- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Small plane crashes outside YMCA in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A small plane crashed near a YMCA in suburban Nashville on Monday night, killing everyone on board and damaging cars in the Y’s parking lot, authorities said.

Authorities believe four members of the same family were on board the flight, which crashed near the Y in Bellevue, Nashville police said in a statement. They have not yet released the identities of the victims. The flight plan listed four people on board, the Federal Aviation Administration said. No one on the ground was injured, Nashville fire department spokeswoman Kim Lawson said.

The plane was a Gulfstream 690C that departed from Great Bend Municipal Airport in Great Bend, Kan., at 2:45 p.m. and crashed 10 miles south of John C. Tune Airport in Nashville about 5 p.m. The flight was bound for John C. Tune Airport but missed its first approach and was preparing for a second one when the aircraft crashed, Nashville Police said.

Police said the plane hit trees on the right side of the YMCA before crashing into the ground. The wreckage and debris is said to have spread over an area of more than 80 yards.

Morgan MacGavin was studying in a Starbucks when the plane crashed, narrowly avoiding the Y’s indoor swimming pool. She said people in the Starbucks ran outside to see a roaring fire and thick plumes of smoke.

“It looked like someone had poured gasoline on a bonfire,” MacGavin said. “It was probably the largest fire I have ever seen in my life.”

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Haslam wants free tuition for high school seniors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has vowed to make education a priority in Tennessee and he backed that up with a pledge Monday to allow any graduating high school senior to attend a two-year higher learning institution for free.

Haslam made the announcement during his State of the State address, which included details of his $32.6 billion state spending proposal and a rundown of some of his top legislative priorities for the year.

The new education plan, called “Tennessee Promise,” is an addition to his so-called “Drive to 55” initiative, whose goal is to improve Tennessee’s graduate rates from colleges and universities from the current 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025.

Under the new proposal, graduating high school seniors will be able to attend two years of community college or a college of applied technology free of tuition and fees.

After graduation, students who choose to attend a four-year school will be able to do so as a junior. Haslam plans to fund the program - expected to cost about $34 million annually - through an endowment made up of lottery reserve funds. The state has about $400 million in reserves.

“Through the Tennessee Promise, we are fighting the rising cost of higher education, and we are raising our expectations as a state,” he said. “We are committed to making a clear statement to families that education beyond high school is a priority in the state of Tennessee.”

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