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$530 million spent at Tenn. national parks in 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A report shows more than 8 million people visited Tennessee's national parks last year, spending $530 million in the process.

The report released last week by the National Park Service also shows that the parks supported more than 7,600 jobs in 2013.

The national parks in Tennessee are Shiloh National Military Park, Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Stones River National Battlefield, Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists. On a nationwide basis, the report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by more than 273 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park.


Former state worker charged with food stamp fraud

LEBANON, Tenn. (AP) - A former state employee and an alleged accomplice have been charged with running a food stamps fraud operation in Lebanon.

The Tennessean reports that 43-year-old Tracey Deshaye Timbs and 31-year-old Michael Nichols have been indicted on charges including food stamp fraud, identity theft trafficking, records tampering and fraudulent receipt of temporary assistance.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says the Department of Human Services learned of fraudulent food stamp accounts being created and sold out of its Lebanon office, where Timbs worked as an eligibility counselor.

Authorities say Timbs tampered with government records and created at least 40 false accounts with more than $150,000 in benefits, including some exchanged for cash and drugs.

DHS has fired Timbs. Both Timbs and Nichols were released from the Wilson County Jail on bond.


2 Monroe County inmates steal truck, escape

MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Authorities say two Monroe County jail inmates stole a vehicle and escaped from a work detail.

According to WBIR-TV, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office says Tony Joe Carroll and Ricky Burnette were working at a convenience center when they stole an SUV belonging to one of the site supervisors and drove away.

Authorities say the men are driving a gold 2006 Ford Explorer with the Tennessee tag 325 RMV.

Officials say Carroll has been serving time for charges of theft, vandalism, auto burglary and destruction of valuable papers.

Burnette has been serving time for driving on a suspended license, manufacture of schedule II drugs, drug paraphernalia and violation of parole.


Therapy dog helps Marine recover from war

SOMERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - As a veteran of the United States Marine Corps who did tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, Pennsylvania native A.J. Courteau has experienced his share of surprises.

As you can imagine, some of them were bad.

But the one he received Thursday, a 12-week-old black Lab puppy named Lucy, was a good one - and she just might be able to help Courteau put some of the bad behind him.

Like many war veterans, Courteau suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. His doctor back home believes a therapy dog could aid greatly in his recovery, and young Lucy will now take on the role.


Ousted justice backing judges facing challenge

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The only judge not retain her seat on the Tennessee Supreme Court after facing voters is backing three jurists who find themselves in a similar spot this year.

Former high court justice Penny White of Knoxville says she's backing Gary Wade, Sharon Lee and Cornelia Clark as they try to hold on to their positions.

The Kingsport Times-News reports Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is pushing a Republican-backed plan to defeat Wade, Lee and Clark during retention elections this year.

White lost her seat on the high court in 1996 after conservative groups attacked her as anti-death penalty for ruling in favor of a new sentencing in a murder case. The defendant in that case, Richard Odom, remains on death row.

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

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