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Southern Middle Tennessee Today News for September 29, 2023


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


We start with local news…

Columbia Man Charged with Murder (CDH)

The man charged with killing a Columbia woman in a domestic dispute made his first appearance before Maury County General Sessions Judge Bobby Sands Wednesday via video conference call from the Maury County Jail.

On Sept. 12, Columbia police officers found Carole Anne Coleman, 48, deceased when they arrived on the scene at the 100 block of Woods Drive at approximately 10:30 p.m.

James Edward Davidson Jr., 59, was later charged with first degree murder and aggravated assault resulting in death, according to the warrants.

Warrants were served following Davidson's treatment at Vanderbilt Medical Center for several self-inflicted wounds, police previously said.

According to the Sept. 13 arrest warrant, Coleman, who is referred to as Davidson's "girlfriend" was struck "multiple times with a blunt force object causing severe head trauma," which resulted in death.

Coleman was once crowned Mule Day Queen in 1992, Miss Maury County and Fairest of the Fair in Maury County. Born in Nashville, Coleman was a graduate of Columbia Central High School, where she served as a class officer and entered Belmont University on a cheerleading scholarship as well as attended Middle Tennessee State University.

Davidson faced Sands by a video conference call Wednesday seated in a wheelchair, wearing an inmate uniform with orange and white stripes.

Sands explained he did not set bond due to the severity of the charges, citing that Davidson was on probation involving a previous domestic assault charge when the September incident occurred.

Davidson was appointed an attorney at the public defender's office in the 22nd District in Maury County.

After pleading guilty to a domestic assault charge in July, Davidson entered into a plea agreement of 11 months and 29 days suspended to probation, according to an Order signed by Sands on July 27. Though, bond conditions were "terminated per victim request," the Order said.

The case was set for review July 25, 2024.

"There is a lengthy history of domestic violence on file with the Columbia Police Department, involving Mr. Davidson and Ms. Coleman," a CPD media release said ahead of issuing the present charges.

The next court date is set for Oct. 11 at 1:30 p.m. in General Sessions Court to determine a preliminary hearing.


UAW Strike Update (Tennessean)

Today marks day 15 of the United Auto Workers union strike and even more auto plants could be joining the picket line today.

It has been an eventful week on the picket line. Both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump joined not the Detroit Three, but the striking workers on the picket line.

The visit may have bolstered union members and broke precedent, but it's probably not enough to get talks rolling as UAW President Shawn Fain is expected to announce the next round of walk-offs at plants in the U.S. on Friday. The question for Tennessee is, will it include Spring Hill?

The strike occurred after contract talks between the UAW and the Detroit Three automakers fell through. UAW called the strike when the deadline to make a new deal passed at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 14. Around 13,000 union members in Ohio, Missouri and Michigan walked off the job and picket lines soon began forming.

The three plants were a start. If contract negotiations aren't settled more plants could be called to join the "Stand up Strike".

"Instead of striking all plants at once, select locals will be called on to 'Stand up' and walk out on strike," the union said on its website.

Workers at the Spring Hill plant are still at work but are waiting for the call to join their fellow union members on the picket line.

On Sept. 22, Fain called for 38 GM and Stellantis parts distribution plants across the country to join the strike, but Spring Hill was not among those. Fain addressed tens of thousands of people that morning on a Facebook Live and Youtube broadcast. Ford, he said, made positive efforts at the negotiating table, but Stellantis and GM continued to play hardball.

Fain called on all parts distribution facilities — 38 factories between GM and Stellantis — to walk out, including one in Memphis that employs about 200 employees.

The Spring Hill plant is the largest in North America at 11 million square feet and employs about 3,700 employees working under an expired contract. Of those employees, more than 3,000 are United Auto Workers members.

This isn't the first time that Spring Hill workers could potentially be called to strike. In September 2019, the UAW called a strike on GM plants after negotiations between the two fell through. At that time all of the workers at the plant went on strike.

For the first time in history − as far as anyone remembers − a sitting Democratic president, Biden, joined striking workers on a Wayne County, Michigan picket line on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday night, a former Republican president, Trump, came to Detroit, not to urge striking UAW members to reach a deal and get back to work but to demand that auto companies − and the Biden administration − back off a transition to electric vehicles as being too disruptive to workers' lives.

The "Stand Up Strike," as union leaders have called it, is set to potentially become one of the largest in the industry's history. So far, around 18,300 workers across 21 states have joined the picket line and more are on the way as a deal has yet to be struck between the union and General Motors, Ford and Stellanis ( Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat brands).

The "Stand up Strike" has now been going on for two weeks and it is set to grow once more on Friday.

With the addition of more union workers walking out, this has the potential to be one of the largest strikes in U.S. history.

To add to the strike, General Motors and Stellantis announced layoffs that the automotive giants blamed on damage from the UAW strike. The layoffs started in Kansas, Ohio and Indiana.


TennPin Alley Opening (WKOM Audio 2:53)

Yesterday, TennPin Alley in Columbia hosted an event called “Taste of the Holidays” and announced some new attractions that are due to open this fall. Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy paid a visit to TennPinn Alley and spoke to owner Derek Ransom and Stephanie Hurst, events coordinator…


Tanya Tucker at Mulehouse (MSM)

The third annual Kiss Breast Cancer Goodbye event will take place on Sunday, Oct. 1, at The Mulehouse with country music legend Tanya Tucker headlining the show. 

Guests are encouraged to come decked out in their pink, denim and diamonds – an homage to the event’s first headlining act, Dolly Parton. 

The event has raised more than $100,000 in each of its first two years through the silent and live auction events. Money raised from those auctions will benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s efforts to treat and cure breast cancer.

Auction items up for grabs this year include a signed guitar and baked goods from Dolly Parton, as well as vacation packages, spa packages and other memorabilia. 

“When we came up with this idea, we really just wanted to do something small, but it’s taken on a life of its own,” event co-chair Tara Joseph said. “Because we have two co-chairs who are breast cancer survivors and thrivers, it was so important to do something that was going to become larger than we thought. Breast cancer impacts everyone.”

One of the event’s co-chairs, Amy Fish, was the inspiration behind the song “Pink” which was recorded by Dolly Parton, Monica, Jordin Sparks, Rita Wilson and Sara Evans. The song was written by Erin Kinsey, Jodi Marr and Victoria Shaw.

Almost 250,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the country, and this event is a culmination of an idea to bring people together with a purpose and to heal through music.

“We want people to come together who have been impacted. We want them to feel the healing inside the room. It’s very much a family-like atmosphere and bringing in the music – it brings everyone together,” Joseph said. “When you have a room full of people who are going through what you’re going through and know you’re not alone – it’s powerful.”

Tickets are sold out to the event currently, but a waiting list is available at kissbreastcancergoodbye.org.


Walls Charged in Civil Rights Case (CDH)

Santa Fe man Daniel Lane Walls, 38, waived his right to a preliminary hearing during his second appearance in Maury County General Sessions Court, after being charged with multiple civil rights violations.

Walls was charged in July for allegedly placing racially charged flyers on the marquees of three predominantly Black churches in Columbia as well as businesses.

Maury County General Sessions Court Judge Bobby Sands presided over the session with Travis B. Jones Public Defender, 22nd District, representing Walls.

Walls met with Jones in a separate meeting room before facing Sands in his decision to waive the preliminary hearing.

The charges will now be heard by a grand jury, which will determine probable cause and whether to indict Walls.

During his first court appearance on Aug. 14 in General Sessions Court, Walls plead not guilty.

Walls faces four counts of Civil Rights Intimidation under Tennessee Code Annotated TCA 39-17-309, in addition to the charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and vandalism.

He was arrested in Spring Hill at his former workplace on July 13 a few days after a pastor at Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church was alerted to the flyer at the church, peppered with racial and ethnic slurs with the additional message of "Be Warned."

On July 12, community members, county and city elected officials, state representatives and Columbia Police Chief Jeremy Alsup attended a prayer service at the church to address the issue and perceived threats in the predominantly black neighborhood.

The flyers were also placed at surrounding businesses, including the Muletown Pizza food truck parked off James Campbell Boulevard in Columbia. A nearby surveillance camera captured footage, showing a male placing the flyer on the food truck while a white car awaited, released by the Columbia Police Department on social media when searching for those responsible.

A 17 year old was also previously arrested related to the incident, though information has not been released due to the person being a minor.

Bond was previously set at $43,000, which was posted by Walls' first court appearance last month.

The next court date is set for Oct. 11.


Legal Aid Society Ribbon Cutting (WKOM Audio 2:00)

Yesterday, the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands opened their new location on Hatcher Lane in Columbia. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy attended the grand opening and spoke to managing attorney Patricia Jones to learn about the services offered there…


Athenaeum Tour (Press Release)

The Athenaeum, one of Columbia’s premier historic sites, will be hosting a Candlelight Tour on Sept. 30 at the Athenaeum, located at 808 Athenaeum St. from 7-9. Tours will begin approximately every 20-30 minutes.  The cost is $5 per person. Come learn the Mourning Traditions of the Antebellum South. All proceeds from the tour will benefit the Athenaeum. For more information, call Phyllis Moore at 931-446-0539 or email mybusylife.pm@gmail.com 


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

Mrs. Mary Lee Freeman Blair, 85, retired teacher of Columbia, died Tuesday at Life Care Center of Columbia. Funeral services for Mrs. Blair will be conducted Saturday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes and Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Friday, September 29, 2023 from 5:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.


Mrs. Catherine Lemay Lindsey, 88, homemaker, died Tuesday at her residence in Mt. Pleasant. Funeral services for Mrs. Lindsey will be conducted Saturday at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Arlington Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Friday from 4:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home.


Mrs. Helga Wieland O’Field, 86, retired employee of Innercity Products, died Wednesday at her residence in Columbia. A graveside services for Mrs. O’Field will be conducted Sunday at 2:00 P.M. at Rose Hill Cemetery. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.


Mr. Charles Douglas “Doug” Dugger, 80, retired inspector for Heil-Quaker and resident of Lynnville, died Tuesday at Maury Regional Medical Center. Funeral services will be conducted Sunday at 2:30 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Friendship Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 5:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. and Sunday from 1:30 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.


…And now, news from around the state…

Governor Open to Rejecting Federal Money (Tennessean)

Gov. Bill Lee denounced the federal government’s “excessive overreach” while expressing support for legislative leadership’s move to explore rejecting $1.8 billion a year in federal education funding. 

House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, appointed a 10-member working group this week to review how federal education funding is used, and recommend a strategy for how to reject the funding before the legislature returns in January. 

“I’ll be very interested in whatever options they come up with,” Lee told reporters on Wednesday. “I think what the state has to do is look at what is the best way to spend taxpayer dollars. Not just in the short term, but in the long term.”

Federal education funding that Tennessee receives supports Title I, IDEA, and other federal programs which support low-income students, students with disabilities, and school lunch programs. 

“The federal government has had excessive overreach time and time again in the last few years, and that's what prompts states like ours to look at any number of ways that we can more effectively make decisions for Tennesseans – out of the control of the federal government,” Lee said, speaking after a groundbreaking event in Nashville on Wednesday.

The governor did not name any specific restrictions tied to federal education funding that he would like to see eliminated. Instead, Lee repeatedly emphasized that the panel was appointed by Republican leaders in the legislature – and has not yet made any recommendations. 

Rejecting federal funding would require a vote from the legislature, and support from the governor. With a Republican supermajority controlling the legislature, rejecting all or part of the $1.8 billion is a real possibility. 

Sexton has said that if the state does reject federal funding, the state will pick up the cost of funding the programs currently funded by federal dollars. 

Democrats have argued that such a move would require taxpayers to pay twice for Tennessee’s public education system – once through state taxes, and again federal taxes, which they would never benefit from. 


Gas Prices (MSM)

Gas prices have once again reversed course across the state and are now moving less expensive. On average, gas prices in Tennessee fell six cents over last week. The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.37 which is seven cents less expensive than one month ago but 19 cents more than one year ago.  

“Falling gas prices is typically what we see this time of year, as the end of the summer driving season usually results in lower gasoline demand,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “This year, the gradual seasonal decline in pump prices is being slowed by elevated oil costs that have been hovering around $90 per barrel.”

Quick Facts

22% of Tennessee gas stations have prices below $3.25 

The lowest 10% of pump prices are $3.13 for regular unleaded 

The highest 10% of pump prices are $3.73 for regular unleaded

Tennessee is the 6th least expensive market in the nation


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Columbia Main Street and the Kiwanis Club of Columbia are excited to announce the first annual Fall Fest, a community festival happening in the heart of downtown Columbia on Saturday, September 30th from 3pm to 7pm.

 The event will feature a variety of activities and attractions, including:

The Kiwanis Chili Cook-off where guests can pay $10 to sample chili from competing teams & vote for their favorite;

Food trucks: Mostarda Catering, Hot Dog Mafia, Loco Lemon, Holy Smoke BBQ, D's Kettle Corn, and Bri's Homemade Ice Cream;

A fun zone with games and activities for kids of all ages;

Live music from Majestic - a Journey tribute band, Classic Vinyl, and Chief Smiley Ricks & the C-Town Special;

A craft marketplace featuring over 40 vendors selling candles, hats, jewelry, plants, clothing, desserts, and more.

 

"We are excited to partner with the Kiwanis Club to bring Fall Fest to downtown Columbia," said Kelli Johnson, Columbia Main Street Manager. "This is a family-friendly festival with everything from food trucks and craft vendors to live music and the Kiwanis chili cook-off. What a great way for families to kick off the fall season and celebrate the community. We hope to see everyone there!"

 Admission is free for Fall Fest and all are welcome to attend, while a fee is charged to participate in the Kiwanis Chili Cook-off. For more information, please visit the Columbia Main Street’s website www.ColumbiaMainStreet.com or the Kiwanis Club of Columbia Facebook page www.facebook.com/kiwanisofcolumbiatn.

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