NASHVILLE (AP) — John Cooper has won the election for Nashville mayor, giving the growing southern city its third mayor in less than two years.

The metro councilman defeated incumbent Mayor David Briley in Thursday’s runoff election, continuing his momentum from an Aug. 1 general election in which he outpaced Briley by about 10 percentage points.

Briley conceded Thursday night.

“We’re going to have more growth in the next five years than in the last five years,” Cooper said in a victory speech. “Those new cranes are lifting up our skyline. We need to lift up our people with it. That is our challenge — using this prosperity to build a better, more livable city.”

Briley began serving as mayor in March 2018 after former Mayor Megan Barry pleaded guilty to a felony and resigned over an extramarital affair with her bodyguard. Briley won a special election in May 2018 to serve the rest of Barry’s term.

Briley and Cooper are Democrats in the progressive capital city of a firmly Republican state, though the race for a four-year term as mayor of the combined city-county government is technically nonpartisan.

Cooper, a real estate developer and the brother of Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, endured attacks from Briley on the campaign trail over his Democratic credentials. The state Republican Party intervened in the race to attack Briley without mentioning Cooper.

Cooper, however, assured that he is a lifelong Democrat. Throughout the campaign, Cooper promised financial responsibility in office and a focus on Nashville’s neighborhoods.

He also campaigned on ensuring that all of the city’s communities benefit from a boom in tourism and downtown development.

 State unveils voucher rules, prepping for 2020 rollout

NASHVILLE — Top education officials say they are preparing to implement Tennessee’s newly enacted voucher law a full year ahead of schedule while unveiling key requirements surrounding the closely-watched program.

Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed off on legislation that diverts tax dollars to private education and allows participating families to receive debit cards up to $7,300 in state education money each year.

Lee then quickly expressed support of implementing the program ahead of the originally scheduled 2021-2022 school year and instructed the education department to ensure the voucher expansion would be ready by next year.

Under the new rules , the state would be allowed to contract some or all portions of the program to a private contractor. They also require establishing an online and telephone anonymous fraud reporting service.


Nine-pound, 11-ounce baby is born on 9/11 at 9:11

GERMANTOWN — A Mississippi couple welcomed a 9-pound, 11-ounce baby into the world on 9/11, at 9:11 p.m.

The Commercial Appeal reports Christina Malone-Brown was born by cesarean section at a hospital in Germantown, Tennessee.

Christina’s father, Justin Brown, says bystanders joked his family should play the lottery. He says the doctor kept saying “Oh my goodness, I’ve got a 9/11, 9/11, 9/11.”

A photo of the baby shows her asleep in a hospital bed for infants, wires connected to her torso and a blue elastic band wrapped around her head.

Her mother, Cametrione Malone-Brown, says her baby girl brought a spot of light to a day darkened by memories of the 2001 terror attacks.


Higher traffic at airport could mean more money

TUPELO, Miss. — A Mississippi airport has reached a key milestone, making it eligible for more federal money.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports Tupelo Regional Airport reached 10,000 boardings for the year in August. That put the airport past that level for the third year in a row, making it eligible for $1 million in federal grants for airport improvements.

It’s the fastest pace since 2008 for the airport reaching 10,000 passenger boardings. Tupelo is served by Contour Airlines, which offers 18 weekly flights to and from Nashville. The record for passenger boardings at Tupelo in one year is 31,334, set in 2006.

The airport was served by two airlines from 2005 to 2007, which helped to drive traffic.


Judge bans bear poachers from hunting for two years

KNOXVILLE — A federal magistrate judge has banned two men found guilty of bear poaching from hunting anywhere or entering any national forest for two years.

U.S Attorney Douglas Overbey’s office says Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Guyton found 59-year-old Keith Bernard McJunkin and 31-year-old Levi Zachary Wilson guilty last week of baiting bears inside the Cherokee National Forest.

McJunkin was ordered to pay $1,600 in fines and Wilson was ordered to pay $1,100. Both were also sentenced to two years of probation.

Prosecutors say the two were part of a group of hunters from Tellico Plains who baited and trapped bears inside the national forest in July and August 2018. Three other men have already pleaded guilty to hunting bear over bait.


Anti-Semitic message 

erases bullied fan support

KNOXVILLE — A 97.5-ton rock that’s often painted by students to promote events at the University of Tennessee was covered by an anti-Semitic message on the anniversary of the terror attacks.

News outlets report Chancellor Donde Plowman condemned the message in a statement Thursday, and said a committee of student representatives and volunteers will gather next week to discuss accountability at the Rock.

The school’s chapter of the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi posted an image of the graffiti on Facebook, denouncing the hateful message, and ultimately praising the university for being proactive in response.

The message painted over a more uplifting image, recreating the hand-drawn design of a Florida boy who was bullied over his handmade UT jersey. That boy has since been honored with gifts and a four-year scholarship offer.

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