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Southern Middle TN Today News with Tom Price 6-3-24

WKOM/WKRM Radio

Southern Middle Tennessee Today

News Copy for June 3, 2024


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

We start with local news…

Man Charged with Sexual Exploitation (MauryCountySource)

A man arrested earlier this year as part of a large-scale, collaborative operation to target online child exploitation and sextortion in Tennessee, called Operation Protecting Tomorrow, now faces an additional charge after child sexual abuse material was found on devices he owns.

Thirty-one year old Cody J. Wilson was one of a dozen people arrested as part of the joint investigation with special agents with the TBI ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force and the United States Secret Service. Wilson was charged on February 16th with Solicitation of a Minor and Soliciting Sexual Exploitation of a Minor – Exploitation of a Minor by Electronic Means. After Wilson’s initial arrest, a search of his electronic devices revealed he had been distributing and exchanging Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) on various online platforms. Some of the material consisted of children as young as infants being sexually assaulted.

Agents with the TBI ICAC Task Force today arrested Wilson, who is originally from the Columbiaville, Michigan, area, and charged him with Aggravated Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. He was booked into the Maury County Jail with the assistance of US Secret Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Maury County Sheriff’s Office. He is being held on a $75,000 bond.


MRMC Launches Orthopedic Institute (Press Release)

Maury Regional Health held a groundbreaking ceremony on May 30 as they launched construction of the Orthopedic Surgical Institute on the campus of Maury Regional Medical Center (MRMC).

 “As the number of otherwise healthy, active older adults in our community continues to increase, the need for orthopedic surgeries to repair or replace damaged, arthritic joints continues to be a major service offered at MRMC,” said Maury Regional Health Chief Executive Officer Martin Chaney, MD. “When I started my career in medicine, patients undergoing a hip or knee replacement required extended hospital and rehab stays. With robotic-assisted technologies in the hands of very talented surgeons along with dedicated outpatient teams, the majority of patients undergoing joint replacement and spinal surgeries at MRMC are able to transition home the day of their procedure. This new hospital-based outpatient department is the next step in our quest to provide patient-centered, state-of-the-art orthopedic and pain-management procedures for those we serve.”

 The project will consist of a 34,040-sq.-ft. expansion to the northeast side of the existing Pavilion from the ground level to the fourth floor. The ground level will contain a new sterilization and surgical supply unit, while the first floor will contain four operating suites, with two additional shelled areas that can be equipped as surgical suites, and two procedure rooms. Among the technology available in the Orthopedic Surgical Institute is the Mako robotic-assisted platform used for knee and hip replacement as well as the 7D Surgical FlashTM Navigation System for spinal procedures. The remaining floors will provide shelled space for future expansion. The expansion is expected to be complete in less than two years.

 Physicians on the medical staff who will perform procedures there include:

Jeff Adams, MD - total shoulder replacement

Mark Cobb, MD – spinal surgery

Randall Davidson, Jr., MD – ankle replacement

Lee Hunter, Jr., MD - elbow replacement

Christopher Loftis, MD - shoulder replacement

Scott McCall, MD – knee and hip replacement

Jonathan Pettit, MD – sports medicine

Zachary Pharr, MD – sports medicine

Erion Qamirani, MD – spinal surgery

Braden Schuster, MD - interventional pain management

Cason Shirley, MD – knee and hip replacement

Carson Strickland, MD – ankle replacement

Kenneth Sykes, MD – interventional pain management

Freddie Wade, MD – knee and hip replacement

John Welker, MD – interventional pain management 

“Maury Regional leadership received feedback from orthopedic surgeons on its medical staff, including the physicians at Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance Columbia and others to design a space that is optimized for efficiency and patient experience,” said Scott McCall, MD. “This new state-of-the-art Orthopedic Surgical Institute located on Maury Regional’s campus is an evolution for orthopedic care in our region.”

 This project will necessitate the relocation of LabCorp on June 5 to the main floor of the Medical Office Building adjacent to the Pavilion.

 MRMC offers a wide array of surgical services with more than 50 surgeons on the medical staff. The medical center offers advanced technology that includes four da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical platforms, the Mako robotic-assisted system for joint replacements and an endovascular lab and a digital imaging system that enables physicians to view diagnostic images during the surgical procedure.


Judicial Center Time Capsule (WKOM Audio 2:56)

On Friday, the Maury County Historical Society and a special committee dedicated a time capsule for the new Maury County Judicial Center. Front Porch Radio’s Delk Kennedy attended the ceremony and spoke to County Commission Chairman Eric Previti to learn more about the time capsule…


City Receives Housing Grant (Press Release)

The City of Columbia has received a $750,000 grant from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) under the 2024 HOME Urban Rural Program. This funding will support the rehabilitation and reconstruction of single-family homes for low-income households in Columbia.


City Manager Tony Massey stated, "This funding from THDA is a significant step towards improving living conditions for our low-income residents. It underscores our commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all citizens of Columbia."


The HOME program, funded federally and administered by THDA, focuses on owner-occupied rehabilitation, including reconstruction. This program helps to ensure those most vulnerable in our community are able to live in code-compliant, safe residences. HOME funds can only be used for rehabilitating or reconstructing existing structures. Homes must meet all building codes and THDA standards upon project completion.


Assistant City Manager Thad Jablonski added, "The City of Columbia is continually looking for opportunities to access federal and state grants to provide the most value to Columbia taxpayers. HOME grant funds will allow us to impact Columbia residents at a time of high and rising costs to owning and repairing a home."


The program ensures no discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability, and includes policies to assist non-English speaking applicants.


HCA Tristar Donates $50,000 to Tornado Relief (MauryCountySource)

On Tuesday, HCA Healthcare and TriStar Health announced the donation of $50,000 to support relief efforts for communities in Maury County impacted by the devastating EF3 tornado that hit on May 8th.

“As part of HCA Healthcare, we are committed to creating healthier tomorrows for the communities we serve,” said Mitch Edgeworth, president of the HCA Healthcare TriStar Division. “We are grateful for the opportunity to show our support to those that have been impacted by this storm and are proud to be a provider of healthcare services in this community.”

The $50,000 donation will go to the Maury County Storm Victims Fund which is currently helping support community members who were directly impacted by the storm. Hundreds of homes were damaged and many were destroyed by the powerful winds that swept through the Spring Hill and Columbia communities.

“Our County appreciates this generous donation of $50,000 from the TriStar Division of HCA Healthcare so very much at this difficult time. The money will go directly into the Maury County Storm Victims Fund and will only be used locally,” said Maury County Mayor Sheila Butt. “The fact is that after a disaster such as we experienced on May 8th with the tornado, it takes a strong, resilient community to rebuild houses, lives and homes. This donation will go a long way in helping those with the most immediate needs and those who may have hurdles to cross in rehoming. Thank you, HCA Healthcare and TriStar Health for helping support our community in this way.”

HCA Healthcare affiliates TriStar Spring Hill ER and Pinewood Springs Mental Health and Wellness are both located in Maury County. Hundreds of HCA Healthcare employees also live in the county.

“The residents of Maury County, who were significantly affected by the tornado on May 8th, will be relieved to know that additional funds and support are available as they begin to rebuild their lives,” said 8th District County Commissioner Ray Jeter. “As the County Commissioner for this area, I extend my heartfelt appreciation for this generous contribution. Thank you!”

“On behalf of all citizens of Maury County, I want to express my gratitude to HCA Healthcare for their generous donation to the storm victims of the May 8, 2024 tornado,” said 6th District County Commissioner Kathy Grodi. “Donations from the private sector ease the burden for all to rebuild and thrive. I extend my heartfelt thanks.”

“On the evening of May 8th, I saw firsthand the devastation that our community and those in my district suffered. Neighbors, friends and family were all impacted tremendously by this life changing event,” said 5th District County Commissioner Brandon Nutt. “It’s been a blessing to witness so many people reach out and assist those in need. I know that HCA Healthcare and TriStar Health’s offering will directly help those who, at this difficult time, need it the most!”


Vape Shop Sues Spring Hill and DA (MSM)

The owners of a series of local vaping stores have filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Spring Hill and District Attorney Brent Cooper in response to a series of raids earlier in May.

On Thursday, May 9, the Spring Hill Police Department posted on its Facebook page that local, state and federal officials had conducted court-authorized searches at Old School Vapor shops in Columbia, Franklin and Spring Hill. No arrests were made as a result of the searches.

On Monday, May 20, Litson PLLC filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court on behalf of clients Old School Vapor and SAK Wholesale for what it called the “illegal seizure of $1.35 million worth of legal hemp products by the Spring Hill Police Department.”

The warrants authorizing the searches of the stores reportedly did not allow for the seizure of hemp products, which are legal under federal and Tennessee law as long as the Delta-9 THC levels are not more than 0.3 percent of dry weight. The lawsuit also claims that there was no warrant issued to search SAK Wholesale’s Columbia warehouse.

“The illegally seized hemp was fully compliant with federal and Tennessee law, and our clients presented third-party laboratory test results to law enforcement indicating that the products were within legal limits,” Litson said in a press release announcing the lawsuit.

Named in the lawsuit are Brent Cooper, the District Attorney General for the 22nd Judicial District; Spring Hill Police Chief Don Brite; Spring Hill PD Sgt. Andrew Burdett and the City of Spring Hill. The lawsuit also names 10 “John Doe” defendants whose identities were not available to Old School Vapor: assistant district attorneys for the 22nd Judicial District, Spring Hill police officers, including its Drug Unit, members of the Columbia Police Department’s Drug Unit, agents with the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security and deputies from the Maury County Sheriff’s Department. The “John Doe” defendants were all said to have been present when the hemp was seized.

The lawsuit alleges that the warrants did not allow for the seizure of hemp products, but that law enforcement seized over $1 million of hemp products anyway after being directed by the District Attorney’s Office that it was the “same damn thing” as marijuana.

Old School Vapor reportedly presented third-party lab results to law enforcement stating that the products were within legal limits. The lawsuit alleges that law enforcement conducted its own tests, which reached the same conclusion, but ignored the result.

Deputies with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department reportedly refused to seize any hemp products from Old School Vapor’s Franklin location because hemp was not mentioned in the warrant.

The lawsuit seeks damages of over $1.35 million and attorney fees, as well as a finding that the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs were violated.

A motion for preliminary injunction was filed on May 22 seeking the return of the hundreds of pounds of hemp, so that it would not be ruined while in police storage. According to the filing, improperly stored hemp can increase its amount of Delta-9 THC and become illegal marijuana.

Lucas Wright, spokesman for the City of Spring Hill, declined to comment when contacted by Main Street Maury, citing the pending litigation. Cooper also declined to comment.

A date has not yet been scheduled to hear the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Nashville.

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

Mrs. Beverly Johnson Pigg, 95, long-time resident of Columbia, retired real estate agent for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and widow of William H. “Dub” Pigg, Jr, died Monday, May 27th at Brookdale Assisted Living. A memorial service for Mrs. Pigg will be conducted Wednesday, June 5th at 5:00 p.m.at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia. The Family will visit with friends From 3:00 p.m. until the time of service at the church. Following the service a reception will be held from 6:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at James K. Polk Memorial Gardens located at the James K. Polk Home.

 

Mrs.  Joyce Anne Duckworth Parks, 84, retired employee of Farm Bureau, and widow of Douglas R. Parks, Jr., died Saturday June 1, in Manchester, TN at the residence of her Daughter where she had made her home for several years. Funeral services for Mrs. Parks will be conducted Saturday June 8th at 1:00 p.m. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens. The family will visit with friends Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until the time of services at the funeral home.


…And now, news from around the state…

State Archives Opens Constitution Exhibit (Tennessean)

As an archivist walked behind the glass to place Tennessee’s original state Constitutions into the exhibit on Saturday morning, a small crowd pressed in toward the glass case at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, cameras ready, to catch a glimpse.

Three of the most treasured documents in the state, the original copies of Tennessee’s Constitutions, are only on display once each year: on June 1, the anniversary of Tennessee’s founding. 

Tennessee was founded in 1796, after 55 delegates convened in Knoxville and adopted the original state Constitution. The document was sent to Congress in Washington, D.C., where President George Washington signed it into law on June 1, 1796. New constitutions were later adopted in 1834 and 1870.

Saturday marked Tennessee’s 228th birthday, and plenty of festivities unfolded around the Bicentennial Mall State Park to mark the occasion.

Angela Park, who attended the celebration with her husband, Duane, said seeing the original documents in person was a highlight. 

“I just love that Tennessee honors the state Constitution,” Park said.

Park was one of dozens of people who visited the Tennessee State Library and Archives despite the morning drizzle, as historical interpreters shared moments of history from the time of Daniel Boone to the War of 1812 era to the women’s suffrage movement. 

“We strive to bring history to life,” State Librarian and Archivist Jamie Ritter told the crowd. “When we bring history to life, it's through events like this, it's through all of you who have curiosity for our history, and the desire to engage with the materials that we have.”

Outside, guests planted coneflowers – a state flower – in tiny pots, while children enjoyed fresh popcorn, face painting and state symbol-themed coloring pages, and the East Tennessee State University Old Time Serenaders played jolly tunes on the banjo, guitar and fiddle. 

Inside, children wrote letters to Gov. Bill Lee – letters that the archives will deliver to Lee’s office as correspondence, and at the close of his term will make their way back to the state museum to be preserved.

Inside the museum, Miss Tennessee Brandee Mills hosted a storytime for children, and later recited the state poem, “Oh Tennessee, My Tennessee," before the crowd enjoyed cupcakes topped with tiny Tennessee flags.

“Dear Governor” – a new exhibit displaying letters and correspondence to and from Tennessee governors throughout state history – officially opened at the Library and Archives on Saturday during the festivities.

Included in the exhibit are letters from letters from celebrities and presidents, including one from President Ulysses S. Grant to Gov. John Brown in 1871, and letters to governors from Tennesseans young and old through the years, from Tennessee’s first governor, John Sevier, through the Haslam administration.

The idea for the exhibit formed when archivists began digitizing letters of Tennessee’s earliest governors, said Aimee Saunders, director of preservation and digital services, whose department oversaw the compilation and design of the exhibit.

“This just really scratches the surface, even of just the governor’s correspondence,” Saunders said. “We really just are trying to get people’s toes wet with the possibilities of what they can find.” 

One 1972 letter is correspondence from 8-year-old Joey Park of Alamo, Tennessee, to then-Gov. Winfield Dunn. 

“I was the little boy at the Humboldt Strawberry Festival that came out in the street and said, ‘howdy Gov. Dunn,’” Park’s older brother typed for him. “I am going to run for Gov. when I get big… I hope you will keep these pictures and watch for me in about 25 years. I will need your vote then, so I can be Governor like you.”

Last month, former Govs. Phil Bredesen, Lamar Alexander and Bill Haslam visited the archives together for a special preview of the project.

“I’m a little bit of a history nerd, but for any Tennessee citizen, you’ll be as impressed as I am with the collection here, with the history you can see,” Haslam said, in a video promoting the exhibit released by the archives. 

“It’s something someone who has an interest in Tennessee and its history really would enjoy,” Bredesen said in another video. 

Archivists pulled selected correspondence – including letters that Alexander and Haslam wrote to each other while governor, and a letter from Gov. Haslam’s father to Gov. Bredesen that Haslam had never seen. 

“Their reaction was really interesting and, and great to experience,” Ritter said. “They put it in perspective, as they reflected on seeing their correspondence as well as other past governors’ correspondence, just how important it is to preserve it.”

The Tennessee Library and Archives is open to the public for research Tuesday through Saturday. 

“Unlike a museum, you can come in and request to look at records and do research, and we have archivists and librarians on staff that can help people navigate how to locate those records and how to use them,” assistant state archivist Jami Awalt said. “So even though it may not be in the display case, there’s still plenty for people to find and look at.” 


Final Story of the Day (Maury County Source)

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum recently unveiled a new photography exhibition, The Bradley Barn Sessions. The exhibit features photographs by Fritz Hoffmann from the recording sessions for Country Music Hall of Fame member George Jones’ 1994 album, The Bradley Barn Sessions. The exhibit is free and will be open to the public through 2024 in the museum’s first-floor gallery.

Bradley Barn Sessions, featured Jones performing duets with many country and rock artists, including Mark Chesnutt, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, Keith Richards, Leon Russell, Travis Tritt and Trisha Yearwood, as well as Country Music Hall of Fame members Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart and Tammy Wynette. The sessions took place at historic Bradley’s Barn, a recording studio established by producer and Country Music Hall of Fame member Owen Bradley in the rolling hills of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.

Learn more by visiting countrymusichalloffame.org.

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