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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for October 23, 2023


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


We start with local news…

Chief Cobb Calls For Internal Investigation (MSM)

According to emails obtained by Main Street Maury, Columbia Fire Chief Ty Cobb has requested an internal investigation into the city’s response to the May 3, 2023, Central High School shooting hoax, during which an alleged unauthorized individual responded to the scene carrying an AR-15 rifle in full tactical gear.

“The safety of my employees and the people of Columbia is my top priority,” the email from Cobb reads.

Cobb declined to comment, citing the investigation.

As previously reported, former Columbia firefighter Roy Brooks, who was terminated last year by the city, was indicted by a grand jury in August on the charge of carrying a weapon on school property. He was booked into the Maury County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 25 on a $10,000 bond and released that day.

Cobb’s concern for the safety of his employees may stem from two separate incidents allegedly involving Brooks and Columbia Fire Department employees. 

Both employees spoke with the Columbia Police Department about each alleged incident, but police reports could not be obtained through a public records request and no evidence exists that reports were filed.

According to a dispatch report made in July 2023, an employee reported a “traffic incident” to police involving Brooks. 

The report states the employee was leaving a friend’s residence off of Nashville Highway when a driver, alleged by the employee to be Brooks, “crossed over all lanes of traffic to turn next to him, causing people to go around the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle then made multiple hand gestures.” 

Columbia police responded to the scene of the incident and obtained surveillance footage showing the incident, but while the employee did not pursue charges, there is no evidence any traffic citation or other charges were filed. 

In April 2023, a similar incident was reported by a different city employee, which was recorded on video. According to the dispatch report’s narrative, the employee was traveling home in his vehicle when he observed Brooks.

According to the report, “As he was on his way home, (employee) observed former CFR employee Roy Brooks drive past him and flip him off. He pulled behind Brooks and was going home. Brooks continued down the same road then slowly drove by the residence,” the dispatch report reads. “He continued down the road as (employee) pulled into his driveway. (Employee) felt Brooks may have become angry when seeing (employee) and went by (employee)’s residence to intimidate him. (Employee) did not feel anything would come from the incident, but he did want it documented in the event something occurred.”

The employee reportedly told police he was unsure if any laws were broken during the incident but wanted to document the event. 

Main Street Maury has also requested Columbia Police Chief Jeremy Alsup’s emails pertaining to the May 3 incident. However, no such emails from Alsup were provided. 

Both Alsup and City Attorney Tim Tisher declined to comment, citing the federal lawsuit Brooks filed against the city in May.

Brooks is scheduled to make his first court appearance on the weapons charge on Nov. 8.


Wounded Warriors Ride (WKOM Audio 4:14)

This past weekend, the 16th Annual Wounded Warriors Ride took place at the Water Valley Community Center. Front Porch Radio’s Mary Susan Kennedy spoke to Mr. Billy Joe Morton to learn more about the Wounded Warriors Project and what they do in the community, as well as with Blackhawk helicopter pilots who also attended the event…



New Upscale Residential Moves Forward (Fox17.com)

A six-story residential building with 4,000 square feet of commercial retail space is in the works for downtown Columbia.

The Drake, which has already been approved by the City of Columbia, will be nestled on 2.78 acres one block east of the historic downtown square. The structure will go up at the corner of Woodland Street and East 7th Street.

Bristol Development Group plans to build 293 luxury apartments inside The Drake. Each unit will be equipped with balconies, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, and more. Residents will have access to a yoga studio, podcast studio, pet spa and urban dog park, pool, fitness center, co-working space that features locally sourced coffee, bike storage, and 24/7 package delivery.

In addition to housing, The Drake will offer commercial space for bakeries, coffee and sandwich shops, and similar stores.

“Since the neighboring Williamson County strictly regulates residential growth through substantial impact fees and increasingly restrictive zoning policies, it is inevitable that any new development would find its way into Maury County and the city of Columbia, in particular,” Bristol Development said.

“The key ingredient currently absent from downtown Columbia is an upscale multifamily residential development to provide luxury accommodations in this thoroughly charming historic setting.” -Bristol Development Group

Construction for The Drake is set to begin later this year or early 2024. It's estimated to take around 30 months to complete.


MRMC Pill Disposal (Press Release)

Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC) will again offer an opportunity to dispose of expired, unused or unneeded prescription drugs. The drug take-back event allows community members to dispose safely and anonymously.

The free drug take-back event will be held in front of the MRMC Medical Office Building at 1222 Trotwood Ave. in Columbia on Saturday, October 28, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

The event, which will feature a convenient drive-through disposal process, will be staffed by members of the MRMC security team. Staff members will receive items from drivers in their vehicles. The service is free and anonymous with no information required.

“We are pleased to offer our community members a convenient, anonymous way to safely dispose of unneeded medications,” MRMC Security Director Michael Johnson said. “We highly encourage all residents to take advantage of this opportunity to dispose medications.”

For multiple safety and health precautions, safely disposing of unused medications is extremely important. Medication should not be flushed down a toilet or tossed in the trash. In addition, medicines that are kept in home cabinets are susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that most misused and abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including medications taken from home medicine cabinets.

Only medications in pill or patch form should be brought to the upcoming event. The site cannot accept liquids, needles or sharps. Items should be in their original container, if possible.


Mental Mules Walk (WKOM Audio 3:50)

On Saturday, the Mental Mules held their annual 24 hour charity walk. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy caught up to the twelve walkers and spoke to them about their journey and what they hope to accomplish with the community.


Spring Hill Passport (Press Release)

On Monday, October 16, 2023, the Spring Hill Chamber launched its 2023 Think, Shop, Explore Local Passport presented by Groove Life, encouraging residents to explore the local community and its businesses through November 17, 2023.


Residents who collect at least 15 stickers from participating businesses will have a chance to win a grand prize featuring gifts from local businesses worth thousands of dollars.


"Empowering our community with a local passport program is not just about promoting business; it's about promoting community pride through local discovery," said Rebecca Melton, executive director of the Spring Hill Chamber of Commerce. "With the opportunity to win a generous grand prize from some of our local businesses, the passport program offers an exciting way for residents to explore the community's assets and make new connections."


Passports are available at all participating businesses and the Spring Hill Welcome Center located at 5326 Main Street, Suite G in Spring Hill. The Welcome Center will also serve as the official drop-off location for all completed passports. A list of business addresses, a map with directions, grand prize details, and passport rules can be found at springhillchamber.com/passport.


The local passport includes thirty-three stops, encompassing various local business types and community photo opportunities.


This year's community photo opportunities include Spring Hill Public Library, Walnut Street Skate Park, and Cannon Hill. Participants can take photos at these locations and share them on Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #SHPassport23 or complete the entire passport to earn extra entries in the grand prize drawing.


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

Mrs. Barbara Chunn Shackelford, 88, retired insurance agent with AFLAC and former resident of Lawrenceburg, died Friday, October 20, 2023, at Morning Pointe Assisted Living. Funeral services for Mrs. Shackelford will be conducted Tuesday, October 24, 2023, at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Monday, October 23, 2023, from 4:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M. at the funeral home.


Mr. Gary Ronald Willis, 71, retired owner of Columbia Construction and successful cattleman and farmer, died Tuesday, October 17, 2023, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Funeral services for Mr. Willis will be conducted Wednesday at 10:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Tuesday from 4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.


…And now, news from around the state…

Lawrence County Wild Fire (wsmv.com)

Lawrence County Fire and Rescue (LCFR) issued a burn ban and said there is an elevated fire risk, and residents should refrain from burning.

On Saturday afternoon, fire units responded to a grass and brush fire involving more than five acres.

LCFR said on Friday, the county had a near-catastrophic brush fire that destroyed over 100 acres of land.

The elevated fire risk is caused by the low humidity and windy conditions that are conducive to fire growth, LCFR said.


Police Still on Lookout for Police Shooter (Tennessean)

The La Vergne Police Department released the names of the two officers shot outside a Dollar General store on Saturday. The shooting occurred while the officers chased a suspected stolen vehicle.

The department on Sunday identified Officers Ashely Boleyjack and Gregory Kern.

Kern, who was shot in the right groin and right forearm, remains hospitalized but is in stable condition, a department spokesperson said. Boleyjack was shot in the left shoulder and released on Saturday.

Police continue to search for the suspect, identified by police as 38-year-old John C. Drake, Jr., who police have warned is armed and dangerous.

Nashville Police Chief John Drake said Saturday the suspect is his estranged son. The chief confirmed the news in a statement calling for his son's arrest.

"Despite my efforts and guidance in the early and teenage years, my son, John Drake Jr., now 38-years-old, resorted to years of criminal activity and is a convicted felon," Drake said in the statement. "He has not been a part of my life for quite some time.  He now needs to be found and held accountable for his actions today.  I hope that anyone who sees him or has information about him will contact law enforcement immediately.”

Mayor Freddie O'Connell quickly issued his own statement in support of the chief.

"My heart goes out to Chief Drake, his family, and the two wounded La Vergne police officers. I know that despite our best efforts — including in their early years — we can't be responsible for the choices of family members," O'Connell said. "I support Chief Drake and stand by him at this difficult time. He is the right Chief of Police for Nashville."

Police ask residents who see a man matching the suspect description to call police at 911 or the La Vergne Police Department at 615-793-7744.


Sumatran Tigers Born in Nashville Zoo (Tennessean)

A first-time mother is resting and tenderly nursing her three bouncing baby cubs this morning inside their specially designed enclosure inside Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.

The deliveries aren't just adorably cute. They carry global significance.

Anne, a 7-year-old Sumatran tiger, and her cubs are part of a critically endangered species decimated by deforestation and poaching. Less than 600 of the Indonesian island cats are believed to be alive.

Zoo officials are resolute in their mission to alter the course for these majestic animals — and the successful births are a momentous start.

But, for now, they're keeping their distance to avoid causing any undue stress.

Mammal Curator Cinammon Williams said she spent the night anxiously watching video monitors inside Anne's room to ensure the babies were born healthy and are well cared for.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Lainey Wilson announced she will be performing 35+ dates across North America on her headlining “Country’s Cool Again Tour” in 2024, kicking off the tour in Nashville at Ascend Amphitheater on May 31.

Already this year, Wilson has won four ACM Awards, two CMT Music Awards, three PCCA Awards, in addition to being honored as Billboard Women in Music’s 2023 “Rulebreaker,” and the most nominated artist at this year’s CMA Awards with a record breaking nine nominations.

Tickets will be available starting with the Wild Horses presale beginning Monday, October 23. Additional presales will run throughout the week ahead of the general on sale beginning Friday, October 27 at 10am local time at LaineyWilson.com.

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