COCAINE CONSPIRACY CHARGES
Feds charge 20 in Knoxville with drug trafficking
KNOXVILL, Tenn. (AP) - The U.S. attorney's office in Knoxville is prosecuting 20 men alleged to have participated in a conspiracy to traffic drugs worth at least $17.5 million.
The indictment alleges that the defendants worked together to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and more than 280 grams of crack, a charge that could carry a minimum 10-year prison sentence if they are convicted.
According to prosecutors, each of the defendants appeared in court this week and pleaded not guilty to the charges. They were ordered to be held without bond pending their trials scheduled to begin on Feb. 11 in Knoxville.
The case was investigated by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Fans replace items Memphis player lost in fire
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Fans have helped replace a Memphis running back's clothes and furniture after they were destroyed by a fire while he was out of town for the season's final game.
University officials announced Thursday fans' donations had reached the level allowed by the NCAA to help senior Brandon Hayes.
Hayes was with the Tigers at Connecticut where they lost 45-10 last week at the time fire heavily damaged his rental home in Memphis. The NCAA approved only donations to replace what Hayes lost.
A university spokesman says the landlord will either have the house repaired or a new rental available when Hayes returns from the holidays in Chicago.
The former walk-on has led the Tigers in rushing the past two seasons and is petitioning for a sixth season due to injuries.
New stadium to be built on site of old ballpark
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - More than 40 years ago, a historic ballpark in downtown Nashville was demolished and construction of an interstate uprooted homes and businesses in the predominantly black neighborhood, leading to an economic slump.
This part of the city never recovered, but residents and leaders are optimistic a new minor league stadium will help revive the community the way ballparks have helped other cities.
The old Sulphur Dell ballpark was home to the Nashville Vols, the city's white team, as well as the Nashville Elite (pronounced E-light) Giants, who played in the Negro League. Fans would go from games to nearby businesses on thriving Jefferson Street, now a historic district.
The Metro Council gave final approval this week to the $65 million stadium, which is part of a building boom of urban minor league ballparks.
Country star Ray Price leaves hospital for hospice
TYLER, Texas (AP) - Country music star Ray Price is to begin hospice care at his Texas home. That's after his discharge from a hospital where he was being treated for cancer.
A statement issued by East Texas Medical Center in Tyler says Price was discharged Thursday and will receive hospice care at his home in Mount Pleasant, Texas.
In the statement, Janie Price said her husband of 45 years had decided "to leave the hospital and return home to spend his final days on his beloved ranch surrounded by the comfort of his home, family and friends."
The 87-year-old Country Music Hall of Fame laureate was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2011. Hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Berkley says the cancer has recently spread to his liver, intestines and now his lungs.
Sullivan highway commissioner to retire amid probe
BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - An interim East Tennessee highway commissioner says he is retiring from his position amid a probe of the department.
Terry Shaffer was appointed to the post in Sullivan County three years ago after the previous official was convicted of theft and misconduct charges.
Shaffer told the Kingsport Times-News that the probe has nothing to do with his decision to leave. He says he is stepping down because he has worked for the county more than 30 years and wants to make sure someone else will have time to run for the seat.
Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus declined to detail the nature of the investigation, but said he expected it to conclude by early next year.
Staubus said finding would be presented to a grand jury.
Memorial honors homeless who died in 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - An annual memorial for Nashville's homeless who died in 2013 is scheduled for Saturday morning.
This year's memorial will honor more than 60 people who experienced chronic homelessness at the end of their lives.
Charles Strobel is the founding director of Room In The Inn and has participated in the Homeless Memorial for years.
He said in a news release that the memorial helps to affirm the inherent dignity in every human being.
Lindsey Krinks, director of street chaplaincy and education with Open Table Nashville, said the ceremony is also a reminder the housing the homeless is not just about charity or sentimentality. It can be a matter of life and death.
The event starts at 9 a.m. at Nashville's Riverfront Park.
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