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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 6-10-24

WKOM/WKRM Radio

Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for June 10, 2024


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

We start with local news…

THP Officer Hits Lawnmower Man (WKRN)

One person is reportedly injured following a crash involving a member of the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) and a lawnmower in Maury County.

According to officials, a 46-year-old THP sergeant was heading north on Theta Pike in a 2017 Ford Explorer around 1 p.m. on Thursday, June 6 while a Zero Turn Lawnmower was mowing a private yard along the street. The lawnmower reportedly entered the sergeant’s travel lane, causing the off-duty officer to hit the lawnmower.

THP said the 36-year-old Tennessee man riding the lawnmower was injured. However, there is no word on the nature of those injuries.

Meanwhile, the sergeant was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash and was not injured, authorities said.

No charges are pending in connection with the incident, according to THP.

Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland stated that the road was closed for a short time, while THP investigated the crash.


Man Who Posted KKK Flyers Sentenced (CDH)

Santa Fe man Daniel Walls was sentenced in Maury County Criminal Circuit Court to three years of jail time this week in connection with his involvement in posting racist flyers on Black churches in Columbia in July 2023.

Walls, 39, pleaded guilty on four counts of civil rights intimidation Tuesday. In addition to his three-year sentence, Walls will also be given six years of probation.

Circuit Judge David Allen, 22nd Judicial District, presided over the hearing.

Walls' arrest and charges initially stemmed from the incident last year, in which flyers associated with the "Old Glory Knights of the Ku Klux Klan" were discovered on the doors of Faith United Missionary Baptist Church, Bethel Chapel AME Church and Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, all in Columbia.

Walls discussed the charges with media following his arraignment on Aug. 14, 2023, confirming at the time that he heads the Old Glory Knights, as stated on the group's website.

Walls' sentencing, which will be served in the Maury County Jail, also includes a no-contact order to the three churches, as well as the ACTS Christian Center.

"It's unfortunate, but when things like this happen you have to send a clear signal to anyone who may want to do the same thing. Hate is just not going to be tolerated in any fashion, and so I think the sentence was fair and just for what took place," Pastor Kenny Anderson of Mt. Calvary said.

Footage obtained by the Columbia Police Department last year also showed images of a male individual placing an additional flyer on the side of Muletown Pizza's food truck.

Following the initial reports, Anderson, along with members of Columbia police, citizens, as well as city and county leaders gathered together at Mt. Calvary with the message that this kind of behavior would not be tolerated. Or rather, that the community would face it with love and support, not hate.

"We came together in unity, love and oneness. We came together against anyone who wants to bring racism and hate to our city," Anderson said. "Love can always outweigh hate and will always be victorious in any matter such as this."

At the time of Walls' arrest, a 17-year-old white male was also arrested in connection with the incident but was not identified.

District Attorney Brent Cooper issued a statement Tuesday regarding the verdict.

"I hope the sentence handed down today to Mr. Walls serves two purposes. One, it makes the minority community feel safer and, two, it sends the message to those like-minded with Mr. Walls that this type of intimidation will not be tolerated in our community," Cooper said.


Mt. Pleasant Improvements Begin (Press Release)

The Mount Pleasant community gathered with city officials, local business leaders, and residents for the groundbreaking ceremony of the highly anticipated Downtown Improvement Project that started on June 3rd on Main Street.

This significant initiative, set to be completed by May 2025, aims to revitalize the downtown area and enhance the quality of life for all residents and visitors. The Downtown Improvement Project will introduce a range of enhancements, including:

New Street Lights: Historical, energy-efficient street lighting will improve visibility and safety, creating a welcoming atmosphere for evening activities and enhancing the overall aesthetic of the downtown area.

Infrastructure Upgrades: Critical infrastructure improvements will ensure long-term sustainability and reliability, addressing current needs and future growth.

Increased Walkability: Sidewalk expansions and pedestrian-friendly pathways will promote walking, reduce traffic congestion, and encourage a healthier lifestyle for residents and visitors.

Beautification Efforts: Landscaping, public art installations, and other beautification projects will add to the charm and appeal of downtown, making it a vibrant destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Main Street Director, Haverly Pennington, expressed enthusiasm for the project, stating, "The Downtown Improvement Project marks a new chapter for Mount Pleasant. These upgrades will enhance the beauty and functionality of our Main Street area and boost economic development and community engagement. We are excited to see these improvements' positive impact on our city."

The groundbreaking ceremony featured remarks from Mayor Bill White, City Manager Kate Collier, and other key stakeholders, followed by a ceremonial ground turning to officially commence construction. Attendees had the opportunity to view project plans and ask questions.

The event marked the beginning of a brighter future for Mount Pleasant, and the community's strong turnout demonstrated widespread support for the project. For more information about the Downtown Improvement Project, please contact Haverly Pennington at haverly@visitmountpleasanttn.com.


Baker Group Grand Opening (WKOM Audio 1:45)

On Friday, Baker Realty held their grand opening at their new downtown location. Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy attended the ribbon cutting and spoke to proprietor Katie Baker to learn more about what the business offers…


School Admin Changes (Press Release)

Maury County Public Schools is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Christine Potts as the new principal of E.A. Cox Middle School.

Dr. Potts brings a wealth of experience and a dedication to academic excellence to her new role. With a background deeply rooted in education, she has served in various capacities, including as Principal of Spring Hill High School, where she demonstrated exceptional leadership in overseeing the daily operations of the school and its staff.

Prior to her tenure as Principal, Dr. Potts served as an Adjunct Professor at Middle Tennessee State University, where she taught Bachelor, Masters, and EDS level classes in curriculum and instruction and leadership. Her commitment to educational excellence is further evidenced by her role as Assistant Principal at both Spring Hill High School and Mt. Pleasant Middle School of the Visual & Performing Arts.

Dr. Potts's educational journey includes a Doctorate Degree in Administration & Supervision from Tennessee State University, a Master’s in Administration & Supervision from Middle Tennessee State University, and a Bachelor of Science from the same institution. Additionally, she holds an Associate’s Degree from Columbia State Community College and a Certificate from the Summer Institute for Special Education at Memphis State University.

Dr. Potts stated, “I am both excited and saddened at the same time. I am sad to leave my Spring Hill family, with whom I have been for over 10 years. However, I am also excited about the new opportunity to lead E. A. Cox in a positive direction—a place that I helped open in 1997! I am looking forward to working with the staff, students, and families who support the E. A. Cox community, and I can't wait to get started!”

Superintendent Lisa Ventura shared, “Dr. Potts's passion for education, coupled with her extensive experience and leadership skills, make her an excellent fit for the role of principal at E.A. Cox Middle School. Maury County Public Schools looks forward to her leadership and the continued success of E.A. Cox Middle School under her guidance.”

In other Maury County School news, Maury County Public Schools Superintendent Lisa Ventura has named Dr. Brian Brewer Principal of Spring Hill High School, effective July 1, 2024.

Dr. Brewer has served as the principal at Hampshire Unit School for the past two years. Dr. Brewer started his education career in 2010 in Bartlett, TN, as a math and CTE Information Technology Teacher at Bartlett High School. In 2016, Dr. Brewer became the Career and Technical Education Coordinator for Metro-Nashville Public Schools. From 2019 to 2022, also at Metro, Dr. Brewer served as Assistant Principal at Pearl Cohn High School. In addition to his career in education, Dr. Brewer held Senior Manager and Director- level roles in IT and engineering.

Dr. Brewer graduated from Kirby High School in Memphis, TN. In December 2000, he received a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management from Crichton College. In 2012, he earned a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Memphis, and in 2017, an Educational Doctorate in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, also from the University of Memphis.

Dr. Brewer stated, “I am excited to be the new principal at Spring Hill High School. As a member of the Spring Hill community in Maury County, it is a great honor to serve in this role. Spring Hill High School has a rich history that I will continue to build upon. We will continue to create an environment where all students can succeed and be prepared for life after high school. Whether students go to college, trade school, or enter the workforce, we want to ensure that every student is ready for their next step. I look forward to working with the outstanding Spring Hill High School faculty, staff, students, parents, and community.”

Superintendent Lisa Ventura shared, "Dr. Brian Brewer has had a unique and inspiring journey into education, bringing a wealth of diverse experiences that enrich his approach to teaching and leadership. He truly has the heart of an educator, consistently demonstrating his commitment to fostering a positive and inclusive learning environment. His dedication to student success and his innovative vision have already made a significant impact at Hampshire Unit School.

As he transitions to his new role as principal at Spring Hill High School, I am confident that his leadership will ensure continued excellence and stability. Dr. Brewer's passion for education and his ability to connect with students, staff, and the community will undoubtedly sustain the strong traditions and achievements of Spring Hill High School. I look forward to witnessing the positive developments and ongoing success that will flourish under his guidance. The future is bright for Spring Hill High School with Dr. Brewer leading the way.”


Columbia Central to Get Turf (CDH)

The Columbia Central High School football field will soon be getting artificial turf, following a vote by the Maury County School Board.

The school board approved Tuesday a Memorandum of Understanding with the county Parks and Recreation Department to install turf and rent out the football field at Central High School.

The memorandum gives the board the funds necessary to install artificial turf at Lindsey Nelson Football Stadium, located near Columbia Central High School. It also places the responsibility on the board to pay for the replacement of the turf every 10 years. Per the agreement, all maintenance of the turf will be made under the parks department.

Under the agreement, the board will also have first priority rights to the stadium for events and games, though the stadium can be rented out to third parties by the parks department, as long as the board approves.

The measure was passed with two “nays” coming from Board Members Michael Fulbright and Justin Haucke.

Leading up to the vote, Fulbright voiced his concerns.

“We are once again being asked by the county to do something to benefit them on their behalf, and how did the discussion go tonight about the new school tonight,” Fulbright said.

“I think that this, just like Mr. Carter said the other night, we’re  being asked to do something again for the county, and we see the thanks that we get."

Board chair Will Sims voiced his support for the measure.

“We have a positive track record with the parks department taking care of that field, and it's one that we don’t have to take care of, because they do. And so, it is a give and take," Sims said.

The concern for member Haucke was along other lines. He was worried about the material of the field.

Recently, it’s been debated whether faux fields may contain “forever chemicals,” compounds that are incredibly resistant to breaking down naturally, Haucke explained.

Haucke said he’d much rather have real grass fields for that reason.

Ultimately, the board approved the memorandum and the installation of synthetic baseball, football, and softball fields near Central High School.

Haucke was the only “nay.”


Reagan Day Dinner (Press Release)

The Maury County GOP Invites YOU to celebrate Reagan Day & the birthday of Donald J Trump at Puckett’s Restaurant’s Guitar & Cadillac Hall – Upstairs located at 15 Public Square, Columbia, on June 14th at 6pm.

Special Guest Speakers Include: Congressman Andy Ogles & Tim Burchett as well as Tomi Lahren, Conservative commentator, host of "Tomi Lahren is Fearless" on Outkick.com, and Fox News regular, who will share her views on many topics impacting the Conservative movement, current political events, and more. 

Also joining the event will be Todd Starnes, a Conservative columnist, author, speaker and radio host of the Todd Starnes Show, will address many of the challenges facing America and perhaps delve into some of the broader points made in his most recent book, “Twilight’s Last Gleaming: Can America Be Saved?” Signed books will be available.

Puckett’s cuisine will be served, and an exciting silent auction will be held featuring everything from condo stays to local crafts, collectables and much more.

A limited number of individual tickets are still available for $100, each. Find yours by visiting www.maurytngop.com.


CSCC Summer Camps (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College’s Columbia Campus is excited to announce summer camps for 2024. 

Rhythm Retreat – Music Camp will run from June 24 - 27 for rising 4th through 6th graders. Student participants will experience drumming, comprehend new piano skills, enjoy music games and take part in choral singing.

Innovate & Illuminate will run from July 8 – 12 for rising 6th through 8th graders. Participants will learn to make fun and useful projects using the fundamentals of circuit building and microcontroller programing.

For more information and to register, visit www.campusce.net/columbiastate/course/course.aspx?catId=22 or email WorkforceDev@ColumbiaState.edu.


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

Betty Fern Metscher Senter, 83, former longtime resident of New Cut Road in Columbia, died Saturday at her granddaughter’s residence in Austin KY, where she had made her home recently. A graveside service for Mrs. Senter will be conducted Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. at Philadelphia Cemetery on Fred White Road. The family will visit with friends Wednesday following the service at the cemetery


…And now, news from around the state…

Grundy County Arrestee Dies (Tennessean)

An investigation is underway after an inmate died while in the custody of the Grundy County Sheriff's Office.

The Middle Tennessee county is on the southeastern edge of the grand division, about 98 miles from Nashville.

Grundy County deputies were called to a one-vehicle crash on Sherrell Road May 29. They found Ronnie Ledbetter "combative and was actively resisting" help from paramedics, according to a statement from the Sheriff's Office Thursday evening.

Ledbetter appeared to be intoxicated and under the influence of a narcotic, the statement said.

After paramedics cleared him of injuries, Ledbetter was taken into custody and put in the back of a deputy's patrol car.

"Mr. Ledbetter began trying to kick the glass out of the unit, along with headbutting the glass," the statement said. He was moved to a different patrol vehicle with bars over the glass and taken to the jail.

"Upon arrival at the jail, Mr. Ledbetter continued to fight and resist deputies while getting him out of the unit and into a booking cell," the statement said. "Once inside the jail, Mr. Ledbetter was secured and his handcuffs were removed. As deputies placed him in a seated position, they observed he had stopped breathing."

Jail staff gave Ledbetter Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, they started CPR and used a defibrillator on him, the statement said.

Ledbetter was taken to the Sewanee Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The Sheriff's Office and District Attorney Courtney Lynch's Office called the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to take on the case. All video footage from the jail was turned over to the TBI, and the autopsy results are still pending, the statement said.


Dolly Ramping Up (CDH)

Dolly Parton is not slowing down.

During Fan Fair X at the 51st CMA Music Fest Thursday, Parton dropped a laundry list of projects, including a Nashville hotel and the name of the Broadway musical based on her life.

"Of course everybody always wants to know what I'm doing," she said during Fan Fest X. "Nobody wants to know that more than me. I'm going so fast I've met myself coming fast. I don't know how I do it either, but it's true I'm going to have a hotel right here in Nashville."

The hotel, called the Songteller Hotel, will also feature a museum, Parton said. It'll be on 3rd and Commerce, Parton said, and should be open "in a couple years."

"We're working real hard on that," she said. "I've always wanted a hotel in Nashville and a museum."

Parton said it was divine intervention that led her to both the location and name for the hotel.

"When we were looking at the property and we were walking through an empty room and there on the table was my book 'Songteller,'" she said. "We hadn't thought about a name for the hotel. We thought that might be a sign."

The museum will be different than the Dolly Parton Experience at Dollywood, she said.

"We'll have a lot of my real articles," she said referring to artifacts and clothing. "Hopefully, people will get to see some of my actual things like the little replica of the coat of many colors."


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Jon Bon Jovi and his band opened JBJ’s on Broadway on Saturday, June 8.

It is located at 405 Broadway. JBJ’s will be the tallest and second largest bar by square footage, boasting 37,000 square feet dedicated to a rock ‘n’ roll revolution and carrying forward the roots of country music from Nashville’s storied history.

If the building doesn’t look familiar, it was previously a small parking lot; this was a ground-up project. It’s located right next door to Garth Brooks’ Friends in Low Places.

JBJ’s has two fifth-story outdoor rooftop decks with breathtaking panoramic views.

As you enter, Jon Bon Jovi will greet you with a message saying, “Come on in and make yourself at home.”

The band released a new album, Forever, on Friday, June 7. It was recorded in Nashville at Oceanway Studio.

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