This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Tennessee will open a residential treatment center Thursday for people with mental problems and drug addictions sentenced to prison. The 100-bed center is in Morgan County about 45 miles west of Knoxville. The Recovery Court program is a joint venture of the Tennessee Department of Correction and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The primary goal is to reduce the rate of recidivism — people returning to crime after being released from prison.
Changes to Tennessee’s teacher licensing process were put on hold Friday after an advisory group asked for more research into ways beginner licenses might identify how a teacher is trained. The State Board of Education was scheduled to vote Friday on a list of changes that would tie teacher licenses to student achievement and also pare down a list of 20 possible licenses to only three. But board members delayed a decision so Department of Education staff members can look at concerns brought up by the Advisory Council on Teacher Education & Certification.
CLARKSVILLE, TENN. — The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System released additional numbers on Friday from the most-recent TCAP testing, showing that local schools met their goals in seven out of 10 testing areas. CMCSS missed its goals in three testing areas: • 3rd-8th grade Reading/Language Arts • 9th-12th grade English II • 9th-12th grade English III The goals were to have a set percentage of students score “Proficient” or “Advanced” on a particular area of the TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program test).
Tennessee U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and his Kentucky counterpart, Sen. Rand Paul, are planning a visit to KIPP Nashville’s charter schools Monday to talk about the state’s charter school movement, according to a Metro Schools official. The two senators will sit down for a roundtable discussion with state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman and Randy Dowell, executive director of KIPP Nashville which is home to two chartered middle schools and a soon-to-be high school in 2014. Some of the schools’ parents and teachers are also expected to attend.
Students, parents and the future of public schools are up against a well-funded national “reform” machine that ultimately hurts the children it purports to want to help, according to Metro school board member Amy Frogge. Frogge, elected to her West Nashville seat last year, has emerged as the board’s leading counter voice to charter school proponents and other reformers in her short time in public office. In a pointed post on her Facebook page, she writes of “an evolution in her thinking” on the problems that plague the school district — too many standardized tests, a “culture of fear” among school personnel and unhappy teachers and administrators.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the first time, Metro students in the Hillsboro cluster will be able to take Chinese classes from elementary to high school. “I’m very excited,” teacher Qi Fan said. “This is a fantastic place.” For many of the Chinese teachers like Fan, this is their first time in the United States. “When students learn the language at an earlier age they’re able to retain it and use it more often,” Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jay Steele said. “By the time they get to high school they should be fluent speakers.”
C-SPAN2/BookTV will air a panel discussion this morning of a new book about Lamar Alexander’s early swearing-in as Tennessee governor in 1979. The cable network will replay a July 19 talk from Vanderbilt University’s First Amendment Center about the book “Coup,” Nashville writer Keel Hunt’s history of the pardons scandal that led to Gov. Ray Blanton’s ouster three days before the scheduled end of his term. Alexander, Hunt and former U.S. Attorney Hal Hardin took part in the discussion, which was hosted by John Seigenthaler, Tennessean publisher emeritus and former editor.
When President Barack Obama flies into Chattanooga on Tuesday to tout new economic initiatives, he’ll see a city recognized in a national study as a metro area emerging from the recession as an “economic frontrunner.” Area Development, a national business magazine covering site selection and relocation, ranked metro Chattanooga at No. 86 — in the top quarter — among 380 metro areas examined for the study titled “Leading Locations for 2013.” While in Chattanooga Obama is expected to unveil new ways to spur the nation’s sluggish economic recovery.
Chattanooga has a number of economic assets that leaders hope grab the attention of the nation when President Barack Obama visits the local Amazon distribution center next Tuesday. “In recent years, Chattanooga has surprised many people by recruiting major investments during the Great Recession, serving as a focal point for the resurgence of American manufacturing and leading the nation in rolling out the first communitywide fiber network and smart grid,” said J. Ed. Marston, vice president of marketing and communications for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.
MEMPHIS (AP) — A Memphis man has been charged with threatening the life of President Barack Obama. The U.S. attorney’s office said Friday night that 39-year-old Darrin Young, who is also known as Darrin Fleming, was charged in a criminal complaint. Investigators listening to phone conversations between Young and a Shelby County jail inmate heard a conversation earlier this month in which Young discussed plans to “burn,” ‘’kill” and “murk” Obama. A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office said “murk” is street slang for murder.
KINGSTON — When it came to affording a new municipal building, the stars came into alignment. So proclaimed a beaming Kingston Mayor Troy Beets on Friday during the dedication of the new city hall, a two-story, red brick former medical office building perched on a hillside in the Ladd Landing retail area. “This is a once-in-a-110-year event,” he said, noting the previous city hall opened a half-century ago and predicting the new city headquarters would last 60 years.
FORT CAMPBELL KY. — Usually the crowds of family members waiting in the hanger for troop returns are waiting for the announcement, “The plane is 15 minutes from Campbell Army Airfield,” so they can move outside to watch the plane land. But with Friday’s return, they moved out well before the announcement was made so they wouldn’t miss the chance to see the plane carrying their loved ones back to Fort Campbell. 163 members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team “Bastogne,” 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) returned from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Jeremey Chapin suffered two traumatic brain injuries while on duty in Iraq in 2006, and during his subsequent recovery he discovered a passion for woodworking. “A friend of mine noticed I was getting a little depressed and wanted to get me out and about so he said, ‘Why don’t we go make a pen?'” Chapin said. “And he took me to a woodshop. I thought he was completely insane, but I made my first pen, and I’ve been hooked ever since.” Now the 32-year-old veteran hopes to turn his passion into a business, and he’s spent the last week in Chattanooga attending bootcamp as part of UTC’s Veteran Entrepreneurship Program.
A Tennessee Walking Horse show in Murfreesboro this weekend has gained an unlikely sponsor – an animal activist group that’s been conducting undercover investigations on walking horse cruelty. The Humane Society of the United States has become enemy number one to some walking horse enthusiasts who feel the group is trying to end competition altogether. “From what I understand, HSUS’s sponsorship of our event is the first time for our industry,” Tracy Boyd said in an email.
A new study shows Tennessee attorneys volunteer more than 800,000 hours a year. The report released by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission shows that in 2011 the number of hours that Tennessee attorneys volunteered their services nearly tripled from 2009. In 2011, 9,736 attorneys practicing in Tennessee provided 804,961 hours of pro bono work, an average of nearly 83 hours per attorney.
PIGEON FORGE – Agents with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission spent Friday doing an undercover operation checking to see if businesses are selling alcohol to minors. Several businesses in East Tennessee have been cited. The sting focused on 68 restaurants and package stores in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. As of Friday evening, 24 businesses had been inspected, with 14 cited for selling alcohol to a minor.
When Lamar Alexander joined 13 other Senate Republicans to vote for the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill last month, he was waving a red flag in front of the tea party. Attending a rally in Smyrna, Tenn., last weekend, Alexander was greeted by a crowd of about 300 conservative activists — organizers said — wearing bright red T-shirts that read “Beat Lamar” in big bold letters. They held signs that blared: “You betrayed us” and “No more RINOs. Conservatives only.”
KNOXVILLE – Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett tells 6 News he was approached by state conservatives to challenge Sen. Lamar Alexander in his 2014 reelection bid. Alexander angered some conservatives last month after he voted in favor of a Senate bill with a path to citizenship for undocumented residents. The bill, which has not passed in the House, passed 68-32 in the Senate.
AUSTIN, TEXAS — Stricter voter identification laws, redrawn political maps fortifying Republican majorities, reducing early voting: States with GOP strongholds intensified these efforts under President Barack Obama and proclaimed victory at the Supreme Court. Now the Obama administration is signaling plans to drag some of these mostly southern states with histories of minority discrimination into rematches after the high court knocked down a major piece of the Voting Rights Act.
A Georgia law firm has entered the online fray when it comes to the fuel rebate scandal involving Pilot Flying J. The Knoxville-based chain of truck stops on Thursday created a new website that, among other things, provides details of a preliminary settlement between Pilot and several trucking firms that have accused it of rebate fraud. But the Savannah-based Tate Law Group has now launched its own site — which can be found at http://bit.ly/17IUIRE – that takes aim at Pilot’s actions. While soliciting clients that may have been shorted by Pilot, the site also criticizes the company.
Few things get more attention or create more controversy than teachers in public education. From teacher evaluations to pay, teacher unions, tenure, training qualifications and ever broadening responsibilities, teachers are constantly under the microscope. Sometimes, it almost seems like accepting a teaching position should come with combat pay. How do you prepare young people to meet the challenges of today’s teaching profession? One effort that is receiving high marks is at the University of Memphis and at its Lambuth campus teacher training program.
While newly appointed Trustee Craig Leuthold says he’ll wait “a month or so” before deciding whether to seek the post in the 2014 elections, it would be strange if he didn’t. The Republican, in effect, has been laying the groundwork for public office for the past 2½ years while performing duties as chief information director for Property Assessor Phil Ballard. The former county commissioner, who also worked in the Knox County Trustee’s Office 16 years, estimates he made more than 200 speeches to civic, homeowner, neighborhood and professional groups, speaking on property assessments and appraisals.
The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry believes that the quality and availability of a skilled and ready workforce are vital for Tennessee’s economic success. We hear this concern often from the businesses we serve. One of the most certain ways to accomplish success with workforce preparation is to comprehensively prepare students for careers. To equip our students for the real-world skills necessary to support business, we need to help them master the skills that businesses need while providing them with valuable life skills. Tennessee’s Common Core State Standards, which emphasize these skills, are a solid step toward remedying the issues our employers face when it comes to finding a skilled workforce.