- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Haslam plan targets prescription drug abuse

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam and Commissioner of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Douglas Varney on Tuesday unveiled a multi-year plan to fight prescription drug abuse in Tennessee.

The state estimates that in the past year, nearly 221,000 Tennesseans have used prescription pain relievers for non-medical purposes, and that 69,000 of them are addicted to the drugs.

“It’s a serious problem in Tennessee when one out of every 20 adults has used prescription drugs that weren’t prescribed to them for medical reason,” Haslam said. “This prescription drug abuse has overtaken alcohol as the drug we’re addressing most frequently.”

Strategies include increasing access to drug disposal outlet and drug courts; adding resources for early intervention, treatment and recovery services; and decreasing the amount of controlled substances dispensed.

Twelve of the plan’s 33 recommendations would involve increased state funding, but the governor was unwilling to say how much money he will seek to pour into the effort.

“We don’t have that dollar amount yet,” he said. “But what you’re hearing out of us is a focus on treatment.”


Interstate 40 to be shut down in Haywood County

SHELBY, N.C. (AP) - The N.C. Department of Transportation is temporarily closing part of Interstate 40 in Haywood County to allow work crews to eliminate potential rock fall hazards.

The closure is scheduled for Thursday.

NCDOT has been monitoring the area since last Thursday following a rock fall near mile marker 8 in Haywood County.

During the closure, crews will scale the rock wall between mile markers 7 and 8 to remove some sizable rocks.

Crews will close all lanes of I-40 from exit 20 to exit 451 in Tennessee, which is about a mile from the North Carolina border, until late Thursday night.

Motorists heading west on I-40 should take Interstate 26 west to Johnson City, Tennessee, and then take Interstate 81 south back to I-40, east of Knoxville.


Man pleads guilty to killing girlfriend, daughter

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A man charged with killing his girlfriend and his young daughter has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1rHOSbq) reports that 30-year-old Jorge Alberto Molina-Rivera entered the plea on Monday in the slayings. He is accused of strangling 25-year-old Nolvia Aguilera and the couple’s daughter, 3-year-old Allison Aguilera.

The plea agreement calls for Molina to be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 51 years.

Records show he would be transferred to federal custody upon release because the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency placed a hold on him as an undocumented immigrant.

Authorities say they think Molina killed the two after becoming jealous when he found a photo of another man on his girlfriend’s cell phone.



Petitions seek supermarket wine sales in E. Tenn.

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) - An East Tennessee election official says petitions seeking a local vote on supermarket wine sales have begun circulating.

Sullivan County Administrator of Elections Jason Booher told the Bristol Herald Courier (https://bit.ly/1ktm3KG) that petitioners have until Aug. 21 to get enough signatures in Bristol and Kingsport.

He says 603 valid signatures are needed in Bristol while Kingsport needs 1,220. That’s 10 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election.

Wine sales are currently limited to state-approved liquor stores, but lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year that would allow supermarket sales if voters in a municipality approve a ballot measure.

State Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, was a sponsor of the bill. He noted that the legislation would have a big effect on East Tennessee because it is so close to Virginia, where people can purchase wine in grocery stores.

“We see it firsthand with people going across the state line,” Lundberg said.



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