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JACKSON, Tenn. — Police are investigating after a hotel employee was robbed at gunpoint in a parking lot.

Investigators say an employee of DoubleTree Hotel was robbed at gunpoint around 2 p.m. Monday as he was getting off work. No one was injured.

Police say the suspect took off with a Blackberry cell phone.

Investigators describe the suspect as a young black man with a thin build who was last seen wearing glasses, a white hoodie and a white ball cap with black trim.

Police say they believe it was a random incident.

If you have any information, call Jackson police at 731-425-8400 or Crime Stoppers at 731-424-TIPS (8477).

JACKSON, Tenn. — In celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, community leaders came together Monday for a call of service.

The Mt. Zion Baptist Church hosted the service, which featured remarks from state representatives Jimmy Eldrige and Johnny Shaw and Jackson-Madison County NAACP President Harrell Carter.

The theme of the event was a call for political, spiritual and community action.

“A desire to advance God’s people to this state where they belong, where the constitution states that all men are created equal,” the Rev. Dr. Jesse Douglas said.

The service also featured music from students of Lane College.

JACKSON, Tenn.–With a wave of warm winter weather tempting plants and gardeners, we asked the experts for answers about early budding concerns and outdoor projects.

“There’s no reason to stay inside on a nice day,” James Wick said.

For nearly 20 years, Wick has worked at Morris Nursery and Landscapes in Jackson.

He seems to know a lot about digging, planting and growing. “Right now is a great time to do small planting or pruning,” he said.

Wick said it’s not unusual to see temperatures fluctuate during January and February.

An early bud isn’t a concern for Wick at this time.”We’re expecting an early spring,” he said.

Wick said mild temperatures make for ideal days to tackle late-winter cleanup such as cutting back ornamental grasses.

Planting vegetables is not recommended yet, but Wick said it is OK to begin getting seeds ready indoors for spring planting.

Nursery staff said now is a good time to divide perennials and put down a coat of dormant oil spray for protection from insects.

ALAMO, Tenn. — As Donald Trump’s inauguration nears, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to travel to the nation’s capital.

Ann Strongs of Crockett County is just one West Tennessean who will see the new president take office on Friday in Washington, D.C.

She said after hearing Donald Trump speak in Millington this past February, she knew she would go to his inauguration if he was elected.

“He just has such a genuine, warm feeling,” she said. “He parted the way where we were standing in line to greet him at the airport in Millington for a veteran to be wheeled up in his wheelchair,” she recalled.

Strongs said she will be driving in on the big day, but others will be taking a bus.

Elaine Ervin of Memphis organized a bus trip to give more people in the area a chance to go.

“I think that everybody that is an American citizen should one time go and just experience that exchange of power,” she said. “It’s absolutely spellbinding.”

The bus will leave Memphis Tuesday night and stop to pick people up in Jackson, Nashville and Knoxville before arriving in the nation’s capital.

While some West Tennesseans will be there in person, others, like State Rep. Jimmy Eldridge, said they will be there in spirit.

“Certainly I have a lot to do here in my own district of West Tennessee,” he said. “I won’t be able to attend, but I will be watching a lot of it on the news and on the TV.”

For those still looking for a way to make it to the inauguration, Elaine Ervin said she is still taking names for those who want to go.

Even though her bus is currently filled, she is looking into renting a bigger one. You can contact Ervin at 256-508-1212.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Police say at least five people have been arrested during a protest at the Valero refinery in Memphis.

Memphis police spokesman Louis Brownlee says protesters used 55-gallon drums to block the south Memphis refinery’s truck loading entrance on Monday afternoon.

Brownlee says several protesters handcuffed themselves to the barrels and refused to leave.

According to media reports, about 35 to 40 protesters gathered at the refinery. They were protesting the Diamond Pipeline, a proposed domestic sweet crude oil pipeline that would run from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the refinery.

On its website, Diamond Pipeline LLC says the project consists of about 440 miles of 20-inch pipeline, capable of transporting 200,000 barrels a day from Cushing to Memphis.

Valero did not immediately return a call and an email seeking comment.

JACKSON, Tenn. — West Tennesseans came together Monday to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. People from the community attended a breakfast and marched in his honor.

The Rev. Dr. Jesse L. Douglas, a civil rights activist, sang for hundreds of people at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast in Jackson. The 86-year-old marched alongside Dr. King in 1965 from Selma to Montgomery. “Just a normal cause,” Douglas said. “You were marching for a cause.”

People packed the T.R. White Sportsplex to hear Douglas and honor Dr. King. Vaddie James drives from Crockett County to participate every year. “He died for what he believed in,” James said. “So I think it’s important that we try to continue his legacy.”

Darrius Hawkins, a member of the Lane College Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, reflected on what Dr. King did for the nation. “We just want to keep his traditions, keep his values going,” Hawkins said.

The crowd hit the pavement after breakfast. They marched in memory of Dr. King from the T.R. White Sportsplex to Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Jackson.

“We thank God for the leadership of our sainted, martyred leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who gave his life that we might have freedom,” Douglas said.

Douglas also encouraged the crowd to vote. He graduated from Lane College in 1959.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee congressman says he’ll boycott President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration to support his Democratic colleague, John Lewis, who became embroiled in a feud with the incoming Republican president.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen chose the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s final speech to announce he’ll skip Trump’s swearing in Friday. The Memphis Democrat said Monday it was a “borderline” call on attending until Trump attacked Lewis, which he said showed the president-elect is “unfit for the office.”

Lewis says he doesn’t consider Trump a “legitimate president” because of Russian meddling in last year’s election.

Trump tore into the civil rights icon, tweeting that the Georgia congressman is “all talk, talk, talk – no action or results.”

Cohen joins several other Democratic lawmakers who announced plans to skip the inauguration.

GIBSON COUNTY, Tenn. — Communities on Monday honored a man who focused on peace, unity, and justice — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Many West Tennesseans used MLK day to not only celebrate him but do something that will have an impact on the community.

“I Have a Dream,” one of Dr. King’s most well-known speeches, focused on the idea of civil rights for all and people building positive relationships with one another despite coming from different backgrounds. City and county leaders of Milan came together to lead a community breakfast to fulfill Dr. King’s vision.

“The community pulls together, and it just sets the tone,” event coordinator Tammy Wade said. “Since this is the first month of the year, it sets the tone for the year in my opinion for us to work together.”

The free breakfast was created 8 years ago by Wade. Kids from St. Paul youth group not only served breakfast but also performed a praise dance for attendees.

This year’s guest speaker was an educator and high school football coach from Milan High School, Craig Pettigrew.

“We always choose an African-American male from the community that is a role model and leader because the children and the community can relate to that person,” Wade said.

“I’ve always worked in this community, and to be selected to speak to everybody about working in this community on this day — the day that we celebrate Dr. King — is truly an honor,” Pettigrew said.

MLK Day events continued in Gibson County with a march starting at the courthouse. For the past 27 years, community members of Gibson County have commemorated the life of Dr. King. Organizer Sonja Dodd said events like the march keep the youth educated about the influence he made on history.

“We need to teach our children about Martin Luther King and the significant impact that he had on some of the freedoms that we have now,” Dodd said.

The MLK march ended at First Baptist Church in Trenton where attendees held a service in his honor.

Weather Update – 3:00 p.m. Monday

An oncoming cold front is forecast to produce scattered showers and thunderstorms in West Tennessee through Tuesday morning. While it may be warm now, temperatures will be cooler over the next couple of days after the cold front. More rain is also expected to return again later this week.

As the cold front moves into the area West Tennessee will experience scattered showers and thunderstorms through Tuesday morning. Skies will remain overcast with breezy conditions preventing temperatures from dropping below 60°F until between 5 and 7 in the morning. Severe weather is not likely tonight but there’s a marginal (1 out of 5) risk for a strong thunderstorm near the Mississippi River this evening.

Rain will continue into Tuesday and may last into the afternoon for some areas south of I-40 but high pressure will make for relatively drier weather midweek. Stay tuned to WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News for the latest forecast and with the VIPIR 7 Storm Team on-air and online for more updates!

Tom Meiners
Storm Team 7 Chief Meteorologist, CBM
Twitter – @WBBJ7TomMeiners
Facebook – facebook.com/WBBJ.tom.meiners
Email – tmeiners@wbbjtv.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Federal officials have made regulation changes aimed at stopping the practice of soring among Tennessee walking horses and similar breeds.

The Tennessean reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced changes Friday to the Horse Protection Act.

Soring occurs when a horse’s legs are intentionally injured to make the animal have a higher gait. It often includes the use of caustic chemicals and chains, or objects shoved between the hoof and stacked shoes.

The department says the final rule will be published soon in the Federal Register and become effective by next January. It will ban many of the tools used for soring and force horse industry inspectors to become trained and licensed through the USDA.

The Humane Society of the United States called soring a “barbaric and gratuitous” practice.

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