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News briefs from Tennessee

News briefs from Tennessee

Posted: Friday, August 24, 2012 8:01 pm

mosque receives
occupancy permit
MURFREESBORO (AP) — The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has received its final approval after a nearly two-year legal battle to prevent it from opening.
Islamic Center board chairman Essam Fathy said Thursday he was relieved and happy the mosque has its permanent occupancy permit.
Since construction was approved in May 2010, the mosque has been targeted by vandalism, arson and a bomb threat.
A group of neighbors sued Rutherford County to try to stop construction. Among other things, they claimed that local Muslims were compelled by their religion to try to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and replace it with Islamic law.
That claim was dismissed, but construction approvals were voided briefly for other reasons before a federal judge last month cleared the way for the mosque to open.
New Tenn. State Fair Commission meets
for first time
NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee State Fair Commission kicked off its new role Thursday by reaffirming its commitment to holding the annual event in Nashville.
The nine-member panel appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam met for the first time on Thursday. Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker and Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson were named co-chairs of the panel.
The commission was created by legislation passed by General Assembly this year. The law grants the panel the power to organize the event and control over the event a names Tennessee State Fair and Tennessee State Exposition.
The panel voted to keep the contract of the Tennessee State Fair Association to put on the fair in 2012. The nonprofit organization was a supporter of the new law creating the state panel, and four members of the commission — including Whitaker and Johnson — serve on its board.
“That’s going to have to be sorted out for conflict of interest issues and the like,” said John Rose, the group’s chairman.
The commission members agreed to examine a five-year contract to operate the fair in future years.
Senator loses post over expletive to black caucus
NASHVILLE (AP) — A state senator who headed a panel investigating allegations of grade fixing at Tennessee State University lost his subcommittee chairmanship Thursday for using an expletive to dismiss concerns from the caucus of black lawmakers.
Republican Sen. Jim Summerville of Dickson said in an email to Rep. Barbara Cooper of Memphis, chairwoman of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators: “I don’t give a rat’s ass what the black caucus thinks.”
Senate Education Chairwoman Dolores Gresham said that she’s removing Summerville as higher education subcommittee chairman.
“There is a standard of courtesy that must be observed by members of the General Assembly and this went beyond what is acceptable,” said Gresham, R-Somerville.
Summerville, who is white, didn’t immediately respond Thursday to messages left at his home and legislative office.
The black caucus had sent Summerville an official response that called the complaints about TSU’s handling of grade changes “much ado about nothing” and questioned why the historically black university was singled out for a legislative investigation.
Memphis religious
leader dies in house fire
MEMPHIS (AP) — A house fire in Memphis has killed an elderly religious leader.
The Commercial Appeal ( reported Bishop Otis Johnson died in the fire Thursday morning.
Johnson, who was 80, was a bishop of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, where he had remained active despite ailments related to aging.
New Hope pastor Rev. Jimmy Lee Chandler Jr. said Johnson preached a vigorous sermon last Sunday on Jonah in the whale.
Johnson’s body was found in a rear bedroom of the home after the flames were extinguished shortly after 6 a.m. Thursday.
A firefighter was treated for second-degree burns sustained while fighting the fire, which authorities believe was started by faulty electrical wiring.
Johnson is survived by eight children and 18 grandchildren.
Shooting bull
just makes animal irate
CHURCH HILL (AP) — Lesson learned. Match the firepower to the intended target.
The Kingsport Times-News (  reported that when Hawkins County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Byrd arrived at Ira Wilmoth’s home in Church Hill, a mature longhorn bull was standing in the front yard. The animal’s owner, Patrick Bone of Kingsport, soon arrived and said he couldn’t get the bull back into its pasture, so he was going to shoot it.
The deputy said Bone shot the bull with a .22-caliber gun and it just angered the animal, which then ran from Bone and the officer on Wednesday evening.
Byrd said that out of concern for the safety of people in the neighborhood, he killed the bull with two shots from his department-issued shotgun.
Monroe County
shooting kills woman
SWEETWATER (AP) — Monroe County authorities say a fatal shooting appears to have followed a domestic argument.
WVLT-TV ( in Knoxville reported sheriff’s deputies arrived at a home near Sweetwater late Thursday night to find a woman had been shot in the face.
She was taken to University of Tennessee Hospital and later pronounced dead.
The sheriff’s office did not immediately release names, but said deputies took a person into custody and charges are anticipated.

Published in The Messenger 8.24.12

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