Vanderbilt University Renews Pharmaceutical Partnership with Japanese Company Ono

Vanderbilt University announced last week that they would continue the partnership with the Japanese-based Ono Pharmaceutical Company through November 2023. Vanderbilt has been working with Ono since 2015, and this is the fourth extension of their contract. 

“Such a successful cooperative effort is never guaranteed, so it is great to be able to continue and extend what has been Vanderbilt’s longest ongoing drug discovery collaboration with Ono,” said Thomas Utley, senior licensing officer at the Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization. “The collaboration is only possible because of the great working relationship that Ono brings to the table.”

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United States Department of Justice Awards Grants Hamilton County Schools $260,000 Under the STOP School Violence Act

The United States Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Tennessee on Thursday announced Hamilton County Schools would receive a $266,314 grant under the Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing School Violence Act (STOP) School Violence Act. The grant is a part of a more than $125 million nationwide program aimed to help keep schools safe.

“The Justice Department has no greater responsibility than protecting Americans from harm,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. 

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Owner of Telemedicine Company Pleads Guilty in Health Care Fraud Conspiracy

A Kentucky telemedicine company owner pleaded guilty to health care fraud this week. The Department of Justice District Attorney’s office of the Middle District of Tennessee released in a statement that Elizabeth Turner worked with other marketers and physicians in locations including Tennessee and South Carolina to “offer, pay, solicit and receive illegal kickbacks and to defraud the Medicare and Medicaid Programs.”

Turner worked with Fadel Alshalabi, the owner of Crestar Labs, LLC, based in Spring Hill, Tennessee, Melissa Lynn “Lisa” Chastain, the owner of marketing company Genetix, LLC, located in Belton, South Carolina along with other physicians from approximately February 2018 to August 2019. 

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Nashville Mayor Cooper Says Recycling Collector ‘Failed Us’

Nashville Mayor John Cooper tweeted this week his frustration towards the city’s recycling collector for not being able to collect the city’s trash and recyclables in a timely matter. The Nashville Metro Water services released a statement earlier last week that Red River Waste Solutions had not been able to collect all of Nashville’s trash, and would have to halt collections to allow trucks and staff to be reassigned. 

“Our city’s private trash collector, Red River, has failed us.” Cooper tweeted. “As Mayor and a resident, I share your frustration over the problem of collecting the garbage, resulting in a temporary delay in curbside recycling as we put all our resources in collecting the trash.”

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Tennessee Valley Authority Recommends Curtains of Bubbles to Mitigate Asian Carp

he Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) recommended in their final programmatic environmental assessment to install what’s called a bio-acoustic fish fence (BAFF) that includes sound signals, directional strobe lighting, and a bubble curtain in order to keep the invasive species of Asian carp from Tennessee rivers.

According to the assessment, the species “has the potential to threaten native ecosystems, rare and protected species, sports fisheries, and public safety, which can lead to reduced recreation, tourism, and property values; and ultimately impact local economies.”

The TVA notes in their detailed report that there are are four fish that fall into the Asian carp family; the bighead carp, the silver carp, the black carp, and the grass carp. The species was introduced to America in the 1960s and 1970s. The fish were imported to improve the water quality in fish farms, and after they were utilized for other aquaculture purposes were allowed to be released into the Mississippi River.

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Tennessee Department of Transportation Announces No Lane Closures Over the Holiday Season

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced earlier this week that there will be no lane closures over the holiday season. From midnight December 23 through 6 AM January 3, drivers in Tennessee drivers will not experience any lane closures. 

The announcement read, “Road construction won’t delay travelers during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The Tennessee Department of Transportation is once again halting all lane closure activity on interstates and state highways in anticipation of higher traffic volumes across the state.”

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California Woman Caught Allegedly Stealing from Tennessee Library, Tennessee Comptroller Says

The Tennessee Comptroller Office released a statement last week alleging a California woman was stealing money from a Tennessee Library.  The state’s comptroller’s audit determined that Shekinah Edwards stole $32,366.89 from the Elma Ross Public Library in Haywood County by issuing fraudulent checks addressed to herself. The allegations were referred to a Haywood County Grand Jury, who returned an indictment in November against Edwards of one count of theft of over $10,000.

From May 22, 2020, through July 10, 2020, the Comptroller’s office alleges, Edwards issued herself 14 checks with the forged signatures of the library officials. The fraudulent checks were discovered in July 2020, when the library director was reconciling the library’s bank account and realized the font on the checks was not the same as the checks routinely issued by the library.

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Nashville Mayor John Cooper Moves to Make Juneteenth a Paid Metro Holiday

In a statement released from the Nashville Metro Government, it said Mayor John Cooper had submitted legislation to make Juneteenth a paid Metro holiday. Cooper said that Juneteenth is a holiday for Nashville and the nation to celebrate the freedom of all African Americans.

“I submitted this request to the Civil Service Commission for their consideration and with their approval, I will sign an executive order for Metro Government to celebrate Juneteenth as a paid holiday beginning in 2022,” said Mayor Cooper. “Adding Juneteenth as a Metro holiday is consistent with the Federal Government’s addition of Juneteenth to the list of Federal holidays this year.”

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Tennessee Approves of New Vanderbilt Hospital in Rutherford County

Vanderbilt Health announced Thursday that Rutherford county officials have approved plans for new hospital. The medical center will hold 42 beds, and be located at the intersection of Veterans Parkway and state route 840 in Murfreesboro.

“We are pleased with the outcome and want to thank members of the Health Services and Development Agency for the approval to build this new hospital. Our goal continues to be to serve the needs of the many citizens of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County who choose Vanderbilt for their care, and we can now do that with Vanderbilt Rutherford Hospital,” C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center said in a statement.

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Nashville Metro Water Services Opens First ‘Net Zero Energy’ Building

Councilman Freddie O’Connell tweeted this week that Nashville Metro Water Services had officially opened its first net-zero energy building. O’Connell said the location was in Salemtown, where the Metro Water Service is also planning a new multiuse path. 

“The electric meter literally runs backward on a sunny day!” O’Connell tweeted. He added the price of solar for residential properties had decreased 80 percent in the past decade. 

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Governor Bill Lee Announces $15 Million ‘Bill Dance Signature Lakes’ Program to Boost Tourism in Tennessee

Governor Lee announced a new program dubbed the “Bill Dance Signature Lakes” Initiative Thursday. The program – which will cost taxpayers $15 million – is a collaboration between Tennessee Department of Tourism Development (TDTD), the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), Tennessee State Parks (TSP). The announcement said the effort “seeks to solidify Tennessee as the heart of fishing in the southeast and drive economic activity across the state;” and will improve “both above and below the water at 18 lakes which bear fishing legend Dance’s stamp of approval.”

“I’m unbelievably humbled and excited to be involved in such a helpful project that will benefit so many people and our natural resources in my great home state of Tennessee,” Dance said in a statement. “You can bet your favorite lure this project will definitely have a ripple effect for a mighty long time, not only giving the weekend fisherman, but tournament anglers a wonderful fishery as well, thanks to the great state of Tennessee and my friends at TWRA.”

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Mike Huckabee Tapes His New Year’s Show in Front of a Live Audience

HENDERSONVILLE, Tennessee — Mike Huckabee, host of the Mike Huckabee Tonight show, prerecorded his New Years Day episode this week. It was held in front of a live audience and featured special guests Mark Meadows, Jeff Kemp, Alicia Whitt, Bob Zany, and the musical group The Spinners.

Keith Bilbrey, introduced as ‘the Voice of the Grand Ole Opry’ welcomed the audience. He thanked everyone for attending and told the audience “If you like something, let’s hear it. If you don’t like it, let’s hear it anyway!”

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Nashville Mayor John Cooper and Metro Nashville Department of Transportation Release Draft for ‘Vision Zero Action Plan’

John Cooper

Nashville Mayor John Cooper and the Nashville Metro Department of Transportation and Multimodal Infrastructure (NDOT) announced they have finished the first draft of the ‘Vision Zero Action Plan.’ The plan aims to “achieve a goal of zero preventable roadway deaths” by keeping pedestrians, bikers, and motorists safe on Nashville streets.

“A great city is a walkable city and a bike-friendly city. That means – in a city that works for everyone – we must shape our transportation strategies and infrastructure around the safety and well-being of every person,” Cooper tweeted about the plan.

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Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Shulman Releases Plan for Battling Homelessness

Vice Mayor Jim Shulman shared in an email with The Tennessee Star that included the first draft of his plan to battle homelessness in the city of Nashville. The plan, titled the Homelessness Planning Council Strategic Community Plan, included a mission, vision, and values statement; goals, milestones, and a theory of change. 

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Advanced Lawn Solutions Heading Relief Effort for Kentucky Families and Their Children Impacted by Deadly Storm

pieces of crushed metal in front of someone's house after tornado

Following the deadly weekend tornado that swept through the South on Saturday, a Murfreesboro-based lawn company is collecting donations for families affected in and around Mayfield, Kentucky. Advanced Lawn Solutions will be accepting donations Wednesday, December 15 and Thursday, December 16 at the Advanced Lawn Solutions and Mikey’s Motors in Murfreesboro and Franklin.

“I grew up in Mayfield, so this hits me very hard,” Divisions Manager Ronnie Bone said in a statement shared with The Tennessee Star. “I still have lots of family there and fortunately they survived. But many children in the area were left with absolutely nothing. We will be loading ‘children-focused’ donations into our work trailers and delivering to those hardest hit by this tragic tornado.”

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Decatur County Residents Advised to Boil Water Before Consuming ‘Until Further Notice’

Residents of  Decatur County received a warning this week from the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office to boil their water before consuming it. 

The notice said due to a recent drop in water pressure until further notice, residents would be advised to run their water through a clean cloth to remove any sediment or floating material, and to bring the water to a rolling boil for at least a minute to ensure the disinfection.

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Nashville Mayor John Cooper Announces Celebrity Incentive for Flu and COVID Vaccinations

Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced a new incentive for residents to get their COVID vaccine and flu shot. Cooper tweeted this week that anyone needing their annual flu shot or COVID vaccination could meet NFL alumni on December 14, from 3 – 6 pm at the Nissan Stadium. 

He said he was grateful to the NFL health alumni, the Tennessee Titans, the Tennessee Department of Health, and Nashville Health for organizing the event. 

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Governor Bill Lee Holds Press Conference After Surveying Tornado Damage: Sees ‘A Great Deal of Hope in the Midst of Real Devastation’

Gov. Bill Lee speaking about tornado damage on Dec. 11

Governor Bill Lee held a press conference Sunday following the devastating tornadoes that ripped across Tennessee. Damage spanned the state, and left a trail of destruction through parts of 19 counties, according to preliminary reports from the National Weather Service.

Lee’s remarks followed an aerial surveillance of the damage from the storms. He called it, “A very heartbreaking and difficult day for the state of Tennessee.”

The governor continued that there was extensive devastation in the areas that he toured. He said it’s been a difficult day for Tennessee, and neighboring states.

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Metro Nashville Police Call ‘Safe Surrender’ Event a Success as 193 Individuals Come Forward

The Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) called their Safe Surrender event a success. Earlier this week, the Safe Surrender was held Friday and Saturday at the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church where citizens with outstanding warrants were able to speak with judges about their cases. 

“Nashville Safe Surrender=SUCCESS!” The MNPD Tweeted Saturday. “Today & Fri 193 persons came to Galilee Church to surrender on warrants or check their status.”

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State Senator Shane Reeves’ Fourth Annual Faith, Family and Freedom Event Celebrates God in America

MURFREESBORO, Tennessee — State Senator Shane Reeves held his fourth annual Faith, Family, and Freedom Event at The Grove at Williamson Family Farm in Murfreesboro. About three hundred people attended, and dinner was served as well. The night began with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Before Reeves began his speech, he informed those attending that Senator Bill Hagerty would not be speaking. “In case you have not noticed, but Senator Hagerty is not here. And he’s not going to pop out from behind the curtains here.

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United Women of Tennessee Kick Off Christmas at the Bold Patriot Brewing Company

The United Women of Tennessee (UWOT) held its first Christmas Party at the Bold Patriot Brewing Company this week. The event was organized by Gloria Giorno. At the event there was live music and special guest speakers. The UWOT were also joined by the Young Republicans of Williamson County, chaired by Stevie Giorno.

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Mayor Cooper Announces $20 Million Plan for Second Avenue

Mayor Cooper announced this week his plans for restoring Second Avenue after last year’s Christmas Day Bombing. In both a statement from his office, and in a live announcement, Cooper said that his plan included a restored tree canopy, better sidewalks, and a nod to local artists. 

In the statement that was shared with The Tennessee Star, Cooper said Nashville Citizens turned a tragedy into an opportunity. “Our community came together, to create a shared vision for the future of our historic downtown. Generations from now, we want our grandchildren and great-grandchildren to look at what we created and say, ‘they did well.’ And that’s a destination we can only reach, all of us, working together.”

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Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue Removed from South Nashville

A statue depicting Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was removed Tuesday morning from alongside Interstate 65 in South Nashville. The statue was on late Bill Dorris’ property, and after it was removed was relocated to a storage shed on Dorris’ property. The statue of Forrest stood for 23 years, despite the controversy that surrounded him. 

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Governor Lee Will Send Tennessee National Guard Troops to Texas Border

Governor Bill Lee announced Tuesday that in early 2022, he will send approximately 50 additional members of the Tennessee National Guard troops to the Texas border to help with the growing drug crisis.

“An open border has far-reaching consequences that are fueling a drug crisis impacting both our national security and the safety of our state,” Governor Lee said.  “I have authorized additional Tennessee Guard support at our Southern border as we look to address drug trafficking at the source.”

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Knox County Mayor Creates Skilled Trades Academy and Regional Training Center to Bring Tradesmen to County

The Knox County Mayor announced in a press release that he was close to beginning the Skilled Trades Academy and Regional Training Center (START). The academy was explained as “a training school designed to attract, train, and retain a quality workforce in the construction industry.”

Mayor Glenn Jacobs said in the press release that the Knox County community is committed to opportunities for everyone to thrive. “This academy does that by advancing alternative pathways for students and residents while ensuring that our growing workforce will be ready and able to meet the needs of our trade businesses.”

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Federal Jury Convicts Pharmacy Owner on Multiple Charges in Prescription Con Topping $174 Million

A federal jury in Greenville, Tennessee, found Peter Bolos of Tampa, Florida guilty on multiple charges. He was charged with 22 counts of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and the introduction of a misbranded drug into interstate commerce. Bolos is set to receive his sentencing on May 19, 2022.

The Department of Justice United States’ Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Tennessee said in a news release that according to evidence, Bolos and his co-conspirators had deceived Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) of more than $174 million dollars. The group was able to deceive Pharmacy Benefit Managers such as CVS Caremark and Express Scripts regarding tens of thousands of prescriptions.

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Low Income Tennessee Families to Receive $950 in Aid from COVID Relief Funds

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) announced that specific low-income families would receive $950 in aid from COVID relief funding. It said that families who are enrolled in the state’s Family First Program and qualified for the money in October will receive a deposit on their Electronic Benefit Transfer debit cards.

The TDHS said that this money was specifically for caregivers who did not receive other aid such as child care assistance, job training, or transportation support. It explained that these were for cases considered to be child-only. This means a home “where no adult receives Families First benefits themselves and the child living in the household is being raised by relatives instead of the child’s parents.”

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Nashville Metro Health Department Reports High Numbers of Overdoses

Spilled pill bottle on table top with a spoon underneath

The Nashville Metro Health Department (NMHD) released a statement last week regarding an increase in drug-related overdoses. The statement, posted on the Health Department’s Twitter, said there had been an increase in drug-related overdoses, and that overnight there were three overdoses in Hermitage that involved a white powder substance. 

Trevor Henderson, director of the overdose response program, told Fox17 in an interview that while it’s too early to determine what drug was involved with the overdoses, that 75 percent of fatal drug overdoses have involved fentanyl. “It is heartbreaking,” he said, “and to be frank, it’s heartbreaking every single time.” 

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Senator Bill Hagerty and Governor Bill Lee Speak at Tractor Supply’s 2,000th Store Opening in White House

WHITE HOUSE, Tennessee — Both Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Governor Bill Lee spoke at the Tractor Supply Co.’s 2,000 store opening. Hundreds gathered at the new store to watch the company’s CEO Hal Lawton “cut the ribbon” at the grand opening. Customers were already making purchases ahead of the comments, while they waited for Hagerty to arrive. 

Lawton began the event, saying that he was honored to lead the comments, and thanked everyone for going to the event. He said the new Tractor Supply location was the 84th store in the state of Tennessee, and “it’s a momentous occasion because we’re celebrating our 2,000th Tractor Supply store in the United States, isn’t that incredible?”

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Kellogg Workers Vote to End Strike After Two Months

Kelloggs Warehouse

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, and Kellogg Company have met at a tentative agreement. Both the BCTGM and the Kellogg Company said that they would also meet at the end of the week to further discuss a resolution. 

Anthony Shelton, president of the BCTGM, said in the organization’s news release, “I want to thank and commend all of the members of the bargaining committee for their many, many hours of extremely hard work to reach this tentative agreement. As always in our Union, the members will have the final say on the contract.”

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Metro Nashville Police Ready to Enforce New Alcohol Ban on Party Buses as New Bill Allowing Alcohol Is Considered

The Nashville Metro announced earlier this week that the alcohol ban on party buses will take effect beginning December 1. In a news release, Metro said that the ordinance prohibited “the possession/consumption of open containers of alcohol, including beer, in unenclosed entertainment transportation vehicles” and that there would be Metro police officers monitoring vehicles throughout the first night. 

Metro added that if there was a violation of the new ordinance, that the vehicle would be issued a civil citation and receive a $50 fine. According to Metro, there were six officers and a sergeant that patrolled the area of entertainment transportation pickup and drop-off locations to “remind businesses and their patrons of the new ordinance and to seek voluntary compliance.”

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19th Annual ‘Tennessee Season to Remember’ Celebrates the Lives of More than 200 Lost to Homocide

The 19th annual Tennessee Season to Remember was live-streamed on the First Baptist Church’s YouTube. Valencia Wicker of WKRN News 2 hosted the event again this year. She began and said that she was honored to lead the ceremony again, and that “tonight we pause to memorialize and honor victims of homicide across our state.”

She continued and said that while the event has been held in person in the past, due to another year of COVID regulations, the event would be live-streamed to keep everyone safe. But, the Tennessee Season to Remember has become a tradition, she said, “through this event, we have been remembering and honoring homicide victims since 2003.”

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Second Meeting on Outdoor Homelessness in Nashville Results in No Plan

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — The second Nashville Metro meeting held by Jim Schulman resulted in no plan to tackle the outdoor homelessness situation in the city. The Tennessee Star covered the first meeting from the previous night, where citizens gathered to discuss their ideas on how to address the city’s homelessness issues. 

Similar to the first meeting, over a hundred citizens attended, but this time with the expectation for there to be an outline of a plan that the community could agree on. 

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Nashville Vice Mayor Jim Schulman Hosts First Public Meeting to Discuss Plans for Outdoor Homelessness

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Vice Mayor Jim Schulman held the first public meeting to discuss outdoor homelessness in Nashville. The meeting was a first of a two-part public discussion scheduled to continue Wednesday. Over 100 concerned citizens from the community met at the Nashville Public Library to discuss their ideas of possible solutions for the outdoor homeless population in the city.

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After Eight Weeks of Strikes, Kellogg Company Says it Will ‘Hire Permanent Replacements’ Where Appropriate

The Kellogg Company said it plans to replace plant workers who have been on an almost eight-week strike. In a series of statements covering the ongoing dispute, the cereal giant said that after a lengthy discussion with The Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union of America (BCTGM), negotiations fell apart.

“We will continue to run our plants effectively with hourly and salaried employees, third-party resources, and temporary replacements, and now where appropriate, hire permanent replacements,” the statement read.

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Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit Postponed

The immersive Van Gogh experience has been postponed until February 17, 2022. The original opening date for the exhibit was November 4, 2021, but due to construction complications, the company offered a rescheduled ticket or refund to customers.

According to Fox 17, the company sent out an email to customers who had purchased tickets and explained that construction was becoming difficult due to specific criteria that its show required. It stated in the email that “We truly understand your frustration and disappointment. We are eager to share our incredible immersive experience with you, but want to guarantee the best possible experience for you that we can.”

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Meharry Medical College Gave Each of Its Students $10,000 in CARES Act Cash

Nashville Meharry Medical College announced just before Thanksgiving that each of its students would receive $10,000 in cash as a gift from the university. In a video posted on the school’s Twitter account, the President and CEO Dr. James E.K. Hildreth Sr. announced the money would come from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF), which the medical school received as part of the federal CARES Act. The money was either directly deposited into the student’s banking accounts, or held as a check at one of the campus offices.

Dr. Hildreth said, “I’m sure many of you are grateful for the break in the daily routines that Thanksgiving Holiday brings. The chance to take a break, and assess what you’re grateful for in your own life, and contemplate the true value of friends, family, and colleagues.”

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Nashville Metro Police Department to Hold ‘Safe Surrender’ in Early December

Nashville Metro Police Department (MNPD) announced they would be offering a “Safe Surrender” event on December 10 and 11 for people with outstanding warrants to turn themselves in as “a special one-time opportunity toward a second chance.”

The MNPD said for those who are willing to take responsibility for their actions may attend the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church on 2021 Herman St. where they will be able to receive favorable consideration and could be able to go home the same day.

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Crooks Target Christmas Shoppers with New Text-Message Scams in Time for Cyber Monday

Person on Apple Laptop with credit card in other hand

Christmas shoppers across the country, including Tennessee, are being targeted by criminals using a new, sophisticated scam involving text messages that appear to be advertising sales and other bargains from well-known stores, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warned Thursday. 

Unsuspecting shoppers receive a text with an offer to participate in a survey about a recent Black Friday shopping experience. In exchange, the consumer receives valuable coupon, product, or gift card to a well-known store. The survey is typically shown as a limited-time offer, which entices consumers to fill out the survey as soon as they receive it.

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Nashville Metro Council Will Hold Two Day Public Discussion on Homelessness in the City

Nashville’s Metro will hold a two-day public discussion to tackle the homelessness problem in Nashville. Beginning next Wednesday, anyone who wants to discuss their ideas on how the city can tackle homelessness in Nashville is invited to attend and speak.

The event will be held at the Downtown Public Library at 615 Church Street, in the first-floor conference room. The meeting will be from 5 PM to 8 PM. The second meeting will be held on December 1st, at the same time and location. There will be an overflow room if needed.

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Tennessee Season to Remember Ceremony Will Be Virtual Again This Year

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) announced in a press release its 19th annual Season to Remember ceremony will be held virtually this year. The ceremony, which is held to honor victims and survivors of homicide, will be streamed on the First Baptist Church’s YouTube page on December 2 at 5:30 PM.

The TBI said “Holidays can be a difficult time for families missing their loved ones, and particularly for victims and survivors of homicide. That’s why federal, state, and local public safety officials have hosted “Tennessee Season to Remember” every year since 2003 to honor and remember victims and survivors of homicide.”

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More Than 70 Percent of Guns Stolen are from Vehicles

An unloaded handgun sitting on the center console of a vehicle with the magazine clip next to it

Nashville Metro Police reported that more than 70 percent of guns stolen are from vehicle thefts. In a media release, the Metro Police said that so far from this year, there have been 1,084 guns stolen from cars. The media release also said that from last week alone, 32 guns were reported stolen from cars and trucks in Nashville.

The media release continued, it said that vehicle burglaries typically go hand in hand with vehicle theft. And, that of 62 vehicles stolen last week, 74 percent were considered easy targets due to “the keys were left inside or made available to thieves. One of the 62 vehicles stolen was left running without the driver present.”

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Three Tennessee Towns Receive $785,000 in Justice Department Grants to Advance Community Policing

The United States Department of Justice awarded three cities in Tennessee a total of $785,370 out of a total of $139 million in the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) COPS Hiring Program (CHP). The program, which was designed to provide funding directly to law enforcement agencies to hire and/or rehire additional career law enforcement officers in an effort to increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts.

The three Tennessee cities were Lenoir, Ripley, and Gordonsville. Lenoir was awarded $375,000, Ripley $316,620, and Gordonsville $93,750. Both Lenoir and Ripley will be able to hire three new officers with the money, and Gordonsville will be able to hire one. 

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Better Business Bureau Warns of Holiday Scams

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) posted a list of 12 scams to watch out for this year. The BBB, known for helping customers find credible businesses, brands, and charities, was founded in 1912 as a small nonprofit focused on advancing marketplace trust.

While the BBB said that most scams are sent through email, it added that customers should “Exercise caution when coming across social media ads about discounted items, event promotions, job opportunities, and donation requests, as well as direct messages from strangers.”

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Tennessee Woman Indicted on Embezzlement Scheme

A woman from Loretto, Tennessee was arrested for Financial Fraud this week. Kimberly Hodge, who also went by the name Kimberly Hughen, was indicted with three counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft related to an embezzlement scheme that exceeded $200,000.

In a release from the United States Attorney’s Office of Middle Tennessee, it stated that Hodge was the bookkeeper for Integrity Architectural Millwork (Integrity) and was responsible for, among other duties, making Quickbooks entries and recording payments to vendors.

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Senators Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn File Challenge to President Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

Tennessee Senators Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) have joined other Republicans to challenge President Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate. Both Hagerty and Blackburn are utilizing the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to block the order and protect Americans from losing their jobs because of it.

The CRA is a tool that congress is able to use to overturn rules issued by federal agencies.

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Tennessee Department of Transportation: No Lane Closures over Thanksgiving Holiday

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced they would halt all lane closures over Thanksgiving Weekend. According to the TDOT website, “All construction-related lane closures will be stopped beginning at noon on Wednesday, November 24, 2021, through midnight on Sunday, November 28, 2021.”

The TDOT said they are expecting higher volumes of traffic due to the holidays.

“Thanksgiving is typically the most traveled holiday of the year,” Commissioner Joe Galbato noted, adding, “Halting road work during this time will provide maximum capacity on our highways and help alleviate congestion, especially during the predicted peak travel days of Wednesday and Sunday.”

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TBI Sting Nets a Dozen Alleged Human Traffickers in Chattanooga

Eleven men were arrested in Chattanooga this week for seeking illicit sex from minors, and one woman was charged with promoting prostitution.

The arrests were made during a two-day undercover Human Trafficking Operation run by Chattanooga Police, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), Homeland Security Investigations, and the Tennessee Human Trafficking Task Force.

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Metro Council to Meet on Party Bus Alcohol Policy

Upstage Party Bus

Nashville’s Metro Council is set to meet this week to discuss the possibility of allowing alcohol back onto party buses. In October, the Council and Mayor John Cooper voted to change the rules regarding the open-air vehicles beginning December of this year.

Councilman Freddie O’Connell submitted a bill quickly after the decision and told WKRN News that his bill would allow party buses to keep alcohol on their vehicles.

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