Country group Alabama extends tour

FILE - This April 6, 2017 file photo shows Jeff Cook, from left, Randy Owen, and Teddy Gentry from the band Alabama performing at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. Alabama is extending their 50th anniversary tour this year with 29 more shows, including a show with the Beach Boys and additional dates in Canada. (Photo by Al Wagner/Invision/AP, File)

NASHVILLE (AP) — Country band Alabama is extending their 50th anniversary tour this year with 29 more shows, including a show with The Beach Boys and additional dates in Ontario, Canada.

The Grammy-winning band embarked on a major arena and amphitheater tour this year to mark their anniversary. Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook formed the group in 1969 in Fort Payne, Alabama, and went on to dominate the sound of country music in the 1980s and ‘90s, scoring dozens of No. 1 hits, including “Mountain Music” and “Dixieland Delight.”

They’ve sold more than 46 million records in the United States, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, and were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

Cook announced in 2017 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and that he would have to limit his touring, performing only as his health allows.

“Randy, Teddy and I have been overwhelmed by the support the fans have given us, and especially me since my Parkinson’s diagnosis,” Cook said in a statement. “The only reason for this is because we want our music to live on and we love our fans.”

The second leg of the tour will continue through November and includes a concert at Bristol Dragway, a racetrack in Tennessee, as well as concerts in Baltimore; Indianapolis; Birmingham, Alabama; Grand Rapids, Michigan and more.

Gentry told The Associated Press that the response from fans to the anniversary tour has been better than expected.

“A lot of the kids that are coming to the show weren’t even born when we first started having hits,” Gentry said.


Speaker faces calls to resign from leadership post

NASHVILLE — A handful of Republican lawmakers are joining calls for House Speaker Glen Casada to resign from his top legislative leadership position.

Casada has faced increased scrutiny on Wednesday after his top aide, Cade Cothren, stepped down Monday amid allegations he sent racist and sexually explicit text messages. Cothren also acknowledged using cocaine in his legislative office several years ago.

Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison told The Associated Press he saw no way for Casada to be an effective leader.

Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Dunn is Casada’s immediate successor and told The Tennessean he agreed Casada should step down.

Republican Gov. Bill Lee has declined to say if Casada should resign, but has described the recent events as disturbing and shouldn’t be tolerated.


Man accused of killing wife in front of children arrested

MEMPHIS — A Tennessee man accused of killing his wife in front of her children has been arrested.

The U.S. Marshals service said in a statement that Michael McKinnie was taken into custody Tuesday on warrants for murder, reckless endangerment and felon in possession of a firearm.

News outlets report he is accused of fatally shooting 32-year-old LaTarica Stripling on April 25 in Memphis in front of her two children. Police records show a history of domestic violence between McKinnie and Stripling.

McKinnie is being held at the Shelby County Jail. It wasn’t clear whether he has an attorney.


National Civil Rights 

Museum wins big award

MEMPHIS — The National Civil Rights Museum in Tennessee is being honored by a federal agency that supports the nation’s museums.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services said in a news release Tuesday that the Memphis-based museum is one of 10 recipients of National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

Institute officials say the award honors museums and libraries that make exceptional contributions to their communities.

Opened in 1991, the museum is built on the site of the former Lorraine Motel. Civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot while standing on the hotel’s balcony on April 4, 1968.

The museum chronicles the history of the U.S. civil rights movement and holds discussions and events related to civil and human rights issues.


Officer sues over racial profiling punishment

SMYRNA — A Tennessee police officer is suing the town of Smyrna over the handling of allegations that he racial profiled a 13-year-old black boy.

The Daily News Journal reports Smyrna Police Officer James Hicks filed the federal lawsuit Tuesday.

Shantay Peairs filed a complaint in December that said her son was walking home from playing basketball when he was stopped and searched by Hicks. The lawsuit says Hicks had been patrolling an area struggling with package thefts and saw the child walking near front porches.

Town Manager Brian Hercules said an investigation determined Hicks didn’t “communicate professionally” with the child’s parent. The Hispanic officer was suspended without pay, demoted and required to undergo diversity training.

His lawyer, Joyce Grimes Safley, says the “groundless” allegations damaged Hicks’ reputation.

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