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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 6-17-24

WKOM/WKRM Radio

Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for June 17, 2024


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

We start with local news…

Culleoka Man Added to TBI Most Wanted (MSM)

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Maury County Sheriff’s Office are after a Culleoka man who allegedly cut off his ankle bracelet while awaiting trial on child sex charges.

The TBI added Jonathan Marchon Ullrich, a former principal at Longview Elementary School, to its Most Wanted List on Thursday, June 13.

Ullrich was arrested in December 2021 and indicted in 2022 on multiple charges, including sexual exploitation of a minor, aggravated sexual battery and rape of a child over a period of time from 2016 through 2021. He was released on a $350,000 bond and was required to wear an ankle monitor as a condition of release.

The Maury County Sheriff’s Office reportedly had received information that led officials to obtain a warrant for Ullrich’s arrest for allegedly violating his bond conditions. The district attorney’s office filed a motion to revoke Ullrich’s bond and an expedited hearing was held. Ullrich’s bond was revoked as a result of that hearing and an order was issued for his arrest.

Ullrich is reportedly 5-foot-6 and 180 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call 1-(800) TBI-FIND. A reward of $2,500 is being offered for information leading to his capture.


City Adopts Budget (CDH)

Columbia City Council adopted its latest budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year, which includes a 5% raise for all employees and increased funding for certain organizations.

The budget also includes securing the city's property tax rate at $0.8251 per 100 square feet of assessed property.

The budget, which amounts to approximately $75.8 million, went before its second and final reading earlier this month, where a few amendments were proposed.

These amendments included increasing funding for the Maury County Animal Services shelter by adding a 10% increase, or $20,000 annually to assist its current needs for expansion. The city currently allots $50,000 quarterly to the animal shelter, or $200,000 per year.

City Manager Tony Massey previously stated that this would be in addition to Mt. Pleasant approving an additional $7,000 in annual funding.

"That sounds like a pretty good faith effort on Mt. Pleasant's part, and in my opinion that would also be a good faith effort on our part to show a 10% increase," Molder said at the Council's June 6 study session meeting.

The South Central Human Resource Agency will also be receiving an additional $1,000 to its annual appropriation, which will match a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to help the organization's Meals on Wheels program.

Council members also adopted a new 2024-2029 Strategic Plan.


County Committees Strike Down School (CDH)

The Maury County Admin Committee denied funding last Monday for a proposed new elementary school in North Columbia.

However, the item will be reheard at the full Maury County Commission meeting on Monday, according to commission chairman Eric Previti.

The budget committee also previously denied the new school funding request in May for the 2024-25 fiscal year during a special-called meeting to hear Maury County Public Schools capital requests.

After the request failed in both committees, commissioners Gary Stovall, District 3, and Kevin Markham, District 9, requested that the item be considered for the 2023-24 budget instead at the next full commission meeting, which will be Monday at 6:30 p.m. at 6 Courthouse Square in the Tom Primm meeting room.

Per commission rules, if a vote fails, two commissioners can request to put the item on the full commission agenda to be reconsidered, Previti said.

The proposed school, that would be located North of Highway 43 and West of Highway 31, was estimated to cost $63 million. The school would be 131,000 sq. ft. and able to house 910 students once completed.

The school would also feature a FEMA-rated tornado shelter, with enough room to house the whole school with space for more.

When put to a vote, funding approval failed 3-2. Both commissioners in favor, Kenny Morrow, District 7, and Eric Previti, District 2, stated they voted yes in order to continue discussion.

The proposal has been popular with both the Maury County Public Schools Board of Education members and Columbia City Council. Earlier this year, the school board voted to move forward with the project, and city council voted unanimously to waive nearly $13,000 in engineering fees.

However, county admin committee members, as well as nearby residents, seemed to be more divided about the project, which led to funding disapproval.

Many residents came to the meeting to voice their concerns about the project, chief among issues of concern include the cost of the school, the traffic issues the school might bring and the possibility for an increase in taxes.

“At this time, the tradeoffs we would have, just don’t add up in my opinion, to building a school on this property,” said Roger Mashburn, a resident.

School board member Marlina Ervin, serving District 6, briefly spoke at the meeting defending the school.

“All of those concerns are concerns that we share. Safety is our utmost concern for our students. Safety in transport, safety in classroom spaces,” said Ervin.

Ervin then turned the discussion over to Eric Perryman, MCPS Assistant Superintendent of Operations.

“I will tell you that the 11 folks that are elected by the same electorate you were elected by have spent hours upon hours over the last 3 years looking at the needs of the school system, looking at the sites and the facilities that are there," Perryman said.

"They have put in tons of work that the people of this county have elected them to do. It’s not just staff, it’s not just our wants, we get nothing out of building more schools. No one makes a dollar, no one gets anything out of it, it’s just more work. This is the right thing to do by our students; this is the right thing to do by our electorate, because this does not require a tax increase."

Bart Cline, architect for the school system, discussed the issue of traffic.

“Alone, on the car rider side, we can stack 336 cars at one time. As many of you know who have Pre-K or children, they come and go at different times, so we can actually keep it from backing up onto the main roads. In addition to the 336 stack spaces, we also have stacking for 11 buses. Plus on site, there’s an additional 240 spaces.”

Cline said around 40% of students are expected to be car riders, and 60% are expected to be bus riders.

The arguments presented did not seem to convince the majority of the committee.

“After this past week, I’ve got nothing but emails and phone calls not supporting this," said Previti. "I’ve heard from one person that was in the room tonight that said ‘I don’t care if you build it because it’s the lesser of the evils. If we don’t build a school, we’ll get a shopping mall.’ And that’s the best I’ve gotten to support."

Commissioner Aaron Miller of District 7 was worried that, due a decrease of students, the school may be not needed at all. Miller cited and questioned a drop in student enrollment in MCPS.

“... It sounds like we’re looking at losing funding that we were hitherto dependent on in some ways, while also seeing an increase in staff and a decrease in students," Miller said.

“That's concerning to me that we are then going to borrow more money, that we will then pay interest on over the next 20 years, for a school that we may not necessarily need at the time that it is completed.”

Morrow was initially supportive of the school but changed his mind once he heard overwhelmingly from his constituents a desire for the school not to be built.

“I would like to see this school built somewhere, but I think the only way you’ll get it is to find another place to put it, I honestly do, because the biggest issue people have is with traffic and congestion. That is the biggest corridor in Maury County, and I think it’s probably not a good idea to put anything else on that corridor that doesn’t have to be there,” Morrow said.

Commissioner Danny Grooms of District 10 said regardless of where the school is placed, there is bound to be traffic problems.

“I challenge any of you to find a location North of Columbia that’s not gonna have traffic problems. If you move it out Carters Creek Pike you still have traffic problems on 31, on Nashville Highway. If you come down to Bear Creek, you still got traffic problems,” Grooms said. “I have sat and watched for a long time every tax dollar being spent go North of Columbia and Columbia. I feel like I have to speak up for my constituents because we pay taxes in this county just like everybody else.”


Spring Hill Makes Road Honorary Name Change (CDH)

A request for a new honorary street renaming of Reserve Boulevard in Spring Hill is currently being considered in honor of a highly distinguished local Korean War veteran.

The request would be to honor the memory of Command Sgt. Major (CSM) Cristobal Melendez, a longtime Spring Hill resident who passed away Jan. 15, 2022 at 97 years old.

Spring Hill Parks and Recreation presented the request to the city's Municipal Planning Commission on Monday, where it was approved with a positive recommendation to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, who will cast the final vote Monday, June 17.

During his time of service, CSM Melendez was a member of the 65th Infantry Battalion. Nicknamed the "Borinqueneers," the 65th were a segregated combat infantry consisting primarily of Puerto Rican volunteers.

Many of these soldiers did not speak English, or had ever stepped foot on United States soil, yet were still willing to fight despite not being recognized as equals.

On April 13, 2016, the Borinqueneers were honored in Washington D.C. with the Congressional Gold Medal by then President Barack Obama and members of U.S. Congress.

In May of that same year, former Mayor Rick Graham and BOMA members presented CSM Melendez with a special Key to the City of Spring Hill.

Pending BOMA approval, the goal is to unveil the sign on Friday, June 28. The sign will also be paid for by the Parks and Recreation Commission.

"Just to be clear, this is not a renaming. This is an honorary naming of an existing street," Parks and Recreation Director Kayce Williams said.

"No names will change, and no current signage will change. This will be a small honorary sign that the family approves of, and the BOMA approves of, that will go on the side of the road nowhere near where the road signage it.


Maury Election Administrator Gets Certified (MSM)

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and State Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins recently recognized Maury County Administrator of Elections Chris Mackinlay for passing the Administrator of Elections Certification Exam.

“Congratulations to Chris Mackinlay on earning his state certification,” said Secretary Hargett. “His strong desire to fulfill this requirement and meet the highest standards will benefit the citizens of Maury County.” 

Administered by the Secretary of State’s Division of Elections in Nashville, the exam is held at least once yearly. This rigorous written assessment contains questions based on statutory requirements, ranging from voter registration to Election Day guidelines.

“Chris’s hard work and his successful completion of this exam prepare him well to serve,” Goins said. “I appreciate Chris’s dedication to ensuring Maury County’s elections are secure, accurate, and trustworthy.”

Before taking the certification exam, election administrators must complete a training process covering 40 different topics related to election law. By passing the exam, these election administrators demonstrate they have the knowledge and training to administer election laws in their respective communities successfully.

“I am grateful to have passed this critical exam and to have obtained my certification,” said MacKinlay. “I look forward to serving our citizens with integrity as we continue our efforts to achieve a free and fair electoral process later this year.” 

Tennessee has been ranked number one in election integrity for three consecutive years. For more information about Tennessee elections, please visit GoVoteTN.gov 


Dems Present Awards (Press Release)

The Maury County Democratic Party (MCDP) announced its award winners at the 21st Annual Heritage Dinner earlier this month, on Saturday June 2nd.

Award winners this year are:

• Drake Colley – Jerry and Linda Colley True Democrat Award

• Dr. Christa Martin - H. O. Porter Educator Award

• Dennis J. Campos – Ty Cobb Young Democrat Award

• James Dallas – Judge Jimmy Matthews Community Service Award

• Kathy Hannen - Democratic Women “Life of the Party” Award

Award winners will each get to designate $200 to the charity of their choice.


Experience Spring Hill (Press Release)

Spring Hill's popular annual community event, Experience Spring Hill, The Event, presented by TriStar Spring Hill ER, is back on Saturday, June 22, 2024. This jam-packed event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Summit High School.


Experience Spring Hill, The Event offers attendees a chance to explore all that Spring Hill has to offer in one day under one roof. The free event features over 140 exhibitors from local businesses and nonprofits, a children’s activity area, a food court, community and city information, games with prizes for all ages, dance performances, and much more.


"We're thrilled to host this popular event again this year," said Rebecca Melton, executive director of the Spring Hill Chamber. "Experience Spring Hill, The Event offers an excellent opportunity for residents to explore local businesses and access community information while enjoying family-friendly fun."


Experience Spring Hill, The Event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available at Summit High School. 


For more information, visit ExperienceSpringHill.com.


Leadership Maury (Press Release)

Maury Alliance is excited to announce that applications for the Leadership Maury Class of 2024-2025 are now open!


Leadership Maury offers a unique opportunity to connect with local decision-makers, gain insights into various sectors, and explore all the great things Maury County has to offer. Whether you live, work, or volunteer here, this program is your chance to contribute to the future of our community.


Apply now and be part of a network of passionate leaders dedicated to making a difference! Learn more at www.mauryalliance.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.


Maury County Clerk Satellite Office (Press Release)

The Maury County Clerk’s office can now help residents with renewals of license plates or placards each Wednesday from 8am to 3:30pm at the Maury County Senior Center located at 1020 Maury County Park Dr.

Please drive around to the back of the building and look for the car tag renewal sign near the back door.

Forms of payment include credit/debit card or check – no cash.

Any Maury County Resident can use this office.

All other transactions will still need to be done through the main office located at 10 Public Square.

Also, you can renew online at TNCountyClerk.com or at kiosks in Spring Hill City Hall or Mt. Pleasant Courthouse.


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

James Harold Parrish, 93, died June 13, 2024 at Maury Regional Medical Center. 

Funeral services will be conducted Tuesday, June 18, 2024 at 11:00 AM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with John Waldrum officiating. Visitation will be Monday June 17th from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will be at Jones Cemetery in Columbia on Bear Creek Pike with military honors provided by Herbert Griffin American Legion Post 19. Online condolences may be extended at www.oakesandnichols.com.


…And now, news from around the state…

Ascension Security Breach (TheNewsTN)

Ascension hospital system said a “small number” of files that may contain patient personal health information was taken by cyberattackers. 

In addition, the company announced that attackers were able to infiltrate the system because an employee downloaded a malicious file.  

“We have no reason to believe this was anything but an honest mistake,” Ascension said in a statement.  

Ascension is offering patients free credit monitoring and identity theft protection while identifying how many patients were affected and the extent of the data stolen. 

“Right now, we don’t know precisely what data was potentially affected and for which patients,” the company wrote in a Wednesday statement. “In order to reach those conclusions, we need to conduct a full review of the files that may have been impacted and carefully analyze them. While we have started this process, it is a significant undertaking that will take time.” 

A ransomware attack shut down the patient portal, electronic health system in early May and forced the hospital to move to paper systems and divert some services to other area hospitals. Patients experienced delays in service.  

Ascension was able to restore access to EHR in Tennessee on June 14. The company has also since restored its patient portal. Ascension said in a Wednesday statement that there is “no evidence that data was taken” from the EHR. 


Republican Leaders Gather (Tennessean)

Victory in November was the theme of the evening as Tennessee's top Republican brass gathered for an annual fundraiser dinner in Nashville on Saturday night. 

About 1,200 state lawmakers, county and state Republican Party executives, lobbyists and politicos gathered at the Music City Center for the 47th annual Tennessee Republican Statesmen’s Dinner.

U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty — who both serve on Trump’s leadership team — stumped for Trump in their brief remarks. In criticism over the Trump guilty verdict, Hagerty accused the Biden administration of “contorting every aspect of the federal government” and “mobilizing them into a warfare that we have never seen before here in America.”

"Most of us could not have imagined that in America we could see what happened in Manhattan two and a half weeks ago with the verdict that was delivered against President Trump," Hagerty said.

Sharing that he’d spoken to the former president this week, Hagerty pledged to “run the score up” in Tennessee, bringing home an even bigger win for Trump than in 2020 when he won with 60.7% of the vote.

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry, who was sworn in earlier this year, headlined the event, claimed that Democrats have held a double standard of applying justice, citing the two Democratic-led impeachments of former Trump, and an unsuccessful Republican-led impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. He also decried Trump's hush money guilty verdict.

“If Trump is guilty on all of those 34 counts, then half of New York and all of Wall Street should be in jail,” Landry said. 

Landry emphasized the important leadership role states play in protecting freedoms and pushing back against what he described as “the grip of anarchy that has infected the country.”

“D.C. seems more focused on creating problems rather than solving them, making me believe that the true solutions are found in Gov. (Bill) Lee’s model, which is opportunity, security, and freedom for all,” Landry said. “We fix America when we fix our states.” 

Landry touted Louisiana’s new universal licensing law to help draw professionals to the state, saying "y'all better watch out, we might actually make some of y'all LSU fans before its over” sparking fervor from the crowd.

“I’m going home to sign a bill that places the Ten Commandments in public classrooms,” he said. “And I can’t wait to be sued.”

The Pelican State governor called the two states "kindred spirits," lauding Tennesseans of 200 years ago who under General Andrew Jackson came to the Cajun army's aid at the Battle of New Orleans — and also poking some little good-natured fun two cities in each state.

“New Orleans and Memphis, they're like sister cities,” Landry joked. “New Orleans is like your high-maintenance but seductive cousin, while Memphis is your warm and friendly buddy — but she’s got a hidden razor in her boot.”

Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

Monster Jam Monster Truck Rally will be at Nissan Stadium on June 22, 2024. The fun begins at the Monster Jam Pit Party in Nashville on Saturday. Fans can see the massive trucks up close, meet their favorite drivers and crews, get autographs, and take pictures. Activities include the Sand Box play area, inflatable slides, Spin Master remote control truck course, coloring and temporary tattoo station, and photo ops, including the chance to take a photo with the Series trophy. This fun-filled experience is the only place that allows people to get up close access to the Monster Jam teams and get an insider’s look at how these trucks are built to stand up to the competition.

Find tickets at nissanstadium.com/event/monster-jam-2024.

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