- Associated Press - Saturday, May 17, 2014
Foster parents denied custody of 9-year-old girl

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A judge has blocked an attempt by Middle Tennessee foster parents to get back physical custody of the child they raised for eight years.

In court on Friday, Dickson County Juvenile Court Judge Andrew Jackson said 9-year-old Sonya McCaul will remain with her father in Omaha, Nebraska, for now.

The child’s court-appointed guardian, Hilary Duke, said Sonya is doing well. Duke blamed foster parents David and Kimberly Hodgin (HAH’-jihn) for blocking the state’s earlier attempts to place Sonya with relatives.

Duke also claimed the Hodgins have endangered Sonya by making the custody case public. And she said that even if Sonya were to come back to Tennessee, she would not be placed back in the Hodgins’ home.

“That would be detrimental,” Duke said.

Technically, Sonya is still in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. Department spokesman Rob Johnson said Sonya’s placement with John McCaul is the equivalent of a trial home visit.

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6 injured in explosion at Tennessee steel mill

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Investigators on Friday tried to determine what caused an explosion at a Knoxville, Tennessee, steel mill that injured six workers and could be heard by residents from blocks away.

One worker was critically burned in the Thursday night explosion at Gerdau Ameristeel Mill, which uses an electric arc furnace to turn scrap metal into steel, in north Knoxville and was being treated at a regional burn center, the company said in a statement. Five others injured workers had been treated and released from a local hospital.

The names of the victims had not been released. Officials with the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration said they were still investigating the cause. It typically takes six to eight weeks to complete an investigation, TOSHA spokesman Jeff Hentschel said in an email.

“The company is committed to worker safety and is working with the proper authorities to determine the root cause of the incident,” Gerdau Ameristeel’s statement said.

For those who heard it, the blast at the mill was unnerving.

Ryan McClane told the Knoxville News Sentinel he was about a block away when he heard a loud blast and saw black smoke coming from the plant.

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UConn AD says state deserves to host tourney

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - UConn Athletic Director Warde Manuel says Connecticut has earned the right to host the American Athletic Conference’s two basketball tournaments next year.

Manuel appeared Friday with AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, UConn basketball coach Kevin Ollie and others at the XL Center to promote the move of the men’s tournament from Memphis, Tennessee to Hartford’s aging arena. The arena will undergo $35 million in renovations this summer.

The conference last month awarded the tournament to Hartford for 2015. It will move to Orlando, Florida for 2016 and 2017. The women’s tournament will stay at the Mohegan Sun arena in Uncasville, where it was played in March.

“We’ve had the success we’ve had in both men’s and women’s basketball,” Manuel said. “So, I don’t see it as a gift. It’s something that we have earned. It’s something that the fans have earned. It’s something that the state has earned. I just think they looked at the value of having it here in Connecticut.”

Manuel and Ollie both said they are continuing to negotiate a new contract for the coach and have no deadline. Ollie’s current deal, worth just under $7 million, runs through the end of the 2017-18 season. He made just over $1.6 million, with bonuses for the NCAA tournament run, last season.

Ollie’s name has been linked to several NBA job openings, including with the Los Angeles Lakers. He acknowledged that he has received calls about other jobs, and did not shut the door on the possibility of taking another offer, but said he hopes to stay in Storrs.

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Former air marshal pleads no contest in photo case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A former federal air marshal has pleaded no contest to unlawful photography after being accused of taking photos underneath women’s skirts as they boarded a plane at Nashville International Airport.

The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/QPThYC) reports that 29-year-old Adam Bartsch had been facing a count of disorderly conduct for the Oct. 17 incident on Southwest Airlines Flight 3132, but the charge was upgraded.

During Thursday’s court hearing, a judge sentenced him to probation for 11 months and 29 days. If he stays out of trouble, he will be able to have the charge expunged.

Bartsch’s attorney, David Ridings, says his client made a mistake and is “very remorseful.”

The Transportation Security Administration says Bartsch is no longer an employee with the air marshal program.

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