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

WKOM/WKRM Radio

Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for June 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…

Lawrenceburg Murder Suspect Arrested (MSM)

  A second arrest has been made in connection with the 2021 murder of 52-year-old Loretto resident Sharon Gillespie that took place outside The Summit of Lawrenceburg.

  Gillespie had been working at The Summit on April 13, 2021, at the time of her death.

 Witnesses reported hearing gunshots, and Gillespie was found unresponsive in the parking lot shortly afterwards. She was transported to nearby Southern Tennessee Regional Health System-Lawrenceburg, where she succumbed to her injuries.

  In August of 2022, detectives presented evidence to a Lawrence County Grandy Jury, who opted to return indictments against 40-year-old Columbia resident Brandon M. Waire.

  Waire was subsequently arrested on charges of first-degree murder, criminal homicide, attempted especially aggravated robbery and criminal conspiracy to sell Schedule II narcotics. Waire was incarcerated under a bond of $1,000,000.

At the time of Waire’s arrest, officials with the Lawrenceburg Police Department indicated that additional arrests were expected in the future.

  On May 31, a grand jury returned indictments, charging Columbia resident Victoria A. Cash, age 40, in Gillespie’s murder, as well.

Cash was indicted on one count each of first-degree murder, criminal homicide, attempted especially aggravated robbery and criminal conspiracy to sell Schedule II narcotics.

  Cash has since been arrested and incarcerated under a $3,000,000 bond.

  Investigation in the case was conducted by detectives with the Lawrenceburg Police Department in conjunction with Special Agents with the Office of Homeland Security.


Deadly Crash in Hampshire (WSMV)

We have more details on the deadly crash on Hampshire Pike last week. One person is dead and five people were hospitalized after a head-on crash in Maury County on Tuesday morning.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said 30-year-old Nathaniel Morris died in the crash.

At about 6:45 a.m., crews with the Maury County Fire Department (MCFD) were called to a head-on crash on Hampshire Pike near Ridgetop Road.

When crews arrived, five people were found trapped in two cars, and one person was found to be deceased, according to officials.

Crews said it took an hour to extricate all of the victims from the cars. Three adults were flown and two juveniles were driven to local hospitals.

According to THP, Morris was driving west on Hampshire Pike and the other driver, 61-year-old Michael Sportelli was driving east.

Morris crossed the centerline and hit Sportelli’s car head-on, the THP said, and he was ejected onto the roadway.

The THP said Sportelli’s car hit several trees before stopping on the south side of the road.

Morris’ car stopped in the westbound lane facing north with him lying next to the front left fender. He was not wearing a seatbelt, THP reported. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

No charges are expected for anyone involved.


Ogles Outspending Most Colleagues (Tennessean, Tennessee Star)

U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Columbia, expensed more on lodging and meals than 94% of his House colleagues in 2023, according to congressional expenses filed in a new receipt-free reimbursement program that some critics say lacks accountability and transparency.

Ogles ranked 25th in spending out of the 328 House members who spent a total $5.8 million in 2023, per a report on the reimbursement program from The Washington Post. The total reflects member expenses filed as of June 2024 for lodging and meals/incidentals expenses during official business in 2023, and members have until December to file any outstanding expenses from 2022 and 2023.

Ogles' recouped spending also far outpaced the rest of the Tennessee delegation. The Tennessean previously reported Ogles has spent more than $335,000 on taxpayer-funded communications since 2023. Ogles has increased spending on these ads as he faces a competitive primary race later this summer.

Out of 435 House members, 107 members did not file for any reimbursements under the new receipt-free program, including U.S. Rep. John Rose, R-Cookeville, and U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville. The other Tennessee members expensed less than $19,000 each on lodging and meals.

The reimbursement program, finalized last year, was intended to help lawmakers cover the out-of-pocket costs they shoulder by living part-time in D.C. and their home districts.

Members earn a salary of $174,000 and haven't seen a cost of living raise in 15 years. Though the annual salary is well above that of the average American, some have argued the costs of being a D.C. lawmaker can be a barrier to entry for candidates who aren't independently wealthy.

The Washington Post reports government accountability and transparency experts have criticized the new program as ripe for abuse as lawmakers can now file for reimbursements without providing any paper trail.

The few rules of the new program block lawmakers from reimbursing themselves for principal or interest payments on their mortgage, but it doesn't require members to keep a record of their expenses.

The program's biggest spender in 2023 was U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Michigan, who was reimbursed $44,079, a 25% value compared to the congressional salary of $175,000, per the Post database.

At 25th on the list, Ogles received $30,264 in reimbursements, including more than $21,000 for lodging costs and more than $8,500 for food.

Ogles' reimbursement total far outpaced the rest of the Tennessee delegation, as:

U.S. Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-Kingsport, received $18,035 in lodging/meal reimbursements;

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, received $17,271;

U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, received $14,600;

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Ooltewah, received $8,561;

U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Murfreesboro, received $4,989;

U.S. Rep. David Kustoff, R-Germantown, received $2,377;

Rose and Burchett filed for zero lodging/meal reimbursements.

In related news, Ogles was the resounding victor among attendees at the Davidson County Republican Party’s annual picnic event on Saturday who participated in a straw poll weighing candidates running in the August 1 Republican primary for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District.

Ogles (pictured above) won the straw poll with 144 votes over Metro Nashville City Councilmember Courtney Johnston, who received just 48 votes.

Elected to Congress in 2022, Ogles is a member of the House Freedom Caucus and boasts a 100 percent rating on the Heritage Action Scorecard, the nation’s leading conservative scorecard.


Run for The Well Outreach (Press Release)

Join The Well Outreach on July 4th at Summit High School in Spring Hill, for an action-packed day of fun in support of your local food pantry! Lace up your shoes and choose from a Timed 5K or Color Fun Run (complete with a FOAM pit!). There is a 1 mile turnaround option for those young ones who still want to get in on the fun!

 Not a runner but still want to support the Well? Opt for the Sleep In Option and still grab some awesome event merchandise!

 Plus, don’t miss the Bicycle/Stroller Parade (hosted by Spring Hill Parks and Recreation), perfect for the whole family!

Come and be part of this unforgettable event as we Run For Hunger in Middle Tennessee! Sign up today as spots will fill up fast!


SIGN UP AT: thewelloutreach.org


Your participation can make a difference to help feed families in need in Middle Tennessee!


Groups Join for 4th Festivities (MSM)

Join the Breakfast Rotary, Noon Rotary and Kiwanis of Columbia for the 10th anniversary of the clubs’ 4th of July celebration.

The clubs will be sponsoring this free event on Thursday, July 4, at the Kiwanis shelter located in Maury County Park.

“We honor citizens that day that have done just an outstanding job to our community,” Noon Rotary member George Vrailas said, adding that three such citizens will be receiving a “Great American Service Above Self Award.”

The Honoring Ceremony will be at 8:30 a.m. and the Kid’s Bike Parade will follow at 9:15 a.m.

“Everyone comes out in their colors – red, white and blue – and decorations and just has a good time,” Vrailas said.

He said that “everyone is welcome,” but bikes are for younger children, “like elementary school kids,” and if they need help decorating their bikes, red ribbons will be provided.

In years past, along with the bikes, Vrailas said that children have been in wagons and strollers and dogs have also been in the parade that begins at the Kiwanis shelter, located next to the Kid’s Kingdom, and goes around the back of the playground and ends back where it started.

Along with the ceremony and parade, there will also be a children’s essay contest “on what the 4th of July means to them,” Vrailas said.

There will be free drinks and snacks for children, and they are also invited to participate in other activities (face painting and charactures) as well.

Vrailas included that the event is intended to “give honor to our veterans and local community heroes that have served our community well and to inspire patriotism in our youth.”

The celebration is expected to wrap up at 11:30 a.m.


Maury Democrats To Hold Debate (Press Release)

The Maury County Democratic Party (MCDP) announced there will be a debate on Monday, July 8, 2024, at 6 p.m. between two Democratic candidates running for the Tennessee State House of Representatives in District 64.

The event will be held at Macedonia Recreation Center, 501 Armstrong St., Columbia, and is open to the public. It will begin at 6 p.m. and will last for approximately one hour.

Eileen Longstreet and Alex Pierce will participate with Justin Kanew of the Tennessee Holler moderating.

Alex Pierce is from Columbia and Eileen Longstreet is from Spring Hill.

House District 64 includes the eastern part of Maury County. The seat is currently held by Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka).

James Dallas, MCDP Chair said, “We are excited to offer voters in House District 64 an opportunity to learn more about our candidates.”


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.



Sobriety Checkpoint (Press Release)

The Tennessee Highway Patrol will be conducting sobriety roadside safety checkpoints this week on State RT. 7, .1miles south of Knob Creek Road in Maury County starting at 10pm.

Impaired driving is a serious crime that kills more than 16,000 people and injures 305,000 people every year in the United States. Troopers will evaluate drivers for signs of alcohol or drug impairment. Troopers will target those who operate a vehicle while impaired and take corrective actions for other violations observed while ensuring the protection of all motorists.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol recognizes that sobriety checkpoints are highly visible and effective tools in the battle against impaired driving.


CSCC Summer Camps (Press Release)

Columbia State Community College’s Columbia Campus is excited to announce one last summer camp for 2024. 

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…   


Mrs. Kathleen Fay Akin Coates was born in Columbia, Tennessee on April 25th, 1939 and passed away on May 20th, 2024 at the age of 85. 

A memorial service will be held at Riverside United Methodist Church at 11 AM on June 29th. The family will visit with friends prior to the service at the church. A private inurnment will be held at Polk Memorial Gardens Mausoleum. Online condolences may be extended at www.oakesandnichols.com


Theo Arnold Fox, 80, retired welder, and resident of Columbia, died Sunday, June 23, 2024 at his residence. 

Services are incomplete, and will be announced at a later date. Condolences may be extended online at www.oakesandnichols.com. 


…And now, news from around the state…

Supreme Court Upholds Domestic Violence Gun Ban (Tennessean)

The Supreme Court on Friday upheld a law banning domestic abusers from owning guns, showing that a conservative court that has expanded gun rights also sees areas for limitations.

"Since the founding, our Nation’s firearm laws have included provisions preventing individuals who threaten physical harm to others from misusing firearms," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the 8-1 majority in a decision that faulted some courts for misunderstanding the court's recent moves backing gun rights.

But Justice Clarence Thomas, the lone dissenter Friday and author of one of the past key gun rights decisions, said there isn't a "single historical regulation" that justifies the ban.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson joined the majority but quibbled with analyzing statutes based on how they would have been viewed historically. She said a historical perspective on the Second Amendment would depend on the historians who are consulted.

“Who is protected by the Second Amendment, from a historical perspective?” Jackson wrote “I could go on – as others have. But I won’t.”

The decision indicates the court is likely to be more flexible in applying the historical test it set in 2022 but doesn’t foreshadow how that test will be applied to other restrictions such as prohibiting non-violent felons from having guns or banning high-capacity magazines, according to Joseph Blocher, co-director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke University School of Law.

“I think the Supreme Court is probably going to have to take more cases going forward to resolve those issues,” Blocher said. “This is a win for the government, but in some respects, it's about the narrowest win that the government could have.”

In fact, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in a concurring opinion that the decision leaves open the question of whether the ban on guns for those subject to a domestic violence restraining order could be challenged by someone with different circumstances.

The case centered on a Texas man, Zackey Rahimi, who was involved in five shootings between 2020 and 2021. Rahimi pleaded guilty to the federal crime of possessing guns while subject to a restraining order, but an appeals court threw out his conviction.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals relied on the court’s blockbuster 2022 decision, NYSRPA v. Bruen, striking down a New York law that required state residents to have "proper cause" to carry a handgun.

In that 6-3 opinion, the court ruled that gun regulations must be "consistent with this nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation" to survive court challenges. 

The Supreme Court said Friday the appeals court was wrongly looking for a "historical twin" to the regulation, rather than a "historical analogue."

Some courts, Roberts wrote, "have misunderstood the methodology of our recent Second Amendment cases."

"These precedents were not meant to suggest a law trapped in amber," Roberts wrote. "Holding otherwise would be as mistaken as applying the protections of the right only to muskets and sabers."

During the court’s discussion of Rahimi’s case in November, the question arose of what to do about a situation, such as domestic violence, in which there was essentially no law on the books when the Second Amendment was enacted. Much of the discussion focused on the idea that even if the framers didn't ban domestic abusers from owning guns, there was historical precedent for banning guns from people who were considered dangerous.

Thomas, in his dissent, accused the other justices of “mixing and matching historical laws.” He called that strategy a “regulatory blank check” to allow the government to disarm its citizens.

“That means the Government need only find a historical law with a comparable justification to validate modern disarmament regimes,” Thomas wrote. “As a result, historical laws fining certain behavior could justify completely disarming a person for the same behavior.”

While the appeals court had acknowledged Rahimi was "hardly a model citizen,” it ruled the law prohibiting him from owning a gun is an "outlier that our ancestors would never have accepted."

Underscoring the significance of the case, hundreds of gun safety and domestic violence prevention advocates had rallied outside the Supreme Court ahead of the November oral arguments, holding signs that read "Moms demand action" or "students demand action" on gun control.

Ashley Lantz, executive director of Brady Political Action Committee, said two-thirds of women killed by an intimate partner are killed with a gun.

“Thousands of women and other victims of domestic violence can breathe a sigh of relief today as the Court correctly ruled that their abusers cannot own firearms,” Lantz said in a statement Friday.

President Joe Biden said no one who has been abused should have to worry about their abuser getting a gun.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the court maintained a "commonsense prohibition" consistent with the Second Amendment to protect victims of domestic violence from their abusers.

Even Second Amendment rights groups acknowledged that Rahimi probably should not have access to guns. In 2019, Rahimi pulled out a gun and fired at a passerby who witnessed him dragging his girlfriend through a parking lot. Months later, after getting into an accident, he repeatedly shot at the other driver. In 2021, he fired several times after a friend's credit card was declined at a Whataburger burger joint.

But those groups, including the National Rifle Association, argued that Rahimi should have his guns confiscated only after he has been convicted of the crimes. The federal law that bars people from owning guns because of a restraining order, those groups say, is inconsistent with the way courts have historically viewed punishment.


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

“JEOPARDY!” host Ken Jennings announced that the U.S. Postal Service will issue a Forever stamp honoring beloved former host Alex Trebek concurrent with the show’s 60th Diamond Celebration that was launched earlier this year to celebrate the remarkable legacy of America’s Favorite Quiz Show. Presales for this special stamp have begun at usps.com.

This stamp commemorates Alex Trebek (1940–2020), the longtime host of the television quiz show “JEOPARDY!” who became a respected and beloved presence in millions of homes.

The grid of 20 identical stamps resembles the array of video monitors that form the “JEOPARDY!” game board.

On the stamp is written the prompt, “THIS NATURALIZED U.S. CITIZEN HOSTED THE QUIZ SHOW ‘JEOPARDY!’ FOR 37 SEASONS” and underneath, upside down, is the correct response: “Who is Alex Trebek?”

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