- Associated Press - Friday, April 3, 2015
HUD awards $24M to help public housing residents boost pay

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says it is investing more than $24 million over four years to nine public housing authorities and their partners to help residents secure higher paying jobs and become self-sufficient.

HUD Secretary Juli├ín Castro announced the funding during a news conference in Charlotte on Thursday with Mayor Dan Clodfelter, Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., and the city’s housing authority.

HUD’s Jobs-Plus Pilot Program links the housing authority with employment and training services, new rent rules that make work pay, and neighbor-to-neighbor outreaching to demonstrate how cross-agency partnerships can help public housing residents.

Money also has been awarded to housing authorities in Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, Houston, Syracuse, New York, Memphis, Tennessee, Roanoke, Virginia, and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority in Cleveland.

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GOP leader: 1-time school use enough to ban guns in parks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Schools could ban guns from nearby parks, playgrounds or ball fields by holding just one event there a year, according to a top Republican supporter of a bill to strip local governments of the power to block people with handgun carry permits from being armed in such places.

In a contentious news conference at the legislative office on Thursday, House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Franklin argued that the bill does not change current law barring all guns from outdoor where school functions are occasionally held.

Casada said schools that use a park running track, playground or ball field could post a sign banning guns. He disputed that that exception would run contrary to the stated aim of the original bill, which is to remove confusion for permit holders about where they can carry their guns.

“I would only submit that those who want it to be confusing say it’s confusing,” he said.

A separate bill to do away with the ban on the state’s 500,000 permit holders being armed near parks where students hold activities passed the Senate earlier this session, but failed in the House.

Meanwhile, House leaders said they plan to reject a Senate amendment to allow guns at the Capitol complex.

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Supreme Court overturns conviction based on jury selection

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted of child molestation in Union County because the judge in the case did not follow the rules on how to pick a jury.

The state’s highest court said there was enough evidence presented at the 2009 trial to convict Dominic Frausto of aggravated sexual battery. But it found that Criminal Court Judge E. Shayne Sexton deviated so far from the prescribed jury selection process that it prejudiced the entire proceedings.

Lawyers on both sides have a limited number of challenges to say who gets to be on a jury. The court found that Sexton randomly dismissed 10 prospective jurors out of two groups of people, depriving the lawyers from making intelligent challenges.

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Advanced plastics manufacturer expanding to Knoxville

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - An advanced plastics manufacturer is opening a new manufacturing facility in Knox County that’s expected to create more than 200 jobs.

Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd announced this week that Hicks Plastics plans to invest $10.4 million to expand its operations to Knoxville, Tennessee.

Hicks Plastics produces automotive lighting components, specializing in molded and vacuum metalized lighting components.

Officials say the company is expanding its manufacturing operations from Michigan to Knoxville in order to be closer to SL Tennessee, which manufactures and produces head lamps and tail lamps for the automotive market.

“We recognize that companies have a lot of choices when it comes to doing business and we work hard every day to create the kind of environment that encourages growth, allowing us to continue our efforts to become the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs,” Haslam said in a statement.

At the Knoxville location, Hicks Plastics will produce lighting components for various GM vehicles.

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