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How Middle Tennessee Students Protested Gun Violence During National School Walkout

This post was last updated at 11:45 a.m. Students across the country have been organizing for a March 14 demonstration since the Valentine's Day shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. In Middle Tennessee, high schoolers stood in silence, waved signs, marched and chanted.

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Gov. Bill Haslam has called a special session that will start Feb. 2 dedicated solely to his proposal, Insure Tennessee. But passage won’t come easily, as many state lawmakers, like House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, are greeting it with skepticism.

“I respect and admire his thoughts and what he’s trying to do,” Casada said. “Many legislators like myself, though, have reservations about increasing the size of government.”

Anne Swoboda via Flickr

Little Jimmy Dickens’ hat, boots and guitar held center stage of the Grand Ole Opry Thursday as the country music community said a final goodbye to one of their mainstays.

The 4 foot 11 singer was known for his joke telling and novelty songs, but speakers like  Vince Gill remembered his kindness and longevity. “If only the good die young,” Gill said, “the greatest of all live to be 94 and sing two weeks before they pass on. And that’s pretty remarkable.”

Dickens was the last remaining Opry member to have performed with Uncle Dave Macon. Singer Connie Smith remembered him as always being quick to welcome new musicians to the fold. Calling Dickens “the heart of the Grand Ole Opry,” Smith said “I watched him so many times stand at the side of this Opry stage and assess everything. He was there to support and to love.”

Blake Farmer / WPLN

Home sales in the Nashville area finished the year more than 7 ½ percent higher than 2013. The numbers released by the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors show a strong finish to the year with 16 percent more homes sold in December and in the fourth quarter overall. But not all areas of Middle Tennessee had a banner year.

Robertson County’s home sales were down slightly and Cheatham County was basically flat.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Laura Hunter of Ashland City who has a house on the market.

Hunter says she’s given up on using a realtor to sell her house and is now trying on her own. She says the realtor's fee was adding too much to the selling price.

MNPS via Instagram

Decision day comes Friday for 13,300 students in Nashville. That’s how many have applied to attend a school other than the one that’s closer to home – a record figure, by far.

The number is slightly padded from previous years because all eighth graders now have to choose which high school they’ll attend. But still, applications have been growing for the last few years as the district promotes choice and as more and more charter schools open in the city.

Bobby Allyn / WPLN

Updated Thursday, 6:30 p.m.

In President Obama’s third visit to Tennessee in the past year, he will be announcing a proposal that would make community college free for all Americans, called America’s College Promise. Details are still emerging, but it could look similar to Tennessee Promise.

Obama released a Facebook video Thursday evening saying he will commend Tennessee on its education reform and then propose a way to make college accessible for everyone:

National Archives and Records Administration

On January 8, 1815, Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson lead a ragtag group of American soldiers to an unlikely victory in the Battle of New Orleans. Nobody could have known it at the time, but that win propelled Jackson to become the first self-made man in the White House and helped him change the nature of presidential campaigns.

  Jackson was a country boy who grew up poor and fatherless. His mother died during the Revolutionary War, around the same time he was a teenaged prisoner of war. By the time the War of 1812 broke out, he’d managed to become a wealthy frontier lawyer in a brand-new Nashville. He’d even served a brief term as Tennessee’s first Congressman. But even as an officer, Andrew Jackson was still just a militia volunteer, not a member of the regular army.

Stephen Jerkins

The Tennessee county with the lowest unemployment rate in the state has seen its fortunes change. One of Lincoln County’s largest employers is leaving. Goodman manufacturing is consolidating its operations to Texas.

By 2017, Goodman will be gone, and some 1,700 people will be jobless in Lincoln County, on the Alabama border. The decision also will result in closing a smaller Goodman plant in Dayton, Tenn.

WPLN featured the Lincoln County plant in a story last year about the area’s surprisingly low unemployment rate, which has dipped below 5 percent in the past year. Goodman, which makes air conditioning units, is the major employer in town and has been for decades. Multiple generations work there.

Emil Moffat / WPLN

Sue Jordan and her father spent many years listening to Little Jimmy Dickens on the radio at the Grand Ole Opry. But their connection to the Opry legend was also personal.

Jordan, a school teacher, had Dickens’ granddaughter April as a student one year and it allowed her to arrange a meeting between her father and Dickens — two West Virginia natives with a passion for music.

“You would have thought he and my Dad had known each other for years,” said Jordan.

“My dad loved to play the harmonica and always listened to the Grand Ole Opry and Little Jimmy Dickens,” she said. “And that was the pleasure of my Dad to be able to meet him and speak with him and sing and play the harmonica with him.”


Gov. Bill Haslam says he understands why some state lawmakers are demanding more details about his plan to expand health coverage for the poor.

Nearly a month has passed since he said the proposal would be coming, but it still hasn’t been released, a situation that has many conservatives concerned. But Haslam told reporters Wednesday that the proposal, which he’s calling Insure Tennessee, will be out this week — well before the state House and Senate have to start debating it.

“This is a big deal, and we want the legislators to know exactly what it is that we’re proposing, so this will give everybody two or three weeks to review it,” he said. “Obviously we’re hurrying as much as we can to get the waiver finished.”

Haslam says Washington officials generally like his idea to expand Medicaid through health savings accounts or vouchers for employer-provided insurance. But the federal government and the legislature both must sign off before it can be enacted.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker officially becomes chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week. He says one of his first acts will be to hold hearings on the Obama administration’s decision to soften the country’s stance toward Cuba.

The Tennessee Republican said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning that the Cuban government hasn’t yet lived up to its end of the bargain — which includes releasing 53 political prisoners. But he added, he’s keeping an open mind.


The Promise: Life, Death and Change in the Projects

This WPLN special series podcast explores life in public housing, in the middle of a city on the rise.

The Latest from Classical 91.1

Alex Ferrari / Courtesy of Intersection

Nashville is home to nearly 15,000 Kurdish residents, a population bigger than any other city in the United States. Most have found refuge here, having fled wars and dictatorships since the 1970s. This vibrant community was one point of inspiration for Kelly Corcoran, artistic director of Nashville's contemporary chamber ensemble Intersection. This Friday and Saturday, Intersection will present "From the Ancient Valley," a program inspired by Kurdish and Persian culture. 

Kara McLeland / Nashville Public Radio

The Nashville Symphony Chorus is giving a free concert Sunday afternoon at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Ahead of that performance, conductor Tucker Biddlecomb and a portion of the 150-voice ensemble gave us a taste of the music they'll be singing, taken largely from British and American choral traditions.

Krists Luhaers / Wikimedia Commons

Since jazz's coming of age in the early 20th century, classical and jazz musicians have been influencing and borrowing from one another, creating some bold and innovative music along the way. From the early syncopations of Scott Joplin and George Gershwin to modern interpretations of classics from the likes of Kamasi Washington, jazz and classical music have been combined in harmony for over a century. 

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