- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Tenn. cemetery accused of stacking remains

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Relatives of people buried at a Tennessee cemetery are suing its owner and funeral homes that sent bodies there, alleging the cemetery operated without a proper registration and stacked several caskets in one plot.

Meanwhile, a state agency says Galilee Memorial Gardens buried bodies for two years after its registration ran out, as it tried unsuccessfully to get a new one.

A complaint filed Sunday claims Galilee moved bodies without permission, misplaced or lost track of buried remains and stacked multiple caskets in single burial plots - sometimes by crushing caskets to make them fit.

The suit was filed by lawyers for relatives of two people buried at the cemetery in suburban Bartlett, outside Memphis. Two funeral homes that sent bodies to Galilee for burial also are being sued, with plaintiffs alleging they should have been informed that family members were being sent to an unlicensed cemetery.

Cemetery owner Jemar Lambert was arrested Jan. 24 on charges that three bodies were buried in the same grave without permission. He has a court hearing scheduled for Tuesday on charges of abuse of a corpse and theft.

In a separate case, Lambert was indicted last year on charges that he sold burial plots to families on adjacent land not owned by the cemetery.


Tenn. lawmakers: VW incentives threatened by UAW

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Republican lawmakers in Tennessee on Monday threatened that the state could turn off the spigot of incentives for Volkswagen if workers at the German automaker’s plant decide this week to approve union representation.

State Senate Speaker Pro Tem Bo Watson in a news conference in Chattanooga called the United Auto Workers campaign at the plant “un-American.”

“Should the workers at Volkswagen choose to be represented by the United Auto Workers, any additional incentives from the citizens of the state of Tennessee for expansion or otherwise will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate,” he said.

About 1,500 out of the 2,500 employees at the plant are eligible to vote in the three-day union election that begins Wednesday. Volkswagen announced earlier this year that a new SUV model will be built either in Chattanooga or in Mexico.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Republican governor last year insisted that state incentives are not contingent on the union being rejected at the plant.

But state House Speaker Beth Harwell, a Nashville Republican and close Haslam ally, told The Associated Press on Monday that she shares concerns about a UAW victory at the plant.


MTSU Poll: Haslam job approval takes dive

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - The latest Middle Tennessee State University poll released on Monday shows Gov. Bill Haslam’s job approval has dropped since last spring.

The poll shows the Republican governor slid from 61 percent in the last poll rating to 47 percent.

Poll director Ken Blake said the decrease occurred primarily among the state’s Democrats and political independents.

Approval among Democrats fell from 52 percent to 42 percent, while independents dropped from 69 percent to 41 percent.

Democrats have heavily criticized the governor for declining $1.4 billion in federal funds to cover about 140,000 uninsured Tennesseans under the terms that the money was offered by the federal government.

“One possibility is that Democrats, having been briefly impressed with some of the governor’s moderate positions during the last legislative session, are asking what he has done for them lately,” Blake said. “Meanwhile, some independents share that view, while other independents just haven’t been paying much attention to the governor recently.”


Explosion under investigation in Wilson County

WILSON COUNTY, Tenn. (AP) - Federal and local officials are investigating an explosion at a residence in Middle Tennessee.

Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesman Michael Knight said authorities hadn’t determined whether Monday’s blast was inside or just outside the residence in Wilson County.

Knight said one person was killed and one injured, but it hadn’t yet been determined whether the death and the injury were caused by the explosion. He said authorities had ruled out accidental causes for the explosion, such as natural gas, but had not yet determined what types of explosives were involved.

The spokesman added that authorities were continuing to search the ¼-acre property late Monday to ensure there were no additional explosives on it or adjoining properties before they begin the process of recovering evidence.

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