published Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Human remains found at state park — and more Chattanooga region news

Human remains found at state park

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. — Police are investigating after human remains were found in a Tennessee state park.

Cumberland County Assistant District Attorney Gary McKenzie told WSMV-TV that police were notified late Saturday that remains had been found at Cumberland Mountain State Park. He said they waited until Sunday to investigate because it was already dark.

McKenzie told WVLT-TV that the remains appear to have been in the location for several months or perhaps years. There was no apparent cause of death.

Investigators said a human skull was sent to the medical examiner's office for identification.

Officials also found a backpack and clothes, which were sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation crime lab to be analyzed.

Authorities said no one in the area has been reported missing.


Applications open for judge vacancies

NASHVILLE — The application process for upcoming judicial vacancies on two Tennessee courts is under way again after Gov. Bill Haslam created a new panel to vet applicants.

Haslam last week signed an executive order creating the Governor's Commission for Judicial Appointments. It largely mirrors the state's Judicial Nominating Commission, which lawmakers allowed to expire in June.

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder and Appeals Judge David Farmer have announced they will not seek another term in the 2014 elections. The new panel will accept applicants for the two vacancies through Oct. 31 and hold public hearings with the candidates in November.

Voters will decide next year whether to ratify a constitutional amendment to give state lawmakers the power to approve or reject the nominations to fill judicial vacancies.

Under the expired Tennessee judicial selection method, a commission nominated appeals judges and Supreme Court justices. The governor appointed them and voters cast ballots either for or against keeping them on the bench.

The system has withstood legal challenges, but critics say it conflicts with language in the state constitution that says Supreme Court justices "shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state."

Haslam told reporters in Union City on Monday that a recent legal opinion from the state attorney general's office supported the governor's power to appoint judges.

'Duck Dynasty' scarecrow swiped

BALL GROUND, Ga. — Police in the Cherokee County, Ga., town of Ball Ground are offering a $1,000 reward for the arrest of whoever stole a scarecrow portraying Uncle Si Robertson from TV's "Duck Dynasty."

The scarecrow, which features the popular character from the reality show wearing camouflage and sitting on a hay bale with his legs crossed, went missing between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

City Clerk Karen Jordan tells the Cherokee Tribune that the scarecrow was a favorite in the city's inaugural scarecrow contest.

Four moms of fourth-graders at Ball Ground Elementary School spent more than 40 hours to make the scarecrow. One of them, Allison Martin, said she couldn't believe someone in such a close community would swipe their children's favorite character.

Ball Ground is about 50 miles north of Atlanta.

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