The sound of cannon fire boomed across Health Sciences Park in Memphis on Sunday as more than 200 people came out to celebrate the 192nd birthday of Nathan Bedford Forrest, reports The Commercial Appeal
This year’s event marked the first at the Medical Center site since the Memphis City Council changed the name of that park and two others with Confederate themes, but speakers throughout the day proudly maintained that they were celebrating in Forrest Park.
Forrest, described as “a military genius,” enlisted as a private in the Confederate army in 1861 and became a lieutenant general by the end of the Civil War. He also continues to be a figure despised by many because of his early leadership role in the Ku Klux Klan.
The celebration was sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the General Nathan Bedford Forrest Historical Society.
In February, the City Council changed the names of Confederate Park, Jefferson Davis Park and Forrest Park to Memphis Park, Mississippi River Park and Health Sciences Park, respectively.
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is changing its backcountry reservation and permitting process.
Beginning early next year, the park will collect a $4 per person per night fee for backcountry camping.
The money collected from the fees will be used to improve customer service for backcountry trip planning, reservations and permits.
Backcountry Office hours will be expanded with additional staff available. In addition, there will be greater enforcement of issues like food storage from park rangers assigned to the backcountry.
The park will also begin allowing backcountry campers to make reservations and obtain permits online. The new website should be available within the first few months of 2013.
A multi-site national park that would tell the story of the top-secret, history-defining Manhattan Project would seem like an easy sell in Congress, says Michael Collins. But in Washington, nothing is ever easy.
Thus, the plans were knocked surprisingly off course in late September when a bill establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park failed on its first vote on the floor of the U.S. House.
Supporters insist the setback is temporary and that they intend to push for another vote before the end of the year.
“There is going to be a concerted effort to get this and other important pieces of legislation to the floor,” said U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, a Republican whose district includes Oak Ridge, a centerpiece of the Manhattan Project.
The Republican-controlled House took up the bill in one of its final votes before lawmakers began their six-week, pre-election break. House leaders brought up the legislation under what is known as a “suspension of the rules” — a parliamentary procedure often used to pass noncontroversial bills.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, however, considered the proposal quite controversial. The Manhattan Project developed the first atomic bomb, and the famously liberal lawmaker argued that the proposal amounted to “a celebration” of nuclear weaponry.
A 2,000-acre tract of land in the Rocky Ford area of Unicoi County will become Tennessee’s 55th state park, officials said Tuesday in a ceremony announcing the land has been conveyed to the state.
From the Johnson City Press report on the event: Gov. Bill Haslam said he grew up not too far from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the country’s most visited national park and is regarded for its scenic beauty. However, he said the sights and scenery offered in Rocky Fork, a portion of which is set to become Tennessee’s newest state park, rival those offered in the national park.
“You see the waterfalls and incredible protected woodland area, it’s a great thing to have,” Haslam said. “In Tennessee, what we want to do is we want to protect those things that make Tennessee special and we want to provide opportunities for all citizens to be out and enjoy them. This is going to allow us to do both of them.”
The governor and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, as well as state and local officials, were on hand at the Zane Whitson Welcome Center on Tuesday, where it was announced that around 2,000 acres of the approximately 10,000-acre tract that makes up Rocky Fork will become the state’s 55th state park.
– Note: The TDEC news release is below.
NASHVILLE – A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court today asks that the election of Mark Clayton as Democratic nominee to the U.S. Senate be voided because of “fraudulent acts” by state Democratic Party officials.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Larry Crim, one of the losing candidates in the Aug. 2 primary, says state Democratic Chairman Chip Forrester and other party officials knew that Clayton was not a “bona fide Democrat” but nonetheless took no steps to keep his name off the ballot, “thereby knowingly misleading” voters.
A spokeswoman for Mike Rowan, Crim’s attorney, says Judge Kevin Sharp is expected to hold a hearing promptly on whether to grant a request for a temporary injunction against certifying unofficial results of the election pending a full hearing on issues raised.
A hearing on the temporary injunction request was scheduled for Thursday.
“It appears to be a frivolous lawsuit,” said Brandon Puttbrese, spokesman for the state Democratic party.. Further comment for now, he said, would be left to party attorneys at Thursday’s hearing.
A draft copy of the lawsuit argues, in essence, that Forrester and other officials favored Park Overall in the Democratic primary wanted Clayton’s name on the ballot – listed first in alphabetical order – to draw votes from Crim, listed second alphabetically, in hopes that Overall would win the primary.
The state Democratic party disavowed Clayton a day after the primary, contending he was associated with “extremist” causes and a member an “anti-gay hate group.” Clayton is vice president of Public Advocate of the United States.
The lawsuit calls for a new Democratic U.S. Senate primary to be held by Sept. 15. State Election Coordinator Mark Goins, in a letter to Crim and his lawyer earlier, said there’s no provision for a new election in state law and that holding one would be virtually impossible because of other time deadlines built into state law.
Candidate Gary Davis finished second in the Aug. 2 unofficial results. Overall finished third in the voting and Crim fourth in the seven-candidate field.
— Note: A draft copy of the lawsuit is available by clicking on this link: CrimSenatePetition.pdf
The Tennessee Democratic Party “beat every bush” on Music Row and in other entertainment industry centers as it tried in vain to come up with a Volunteer State celebrity to run for U.S. Senate against well-funded incumbent Bob Corker this year, The Tennessean reports. But the party passed on an opportunity to tell voters about a candidate with views that ran counter to Democratic doctrine, leaving it vulnerable to embarrassment in a wide-open primary election.
….Gary Gene Davis, who finished a distant second to Clayton in the primary, said Democratic Party officials already knew what Clayton stood for after he ran for Senate in 2008 and pulled in 32,309 votes to finish fourth. Bob Tuke won that primary with 59,050 votes, beating Davis by about 20,000 votes before losing to Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander in the general election.
Davis said party activists in Shelby County told him that Chip Forrester, the state party’s chairman, had openly endorsed actress and environmental activist Park Overall, describing her to them as “our candidate.” He said Forrester should have worked harder to tell voters about Clayton’s beliefs, which, according to his campaign website, include the need to “defend Tennesseans from the North American Union, National ID cards, illegal trade deals like NAFTA, radical homosexual lobbying groups who want to get in the Boy Scouts and terrorists who are hiding in the Army.”
…Spokesman Brandon Puttbrese said the party was “agnostic” in the primary, although Overall was given a speaking slot at the annual Jackson Day dinner and was the only one of the seven candidates who took the party up on its offer to help with news releases, talking points and social media.
He said it would have made little sense to talk about Clayton, “pretty much a fringe candidate to anybody.”
“You don’t push around someone’s name that you don’t want to get elected,” he said. “We could never have anticipated it would have ended this way.”
Although he declined to identify any targets, Puttbrese said officials tried to recruit any Tennessee resident they could find with enough name recognition to give Corker a battle.
“Tons of calls were made to legitimate politicians and other high-profile Tennesseans,” Puttbrese said Monday. “We beat every bush and left no stone unturned with people who had already made a name for themselves.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Actress Park Overall says she’s always had an interest in politics so she’s mounting a bid to be the Democrat who takes the longshot chance at unseating Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker.
“I believe in food stamps, I believe in the poor, I believe in welfare,” said Overall, who starred in the popular television series “Empty Nest” in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“As you can see, I have no chance of winning this election,” she said with a laugh.
Overall is one of seven candidates on the Democratic ballot for the Aug. 2 primary. Corker is being challenged by four Republicans in the GOP primary.
None of the nearly dozen challengers comes anywhere close to Corker’s fundraising prowess. Only two –Republicans Brenda Lenard and Zach Poskevich– have raised more than $40,000, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Corker has raised about $11 million and has roughly $7.4 million on hand.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A judge has upheld a state statute that restricts the possession of firearms in a case involving a Williamson County man who carried a pistol at a state park.
Chancellor Russell T. Perkins on Monday ruled against Leonard S. Embody of Brentwood, whose loaded AK-47 pistol was seized by a park ranger at Nashville’s Radnor Lake State Park in 2009. The ranger, Steve Ward, said Embody posed a threat to others by carrying the pistol across his chest while walking around the park.
Embody earlier lost rulings in federal court on the same issue.
After his arrest, the state in 2010 took away his permit to carry a firearm. Embody had claimed he had a permit for the weapon, which was a legal handgun.
Perkins ruled that Embody’s argument that the statute is overbroad is without merit. The judge also said Embody failed to show that his right to due process was infringed.
Embody did not return a phone call from The Associated Press on Wednesday seeking comment on the decision.
State Attorney General Robert E. Cooper said in a statement he was gratified that the court “upheld the constitutionality of reasonable laws regarding firearms outside of the home in the interests of public safety and crime prevention.”
Embody has also been stopped by police at least three other times in similar incidents. In 2010 police in the Nashville suburb of Belle Meade detained him after he walked down a street with a .44-caliber black powder revolver in his hand.
Gun rights activists have criticized Embody, saying his provocative style hurts their cause.
The statute outlaws “the carrying of firearms for the purpose of going armed.” There are exceptions for those with permits, hunters, farmers to protect livestock from predatory animals and other cases.
A Democrat challenging U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says she’s still campaigning despite a week-old internal memo describing her as “extremely ill.” Chris Carroll reports: Park Overall, the actress and environmental activist best known for playing nurse Laverne Todd in the NBC sitcom “Empty Nest,” confirmed Monday that an inner ear infection and diabetes have sidelined her for three weeks.
Overall, 55, described the inner ear infection as a chronic problem she “was putting off.” She said political travel and a longtime bout with Type 1 diabetes worsened the dizziness, fatigue and other symptoms she was feeling.
“I called the Democrats and I said, ‘I’m too unwell to continue, take me off the ballot,'” the Greeneville, Tenn., resident said in a phone interview. “They said that wasn’t possible, so that settled that.”
Overall then decided on surgery.
“They operated on my eardrum Thursday, and I’m on the mend,” she said. “We weren’t sure it would even work, but it seems to be.”
Overall’s last campaign event was June 2, and her latest activity on Twitter came two weeks ago. Several planned appearances in Chattanooga and Bradley County have not materialized.
A top aide offered some explanation to state and local party officials in a June 8 email obtained by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
“Her campaign has been suspended and she is extremely ill,” campaign spokesman Marvin Cranfield wrote.
Overall on Monday characterized her illness as “temporary.” She said she would resume her senatorial bid next week after some rest and recovery.
A remote Tennessee mountain where drug dealers have grown and hidden mounds of marijuana will soon become protected parkland, reports The Tennessean. Nearly 1,000 acres on Short Mountain in Cannon County will be kept free of development to instead remain wild and natural for hunters and hikers — an unusual outcome for forfeited drug property.
But this was no ordinary land. The gentle slopes and craggy ridges amazed federal drug investigators who were in on the raid and led scientists to discover species of crayfish, salamanders and beetles not found anywhere else. And the water that runs off the mountain — the tallest point in Middle Tennessee at 2,074 feet — flows down in every direction.
The deal to conserve the drug land, signed recently after years of negotiations, is one of just four such transfers in the nation in 15 years, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s also by far the largest. In Tennessee, such an arrangement has no precedent.
A huge win for conservationists, who worked for years to convince government and police agencies of its merit, the deal preserves some of the most beautiful land in the state. Those who put it together say that made more sense than selling it off to recoup all of the money poured into the drug investigation.