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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 4-25-24

WKOM/WKRM Radio

Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for April 25, 2024

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

We start with local news…


Columbia’s Most Wanted (MauryCountySource)

The Columbia Police Department is actively trying to locate 33-year-old George Alex Bullock and 24-year-old Shermar Ethan-Arnale Davis.

Both have an active warrant for attempted 1st-degree murder.

Any information regarding the whereabouts of Bullock or Davis should notify the Columbia Police Department at 931-388-2727.

Local Candidate Denied Election Bid (MSM)

A Columbia doctor is disappointed but left with no options after being denied the opportunity to appear on the ballot in August’s Republican primary due to what he called “a clerical error” on his voting record.

Dr. Jim Grippo, a diagnostic radiology specialist and former board member at Maury Regional Medical Center, had announced earlier this year his intention to challenge incumbent State Senator Joey Hensley in the August primary. But Grippo was removed from the ballot by the Republican State Executive Committee after a challenge was made to his qualifications as a “bona fide” Republican.

“I went to the Tennessee Hospital Association’s Day on the Hill, and that was my first exposure to the variety of legislators. I left there a little disillusioned,” Grippo said of why he chose to enter politics. “I thought we needed some level of positive orientation in our legislature and I didn’t feel that when I was up there.

“It was something I thought about… I talked to others about running and one night said, ‘If it’s not going to be anyone else and I feel strongly enough, it’s going to be me.’ I pulled my (petition) and felt more American than I had in a long time, because I was exercising the process.”

However, officials with the Tennessee Republican Party removed Grippo from the ballot and did the same for a number of other candidates in federal and state races last week, citing challenges to the candidates’ status as “bona fide” members of the GOP.

Listed among the state GOP rules concerning what makes someone a “bona fide” party member is that candidates need to have voted in three of the last four statewide Republican primaries. While Grippo meets that criteria, his voting record lists him as having voted in the Democratic presidential primary in March 2020. The Tennessee GOP changed the rule in January to include voting Republican in the March 2020 primary.

Chris Morris, who represents District 28 on the Republican State Executive Committee along with Angie McClanahan,stated that he had been informed by Tennessee GOP chairman Scott Golden about a problem with Grippo’s voting record.

“He said, ‘There is a problem and I have discussed this with Dr. Grippo…’ The Republican bona fide process, you must have voted Republican in three of the last four statewide primaries,” Morris said. “Jan. 27, 2024, we had a special called session of the SEC (State Executive Committee). What we did was if you had ever voted as a Democrat in any of those four primaries, you automatically lost your bona fide status.”

Grippo said he had been told that challenges to his bona fide status came from within the district and not at the state level.

Asked why he felt the change from three of four to four in a row was necessary, Morris cited a state law against “crossover” voting – when a voter from one party votes for a candidate in another party’s primary. That law has seldom been enforced and since Tennessee has open primaries, voters are not required to declare allegiance to a party.

“I would like to see us be tougher; it doesn’t take long to get to three out of four,” Morris said.

Grippo insisted that after checking with local election officials, it was confirmed that his voting record was in error and that he should have been listed as having voted in the Republican primary. However, while a voter’s record stays in the Election Commission’s records, the voter details – such as the signature sheets – are by state law destroyed after 22 months. This means there was no way to confirm that Grippo’s record was in fact an error.

However, there is a process in state GOP bylaws that lets others vouch for someone to be considered “bona fide” and remain on the ballot.

Grippo’s supporters launched a social media campaign asking people to sign a petition or to contact Morris and McClanahan and encourage them to allow a waiver for Grippo. Reportedly over 1,200 people either signed an online petition or reached out to the two executive committee members.

Morris and McClanahan decided not to allow a waiver and that decision is left up solely to the executive committee members from that district. The deadline to file to run as an independent has also passed, leaving Grippo with no option to run.

Morris said he was opposed to the waiver provision on principle, “There had been people vouched for, not only in Maury County but in other counties, some of them had never voted Republican in their life… I was against vouchers, waivers, there’s no difference.”

Grippo was critical of the bylaw changes, saying, “There’s been bylaw changes after bylaw changes to limit the availability to run for office, especially in the Republican Party. To me as a voter, it seems I got caught up behind the scenes and this whole organization has shifted to limit voter choice.

“To have that election decided, I am still trying to wrap my mind around that. The waiver system in the bylaws was a dog-and-pony show in my district because they don’t believe in the rules.”

At the federal level, GOP officials removed three candidates from running for U.S. House seats: Caleb Stack in the 7th District, currently held by Mark Green (R-Clarksville); George Flinn in the 8th District, currently held by David Kustoff (R-Memphis) and Joe Doctora from the ballot in the 4th District, currently represented by Scott DesJarlais (R-South Pittsburg).

In total, 14 Republican candidates were removed from ballots statewide after challenges were made to their party’s bona fide status, including two for the state Senate and nine for the state House.

Asked if he would consider running for office as a Republican again in the future, Grippo said, “Absolutely. This confirmed that what our leadership needs is people pointed in the right direction. Jim Grippo is not going away.”

Columbia Paint and Wallcovering (WKOM Audio 2:07)

Yesterday, Columbia Paint and Wallcover opened a new location in Spring Hill. Front Porch Radio’s Mary Susan Kennedy attended the grand opening and spoke to owner Zack Maddox to learn more about what the new location has to offer…

The Drake Prompts Road Closures (MauryCountySource)

Road closures in Columbia will begin for utility work associated with The Drake development located at Woodland Street and East 7th Street.

Affected streets and closure dates:

– North Glade Street between East 6th and East 7th Street (April 22 – October 31)

– East 7th Street between Woodland Street and North Glade Street (April 22 – May 4)

– Woodland Street between East 6th Street and East 7th Street (May 6 – May 17)

Ag Appreciation Day (WKOM Audio 2:47)

Yesterday, United Producers Incorporated and Tennessee Farm Credit Mid-America held an Agriculture Appreciation day at the Columbia livestock barn. WKOM/WKRM’s Delk Kennedy attended the event and spoke to Devin Gilliam, senior financial officer, and Laura Lee Harris, associate financial officer at Tennessee Farm Credit Mid-America to learn more about what they do for the agricultural community.

Cat Simulators at Mt. Pleasant Highschool (WKOM 3:25)

Yesterday, the Mt. Pleasant Highschool opened a heavy equipment simulator program to assist students who are hoping to go directly into the workforce following highschool. Our own Delk Kennedy, stopped by the school and spoke to construction teacher Scott Andrews and student Carter Gilliam about how these simulators will help students on their career paths…

ESFP Grant (Press Release)

The Maury County Emergency Food and Shelter Program Board is announcing the Open Application Process for: EFSP Phase 41 Grant Funds. EFSP Funds are Federal funds made available through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Award amount for Maury County, Phase 41 is $ 33,132.00. The purpose and priority of the distribution of these funds is to provide Emergency Food and Shelter for our neighbors in Maury County. To understand if your organization is eligible to apply, please go to: https://www.fema.gov/home for requirements. If you have any questions, or would like to request an application, please email: UnitedWayofMauryCounty@gmail.com or call Laura Truelove at 931-381-0100.

Deadline to Request Application: May 10th

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

Dorothy Faye Underwood Hubbell, 86, passed away on Monday, April 22, 2024 at Maury Regional Medical Center.

Funeral services will be conducted Friday at 11:00 A.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Glenwood Cemetery. The family will visit with friends Thursday from 4:00 – 8:00 P.M. at the funeral home. Condolences may be extended online at www.oakesandnichols.com

James B. “J.B.” Shepard passed away peacefully at the age of 96 on April 19th, surrounded by his loving family. A private graveside service will be held at Polk Memorial Gardens. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

Willadeen Baker Wood, 92, died Sunday, April 21 at her residence.

A private graveside service will be held at Polk Memorial Gardens. Oakes & Nichols Funeral Directors are assisting the family with arrangements.

…And now, news from around the state…

Oracle To Headquarter in Nashville (MauryCountySource)

Oracle Corporation Chairman Larry Ellison announced Tuesday the company’s headquarters will soon move to Nashville.

In 2020, the computer software company moved its headquarters from Silicon Valley to Austin, Texas.

Now, Ellison says Oracle is making its way to Tennessee to focus on health care, adding that Nashville is a center of the health care industry and a “fabulous place to live.”

The headquarters is expected to be situated along the Cumberland River and will be a part of the East Bank development.

Gas Prices (MSM)

Tennesseans saw a small break at the gas pump over last week with gas prices falling four cents, on average.The Tennessee Gas Price average is now $3.24 which is four cents more expensive than one month ago but nine cents less than one year ago.  

“Tennessee drivers saw a nice change in pace for gas prices, with slightly lower prices emerging at the pump over last week,” said Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “This time of year we typically see a lull in gasoline demand since spring break trips are in the rearview mirror, but the next big travel holiday isn’t until Memorial Day. If oil prices continue to decrease over this week, it’s likely that Tennesseans could see another break in pump prices. However, we still cannot rule out additional fluctuation given the uncertainty in the market.” 

Quick Facts

58% of Tennessee gas stations have prices below $3.25 

The lowest 10% of pump prices are $3.00 for regular unleaded 

The highest 10% of pump prices are $3.57 for regular unleaded

Tennessee is the 7th least expensive market in the nation

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, is hosting the much-anticipated 40th Annual Main Street Festival, sponsored by First Horizon, to be held in Historic Downtown Franklin from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, and on Sunday, April 28.

The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County’s Main Street Festival is a highly-anticipated, annual tradition held in the historic downtown of Franklin, Tennessee.

Consistently listed among the top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society, Main Street Festival will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2024 and is expected to attract 100,000+ visitors.  The festival features more than 200 high-quality arts and crafts vendors, superb entertainment, great food, and fun for the entire family!

Learn more about the festival by visiting www.williamsonheritage.org.


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