This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has created its winter website, winter.tnvacation.com. The interactive site encourages visitors to experience the holiday season with Elvis Presley. The theme is “Winter With Elvis: Lights, Camera, Action.”
A proposal to close a juvenile detention facility in Bledsoe County is creating controversy. Taft Youth Development Center takes in the state’s hardest cases and houses about 100 juveniles. Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Kathryn O’Day is proposing its closure because of a call from Gov. Bill Haslam to cut departmental budgets by 5 percent. O’Day has said closing Taft would save $4.4 million a year and the juveniles could be transferred to other facilities.
Agency let rehab facility slide even after two deaths Just months before the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services stopped sending children to New Life Lodge, the national accrediting agency in charge of inspecting its care gave the Burns drug and alcohol treatment facility a glowing review. “Since the last survey, there have been major changes in the leadership, staffing and physical plant,” stated the summary by Arizona-based Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.
The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture will have 20 field days and special events across the state in 2012, up five from this year. New additions to the schedule include events in Knoxville, Greeneville, Vonore, Oak Ridge and Milan.
The Tennessee Legislature recently 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.
Two redistricting plans have created controversy over what Chattanooga should look like over the next 10 years. One plan was made and has been approved by the City Council.
Senate Republicans are eyeing new lines for the 10th District Senate seat that could swap Democratic areas in Marion County for GOP-leaning territory in Hamilton and southern Bradley County. If that happens, state Rep. Vince Dean, an East Ridge Republican, said he would consider running for the seat next year against Democratic incumbent Andy Berke of Chattanooga.
On Monday, December 19, the 13 members of the Shelby County Commission, mere days before Christmas, will gather for a crucial session in which there is expected to be very little give and take and an absence of seasonal good cheer as well. With an apparent deadline of December 31, the commissioners must decide just how their 13 electoral seats should be apportioned in conformity with the Census of 2010 or see that matter referred to Chancery Court for resolution.
Marvin Quinn and Willie, his wife of 57 years, were reading Bible verses last April when a tornado neared their home in Apison just east of Chattanooga. “I said, ‘Let’s get down and pray; the tornado’s coming,” Willie Quinn said.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann votes with House Republican leadership 95 percent of the time. He has introduced a bill that would eliminate capital gains taxes for two years. And at public speeches, he often pulls out a pocket-sized Constitution and pledges undying love for what it says.
After more than two years of frustrating fits and starts, the U.S. economy shows modest signs of picking up, raising the question of whether such improvements could be lasting or significant enough to affect the 2012 campaign debate. The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits has dropped, consumer spending has shown signs of resilience, and analysts estimate the economy’s output in the fourth quarter is growing at its fastest pace since early 2010.
This month, the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned a guilty verdict in a capital murder case because a juror was tweeting about it while the case was being heard. A few days earlier, a California juror was dismissed after the court discovered she had posted extensively about the case and about the other jurors on her Facebook page.
As TVA scrambles to repair recent safety concerns, Nuclear Regulatory Commission records show that Bellefonte’s construction license didn’t have full NRC support when the federal regulator’s commission members approved the 37-year-old lapsed license several months ago. NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, then just one of the commissioners, wrote: “There is an inherent danger in ignoring this obvious fact. Licenses exist for a purpose.
Mercury leaves decades-long stamp on creek at Y-12 Mike Ryon recalls wading in the upper stretches of East Fork Poplar Creek at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. The environmental scientist was armed with electroshock equipment to collect fish for study.
It’s been a close, albeit one-sided, relationship. Ever since Y-12 was constructed during the World War II Manhattan Project, the plant has used East Fork Poplar Creek as its personal drainage ditch. During peak production of nuclear bomb parts, the plant’s wastewater discharges — up to 10 million gallons a day — dramatically increased the creek’s flow, altered its course via erosion, and impacted the water temperature, nutrients and habitat. It basically created a new creek.
Over the past two years, Nashville Symphony officials have beefed up policies concerning volunteers and professional internships, making sure their staff and management — as well as the organization’s 187-plus volunteers — are protected from legal risks. It means that staff and management receive comprehensive human resources training that covers hot-button issues such as sexual harassment and civil rights.
The immediate future of 237 students is up in the air as Metro Nashville school board members try to decide what to do about Drexel Preparatory Academy after a semester of strained dialogue between a frustrated school district and a charter school’s sometimes defiant, sometimes apologetic leaders. The school board is scheduled to meet at 4:30 p.m. today to decide whether to revoke Drexel’s charter, as the district’s administration has recommended, citing “flagrant disregard for the charter agreement.”
Long before the current students at the University of Tennessee thought about attending college, the school’s student union building had outgrown its capacity to accommodate the expanding needs of a growing and vibrant campus. The first steps toward construction of a new student center began after classes ended this month. However, many of the current students likely will have graduated by the time the new center moves in 2016 into Phase Two — widening a nearby street and extending a pedestrian walkway.
The Hamilton County school system is the only major system in Tennessee that does not employ a certified art teacher in every one of its elementary schools. The consequent lack of a strongly grounded arts program is a disservice to those who attend the schools and, ultimately, to the community at large.
You may not know it, but a federal agency insures the pension plans provided by some private companies to their employees. The companies pay premiums to the agency, known as the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., which in turn picks up pension payments to employees of the companies if the businesses fail.
Should all Americans be required to have health insurance? ObamaCare said yes, and the issue is now central to the Republican presidential primary. Mitt Romney championed an individual mandate as governor of Massachusetts. Newt Gingrich once backed the idea too, egged on by several conservative think tanks, though he’s now opposed.