This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Greg Adams will join the governor’s senior team as chief operating officer. In the governor’s ongoing effort to make Tennessee the best managed state in the nation, Adams’ role will be to work with state departments to ensure they’re operating in the most efficient and effective way possible. “Greg brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to state government,” Haslam said. “It says a lot for our state that we’re able to attract this caliber of talent. Greg will bring a fresh perspective to the work we’re doing every day to serve Tennessee taxpayers in the most efficient and effective way. I am grateful that he is willing to serve in this capacity.”
Republican Governor Bill Haslam has hired on a former IBM executive to become the state’s chief operating officer, a new Cabinet-level position in his administration. Haslam announced Tuesday that Greg Adams role as COO will be to promote efficiency and effectiveness in operations with state departments. He starts his new job on July 8. Adams spent 37 years at IBM, most recently as a managing director in the company’s financial services sector. His career with IBM also included stings in Knoxville and Nashville.
Gov. Bill Haslam said he is short on time to work closely with state agencies so he is hiring a chief operating officer to fill that role for him. Haslam Tuesday announced the hiring of Greg Adams, a high-ranking officer at IBM, who will work in the administration’s newly created COO position. “I don’t have nearly enough time to spend with the agency heads as I would like to,” the governor told reporters Tuesday after an awards ceremony for environmental stewardship held at Lipscomb University.
Gov. Bill Haslam has hired an Atlanta financial services executive to oversee operations in state government. Haslam announced Tuesday that he has selected Greg Adams, a managing director with IBM, to serve as the state’s chief operating officer, a new position. Adams, 58, will move to Tennessee after 37 years with the technology and consulting firm. He joins the state at a time when the Haslam administration is trying to overhaul large portions of state government, including its information technology practices.
Gov. Bill Haslam said he’s happy both with the new chief operating officer slot he’s added to his cabinet and the former top IBM executive he recruited to fill it. Haslam said Tuesday his selection of Greg Adams, 58, is not intended as a “replacement” for his current deputy, Claude Ramsey, the 70-year-old former Hamilton County mayor who last week announced he is retiring Aug. 31 after spending a little over 21/2 years in the Republican governor’s administration. “Obviously he’s going to take the spot, but he’s going to do a very different job,” Haslam told reporters.
As part of a realignment of his top staff, Gov. Bill Haslam named a former IBM executive as “chief operating officer” Tuesday and tasked him with increasing oversight of various departments in state government. Greg Adams, 58, has spent 37 years with IBM, most recently as a managing director in its financial services sector. His state salary will be $165,000 per year and he begins serving July 8, according to a gubernatorial spokesman. The move comes after Claude Ramsey, deputy to the governor, announced earlier his retirement effective Aug. 31, and Mark Cate was elevated from senior adviser to chief of staff.
Gov. Bill Haslam appointed former IBM executive Greg Adams as state government’s first chief operating officer, a new title that will at least for now replace the long-standing office of deputy to the governor. Claude Ramsey is retiring as deputy to the governor Aug. 31 and returning to Chattanooga where he was Hamilton County mayor for more than 20 years. Haslam said Tuesday the new COO will focus on “efficient and effective” operation of the 23 executive branch departments, and not on policy and politics that are the traditional domain of deputy to the governor.
An executive from IBM will be named the state’s chief operating officer, according to a news release from Gov. Bill Haslam’s office. Greg Adams, 58, will join the state July 8 after spending nearly 37 years at IBM in positions in sales, marketing, operations, re-engineering, and quality and general management. Adams currently serves on the company’s senior leadership team as a managing director in the financial services sector. “Greg brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to state government,” said Haslam in a press release.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today announced Greg Adams will join the governor’s senior team as chief operating officer. In the governor’s ongoing effort to make Tennessee the best managed state in the nation, Adams’ role will be to work with state departments to ensure they’re operating in the most efficient and effective way possible. “Greg brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to state government,” Haslam said. “It says a lot for our state that we’re able to attract this caliber of talent.
Gov. Bill Haslam is scheduled to conclude a five-city West Tennessee tour in Memphis Wednesday with the ceremonial signing of new laws to enhance penalties for crimes conducted by gang members. The new laws, which expand the kinds of crimes subject to enhanced punishments, go into affect July 1. The governor will announce the awarding of various grants to local communities through the Tennessee Department of Transportation at the four other stops.
Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that the possibility of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant becoming unionized is coming up as a topic of concern among other industries the state is trying to recruit to Tennessee. The Republican governor, who opposes the United Auto Workers’ unionization efforts, said he has “heard that from some of the other people considering Tennessee that that would be a negative in their mind if that happened in Chattanooga.” “So,” Haslam continued, “we’ve communicated that to Volkswagen. Ultimately, like I said, we want to see them [Volkswagen] grow here.”
Tennessee’s governor says the United Auto Workers would run off other car manufacturers if they organize at Volkwagen’s Chattanooga plant. UAW leaders are reportedly in talks with VW about unionizing. Governor Bill Haslam has always discouraged VW from working with a union in Chattanooga, but now – according to Automotive News – expanding the plant may hinge on organizing. German labor officials who approve company decisions say they won’t sign off on adding a second assembly line in Tennessee unless workers are represented.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday he will soon start paying adviser and lobbyist Tom Ingram out of his campaign account instead of from personal funds. Ingram, a former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, ran Haslam’s successful bid for governor in 2010. He has since advised the governor on a series of political and administrative issues, while at the same time lobbying on behalf of private clients. “What I’m paying him for is what I think will help the state run better, and then going forward it will be for what makes the campaign better,” he said.
Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday that while he doesn’t know what personal investments are in his blind trust, he will not benefit from the state’s office-building privatization contract with a Chicago management company in which he invested in 2010. As a candidate for governor that year, Haslam disclosed a long list of companies in which he had investments of at least $10,000, including Jones Lang LaSalle, a real-estate management and professional services company.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam responded Tuesday to questions about how his administration has handled millions of dollars in state contracts. The governor acknowledged that a few mistakes may have been made. Still, he insisted that the public’s interest has been his only motivation. “What I said I would do when I ran was see the very best service we could deliver for the lowest price,” Haslam said. “Sometimes that means privatization, sometimes that means we can do it better ourselves.”
A company that is negotiating with the state to mine for coal under public land has more than one link to the company largely owned by Gov. Bill Haslam and members of his family. Hillsborough Resources Limited is negotiating with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to do mining work under Catoosa Wildlife Management Area, the 82,000-acre game-management area on the Cumberland Plateau. The company drew scrutiny last month when it was disclosed that Tom Ingram, a consultant to Haslam, had failed to register as a lobbyist for the company.
Last year’s removal of the city of Franklin’s dam on the Harpeth River — only the second dam ever removed from a main Tennessee river — might open the door for other state dam removals and serve as a model for how to pay for such work. An ecologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday that other dams across the state are being eyed for potential demolition. “There’s an active effort underway to identify other potential projects,” said Steve Alexander, a Fish and Wildlife Service ecologist.
Even with an improved economy, getting a job is only going to get tougher. A new national study predicts that jobs in Tennessee and across the nation increasingly will demand more advanced education and training. Job growth is projected in many high-skilled areas, while jobs in agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting and manufacturing are expected to decline. In Tennessee, careers in management, education services, health care and social assistance are all poised to see the most growth through 2020, according to the report released today by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
Teachers from across West Tennessee are back in the classroom this week to learn how to use the Common Core standards in their instruction during the 2013-14 school year. The Tennessee Department of Education said more than 30,000 teachers across the state will participate this month with training in math. Training will focus on reading and language arts in July. “We’ve been in a race in Tennessee trying to get through numerous objectives,” said Susan Bunch, who is a member of the Common Core Leadership Council in the state and director of schools in Lexington.
More than 240 Clarksville-Montgomery County teachers are attending a Common Core State Standards class in math at Rossview Middle School. Teachers and staff members from Cheatham, Robertson, Houston, Henry and Stewart counties are also attending the two to four-day training session. Teachers representing kindergarten through fifth grades will attend two days, with high school math teachers attending through Friday. More than 30,000 educators from across the state will take part in training throughout the summer to learn how to implement the Common Core State Standards in their classrooms.
A state agency has found itself at the center of more controversy after an East Tennessee family claimed their son was abused while in the state’s care. It’s been a rocky year for the Department of Children’s Services. The department has come under fire for the amount of children who have died while under its care. The Tennessean newspaper broke the story that more than 190 children have died over the last two years while in DCS’ system. The controversy led to DCS appointing a new chief last month, after the old department head stepped down.
As recently reported, the unemployment rate for Tennessee has been steadily increasing every month this year yet the national unemployment rate continues to move in the opposite direction. So, what’s wrong with Tennessee? One problem may lie in the way that the data are collected, according to David Penn, associate professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University and director of MTSU’s business and economic research center. “The complicating factor is that (the unemployment rate) is falling while the payroll number has been rising during the same period,” says Penn.
MTSU officials say the university has created a partnership like no other in the development of its mechatronics degree program, which could debut as early as this fall. The Tennessee Board of Regents approved the bachelor’s program, which falls under the university’s Engineering Technology offering, Friday at its quarterly meeting in Morristown. Mechatronics is a form of engineering that blends computer, electrical and mechanical disciplines. It is typically used in health care and manufacturing settings.
A family member of the trooper injured in a hit and run crash is calling for harsher punishments for those who fail to follow the move over law. The Tennessee Highway Patrol said Trooper Joe Lindsay was responding to a vehicle fire on the side of I-75 in Campbell County Sunday when a semi-truck plowed into his cruiser. The truck’s driver, Stewart Snedeker, left the scene. He was later arrested and charged with DUI, reckless endangerment and vehicular assault. Trooper Lindsay’s direct supervisor, Sgt. Dennis Smith, is the lead investigator of the crash.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is asking for public help in finding two people wanted in a Marion County murder. Authorities are seeking 33-year-old Oscar Delgado and 31-year-old Christina McLendon. Both are wanted in the death of 32-year-old Jonathon Mora. The TBI has determined Mora’s death as a murder, but the specific cause has not yet been determined. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office received a call on Saturday that a man was bleeding heavily in an old building. Mora died later at Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is looking for two people charged with first-degree murder in the death of a man who died after being found severely injured Saturday in Marion County, a news release states. Warrants have been issued for Oscar Delgado, 33, and Christina McLendon, 31, both of Chattanooga. On Saturday the victim, Jeffery Jonathon Mora, 32, originally from California, was found in an old building at 21550 U.S. Highway 41 in Marion County, according to the TBI. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office received a call stating that a man was bleeding severely.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is seeking the public’s help identifying the individual responsible for the murder of an elderly man discovered dead in his Morgan County home. Harold Dean Reed, 76, was discovered dead in his home at 190 White Oak Creek Lane in Robbins, Tenn. in the early morning hours of June 17th. Deputies responded to the residence on a welfare check after receiving a phone call that Reed had not been seen for several days. Reed was found murdered and his body taken to UT Medical Center for autopsy to determine cause of death.
Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are hoping the public can help them locate two people who have been charged with the murder of a Marion County man. Oscar Delgado (top left photo), 33, and 31-year-old Christina McLendon (top right photo) both of Chattanooga, have both been charged with first degree murder but have not been located. TBI agents say on June 22, 2013, the victim, Jeffery Jonathon Mora, 32, originally from California, was found in an old building at 21550 Highway 41 in Marion County.
A state grant will fund half the cost of a $350,000 expansion of Dunlap, Tenn.’s Harris Park, reclaiming the sites of the former Sequatchie County Jail and the city’s maintenance building. Yonna Weldon, assistant to Dunlap Mayor Dwain Land and the person overseeing the project, said Monday that the required environmental review is complete and she expects to get more details from the state on Dunlap’s matching obligations this week. “We have been funded about $176,000,” Weldon said of funding from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Local Parks and Recreation grant.
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development says the first six Select Tennessee Certified Sites are ready for development. The Select Tennessee program helps Tennessee communities prepare available sites for investment and expansion. To become certified, a site must have at least 20 developable acres, be properly zoned, have good road access and either have all utilities at the site or a formal plan to extend them to the site. Current sites ready for development are in Livingston, Loudon, Oak Ridge, Lexington and Gallatin.
Drivers approaching the Northwest Broad Street, Old Fort Parkway/Memorial Boulevard intersection will still have two lanes each way while crews build a bridge over Broad, the state reported. “It will be crowded out there, but drivers will be able to move through that intersection,” Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Deanna Lambert said during a Tuesday phone interview. “During construction, a total of four lanes on Broad Street will be kept open,” a press release from Lambert states.
A set of controversial zoning guidelines meant to overhaul East Nashville’s Gallatin Pike, long perceived as an eyesore in a growing area, was ruled invalid by the Tennessee Court of Appeals on Friday. In doing so, the court dealt a blow to Metro’s attempt to regulate growth along its commercial corridors. This particular stretch cuts through a part of town where new residents are moving into renovated homes, fueling the emergence of new restaurants, shops and bars.
Approval of Mountain States Health Alliance’s pending acquisition of Unicoi County Memorial Hospital is on hold, as the state attorney general’s office has a trio of concerns regarding the proposed sale, according to UCMH officials. On Tuesday afternoon, UCMH Board of Control’s issued a release stating the board had received word earlier in the day that the attorney general’s office had several concerns that would delay the office’s approval of the sale.
The town of Jellico faces a state takeover if leaders can’t pass a budget soon. The state comptroller sent a letter to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen more than a week ago, noting that the city had not passed a budget and not addressed its, “serious financial situation.” The letter directs the city to adopt a budget by June 30 and a tax levy by July 1 or the comptroller will submit his own. Jellico’s leaders could potentially be removed from office. Jellico battled financial problems last fall. At one point city employees did not get paychecks on time because officials said there was no money to pay them.
The Memphis City Council passed a property tax rate of $3.40 just after midnight Tuesday on a re-vote requested by council member Janis Fullilove. The rate passed on a 7-6 vote on a second vote brought as Fullilove said she incorrectly voted against the tax rate earlier in the evening. The council approved an operating budget before the first tax rate vote that required the $3.40 rate. But then it voted against the tax rate in a separate consideration. The council passed its day-to-day budget Tuesday night after more than six hours of debate, and was still working on the capital improvement budget late into the night.
Ten Madison County commissioners said on Tuesday that they planon voting to reduce the educational capital budget by $911,000 for the upcoming fiscal year. The full commission will vote on a final reading of the county’s 2013-14 budget on Monday and will consider a recommendation from the Financial Management Committee to reduce the schools’ capital budget by that amount. Commissioner Gary Deaton, who is chairman of the Financial Management Committee, said the school system needs to make a better plan for budgeting its money.
Tennessee senior citizens are among the least healthy in the nation, according to a report released by the United Health Foundation this year. A combination of rankings in several categories landed Tennessee at 41st overall for senior health. While the state ranked poorly in several of these categories, one ranking surprised many in the health field: Tennessee seniors are the least physically active in the country. Dr. David Schlundt, an associate professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University, focuses on nutrition and behavior related to racial and ethnic disparities.
In a massive restructuring, the U.S. Army is slashing the number of active duty combat brigades from 45 to 33, and shifting thousands of soldiers out of bases around the county as it moves forward with a longtime plan to cut the size of the service by 80,000. Officials say the sweeping changes would eliminate brigades at 10 Army bases in the U.S. by 2017, including in Texas, Kentucky, Georgia, Colorado, North Carolina, New York, Kansas and Washington. The Army will also cut thousands of other jobs across the service, including soldiers in units that support the brigades, and two brigades in Germany have already been scheduled for elimination.
Fort Campbell will lose one of its brigades in a massive Army restructuring, but with additional battalions and other assets being parceled out to the remaining brigades, the net loss looks to be only about 320 soldiers. In the restructuring, the Army will eliminate at least 12 combat brigades nationwide and relocate thousands of soldiers. It will also cancel $400 million in construction projects as the first wave of federal budget cuts takes aim at military communities around the country.
Fort Campbell is one of a dozen installations losing a brigade combat team in an Army-wide restructuring. The reductions will take place over the next four years. The early warning is intended to allow soldiers time to find other jobs within the military. But by 2017, the 101st Airborne Division will go from four brigade combat teams to three. These are the units that deploy together. They vary in size with between 3,000 and 4,000 soldiers. They have symbols and nicknames well-known in military circles – Bastogne, Strike, Rakkasans and Currahee. Their battle histories date back to World War II.
While the announcement that Fort Campbell will lose a brigade may have been a surprise to some, the possibility has been rumored in the community for months, and some officials received a bit of a heads up a couple of months ago. The general sense is the Army’s realignment could have affected the local installation much more negatively. Fort Campbell is losing an infantry brigade – about 3,500 troops – but Army planners intend to add an extra infantry battalion, along with additional fire support, engineer and other assets to the three remaining BCTs along with other additions to non-BCT units, bringing the net loss of troops at Fort Campbell down to 320 between now and 2019.
A government watchdog report released last week pointed to delays in setting up consumer assistance programs in states that have opted for federally run health insurance marketplaces, like Tennessee. The Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday, June 19, said the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) was two months late in announcing grant funding for groups including hospitals, county health agencies, religious groups and chambers of commerce that will help consumers navigate the new marketplaces and enroll in health care insurance.
Knox County this year is on the hook for almost $300,000 on behalf of members of its health plan to cover “transitional reinsurance” fees tied to the Affordable Care Act, typically known as ObamaCare. In addition, it will also have to make payments — $5.25 per member per month — each of the next two years. The county has 4,700 members, including spouses and dependents, on its plan, so the amount owed will fluctuate as people join or leave, said county Finance Director Chris Caldwell. The money at this point will come from the county’s health insurance reserve fund, which stands at about $500,000.
A Cleveland, Tenn., furniture company has fired an undisclosed number of employees after auditors from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement flagged some employees’ documents as suspect. Several plant workers at Jackson Furniture Industries estimated between 200 and 300 workers were fired — which would be a third of the company’s 900 Tennessee employees. But company officials would not confirm that number. “We’ve still got some internal investigating to do, so we’re not going to put out a number,” said Todd DeLuca, the company’s director of human resources.
Jackson furniture Industries in Cleveland has ended up on the radar of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement better known as ICE. A federal work site enforcement audit has revealed the company may have some employees who are illegal aliens using false identification. “In many cases, individuals who are in the country illegally will turn to criminal activity including document fraud, social security fraud, or or outright identity theft to obtain employment and it can take years for victims of identity theft to repair that damage,” said ICE public affairs officer Bryan Cox.
Environmental activists in Middle Tennessee expressed support Tuesday for President Barack Obama’s new initiatives to attack climate change. “There is a real sense that this is overdue,” said Louise Gorenflo, spokeswoman for the Tennessee chapter of the Sierra Club. Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to create carbon pollution standards for new and existing power plants, pursue fuel efficiency in a variety of ways and make the nation less dependent on fossil fuels.
A deeply divided Supreme Court threw out the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, a decision deplored by the White House but cheered by mostly Southern states now free from nearly 50 years of intense federal oversight of their elections. Split along ideological and partisan lines, the justices voted 5-4 to strip the government of its most potent tool to stop voting bias – the requirement in the Voting Rights Act that all or parts of 15 states with a history of discrimination in voting, mainly in the South, get Washington’s approval before changing the way they hold elections.
TVA already is ahead of environmental regulations, an executive with the federal utility said Tuesday, and he doesn’t expect many curveballs with new rules to curtail carbon emissions announced Tuesday by President Barack Obama. Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to draft standards limiting the amount of carbon emissions companies and power plants can produce — among other steps that would increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy for federal agencies.
If Congress decides to sell the Tennessee Valley Authority, the federal utility likely will have to be split to maintain wholesale power competition, according to a new University of Tennessee study on the proposed sale of TVA. But the study suggests that TVA’s $25 billion debt, which is spurring calls for privatizating America’s biggest government utility, may not be such a big problem after all. In a policy briefing released by the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy, Dr. Mary English said TVA likely couldn’t be sold as a single identity if Congress were to adopt a recommendation by the Obama administration for divesting TVA from Uncle Sam.
Volkswagen has opened a $40 million facility in Tennessee to distribute parts for Passat sedans made by the German automaker’s nearby assembly plant. The 459,000-square-foot facility is located in Roane County, about 80 miles northeast of VW’s assembly plant in Chattanooga. The new facility’s enhanced insulation, water efficient landscaping and use of regional construction materials earned a silver certification through the U.S. Green Building Council, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program.
Volkswagen Group of America Inc. today marked the opening of its new $40 million Southeast Regional Distribution Center in Roane County. The 459,000 square-foot warehouse and distribution center will be used to ship auto parts for the Chattanooga-made Passat and other autos. The center will employ about 45 and have an annual payroll of about $3 million. The development was built on a 54-acre tract in Roane Regional Business and Technology Park east of Kingston along Interstate 40.
Nissan North America is expanding again in Rutherford County, this time bringing at least 150 jobs to Murfreesboro. The Franklin-based automaker, whose Smyrna factory is the nation’s largest auto assembly plant under a single roof, has taken over the former Singer Co. warehouse and distribution center, and is adding a 400,000-square-foot warehouse to the back of the building. About 20,000 square feet of the original 80,000-square-foot Singer facility was demolished and the rest of the building was renovated for administrative offices to house about 150 call center, engineering and IT workers.
Fueled by a $100,000 grant, the Memphis Business Group on Health is redoubling its efforts to get the attention of the area’s top executives to launch health initiatives for employees. “We are going to the CEOs to get their commitment because the evidence shows that with CEO commitment, it really can become part of the culture,” said Cristie Upshaw Travis, chief executive officer of the Memphis Business Group on Health, a coalition of major employers focused on managing the cost and quality of health benefits.
A new study shows Tennessee is among 11 states in which charter school performance has outpaced traditional public school growth in both mathematics and reading. The study is by the independent Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University. It evaluated charter school performance in 26 states and New York City. Tennessee’s charter school students, in comparison to their traditional public school counterparts, were found to gain the equivalent of an additional 86 days of learning in reading and 72 days in mathematics.
The largest sign that everything will soon be different here in public education happened Tuesday when workers moved the giant Shelby County Schools sign from the district offices on Hollywood north to what will soon be the former Memphis City Schools central office. Inside the complex, 300 people — 15 percent of the 1,895 total people receiving pink slips in the merger — have either gotten word that they are not needed in the unified district or are sitting at their desks waiting to find out. Down the street at the Teaching and Learning Academy, 2485 Union, terminated workers packed up in the presence of security staff Tuesday.
By Friday, June 28, as many as 300 central office employees of the consolidated school system will be without a job as the schools merger is about to become official with the July 1 start of the new fiscal year. “It will be a hard week,” interim schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson said Tuesday, June 25. But after the decisions about the front office jobs are made, Hopson said the school system will have a “laser-like focus” on preparing for the first day of classes on Aug. 5. David Stephens, chief of staff and deputy superintendent of the countywide school system, is the highest-ranking legacy Shelby County Schools employee in the central office, holding what is the No. 2 position in the organization.
Metro Nashville school board members followed the advice of their charter school czar Tuesday and approved four of the six charter schools that want to open for the 2014-15 school year. Like all charter school discussions, however, the meeting was not without friction. Board member Will Pinkston used some of the special session to respond to detractors who say school officials aren’t friendly to charter schools. “Anyone who claims we don’t support choice isn’t paying attention or is intellectually dishonest,” Pinkston said.
The unified Memphis and Shelby County school board, praising the work of staff members charged with vetting applications for new charter schools, rejected a long list of them Tuesday. That kind of vigilance is one of the reasons Tennessee charter schools were rated among the best in the country by a Stanford University research group, noted board member Jeff Warren. One of the rejected applications raised eyebrows among school board members.
Three adults face multiple charges including child abuse after a meth lab was discovered at a Giles County home early Tuesday morning. Deputies were initially called to the home located on Campbellsville Road near the Maury County line due to a disturbance. Upon arriving to the home, authorities saw a bottle commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine that was smoking from recent use. Deputies also reported smelling a strong odor that is commonly produced by the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Two people have been arrested after the alleged discovery of a methamphetamine operation at a tent along the northern most part of Sullivan County. The incident occurred Monday on Sweet Hollow Road, east of South Holston Lake at the Virginia border. Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office personnel responded to the property on a tip that Dustin James Stamper, 34, of Rhymer Road in Damascus, Va., was making meth at a tent. When police arrived they allegedly observed a smoking bottle that contained a white substance.
I’m a banker, a lawyer and a politician. When you name the five people who most influenced your life, you probably won’t name a banker, a lawyer or a politician, but I guarantee you’ll put a teacher on that list. Our public school teachers are this state’s greatest resource. They work long hours for very little pay. When schools cut their budgets, our teachers dig into their own pockets to buy basic classroom supplies. Their job extends way beyond eight hours of classroom instruction; they are on the front line of preparing the next generation of Tennesseans.
Once the Shelby County unified school board catches its breath after fashioning the policies and other processes necessary for the new unified school district to begin classes Aug. 5, its members should seriously consider allowing students to be nonvoting members. It could be a tremendous benefit, and a refreshing element, for board members and the public to hear what students have to say in a public forum about policies that impact them. The idea is being pushed by the 14-member Bridge Builders Change group, composed of 12 high school students and two interns affiliated with Bridges, the youth-oriented organization that promotes racial, educational, economic and environmental justice.
Even with the recent announcement that tuition is going up at Middle Tennessee State University, we believe an education at the school is still a good bargain. Last week, the Tennessee Board of Regents approved increases at universities, community colleges and technology centers. MTSU students taking 15 credit hours will be forking over an additional $348. Community college students, like those at Motlow State Community College in Smyrna, will be paying $102 more per year. This increase, which includes already approved mandatory fees, such as fees for athletics and student activities, isn’t a particularly extreme one.
In recent years, taxpayers in our region have made it known that we are concerned about runaway federal spending. We now expect our elected officials in Washington to spend our hard-earned dollars responsibly and to propose legislation that trims fat from the budget. Fortunately, it seems the members of Congress representing Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama heard us loud and clear. During the recently concluded 112th Congress, the U.S. senators and congressmen from our area proposed to save more money than they sought to spend.
With a key boost from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, a landmark immigration reform bill is poised for passage in the Senate. The immigration bill is a compromise measure that leaves few completely happy, but it is a solid, necessary bill that should modernize the nation’s immigration process. A vote on the Senate floor will be held later this week, and then the bill goes to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where its fate is uncertain, to say the least. Corker and U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., crafted amendments on border security that garnered enough Republican support to put the bill on the road to passage.
After the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision Tuesday, the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 is now more a statement of principle than an effective law with teeth. In the years since the law was passed, minority participation in the political process, and the number of minority officeholders, have greatly increased. Racial discrimination in voting has become less pervasive and less blatant. But nine states, mostly in the South, and parts of six others, were still required to get federal approval in advance before changing their voting laws. If the high court is as sensitive to the will of Congress as some advocates have claimed, Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion in the challenge to the Voting Rights Act didn’t show it.