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Vince Gill, Amy Grant top Tennessee governor arts awards
AP Thursday December 29, 2016

Singers Vince Gill, Amy Grant and Kallen Esperian top the list of winners of the Tennessee governor's arts awards.

Gov. Bill Haslam's Arts Commission announced 10 recipients of the 2017 Governor's Arts Awards on Wednesday.

Gill, Grant and Esperian each won a Distinguished Artist Award.

Gill, a country singer and songwriter has earned 20 Grammy Awards, more than any other male country music artist.

Grant was the first contemporary Christian artist to earn a platinum record, the first to reach No. 1 on the pop charts and the first to perform at the Grammy Awards. She has earned six Grammy Awards since.

Kallen Esperian won the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition in her early twenties and has sung lead roles in every major opera house worldwide since.


TDOT Worker Struck Christmas Eve Dies
Thursday December 29, 2016

The Tennessee Department of Transportation worker who was hit by a car on I-40 on Christmas Eve has died. James “JR” Rogers was helping a family change a tire in Hermitage when he was hit by a car driven by Dennis Castellanos-Moreno. Rogers died from his injuries on Wednesday night. Castellanos-Moreno, is charged with driving without a license, driving without insurance and failure to use due care. It's not clear if he will face any more charges now that Rogers has died.


President Obama signs law preventing TVA from removing floating homes
WJHL/WVLT/Peg Broadcasting News Thursday December 29, 2016

A decision to remove all floating homes from waterways under control of the Tennessee Valley Authority was overruled. The homes were due to be removed in 30 years. President Obama signed the bill that re-wrote a portion of the Tennessee Valley Authority Act after a 7-2 vote from the TVA in May on a proposal that would remove all homes within 30 years.
In September, North Carolina's Republican U.S. Senators filed legislation in response to the TVA's proposal. Congress passed the bill, meaning that the new law no longer requires floating home owners to get rid of their floating homes within the next 30 years, as long as they follow rules agreed upon by TVA.
A series of public hearings will be held to determine the necessary changes that will need to be made in order for the floating homes to remain on TVA reservoirs, as well as to decide on the fees homeowners must pay. TVA said those meetings should happen near the beginning of 2017.


Attorney General Says Ban on Ballot Box Selfies is Constitutional
AP Thursday December 29, 2016

Singer Justin Timberlake definitely broke the law when he took a selfie while casting his ballot in a Tennessee voting booth. And now, the Tennessee attorney general says a ban on snapping selfies at the ballot box is constitutional.

According to the Tennessean, Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III issued an opinion that the ban doesn't violate voters' free speech rights.

The 2015 law makes it a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine or up to 30 days in jail to shoot images inside a voting booth.

Slatery wrote that the ban is reasonable because a polling place isn't a public forum.
He wrote that the law ensures privacy of the ballot, speed and efficiency of the voting process, and integrity of elections, and prevents disruption and distraction for voters, voter intimidation, and interference and fraud in balloting.

Rep. G.A. Hardaway of Memphis, who requested the opinion, is urging the law's repeal.


6th escaped Cocke Co. inmate captured
WVLT/Peg Broadcasting News Thursday December 29, 2016

All six men who escaped from the Cocke County Jail Annex during the early morning hours of Christmas Day have been captured, according to Local 8 Now. Investigators said the inmates escaped through a hole behind a stainless steel toilet.

Investigators said John Mark Speir was caught at a home in Cosby and Steven Lewis was captured after a foot chase in the Carson Springs Community. During Speir's arrest, Daniel Speir and Jarred Schoondermark were charged with harboring a fugitive.

The sheriff confirmed that two other inmates, Eric S. Click and Harce Wade Allen, were captured Monday. The Cocke County Sheriff's Office said Allen was taken into custody by undercover narcotics officers.

At 8:05 p.m. Monday, escaped inmate John Shehee turned himself in to Cocke County authorities. Investigators said his father helped deputies by coaxing Shehee to turn himself in. Inmate David Wayne Frazier was taken into custody at 12:28 p.m. Wednesday without incident in Forsyth County, Georgia. Frazier was the final inmate being sought by the Cocke County Sheriff's Office. He had been on the run since December 25.


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