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News briefs from around Tennessee at 1:58 a.m. EDT

Monday, March 10, 2014

- Associated Press - Monday, March 10, 2014
Children's Museum of Memphis recognized nationally

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The Children's Museum of Memphis is being recognized nationally.

The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/1hYoKS1) reports the museum has been awarded accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, the Washington-based advocacy organization and watchdog group that develops standards for the country's estimated 17,500 museums, science centers, historic sites, aquariums and so on.

Dewey Blanton is director of strategic communications for the Alliance. He says only about 1,000 of those institutions have been awarded accreditation, and the Children's Museum of Memphis is only the eighth children's museum out of about 400 such sites to earn the honor.

A private nonprofit organization, the museum depends entirely on admissions fees and donations to cover an annual budget of about $2.4 million.

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Smokies officials offer reward for stolen window

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are offering a reward for information on the theft of a historic Elkmont window.

The Daily Times reports (http://bit.ly/O9Rsov) the antique window was discovered missing from a cabin in the Elkmont Historic District in January.

Park officials are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals responsible for the theft. The missing window was from the former summer home of a Knoxville glass maker.

The window's intricate design included 34 individual glass panes, each measuring 4 inches by 4 inches.

"This is a very sad case of vandalism and theft," said Chief Ranger Clay Jordan. "The people who did this have stolen a piece of our shared history that can never be replicated."

It is unlawful to disturb or deface historic resources within the park. Perpetrators may be sentenced up to six months in jail and fined as much as $5,000.

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Endangered penguin on display at Ripley's Aquarium

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) - A rare African black-footed penguin is on display at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg.

African penguins are an endangered species whose population is estimated to have been reduced from one million to about 55,000 since 1930, due to over-fishing and pollution.

According to The Mountain Press (http://bit.ly/1fhEtHo), the as-yet-unnamed penguin is a male that was born at the aquarium in January.

It weighs close to five pounds and is being monitored by the Ripley husbandry team.

This is the second African black-footed penguin to be born at the aquarium. The first was born in May 2013, and the two penguins are cousins.

A total of 35 penguins are now at the aquarium, 33 of them from outside zoos and aquariums.

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Service dogs questioned in spite of new law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee law changed to make it easier for people who use service dogs to travel around.

But in spite of the new law put in place last year, many blind and other disabled Tennesseans find themselves being illegally questioned or forced to leave whenever they try to shop, go to restaurants or patronize businesses.

The new law ends a requirement that forced disabled people to produce documents about their service dogs or their disability when they patronize businesses. It's a change that puts Tennessee in line with federal law that gives the disabled equal standing in public accommodations.

However, The Tennessean http://tnne.ws/1k0YFlK reports that disability advocates say that many businesses simply don't know that the law has changed.

There have been widespread reports that disabled Tennesseans are still being asked for paperwork and frequently have to argue that the law is on their side.

Attorneys with the Disability Law and Advocacy Center say they are hearing many complaints, including one from a man with a service dog who was asked to leave a funeral home and another from a woman with epilepsy ordered not to bring her dog to medical appointments.

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