KNOXVILLE, Tenn —  This is the second time reports have surfaced within the last week that the Freedom From Religion Foundation has taken action against state facilities that have displayed religious references on them. Some support what the organization is trying to do, while others say religious freedom is a part of American history.

A plaque with a Bible verse from Romans 8:31 hangs in the Knoxville Police Department, but not for long. Police officials received a letter from the East Tennessee chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, that says the plaque is unconstitutional.

“Seems like a shame that they would want to be putting that much time and effort into doing something that’s really been a good thing,” Campbell Street Church of Christ Pastor, Danny Sorrell said.

Pastor Sorrell says religion is a part of history. “Our country was founded on a Christian heritage and there’s so much that we can gain from and learn from our past and learn from God’s word,” Pastor Sorrell said.

The Knoxville Police Department is not the only government facility that has received a letter. The non-profit also contacted Henderson County Mayor Dan Hughes last month about a Bible verse engraved outside the courthouse.

“Having a Bible verse on the court house, that’s not imposing anyone’s religion on anyone else,” Pastor Sorrell explained. “It’s just part of the history of our country.”

WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News was unable to reach a representative from the foundation Wednesday, but this is what their attorney told us the last time we spoke about this issue.

“By placing a Christian verse on a government courthouse, that is abridging the governments duty to be neutral and that violates the establishment clause of the first amendment,” Rebecca Markert, attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation said.

Pastor Sorrell said although some may have different views, it is important to always be respectful. “(We) need to respond as Christ would and we need to respond in love and not respond in with any kind of malice or anger or anything like that.”

An online petition to keep the plaque was started early Wednesday. By 11 p.m. that night, the petition had already surpassed 1500 supporters.

According to Knoxville city leaders the plaque at the police department is scheduled to be taken down Friday morning.

JACKSON, Tenn.-The Old Hickory Mall is celebrating 50-plus years of being in the Hub City.
The mall in north Jackson first opened in 1965 with a Sears store. JC Penney opened its mall location 50 years ago, Thursday, July 27, 1967.
Other stores would come to the mall in the years to come, including the very first Hard Rock Cafe restaurant here in Jackson.

Mall management tells us there will be a celebration Thursday with live music, a fashion show, prize giveaways and more in front of JC Penney from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.


JACKSON, Tenn.-The Campbell Street Church of Christ hosts their last community prayer meeting of the summer.
Community members met at Madison Academic High School for food and fellowship before prayer began.

Church leaders said the summer meetings are all about uniting the city of Jackson. Attendees gathered in groups to pray for each other before hitting the streets to visit with people in the neighborhood. Though this is the summer finale, some attendees said it has been a great experience to meet and encourage other people.

“When you can come together as a group as strangers and pray for each other, you know develop new friendships and just get out amongst the community and pray for the people that will tell you “well, I don’t need praying for”, but they do,” said Jimmy Sadler, an attendee.

Pastor Danny Sorrell said next year they plan on having more summer prayer meetings, but they may be scheduled on a different day.

JACKSON, Tenn.-Jackson police work a one vehicle crash that knocked power lines in midtown Jackson, Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators say around 3:15 p.m., a vehicle crashed into a power pole and knocked down power lines at Lambuth Boulevard and Westwood Avenue. The area was blocked off as Jackson Energy Authority was on scene.

According to JEA, one pole was replaced and the power was restored about two hours later. The lanes of traffic are back open.

BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. — The Haywood Tomcats continued to try and beat the heat Wednesday morning as they got practiced started at 8 a.m. Head coach Steve Hookfin said the heat is a problem for everyone in West Tennessee, so he’s not letting his players use that as an excuse to be average.  Right now his focus is on doing the little things right, because he knows those are what win and lose ball games on Friday nights

“Just really trying to get a good grasp of what our identity is on all three phases of the football, whether it be offense, defense, in the kicking game, Hookfin said. Understanding the base concepts and terminologies and being able to lay a foundation and build upon that as we go forward.”

As some may know, regions were restructured this past off season and that means a lot of new opponents on some schedules.  As for the tomcats, they’ll see a bunch of new faces. One of them will be very familiar for Hookfin, the Liberty Tech Crusaders.

“No extra feelings, they’re on the schedule like everybody else, their going to try and beat us, we’re going to try and beat them,” Hookfin said.  “It’ll be a great high school environment they do a great job over at Liberty with their students and their players so we definitely have to be prepared for that challenge when the time arrives.”

The Tomcats open up the season with the Henry County Patriots.




JACKSON, Tenn. — Imagine booking an anniversary trip, all inclusive — or so you thought. It’s supposed to be by the beach, but instead it smells like it’s by the sewer.

“We were getting an upgraded room. We were getting our vows renewed. It was all exclusive. All that good stuff,” Cristy Lawler said.

It was a trip to celebrate their love.

“My husband surprised me with this trip for our 24th wedding anniversary because we never got an anniversary,” Lawler said.

They say their long awaited getaway quickly turned into a nightmare.

“You’re starting to smell this smell, and it smells like sewage where we are,” Lawler said. “I’m like, ‘are you kidding me?’ And we get to our room and we are nowhere where we are supposed to be.”

It started with a trip advertised as an all-inclusive trip for $2,000 to Cancun booked through Ronda’s Travel Corner in north Jackson.

Lawler says they spent over $2,500 on the trip.

The Jackson Police Department is now investigating Ronda’s Travel Corner and searched the company Tuesday morning, taking evidence after they got complaints of fraud.

“My daughter’s 16th birthday was approaching, so we decided that’s how we would celebrate it,” Suzie Rollins said.

Rollins is 8-months pregnant and thought this would be a great getaway before the big day.

“I have inquired numerous times to have reservation information, booking confirmation, something, just to get confirmation, just to know the trip was booked,” Rollins said.

She then read some online reviews.

“They said there were a lot of bugs and things hovering over the food,” Rollins said.

She decided to cancel the trip and says the $3,000 she spent was never returned.

“Traveling with a child, you have to be careful with the water and the food,” Rollins said. “I just decided it was a chance I wasn’t willing to take. We went to the agency, and they were closed with this sign on the door, and our phone calls were not returned.”

Lawler says their booking was never completed.

“My husband talked to the lady about our vow renewal, and she says nobody booked it,” Lawler said.

She says they hope to do something when they get back home.

DENMARK, Tenn. — Local first responders are being trained to save lives when they could be in danger through a program being put on by the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.

The program called ALERRT, which stands for Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, held a two-day training course at the West Tennessee Regional Training Center, formerly West Middle School, in Denmark to better train and educate first responders to save lives during active shooter situations. It’s something ALERRT instructor Troy Smoot has done for over 20 years.

“We’ve trained guys to give them just enough to extend the lives of people to give them a better chance once they get to the hospital such as stopping their bleeding, tourniquet, and wound packing,” Smoot said.

Smoot said this training is critical when it comes to working with EMS and the fire department assisting the wounded.

“We are at the point of injury where we can do something right away, because honestly it only takes a couple of minutes for someone to bleed out from a major bleed. It can be as short as two minutes,” Smoot said.

Agencies who participated in the training include the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals, Henderson and Madison county sheriff’s departments and Freed-Hardeman University security.

JACKSON, Tenn. — Something as simple as a box fan can make all the difference when it comes to surviving the oppressive summer heat.

The sound of a fan blowing is music to Mary McCorale’s ears.

“It helps a whole lot,” she said. “It’s a lifesaver. ”

McCorale has lived in her home on Lockwood Drive for more than 40 years.

For most of that time, she’s put up with hot summers and no air conditioning.

“I felt I was getting too hot, and I didn’t have any money to get anything done,” she said.

But the local Salvation Army is hoping to help those like McCorale beat the summer heat through a boxed fan drive.

“We prioritize who is on our list to make sure these fans go into the right hands,” Salvation Army social worker Cassandra Comer said.

The Salvation Army has already given away 40 fans but still needs more to hand out in August, when temps soar even higher.

Those with the Salvation Army say the fans aren’t only for the elderly but anyone who needs some extra help cooling down this summer.

“Some people unfortunately are living in homes that aren’t air conditioned,” Comer said. “Some are living in homes with small window units, and it’s just not enough air.”

The Salvation Army says their goal is to prevent people from having to seek medical attention from the heat.

McCorale says it’s a goal that means a lot to people across the state.

“I think we are blessed to have a Salvation Army that would do things like that for people who are in need,” she said.

This is the third year for the Salvation Army fan drive.

You can donate new fans or money to buy them at the office on Allen Avenue next to Madison Academic High School.

You can also donate fans to RIFA on Airways Boulevard. They take donations all year long.

CARROLL COUNTY, Tenn. — One area sheriff was honored last week at the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association conference in Sevierville.

Carroll County Sheriff Andy Dickson was sworn in as the new president of the association. He will serve as the spokesperson for the group and work with other sheriffs from across the state.

Dickson is the only sheriff in Carroll County’s history that has been elected president of the association. He tells us what some of his duties will be.

“Just work with the other sheriffs across the state of Tennessee to get the best training for them and get the resources they need to do their job,” Sheriff Dickson said.

Dickson says he is honored to have been elected president and that he looks forward to serving the state of Tennessee.

JACKSON, Tenn. — Protesters gathered Wednesday in the Hub City to voice their concerns about the health care debate.

The group called “Indivisible Jackson” met outside Senator Lamar Alexander’s office to share their concern about hasty voting on health care.

“Right now the bill that they’re going to be voting on, they don’t even know what’s in it,” Indivisible Jackson founder Cindy Boyles said. “And so we just want them to step back and say let’s really think this through before we do something that’s going to affect a fifth of the U.S. economy and 22 to 32 million Americans who could be stripped of their health care.”

Indivisible Jackson will share their concern with Senator Bob Corker’s office at noon Thursday.

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