial Development Board on this, and the answer is yes.”

Previously, the county commission gave the Industrial Development Board the authority to make decisions regarding tax incentives for companies. In 2020, the GM deal was devised by the IDB and state economic officials.

“We are making a bad mistake if we decide to take back what we’ve already given,” Butt said. “If you don’t want any more growth and industry over the next years, [we won’t get it if this doesn’t pass].”

Commissioner Kenny Morrow, District 7, said he wishes the terms of the original contract could be severed.

“Forty years is long enough,” Morrow said, who explained he supports a tax break for the new GM paint shop and Ultium Cells but not the extension of the 38-year incentive contract with GM.

“I can’t in good conscience vote for this because I have too many constituents who want this to end."

Commissioner Aaron Miller, District 7, agreed.

“That’s part of the job [to face a lawsuit or not], we need to be voting on the merits as we see them. … I don’t like the thought of locking this in over several more decades."

Kevin Markham, District 9, addressed previous IDB board members speaking out on the issue, which was an action permitted by the budget committee last Monday.

“They lost their opportunity to argue their point when they resigned from the IDB,” Markham said.

After asking for clarification on the resolution Jerry Bridenbaugh, District 9, also agreed with staying the course by advocating for the approval of the termination.

“We are referred to as ‘the Maury County Commission,’” Bridenbaugh said, whether now or in 2020. “We are obligated to honor that contract.”

He also pointed out that at one time GM implied that all buildings would be hidden “behind the hills,” criticizing the massive presence of the Ultium building on Hwy. 31.

Jerry Strahan, District 1, defended GM’s presence in the community.

“I can’t complain about them [GM] being in this community and supporting families for generations,” he said. “ … Mean old General Motors spent a whole lot of money based on an agreement.”

After over an hour of debate, there was a motion calling for the question to cease all discussion to vote on the resolution, but that motion failed.

County finance director Doug Lukonen emphasized that GM is considered the top taxpayer in the county, and if the company “looks weaker” it could hurt the county’s overall Moody’s credit rating and interest rate.  

“If GM looks weaker, if GM looks stronger, it affects our interest cost,” Lukonen said. “The fight that would come is cost of litigation … What we could lose is much more than what they could lose.”

APEX Recovery (WKOM Audio 2:26)

APEX Recovery held their grand opening yesterday on Trotwood Avenue in Columbia. Front Porch Radio’s Mary Susan Kennedy attended the ribbon cutting and spoke to Dr. Matthew Bruin to learn more about the services they offer…


New Fire Station Named After Late Mayor (CDH)

City leaders voted this month to rename one of its fire stations after former Mayor Barbara Earwood McIntyre honoring her many years of service as a leader and influence.

The Columbia City Council was joined by McIntyre's surviving family members on Thursday to vote on the resolution, which would rename Fire Station No. 3 just off Bear Creek Pike at 705 Firefighters Drive after her.

"This happens to be something even more meaningful for the former mayor, someone who I was fortunate enough to know as a kid," Mayor Chaz Molder said. "Mayor McIntyre in a large part was the reason where, when I was a kid, I had that seed planted to want to get involved in public service."

McIntyre's life of service to Columbia began in 1963 after she became the first general manager of Holiday Inn, the largest hotel chain in the U.S.

McIntyre was later elected as the city's first female vice mayor, serving from 1974-78. In 1990, she was elected as Columbia's first female mayor, and was reelected in 1998 serving two more terms.

In addition to her career as a public official, McIntyre also served on numerous boards and committees, including the Maury County Chamber of Commerce, Tennessee Municipal Leage, Tennessee Commission on Aging & Disability, Leadership Maury, Center of Hope, Boys and Girls Club of Maury County, Duck River Agency, South Central Tennessee Development District, Maury County Family YMCA, Maury Regional Healthcare Foundation, Maury County Tourism Board, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Maury County and the Governor's Task Force Board for 911 dispatches.

McIntyre was also the recipient of many distinguished awards, including the Liberty Bell Award, the Lucille Queener Courtney Service Award, the Woman of the Year by the Business and Professional Women's Club, Governor's Award for Community Service, the Eagle Wings Award for Government, a Paul Harris Fellow by the Columbia Breakfast Rotary Club and the George F. Hixson Fellowship by Columbia Kiwanis Club.

McIntyre died Aug. 9, 2016.

Other council members shared their memories of knowing McIntyre, including Councilwoman Debbie Wiles, who said this dedication is not just for her, but the impact the family has had on the community.

"This honors the longevity of this family in this community and contributes to the very reasons why we love it so much," Wiles said. "I cannot tell you the joy this brings to me. Barbara was a wonderful lady."

Vice Mayor Randy McBroom said some of his fondest memories were being young and gathering with friends at the Holiday Inn on the weekends. McIntyre was also responsible for appointing him to his first board.

"I went from the advisory board for construction to now being up here as vice mayor, and I always remember she treated me so nice and kind," McBroom said. "She always had a smile on her face and I love this family."

McIntyre's son-in-law John Earwood concluded by thanking the council for its tribute.

"We appreciate this, and I've often said that if everybody had a mother-in-law like Barbara, there wouldn't be any mother-in-law jokes," Earwood said. "We really appreciate this."


Spring Hill Fire Gets SAFER Grant (CDH)

Millions of dollars in federal funding are coming to Spring Hill thanks to continued efforts by the City of Spring Hill Fire Administration.

On Oct. 2, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a resolution to accept the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant, awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA). This grant would fund employment for 13 new firefighters.

Spring Hill Fire Administration applied for the $3.1 million grant in March and was awarded the grant on Sept. 15. Monday's BOMA vote was to accept the grant funding, which it did unanimously.

According to a press release, "the purpose of the SAFER Grant Program is to provide funding directly to fire departments to assist in increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards, and to fulfill traditional missions of fire departments."

“With the award of this much needed SAFER Grant, Spring Hill Fire Department will operate more safely and efficiently by increasing and maintaining a minimum staffing of four persons on each fire apparatus which meets national standards and industry best practices,” Fire Chief Graig Temple said.

At Monday's BOMA meeting, Spring Hill Fire paramedic Nicholas Kolesar shared his appreciation for the city's willingness to accept the grant, how it will solve staffing problems within the department and provide a safer city to Spring Hill residents.

"I want to show appreciation on behalf of the 54 members that I represent with the Spring Hill Firefighters Association," Kolesar said. "Tonight, you guys are going to be voting on the SAFER grant, which will employ 13 firefighters at one time. That's historic for this department in the 20-some years of its existence, and those tools are going to give us better service to provide citizens with. On behalf of all of us, I wanted to express that gratitude.

"This is not only changing our department, but changing the way we do things, and that's a good thing. It's changing the way we train, changing us having to create a fire academy for these people in house. So, all of those changes are great, and we can't thank everybody up there enough for allowing us, and allowing the chief, to apply for this SAFER grant."

The $3.1 million grant will cover all pay and benefits for the 13 newly hired firefighters during the operational period. This is projected to cover the current staffing deficit within the department, one of many issues the city has tried to resolve regarding its first-responder teams.

This also includes plans to build a new fire hall at Duplex and Buckner Road in conjunction with the I-65 interchange, as well as continued efforts to supply efficient equipment, trucks and other personnel to improve operations.


Sgt. Dalton, Employee of the Month (WKOM Audio 2:00)

Sgt. Jennifer Dalton of the Columbia Police Department has been named the City Employee of the month. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy caught up to Sgt. Dalton and spoke to her about what she does best…


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

Mrs. Frankie Albright Church, 85, died Sunday, October 15, 2023, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Funeral services for Mrs. Church will be conducted Friday, October 20, 2023 at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in St. John’s Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Thursday, October 19, 2023 from 5:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.

Mrs. Martha Kinzer Lord, 81, passed away October 12, 2023 after a long illness. A memorial service for Mrs. Lord will be conducted Sunday, October 22, 2023 at 3:00 P.M at Williamsport United Methodist Church. Burial will follow in Williamsport Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Sunday from 2:00 P.M. until the time of service at the Church. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.


…And now, news from around the state…

Tennessee Congressmen Call for Aggressive Action (TheNewsTN)

Tennessee elected officials are calling for ending humanitarian aid for Palestinians and barring Palestinian refugees from the United States as Israel prepares for ground invasion into Gaza.

The statements from U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Rep. Andy Ogles came just one week after the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel killed approximately 1,400 people, as well as wounding thousands more and resulting in the kidnapping of more than 100 people who were taken into Gaza.

American citizens are among the dead, wounded and kidnapped, and President Joe Biden pledged "critical assets" to Israel in the form of military aid and increased U.S. military presence, calling the attack "pure unadulterated evil."

As first reported by Breitbart, Ogles and Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) introduced the  “Guaranteeing Aggressors Zero Admission Act” or "GAZA Act" which would prevent anyone with a Palestinian Authority passport from being issued a visa and would prevent Palestinians from entering the U.S. through a humanitarian parole system, which allows for the resettlement of refugees.

"At a time when the threat of terrorism is not only grotesquely on display but being encouraged and justified, it is critical that we do our best to ensure the security of our nation,” Ogles told Breitbart.

The FBI is warning of increased threats of terrorism in the U.S., especially threats against both Jewish and Muslim communities. 

Republicans have used this threat to increase their criticism of Biden's immigration and national security policies at the U.S.-Mexico border, with Blackburn saying that "an attack on our own soil isn't a matter of if, it's a matter of when."

On Saturday, a 71-year-old Illinois man was charged with committing a hate crime after police said that he fatally stabbed a 6-year-old boy and wounded the boy's mother because they are Muslims.

Terrorism is believed to be a motive in several recent attacks around the world, including the shooting death of two people in Brussels and the stabbing death of a teacher in France.

Blackburn has led calls for the United States to "permanently freeze" $6 billion in Iranian money which had been frozen in a South Korean bank and became part of the negotiations in a prisoner swap that was completed between the U.S. and Iran in September.

According to NBC News, the Biden administration is "reserving the option to halt" the access to the money, with Reuters reporting that an unnamed U.S. official said that "Iran will not be able to access the funds for the foreseeable future."

"It is perplexing why this administration refuses to issue a formal decision to freeze the $6 billion," Blackburn said in a Tuesday news conference.

Fellow U.S. Sen. Bill Hagerty joined 23 other senators in introducing the "Revoke Iranian Funding Act" to permanently block Iran from accessing the money.

“Money is fungible, so Congress must do everything it can to deny all funds to the Iranian regime, which provides money, arms, and technology to the Hamas terrorists,” Hagerty said in part.

“The USA should not be placing conditions on our support for Israel because of demands from the squad," Blackburn said, referring to progressive lawmakers who are calling for an “immediate deescalation and cease-fire in Israel and occupied Palestine” and for the Biden administration to prioritize sending humanitarian aid to Gaza.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Comedian Pete Davidson will perform at The Ryman on December 29th at 7 pm.

Tickets for Davidson’s comedy show will go on sale on October 18th at 10 am.

Davidson shot his first one-hour stand-up special for Comedy Central in 2016 and was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 the same year. In 2020, he released the stand-up special “Pete Davidson: Alive From New York.” Davidson was listed as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2022. He was also a cast member of Saturday Night Live from 2014 until 2022.

Find tickets at www.ryman.com.


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