Tennessee

A Lebanon man charged with murder in the package-bomb deaths of his in-laws has an Oct. 28 trial date.

Wilson County Circuit Court Judge John Wootten set the date during a Tuesday hearing. Wootten said he wanted to set an early date because Richard Parker is awaiting the trial in jail, unable to make his $1 million bond.

Parker is the son-in-law of Jon and Marion Setzer, and he lived directly behind them in rural Wilson County.
 
A package bomb exploded at the Setzers' house on Feb. 10, killing 74-year-old Jon Setzer, a retired lawyer. Seventy-two-year-old Marion Setzer later died at a Nashville hospital from her injuries.

Parker's pastor, Kevin Ulmet, has said that before Parker's arrest, he sat for hours at Marion Setzer's bedside, along with her children.

Tennessee Governor Appeals Same-Sex Marriage Order

Mar 18, 2014

Tennessee's governor is asking a federal judge to put her ruling requiring the state to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples on hold while a higher court weighs in on the case.

Gov. Bill Haslam and state Attorney General Robert Cooper on Tuesday filed a motion saying overturning the law without an appeals court reviewing the case "frustrates the will of the people of Tennessee." Haslam and Cooper say leaving the status quo in place pending an appeals court decision would not harm the three couples who sued for recognition.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger on Friday ordered the state to recognize the unions of the couples, who were married in other states.

Trauger made clear that her order is temporary and applies only to the three couples.

President Obama heads to a Nashville high school Thursday, two days after a student fatally shot a classmate in an apartment building. Grief counselors were at McGavock Comprehensive High School on Wednesday to help students cope with the shooting.

It happened within an hour of the President's State of the Union address Tuesday night, in which he renewed calls to curb gun violence.

Police said the shooting took place at an apartment when 17-year-old Kaemon Robinson was playing with a pistol. It discharged, striking 15-year-old Kevin Barbee in the face. An attorney for Robinson said the teen didn't know the gun was loaded.

It's unclear just how the President would address the shooting in his Thursday afternoon speech to the school.

Tennessee Governor Announces Anti-Meth Legislation

Jan 16, 2014
Barren County Drug Task Force

Governor Bill Haslam is proposing legislation that would require a prescription for more than a 20-day supply of cold medicines that are used to make methamphetamine.

The Republican governor said Thursday that the bill is meant to target the purchase of large amounts of medicines from a variety of stores, which is known as "smurfing."

The monthly amount of cold medicines like Sudafed that could be purchased without a prescription is the equivalent to the average total purchased by Tennesseans each year.

Haslam's office noted that 268 children were removed from their homes last year due to meth-related incidents and nearly 1,700 meth labs were seized.

GOP Senator Alexander Opposes U.S. Strike on Syria

Sep 9, 2013
alexander.senate.gov

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander says he will oppose a measure authorizing U.S. military force against Syria.

The Tennessee lawmaker said on Monday that a strike carries too much risk and could set off a series of events leading to greater U.S. involvement in another long-term Mideast war. He warned about the uncertainty in agreeing to President Barack Obama's request for military intervention after last month's deadly chemical weapons attack.

Alexander was announcing his position at a speech in Nashville. The Associated Press obtained excerpts of his remarks.

The senator has participated by telephone in briefings with senior administration officials and spoke this past weekend with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Alexander's Tennessee colleague, Sen. Bob Corker, collaborated with Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez in writing the resolution authorizing U.S. force.

Gov. Bill Haslam is continuing to push an initiative to increase the number of Tennesseans with at least a two-year college degree or certificate.

The governor is scheduled to talk more about the "Drive to 55" plan at an event in Nashville on Wednesday.

He announced the initiative in his State of the State address earlier this year and has been working on it over the past months. He is expected to more clearly define the state's challenges on Wednesday, as well as give an update on its progress.

Currently, 32 percent of Tennesseans have a two-year degree or higher, and Haslam's goal is to raise that number to 55 percent by 2025.

Tennessee Tea Party activists are actively vetting potential candidates who would challenge Republican Senator Lamar Alexander from the right.

Later this month, those wanting to take on Alexander in next year’s GOP primary will address tea party activists in Nashville. The Tennessean reports that Nashville Tea Party President Ben Cunningham says a “very serious process” is underway to find a consensus Tea Party challenger to take on Alexander in 2014.

It’s the latest example of the Tea Party challenging GOP incumbents it believes are not sufficiently conservative. The tactic has backfired in some states, including Indiana, where the Tea Party-backed Richard Mourdock knocked off longtime Republican moderate Richard Lugar in the 2012 primary, only to lose to Democrat Joe Donnelly in the general election later that year.

Some potential Tea Party challengers to Alexander are former GOP state representative and senator Tim Burchett, former chairman of the Williamson County Republican Party Kevin Kookogey, and Brenda Lenard, who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Republican Sen. Bob Corker last year.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for parts of our Tennessee listening area. The new warning is in effect until 3:00 p.m. Thursday, and includes the counties of Davidson, northern Wilson, south-central Robertson, southern Sumner, and Trousdale.

Rainfall of three to seven inches has already fallen in the impacted areas, with another one to three inches possible through the afternoon. However, the National Weather Service says the waters appear to be receding in most of the areas hit the hardest Thursday morning.

A spokesman for the Nashville Fire Department told The Tennessean that they’ve responded to about 35 rescue calls from people caught in the  high waters.

The wife of Tennessee’s Senate Minority Leader says she is considering a run for governor next year.

Sara Kyle, wife of Memphis Senator Jim Kyle, told The Tennessean she wants to help Democrats in the Volunteer State “move forward.” Sara Kyle resigned from the Tennessee Regulatory Authority in March after serving as director for 19 years.

Kyle says she doesn’t have a set timeframe on deciding whether or not to run for governor in 2014. With primaries still one year away, Democrats are seeking out potential challengers to Republican Governor Bill Haslam. Two Democratic state lawmakers—House Leader Craig Fitzhugh and Senator Lowe Finney—have taken their names out of consideration.

Kyle is the last woman to win a statewide office in Tennessee. In 1994, she won a spot on the three-person Public Service Commission, which later became the Tennessee Regulatory Authority.

She’s also the most recent Democrat to win statewide office in Tennessee, along with former Governor Phil Bredesen.

thesupercars.org

General Motors says it is investing $350 million and will create and retain at least 1,800 jobs at its plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee.  

While the automaker isn’t saying what new vehicles will be made at the plant, GM announced Tuesday that it will add two midsize vehicle programs to the facility, making good on a promise to the United Auto Workers union during negotiations in 2011.

The Tennessean reports that some analysts have suggested the vehicles might be the Cadillac SRX, which is currently made in Mexico, and the Buick Anthem, which GM has in development. The Spring Hill plant served as the headquarters and main assembly facility for GM’s now-defunct Saturn brand before production was halted in 2009.

The UAW says the jobs generated by the new auto production will be filled mainly by local hires, as opposed to the union’s normal practice of transferring displaced workers from other areas.

The news comes on the heels of a recent report showing Tennessee is, for a fourth consecutive year, ranked No. 1 in automotive manufacturing strength in the nation.

Bick Boyte plops a 1-pound bullfrog in his aluminum canoe, still half alive. He resumes his kneeling position, perched upfront, on the hunt for a big bellower. Boyte hears the "wom, wom, wom" and knows frogs are within reach.

Boyte and Tommy Peebles have been "gigging" Tennessee ponds together since their daddies first taught them. Boyte now owns a truck dealership. Peebles is a real estate lawyer. But in the warm moonlight, they revert to their boyhoods. Peebles does the paddling.

Some early results released from a Vanderbilt University study on the impact of pre-K education show a mixed bag. The findings so far indicate that Tennessee children who make big gains in math, reading, and language by attending pre-kindergarten don’t stay ahead of their peers for long.

But the research also shows those same children can learn other behaviors that benefit them down the road.

The Tennessean reports that Vanderbilt University researchers are counseling patience regarding the unprecedented study, which follows 3,000 Tennessee children from age 4 through third grade, through the year 2015.

One early takeaway from the study: students who attend preschool are promoted from kindergarten to first grade at twice the rate of those who don’t, and have higher first grade attendance. Researchers are wondering whether those kinds of achievements are actually better predictors of long-term academic success, as opposed to focusing solely on a child’s early academic abilities.

Residents opposed to a Tennessee mosque are trying to take their case to the state Supreme Court. The Tennessean reports the plaintiffs are hoping the high court will hear the case and overrule a Tennessee Appeals Court decision in late May.

That ruling supported a decision by the Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission to approve construction plans for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.

Some mosque opponents said they opposed the new facility because it would cause traffic problems, while others said the Muslims worshipping in the mosque were attempting to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and replace it with Islamic law.

A local Chancellor ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in 2012, saying the county failed to provide adequate public notice before the planning commission approved the mosque plans. But a federal court in Tennessee later intervened, overruling the Chancellor’s decision and allowing the construction to move forward.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Tennessee is, for a fourth consecutive year, ranked No. 1 in automotive manufacturing strength in the nation.

Economic development publication Business Facilities has released its annual ranking, showing Tennessee the top state.

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty called the ranking "an impressive distinction" and said expansions and relocations by automotive manufacturers like General Motors, Nissan, and Volkswagen, and Magneti Marelli further solidify the state's position globally.

With the auto plants and those of their suppliers, there are more than 900 automotive plants in the state. In fiscal 2012-2013, 44 automotive projects created 6,662 new jobs in Tennessee and investments totaled close to $1.1 billion.

Attorneys representing Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and state agencies are appealing a federal court ruling that says members of the group Occupy Nashville were illegally arrested two years ago.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger decided last month that Tennessee and local agencies improperly handled protests by the group Occupy Nashville during the fall of 2011. State officials said the Occupy encampment at the War Memorial Plaza was a public safety concern.

The Tennessean reports Judge Trauger said that when arrests were made the state was essentially making law by fiat and violating the first amendment rights of protesters.

Tennessee officials created what they called a “use policy” that essentially outlawed overnight use of the plaza for assembling. After some protesters refused to leave, the Tennessee Highway Patrol arrested 55 people.

Following the arrests, a federal court issued a restraining order, preventing the state from enforcing its new policy.

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