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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 5-24-24


Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for May 24, 2024

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

We start with local news…

Ogles Explains Campaign Finance Issue (CDH)

U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles admitted this week that his campaign falsely reported a personal loan of $320,000 to the Federal Election Commission, according to campaign finance updates filed Wednesday.

In nearly 11 new amendments to filings that date back to April 2022, the freshman congressman eliminated mention of $300,000 he said he personally loaned his campaign over the last two years. Ogles now reports he loaned his campaign $20,000 during the 2022 primary, according to filings made Wednesday by campaign treasurer Thomas Datwyler.

Ogles, R-Columbia, is seeking reelection this year. According to his most recent amended disclosure reports, he has $95,349 on hand, down from the $448,592 he reported a month ago ― with less than three months to go before the Aug. 1 primary.

In a statement released by Ogles’ campaign on Thursday, Ogles said the funds previously disclosed as a loan to the FEC were instead a “pledge” to self-fund, if needed — and that need never arose. 

“At the beginning of the 2022 campaign cycle, I pledged $320,000 to use toward my own campaign efforts if needed,” Ogles said in the statement. 

He said the amendments were made “in consultation with attorneys and FEC reporting experts to begin the process of ensuring my FEC reports and Financial Disclosures accurately reflect the circumstances of my original pledge," he said in the statement, adding that the pledge included several documented assets including bank and retirement accounts. 

“I’m not a wealthy man who can self-fund the millions of dollars needed to run a congressional campaign,” Ogles said. “I am a grassroots representative, and I pledged everything I own to run for the honor of representing Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional District.” 

“While we ultimately needed to transfer $20,000, unfortunately, the full amount of my pledge was mistakenly included on my campaign’s FEC reports,” he said. 

This update is not the first discrepancy in Ogles’ campaign finance filings. Ogles is currently facing an ethics complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center in January requesting an investigation into discrepancies in the congressman's financial disclosures, including the personal loan of $320,000.

In 2022, Ogles’ claimed to have raised more than $450,000 during the first 30 days of his campaign. Disclosures filed later showed he’d brought in $264,400.

Ogles was endorsed for reelection months ago by former President Donald Trump.

Kaylor’s Song Official State Song (Press Release)

Governor Bill Lee signed a bill on April 16, 2024 designating Columbia singer/songwriter Makky Kaylor’s ‘Tennessee, In My Dreams’ the newest official state song. Other beloved state songs include ‘The Tennessee Waltz’ and ‘Rocky Top’. Kaylor’s song is only the fourteenth state song in Tennessee’s history.

A native of Memphis, Kaylor has made Columbia his home for the past 20 years. He’s been dubbed the ‘Mayor of the Muletown Sound’ by various media outlets and there is a State Resolution naming him the ‘Tennessee Troubadour’.  Although he considers himself to be simply a songwriter, Kaylor began writing songs as a child in Memphis and has worked professionally in the music industry as a songwriter, singer, and entertainer for 45 years. His songs have been recorded by various artists and recently performed on the Grand Ole Opry, The Family Channel, RFD-TV and more. He has performed his songs at major venues across the nation including the Ryman Auditorium, The Tennessee Theatre and more.

The idea of having a designated official state song began when Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt heard Kaylor perform ‘Tennessee, In My Dreams’ at an event. She sent the song to House Representative Mark White of Memphis who was already very familiar with native Memphian Kaylor’s work and the song. Mayor Butt later invited Senator Joey Hensley to hear the song at one of Kaylor’s shows. White and Hensley carried ‘Tennessee, In My Dreams’ forward in legislation for the Governor’s signature.

“The first time I ever heard Makky Kaylor perform ‘Tennessee, in My Dreams’ I knew it was a heartfelt song for a very special place,” stated Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt. “Only a person who has experienced the good life that Tennessee has to offer could have written those words. Placing the song on the list of Tennessee State Songs is not only a well-deserved honor for Makky, but it is a sweet reminder for all of us who live here and for those who have ever longed for their beautiful home here in Tennessee and how wonderful our state really is!”

“I’m so very humbled and thankful for this blessing and recognition, especially, considering where I’ve been in my journey in life and music,” says Kaylor. “The song was written for anyone who has ever been homesick for ‘her’ whether called away on business, for personal reasons or maybe in service to our country. It’s for anyone who misses ‘her’ and dreams of ‘her’ - of sweet Tennessee.”

Kaylor’s story of resilience, survival, and accomplishment magnifies the deeper meaning of this designation since it was only a few months ago Kaylor was fighting for his life. He was flown by LifeFlight to Vanderbilt Hospital where he underwent open-heart surgery, for the second time in his life. He is happy to say he’s made a full recovery and recognizes the new lease on life he’s been given which makes this designation even sweeter.

Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder appreciates that Kaylor is an integral part of the community here in Columbia, not just on the music scene, but in everyday life. “I’ve known Makky Kaylor for a long time, and to know Makky is to know of his musical talent, his love of others, and his love of his country, state and community. Now, thanks to ‘Tennessee, in My Dreams’ being recognized as an official state song, the secret is out, and all the world can now know and love Makky Kaylor, just like me. I am proud of Makky, I'm grateful to him for sharing his talents for all of us to enjoy, and, most of all, grateful for his friendship.”

Makky will give a special performance of the brand new State Song with the Grammy Award winning Time Jumpers at Third and Lindsley in Nashville on June 3rd. Tickets available at Showtime is 8pm. The event will include a special presentation of the framed legislation by House Representative Mark White. Plans for presentations by Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt and City of Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder, respectively, are also underway with details to be announced soon. 

A brand-new version of Kaylor’s ‘Tennessee, In My Dreams’ will soon be available on all digital platforms.

CA Wins State Tourney (CDH)

It was worth the wait for the Columbia Academy baseball program.

After six years without a TSSAA baseball state tournament appearance, the Bulldogs returned to Murfreesboro this year and went undefeated, beating Providence Academy 9-4 in the Division II-A baseball championship game at Middle Tennessee State's Reese Smith Jr. FIeld. It marked the program's third state title, winning in 1994, 2018 and this season.

“You never know when you're going to get back," Columbia Academy coach Richie Estep said. "I mean, there's not many people (that) get this moment, there's not many people in the stands that can say that they won the last game.

"So to be able to say that is always special. I've been blessed with guys that just believe in what we do ... And that's what I'm super proud about with this bunch.”

The Bulldogs finished the season 37-6.

Columbia Academy won with strong performances at the plate from Knox Love and Briar Helton, who each finished with a double.

“I mean, it's surreal," junior Jackson Lee said. "I mean, this is what you dream of when you're growing up. It's just surreal, it doesn't even feel real … there's nothing that compares.”

Lee was a part of a strong Bulldogs pitching rotation that allowed just seven runs during the tournament. Along with Lee, Columbia Academy saw Gunner Skelton, Will Rhodes and Jacob Woodard all take the mound and combine for 18 strikeouts across three games.

Aiding the diverse bullpen this season was Alex Huey, a Columbia Academy graduate who returned to join Estep’s staff as pitching coach this season. Huey was a member of Columbia Academy’s 2018 state title winning team and has now secured a second championship ring as a coach.

“I'll tell you one thing, it doesn't get old. And it won't get old. I'll crave this feeling every single year," Huey said. "And I want to be back here every single year, because of this feeling right here that we're getting to experience. And so I'm not going to stop, I'm not going to stop.”

The Bulldogs path to Murfreesboro wasn’t always an easy one. Last season Columbia Academy was knocked out of the TSSAA playoffs in the district tournament, leaving a sour taste in every player’s mouth.

This postseason the Bulldogs suffered a loss in the regional tournament to Clarksville Academy, but they came back stronger and defeated Clarksville Academy just two games later and didn't lose again the rest of the season.

“(I’ll remember) our grit, we didn't back down," senior Andy Reed said. "We're small and we don't pass the eye check, but we have toughness and we're going to beat anybody on the field.”

A Columbia Academy graduate himself, Estep said one of the reasons he made the move from Goodpasture, where he won four state titles, was to help rebuild his alma mater and get them to this stage consistently.

“We've been doing it now for the past 10 years, since we've been back, just to try to get them over the hump," Estep said. "That was one of the reasons I came back because I wanted to try to get them past this point, past the region. They're getting to that point now.

"I feel like my experience could take them and get them to believe this could happen, because a lot of its belief. It's not about talent or whatever. It's about belief and that's super, super special.”

The Bulldogs hope this is the start of a new chapter for Columbia Academy baseball, one where trips to the state tournament in May become a regular occurrence.

Dems Hold Fundraiser (Press Release)

The Maury County Democratic Party will hold its 21st Annual Heritage Dinner on Saturday, June 1 at the UAW Local 1853 Hall in Spring Hill.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. A barbecue buffet dinner will be served at 7 p.m. and speeches will begin at7:30 p.m.

Featured speakers this year will include Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. State Rep. Gloria Johnson, Civil Miler-Watkins and other candidates are expected to speak.

Tickets are $50 per person and may be bought online at or at the door.

The Heritage Dinner is a fundraiser for the Maury County Democratic Party.

Ty Cobb Sues for Hearing (MSM)

Former fire chief Ty Cobb has filed a lawsuit against the City of Columbia, claiming that he is entitled to a hearing before the Civil Service Board.

The lawsuit was filed in Maury County Circuit Court on April 25, 2024, and a hearing was held before Judge David Allen on Thursday, May 16, according to court records. When a ruling will be issued is not known.

Cobb was terminated as chief of Columbia Fire & Rescue on March 12 by City Manager Tony Massey. In the letter of termination, Massey stated allegations that included “a message falsely accusing the chief of police of being involved in an attempted break-in at the apartment of the person who sent the text” and “a message offering to pay for favorable news stories which would benefit your interest.”

The filing in Circuit Court cites the city’s municipal code, stating in part, “The City of Columbia municipal code specifically states the fire chief is entitled to a civil service hearing for anything more than a 10-day suspension…” The filing also claims that Cobb, who had been employed with Columbia Fire since 2000 before becoming chief in 2017, never received any notice rescinding his status as a civil service employee after taking the chief’s position.

The filing also claims that a progressive disciplinary record for Cobb was prepared in October 2023 but not presented to him to sign until Dec, 1, 2023.

A March 12 email from Massey to Cobb, which is among the exhibits listed in the filing, states in part, “Section 7.10 clearly states as follows: ‘All full time employees of the City, other than the City Manager, Assistant City Manager, and all Department Heads, are hereby declared to be Civil Service employees, subject to the conditions, limitations, and requirements of this article 7 and entitled of the benefits there of.’ As a result you are not a Civil Service employee and not entitled to a hearing.”

Cobb officially requested a civil service hearing by email on March 15.

Before filing the lawsuit, Cobb’s attorney, John Mark Windle, sent a letter to the city stating in part, “The City of Columbia Charter and City Code clearly state that the Fire Chief is not a department head and is entitled to a civil service hearing.”

The lawsuit asks the court to declare that Cobb is entitled to a civil service hearing and to schedule such a hearing, along with “such further and general relief to which he may be deemed entitled.”

Neither Windle nor Massey have responded to requests for comment.

Cobb served a 30-day suspension in late October 2023 and most of November. At the time, a memorandum from Massey to Cobb cited “insubordination” and added that Cobb would be on probation for a period of one year after the suspension.

The suspension was announced shortly after Cobb requested that the City of Columbia launch an internal investigation into the city’s response to the May 3, 2023 Central High School shooting hoax. In that request, Cobb cited concern for the safety of his employees.

June Lake Interchange Nearly Done (MauryCountySource)

The new I-65 Buckner Road Interchange in Spring Hill has been in the works since 2020 and it’s almost time to celebrate its completion.

City of Spring Hill leaders and other leaders around the state will officially celebrate the grand opening of the new June Lake Interchange at the end of this month. The tentative date to have the road open is May 31, according to TDOT Regional Communications Officer Rebekah Hammond.

The major feature of this design is the “Diverging Diamond Interchange” — the second such interchange in the State of Tennessee. The design is meant to help ease the flow of traffic to and from I-65.

Prior to this project, there was only one I-65 access point to the city of Spring Hill, and that was through the Saturn Parkway Exit. The interchange at Buckner Road will give the City a second access point and should help the flow of traffic to new developments in the area.

The I-65 Interchange will provide direct access to the June Lake Development, which is situated along Buckner Lane. June Lake is a mixed-use development that will be home to 3.9 million square feet of commercial office space, 1.3 million square feet of retail and restaurant space, 2,900 homes, and 400 hotel rooms.

The Interchange at Buckner Road has been in the works since 2020 when a Request for Qualification was submitted. In 2021, the contract was awarded to Bell Construction.

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

Billy Gower Dial, 83, of Brentwood, Tennessee, formerly of Culleoka, Tennessee passed away at Somerfield Health Center on May 10th. A graveside service will be held Friday, May 24th at 1pm at Friendship Cemetery in Culleoka. Visitation will be on Saturday, May 25th from 12:30 to 2 followed by a Celebration of Life at 2 p.m. at Brenthaven Church, 516 Franklin Road, Brentwood. 

Walter Henry “Hank” Keller III, 46, of Columbia, Tennessee passed away at his home on May 5, 2024.  

The family will visit with friends on Saturday, June 1, 2024 from 11 until 1 at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home in Columbia, with a graveside service immediately following at St. John’s Ashwood.

…And now, news from around the state…

Road Work Suspended for Holiday (MauryCountySource)

Road Construction will not delay motorists as they travel Tennessee’s highways this Memorial Day weekend. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will suspend all construction-related lane closures on interstates and state routes beginning at noon on Friday, May 24 through 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 28. This will provide maximum roadway capacity for motorists expected to travel in the state this Memorial Day weekend.

“We want to do our part to help everyone have an enjoyable and safe holiday weekend and keep traffic flowing as smoothly and efficiently as possible,” said Deputy Governor & TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley. “We also want to remind drivers it is the law to move over and slow down for first responders and emergency vehicles, including TDOT HELP trucks that will be on patrol during the holiday weekend.”

Motorists may still encounter some lane closures or restrictions while traveling through long-term construction projects. In addition, drivers should know that reduced speed limits will be in effect in work zones. Drivers convicted of speeding through work zones where workers are present face a fine of up to $500, plus court fees and possibly increased insurance premiums.

AAA predicts 926,251 Tennesseans, a record number, will travel for Memorial Day with 783,990 of them driving to their destination.

From your desktop or mobile device, get the latest construction activity and live streaming SmartWay traffic cameras at Travelers can also call 511 for travel information. As always, drivers are reminded to use all motorist information tools wisely and Know Before You Go! by checking travel conditions before leaving for their destination. Drivers should never tweet, text, or talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel.

Could New Stadium Host Super Bowl (Tennessean)

One look at a 6-by-8-foot version of the new Nissan Stadium encouraged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to look at the much bigger picture — the possibility of the league bringing the Super Bowl to Nashville.

While in town this week for the NFL spring meeting at Loews Nashville Hotel at Vanderbilt Plaza, Goodell toured the Titans House Experience Center in Germantown. There he saw a replica of the new stadium and some virtual experiences of what it will feel like.

When asked when the Super Bowl is coming to the future home of the Tennessee Titans, Goodell said, "We experienced the draft here and I think the Super Bowl here would be very successful, but we'll get to that once we get a little further down the line with the stadium," Goodell said Wednesday.

Nashville played host to the NFL Draft in 2019, drawing an estimated crowd of 600,000 people. Next year's draft will be in Green Bay, while the 2026 draft will be in Pittsburgh, the league announced Wednesday. The NHL Draft was held here last summer.

Ground was broken on the new $2.1 billion Nissan Stadium in late February and it is expected to be completed by 2027.

"It was great to see the stadium and their vision," Goodell said. "We've seen the plans before, but you see it come to life a little bit more. I think the stadium is going to be amazing. We know just the passion of the fans here."

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

With the weekend rolling into Monday's Memorial Day holiday, Polk Memorial Gardens will once again celebrate with its annual remembrance ceremony.

The Memorial Day at Polk Memorial Gardens event begins at 10 a.m. Monday at the gazebo located on the Polk Memorial grounds, 6465 Trotwood Ave.

This year's event, which is nearing its 40th year, always features highlights such as military songs, recognizing each U.S. Military branch, an honorary flag-folding ceremony for a fallen vet, as well as a keynote speaker.

For 2024, Polk Memorial wanted to feature not only a great speaker, but one who represents a greater organization helping vets all around the world through music and songwriting.

Operation Song are partnering this year, a Nashville nonprofit which allows veterans and active soldiers to tell their stories using the process of songwriting. Since its foundation in 2012, more than 1,600 songs have been produced through the project.

Operation Song CEO and U.S. Army vet Jon Foti will be the ceremony's keynote.


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