August 9 TN News Digest

This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.

Academy Sports & Outdoors coming to Cookeville (Herald-Citizen)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with local and regional Economic Development officials gathered in Cookeville’s Dogwood Park today to announce Academy Sports & Outdoors will build a new 1.6 million square foot distribution center in Cookeville to support company growth. The premier sports, outdoors and lifestyle brand will invest $100 million and create 700 full-time equivalent jobs in Putnam County over the next five years. Spanning 257.38 total acres, the center will be the largest distribution facility in Tennessee under one roof.

Academy Sports to bring 700 jobs to Cookeville (WBIR-TV Knoxville)
Gov. Bill Haslam announced Friday that Academy Sports will open a new distribution center in Cookeville, which will create about 700 new jobs in Putnam County over the next five years. Academy Sports will begin construction on the 1.6 million square-foot facility this month, which the company estimates will be operational by early 2016. The distribution center will be located off Old Stewart Road along Interstate 40 in Cookeville. This will be Academy Sports’ third distribution center. The retailer said it will invest $100 million in Cookeville over the next five years.

New Tenn. distribution center to bring 700 jobs (Associated Press)
Officials say Academy Sports + Outdoors plans to build a distribution center in Putnam County, which will bring 700 jobs to the area over the next five years. Company executives said in a statement on Friday that the 1.6 million square foot distribution center in Cookeville would support continued growth for the Katy, Texas-based sporting goods retailer. It will be the company’s third distribution center. Academy Sports + Outdoors has nine stores in Tennessee, with another one set to open in Memphis this fall. Company officials say construction on the facility will start this month and it should be operational by 2016.

Academy Sports to bring 700 jobs to Cookeville (Tennessean/Williams)
Academy Sports + Outdoors will build a new 1.6 million-square-foot distribution center in Cookeville that will ultimately create more than 700 jobs, officials announced Friday. The sports, outdoors and lifestyle retailer will invest $100 million to build a center on more than 200 acres in Cookeville to support continued company growth. Academy Sports + Outdoors will start construction on the facility this month and plans to become operational in early 2016. The site is located south of Old Stewart Road along Interstate 40 on the west side of Cookeville. This will be the company’s third distribution center.

Academy Sports + Outdoors to build $100M distribution site in Cookeville (NBJ)
Academy Sports + Outdoors is building a 1.6 million-square-foot distribution center in Cookeville, company and state officials announced Friday. The Cookeville site will be the Texas-based company’s third distribution center. Academy Sports + Outdoors plans to invest $100 million and create around 700 new jobs during the next five years, according to a news release. The sports, lifestyle and outdoors retailer will begin construction on the facility this month and plans to have it operational in early 2016.

Haslam awards $1.2 million in Recreational Trails Program grants (WRCB-TV Chatt.)
Bradley County, along with several other Tennessee counties, is the recipient of the Recreational Trails Program grant. Governor Bill Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau announced over $1.2 million in grants to recipients Friday. The Charleston-Calhoun-Hiwassee Historical Society of Bradley County will receive $200,000 to develop trails, trailhead parking and trail signs. The Recreational Trails Program is a federally funded program established to distribute funding for diverse recreation trail projects.

Haslam Announces $1.2M in Grants to Maintain, Improve Trails (WGOW-Radio)
Gov. Bill Haslam announced Friday $1.2 million in grants to help maintain and improve parks and recreation areas around the state. According to a statement from the Department of Environment and Conservation, the funding will come from Tennessee’s Recreational Trails Program, which is federally funded. The funds will be divided into projects in eight different counties, with funding ranging from $42,000 to $200,000 per project. The funds are permitted to be used on non-routine maintenance, restoration of trails, development, rehabilitation, trailside or trailhead facilities, construction of new trails and land acquisition.

Haslam designates Sunday as a day of prayer for students (Herald-Courier)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has designated Sunday as the Day of Prayer Over Students Across Tennessee. First Priority, which coordinates school Christian campus clubs, said it requested a day of prayer for students as they return to school. First Priority will be joined by Moms in Prayer and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to coordinate the prayer event, according to a news release. The organization encourages Tennesseans to pray for students as they face with challenges such as peer pressure to abuse drugs and alcohol, negative influences, school violence and gang activities, fear and low self-esteem.

Haslam celebrates primary victory (Lebanon Democrat)
Gov. Bill Haslam will try to retain his seat in November following a large win in Thursday’s primary. Haslam garnered 561,218 votes Thursday, easily eclipsing all of his challengers. Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney offered his encouragement Thursday night. “Congratulations to Gov. Bill Haslam on his overwhelming victory in tonight’s Republican primary. Gov. Haslam’s visionary leadership has jumpstarted our economy, revamped our education system, and set our state on a path of achievement. He’s been an outstanding leader for our state and I look forward to telling voters about his positive message this fall.”

University of Memphis receives federal designation (Memphis Business Journal)
The University of Memphis has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which will run from 2014-2021. The University of Memphis received the designation because of work done to enhance cybersecurity by the school’s Center for Information Assurance, which is led by Dipankar Dasgupta and Judith Simon. The CfIA develops educational tools, programs and training for students and professionals, including police and other law enforcement officials, while also developing improvements to secure online commerce.

Tennessee primaries over, race to November begins (Commercial Appeal/Locker)
Now comes a brief respite from the relentless robo calls, angry TV ads, and dire direct mail warnings of the consequences of electing so-and-so. But Nov. 4 is less than three months away and Tennessee voters still have much to settle: a U.S. Senate race; four state constitutional amendments on contentious issues of abortion, taxation, judicial selection and charitable gambling; and Gov. Bill Haslam’s bid to run up the biggest margin of victory ever in a Tennessee gubernatorial election. State voters will decide if Republicans build on their supermajorities in the state legislature

In Charlie Brown, Democrats find another character (Tennessean/Cass)
Here we go again. Two years after Tennessee Democrats nominated Mark Clayton, a man with extremely conservative views, to be their next U.S. senator, they’ve put another colorful character forward to lead the state, a man who probably won’t be joining the likes of Ned Ray McWherter and Phil Bredesen in the state party’s hall of fame. That man is Charles V. “Charlie” Brown, the Oakdale retiree who won the Democratic primary for governor Thursday by more than 35,000 votes. Brown, who defeated former Sullivan County Mayor John McKamey and two other candidates, will face Republican Gov. Bill Haslam in the Nov. 4 general election.

Past doesn’t haunt DesJarlais in rural Tenn. (Associated Press/Burke, Schelzig)
Well-known details about U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais — including that he once urged a mistress to seek an abortion and held a gun in his mouth for hours outside his ex-wife’s room — didn’t deter Republican primary voters from giving him a possible shot at a third term. The primary race remained too close to call Friday, with DesJarlais ahead of challenger Jim Tracy by just 35 votes in unofficial results. That number could shift as provisional ballots are counted, and the final result could drag on for weeks as election officials certify results and consider potential challenges. Tracy raised far more money than DesJarlais and had been expected to easily win.

Scott DesJarlais declares victory in race (Tennessean/Sisk)
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais declared victory in the Republican primary for the 4th Congressional District, as state officials hustled to finalize results from Thursday’s vote. Robert Jameson, a spokesman for the DesJarlais campaign, said they do not believe enough ballots remain uncounted to shift the outcome of the race. DesJarlais holds a 35-vote lead over state Sen. Jim Tracy in an unofficial tally. “I am truly honored that the folks of the Fourth Congressional District put their faith in my ability to continue to serve them effectively in Washington,” DesJarlais said in a prepared statement.

Lawyers enter 4th Congressional District GOP primary picture (TFP/Sher)
Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and state Sen. Jim Tracy are now talking with lawyers as the two 4th Congressional District GOP primary foes prepare for a potential legal fight over the congressman’s razor-thin victory in Thursday’s race. “We are going to take all possible precautions in order to preserve the integrity of this result,” said DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson. “If that means bringing on legal counsel then that is something we are prepared to do.” Tracy’s camp is also talking with attorneys, according to an aide.

Winner in 4th still not settled (Daily News Journal)
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais declared victory Friday after surviving Thursday night’s Republican primary with a 35-vote lead over state Sen. Jim Tracy, but vote totals still await certification from county election commissions. Both DesJarlias and Tracy have declared victory in the race for the GOP nomination for the 4th District House seat. “I am truly honored that the folks of the 4th Congressional District put their faith in my ability to continue to serve them effectively in Washington,” Desjarlais said in a statement Friday. If certified as the winner, DesJarlais or Tracy will face unopposed Democratic primary winner Lenda Sherrell of Monteagle in the Nov. 4 general election.

Tiny Lead for Incumbent in Tennessee Primary Vote (New York Times)
Less than two years after tawdry details of his divorce and extramarital relationships burst into public view, Representative Scott DesJarlais, Republican of Tennessee, held a minuscule advantage on Friday in a primary election battle that could become a startling example of political survival. The Tennessee secretary of state reported that Mr. DesJarlais led his nearest rival, State Senator Jim Tracy, by just 35 votes on Friday. More than 77,000 voters submitted ballots in the seven-way election for the Republican nomination in this state’s Fourth Congressional District, a vast stretch that includes parts of the Chattanooga and Nashville metropolitan areas.

We Won’t Know The Final Tally On DesJarlais/Tracy For Weeks (WPLN-Radio)
It could be weeks before a final outcome is determined in the race between Congressman Scott DesJarlais and state Sen. Jim Tracy. The incumbent was almost considered the underdog following revelations that he once pressured a mistress to have an abortion. And Thursday night, both men claimed victory. The Secretary of State’s unofficial total has Congressman DesJarlais up by 35 votes. But at this point, state election officials don’t even have a precise count of how many provisional ballots might be out there. In Rutherford County alone there are eight, according to a local election official.

Weston Wamp ends race with snap at victor (Times Free-Press/Brogdon)
Weston Wamp kept it civil the whole campaign. But in his concession call to Tennessee 3rd Congressional District Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Wamp made no bones about his feelings “Congressman, this is Weston Wamp. You successfully deceived tens of thousands of Tennesseans, and you won. I concede,” Wamp told the incumbent before briskly hanging up the phone Thursday. He confirmed the statement in an interview with the Times Free Press on Friday. What is traditionally the post-game handshake in politics — a sign of respect between candidates — was decidedly different for the two-time opponents.

Alexander’s statewide victory came with a loss in some E. TN counties (CA/Collins)
It’s the post-election puzzle that has many analysts still scratching their heads: How did U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander vanquish two tea party challengers by a comfortable margin statewide yet end up losing in his home county? “We’re all kind of stunned,” said Patsy Lunde, chairwoman of the Blount County Republican Party. Alexander grew up in Maryville, the county seat, went to public schools there and owns a mountainside home near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He still considers the area his home after a 40-year political career that has taken him from Nashville to Washington. But in Thursday’s primary, Alexander placed second in Blount County behind one of his Republican rivals, state Rep. Joe Carr.

Help for TN vets emerges in VA reform bill (Tennessean/Wilheim)
Last week the House of Representatives and Senate, in a rare act of bipartisan compromise, passed a bill to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. This bill was seen as necessary after evidence of secret patient wait lists, meant to game the VA’s performance metrics, came to light this past spring. Tennessee more than lives up to its reputation as the Volunteer State, boasting over half a million veterans; here’s what this reform effort means for them and their families: The many rural veterans around the state will likely benefit the most from the healthcare choice provisions contained. There will be $10 billion in additional funding for outside referrals, what VA calls “Non-VA” or “fee basis” care over the next two years.

Half of Tennesseans in health coverage gap work (Tennessean/Wilemon)
More than half of the people who would obtain health coverage if Tennessee expanded Medicaid work jobs, according to a report by Families USA. They serve food, build houses, clean offices, stand behind cash registers and drive school buses. The report breaks down their number by employment sectors. In total, they account for 54 percent of the 418,000 uninsured Tennesseans who would qualify for TennCare if the state expanded Medicaid, according to the report. “It is so important for people and policymakers to understand that the people harmed by the coverage gap are working people,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. “They are not people who are looking for handouts, or welfare recipients.”

Tennova to submit CON application for replacement hospital (N-S/Harrington)
Tennova Healthcare said it will submit a certificate of need application with the state next week, moving forward plans to build a replacement hospital for Physicians Regional Medical Center. The request would be heard by the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency board in Nashville on Nov. 19. The $304 million project will include a 556,083 square-foot replacement hospital with 272 beds and 24 operating and procedure rooms, according to a public notice published Friday in the News Sentinel. A second notice indicates that Tennova will also relocate a 25-bed nursing home.

Kellogg says workers returning Monday (Commercial Appeal/Risher)
The fat lady hasn’t sung yet for Kellogg Co. workers seeking to turn back a company push to lower labor costs at the Memphis cereal plant. But Kellogg confirmed Friday that 200-plus workers would report back to work on Monday, while the company continues to mull over a ruling in its favor handed down late Thursday. After initially saying “we must re-evaluate our prior plan to bring employees back to work next week,” the Battle Creek, Michigan company said in a statement Friday: “While we are pleased with the judge’s decision and validation of our legal position, for now our key focus needs to be on bringing our Memphis employees back to work. Memphis employees should report to work on Aug. 11, as previously directed.”

 

 

 
OPINION

Guest columnist: Drug users need treatment, not punishment (Tennessean)
The state of Tennessee recently enacted two laws that enhance penalties for those who are suspected to be drug users. In combination, these laws highlight Tennessee’s reluctance to move away from prohibitive drug-related sanctions even as much of the country has acknowledged the detrimental effects of the ongoing war on drugs. The stated intention of both laws is prevention — to deter individuals from engaging in substance use. While prevention-related intentions are admirable, in practice these laws may be much less beneficial than intended. Senate Bill 2580, enacted on July 1, restricts those suspected of drug use from receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (referred to in Tennessee as Families First).

Editorial: GOP voters harm judicial system via partisan politics (News-Sentinel)
Knox County’s Republican voters on Thursday weakened the local judicial system by electing two lesser-qualified candidates on a purely partisan basis. Incumbents Daryl Fansler, a chancellor, and Circuit Court Judge Harold Wimberly Jr. were booted off the bench for being Democrats. Their Republican replacements — Fansler’s in particular — are so short on experience that justice in the courts likely will be compromised for some time to come. This outrageous outcome is even more puzzling because those same voters rejected a shamelessly partisan effort by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and conservative special interest groups to unseat three state Supreme Court justices.

Editorial: Referendums to claim attention on Nov. 4 ballot (Daily News Journal)
Voters in November may be facing five questions on the November ballot — four are state constitutional amendments, and voters in Murfreesboro and Smyrna will decide whether to approve sale of wine in grocery stores. Voters in La Vergne also may decide about wine sales in grocery stores, but the county Election Commission has not yet confirmed all of the signatures on petitions to seek such a referendum. Deadline for confirmation is Aug. 21. Garnering the most attention in regard to state constitutional amendments are questions about selection of state Supreme Court justices and abortion. Voters decided Thursday to retain three Supreme Court justices whom Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed to the court.

Times Editorial: Stuck with Chuck?: The numbers say maybe not for long (TFP)
In contemplating the fact that we’re stuck with Chuck Fleischmann at least until Democrat Mary Headrick takes a shot at knocking him out of office in November, think about the potential downside of voting early. In Hamilton County alone, 21,404 people voted early — roughly a 10th of of the county’s registered voters. Of those early balloters, 15,473 of them asked for and voted on the Republican primary ballot. Early voting began on July 18 — about the same time Fleischmann launched one of the ugliest, negative campaigns seen here. Over the next two weeks, he unleashed at least four television attack ads and at least two mailers, including one with a faked photograph intended to depict his challenger Weston Wamp burning a passport beside a partial quote about immigration amnesty taken out of context.

Editorial: Voters chose well, but Shelby’s Dem. Party needed more firepower (CA)
Shelby County voters made some astute choices in Thursday’s county general election as well as the Tennessee and federal primaries. The run-up to the county general was not as gratifying, Democrats having failed once again in most cases to offer candidates who could run campaigns that were credible enough to provide voters with the kinds of issue-oriented debates they deserve. Some of the party’s candidates — not all, to be sure — didn’t seem to have a clear idea of why they were running for the office they were seeking, or what was expected of them post-election.