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Forbes Magazine says Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is now the country's richest elected official, citing a rush to the pumps at the family-owned Pilot Flying J truck stop chain due to tumbling fuel prices. According to Forbes, Haslam's net worth has more than doubled since August from $980 million to $2 billion. Haslam has steadfastly refused to publicly disclose his earnings from Pilot, arguing that it would divulge the income of family members who aren't in public office. Gov. Haslam said Wednesday that he has no idea where Forbes gets its information. He said he has made a practice of not commenting on personal financial information. Meanwhile, Gov. Bill Haslam has kicked off a statewide tour to promote his proposal to extend health coverage to more than 200,000 low-income Tennesseans. The governor said he would make up to eight more stops around the state in advance of a Feb. 2 legislative session to take up his proposal called Insure Tennessee. While Haslam stresses the market-based nature of his plan, several fellow Republicans in the Legislature have balked over drawing down federal money available under President Barack Obama's health care law. Haslam argues the proposal differs from straight Medicaid expansion adopted in other states because it would require co-pays and offer vouchers to buy private insurance.
A 94-year-old alternate judge in the city of Oak Ridge has been charged with assault. Local 8 Now reports that William Lawrence Tunnell is accused of hitting a man with his car back in November. Police say the victim saw Tunnell fall and hurt himself. They say the victim and others tried to get Tunnell to stay until medical assistance arrived. Thatís when they say Tunnell hit the victim. Tunnell was released on $50,000 bond.
Crossville Police have recovered a vehicle reported stolen from Oak Ridge,TN. On Tuesday, an officer was looking for a vehicle involved in an alleged gas theft when he spotted a blue Toyota Corolla parked in a bay at Katís Car Wash on West Avenue. When other units arrived to assist, the driver, 25 year old Charles Marlin Harris III of Blountsville, Alabama, reportedly accelerated towards two officers who had to jump out of the way. Police pursued the vehicle up West Avenue and onto Keyes Street and then on to Livingston Road where the Corolla ran into a ditch and became disabled. According reports, Harris III has been identified by Oak Ridge police as the suspect who took the Corolla. Passenger Victoria Ann Simo, 30, of Swan Road, had an active warrant for Failure To Appear. Two other female passengers were taken to the Justice Center to be interviewed and were released without charges.
Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary housed some of the state's most notorious criminals including James Earl Ray, the man who shot Martin Luther King Jr. But now a place you once never wanted to go will soon be a place for fun and entertainment. Local 8 Now reports that on Wednesday the state handed over the keys to the penitentiary to the Morgan County Economic Development Board. It's long awaited step towards a promising future for one of the state's most notorious prisons. The new Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary will be a little bit of something for everyone including a distillery, RV Park, concert venue, Bed & Breakfast, museum, gift shop and horse stables. They hope to hire more than 300 people to get it started then add more positions as they need them. The project is expected to be complete in the summer of 2016. (Photo Courtesy WVLT)
Knoxville State Representative Joe Armstrong is proposing legislation to install seat belts in all Tennessee school buses. According to Local 8 Now, the proposal is gaining favor with both Democrats and Republicans. Reportedly, the proposal would include installing seat belts on all new school buses, but phasing them in on buses already on the roads to help defray the cost. However, not everyone is on board with the idea, though. Representative Bill Dunn, a Republican for District 16, said this proposal has been brought up before, and studies showed seat belts aren't proven to be a cost-effective way to help save lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has done studies on this issue in the past. Several years ago, it recommended increasing safety standards for bus riders, including installing seat belts, but those regulations were never mandated.