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Smedley loses challenge issued over Hamilton County mayoral election

HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — By just 321 votes, former mayoral candidate Sabrena Smedley fell to Weston Wamp on May 3, saying Democrats interfered with massive cross-over voting. She warned the GOP that failure to act on election integrity could eventually see Tennessee turn blue. Tonight, they voted 35-to-9 with one abstention in favor of… ... Continue Reading
Weather Update: Friday Night’s Forecast – May 27th, 2022

Weather Update: Friday Night’s Forecast – May 27th, 2022

Tennessee Valley (WDEF):  Drier And Pleasant Weather Ahead For The Long Holiday Weekend! Tonight: Partly cloudy and pleasant tonight with lows falling into the lower 60s. Tomorrow: More sunshine will return for Saturday.  It’ll be comfortably warm with highs nearing 80.  After another start in the upper 50’s, it’ll be  sunny and warmer for Sunday… ... Continue Reading
Fatal shooting at I 24 rest stop in Nickajack Lake

Fatal shooting at I 24 rest stop in Nickajack Lake

Marion Co Shooting

MARION COUNTY, Tennessee (WDEF) – Jasper Police have made an arrest in a deadly shooting tonight on Nickajack Lake.

It happened around 7PM at the eastbound rest stop on I 24.

That rest stop is actually an island in the middle of the lake with picnic and camping facilities, which is usually quite busy on a holiday weekend.

Officials confirm that one person is dead from the shooting.

And they arrested a suspect at the scene.

Categories: Featured, Local News, Marion County
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Weston Wamp responds to rejection of Smedley election challenge

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WDEF) – The Tennessee Republican Party has rejected a bid by Sabrena Smedley to overturn the primary results for Hamilton County Mayor. The state executive committee heard her challenge tonight in a Zoom meeting. Smedley lost the nomination to Weston Wamp by less than a thousand votes. She wanted the party to name… ... Continue Reading
Low bond controversy for school threat suspect

Low bond controversy for school threat suspect

CLEVELAND, Tennessee (WDEF) – Public concern over a man arrested for making violent threats has prompted law enforcement to take further steps against him. Cleveland Police got a tip on Thursday that Tyler Durham was threats of mass violence on social media. They went to his home, conducted an interview and confiscated a 9mm SSCY… ... Continue Reading

Southern Baptist Convention list of accused sexual abusers includes two Hamilton County cases

HAMILTON COUNTY (WDEF) – The Southern Baptist Convention released a database of church leaders who have been accused of sexual misconduct.

News 12 went through the long list, and learned two of them had local ties.

The database of alleged offenders is quite long. 206 pages worth of church leaders the Southern Baptist Convention investigated and learned were accused of sexual allegations.

Two incidents were local, but neither was recent.

The earliest happened at Central Baptist Church in Hixson back in 1989, and the church re-branded as Abba’s House.

Donald McCary was a minister of music and youth then…

He was convicted of molesting two of the boys, and had two other convictions reversed based on improper testimony from a separate witness.

In 2003, another former minister of music, Gregory Dempsey, confessed to allegations and was charged with three counts of statutory rape and another three counts of sexual battery for the abuse of a 16-year-old at Oak Street Baptist Church in Soddy-Daisy.

News 12 spoke to Rick Nunley, one of the deacons of the church, and he says that Dempsey and the victim left the church after the incident.

Nunley added Dempsey was already the pastor of another church when he was arrested three years later.

He also explained the church put in protocols that vet any church leadership so those incidents should never happen again.

The Southern Baptist Convention released the list in response to a controversial report by Guidepost, which said the S-B-C ignored the reports of sexual abuse and dismissed recommendations for reform.

Former SBC President, Johnny Hunt, resigned from his position on the mission board because of it.

Categories: Featured, Hamilton County, Local News
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Dalton’s Municipal Court is moving locations

DALTON, Georgia (WDEF) – The City of Dalton is moving their Municipal Court to a bigger space. On July 18th, the court moves out of City Hall. The new home is at the second-floor lecture hall at the Convention Center. The new space can handle 200 people at a time. The Court is also switching… ... Continue Reading

81% of Americans predicting a recession

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (WDEF)- With the stock market down over the past few months, more than 80 percent of Americans think a recession is coming. A recession is two straight quarters of gross domestic product loss. The value of goods and services in our country declined 1.4% in the first quarter. “If things continue the way… ... Continue Reading

More To The Story with Staley: New Hindu Temple

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – You can’t miss it on Hickory Valley Road here in Chattanooga. Just off the interstate. A brand spanking new massive Hindu temple and community center. It will serve all followers of the Hindu faith. It didn’t take very long to build this facility, which opened on May 8th. Just 14 months. All paid… ... Continue Reading

Memorial Travel Expected to Rise Despite High Gas Prices

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — As memorial day weekend begins, AAA is expecting 39.2 million people to take to the road.

This is an 8.3 percent increase over memorial day last year.

“The majority of Tennesseans — about 87% of that 800,000 people — are planning on taking a road trip. And it’s a similar trend for nationwide, as well. So, those who are planning for memorial day — more than likely they are planning a road trip,” said AAA Representative Megan Cooper.

There are going to be a lot more people hitting the road this year than there were last year, but the volume of travelers is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels.

“The numbers we’ve forecast for this year are falling, really, in line with the numbers we’re seeing from 2017. So, we’re not back to where we were pre-pandemic, but we are definitely seeing increases compared to what we saw last year.”

This rise in travel is despite record-high gas prices.

Sticker shock does not appear to have deterred people from taking road trips, but the US Energy Information Administration has reported a slight decline in demand for gas.

“That could be because people are waiting to travel this weekend. You know, maybe they’re not out and about as much as they typically would be. It could also mean that people are starting to change those driving behaviors because of the very high gas prices.”

88.9% of those travelling this weekend will be doing so by automobile.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Local News
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Weather Update: Friday’s Forecast – May 27th, 2022

Weather Update: Friday’s Forecast – May 27th, 2022

Tennessee Valley (WDEF):  Drier And Pleasant Weather Ahead For The Long Holiday Weekend! Leftover clouds, but drier through the morning.  A little milder as well with lows 60-63. Only a few lingering morning showers & storms, primarily in Grundy & Sequatchie Counties, and those will be ending by around 8am CDT. This Afternoon: Partly sunny,… ... Continue Reading

New Chattanooga ADU bill in home stretch

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — Chattanooga is taking another step toward more affordable housing in Mayor Tim Kelly’s One Chattanooga Plan.

This newest effort can, quite literally, begin right in your backyard.

Accessory Dwelling Units, or A-D-Us for short, go by many names — in-law suites, carriage houses, granny flats, etc.

Chattanooga’s Chris Anderson says that soon, whatever residents want to call them, they’ll be able to build them.

Chattanooga’s City Council recently unanimously voted in favor of an ordinance that would allow ADUs “to be constructed on every residential lot” in the city.

Anderson says the decision to do so or not belongs entirely to homeowners.

“If you have, say, a woman who is retired in Hixson who wants to construct an apartment on top of her garage and rent that out to a person so she can help pay her mortgage, that is helping two people afford a home — one person living in the apartment and one living in the house,” Anderson said.

The city says the construction of new ADUs “will help address the City’s current deficit of more than 5,000 housing units.”

As for how they’re designed, that’s for homeowners to decide.

“It could be a garage apartment, a basement apartment, it can be attached to the house, it can be detached,” Anderson said. “The regulations in Chattanooga now will be no more than 700 square feet in total size. So they really are designed to be accessory units and not second houses.”

Mayor Tim Kelly says the city has reached a “critical point” where many are concerned they may eventually be “priced out” of living in Chattanooga.

But he believes this new bill can alter concerns.

Kelly says, quote, “This ordinance offers an immediate opportunity for residents to increase their property values and the City’s affordable housing supply, all while maintaining the character of our neighborhoods.”

Anderson agreed with the Mayor’s optimism, saying residents have plenty to be excited about.

“This is a new housing choice that wasn’t available to Chattanoogans unless they lived near downtown,” Anderson said. “Now it’s available city-wide. It’s going to be a tool that helps homeowners afford to stay in their homes, it’s going to be a tool that helps renters find affordable places to rent long-term. It’s really great for everyone.”

City Council Chairman Darrin Ledford says that this ordinance isn’t quite in the books just yet, as the council needs to hear on the final reading one more time.

Anderson believes it will be passed.

Some restrictions would include no units in front yard setbacks and only one ADU per single-family dwelling.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News
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Both Sen. Warnock and Herschel Walker agree to debate

(WDEF) – Senator Raphael Warnock agreed to three general election debates in November against Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

“The debates are an opportunity for Georgians to see the clear choice they have in this important election.”

The Walker campaign has accepted in principle, if not in detail.

Spokesperson Mallory Blount told CBS 46 in Atlanta “Herschel very much looks forward to debating Raphael Warnock and his lock-step support for Joe Biden’s disastrous policies this fall.”

Warnock has committed to three debates across the state, hosted by Georgia media organizations.

The Walker campaign did not specify how many debates, or which they will take part in.

Categories: Local News, Regional News
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From The Archives: “extras” at the filming of 42 in Chattanooga

From The Archives: “extras” at the filming of 42 in Chattanooga

42 Photos00000028CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Ten years ago this week, hundreds of Chattanoogans came out to watch actor Chadwick Boseman do his thing.

But they also hoped to get into his movie.

On May 25, 2012, the movie “42” came to Chattanooga’s Engel Stadium to shoot some scenes from the life of Jackie Robinson.

And there was an open call for extras.

You just had to come dressed in period clothes and be a spectator at our local, vintage baseball park.

Our Amy Katcher was one of the people who dressed up and went to Engel.

She shows us what it was like for the would-be extras:

42 Photos00000009


“We are about to give away an amazing trip.”

If getting the chance to see yourself on the big screen in a Hollywood movie isn’t enough– How about a trip to Jamaica? One lucky extra sitting in the stands Friday took home the big prize.

Numbers 3-1-8-5-6-5-7!

Yay! Oh you’re 9-7, it was 5-7. I thought she said 9-7

Oops. OK, well as they say in the movies: Take two!

Yay! I didn’t get my hair done but I got a trip!

Vanessa Calloway will be spending three days in Montego Bay thanks to “42.”

It was very exciting especially since its in my home town. And as a child my dad brought me here so I wanted to come and be a part of it. And then to make it extra special I turn 51 next Tuesday so I’ll be on set.

When all of the paid stars of the movie leave for lunch, it’s time to thank the hundreds of volunteers who braved the heat in the stands.

( Rick Holcomb) It’s a little hot today out here.

(Jessica Brown) All the main positions had been cast, the paid positions. We wanted to open up more of an opportunity for more of the locals to be involved, you know, in this great movie. It’s a very historic film, we’re in Chattanooga. So it’s a great way to invite people out. And in lieu of them donating their time we’re raffling off all sorts of great prizes.


Categories: Chattanooga, Entertainment, Featured, From The Archives, Hamilton County, Local News
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Police: woman shoots man while he’s sleeping

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – A woman has been charged with shooting a man in his home overnight.

It happened around 2 AM at a home on Basswood Drive right off Bonny Oaks.

The 55 year old man said he was asleep when he heard the gunshot and realized he was hit.

He was taken to the hospital with a life threatening wound.

Police arrested 61 year old Audrey Johnson in what they call a domestic incident.

They ask that if you have any more information on the case, please call 423-698-2525 or submit a tip via the Atlas One App (formerly the CPD Mobile App). You can remain anonymous.

Categories: Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Local News
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Weather Update: Thursday Night’s Forecast – May 26th, 2022

Weather Update: Thursday Night’s Forecast – May 26th, 2022

Tennessee Valley (WDEF):  Drier And Pleasant Weather Ahead! Leftover clouds, but drier through the nighttime.  A little milder overnight with lows 60-63. Partly sunny, mainly dry, and less humid for Friday.  A little breezy with a spotty PM shower possible and highs in the mid to upper 70s.  Partly cloudy and pleasant Friday night with… ... Continue Reading

Big land deal lands 470 news jobs in Whitfield County

DALTON (WDEF) – Back in 1986, Timbuk 3 released a song called “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.”

It’s 36 years later, and Whitfield County is subscribing to that mantra, now that a company has a deal to expand its facilities in Dalton.

Hanwha, a company already in Dalton that makes solar cells called QCells, is planning an expansion.

Whitfield County sold a plot of land to the company for $171 million, bringing 470 new, permanent jobs to the area.

Jevin Jensen, the Whitfield County Commission Chair, tells News 12 “We want to diversify our economy. We’re a manufacturing hub, and that’s not going to change, but we need to depend on other industries, not just the floor covering and housing industries. So, to get into solar and the green energy revolution that’s really going around the world was key, and so they can expand it and to further diversify our job base and our economy is fantastic.”

The deal is so good that both U.S. Senators from Georgia touted the success. Sen. Jon Ossoff says, “I’m doing everything that I can with my authority at the federal level to attract these jobs and investments to our state to make Georgia the world leader in renewable energy, manufacturing and innovation, and to make all this technology more accessible for working families and small businesses.”

Ossoff says he sat down with company leaders in Seoul, South Korea to help make this deal happen.

These jobs aren’t minimum wage positions, either. Whitfield County leadership made sure of it.

Jensen: “We are really focused on higher-paying jobs, so they need to be above our median pay. These are in the 18 to 19 dollar (an hour) range. I’m pushing them to get to 20, but they’re not quite there yet. But that’s still above our median per capita income that we have in Whitfield County. It will improve our income, (and) provide some good paying jobs.”

Hanwha has been in Dalton since construction began on its original facility back in 2018. This deal shows the partnership between company and county is not only good, but thriving.

Jensen says, “It’s a win-win for the company and the county, but this will be the first time that we’ve actually sold property and be able to recover our costs, and I want to give that back to the taxpayers.”

Because of Whitfield County’s original investment into Hanwha’s coming to Dalton, Jensen plans to push the County Commission to allow a certain amount of the money from the land deal to be given back to taxpayers as a thank you.

So, a county resident can get a job and a rebate. Not bad if you can get it.

Categories: Dalton, Featured, Jobs & Economy, Local News, Whitfield County
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I-24 Crash Causes South Side Gridlock

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — This morning, an eighteen wheeler crossed the median into oncoming traffic on I-24.

The accident only resulted in minor injury for those directly involved, but it stalled traffic on the south side of Chattanooga, between 9:00 and noon.

On an average day, the drive down Broad Street from downtown to West Thirty-Third Street takes about five minutes. This morning, it took about thirty.

“Man, I’ve experienced all kinds of traffic — coming down thirty third, coming down around Calvin Donaldson, St. Elmo — I’ve circumvented everything just trying to get this way, and I just live right here, just trying to get home. It took me about thirty minutes to get home,” said one driver.

The problem was exacerbated by trucks that were too tall to be rerouted through the tunnel in Alton Park.

“My truck won’t fit through the tunnel, so I’m routed around this way. I think the light is ill-timed, and the traffic won’t let me go, so I’m kind of aggravated at this point,” said another.

The traffic cleared up around lunchtime, but some drivers expressed concern that this was not a one-off inconvenience.

“It’s pretty awful. The infrastructure of this area is really overworked with the amount of traffic there is. The people get off the freeway, and it just backs up over here, and it’s just going to get worse, unfortunately, with all the houses and all the development that’s going on down here,” said a man on Broad Street.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News
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Collegedale arrest suspect after chase of stolen car

COLLEGEDALE, Tennessee (WDEF) – Collegedale Police have arrested a suspect after a chase that led into Chattanooga Thursday afternoon.

They say they were notified that a stolen vehicle was at a Murphy gas station on Little Debbie Parkway.

Police say the driver fled and headed down I 75.

The chase went onto I 24 and ended at the foot of the ridge on Alice Drive.

Police say the fleeing vehicle crashed into a box truck.

The driver fled on foot but was captured by Collegedale and Chattanooga officers.

Shadow Berry Barnett faces a host of charges.

The vehicle he was driving was stolen out of Marion County.

And he had warrants out for him in both Hamilton and Catoosa County.

Plus they say they found fentanyl and other illegal narcotics in the vehicle.

Police say no one was hurt in the chase or the arrest.

Categories: Catoosa County, Collegedale, Local News, Marion County
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Athens man charged with raping a juvenile at a city park

ATHENS, Tennessee (WDEF) – A man has been charged with raping a juvenile at a city park in Athens on Wednesday.

A police affidavit says the victim was walking with some other kids near Ingleside School.

They split up and the teen decided to go to Knox Park.

He says a man who had been circling the parking lot got out and came over to him at a picnic table.

The victim told officers that the man picked him up and took him into a restroom and performed a sexual act on him.

The boy ran away to St. Mary’s church nearby and called his sister.

Police say the sister saw a vehicle matching the description her brother gave and she took a picture of the license plate.

From that photo, police tracked the car to 61 year old Jeffery Gregory.

Investigators found a photo of Gregory on social media and showed it to the victim, who identified him as the attacker.

Family members then said they had gone out looking for the suspect vehicle and it was back at the park.

Police arrested Gregory in the vehicle for an outstanding warrant on failure to appear in court and added a charge of driving on a revoked  license and in an unregistered car.

After interviewing him, they added a charge of Rape.



Categories: Crime, Featured, Local News, McMinn County
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