This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Initiative will offer financial help to firms State officials will launch an initiative today designed to bolster Tennessee exports and offer modest financial help to small companies that want to sell products overseas, perhaps for the first time. A trade mission to China and South Korea to make contacts for Tennessee-based medical equipment manufacturers and other health-care interests is also on tap next spring.
A newly formed alliance of organizations from sixteen East Tennessee counties will host a meeting Thursday, December 15, for budding entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors interested in creating businesses and jobs in the area. The East Tennessee Regional Accelerator Coalition, led by the University of Tennessee Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, will host the gathering, 5 to 7 p.m., at Pershing, Yoakley, and Associates.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis have awarded $12,916 to Farley’s & Sathers Candy Company, $14,254 to Kordosa Global, $23,240 to Master Machine Inc. and $3,650 to J.M. Hanner Construction Co., Inc in Chattanooga. “If Tennessee is going to become the number one location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs, then we must offer a well-trained workforce to employers,” said Governor Haslam.
Tennessee broke out of the bottom 10 to land 39th in a national ranking of overall health in a new report released Tuesday. The state had languished for more than 20 years in the bottom 10, but showed marked improvement in several areas of the 2011 America’s Health Rankings.
The health of Tennesseeans seems to be improving. A report released this week by the United Health Foundation indicated Tennessee’s overall ranking for health improved from 42nd in the nation last year to 39th this year.
The Cleveland City Schools system maintained status quo on this year’s state achievement report card, but Director of Schools Dr. Martin Ringstaff was quick to add, “We will get better.” Report cards were released Friday and the Cleveland system scored about the same as it did a year ago, with three Bs and a C.
Violence decline here noted in 7.6% state dip Memphis is the driving force behind the statewide decrease in crime this year, says Tennessee Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons. “When crime’s down in Memphis, crime is down in the state,” he told the Memphis Rotary Club on Tuesday.
Tennessee State University spent the year proving to monitors that its leaders use research to make good decisions and give students the best chance for success. The result: Full reaccreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the continuing federal student aid and public confidence that goes with it.
Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham wants the state or federal government to widen two railroad bridges that create bottlenecks on Cummings Highway in heavy traffic. The roadway often serves as an alternative to Interstate 24 around Lookout Mountain during interstate traffic disturbances.
The expected completion date for construction of a bridge on Cherokee Road is now around Christmas, stretching the original date back by about three months. Cherokee Road remains closed while Johnson City’s Thomas Construction finishes a project that includes replacing a 25-foot single span slab bridge with a box bridge over Little Cherokee Creek just north of Maple Lane Farms.
State lawmakers are talking about making the Tennessee Education Lottery give a bigger chunk of its profits over to scholarships. Lottery officials counter that the less strict plan they’re on now actually means more education dollars.
The Tennessee Legislature announced the launch of a bipartisan, bicameral Tennessee STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education Caucus during the 2011 legislative recess. This is the nation’s first state-level caucus on education issues.
Emergency officials are still warning of possible flooding in Dyer County after heavy rains hit the area. Dyer County Emergency Management Director James Medling was checking the rivers in the county on Monday to see if any major flooding was taking place.
Strict rules help blended group keep the peace Occupy Nashville has become part protest, part tent city as homeless people have discovered they can live among the protesters with no fear of trespassing arrests. The 10 tents on the south side of War Memorial Plaza belong to homeless people with little interest in criticizing corporate greed.
Five members ticketed for tents up on plaza Less than a dozen members of Occupy Murfreesboro continued to maintain a presence on the Civic Plaza Tuesday, even as police warned protesters they would be cited daily for violating a city ordinance concerning camping. Five members of the group were given misdemeanor citations around 4:45 a.m. Tuesday for setting up two tents on the plaza.
Wheel tax payers will be able to skip placing local decals on their license plates if lawmakers accept Rutherford County Clerk Lisa Duke Crowell’s proposal. Her plan would save her office from having to spend $13,112.40 for 196,000 wheel tax stickers for 2013.
Mayor Ron Littlefield said Tuesday he would continue to fight even as the Tennessee Court of Appeals decided not to rehear his appeal of a recall effort trying to oust him from office. “I’m with it for the duration,” Littlefield said.
Memphis City Council members approved end-of-year bonuses Tuesday for most city workers, along with pay cuts for top city officials, while making sweeping changes to the pensions and benefits new city employees will receive. Despite a budget shortfall predicted to reach $40 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, the council voted 7-5 to approve a roughly $4.6 million employee-bonus plan.
Shelby County commissioners appeared on their way to setting a new group of district lines by Christmas that would create two more districts but keep the body at 13 members. That changed at the commission’s Monday, Dec. 5, meeting.
In a press conference with reporters Monday, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann called a tour of the Volkswagen manufacturing plant with German Ambassador Peter Ammon an “uplifting” experience. Ammon visited Chattanooga for the first time on Monday after a personal invitation from Fleischmann.
Nashville businesses are preparing for snail mail to get even slower next year. In its latest effort to cut costs, the United States Postal Service announced plans this week to end next-day delivery of first-class mail, except for mailers who make special arrangements.
A key vote in Missouri Wednesday will decide whether to relax measures aimed at keeping gambling addicts out of casinos, the latest push by a cash-strapped state to make gambling restrictions less stringent. The Missouri Gaming Commission is deciding whether to scrap a voluntary lifetime blacklist for problem gamblers and replace it with a five-year suspension.
When the national health law was enacted early last year, it contained one seemingly technical provision that few people noticed. It lifted a ban on state employees enrolling their kids in the federally subsidized Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP).
East Fork Poplar Creek, which was notoriously polluted by the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant during the Cold War, continues to recover with new signs of ecological health, a scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory said Tuesday night. “Things keep getting better,” ORNL’s Mark Peterson said in his “State of the Creek” talk at Y-12’s New Hope Center.
The KNS Media group, which includes the Knoxville News Sentinel, has laid off 33 employees. The News Sentinel announced the layoffs in a story posted on its website on Tuesday, saying most were effective immediately (http://bit.ly/v3r9Pp ).
The KNS Media group, which includes the News Sentinel, today eliminated the positions of 33 employees, a reduction in force reflecting the economic challenges the newspaper industry has been facing. The layoffs represented about 7.5 percent of the organization’s workforce and included four newsroom employees.
For 20 years, Tim Setterlund forged a learning environment at Collierville High School that Tennessee considers a model of excellence. The principal mixed high achievement from students expected to do well with gains from more marginal students specifically targeted for improvement by the No Child Left Behind federal education law.
Legislative leaders are expected to be presented Tuesday with Gov. Paul LePage’s supplemental budget for the Department of Health and Human Services that addresses an estimated $121 million shortfall. While the specifics of that budget are still unknown, details have emerged, including some from the governor himself. In his weekly radio address on Saturday, LePage said that the state can no longer afford to allow low-income adults without children to enroll in Medicaid.
It has taken almost six months, but 11 struggling New Jersey cities are a major step closer today to getting $139 million in state aid restored to their budgets. Assembly Democrats today rushed through a measure to restore the funds, which have been held up during a long standoff between legislative Democrats and Gov. Chris Christie regarding oversight money in the Department of Community Affairs.
The latest state report cards for Memphis and Shelby County schools explain why the state has asked for a waiver from No Child Left Behind standards. Despite student academic progress on several fronts, the progress was not enough to satisfy rapidly increasing state standards.
For several months, Jackson-Madison County business and community leaders have been working with school officials to devise a strategic plan for improving the school system. It is an important effort, and we have encouraged its development and adoption.
Finding the right incentives: Corporate bailouts aren’t popular, but may be worth it to keep the investment firm in Memphis. A lot of folks in this nation are fed up with corporate bailouts. We’ve seen some of that frustration playing out in the Occupy Wall Street protests across the country. Some may view talk about offering incentives to keep Morgan Keegan & Co.’s headquarters in Memphis with the same angst.