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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Senate on Thursday voted to require Gov. Bill Haslam to secure legislative approval for any potential deal to expand Medicaid in Tennessee despite the Republican governor's repeated assurances that he would first seek their OK for any arrangement. The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown was approved 23-6. The House passed its version 69-24 last month, but would have to agree to changes made to the Senate bill before sending it for Haslam's signature. By Lucas L. Johnson II. SENT: 410 words, photos.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee has removed Gary Sousa as band director, five months after the band issued a statement saying it was in a "bitter battle" with the school's athletic department and complaining about reduced travel and budget cuts. In a letter sent to Sousa on Thursday and obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request, Tennessee provost and senior vice chancellor Susan Martin said Sousa's own statements "demonstrate that you allowed your relationships with key university officials to deteriorate to the point that it is no longer possible for you to serve effectively as Director of Bands." By Steve Megargee. SENT: 620 words.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Uncertainty over a short-lived proposal to open employment to gays at Kentucky's largest private child care agency prompted many of its supportive churches to withhold giving last year, causing a multimillion-dollar shortfall. Sunrise Children's Services depends on giving from Baptist congregations in Kentucky, along with government funding. But Kentucky Baptist Convention executive director Paul Chitwood said those offerings dried up last year because donors were concerned that the proposal to allow gay workers might succeed. By Dylan Lovan. SENT: 760 words.
KENTUCKY BRIDGE COLLAPSE
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky transportation officials are suing seven members of the crew of a cargo ship that struck and collapsed part of a bridge over the Tennessee River two years ago, causing millions in damage and diverting traffic for four months. The state Transportation Cabinet said in a lawsuit moved to federal court this week that it spent at least $7 million to repair the Eggner's Ferry Bridge after the Delta Mariner struck it on Jan. 26, 2012. The cabinet's lawsuit, initially filed in state court in January, said the crew of the ship ignored repeated warnings from the U.S. Coast Guard and another vessel on the river that day about the navigation lights being out on the bridge. By Brett Barrouquere. SENT: 560 words.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Going into the recording studio for his third album, country singer-songwriter David Nail was ready to move beyond his reputation for emotionally heavy, slow ballads that painted him professionally into a box. So when he heard the song that would eventually become the first single from "I'm a Fire," he realized it was a turnaround for both his career and his attitude. By Kristin M. Hall. SENT: 480 words, photo.
KINGSTON, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority has completed a 12-mile, four-foot-wide underground retaining wall surrounding 240 acres of toxic coal ash more than five years after a catastrophic spill in eastern Tennessee. TVA officials told The Tennessean the new system used more than 200,000 tons of cement and other materials and is earthquake resistant. It is expected to be capped off by the end of the year, where they hope to plant grass. SENT: 190 words.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The top two officials at the University of Memphis are backing a plan to allow people without legal U.S. residency to pay in-state tuition rates at the school. Interim President Brad Martin told The Commercial Appeal that many successful high school graduates lack access to higher education. SENT: 350 words.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Discount retailer Fred's Inc. said Thursday that February sales at stores open at least a year fell 2.2 percent, hindered by severe winter weather. The performance surprised analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who were expecting a 0.2 percent increase in the metric. SENT: 190 words.
MOHAWK INDUSTRIES — Mohawk Industries says it will build a $180 million tile plant in Dickson County, creating 320 new jobs over the next four years. SENT: 130 words.
VICTORY UNIVERSITY CLOSING — A Victory University official says the Christian, liberal arts school in Memphis will close its doors due to financial difficulties. SENT: 100 words.
TEENS-ROBBERY PLEA — Two teenagers were sentenced to 17 years in prison each after pleading guilty to shooting an elderly woman and forcing her to crawl through her house to retrieve a purse. SENT: 120 words.
FORMER SHERIFF ARRESTED — A one-time Tennessee sheriff has been sentenced to six years in jail and three years of probation after being convicted of attempted involuntary manslaughter. SENT: 130 words.
TRUCK DRIVER-SLAYING — A Minnesota truck driver charged with murder in a May wreck on Interstate 24 is seeking to have the charges against him dismissed on grounds police didn't have probable cause to arrest him. SENT: 130 words.
ARKANSAS LEGISLATURE-HIGHWAYS — Arkansas legislators are set to discuss highway officials' response to a winter storm that left drivers stranded on icy Arkansas interstates earlier this week. SENT: 110 words.
CHILD-911 CALLS — A child's curiosity led to quite a stir at Metro Nashville's Emergency Communications Center. SENT: 130 words.
SUPREME COURT VACANCY — The Governor's Commission for Judicial Appointments has selected three finalists to fill an upcoming vacancy on the state Supreme Court. SENT: 130 words.
WOMAN KILLED — Police say a charge against a Madison County man accused of fatally shooting his wife has been upgraded to first-degree murder. SENT: 120 words.
TVA CAMPGROUNDS — The Tennessee Valley Authority's seasonal campgrounds open on March 14. TVA's six campgrounds are all in Tennessee. SENT: 130 words.
LAND BETWEEN LAKES DELAY — Ice-covered roads will cause a delay in plans to reopen offices and facilities at Land Between The Lakes on Thursday. SENT: 130 words.