This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. — Auto parts supplier Calsonic Kansei North America announced Tuesday it will add 1,200 jobs at its plants in Tennessee over the next three years. The Nissan subsidiary said it is investing $109 million at its facilities in Lewisburg, Shelbyville and Smyrna, and that total employment in the state will reach nearly 3,800 within three years. “Our business is growing at an unprecedented rate,” said Shingo Yamamoto, the company’s regional president and CEO. The Lewisburg plant makes electronics and plastic components for interiors, while the Shelbyville facility makes exhaust units, catalytic converters and manifolds.
Shelbyville will be getting almost 500 new jobs over the next few years as Calsonic Kansei North America (CKNA) announced a major expansion Tuesday. Calsonic, the largest parts supplier for Nissan in North America, will be investing $109.6 million, adding 1,200 new manufacturing jobs across its facilities in Lewisburg, Shelbyville and Smyrna. The Shelbyville facility will receive an investment of approximately $57.6 million and an additional 489 new jobs will be created over the next three years. Shelbyville’s plant employs 1,010 people, making exhaust units, catalytic converters and manifolds.
Nissan’s largest auto supplier will soon have a bigger presence in the U.S. than it does anywhere else in the world, including its home country of Japan. Calsonic Kansei North America is adding 1,200 jobs in Tennessee, primarily to keep up with U.S. production of the Rogue and Murano SUV’s.“Today’s announcement is probably the biggest in the history of our company,” CKNA vice president Bob Masteller says. “We – in the U.S. – will be the largest region within CKNA globally.” The parts supplier has five U.S. facilities. It’s expanding the three in Tennessee.
Automotive parts manufacturer Calsonic Kansei North America said today it will invest $109 million and in three Middle Tennessee counties, a move that will over time create 1,200 jobs. Calsonic Kansei works very closely with Nissan, both on the production of parts and their installation into Nissan vehicles. The company plans to pump its $109 million into facilities in Lewisburg, Shelbyville and Smyrna between now and the end of 2015. “We are grateful to Calsonic Kansei for this significant investment that is creating more than 1,000 Tennessee jobs,” said Gov. Bill Haslam.
Auto parts supplier Calsonic Kansei will invest $109 million and add 1,200 new manufacturing jobs at its facilities in Lewisburg, Shelbyville and Smyrna. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam joined Calsonic Kansei’s president and CEO, Shingo Yamamoto, and Motohiko Kato, the Japanese consul general of Japan in Nashville, for the announcement Tuesday morning in Shelbyville. “We are grateful to Calsonic Kansei for this significant investment that is creating more than 1,000 Tennessee jobs,” Gov. Haslam said.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed J. Parker Smith to the Tennessee Board of Regents. Smith will represent the 1st Congressional District. The 60-year-old is vice president and general manager of Worldwide Manufacturing Support and Global Quality for Eastman Chemical Co. Haslam says he believes Parker’s experience and commitment will benefit the board, which oversees six state universities, 13 community colleges and 27 colleges of applied technology.
Gov. Bill Haslam is continuing to push an initiative to increase the number of Tennesseans with at least a two-year college degree or certificate. The governor is scheduled to talk more about the “Drive to 55” plan at an event in Nashville on Wednesday. He announced the initiative in his State of the State address earlier this year and has been working on it over the past months. He is expected to more clearly define the state’s challenges on Wednesday, as well as give an update on its progress. Currently, 32 percent of Tennesseans have a two-year degree or higher, and Haslam’s goal is to raise that number to 55 percent by 2025.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam stood by recent controversial teaching license policy changes by the state Board of Education, saying a job performance measure for educators is needed to help the state’s students improve. “I think if you’re a parent and your child has a teacher who’s been graded a 1 out of 5 for two years in a row, you’re going to have some questions,” Haslam told the Johnson City Press editorial board Tuesday, referencing a policy approved last month tying students’ standardized testing scores to the approval and renewal of professional teachers’ licenses.
Contrasting Gov. Bill Haslam’s statements Tuesday, the Johnson City Board of Education unanimously passed a symbolic resolution in opposition of using standardized testing data as a prerequisite for granting professional teachers’ licenses and urged lawmakers to overturn it. “It’s just appalling to me,” member Richard Manahan said after the vote. “If this board was to do that, we’d all be run out of office.” The resolution, which calls the new licensure policy “inequitable and counterproductive,” will be sent to the governor, the state education commissioner and the chair of the state Board of Education bearing each of the board members’ signatures.
More than 60 people recently graduated from the Tennessee Rehabilitation Center in Smyrna and are headed into the workforce. The students have disabilities that include traumatic brain injury, cognitive impairments and blindness. They receive workplace and life management skills to enhance their chosen occupational paths. Tennessee Department of Human Services Commissioner Raquel Hatter says skills the students learn will hopefully “propel them toward greater successes.” The Tennessee Rehabilitation Center is a state-operated comprehensive rehabilitation facility and is one of eight such centers in the nation.
A new Tennessee law that requires day cares and schools to create detailed disaster response plans has garnered praise in a new national report by Save the Children. The state was one of four that made changes in the past year and is now among 22 states receiving the advocacy group’s highest rating for emergency preparedness. With the new law in place, Tennessee now meets four national standards. Child care centers must keep written evacuation plans and plans to reunite families after a disaster.
A two-year effort to cut the wait for a driver’s license has produced uneven results, as advances meant to help Tennesseans avoid long lines have been offset by other setbacks, including a run on gun permits. Customers waited in the lobbies of driver service centers longer this summer than at any time since 2011, even though state officials have been trying to make it easier for drivers to conduct business without stepping foot in a center. Gains have been offset by a surge of interest in handgun permits, technological problems and other factors.
The United Auto Workers and Volkswagen are pushing ahead on talks related to the set up of a possible works council at the automaker’s Chattanooga plant, but Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says he still has concerns about the union gaining a toehold at the factory. A German newspaper said that VW and the UAW had confidential talks at the automaker’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, stating that UAW President Bob King traveled with others in the union last weekend to meet with Horst Neumann, the company’s board member for human resources.
Investigators familiar with the three water-related deaths that cast a pall over Middle Tennessee’s Labor Day weekend said it does not appear that alcohol played any role in the tragedies. Two men drowned Monday afternoon and a third man died in a boating accident Sunday.Matthew Grissom drowned while swimming at Walter Hill Dam in Rutherford County. Abdala Amsabil died while swimming at Burgess Falls State Park near Cookeville. And Harvie C. Butler died while boating on J. Percy Priest Lake.
The number of drug-dependent newborns is climbing higher than Tennessee officials expected. It’s a number that’s been trending up, even before the state started requiring hospitals to report each case. The mothers of such babies were often taking painkillers, or drugs like Xanax or Valium, while pregnant. The newborns may suffer seizures, tremors, or trouble feeding or sleeping. Tennessee has tallied around 550 such cases since January, and could surpass 800 this winter. While many mothers in cases of NAS were using drugs illegally, more than 40 percent were taking what they were prescribed.
Doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville are continuing to closely monitor a new flu strain. Dr, Kathryn Edwards is the director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program and the lead investigator of a team of vaccine research experts who are tracking H7N9, a deadly new strain of the avian flu. Currently the fatal flu virus has killed more than 45 people in China since first emerging. “We’ve done this before and we are certainly ready to do this again,” Dr. Edwards told News 2, adding, “The virus is really just an airplane ride away.”
A Middle Tennessee mother says all she did was try to protect her daughter, but after several calls to the Department of Children’s Services, she was the one charged with severe child abuse. Although a judge has since ruled that she did not commit any severe child abuse, the Nashville mother still hasn’t spent any time with her daughter since December 2012. The mom, whose identity we are not revealing, claims it was pretty clear something was wrong with her 8-year-old daughter when she would come home from visits with her father.
Today was the day Kevin Kookogey had planned to invite reporters to hear a big announcement: He would be launching a tea party challenge to Sen. Lamar Alexander. But those plans suddenly have been scratched, and the former Williamson County Republican Party chairman won’t be running for U.S. Senate next August after all. Hoping to avoid “infighting” among tea party activists, who already have one candidate running against the incumbent senator, Kookogey told The Tennessean on Tuesday he won’t be making a bid for the Senate, scrapping three months of preparation for a campaign.
Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre told school board members that an agreement with Pellissippi State Community College in the creation of a new career and technical education magnet school was “fair and very generous.” The agreement, which the board discussed at its workshop on Tuesday and will vote on tonight, outlines what the relationship between the school system and the community college would look like. “We would certainly be responsible for the renovations and the build-out costs associated with the start up of this new school, but it would be without rent for the period of this agreement,” he said.
The University of Tennessee will have to wait 90 days to hear whether the city of Knoxville will turn over a handful of streets situated inside the campus after city council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to postpone the measure. Councilman Duane Grieve made the motion to postpone voting to turn over nine streets inside the UT campus to the university to have a workshop to discuss the university’s plans for those streets.
A big name in Bibles can no longer visit schools in one Middle Tennessee county, and the way the local leaders made the policy change has some people just as upset as the change itself. Different districts have different rules when it comes to The Gideons, and until recently, Maury County allowed the organization’s members inside some of its schools, not to speak with students, but just to hand out Bibles. That changed months ago and still has some upset. Parent Charlsie Estes addressed the board of education in April, urging it to reconsider. It didn’t, and with time, she began to question the way the decision happened.
The Shelby County Election Commission hasn’t formally set the election date, but the campaign for passage of a half percent hike in the city sales tax is underway. Proponents of the tax hike to fund pre-kindergarten programs in the city of Memphis rallied last week at the Children’s Museum of Memphis, and by the end of the week they were on the road speaking to civic groups. “None of us like taxes any more than we have to have,” former Memphis City Schools board member Barbara Prescott said at her talk to the weekly meeting of the Frayser Exchange Club. Prescott also headed the Transition Planning Commission that drafted the blueprint for the consolidated school system.
WASHINGTON — Eight years after Hurricane Katrina, most states still don’t require four basic safety plans to protect children in school and child care from disasters, aid group Save the Children said in a report released Wednesday. The group faulted 28 states and the District of Columbia for failing to require the emergency safety plans for schools and child care providers that were recommended by a national commission in the wake of Katrina.
A federal jury is being asked to decide whether an Anderson County man is a prodigious user of sinus medicine or a methamphetamine cook. Jeffrey Scott Braden is standing trial this week in U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan’s courtroom on charges he was a key cog in a massive 42-person meth cooking and distribution ring in Anderson County. A joint effort by local, state and federal law enforcers led to a roundup of alleged conspirators earlier this year. Authorities have said Anderson County was targeted because more dangerously explosive clandestine meth labs have been found there than any other county in the state.
According to a ranking in Business Insider, Tennessee is more corrupt than most U.S. states but it still fares better than some of its neighbors. In reaction to a weekend column in the New York Times which called Florida a “hothouse of corruption,” Business Insider reporter Rob Wile used Justice Department data to rank the states by the greatest number of people convicted of public corruption per 100,000. Though Tennessee did not fare too well in the ranking — the Volunteer State ranked No. 17 in the corruption rankings — compared to its neighbors Mississippi (No. 7), Kentucky (No. 4), and Alabama (No 8) it looks like a model citizen.
Memphis Housing Authority is about to take an important step toward finally ridding the city of its last vestiges of public housing. Memphis’ housing project legacy began in the last years of the Great Depression as a means to provide families with decent housing until they could get on their feet financially. In Memphis and other cities, the complexes degenerated over the years into crime-ridden havens of poverty and despair. MHA, backed by the city of Memphis, is set to apply by Sept. 10 for a $30 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant.
The $188 million public investment in the construction of the Electrolux plant here is paying some nice dividends. The Swedish kitchen appliance manufacturer already is hiring people, with a goal of having some 1,200 workers on the payroll when the plant is fully operational. And it was recently announced Electrolux spent $93.2 million building its plant in Memphis, with 29.7 percent going to minority- and women-owned businesses. That nearly doubles Electrolux’s initial goal of spending at least 15 percent of the construction funds with minority firms. For a city where a lot of human capital and private and government dollars have been expended to give minority- and women-owned businesses a greater footprint in the area, the Electrolux numbers have a nice ring.