This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Rose Mary Porter wasn’t pleased with her great-granddaughter’s kindergarten year at Calvin Donaldson Elementary School. “I felt like my child was falling through the cracks at that school,” she said. So Marcia Griffin’s knock on her door last year was welcome relief.
Shelby County Schools has received nearly three times the number of charter school applications this year as in previous years combined. Educators say changes in state law this year — including lifting the cap on charter schools, easing restrictions and offsetting start-up costs — opened the floodgates.
A white bus carried two dozen state and local officials through the intersection of U.S. Highways 11E and 19E on Tuesday as they toured road building projects the state highway department either has in place or plans to start in the coming years. “I’m the kind of guy who feels like he needs to get out there and see what’s going on,” said Tennessee Department of Highway Commissioner John Schroer, who organized the trip to review projects on his department’s three-year construction plan and discuss them with local officials.
The state of Tennessee had almost 800,000 hits last year on the website for the Consumer Affairs Division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance. Consumer Affairs Director Gary Cordell said the figure represents “a lot of people looking for information.
The U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday announced a grant of more than $2.9 million to Tennessee as part of nearly $21.2 million in funding for seven states under the federal Disability Employment Initiative. The grant is to be used to improve education, training and employment opportunities for young people and adults who are unemployed, underemployed or receiving Social Security disability benefits, the agency said.
Nissan North America will give a Nashville green-focused community center a hefty cash infusion. The company announced a founding partnership with East Nashville’s Urban Green Lab, one of two local start-up nonprofits dedicated to building environmentally friendly businesses, communities, jobs, and classrooms, a $100,000 initial donation with promises to match other gifts up to $100,000 and provide another $175,000 in cash over the next three years.
An initiative at the University of Tennessee designed to produce math and science teachers has received a $1.2 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. The VolsTeach program, in its second year, targets undergraduate math, science and engineering majors who may be interested in teaching in high-need public elementary, middle and high schools.
Nuclear regulators have called a public meeting Monday with TVA at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant to discuss the results of the first wave of “red” inspection findings there. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in early May gave the Tennessee Valley Authority a “red” or “high safety significance” rating in connection with last fall’s failure of a cooling-water injection valve at Browns Ferry on the Tennessee River near Athens, Ala.
The pool of applicants who want to replace Davidson County Circuit Judge Barbara Haynes is taking shape. The makeup of the group is being influenced heavily by expectations that Nashville’s newest judge will be asked to focus on domestic matters, a development that could frustrate members of the Tennessee Judicial Nominating Commission who want to see well-rounded, rather than specialized, applicants.
Becky Duncan Massey may have been the second candidate to announce for the District 6 state Senate seat, but she finished a clear first Tuesday night in a three-way race to become the GOP nominee. Candidate Marilyn Roddy said she telephoned Massey around 9:30 p.m., conceded the race “and told her I thought she would do a great job in the Senate representing the 6th District.”
When the time came for Chattanooga student Brandon Batts to decide where he wanted to pursue his dream of owning a major league baseball team, Middle Tennessee State University was last on his list of 13 colleges. But when it came down to the decision, the “at home” feeling and cost offered by the Murfreesboro, Tenn., university were enough to convince the Tyner Academy graduate that MTSU was the right place for him.
A new Tennessee law requiring voters to show photo identification at polling stations may hinge on whether it discourages voting by the elderly. State officials are launching an intense campaign this fall to teach hundreds of thousands of senior citizens about the new voter identification law that goes into effect just in time for next year’s presidential campaign.
A new law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls may result in longer lines next year, according to Bedford County Administrator of Elections Summer Leverette. Several states adopted new laws last year requiring that people show a photo ID when they come to vote, even though the kind of election fraud that the laws are intended to stamp out is said to be rare.
The Small Business Jobs Act signed into law a year ago, didn’t live up to its hype, reports Portfolio. The law President Barack Obama called “the most significant step on behalf of our small businesses in more than a decade” did boost Small Business Administration lending.
West Tennessee postal workers and community members handed out signs that said, “Save America’s Postal Service,” and gathered signatures on Liberty and East Lafayette streets Tuesday, as part of a rally to save postal worker jobs. “It’s my job. It’s my future,” said Sally Bates, who has worked as a letter carrier for 23 years. “I need to be out here.”
One of Tennessee’s most valuable assets — its friendliness — could play a role in a solution to one of the state’s most perplexing problems, which is how to create jobs in rural areas. And it could involve providers of what is widely regarded as one of the most unfriendly customer service experiences — call centers. State economic development officials are looking at a pilot project that would tap into one of the prime examples of jobs the United States has been losing to other countries like India.
Managerial hiring increased 13 percent in Memphis over the last month, by far the largest increase of any U.S. city. Memphis was one of only four cities that saw an uptick, according to September’s Careercast.com JobSerf Employment Index.
For the first time since the idea started gaining steam over a decade ago, Atlanta is committing funds for a study related to the proposed bullet train between Chattanooga and Georgia’s capital, an official says. “They’re finally having some vision,” said Joe Ferguson, who oversees the high-speed rail project for Chattanooga’s Enterprise Center, about $250,000 Atlanta is chipping into the study.
Chief U.S. diplomats in Brazil, Chile and Peru barnstormed through Memphis on Tuesday on a national tour touting lucrative opportunities for exports to fast-growing Latin America. A Greater Memphis Chamber-organized discussion and luncheon drew about 90 people to the FedEx compound at Memphis International Airport.
Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment Co. (NYSE: GET) moved closer to approval this week for more than $500 million in incentives to build a new 1,500-room resort outside of Denver. The Tennessean reports that Denver suburb Aurora approved this week its portion of the incentive package, leaving only Aurora’s request for $85.4 million in state sales tax subsidies.
Gaylord Entertainment Co.’s proposed Western-themed hotel and convention complex in the Rockies is one step away from getting the richest economic incentive package in Colorado history. The Denver suburb of Aurora late Monday night approved its portion of the package, which could total more than $500 million, for the Nashville-based hotelier’s proposed 1,500-room facility in that city.
A top Nissan official says he’s not worried by growing interest in Washington, D.C., to cut loans for energy efficiency projects. The Department of Energy has committed $1.4 billion toward Nissan’s new electric-vehicle battery plant in Smyrna.
Tennessee shoppers continue to pay the highest average sales taxes in the nation, according to a report issued by the Tax Foundation. The Washington-based, nonpartisan tax research organization said the statewide average state and local sales tax burden in Tennessee is 9.43 percent for every dollar spent on taxable items.
Goliath, meet David. In a case that mirrors the Biblical tale of a lowly shepherd boy who defeated a giant, federal authorities on Tuesday revealed that two workers in a global firm with a work force 6,000 strong would prove the undoing of a business they say defrauded taxpayer coffers of untold millions in nearly a decade.
Metro Nashville school board members approved on Tuesday spending more than $1 million in grants and federal funds for new staff training and programs for students. Metro will spend $187,500 for principals and school staff to take diversity training from Group Dynamics and Strategy Training Inc. “We have kids that speak 120 languages … and cultures moving in from all over the world every month in our school system,” Director of Schools Jesse Register said.
Bartlett officials approved the hiring of a consultant to direct the city on options regarding a municipal school system. But the approval Tuesday night by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen did not go smoothly, as Alderman John Barzano raised numerous questions about the scope of the feasibility study by Southern Educational Strategies LLC, and the fact that they were the only firm considered to advise the city.
City Schools administrators are spending too much time evaluating veteran teachers, time which could be better used helping newer teachers become more effective in the classroom, Director Linda Gilbert said. Murfreesboro City School Board members signed off on a letter to state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman Tuesday night asking him to reconsider the required number of evaluations needed for experienced teachers under a new model adopted July 1.
Superbowl Sunday is a day most men celebrate, and a day some women dread, but for reasons other than the big game. Investigator Debbie Stanfill, head of the Jackson’s Police Department’s Domestic Violence Unit, said that in past years the day has ranked the highest for domestic abuse.
Authorities say that former Shelby County commissioner and interim mayor Joe Ford has been arrested on a charge of theft of property between $1,000 and $10,000. Shelby County sheriff’s spokesman Chip Washington said that Ford turned himself in at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The preliminary hearing for a 45-year-old man in custody on charges of child rape was moved to Oct. 11 so the defendant could hire an attorney. Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Larry Vaughn on Sept. 9 after reports showed his DNA on a 12-year-old girl’s clothing from a year-old rape case.
General Sessions Court Judge Ben Hall McFarlin appointed a new attorney Tuesday to represent a man charged with murder in the shooting death of a Burks Hollow Road man. McFarlin named Will Fraley to take the case of James Lamendola of 1619 Old Lascassas Highway, who faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated robbery, burglary and theft.
A former Kingsport pastor has been arrested for allegedly soliciting the statutory rape of a 16-year-old girl via text messages. Anthony Michael Adinolfi, 55, 2109 Faulk Lane, Kingsport, is charged with solicitation of statutory rape by an authority figure, a Class D felony, and solicitation of aggravated statutory rape, a Class E felony.
Preliminary figures on a new Florida law requiring drug tests for welfare applicants show that they are less likely than other people to use drugs, not more. One famous Floridian suggests that it’s the people who came up with the law who should be submitting specimens.
When business screeched to a halt at Jerry Howard’s eastern Kentucky mine engineering company two years ago, he decided to call it quits after four decades in the coal industry. “We were sort of forced out,” Howard says of the former company, Walturn, where he was part owner.
Ask most Tennesseans which of the state’s public colleges and universities has the largest undergraduate enrollment and the answer in almost every instance will be the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. That’s wrong.
While sour economic news was permeating the world’s financial markets earlier this month, a Memphis-based company announced that it had a great year. AutoZone, which ended its sales year Aug. 27, reported that annual revenue rose almost 10 percent to top $8 billion for the first time since it opened in 1979.
Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is right to suggest that the Legislature’s Fiscal Review Committee also take into consideration the impact proposed legislation would have on businesses. We are not convinced, however, that adding this responsibility to existing staff is the right approach.