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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for October 4, 2023

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

We start with local news…

Strike Update (NewsChannel5)

It's technically still business as usual at the GM Plant in Spring Hill, even if it doesn't feel that way.

"There’s a lot of discussions that’s happening up north in the negotiations and really that’s where that focus needs to be," said Anton Busuttil, Plant Manager of the Spring Hill plant.

The United Autoworkers have been striking at select Big Three Automaker plants for the last three weeks. As a part of their strategy, they've kept everyone in the dark about which plants are next — including their own workers.

"It’s tense every Friday, right? Because we just don’t know what’s going to happen," said John Rutherford, the UAW Local 1853 President, during an interview last week.

Rutherford says even though Spring Hill hasn't been invited to the picket line yet, they stand willing and able.

"We’re not in the business to bankrupt the company. If they’re not making money, we’re not making money right? So times are very well, very good after bankruptcy. It looks like a much brighter future so we’re trying to get back some of what we lost," he said.

Of course, Busuttil argues that GM has already offered up a good deal to UAW.

"We’ve put out our most generous offer we’ve ever put out for the UAW, and what’s on the table right now are historic wage gains, job security focus, maintaining the great healthcare that we provide for our employees," said Busuttil. "Quite honestly, if we don’t reinvest in the company, we won’t have the future that we would all desire."

Whether or not Spring hill is selected to strike next, the plant could still eventually send workers home. As UAW grows the strike, if Spring Hill's part manufacturers are taken offline, GM may be forced to furlough workers in the mid-state.

"There’s some work stoppages — that would be inevitable that we would have to stop production," said Busuttil.

Perhaps the one thing both respective leaders can agree on is that they're longing for the day they can truly get back to business as usual.

"If we were called upon to have a strike, we would have to pause operations," said Busuttil.

"We don’t want to strike, but if we have to, we have to," said Rutherford.

Charter School Commish Recommends Denial (MSM)

Tennessee Public Charter School Commission Executive Director Tess Stovall has recommended the upholding of the Maury County Board of Education’s decision to deny the application of American Classical Academy Maury’s (ACAM) application to the full commission.

The commission is set to vote later this week on five appeals across the state.

“Based on the procedural history, findings of fact, analysis, and Review Committee Report, attached hereto, I believe that the decision to deny the American Classical Academy Maury (ACAM) amended application was not contrary to the best interests of the students, the LEA, or the community,” Stovall wrote in her recommendation letter. “Therefore, I recommend that the Commission uphold the decision of MCPS Board of Education to deny the amended application for American Classical Academy Maury.”

Stovall cited the lack of a designated community for the proposed school, though not required, as a factor in her decision.

“Identifying a proposed area will greatly inform outreach, recruitment, and enrollment plans. Since filing a letter of intent in December 2022, the sponsor has had time to identify a community within Maury County where it plans to locate,” she wrote. “Without a targeted community, there is little verifiable evidence of community need/demand, parent interest, facility planning and timeline, and demographic projections.”

She also cited the lack of a school leader as another issue. Again, while not required for an application, not identifying a leader for the school concerned Stovall about who would be responsible for the success of the school, as the implementation of the proposed model will hinge on the right leader.

A review committee among the commission also commenced to independently evaluate the application, which showed ACAM met some, but not all, of the criteria necessary for approval, and is also recommending denial of the appeal.

“The review committee recommends denial of the application for American Classical Academy Maury because while the Financial Plan and Capacity met the standard, the applicant failed to provide sufficient evidence in the academic and operational sections to demonstrate the application meets the required criteria of the rubric,” the report reads.

During the initial process, the Maury County board voted 6-5 to deny the application.

“This has been something that’s a divisive issue across our state and across our nation and here we were thrown together, basically 11 strangers from different ways of thinking to pull this together and determine what’s best for the students of Maury County,” Chairman Michael Fulbright said at the time.

In the July 27, 2023, resolution signed by Fulbright, a letter containing specific reasons for denial, which cited a finding of a substantial negative fiscal impact to Maury County Public Schools, according to the report’s findings of fact.

The report noted, however, the board did not discuss any financial impact during deliberations and it was not part of the final resolution passed by the board.

“Since substantial negative fiscal impact was a part of the resolution submitted by Maury County in the appeal, the Commission analyzed the fiscal impact in alignment with the Commission’s charge in statute,” Stovall wrote. “However, moving forward, I urge local boards of education that cite substantial negative fiscal impact as a reason for denial to have a robust discussion by the board with clear information supporting this reasoning, so it is clear to all parties involved the basis for this reason.”

Stovall concluded that while she appreciates the passion of ACAM and the Maury County residents who wrote several letters in support of the application, the school was not ready for approval.

“Any authorized public charter school is entrusted with the great responsibility of educating students and a significant amount of public funds. For these reasons, the Commission expects that only those schools that have demonstrated a high likelihood of success and meet or exceed the required criteria in all areas will be authorized,” she wrote. “Overall, the sponsor has several significant gaps within its proposed plan that it must address before it is ready for approval.”

Court Date Set for Armed School Responder (MSM)

A court date has been set for the terminated firefighter who allegedly responded to an active shooter hoax at Columbia Central High School on May 3 armed with an AR-15.

Roy Brooks, who was terminated from Columbia Fire and Rescue last year, was indicted by a grand jury on Aug. 25 on the charge of carrying a weapon on school property. He was booked into the Maury County Sheriff’s Office and released the same day on a $10,000 bond.

Brooks is now scheduled to appear before a judge at the Maury County Circuit Court on Nov. 8, where he will enter a plea or the case will be set for trial.

According to Tennessee Code 39-17-1309, carrying a weapon on school grounds, or any other property owned and operated by any board of education or school, is a Class E felony.

According to state law, the penalty for carrying weapons on school property is a maximum of six years imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $3,000.

Fall Fest Recap (CDH)

The holiday season officially began over the weekend as citizens gathered, shopped, ate and even soaked a few local officials at the first ever Columbia Fall Fest.

The inaugural festival drew thousands of visitors, all taking part in celebrating the start of the fall season in a brand new way, and one that will roll over into the year's final months of Columbia events. This includes October's Haunting in the District, Thanksgiving in November, as well as a slew of Christmas events like the Columbia Main Street Christmas Parade and tree lighting.

Fall Fest was a collaboration between Columbia Main Street and Columbia Kiwanis, who hosted its annual Chili Cook-off in conjunction with the main event, which also included live music at the Maury County Courthouse, food trucks, a kids zone and artisan vendor market with more than 40 participants.

"We couldn't have asked for a better turnout with this being the first one," Columbia Main Street Director Kelli Johnson said. "As many residents as I've seen, there have also been a lot of out of town visitors too. Everyone came together and made it all happen, whether it was the police department, Parks and Rec, Kiwanis, the city, everyone deserves a big 'Thank you.' I couldn't have asked for a better event."

Another highlight of the festival was a dunk tank, which also raised money for local nonprofits. Mayor Chaz Molder, one of the tank's participants, said his time in the "wet seat" raised $500 for Maury County Students in Transition.

"It's not an easy thing to put on a festival, and the hardest year is always year one," Molder said. "They pulled it off, and the Main Street board has so many hard workers, and then the Kiwanis Club having that vision to combine it with the chili cook-off, which turned out to be one of the best years it's ever had. Just a huge win-win for our community."

Vice Mayor Randy McBroom described the event as a "big win" for Columbia in regard to offering another fun, not to mention, free thing for citizens to take part in, and he hopes it'll continue to grow year after year. McBroom also said he couldn't pass up the opportunity to see other elected officials take part in the dunk tank.

"It's been really great seeing all these people here," McBroom said. "This is really awesome, seeing people having a good time, and there's a lot of new faces I've not seen before. I also made sure to get here in time so I can see Chaz Molder get dunked, which he did plenty of times. Everyone's just having so much fun, and the chili cook-off was a success, and some people were running out of chili within the first hour."

Johnson added that the event was not only a big success for the city, but for local tourism and spreading the message to others that Columbia is a small town worth checking out, whether it's to shop, eat or plant roots.

"I don't know half the people who came here, and I love that," Johnson said. "That just shows that we are a growing community. I've gotten all good feedback, and everyone seems to want to have another Fall Fest, and so we'll just make it better for next year. Overall, it's been great."

Kiwanis Chair Suzanne Ganser agreed, saying this was not only a great partnership between Columbia Main Street and Kiwanis, but everybody who had a hand in making Fall Fest a success during its first year.

"Fall Fest is the newest addition to Columbia’s line up of local downtown events," Ganser said. "The event was a big success with a huge turnout from the community who really enjoyed having a fall celebration on the square. The music was excellent, the chili cook-off competitor’s made excellent chili, and some of our local’s got dunked in the dunk tank, including the mayors of Mount Pleasant and Columbia. We look forward to being bigger and better next year."

Choral Church Concert (Press Release)

The choirs of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and the University of Tennessee Southern will join for an evening performance of Choral Evensong on Sunday, October 8th, at 7:00pm in the St. Peter’s sanctuary located at 311 West 7th Street in downtown Columbia, next door to the President James K. Polk Home and Museum.

This event is a sung evening prayer service steeped in the Anglican tradition. Worshipers are invited to participate in singing hymns and responses from The Hymnal 1982. Choral works include "Magnificat in C Minor" by George Dyson, "Nunc Dimittis" by Paul Smith, and "Ubi Caritas" by Ola Gjeilo.

The choirs are led by UT Southern choir director Dr. Andrew Martin and St. Peter’s choir director Dr. Peter Douglas. “This event will feature the full evening prayer service from the Book of Common Prayer,” said Dr. Douglas. “Most elements will be sung including the canticles between readings.”

“The performances of “Nunc Dimittis” and “Ubi Caritas” both provide an intriguing mix of old and new,” said Dr. Martin. “Paul Smith’s setting of “Nunc Dimittis” explores the use of expressive dissonance. Scandinavian composer Ola Gjeilo's “Ubi Caritas” places a melody that, while newly-composed, features many of the hallmarks of Gregorian chant into a modern harmonic context for modern audiences.”

This event is free and open to the public with no tickets required.

Women in Ag Conference (Press Release)

The South Central Extension Team will be hosting a Women in Ag Conference on October 14 at the Middle Tennessee Research and Education Center in Spring Hill, TN. The event will feature livestock and horticulture tracts as well as several general sessions. A catered meal will be provided to those who register by October 5th.

The fee for the conference is $30. If there is an issue with payment or someone would like to pay in person, please contact Amanda Mathenia at the Perry County Extension Office, or Direct Dial (931) 589-6785

Registration Link:

Local Cemetery in Financial Trouble (CDH)

The Rose Hill Cemetery Association is currently facing funding woes, which could become an issue in 2024.

The association met this week to discuss its annual expenses and is now seeking donations to fund its annual mowing and trimming budget.

Founded in 1853, Rose Hill is Columbia's largest cemetery, with an estimated 13,000 graves, including multiple soldiers ranging from Private to Brigadier General, political leaders, as well as Maury County's only Medal of Honor recipient John Harlan Willis.

Association President Kayla Southern said that the current Rose Hill mowing contract is due to expire in October with approximately 10% of the needed budget remaining for next year.

"Next year’s budget is projected at $86,000. Mowing and trimming the cemetery is the bulk of the projected budget. To mow and maintain the 40 acres of Rose Hill Cemetery, the association pays roughly $80,000 annually," Southern said in a press release. “Unless we raise $80,000 between now and February 2024, we will not be able to sign the mowing contract in good faith."

Rose Hill is also a popular site for annual tours, including an upcoming paranormal investigation Oct. 22 and historical tour Oct. 29.

“This is where Columbia’s history rests and we are charged with protecting it,” Southern said. “Not only that, but we realize this is the final resting place for loved ones. All of the trustees have family members in Rose Hill, and we want the cemetery to be mowed and cared for as much as anyone else."

Rose Hill sponsorships will be broken into multiple blocks, each with an $8,000 tax deductible donation. Sponsor names will also be featured on a 12"x12" sign on display at the cemetery.

For more information, visit or call (931) 797-3316.

Schools in Need of Staff (Press Release)

Although they are in a much better position in terms of staffing than the last two years, Maury County Schools are still looking to fill a number of positions. They are in need of teachers…especially math and special education teachers, school nutrition associates, and bus drivers. Want to be a bus driver, but don’t have your CDL? No problem! Training will be provided. For more information on job openings and how to apply, visit

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

Gary Wayne Poe, 73, musician, entertainer, and resident of Columbia, died Saturday, September 30, 2023, at Maury Regional Medical Center.


Funeral services will be conducted Friday at 3:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Reverend Jeff Kane officiating. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 5:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. and Friday from 2:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Alvin Moore, 94, passed away on September 29, 2023, at his home in Columbia, Tennessee, surrounded by his family. Mr. Moore was a long-time employee of Tennessee Farm Bureau

A memorial service will be conducted Saturday, October 21, 2023, at 2:00 P.M. at First United Methodist Church with Reverend Tommy Vann and Reverend Frank Smith officiating. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the church. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

…And now, news from around the state…

McCarthy Voted Out of Speakership (Tennessean)

Tennessee U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett of Knoxville, was one of eight Republicans who voted to oust U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy from the speakership on Tuesday in a dramatic showdown after McCarthy brokered a stop-gap spending measure to avoid a federal government shutdown over the weekend.

After McCarthy negotiated a continuing resolution to fund the federal government sending no new aid to Ukraine — which passed with support from Democrats late Saturday — U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, called to oust McCarthy from the speaker's post.

McCarthy was voted out of the speakership 216 to 210 on Tuesday. It is the first time a Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives has been ousted by such a resolution.

The vote to retain or remove McCarthy as speaker needed only a simple majority to succeed. As Republicans hold a narrow majority, only five Republicans needed to join Democrats to remove McCarthy from the third most powerful position in the American government.

Gaetz has been an outspoken critic of McCarthy, leading a cabal of conservative Republicans — of which U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Columbia, is also a part — who have been a thorn in McCarthy's side since negotiations over House rules ahead of contentious speakership elections in January.

Burchett announced his intentions to vote to boot McCarthy during an appearance on CNN late Monday, and reiterated that view in social media posts Tuesday morning.

"We failed to do our job and pass a budget and then passed a temporary spending bill to extend the deadline like we do every year," Burchett wrote in a statement released on social media. "It's a tough decision, but I'm poised to vote for the motion to vacate because we are $33 trillion dollars in debt. We either need to change our direction or change our leadership."

Burchett cited McCarthy's failure to pass the 12 required appropriations bills before the end of the fiscal year.

"Kevin is a friend, but I worry about losing our country, in all sincerity. We're rapidly approaching that point," Burchett said in a video posted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. "We are going to face financial ruin right now."

"I talked to Kevin last week. The last thing he said was 'I really want to be speaker.' Folks, it's got to be more than that. We've got to save our country," he added.

When asked who should replace McCarthy as speaker during an interview late Monday on CNN, Burchett said conservative firebrand Rep. Chip Roy, of Texas, would "be a wise choice."

Meanwhile, Ogles openly considered voting to oust McCarthy in social media posts on Tuesday, but did not commit either way before the vote. He ultimately voted in support of McCarthy.

“Right now, we are in the middle of a battle to get the government funded. I fear vacating the Speaker would be premature and risk another bloated CR in November,” Ogles said in a statement Tuesday explaining his vote. “I share the frustrations and disappointment surrounding McCarthy’s leadership. However, I cannot, in good conscience, act rashly and without proper consideration of the consequences.”

Ogles floated a list of names for potential successors to McCarthy on social media prior to the vote, including former President Donald Trump. The U.S. Constitution does not require the Speaker of the House to be an elected member of the House of Representatives.

MLB in Nashville…Pros say yes (Tennessean)

Chris Sabo doesn't remember much about the way Nashville used to be, back in the late 1980s and early '90s when he played minor league ball for the Sounds.

"I didn't do much when I was in Nashville; I didn't have any money so I didn't go anywhere," Sabo said. "I just went from my little apartment to Greer Stadium and that was about it."

But Sabo, the 1988 National League rookie of the year and member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, has seen what Nashville has become today with its economic and population growth over the last decade and believes it would be a good fit for a Major League expansion franchise.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has talked about expanding the MLB to 32 teams and listed Nashville as a possible destination.

Sabo, in town Sunday for the Music City Sports Card, Collectibles and Autograph Show, pointed out several reasons he likes the idea of Nashville getting an MLB team.

"It's a growing city, obviously a lot bigger than when I played here almost 36 years ago, and I'm sure they've got a bigger and better stadium than Greer Stadium was," Sabo said. "As long as you have a good stadium or plan to build a good stadium, you're on your way. They've got an NFL and NHL team already here, so yeah, it would be a good place for a team."

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

And here it grows again.

After another night of no winning Powerball ticket for the jackpot, it has ballooned to an estimated $1.20 billion after Monday night's drawing, according to The estimated cash value for a pot this size? $551.7 million.

This Powerball jackpot has now climbed to the third-highest jackpot in the game's history and ranks among the top 10 payouts in lottery history. This is also now the fourth lottery jackpot to hit more than $1 billion in 2023.

The last Powerball jackpot winner was in July and hit for $1.08 billion.

The next drawing for the Powerball jackpot is Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 9:59 local time.


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