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TBI investigating Mt. Juliet police shooting

A man remains hospitalized after being shot by a Mt. Juliet Police Department officer responding to a call about a knife-wielding man at the Providence-area Kroger on Thursday.

The investigation is in the hands of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is MJPD policy when an officer is involved in a shooting.

The TBI confirmed the man is still recovering in the hospital with “non-life-threatening injuries.”

Authorities have declined to release the man’s name and the name of the officer.

“At the request of 15th District Attorney General Jason Lawson, TBI special agents continue to investigate the circumstances leading to the shooting of a man Thursday morning during an interaction with an officer from the Mt. Juliet Police Department,” the agency said in a news release. “TBI agents are working to independently determine the series of events leading to the shooting, including collecting evidence and conducting interviews.”

According to an MJPD news release, the man was shot after refusing “repeated requests” to stop as he “rapidly advanced toward the officer.”

Officers responded at about 7:40 a.m. to the scene at Kroger, 401 S. Mt. Juliet Road, where a man was “reportedly chasing others with a knife,” according to the release. “A lone officer was first on-scene and encountered the man,” who moved toward the officer “while pulling a knife from his waistband.”

The man was then shot by the officer and transported to the hospital, the release said. No one else was injured.

MJPD Chief James Hambrick said in the release, “We are grateful for our officer’s rapid response to a dangerous event in a busy shopping area and are thankful that no one was injured by the suspect.”

The chief added, “To ensure our officer responded properly, the TBI is conducting an independent investigation. Incidents like this are traumatic for all involved, and the officer has been placed on routine administrative leave. All are in my prayers, including the suspect, for a quick recovery.”

According to the TBI release, “Throughout the process, investigative findings will be shared with the district attorney general for his further review and consideration. The TBI acts solely as fact-finders in its cases and makes no determination whether the actions of an officer were justified.”

Any such decision would be up to Lawson.

Kroger Community Relations Manager Melissa Eads said in an email, “We are cooperating with law enforcement as they investigate the incident that occurred in the parking lot of our Providence location in Mt. Juliet, and are thankful that no associates or customers were injured.”

WCS back in sesssion

Wilson County Schools welcomed back students Thursday who returned with smiling faces and lofty expectations for the new year.

At Mt. Juliet High School, D.J. Castro said, “It feels pretty good. This is my first time back in a while. I’ve been online for the past two years because of COVID.”

The senior said this will be his first full year since being a freshman. Despite the long absence, he said he didn’t have any jitters and was “really looking forward to getting back to hanging out with friends and football season.”

Castro doesn’t play football, but he loves the social aspect of meeting up with friends and rooting for the Golden Bears, something he has missed. He’s hoping that after his senior year, he can pursue a career in law enforcement.

Due to the tornado that ripped through Mt. Juliet in March 2020, several of the displaced students were attending Mt. Juliet. One such eighth-grader, McKenzie Charleton, said that even though she would be in the youngest class again, as last year, some seventh-graders including Charleton were also moved to MJHS, she’s not nervous because she learned her way around.

Charleton plays clarinet, guitar and the drums and is excited about getting back to band, but she also has aspirations of joining the newspaper or yearbook staff. Although she is disappointed that summer is over, she is “looking forward to seeing her friends,” and, “happy to be back without the masks.”

She’s not the only one eager to get back to music. Landon Cole, a sophomore, said he “loves band.”

Cole plays the alto saxophone and has for six years. He said that last year was awkward, between going virtual, then back to traditional and hybrid and admitted it was “kind of scary to think about COVID.”

He said he has a friend who got sick with the virus, but added that he’s “not as nervous as last year,” but still plans to be cautious.

Cole’s sister, Payton, a junior, said that she was worried because she has heard that junior year is the toughest, with upcoming tests like the ACT to study for. She loves art though and wants to check out what clubs are available for extra-curricular activities to put on her college application.

Another group of siblings Elijah, a senior, Hayden and Hailey Rosado, both juniors, walked up together before classes began. The eldest Rosado said that he was really looking forward to being back in the classroom. particularly English which is his favorite subject. He also likes reading anime comic books and gaming in his spare time. Most importantly, he’s just happy he will be able to see his friends and not have to wear a mask.

Principal Beverly Sharpe said that the most impactful thing she noticed in the brief time the students had been back on campus was all the smiling faces in full view without all the masks.

“We’re still welcoming students inside with a temperature check, to make sure everyone is healthy and well.”

Sharpe also said the teachers were “super excited,” to have everyone back and that plans for the first day would be easing the students back into school and going over how things would operate this year.

Carroll-Oakland full of excitement

Excitement surrounding the first day back at the Carroll-Oakland School in Lebanon was so palpable it was disrupting sleep patterns. The school counselor, Brandi Hammond, said, “Everyone is pretty excited. I know I was. I couldn’t even sleep last night.”

Any accompanying anxiety was assuaged Thursday morning when students from Friendship Christian Academy showed up in bee outfits with signs saying things like “Have a Great Day,” and “Remember to Bee kind.”

Hammond said, “With the music, it created a great atmosphere this morning.”

The counselor said that some students had seemed anxious about being back but that plenty of students are still wearing masks for added protection and that the school is encouraging them to do what makes them feel most comfortable.

Overall, Hammond said the morning had been nothing short of positive. “I’ve seen the first graders walk up and down the hallway, who have never had a normal school year and they all have huge smiles on their faces.”

Carroll-Oakland has students that range from pre-K to eighth grade. Jessica Thompson, a kindergarten teacher, said of the students she was monitoring on the playground for a session of recess, “So far, everyone is really doing excellent.”

“A few of the students in kindergarten this year were in the pre-K program before they came here,” said Thompson, “so you can tell they are a little more experienced when it comes to just walking down the hallway, going to the restroom.”

She added that they’ve been impressed even with the newcomers who “lined up so well.”

Thompson explained that Thursday’s group consisted of about 20 kindergartners and that on Friday, Monday and Tuesday, 20 different students would come each day.

This acclimation process allows the students who haven’t even been assigned teachers yet, learn their way around. It hasn’t stopped them from exploring. “Most of them are so ready and so eager. They want to look at all the things,” Thompson said.

City buys land adjacent to airport

While the airport does not have any immediate plans for expansion, the Lebanon City Council agreed unanimously to purchase an abutting parcel of land on Tuckers Gap Road Tuesday at City Hall.

Lebanon Public Works Commissioner Jeff Baines said Thursday during an Airport Commission meeting that it was really a matter of striking while the iron was hot and acquiring the land from a motivated seller. The city had its eye on the property at 506 Tuckers Gap Road after Direct Flight Solutions Chief Operating Officer Heather Bay noticed it was for sale last month.

The city moved quickly and negotiated a deal for the land to be bought for $318,000, which will come out of the general fund.

According to Baines, the property has a dwelling that will be rented until the city decides how to utilize the property for the airport. The property sits to the northwest side of the runway.

Baines said that the property appraised for $305,000 but that given market trends, the city didn’t feel paying an extra $13,000 was excessive. The final deal was also negotiated down according to Baines, as the sellers were asking for $330,000.

During the commission meeting, Baines said the city hopes to officially close on the property in the next two weeks.

Commission revises recommendations for hangar rate increases

Last month, the commission sent a recommendation to the city council to increase the rates for hangars in the Row A and B sections of the airport. The recommendation would increase rental rates by 10% over each of the next two years.

The council decided that increase was not sufficient and struck it down. During the meeting Thursday, the commission discussed what a 25% increase would look like, if implemented with a subsequent 15% increase the following year.

These increases are intended to get Lebanon’s airport rates in line with comparable market values in the surrounding areas. Lebanon Airport Commission Chairman Ralph Mallicoat said that these numbers were “just an example,” before adding that “most of the other airports around us that are similar size are going up.”

Bay said during the meeting that a 15% increase each year would be just enough to keep up with maintenance costs and inflation.

Commissioner T.O. Cragwall said that he had heard an inference was made by city officials suggesting that anyone who could afford a plane, could afford these increases, something to which he took offense. To explain his position, he cited an old saying, “If you teach your kid to fly, you’ll never have to worry about them having enough money to buy drugs.”

All humor aside, the commission was determined to reach a compromise that wouldn’t alienate long-standing relationships with lease-holders.

To that point, Mallicoat said they didn’t want to go up too much. “How would you like to be renting, and then be up for renewal and your landlord come to you and say rent is now doubled?”

The chairman said, “We need to do this in a way that is good for everybody.”

Commissioner Paul Stumb suggested a 15% increase each year that seemed to go over better with other members although it wasn’t unanimously agreed upon. Baines, City Councilor Joey Carmack and Commissioner Deborah Baugh all voted against it.

Baines said that the 15% simply wasn’t high enough for him to recommend, especially after the city council just footed the entire bill for the parcel purchase near the airport.

The three dissenting votes were overruled by the majority so the 15% increase recommendation will go back before the council later this month.

Shots give COVID-19 survivors big immune boost, studies show

Even people who have recovered from COVID-19 are urged to get vaccinated, especially as the extra-contagious delta variant surges — and a new study shows survivors who ignored that advice were more than twice as likely to get reinfected.

Friday’s report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adds to growing laboratory evidence that people who had one bout of COVID-19 get a dramatic boost in virus-fighting immune cells — and a bonus of broader protection against new mutants — when they’re vaccinated.

“If you have had COVID-19 before, please still get vaccinated,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others around you, especially as the more contagious delta variant spreads around the country.”

According to a new Gallup survey, one of the main reasons Americans cite for not planning to get vaccinated is the belief that they’re protected since they already had COVID-19. From the beginning health authorities have urged survivors to get the broader protection vaccination promises. While the shots aren’t perfect, they are providing strong protection against hospitalization and death even from the delta mutant.

Scientists say infection does generally leave survivors protected against a serious reinfection at least with a similar version of the virus, but blood tests have signaled that protection drops against worrisome variants.

The CDC study offers some real-world evidence. Researchers studied Kentucky residents with a lab-confirmed coronavirus infection in 2020, the vast majority of them between October and December. They compared 246 people who got reinfected in May or June of this year with 492 similar survivors who stayed healthy. The survivors who never got vaccinated had a significantly higher risk of reinfection than those who were fully vaccinated, even though most had their first bout of COVID-19 just six to nine months ago.

A different variant of the coronavirus caused most illnesses in 2020, while the newer alpha version was predominant in Kentucky in May and June, said study lead author Alyson Cavanaugh, a CDC disease detective working with that state’s health department.

That suggests natural immunity from earlier infection isn’t as strong as the boost those people can get from vaccination while the virus evolves, she said.

There’s little information yet on reinfections with the newer delta variant. But U.S. health officials point to early data from Britain that the reinfection risk appears greater with delta than with the once-common alpha variant, once people are six months past their prior infection.

“There’s no doubt” that vaccinating a COVID-19 survivor enhances both the amount and breadth of immunity “so that you cover not only the original (virus) but the variants,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said at a recent White House briefing.

The CDC recommends full vaccination, meaning both doses of two-dose vaccines, for everyone.

But in a separate study published Friday in JAMA Network Open, Rush University researchers reported just one vaccine dose gives the previously infected a dramatic boost in virus-fighting immune cells, more than people who have never been infected get from two shots.

Other recent studies published in Science and Nature show the combination of a prior infection and vaccination also broadens the strength of people’s immunity against a changing virus. It’s what virologist Shane Crotty of California’s La Jolla Institute for Immunology calls “hybrid immunity.”

Vaccinated survivors “can make antibodies that can recognize all kinds of variants even if you were never exposed to the variant,” Crotty said. “It’s pretty sweet.”

One warning for anyone thinking of skipping vaccination if they had a prior infection: The amount of natural immunity can vary from person to person, possibly depending on how sick they were to begin with. The Rush University study found four of 29 previously infected people had no detectable antibodies before they were vaccinated — and the vaccines worked for them just like they work for people who never had COVID-19.

Why do many of the previously infected have such a robust response to vaccination? It has to do with how the immune system develops multiple layers of protection.

After either vaccination or infection, the body develops antibodies that can fend off the coronavirus the next time it tries to invade. Those naturally wane over time. If an infection sneaks past them, T cells help prevent serious illness by killing virus-infected cells — and memory B cells jump into action to make lots of new antibodies.

Those memory B cells don’t just make copies of the original antibodies. In immune system boot camps called germinal centers, they also mutate antibody-producing genes to test out a range of those virus fighters, explained University of Pennsylvania immunologist John Wherry.

The result is essentially a library of antibody recipes that the body can choose from after future exposures — and that process is stronger when vaccination triggers the immune system’s original memory of fighting the actual virus.

With the delta variant’s super infectiousness, getting vaccinated despite a prior infection “is more important now than it was before to be sure,” Crotty said. “The breadth of your antibodies and potency against variants is going to be far better than what you have right now.”

Wilson Central opens golf season at Hendersonville tri-match. Page B1