Rock and Roller Visits Nashville

By: Charnele L. Box

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/UTC The Loop) — Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Graham Nash will be in Nashville on Friday.

He will do a brief talk and book signing of his new memoir at the city’s main library at noon before performing Friday night at the historic Ryman Auditorium with Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Nash earned fame as part of the group more than four decades ago. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Crosby, Stills and Nash in 1997 and as a member of The Hollies in 2010.

Nash’s library appearance is free and open to the public.


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Chattanooga School Fights for A Change

By Arielle Henson

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP/UTC The Loop) — Dozens of parents and students have gathered in front of the Hamilton County courthouse to protest a proposed budget that omits funding for a new Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press ( reports parents said they planned to stay at the location through Wednesday, when the County Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposal from Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

Children held signs supporting the school on Sunday afternoon and shouted and waved to passing cars.

Coppinger has said the county has enough funds to complete four of the school system’s six recommended school projects. His proposed budget left out the new building for the arts school and a new middle school in the East Hamilton area.

“We don’t have a voice inside that courthouse,” said Dana Cleckler, who has three children at CSLA. “We’re not a big enough entity in any one district to make noise and threaten a candidacy.”

CSLA has been asking for a new school for more than 25 years, but so far has been unsuccessful.

“We’ve been promised and they keep going back on their promises,” said Elizabeth Kimball, another CSLA mother. “At what point are they going to just give the money up or say to us, ‘this is it. This is exactly how long you have to wait.’”

Instead, they just keep saying “you can have the money. Don’t give up, don’t give up.”

Parents say the condition of the building keeps deteriorating.

“Our school is falling down and my son has asthma and he has to go into a portable that has mildew because there was a leak,” Kimball said. “They try to fix it but they’re just putting Band-Aids on the problem.”


Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press,

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A Barge Collision Causes Massive Oil Spill In Texas

By: Kelli Findlay

Chattanooga, TN (UTC/TheLoop) — Barge Collision in Houston, TX  causes gallons of oil to spill.

TEXAS CITY, Texas (AP) — The Coast Guard aimed to reopen one of the nation’s busiest seaports Monday, two days after a collision between a barge and a ship caused nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil to spill into the waters south of Houston.

The closure of the Houston Ship Channel has forced more than 80 ships to wait to enter or leave the bay. Coast Guard Warrant Officer Kimberly Smith said the agency’s goal was to reopen the channel at some point Monday, but she did not know the precise timing.

Authorities are still trying to determine how much oil spilled Saturday, when a barge carrying about 900,000 gallons collided with a ship. Initial estimates were that as much as a fifth of the barge’s cargo spilled.

By Sunday, oil had been detected 12 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Twenty-four vessels were working to skim the spilled fuel and deploy containment booms.

Environmental groups said the spill occurred at an especially sensitive time and place. The channel in Texas City, about 45 miles southeast of Houston, has shorebird habitat on both sides, and tens of thousands of wintering birds are still in the area.

“The timing really couldn’t be much worse since we’re approaching the peak shorebird migration season,” said Richard Gibbons, conservation director of the Houston Audubon Society.

Just to the east is the Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary, which attracts 50,000 to 70,000 birds to shallow mud flats that are perfect foraging habitat.

Fewer than 10 oiled birds had been found and sent to a wildlife rehabilitation center as of Sunday afternoon, the Coast Guard said. The Texas General Land Office sent a bird-rehabilitation trailer to the area.

Draining the remaining oil from the barge and transferring it to other vessels eliminated the risk of additional spillage, said Capt. Brian Penoyer, commander of the Coast Guard at Houston-Galveston.

Nearly 400 people joined a fleet of oil-retrieving skimmers and other vessels in deploying some 60,000 feet of containment booms around environmentally sensitive areas.

Some black, tar-like globs, along with a dark line of a sticky, oily substance, were seen along the shoreline of the Texas City dike, a 5-mile jetty that juts into Galveston Bay across from a tip of Galveston Island.

Jim Guidry, executive vice president of Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine Corp., which owned the barge, said the company — the nation’s largest operator of inland barges — was taking responsibility for the cleanup costs.

“We’re very concerned. We’re focused on cleaning up,” he said.

The damaged barge has been moved to a shipyard, according Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s office.

The spill also suspended state-operated ferry service between Galveston and Port Bolivar, affecting thousands of travelers.

Two cruise ships were allowed to travel through the spill area “to minimize inconvenience” to thousands of passengers and limit the spill’s economic effects, the Coast Guard said.

The channel, part of the Port of Houston, typically handles as many as 80 vessels daily.

If the bottleneck of vessels eases in a day or so, fuel prices are unlikely to change much. But a more prolonged closure could raise prices briefly, said Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consultancy Jim Ritterbusch and Associates in Chicago.

The contents of the barge’s torn tank, equal to about 4,000 barrels, were lost or displaced into other vacant areas of the barge. Penoyer said currents, tides and wind were scattering the spill.

“Containment was never a possibility in this case,” he said.

The Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating.

“It will take quite a bit of time, given the complexity of the vessels and a very busy waterway,” Penoyer said.

Also closed was the Texas City dike, a popular fishing spot that extends into the Gulf for a few miles.

Lee Rilat, owner of Lee’s Bait and Tackle, the last store before the access road to the dike, said if it weren’t for the spill, his business would be hopping. Instead, the access road was blocked by a police car on a breezy, overcast Sunday.

“This would be the first spring deal, the first real weekend for fishing,” he said.

The spill site is 700 yards offshore from the Texas City dike. A crane and several small boats could be seen at the cleanup site, and dozens of trucks were at a staging area along the beach.


Associated Press writers Terry Wallace in Dallas and Marcy Gordon in Washington contributed to this report.


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Tennessee Basketball Is Hit and Miss in NCAA Tournament

By Rose Street

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/UTC The Loop) — The ACC’s national championship hopes now come down to one school: Virginia.

Meanwhile, Tennessee — one of the three SEC schools still in the field — came to Tobacco Road and turned it into Raleigh Top.

The Cavaliers and Volunteers cruised into the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 with lopsided victories Sunday night: Tennessee routed Mercer 83-63 before Virginia beat Memphis 78-60.

No. 11 seed Tennessee (24-12) will play second-seeded Michigan in a Midwest Regional semifinal Friday night in Indianapolis.

Virginia (30-6), the top seed in the East Region, will face fourth-seeded Michigan State in a semifinal that night in New York.

The Volunteers and Cavaliers restored some semblance of order after an unpredictable first day in the heart of ACC country.

It began Friday when Mercer beat Duke for the signature upset of the tournament, included Tennessee’s 19-point victory over Massachusetts and continued through Memphis’ tight win over George Washington.

The Vols had an easy time beating those Bears on Sunday and ended Mercer’s pursuit of a second straight Sweet 16 appearance for a tournament darling from the low-major Atlantic Sun Conference.

With “Rocky Top” echoing throughout PNC Arena all night, Tennessee outrebounded the Bears 41-19 — 24-4 in the first half — led by Jarnell Stokes, who broke the school’s NCAA tournament rebounding record he set two days earlier against Massachusetts.

Stokes had 17 points and a career-high-tying 18 rebounds against Mercer, after grabbing 14 boards against UMass.

“Any time we have Jeronne (Maymon) and Jarnell wearing Tennessee orange,” teammate Jordan McRae said, “we always feel like we have the advantage.”

Tennessee’s win helped the football-first SEC improve to 7-0 in this tournament. The Vols joined No. 1 overall seed Florida and Kentucky in the regional semifinals.

“I’ve been hearing that the SEC has been a football conference for a long time, but I don’t know how you can still say that when you’ve got three SEC schools in the Sweet 16,” McRae said.

Mercer was trying to match last year’s Florida Gulf Coast team in parlaying an Atlantic Sun title into a spot in the NCAA tournament’s second weekend, and become the first No. 14 seed to make the round of 16 since Chattanooga in 1997.

But the senior-laden Bears (27-9) trailed by double figures for the entire second half and couldn’t conjure another fantastic finish.

“I think hopefully by the time (reality) sets in, we’ll all be able to put a smile on and realize that what we’ve been able to do at our school, and for the city, has been phenomenal,” forward Jakob Gollon said. “It’s kind of hard to see right now.”

Mercer’s win over Duke was the most surprising in a series of losses this weekend for the ACC, which has only one team left standing — and it’s not traditional power North Carolina or heavyweight newcomer Syracuse.

“Lot of pride” in that, guard Malcolm Brogdon said.

The league champion Cavaliers were in control throughout against Memphis, leading by 15 at halftime and going up by 27 late while earning their first regional semifinal appearance since 1995.

Joe Harris scored 16 points and Anthony Gill added 13 for the Cavaliers, who hold a No. 1 seed for the first time since Ralph Sampson wore orange and blue.

Austin Nichols scored 15 points for the Tigers (23-10), whose season ended on the opening weekend of the tournament for the fourth straight year.

“Virginia came out, played Virginia basketball, out-toughed us, out-aggressived us,” Memphis guard Goren Johnson said. “They made shots. Every time we made a mistake, they capitalized on it with a bucket. There’s no excuses.”


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Once Upon a Time in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…There Was a Sequel

By Andrew Carney, Megan Montgomery, Sid Sadler

LOS ANGELES (AP/UTC The Loop) — The new “Star Wars” has an official timeline and one confirmed returning character: robot R2-D2.

Director J.J. Abrams will begin shooting in May on “Star Wars: Episode VII,” which is set three decades after 1983′s “Return of the Jedi,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said Tuesday.

Speaking at the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting in Portland, Ore., Iger said the movie would feature “some very familiar faces along with a trio of new, young leads.” Abrams has a penchant for secrecy, and Iger said R2-D2 was the only “official cast member” he would announce.

“Episode VII” is set for release in December 2015.

Credit: Matt Stroshane

Credit: Matt Stroshane

Iger also said Pixar plans a third “Cars” movie and a sequel to 2004′s “The Incredibles.”


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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New sculpture installation hopes to revive North Chattanooga

By Taylor Ellis

CHATTANOOGA, TN (The Loop / UTC) – A recently approved ordinance will allow Graffiti art gallery a permanent art installation on the sidewalk just outside the studio on Cherokee Boulevard.

The work, which was the idea of owner David Jones and sculptor Bryan Rasmussen, will be installed outside the gallery in the upcoming weeks and will be a permanent resident of 505 Cherokee Blvd for at least the next year. The plans for the sculpture, which will be somewhere close to 10 feet tall when completed and weigh close to 1000 pounds, was first submitted to the city sometime in late November 2013. “I wasn’t sure who to even contact,” owner David Jones said about the beginning of the project. Eventually, the blueprints for the installation and photos of the work were submitted to the city engineer’s office where they waited to be approved.

Several weeks later, representatives from the city’s transportation department inspected the site for the sculpture to make sure there would be plenty of room for sidewalk traffic and cars alike. “I’ve been really impressed, even though it’s taken longer than I had hoped,” Jones said. The resolution for the installation was signed in early March, making it an official project scheduled for completion in the upcoming weeks.

“Harvester” during its creation.

“I’m hoping within two or three weeks we’ll have it up,” Jones said about the latest addition to his gallery. This will be the first commissioned piece that the gallery will feature outside the normal floor space. “The appeal to us was that it’d give us more street appeal,” Jones said, later adding that the the size of the sculpture would help to add more visibility from the street.

The work, which is called “Harvester,” is another in a long line of sculptures by local artist Bryan Rasmussen. In addition to his work outside Graffiti, Rasmussen’s works can also be seen on the campuses of Red Bank High School and Chattanooga State.

Rasmussen grew up in North Georgia and did not have any aspirations to be a sculptor in his early life. However, as an art student at the University of West Georgia, a required sculpting class changed his outlook and his life. Rasmussen has contributed many works to the studio at Graffiti, and has worked under acclaimed sculptor John Henry. 

A work by Bryan Rasmussen at Red Bank High School

A work by Bryan Rasmussen at Red Bank High School

Some of Bryan Rasmussen’s sculptures include:

Originally, the installation of the outdoor sculpture was planned for late February to coincide with a gallery show Rasmussen was featured in at Graffiti. However, the process of approval for a city project proved to be a much longer process that initially thought.

“Everybody has been really helpful with the city, it just had to go through multiple people.” David Jones said about the entire process from idea to approval. “I think it’ll be neat in giving this end of Cherokee Boulevard some more prominence.” In addition to the installation of the sculpture, several other activities are planned for the upcoming spring to help and draw attention to this area of North Chattanooga.

In late March, students from the Savannah College of Art and Design will display their photography in the studio at Graffiti. The group of student call themselves #ArtNomad, and their show entitled Symbosis has already been well received in two previous gallery shows in Atlanta.

For more information on other events coming to the area in the near future, be sure to check out the links here, here, and here.




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Downtown Publix construction continues

By: Kami Rowe

Architectural photo of the new Publix in Northshore

Architectural photo of the new Publix in Northshore

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) – The Chattanooga City council unanimously voted to install retaining wall tiebacks for the new Publix on North Market Street for construction to move forward.

The retaining wall tiebacks will allow the construction to continue towards the projected finish time of late spring or summer of this year. The store will be convenient for people living downtown, Northshore, on the mountain, and even college students.

Publix currently operates stores located in Hixson, East Brainerd, and Ooltewah. The new store in Northshore will compete with Wal-Mart, Bi-Lo, Whole Foods, and Enzo’s.

Kelli Findlay, a student at UTC, said that she is very excited about the new Publix. Findlay said, “Publix is the place I would go to instead of Wal-Mart.”

In a article that was published last June, the author compared prices of food staples like bread, milk, and eggs. As a broke college student, prices are important when choosing where to shop.

Right now, the prices at Publix rank second or third compared to the other stores.For the staple items the prices are:

  • One gallon of milk- $4.19
  • A dozen eggs- $1.79
  • A loaf of white bread- $1.39

Overall, Wal-Mart had the lowest prices to offer, Enzo’s was the most expensive, but Publix offers prices that are right around the middle.

The Media and Community Relations Manager at Publix, Brenda Reid, said, “Saving money is top of mind for so many of our customers, but customers also want value, variety, freshness and the products on the shelf when they want them.”

When finished, the store will not only provide a wide variety of quality products but also top-notch customer service in their clean, 45.8 thousand square foot store according to Reid.

“We look forward to becoming the supermarket of choice in the downtown Chattanooga area,” said Reid.

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New Publix of North Shore Granted Construction Requests

By: Cody Dowler

CHATTANOOGA, TN (UTC/The Loop) – The Chattanooga City Council passed an ordinance on February 25 which will allow wall tiebacks to be built for the new Publix in North Shore. These tiebacks will strengthen the walls running along Kent street, Hamilton Avenue, and Woodland Avenue.

The store is now expected to be finished and open by late 2014. Publix officials originally announced that the store would be ready to open in February 2014.

The North Shore Publix is expected to be done in late 2014

The North Shore Publix is expected to be done in late 2014

Three buildings will be demolished to make room for the grocery store, which will include 4,800 square feet of separate, additional retail space.

Many local residents are very excited to have a convenience store on there side of town now. However, some are wary of how the new store would effect traffic and other small, local businesses.

In a News Channel 3 interview, North Shore resident, Shervin Dadkhahi-Poor, says ”The Publix coming in can be a great addition to the whole community. But it all depends on the intent.”

Dadkhahi-Poor’s girlfriend currently owns ‘Home Grown Silver and Stone’ on Frazier Avenue. While he says the increased traffic will probably be good for business, he hopes the North Shore does not become too commercialized.

“I just hope the intent stays good and we keep Chattanooga original.”

“We look forward to becoming a part of this community,” says Brenda Reid, a representative with Publix. She says bringing their brand to North Shore makes sense. ”We’ve had customers asking about a location closer in since we got here,” Says Reid.

The Proposed area to build the North Shore Publix

The Proposed area to build the North Shore Publix

Other Chattanooga area Publix stores include:

  1. Hurricane Creek 
    8644 E Brainerd Rd
    Chattanooga,  TN  37421-8325
  2. Creek Plantation Village                             5928 Hixson Pike Ste 112
    Hixson,  TN  37343-4839
  3. Snow Hill Village                                          5958 Snow Hill Rd Ste 168
    Ooltewah,  TN  37363-7834
  4. Mouse Creek Crossing                                 635 Paul Huff Pkwy NW
    Cleveland,  TN  37312-2970

Find a Publix near you with the store locator.

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HOMEAgain Funds Find A Home At Orange Grove

By: Sid Sadler

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop) – The Chattanooga City Council voted this past Tuesday to allocate HOMEAgain funds to Orange Grove Inc.

Orange Grove is according to their website, ” a private non-profit organization serving adults and children with developmental disabilities”. The total amount for the funding is $45,000, and will be used to help Orange Grove provide affordable housing.

Administrative Workers of Orange Grove

Administrative Workers of Orange Grove

Founded in 1953, Orange Grove offers an array of services ranging from family support all the way to rehabilitation programs.

According to their website, Orange Grove, “services approximately 730 individuals, and employs approximately 800 professional staff members to provide a wide array of community services.”

Kenny Gentner, Junior at UTC said, “I think whenever we can help people who need help we should.”

The HOMEAgain application states that their purpose is , “making HUD HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) funds available to area nonprofits, housing developers, and for-profit entities who wish to create permanent, affordable rental housing for families and individuals, to prevent homelessness and to re-house those experiencing homelessness or who may be at risk of becoming homeless.”

Larissa Hofstra, senior at UTC said, ” People with disabilities sometimes are ignored when it comes to giving them a normal living life, so I think this is great that Chattanooga is helping Orange Grove.”

Not anyone is given consideration for HOMEAgain funds, the application states in order to be given consideration projects must have a “high profitability of moving on.” This means that:

  •   the applicant has site control or a purchase agreement, subject to City funding.
  •   there is an experienced and qualified development team identified.
  •   there is a qualified service provider, if applicable.
  •   the project is economically feasible in terms of per unit cost of construction and for operational purposes during the affordability period.
  •   the applicant has included the project underwriting for the appropriate period of affordability;
  •   the applicant has conducted and included the Market Analysis.
  •   there is a detailed property management plan included in the proposal.
  •   other funding sources are in place or will be in place prior to any award of HOMEAGAIN funds.
  •   fifty (50) percent or more of the funding comes from other sources.

The application also says that the city must fund up 50% of the development cost for the program. According to the city council agenda, the city is funding $45,000 of the cost.


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Pension plan passed Chattanooga City Council’s first reading

By: Nick Porter 

CHATTANOOGA, TN (UTC/ The Loop) –  The Chattanooga City Council approved the pension board’s recommended legislation to address the massive debt to the pension fund.

Mayor  Berke addressing Pension Plan

Mayor Berke addressing Pension Plan

The drawn out six-month debate on the public safety employees’ retirement benefits came to a close Tuesday evening when the Chattanooga City Council unanimously approved the first reading of the new legislation.

The plan approved by the pension task force appointed by Mayor Andy Berke’s, is supposed to save Chattanooga $227 million over the next 25 years and make sure future retirement benefits are secure.

According to a recent evaluation by the city, the budget currently can only supply 54 percent of the promised benefits, and with the new legislation the city can afford 64 percent of the benefits.

Before the vote, the mayor said that the plan before them would secure a pension benefit for employees and retirees in the future, a promise he and many others agree could not be guaranteed otherwise.

“The changes that you’re about to consider to our police and fire pension fund are really an important moment in our city,” Berke said.

The savings stem primarily from a reduced cost-of-living adjustment to retirees’ benefits. Currently, pension checks go up 3 percent every year to account for inflation. The new plan would move the COLA to a tiered system in which retirees receive, on average, an annual adjustment of 1.5 percent.

The city is expected to save $5.1 million in 2014 under the changes. Berke said the freed-up revenue could be used to fix pay discrepancies in the police department in which lower-ranking officers earn more than those in more senior positions.
Not everyone in the city council meeting was happy about the new legislation. Kirk Salter, a retired sergeant in the Chattanooga police force, stood outside city council visibly upset after the vote on Tuesday. He said, “the Supreme Court rules that you can’t do something detrimental to change the pension plan, and thats just what their doing.”
Salter said, city council and Mayor Berke have not had the city’s public safety at heart when deciding this plan and that they are no friends of emergency responders.


He says his next step is to take the city to federal court because Andy Berke, Travis Mcdonough, and the City Council are knowingly exposing the city to liability and violating the law. He hopes to have his case represented pro-bona and has strongly voiced his opinion over the last few months.
The City Council will vote two more times on the ordinance. The vote Tuesday, along with unanimous approval by the pension board last week, was seen as a clear sign that the changes will soon be law.
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