JACKSON, Tenn. — It’s not something you see every day — a sapling planted in the middle of a city street. But one Jackson businesswoman said after repeatedly fixing a pothole in front of her store, she decided to take a different approach.
The owner of Special Effects Design said she’s the one who planted the tree in the middle of Federal Drive, which is just off Carriage House Drive in north Jackson.
She said she planted the tree as a way to warn her customers of the pothole so they won’t damage their vehicles.
JACKSON, Tenn. — The Budget Committee for the City of Jackson met again, Wednesday, as members work toward balancing next year’s budget. The city is currently facing a $3 million deficit.
The committee, which is made up of three city council members and two private citizens, spent much of the meeting looking at what expenses can be cut for the next fiscal year.
Among the options to raise revenue included making city stickers mandatory for residents in the city. Officials say that could bring in an estimate $200,000 a year.
Committee chairman Randy Wallace said the group wants to find long-term remedies that will prevent the city from having to dip into its “rainy day fund” again. “If we want Jackson to be a really progressive city and to be able to go forward, we need to address these issues instead of sticking our heads in a hole and ignoring them,” said Wallace.
Mayor Jerry Gist is proposing a three percent pay raise for city workers in the next budget. Wallace said that is something the city could would have to approve. Right now, he said, it may not be possible given the city’s current financial situation.
The Budget Committee will meet again April 12.
WEAKLEY COUNTY, Tenn. — The 21-year-old man accused of shooting into a crowd of people, sparking a lockdown Tuesday at the University of Tennessee at Martin, appeared Wednesday morning in court to be formally charged.
Investigators said Fuller fired a weapon in the middle of a fight near the UTM campus.
“There is something that you need to understand, that this is a very serious case,” Judge Moore said.
University officials said it started with a fight between family members in the University Center.
“The only thing we know is that it came out of some type of family situation. It actually spilled into some private apartments,” UTM Communications Director Bud Grimes said.
Investigators say after the fight broke up, they moved into the parking lot of apartments on Hannings Lane, just across the street from campus and a gun shot was reported around 10 minutes later.
“According to Mr. Fuller, they got into another altercation and one of the occupants of that Mazda vehicle produced a handgun,” Martin Police Department Capt. Phillip Fuqua said.
Capt. Fuqua said that’s when Fuller produced and fired his weapon. Police have been interviewing one of the other people involved in the fight, and Fuqua said they are still trying to find and interview the others involved. He says there could be more charges.
“It was an apartment complex. It was a city street, and any time you have a firearm discharge, anyone in the vicinity is in danger, but the intent was just among the small group,” Capt. Fuqua said.
Fuller’s bond was set at $15,000. He is charged with felony reckless endangerment, theft and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Grimes says that acting within the university’s current code of conduct, the individual in question is no longer a UTM student.
MIDDLETON, Tenn. — Community members are upset after local law enforcement limits access at a city park.
“Being in this community, there’s really nowhere to go for recreation other than the park,” resident Maurice Reaves said.
Chief of Police Matthew Maness posted a sign on the basketball goals reading: “Due to vandalism of the basketball area in the city park, the basketball goals will be locked for 30 days. There will be no loitering.”
“A park is a place to go for recreation,” Reaves said. “If you call going for recreation loitering, I guess you could call it that.”
Some community members are displeased by how Middleton police delivered the message.
“If we don’t know, then how will we know? We just show up at the park and we don’t have access to anything,” concerned parent Soboises Sain said.
City officials said the basketball court is under investigation, and because of that Middleton police have the authority to put it on lockdown.
“That’s a slap in the face to our basketball team,” Sain said.
Sain said Middleton’s basketball teams are always in the state finals and the city park is a place some kids use for practice.
“My youngest daughter, she’s learning to play with balls and everything,” Sain said. “And to take her there and she can’t get to the basketball court is not right, and I think other people would agree with me.”
Although the basketball goals are chained up, the rest of the park remains open.
“If you’re saying the park in general is vandalized, it should be the entire park, not just one section,” Reaves said.
Sain agreed. “The whole thing should be shut down until they do get their report to find out what’s going on and let the community know as well.”
WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News reached out to the Middleton Police Department several times for comment but have not yet received a response.
JACKSON, Tenn. — Dr. Eric Jones calls his new appointment by the Jackson-Madison County School Board an honor. He’s set to become the next superintendent before the 2017-2018 school year.
Dr. Jones knows the district well.
“I grew up a lot of my life in Chester County down the road, but my professional roots are here,” Dr. Jones said. “There are a lot of great relationships I’ve built here, and I’m excited to serve this district in a much greater capacity.”
A previous teacher, coach and administrator in the school system, Jones now consults with other districts across the country. Jones said his first steps in the new role will include a lot of learning.
“Honing in on getting as much information as I can about what’s happening in our district, what’s happening in our community, to make sure that I have as much information as I possibly can as we try to ultimately build a vision of where we want our district to go,” Jones said.
He says one of his first priorities will be understanding those who work in the classroom each day.
“Right now, I think the morale of the faculty and staff seems to be an issue for whatever reason, and we need to dig into those issues and find out how to best support our people, because they’re on the front lines with our students each and every day,” Jones said.
Jones also asked for parents’ understanding and patience as big decisions will be made in the coming years.
“This is going to be a process, but it’s going to be incumbent on me to make sure we put the very best people in the district, put the very best people in our schools, and to really put our children in a position to be successful,” Jones said.
Jones will be negotiating a contract with the school board. His exact start date has not yet been decided.
Allie Henderson, 16, and Mason Keen, 17, were killed in a collision on Highway 22A just south of Lexington. The crash took place just before noon Tuesday.
There will be a memorial service at 7 p.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church in Lexington.
Visitation for Henderson will be from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday at First Baptist Church in Lexington. Her funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the church.
Visitation for Keen will be from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. Thursday at Oakdale Funeral Home.
There will also be visitation for Keen Friday at Riverside High School beginning at 9 a.m. until his funeral begins at 3 p.m., which will also be held at the high school.
Weather Update – 6:15 p.m. Wednesday
Temperatures were much cooler today than they were yesterday, but with sunshine, many parts of southwest Tennessee at least made it into the lower 60s this afternoon. There’s warmer weather coming tomorrow and this weekend but showers and thunderstorms are expected on Saturday.
Skies will be mainly clear to partly cloudy at first tonight and should gradually become cloudier by early Thursday. Temperatures will drop to the lower and middle 40s by sunrise at 6:55 a.m. Thursday with light winds in place. Tomorrow will feature partly to mostly cloudy skies and a small chance for an isolated shower in the morning.
We won’t see another significant chance for rain until the weekend with an area of low pressure moving into the region giving us a likely chance for showers and thunderstorms on Saturday. Some of those thunderstorms could be strong on Saturday morning and afternoon so stay tuned to WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News for the latest forecast and keep in touch with the VIPIR 7 Storm Team on-air and online for more updates!
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A transgender bathroom bill in Tennessee has failed in a state Senate committee.
The bill sought to require students at public schools and colleges to use restrooms and locker rooms of their sex on their birth certificates.
The legislation has been the subject of protests at the state Capitol.
On the federal level, the U.S. Supreme Court has recently opted not to decide whether federal anti-discrimination law applied in a school transgender bathroom case.
That was after President Donald Trump’s administration withdrew former President Barack Obama’s directive that schools let students use bathrooms of their self-identified gender.
UPDATE — Police say they have spoken to a person of interest and have determined there is no credible threat.
The Jackson Police Department released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:
“The Jackson Police Department received an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers and is investigating the anonymous tip regarding possible threats of violence to a school in the Madison County school system. Investigators with the Jackson Police Department spoke to a person of interest and have determined there is no credible threat at this time. This investigation is ongoing and the Jackson Police Department is working closely with school system to ensure the safety of all students.”
JACKSON, Tenn. — School officials say a tip about a possible threat has led to increased security at a Jackson school.
As a precaution, school administrators are working closely with law enforcement to ensure the safety of students and staff at the school, the release states.
They say the school will have law enforcement presence through the end of the school day Wednesday.
HUMBOLDT, Tenn. — Police say a man is now facing charges after an investigation into multiple auto burglaries.
Shawntavious Centwane Milan, 18, of Humboldt was charged Wednesday in connection with several recent burglaries, according to a release from the Humboldt Police Department.
Police say the charges stem from multiple auto burglaries reported between the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017.
They say some of the stolen property has now been recovered.
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information is asked to call Humboldt police at 731-784-1322.