NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Department of Health is working to prevent the spread of rabies by raccoons through the distribution of vaccine packets coated with fishmeal.

According to the department, the packets will be distributed by helicopter and airplane between Oct. 3 and Oct. 20.

The baiting program takes place in cooperation with the U.S. Agriculture Department along Tennessee’s borders with Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

The vaccine products are safe, but the USDA Wildlife Services program says residents should instruct children to leave bait alone.

Baits also should be removed from where a pet could eat them. Using gloves or a towel, residents should toss them into a wooded or fencerow area.

While there is no harm in touching undamaged baits, they have a strong fishmeal smell.

 One-county law

concerns attorney general

NASHVILLE — Tennessee’s attorney general says a new state law that only applies to one county’s election recall abilities raises constitutional concerns.

In an opinion last week, Attorney General Herbert Slatery wrote that single-county state laws raise potential concerns under three sections of the Tennessee Constitution.

The law passed this year allows a county’s registered voters to petition for an election to recall a local school board member. But it was limited to apply to counties with populations ranging from 98,200 to 98,300, so only Madison County would be affected.

Slatery’s opinion says there’s no readily apparent rational basis for the distinction. He wrote that another potential issue is that the law doesn’t provide for local approval.

Democratic Sen. Raumesh Akbari requested the opinion.

 Disbarred attorney accused in killing has been caught

NASHVILLE — A disbarred Georgia attorney accused of stabbing his mother to death has been caught in Tennessee.

News outlets report federal authorities arrested 44-year-old Richard Merritt at a Nashville thrift store on Monday. Merritt was convicted in January of settling some of his clients’ lawsuits without telling them and then using the settlements on personal expenses such as vacations and sports cars.

He was sentenced in Cobb County to at least 15 years in prison but given until Feb. 1 to “get his affairs in order” and report to jail. 

Instead, he removed his ankle monitor and fled the state. His 77-year-old mother was found dead on Feb. 2; Her car was missing.

Authorities will seek Merritt’s extradition to Georgia, where he’s wanted in DeKalb County on a murder charge.

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