Age and Hour Restrictions at Coolidge

By: Bridget Varley

CHATTANOOGA, TN (UTC/ The Loop) – Chattanooga has recently altered the hours a minor can be in the ever popular Northshore area during the evenings.

The city council of Chattanooga voted 7- 2 on a rule restricting minors that are not accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or adult 21 and older from being in Coolidge Park from the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The decision was made after several incidents in the park involving with minors have occurred. Last March, an arrest of five young people  in a shooting incident left some shot in the legs and three arrested.

The most recent happened just a few weeks ago. On March 19, police responded to a call where 300 teenagers were present in the park while shots were fired. Sgt. Rick Mincy told the Chattanooga Times Free Press “unsupervised teens hang out in the park often.”

Cliff Hightower in his March 29th article of The Times Free Press wrote, “The obvious goal is to reduce delinquency and restore the confidence of local residents and tourists, so they may visit the park without fear that violence will break out.”

Though some believe the hour and age restriction will improve the safety in the park, Council member Russell Gilbert feels that if one park is instating these rules the rest should as well.

Mayor Littlefield said that because Chattanooga is about to enter into the season where events take place each weekend at the park a message needs to be sent to parents to be responsible for their children.

If underage individuals are found in the park past the posted hours Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd said it would be the “officer’s discretion” on whether a minor is picked up and taken to the juvenile detention facility. If the minors are found in the park the officer can take them to a holding center in St. Elmo where they can eat and hang out until their parents come to get them. Officers Vinson and Moody said that they do not really agree with rule because if underage children are causing trouble in one place they will do it in another. Listen to the Council’s decision

According to the Times Free Press if the minors do not seem to be doing anything wrong it is unlikely that police will approach them. However, because of some teenagers causing issues in Coolidge all of those under 21 are receiving the punishment.

Haslam proposal approved

By: Bridget Varley

UTC The  Loop/ NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to make it tougher for Tennessee teachers to get — and keep — tenure has passed the House.

The measure was approved 65-32 Thursday. The companion bill in the Senate passed 21-12 earlier this month.

Lawmakers must now agree on minor changes to the legislation before it goes to the governor’s desk.

The proposal would require a teacher to be on the job five years instead of three to secure tenure and would create a way for job security to be revoked for poor teaching performance.

Opponents say the evaluation system for tenure isn’t in effect yet and that it has not been determined how best to rate educators whose subjects aren’t covered by the state’s value-added test scoring program.



Read HB2012/SB1528 at:


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.


The Royal Wedding

By: Bridget Varley

LONDON (AP) — Prince Charles could be forgiven for feeling a bit grumpy these days.

Close to many people’s retirement age, he’s still waiting for the position he was groomed for: King of England. And he’s preparing for the wedding that will make his eldest son Prince William and Kate Middleton the fresh new faces of a monarchy sorely in need of renewal.

That leaves Charles, who once cut a dashing figure himself, something of a forgotten man.

He is sandwiched between his mother Queen Elizabeth II, treasured for her steadfast dignity and devotion to duty since her coronation in 1953, and William, who carries a hint of the late Princess Diana’s glamour wherever he goes.

“He’s in a very tricky position,” said Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine. “By next year his mother will have been on the throne for 60 years, she’s the only monarch many of us have ever known. When she came in, she was very young with two small children and there was huge empathy for her, but Charles won’t get that when he comes to the throne.”

He said the failure of Charles’ marriage to Diana — and the role that his current wife, Camilla, played in that doomed union — has given the public too much information about the man who would be king.

“We’ve heard his private telephone conversations,” Little said, referring to embarrassing intimate calls that were intercepted and published, giving Britons a glimpse into Charles’ fantasies.

“The mystique is well and truly gone, so he will come to the throne with all that baggage. Charles has always been rather eclipsed, by Diana, and now by his older son, who is about to marry a beautiful bride. Charles just accepts that for the foreseeable future the spotlight will shine on William and Catherine, as we’re going to have to start calling Kate.”

Charles’ problems with Diana are ancient history, and Camilla’s tattered image as “the other woman” has to a substantial degree been repaired, but there has been lasting damage to the prince’s reputation. He looks and sounds tired, generating little excitement with his public appearances.

The 62-year-old prince even seemed a bit out of sorts when William and Middleton happily announced their engagement in November, commenting that it was about time since the young couple had “played house long enough.”

It is hard to remember the halcyon days when he was seen as a stylish young bachelor linked to some of the most beautiful women in Europe. He dated a series of young aristocratic women and fashion models before proposing to Diana Spencer — whose elder sister he had dated — in 1981.

The British press dubbed Charles “Action Man” because of his zest for challenging, even dangerous, sporting pursuits. He was known for steeplechasing, polo, scuba diving, parachuting, piloting helicopters, skiing, sailing and wind-surfing back when that sport was new.

He was known as a skilled foxhunter and angler who fished for salmon each summer in frigid, fast-flowing rivers.

Now he is viewed by some people as slightly potty — a stooping man who talks to his plants and goes on about the virtues of organic food while relying on a retinue of loyal aides to handle life’s more tedious tasks, like putting toothpaste on his toothbrush.

This view, reflected in polls that consistently show most Britons would prefer that William become the next king, does not take into account the serious work Charles has undertaken, said Noel Cox, a law professor and royal scholar at Aberystwyth University in Wales.

He said the heir to the throne has no defined constitutional function but that Charles has used the position to champion organic farming, traditional architecture and environmental causes.

“The position of the heir to the throne is always difficult because you don’t have a role until your parent dies,” Cox said. “From his earliest years, he recognized he had the choice of either being just a figurehead, with no particular function, or to carve out a niche and do something worthwhile, and I would say Charles has actually been quite successful in combining his personal interests and making it into a role.”

Cox said Charles, who has had a rocky relationship with the news media, may actually enjoy being out of the limelight while the media focus on William and his photogenic new wife.

Charles has been largely successful in persuading the British public to accept his marriage to Camilla, who in the aftermath of Diana’s 1997 car crash death was blamed by many for the royal breakup.

One of his tactics was to make it clear that Camilla would not take the title of “queen” even when he became king, a concession that mollified some of her critics who had wanted Diana to have that honor.

But Charles seemed to backtrack slightly in late November when he told an American television network that Camilla “could” become queen when he becomes king, a statement that made headlines throughout Britain.

The question of Camilla’s title really won’t be decided until events bring Charles to the throne.

Charles’ primary function on his son’s wedding day is to host a Buckingham Palace dinner and dance party for William and Middleton and many of the young couple’s closest friends.

He will be expected to provide the food and the wine and to make a heartfelt toast — and then make himself scarce so the kids can have a good time.

It’s a role thousands of parents play at their children’s wedding receptions each year, and one Charles may find himself playing for some time to come.


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.


Dunn for a Solo

By: Bridget Varley

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The wrapper is slowly coming off Ronnie Dunn’s solo career.

Six months after the dissolution of the iconic country music duo Brooks & Dunn, Dunn has released his first single and is planning a summer release for his as-yet untitled new album.

“This is the record I’ve waited all my life to do,” Dunn said on Tuesday. “We just wrapped it up.”

The single, “Bleed Red,” was released to radio Monday and is the most added new song of the week, according to Country Aircheck and Billboard.

Dunn produced the album himself and said he enjoyed charting his own path 20 years after he first teamed with partner Kix Brooks. Together, the Grammy-winning duo sold tens of millions of albums and was among the most awarded country music acts in history.

“It is refreshing,” said Dunn, speaking after announcing The Academy of Country Music Awards nominations with Miranda Lambert.

Dunn, considered one of country’s finest voices, said he’ll likely debut the new material on stage at the Fremont Street Experience before the ACMs in Las Vegas.

“The boys are in rehearsal now,” Dunn said.

When discussing his plans for the future last year, Dunn vowed he’d hit the road in a simpler fashion than he’d done with Brooks & Dunn: He said instead of a big bus, he’d find a secondhand van and an old horse trailer, load in some equipment and hit the road in search of a welcoming beer joint.

He says he’s sticking to that plan as another stage of his career unfolds.

“I’m not going to get wrapped up into all that overhead,” he joked.



Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

Wal-Mart- Michelle Obama

By: Bridget Varley

WASHINGTON (AP) —Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest grocer, says it will reformulate thousands of products to make them healthier and push its suppliers to do the same, joining first lady Michelle Obama’s effort to combat childhood obesity.

The first lady accompanied Wal-Mart executives Thursday as they announced the effort in Washington. The company plans to reduce sodium and added sugars in some items, build stores in poor areas that don’t already have grocery stores, reduce prices on produce and develop a logo for healthier items.

“No family should have to choose between food that is healthier for them and food they can afford,” said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart’s U.S. division.

As the largest grocer in the United States, Wal-Mart’s size gives it unique power to shape what people eat. The grocery business is nearly twice the size of No. 2 competitor Kroger. The company also has massive influence on products made by other manufacturers and sold at the store.

Mrs. Obama said the announcement has “the potential to transform the marketplace and help Americans put healthier foods on their tables every single day.”

“We are really gaining some momentum on this issue, we’re beginning to see things move,” she said.

Wal-Mart plans to reduce sodium by a quarter and cut added sugars in some of its private label products by 2015. It also plans to remove remaining industrially produced trans fats.

A number of food makers have made similar moves, lowering sodium in their products based on shopper demand and increasing scrutiny by health groups. Bumble Bee Foods, General Mills Inc., Campbell Soup Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc. all announced sodium reductions to their products in this spring alone.

Food makers say they are trying to reduce sodium gradually, making it a more palatable change to its customers and giving the industry time to reformulate products. Most said they support efforts to curb sodium in American’s diets but are waiting to see if the Food and Drug Administration decides to mandate a reduction.

Wal-Mart said it would reduce prices on fruits and vegetables by $1 billion a year by attempting to cut unnecessary costs from the supply chain. The company also said it would work to reduce price premiums on healthier items made with more expensive ingredients.

“Our customers often ask us why whole wheat pasta sometimes costs more than regular pasta made by the same manufacturer,” said Wal-Mart’s Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of sustainability.

Mrs. Obama has a history of working with Wal-Mart. She once served on the board of Westchester, Ill.-based TreeHouse Foods Inc., a food supplier for the store, but resigned in 2007 while her husband was campaigning for the presidency. Barack Obama had criticized the store over wages and benefits it pays employees.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.