tennessee

MURFREESBORO, Tenn (WMOT)  -- Warm weather is always welcome as Tennesseans head out-of-doors to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend, but the Weather Service says the state may mark the traditional beginning of summer with record heat.

Nashville office Weather Service Meteorologist Sam Herron says there’s a good chance some hundred year-old high temperature records may fall in the next few days. He says Tennessee is seeing a summertime weather pattern nearly a month before summer actually begins.

photo courtesy State of Tennessee

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Tennessee’s strawberry season is quickly coming to a close. This spring’s mild weather resulted in an early and unusually rich harvest.

State Agriculture’s Tammy Algood says you can expect other summer produce to arrive ahead of schedule as well because the early spring allowed farmers to get their crops in quickly.

“They can look for lettuce to continue, green onions to continue, early Yellow Neck and Crook Neck squash and zucchinis, as well as some smaller, like pickling cucumbers.”

MUFREESBORO, Tenn (Nelson)  -- Thousands of student athletes from across the state have converged on Rutherford County for the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s 2012 Spring Fling sponsored by Blue Cross.

Spring Fling is Tennessee’s annual high school sports tournament and this is the sixth year it’s been held in Rutherford County.

TSSAA’s Matthew Gillespie tells WMOT news, 

“Murfreesboro has always been such a welcoming city to all the fans and the competitors who come in and that just really makes us want to keep coming back…”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — Middle Tennessee Congressional Rep. Jim Cooper is hosting a free veterans workshop Tuesday at the Tennessee National Guard Armory in Nashville.

More than 40 government agencies and private organizations will be on hand to provide assistance with things like GI benefits, home loan guarantees, benefits and pensions, small business loans, homeowner financing, employment training and educational opportunities.

The workshop is billed as a veterans event, but Congressman Cooper says active duty personnel and family members might also wish to attend.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Tennessee sales tax collections rose almost 9 percent in April, signaling that the pace of the state’s economic recovery is accelerating.

In some parts of the Tennessee, sales tax receipts have now exceeded the pre-recession highs of 2007.  While that’s good news, economists at Middle Tennessee State University caution the numbers are somewhat deceiving.

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  A video created by a Woodbury woman is getting national and international attention.

Lacey Buchanan recently recorded a simple, home-made video about her son Christian. The boy was born with severe birth defects. Christian has no eyes and a cleft lip and palette were repaired soon after birth.

Buchanan uses hand drawn note-cards and family photos to tell baby Christian’s story during the seven minute video.

Photo courtesty ECF

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Six of the 18 Tennessee schools honored this week for academic gains are located here in the Mid-State. Two are located in Rutherford County.

Principal Barbara Sales of Murfreesboro’s Hobgood Elementary and Principal Andra Helton of Rutherford County’s Thurman Francis Elementary picked up “Value-Added Achievement Awards” for their schools on Monday.

The awards are based on data tracked by the Tennessee Department of Education and indicate schools that show significant improvement in test scores year-over-year.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Crime on the campuses of Tennessee’s schools continues to fall.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says simple assaults were the most commonly reported offense in the state’s K-12 schools last year. Kristin Helm is with the TBI.

“Crimes against person’s actually decreased by 4.3 percent, and crimes against property decreased 8.2 percent, which gives an overall decrease of crime committed at school by about 5.5 percent from 2010 till 2011.”

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  -- WMOT is asking news makers to review the work of the just-completed 107th Tennessee General Assembly. Today the views of 13th District Republican Senator Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro.

Ketron describes the just ended state assembly as a “spectacular session.” He says that he and his fellow legislators passed a number of significant bills and still managed to end the session early.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  -- WMOT News is asking news makers from across the political spectrum to offer their take on the just-completed 107th Tennessee General Assembly. Today the views of Eben Cathey of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.

Cathey says the Coalition counts as a legislative victory the defeat of a bill that would have made harboring or transporting an undocumented person a felony. He says the Council is happy that it’s worst fears for the legislative session were not realized.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State officials are promoting motorcycle safety awareness month as motorcycle fatalities rise in Tennessee.

Thirty-eight motorcyclists have died in state crashes this year, up 31 percent from 2011.

Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesperson Deanna Lambert says the unseasonably warm weather may be partially to blame for the increase.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — A large group of Middle Tennessee veterans are getting an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C.

About 100 vets and their guardians will depart from Nashville International Airport today on a so-called “honor flight” to visit the World War II Memorial  in the nation’s capital.

The Nashville non-profit Music City Honor Flight is paying for the excursion as a way to thank the veterans for their war-time service.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  That State of Tennessee is reporting a dramatic rise in the number of traffic fatalities so far in 2012. As of Thursday, 305 people have died on the state’s highways, an increase of 26 deaths over the same period last year.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation is especially concerned about the increase, because the trend in recent years has been toward a steady decline in highway deaths.

TDOT spokesperson Deanna Lambert says the state suspects several factors are contributing to the rise in fatalities.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn (WMOT)  --  This week marks the second anniversary of the spring 2010 floods. Twenty-two people died in the disaster and the storm caused billions in damages.

Harding and Jona Brewster were among the survivors of the historic flooding. The couple used an old boat stored in their backyard to ferry themselves and dozens of neighbors out of their rapidly flooding Old Hickory neighborhood.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Today marks the 2nd anniversary of the devastating floods that would eventually claim the lives of 21 Tennesseans.

The Corps of Engineers later reported that more than 17 inches of rain fell in some areas of the state over a two day period, the most rain in 140 years of recording keeping.

More than half of all Tennessee counties, 54 in total, were eventually declared federal disaster areas. Nashville alone suffered more than $1.5 billion in property damage.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Hate crimes in Tennessee jumped in 2011, rising 51 percent above 2010 levels.

According to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation there were 261 recorded hate crimes last year.

Hate crime statistics tend to fluctuate a lot from year to year. There were 426 in 2008, 243 in 2009 and 173 in 2010.

Here in Middle Tennessee, hate crimes were reported in the cities of Clarksville, Manchester, Gallatin, Lebanon, Nashville and Spring Hill.

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — A former West Tennessee sheriff has been arrested after a shooting outside a Jackson bar.

The Jackson Sun reports that 52-year-old Ricky Lunsford of Jackson was charged with attempted murder and kidnapping in an attack against his estranged wife early Sunday.

Calls to police indicated a man pulled a woman at gunpoint from the Tap Bar and Grill and that shots had been fired.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  The Murfreesboro Mosque case returns to the Rutherford County Courthouse Wednesday morning.

Plaintiffs are asking Rutherford County Chancellor Robert Corlew to rescind a building permit awarded nearly two years ago by the county for the construction of a new mosque on Veals Road.

Construction is well underway on the Islamic Center’s new facility. Mosque spokesman Saleh Sbenaty gave WMOT a tour of the construction site Monday. The walls and roof are essentially complete and workmen are now starting on the building’s interior.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  The Commerce Department released an upbeat Spring 2012 Travel and Tourism Forecast Tuesday morning. The report is good news for Tennessee’s economy.

The federal study predicts a four to five percent increase in the number of foreign travelers visiting the U.S. over the next five years.  State Tourism says international travelers are already contributing about $14 billion to Tennessee's economy each year.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  The National Weather Service has concluded its investigation of the tornados that struck Tennessee February 29 and March 2.

A total of six tornados caused damage in eight counties, including Cheatham, Cumberland, DeKalb, Fentrass, Jackson, Putman, Overton  and White counties.

Two of the tornados were classified as EF0, the lowest designation, while two more were classified as EF1, and the final two were EF2. An EF 2 can have sustained winds of up to 135 miles an hour.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn (WMOT)  --  StoryCorps is returning to Nashville for the month of May.  The oral history program was last in Middle Tennessee in 2007.

StoryCorps’ mission is to provide Americans of every background with the chance to capture their life stories.  Launched in 2003, StoryCorp says it’s now recorded more than 40,000 interviews making it the largest oral history projects of its kind.

StoryCrops spokesperson Rose Kue says she thinks the program has proven popular because it speaks to universal themes.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — A lawsuit that seeks to void the approval for a Rutherford County mosque will go to trial next week in Murfreesboro.

On Thursday, Chancellor Robert Corlew denied a defense motion to dismiss claims of inadequate public notice for the meeting where the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was approved.

Even though the trial will now go forward, mosque spokesman Saleh Sbenaty says his congregation feels confident about the eventual outcome.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — Good news on the jobs front as Tennessee’s March unemployment rate dipped just below 8 percent.

Jeff Hentschell with the Tennessee Department of Labor says the rate fell a tenth of a point to 7.9 percent. It was the eighth straight month of decline, and the rate is at its lowest level since November 2008.

Hentschell says Tennessee’s unemployment numbers are getting a boost from two surprising sectors.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  For the third year in a row reported crime in Tennessee has fallen. In a report released Thursday morning the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation noted a 1.7 percent overall decrease in crime in 2011 when compared to 2010.

Some key crime categories did, however, show significant increases this past year. TBI spokesperson Kristin Helm notes that the number of murders in Tennessee increased by four percent.

“Tennessee reported a total of 375 murders across the state in 2011 and 96 of those were domestic violence related.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — The Tennessee House has passed Gov. Bill Haslam's bill to require mandatory jail time for people with repeat domestic violence convictions.

The chamber voted 98-1 to approve the bill. The lone vote against the measure came from Democratic Rep. Eddie Bass of Prospect.  Bass says the bill shouldn’t be passed until the state agrees to pay local governments the entire increased costs of putting more abusers in jail.

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