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WDEF News 12 - Local News
Updated: 27 min 34 sec ago

Halloween Open House at Chattanooga Fire Stations

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 10:20pm
Trick or Treaters could stop by a Chattanooga Fire station from 6-8 Friday night for a safe Halloween destination.

The stations had open houses for the community.

Firefighters gave out candy and talked to the kids.

They say it's a good way for them to be involved with the community and give back.

Firefighter Matthew Enyart says, "I think it's really important. I know growing up as a kid, I always went trick or treating at the fire hall, and we like to present us as a safe place or the kids to come and trick or treat and have a warm environment."

Firefighters gave trick or treaters an up-close look at the inside of a fire station and the fire engines.

Sexual Assault Investigation at Erlanger Hospital Parking Garage

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 10:10pm
Chattanooga Police Department:
This is a public safety announcement to inform residents.

Tonight at approximately 5:50 p.m. the Chattanooga Police Department (CPD) responded to a sexual assault call at Erlanger Hospital.

•Victim: adult female
•Victim was attacked at the parking garage area by two black male suspects.
1.B/M mid 20-30 YOA, larger build, dark complexion.
2.B/M skinny build.
•Additional suspect information will be released as it becomes available.

The investigation is ongoing and more information will be released when available. If anyone has information regarding these suspects please call (423) 698-2525. If anyone sees any suspicious behavior or any possible suspect that may be related to this incident please call 911 immediately.

The CPD suggests the following safety precautions for parking garages:
1.When entering the garage, look where the exits and well-lit areas are. If possible, park close to an exit, or in a well-lit area.
2.If you notice anyone suspicious, tell somebody. This person may leave you alone, but could attack someone else.
3.When returning to your vehicle have your keys in your hand to avoid having to look for them.
4.Walk up straight and confident – do not let anyone make you nervous.
5.Scan the area around your car – be alert and aware of your surroundings.
6.And last but not least: trust your instincts. If you do not trust something or do not feel comfortable, turn around and ask a security guard to walk you to your car.
IMMEDIATELY CALL 911 if something happens to you or someone else, or you notice anyone out of the ordinary. It is important to report incidents immediately.

Officers will be in the area actively in search of any suspicious activity.

Chattanooga Native David Abshire Dies

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 7:42pm

     A Chattanooga native who made his mark in Washington has died.
     David M Abshire passed away this morning at the age of 88.
     The Baylor School graduate would serve as a special counsel to President Reagan and the U-S ambassador to NATO during the 1980s.
     Senator Bob Corker released this statement today on his passing.

"I am saddened to hear of the passing of a great Chattanoogan, Ambassador David Abshire. From his distinguished service in the military to his time as ambassador to NATO and as the visionary founder of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Ambassador Abshire lived a life of service dedicated to making our country stronger. Elizabeth and I extend our thoughts and prayers to his wife, Carolyn, and the entire Abshire family."

     For more on his career, check out his Wikipedia page.

Chickamauga Lock To Reopen Late Next Week

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 6:40pm
Chickamauga Lock to reopen the end of next week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 31, 2014) – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District plans to reopen Chickamauga Lock to all navigation traffic as early as Thursday, Nov. 6. An inspection of the upper gate anchorage and a repair plan were completed today.
Chickamauga Lock closed on Monday after a routine inspection revealed a crack in the anchorage of the upper gate.
Lt. Col. John Hudson, commander of the Nashville District, was onsite during the initial evaluation on Thursday and was pleased with the results of the inspection and the path forward.

“The Corps was able to complete the inspection today and the results are good news,” Hudson said. “I am glad the problem was not as extensive as originally thought, and we believe we will be able to complete repairs this coming week and reopen Chickamauga Lock before next weekend.”
During the inspection over the last two days, a team of Corps and TVA engineers exposed and measured the crack on the Upper Gate and worked closely together to develop the repair plan.

Variable Inc in Chattanooga Designing Unique Sensors Called "Nodes" That Keep Flying Off The Shelves

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 5:45pm
CHATTANOOGA,TN, (WDEF)-To you or I NODES are some kind of flashlights or batteries, but they are in fact unique sensors measuring heat, light, colors and vibrations.

Alex Lavidge, VP at Variable Inc,"We got started with just an idea on kick-starter back in March of 2012, since then we have been able to raise a few million in Series A investment, now have 26 on the payroll"

NODES are now being used by trucking, manufacturing and logistics companies all across the world and made by Variable Inc right here in Chattanooga.

Jason Barker, Production Manager, Variable Inc,"To Australia, Japan all over Europe, Canada, even some in South America, fun thing about doing fulfillment you get to see where is NODE going next"

The company say having NODES feeding back real time information to an i-phone on the condition of food or others product being shipped from country to country helps organizations get information quicker and at a low cost.

Alex Lavidge, Variable Inc,"Helps field-workers who are repairing a product or a piece of equipment on site, make smarter decisions with the vibration analysis data they are getting back or if you are referencing colors for instance even for the every day consumer"

Variable Inc officials say they are eager to grow in the Scenic City and are looking for young engineers, designers and mechanical minds.

For more information:

Senators Are Told That Hamilton County Can Deal With An Ebola case

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 5:14pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) - The tragic ebola epidemic in west Africa is far from over.
And despite all the precautions, there's the likelihood that other cases could turn up in this country.
Tennessee's two U.S. Senators are traveling the state asking the question---what would your community do if an infected person is found?

Ebola is a disease that can wipe out and entire country.
And the medical community in America is struggling to make sure it doesn't get a foothold here.
Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker got reassurance from Hamilton county health care providers and political leaders that the threat is taken very seriously here..and that plans are in place to deal with it should a patient turn up.
Memorial and Erlanger hospitals and the county health department all had top officials at the roundtable.
Sen. Alexander is the top republican of the health committee.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, (R) TENNESSEE "The centers for disease control says there may be a million and a half people infected by January. If we don't control it, it doubles every 3 weeks. That's dangerous to our country, both because an infected person might come here, and secondly because if we allow countries to be devastated in Africa that creates havens for terrorists."

Senator Corker is the highest ranking republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.

SEN.BOB CORKER, (R) TENNESSEE "There's no question that additional funding will be necessary to deal with the effort there. I think all Tennesseans and Americans do want it dealt with in western the best way yo do that it to really ramp up our efforts there."

Memorial hospital's infectious disease specialist is Dr.Mark Anderson.

DR.MARK ANDERSON, MEMORIAL, INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPECIALIST "We have these..four of them in the United States that are prepared to deal with the most infectious and dangerous pathogens ..and staffed by people who are trained to do that."

Sen. Alexander this week announced legislation to encourage the development of effective ebola treatments.

Senator Alexander said he thinks the nation would have better off if someone like General Colin Powell, or former Senator, Doctor Bill Frist had been named by the white house as Ebola Czar.
He says President Obama's political appointee has not been effective.

Red Bank Elementary School Celebrates Walk to School Month

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 4:12pm
RED BANK, TN (WDEF) - The cool fall weather didn't stop dozens of local students from dancing their little hearts out Friday.

5th graders from Red Bank Elementary School took part in a flash mob, unbeknownst to their principal.

It was part of International Walk to School Month.

These students just added their own twist.

Their goal was to encourage people to be physical and active every day.

Haley Brown, Principal at Red Bank Elementary School, says, "Some schools have chosen to walk to schools in the morning, but we decided to get our whole student body involved and enjoy the nice fall weather on a day that we're having a little bit of fun this afternoon and enjoying halloween, and wanted to get out and enjoy some exercise as well."

The students also walked to a nearby park as part of the event.

Head of the Hooch Gets Underway

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 4:08pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF) - More than 9,000 people are in Chattanooga right now for the Head of the Hooch.

It's the largest single site rowing regatta in the United States.

The event has actually doubled in size since it came here ten years ago.

Participants will race 3.2 miles down the Tennessee River.

The event starts Saturday and wraps up on Sunday.

Organizers say it's not hard to get in on the action.

Doug Beville, Assistant Regatta Director of Head of the Hooch, adds, "There's a lot of activity right here around the waterfront. Another great place to watch the Head of the Hooch from is the Walnut Street Bridge or really anywhere on the Riverwalk between Ross's Landing up past the Boathouse Restaurant. All that is good viewing for Head of the Hooch."

People from more than 30 states and four foreign countries are participating.

The event is free to the public.

Growing doubt in Chattanooga hate crime case

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 3:31pm
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - Three suspects who were involved in what has been called a hate crime against a gay Chattanooga man were in court Friday morning.

Christopher Woodard, Damonte Battle and Logan Odem appeared with their attorney's to discuss their case.

All three men are accused of beatingTerrance Eberhardt, 19, of Chattanooga because he's gay. But Woodard's attorney Bill Speek says there is overwhelming evidence including cell phone video that negates that accusation.

"There is. It was originally reported that it was a hate crime. I think the evidence we got in this case makes it clear that there was no targeting of anybody because of their sexual orientation," Speek said.

Eberhardt did not attend the hearing, but WDEF had the opportunity to talk to him days after the alleged attack.

"The reason why I was beaten because I was gay. While the guys were beating me they were calling me all kinds of names like gay and faggot. The guy Monte, was the one who had hit me with the gun," said Eberhardt.

But according to defense attorney Speek and several people close to Eberhardt who have secretly contacted WDEF,  the incident was merely a fight involving multiple people inside the East Chattanooga Recreation parking lot.

"We knew about the situation very early on. We knew there was going to be a fundamental issue about the facts in this case. We also had a lot of information and history about the alleged victim in this case," Speek said.

On the day Eberhardt spoke to WDEF about his alleged attack, gay advocate D'Angelo Davis stood by his side to make the public aware of unreported attacks on gays in Chattanooga. But now Davis finds himself on the fence about what actually happened.

"I support Terrance 100-percent because I all for the gays. We are targeted so much so I'm rooting for Terrance. But if this wasn't the case or matter that it was a gay situation then Terrance needs to come forth and say it. Because these boys are in jail for nothing if that's the case. They're sitting in jail for nothing," Davis said.

All three defendants are facing assault charges under the umbrella of a hate crime.

JOE FRUGAL: Frighteningly Free or Devilishly Discounted Meals Today for Costumed Kids

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 4:49am
Several restaurants offer frighteningly free or devilishly discounted meals today for costumed kids.

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Beef O' Bradys, Carrabba's, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, IHOP (Free Scary Face Pancake) and Ryans all offer free kids meals with the purchase of an adult entrée.  If the restaurant has a link attached, then that restaurant requires you use a coupon to get the deal.  Also, check with the restaurant for their definition of "kid." Some will only give the free meal to 10 and under, some 11 and under, and some 12 and under.

Kristy Kreme will give your goblin one free boo-tiful doughnut today.

Sonic offers $0.50 corn dogs all day.

Red Robin offers $3 off a $10 order when you upgrade to the vampire-repellant Garlic Herbed Fries, a “monster” burger or “monster” milkshake.

Stevi B's Pizza lets kids under 10 eat for 99¢ on Halloween, buffet only.

Lookout Valley Middle High School CLOSED Friday

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 10:45pm
(WDEF)  Just in to the WDEF news room:

"This is an official message from the Hamilton County Department of Education to the parents, faculty, and staff of Lookout Valley Middle High School.  Please accept our apologies for the lateness of this message.  Due to a water main break at the school and the lack of water in the building, Lookout Valley Middle High will be closed Friday, October 31st.  Thank you."

Gang Members, Community Say "Stop the Violence"

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 9:58pm
       Gang Members and residents of violent stricken parts of Chattanooga take a powerful stand against shootings.
         Chattanooga Gang members met with the community at Olivet Baptist Church, inspiring others to stop the violence.
        Then, more than 100 Alton Park residents came out to make their voices heard loud and clear.
        They marched to the site where 28 year old Terrence Lebron Bivens was shot and killed this weekend.
        They want the Chattanooga community to work together to make a change.
        "Just look around how many deaths have their been how many killings have their been. It's a lot of people dying a lot of people getting killed. A lot of people losing family members and loved ones over nothing," said Alton Park Resident Angel.
        "It starts out here. This what we out here for.  You understand? We out here to show these young brother man we ain't gotta pick up no more guns," said Alton Park Resident Jay.
        When the gang members met, they came up with certain areas they need improvement.  It included better access to jobs, education and family enrichment, and addressing issues with police.

Last Minute Shoppers Look For Costumes In Halloween Rush

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 9:45pm
       Halloween night is less than 24 hours away, and as with Christmas shopping, there are plenty of procrastinators out there scurrying to pick up supplies and even costumes for the big night.
       The Halloween Express store on Gunbarrel Road was full of last minute costume seekers. Store managers say most last minute shoppers are college age kids and older searching for something to wear to Halloween parties. Many were still struggling to come up with a costume.
      "When it is a day out from Halloween, it is absolutely crazy in our Halloween store. We are looking for last minute stuff like masks, capes and jumpsuits, things you can throw together to make it look like a costume," said Jammie Hunt, District Manager for Halloween Express.
      Costume shopper Madeleine Jennings still isn't sure what she will come up with.
      "I'm just kind of scraping stuff together probably something like Dr. Who."
      Halloween Express will be open on Friday, and if you want to get a jump on next Halloween, they will stay open this weekend with a big sale on most items.

Anti-Circumcision Campain Gets Chattanoogans Talking

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 5:57pm
CHATTANOOGA,TN, (WDEF)-If you were driving down Market Street in Chattanooga Thursday, you may have seen men and women in white jump suits with red paint holding banners campaigning for an end to circumcision.

Brother K, Blood Stained Men and Their Friends,"We are having a profound impact, I had a woman stop by just a few hours ago and she  had such a sad look on her face, gave her the information on baby circumcision and she said thank you so much for telling me, I had another woman drive by she told me her daughter said you were going to be here"

Jonathan Friedman, Blood Stained Men and Their Friends,"Its a severe trauma to do to an infant or to do to anybody and we really don't know what these infants are feeling and they do feel pain, you know you are altering someone's genitals"

According to the CDC nearly half of all new born boys in the US are circumcised.

An experienced Chattanooga Pediatrician feels the health benefits of newborn circumcision slightly outweigh the risks involved but believes the decision making rests with the boy's parents.

"If you are going to do it do in the newborn period, because it is much more traumatic for the child being done later on, we have to do it under anesthesia, we then have the risk of anesthesia, the complication rate is way higher when it is done later on, infection rate is higher"

He says there is no major harm in leaving your children uncircumcised as long as they wash regularly.

"How many people practice perfect hygiene? you have to put that factor in there, you can educate and by pass that problem"

Dr Naseer added medical journals show circumcision has played a role in combating the spread of HIV and Herpes in the developing world.

However Intact Tennessee's Amanda Tyson say condoms combat STD's not circumcision.

  Blood Stained Men will continue their crusade throughout Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida taking in 12 cities in the next 12 days.

For More Information:

New Traffic Pattern for Tennessee Avenue at West 40th Street

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 5:19pm
(WDEF)  The intersection of Tennessee Avenue at W 40th Street has been redesigned as a “T” Intersection.
        The triangular island has been removed and northbound Tennessee Avenue now has a stop sign at the intersection with W 40th Street.
        This project reduces the number of conflict points from the three sided intersection, calms traffic entering the St Elmo neighborhood, and when complete will provide additional parking for the businesses.

Fall Foliage

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 5:06pm
Experts say the trees in the Tennessee Valley are near peak fall foliage.

Gene Hyde, City Forester said, "Seeing a lot of beautiful colors." Bright reds, oranges and crisp yellows are painting the hillsides and leaves on trees around town. Hyde said, "There's a lot of color out there and its just a fabulous time to be outside and a fabulous time to enjoy mother nature, so get out and do it." Hyde says right now the Tennessee Valley is close to being peak on our fall foliage. Hyde said, "Maybe just a little bit delayed because it was so warm so late into the year." Hyde says the changing of colors is mother nature's way of preparing the trees for winter. He said, "The maples are yellows, oranges and reds. The hickory trees are kind of a brilliant yellow and I think the ash trees are a very sublime color of very soft pastels of kind of a violet and soft yellow color."

Ruth Thompson with Outdoor Chattanooga took us to Lookout Mountain where she says the fall colors will be phenomenal. Thompson said, "I really like this area because its extremely accessible to downtown, you can access the Lookout Mountain trails public transportation and even if you aren't a really super experienced hiker you can access a well marked system with multiple loop distances." Thompson suggested other great viewing spots as well. She said, "Raccoon Mountain, getting up onto Enterprise South Nature Park up onto the ridges and getting up onto Stringer's Ridge."

For a list of trails in our area to view the changing colors visit

If you have any fall foliage pictures feel free to tweet them to Megan on twitter @megwiseweather or email them to her at

Corps of Engineers Works to Repair Chickamauga Lock

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 5:04pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) - Repair work got underway Thursday morning at Chickamauga lock on the gate-mechanism that shut down river traffic on Monday.
A work barge from Florence, Alabama is now inside the lock as crews begin to remove concrete to get to the gate assembly.
An inspection turned up a hair-line crack and the U-S army corps of Engineers halted the daily routine to get a better look.
LT. COLONEL JOHN HUDSON Nashville District Commander,Corps of Engineers
"We're in the process of disassembling the upper part of the hinge of the miter gate, which is where the problem lies. We need to get the disassembly complete so we can fully assess and evaluate the problem ..And insure that our proposed solutions are going to work."
Colonel Hudson says the team will soon determine how long the lock will be out of service.
Right now the estimate is three weeks.
Meanwhile, at Ross's landing, plans are moving ahead for the start of the Head of the Hooch rowing regatta tomorrow.
Almost ten-thousand rowers will take part.
Convention Bureau president Bob Doak says the problem with the lock will have a minimal effect on the annual event.

Sheriffs Urge Victims to Sign Up For Tennessee Savin

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 4:58pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF-TV) - Tennessee crime victims can now find out when an offender is released from custody.
The goal is to keep crime victims safer when a potentially dangerous individual is back on the street.
East Tennessee officers spent the day learning about Savin, the statewide Victim information notification.

All 95 Tennessee counties are taking part in Savin.
And officers from the south eastern corner of the state are training to use it.
The Savin program is something law enforcement agencies have talked about for years.

SHERIFF JIM HAMMOND, HAMILTON COUNTY "I think back several years ago on a call I received from a panicked victim who was very concerned on hearing that the perpetrator had gotten out of jail..tried to make contact with her. I think at that time we were already discussing this kind of program."

GARY CORDELL, COORDINATOR, TENNESSEE SAVIN "Its an anonymous, automated system where the perpetrator of the crime doesn't know you're even following their movement."

The Grundy county sheriff's office is already handing out the information to victims of every domestic violence.

SHERIFF CLINT SHRUM, GRUNDY COUNTY "That way they can be notified if there's an order of protection in place. It kinda lets us know..let's them know to be on the lookout for that person. If they see them contact us..that way we can take action then."

GARY CORDELL, COORDINATOR, TENNESSEE SAVIN "It can also save lives. Say someone gets out of jail and you don't know it...a threat to you . This service provides you with a way to keep up with their status 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

Citizens can easily register to get notices.

GARY CORDELL "You have two choices, either in Tennessee, you can either choose a phone notification or email..or both."

The system deals with people in county jails and advises victim when that person has been transferred, is back on the street or has died.

Savin is funded by state and federal grants and is sponsored by the Tennessee Sheriff's Association.

Crabtree Farms Gets Ready for This Weekend's Pumpkin Smash

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 4:17pm
(WDEF) Crabtree Farms wants to get everyone ready for an epic pumpkin chunkin' this weekend.
     Staff gave a preview of this weekend's fundraiser to the media Thursday afternoon.
     The "Pumpkin Smash" festival happens this Saturday from 10:00am until 4:00pm.
     Three teams of Roper engineers will compete in a Pumpkin Chuckin' trebuchet contest at noon.
     And guests can bring their leftover Halloween pumpkins to launch as well.
     Andrea Jaeger of Crabtree Farms explained, "It's a great way to use up your leftover Halloween pumpkins and to help compost them in our fields."
     This weekend's family-friendly event also features carnival style fun-on-the-farm games and live music.

Fatal LaFayette House Fire Ruled Accidental

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 2:29pm
(WDEF) Investigators rule a fatal house fire Thursday morning in Walker County was accidental.
     It happened in LaFayette on Round Pond Road just before 9:00am.
     60-year-old Peter Whittenberger was killed.
     The Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioners' office says the fire started in the living room because of a malfunctioning wood burning stove.
     No evidence of a working smoke alarm was found in the home.
     Thursday morning's fatality brings this year's fire death total to 87 in Georgia.