NASHVILLE (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Diane Black has named leadership teams in all 95 Tennessee counties.

The congresswoman from Gallatin says the 363 leaders are drawn from the ranks of current and former elected officials, business and community leaders, pastor, farmers and conservative activists.

In Henry County, that list includes local attorney Rebecca Griffey; physician Andy Lundberg; and his wife, Wendi Lundberg, a Paris businesswoman.

Other supporters across the state include state Reps. William Lamberth and Bill Dunn, state Sens. Ken Yager, Ferrell Haile and Dolores Gresham and former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Black’s GOP rivals hoping to succeed term-limited Gov. Bill Haslam include former state Sen. Mae Beavers, state House Speaker Beth Harwell and businessmen Randy Body and Bill Lee.

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announced Tuesday that he has been endorsed by the Mid-South Carpenters Regional Council. Dean faces state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh in the Democratic primary.


Tennessee feels effects of Christmas tree shortage

KNOXVILLE — A Tennessee region has not been immune to the effects of a nationwide Christmas tree shortage, which is driving up costs and potentially endangering future years’ supply.

Bluebird Christmas Tree Farm owner Leo Collins told the Knoxville News Sentinel that this year’s shortage largely stems from a tree surplus more than a decade ago. The East Tennessee farmer says that surplus depressed tree prices, which, combined with the Great Recession a few years later, pushed Christmas tree growers out of the market.

Collins says wildfires that burned across six southern states in 2016 also impacted the tree and seedling supply. He says the shortages have resulted in customers purchasing his stock of shorter trees, which could wipe out his potential supply of the bestselling 8-foot trees for 2018.


Officials settle for $81,000

in inmate program suit

NASHVILLE — Tennessee officials are settling a lawsuit for almost $81,000 over claims that an inmate coaching program was improperly religious.

WSMV-TV reports that the Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction, or TRICOR, has settled the federal lawsuit.

Employee Joseph Baker’s lawsuit claims he had to teach religious principles to inmates in a program based on the motivational book “This Ain’t No Practice Life,” which references God and the Creator.

TRICOR’s attorney had argued in court that the program didn’t contain religious messaging.

Gayle Jordan, a plaintiff’s attorney who consulted in the case, said the government was endorsing a religion.

TRICOR has said a new program approved by the state attorney general’s office won’t refer to the book.

Baker receives almost $46,000 and his attorney gets up to $35,000 in the settlement.


Police: Teen fatally shot during home invasion

NASHVILLE — Police say a teenager in Tennessee has been killed in a confrontation during a home invasion.

Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron told news outlets that 17-year-old Ja’Donte Thompson was fatally shot during a scuffle late Tuesday with one of two people who had entered the home.

Metro Nashville Schools spokeswoman Michelle Michaud said in a statement that the teen attended Hillsboro High School and the district is providing grief counselors.

Police said no arrests had been made by early Wednesday morning.


Preliminary report shows zoo fire was accidental

CLINTON — A sheriff’s official in Tennessee says a preliminary investigation shows that a fire at an exotic animal rescue was accidental.

Anderson County Chief Deputy Mark Lucas provided the information to the Knoxville News Sentinel on Tuesday about the fire a day earlier at Little Ponderosa Zoo in Clinton. The sheriff’s office said an electrical malfunction at the back of the zoo’s main barn sparked the fire.

Officials don’t know how many animals were killed or injured in the fire. The sheriff’s office said some zoo workers and a firefighter suffered minor injuries.

Zoo founder and owner James Cox said in a Facebook video that the zoo will rebuild.

The zoo’s website said about 98 percent of the animals there are rescue animals from across the country.


School monitor charged with statutory rape

MEMPHIS — Authorities say a school monitor at a Tennessee high school has been accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old student.

News outlets report 30-year-old Keaton Anderson was arrested Friday and charged with statutory rape by an authority figure and soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means.

According to an arrest affidavit, the teenager’s mother reported the sexual offense to Memphis police. The victim told police she had received nude pictures of Anderson.

Authorities say Anderson told investigators he had sex with the victim from June through October.

Load comments