Former 'SNL' performer seeks Williamson County post - and more Chattanooga region news

Former 'SNL' performer seeks Williamson County post - and more Chattanooga region news

February 5th, 2014 by Staff Reports and Wire Service in Local Regional News

Former 'SNL' performer seeks Williamson County post

THOMPSON STATION, Tenn. - Former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Victoria Jackson has filed to run as an independent candidate for a seat on the Williamson County Commission.

Jackson, who calls herself a tea party conservative, moved to Thompson Station last year. She told The Tennessean she filed as an independent because she's "very disappointed with the Republican Party."

"I think the key to saving America is normal, everyday citizens getting involved, because we the people are supposed to be in control, not the government," Jackson said. "I had a political awakening in 2007. I'm tired of complaining. I want to do something."

If Jackson meets the candidate qualifying requirements by the Feb. 20 deadline, her name will be on the Aug. 7 election ballot. She would run against the Republican nominee, who will be chosen May 6.

Jackson has appeared at political events in Middle Tennessee since moving there.

"I think I will fit in quite easily with [the current County Commission]," Jackson said. "I went to the dentist recently and there was a Bible in the lobby of the dentist office. ... I love this town. My two favorite things are here -- Jesus and show business."

Judge who changed baby's name ousted

NEWPORT, Tenn. - An East Tennessee magistrate has been replaced months after ordering a baby's name changed from Messiah to Martin because she believes Messiah is a title held only by Jesus Christ.

Lu Ann Ballew was a child support magistrate, serving at the pleasure of the chief judge of Tennessee's 4th Judicial District. Judge Duane Slone terminated Ballew on Friday and appointed a new magistrate.

Ballew, an attorney, still faces a March 3 hearing on accusations that her order to change Messiah's name violated Tennessee's Code of Judicial Conduct. Among other things, the code requires judges to perform all duties without bias or prejudice based on religion.

The name change happened in August, when Jalessa Martin and Jawaan McCullough appeared before Ballew at a child support hearing about their 7-month-old son Messiah Martin. At the hearing, the father asked the baby's last name be changed to McCullough.

Ballew ordered that the baby's name change to Martin McCullough, saying the name Messiah was not in the baby's best interest. Her written order stated that "Labeling this child 'Messiah' places an undue burden on him that as a human being, he cannot fulfill."

Ballew's decision was overturned in chancery court, and both parents agreed to name the baby Messiah McCullough.

Prisoner re-entry summit begins

ATLANTA - Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to attend a summit today on prisoner re-entry programs in northern Georgia.

The U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia said in a release that the office is hosting a re-entry summit in Atlanta at which officials plan to discuss employment opportunities for those who have been incarcerated and benefits being offered to businesses that employ ex-convicts.

U.S. attorney's officials say about 700,000 people are released from state and federal prisons annually in the U.S. Officials say 66 percent of state prisoners and 40 percent of federal prisoners reoffend within three years of release.