This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
College savings program to give two scholarships (Associated Press)
State Treasurer David Lillard Jr. is offering an incentive for families to start saving for college. He visited Stewarts Creek Middle School in Smyrna on Friday and announced that scholarships in the amount of $5,290 will be given to two families by the TNStars 529 College Savings Program. The program allows people to save money for children’s college expenses with tax advantages. To compete for the scholarships, children in kindergarten through second grade must participate in a coloring contest. Children in third through eighth grades must complete an online interactive guide about the importance of saving money. Two names will be selected from among the participants in a random drawing this fall.
State program promotes financial literacy (Daily News Journal)
Stewarts Creek Middle served as the kickoff location for a new statewide program designed to help students learn more about money management before entering high school. State Treasurer David Lillard Jr. visited Stewarts Creek Middle Friday morning to announce the launch of Vault, a web-based program developed by EverFi. The program helps students understand financial concepts such as credit, savings and banking and is now available to all Tennessee students in grades 3-8. Lillard said the state has a goal of being among the most financially literate in the nation. Vault, he said, will help make that happen. “You can live fairly well on a good, modest income, but part of that comes from making good financial decisions,” Lillard said.
McPhee chosen for higher education panel (Daily News Journal)
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee will be among a group of academic leaders from across the state gathering Sept. 24 to discuss the state of higher education and the push to produce career-ready graduates, according to a release from the university. The Nashville Business Journal is sponsoring the luncheon panel discussion titled “Nashville Ahead: A discussion on higher education and workforce readiness.” It will be from 11:50 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24, at the Omni Nashville Hotel, 250 Fifth Ave. S. Joining McPhee will be Joe DiPietro, president of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Kimberly Estep, chancellor of Western Governors University Tennessee; and Jerry L. Faulkner, president of Volunteer State Community College.
Tennessee seeks media witnesses for Billy Irick execution (Tennessean/Haas)
After six years of a mostly dormant death penalty, Tennessee gets ready to execute one of its most notorious killers in less than a month. This week, in preparation for the Oct. 7 scheduled execution of Billy Ray Irick, the Tennessee Department of Correction began taking applications for media witnesses to his death. Under department rules, seven media witnesses and two alternates will be selected at random by the department Sept. 23. Irick, who raped and murdered a 7-year-old Knoxville girl in 1985, is one of 11 inmates currently scheduled to die through 2016, part of a renewed push last year to kick-start the state’s lagging death penalty. He has been on death row since 1986.
I-65 to be shut in Middle Tennessee next weekend (Associated Press/Loller)
A portion of Interstate 65 in Middle Tennessee will be closed in both directions next weekend to remove a bridge that was damaged when a truck carrying gasoline hit a vertical support. The Tennessee Department of Transportation says it will close the interstate from Friday, Sept. 19, at 8 p.m. until Monday, Sept. 22, at 5 a.m. From Tuesday, Sept. 16, to Thursday, Sept. 18, the Transportation Department will close a single lane in each direction between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. each night. The closures will take place at mile marker 61 in Franklin. Motorists will be able to use the ramps at state Route 248 to bypass the closures. However, the Transportation Department is advising travelers to use alternate routes, such as Interstate 24 or state Route 840.
TDOT work to plague drivers in two corners of county (Tennessean/Wilson)
Two areas of Davidson County will be plagued by lane closures this weekend as construction crews push to wrap up major projects. Tennessee Department of Transportation work near Old Hickory Boulevard and Hillsboro Pike will be the most time-consuming. Old Hickory will remain closed from Chickering Road to Hillsboro Pike until 6 a.m. Monday, TDOT spokeswoman Heather Jensen said. Crews will put a 95-ton bridge in place to replace an aging structure over Otter Creek, she said. TDOT crews will continue their push to complete the Interstate 65 bridge project south of RiverGate Mall in Goodlettsville. Lanes in both directions will be partially closed through Wednesday — for all but one day, at least. “We know there will be Titans traffic (Sunday), and we don’t want to affect that,” Jensen said.
Tennessee ranks 10th in domestic homicide rate, new report finds (CA/Bryson)
Tennessee women are slain by intimate partners at a rate much higher than the national average, according to a newly published report that shows rates of domestic homicide in the Volunteer State are among the ten highest in the nation. This month’s release of the Violence Policy Center’s annual publication, “When Men Murder Women,” coincides with the recent murders of two local women, including one gunned down outside a day care and a second brazenly shot in the parking lot of an East Memphis Target. While those homicides were committed in public, in the vast majority of cases women are victimized in the home, the report says, meaning that such public displays of violence represent only the tip of an iceberg-sized problem.
Sen. Jim Summerville accused of public intoxication (Tennessean/Wilson)
Outgoing state Sen. Jim Summerville was arrested on one count of public intoxication on Friday, a Dickson County jail official said. Police said the Dickson senator was outside a home on McCreary Heights drinking an alcoholic beverage from a glass mug. Officers were called to the scene after witnesses said an intoxicated male was walking down the street with a lawn chair, Dickson police said. Summerville was waiting to be booked at the Dickson County jail after being arrested earlier this evening. He also was cited for carrying an open container.
Tennessee Won’t Let A Brentwood Family Create A New Last Name (WPLN-Radio)
When it comes to child-naming, parents often compromise, sometimes hyphenate, or take one parent’s name. Even less common, some decide to create an entirely new surname. For a Brentwood couple, that last option is pitting personal choice against state law. Kim Sarubbi says her husband rarely gets fired up about things. But recently, that changed when the last name of the couple’s newborn became a point of dispute with the state. Why all the fuss? A three-decade-old Tennessee law won’t let the family name their child what they want to name him, and the attorney general even issued an opinion confirming what the family has been told elsewhere: name-fusing is not allowed in the state.
Memphis International Airport lands DOT funding for runway lights (CA/McKenzie)
Memphis International Airport has landed $1.1 million in U.S. Department of Transportation funds for rehabilitating electrical systems for runway and taxiway lights, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen’s (D-Memphis) office announced Friday. “The Memphis airport is a critically important transportation link in the Mid-South region,” said Cohen. “This funding will help ensure our airport can continue serving travelers safely, securely and efficiently for many years to come.”
Memphis airport will get $1.1M in federal funding for runway lights (MBJ)
Memphis International Airport will receive more than $1.1 million in federal funding for an electrical system rehab project, according to a release. The U.S. Department of Transportation approved the funds for the airport, which will help extend the lives of runway lights and taxiways, according to a release by the office of Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis. The work is another construction project for the airport, which recently approved demolition work as part of a $114 million concourse modernization and consolidation plan.
Burchett calls for McIntyre removal (Knoxville News-Sentinel/McCoy)
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett is publicly calling for the removal of Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre, blaming him for a string of bad press for the school system over the last year, starting with reports of faulty security equipment in schools. “And in the last couple of weeks, an employee on sick leave for the past couple of years,” Burchett said in an interview with the News Sentinel. “And now the reported misuse of funds by the school nutrition director,” he said. He was referring to Jon Dickl, executive director of nutrition for Knox County Schools, who has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
Craig Fitzhugh: Gov. Haslam’s letter insulting to Tennessee teachers (Tennessean)
A few weeks ago, Gov. Bill Haslam sent a letter to Tennessee teachers lecturing them on the importance of new standards and laying the state of our workforce at their feet. Out of 66,000 teachers, 1,800 public schools and 137 districts, Gov. Haslam met with just 12 small, tightly controlled groups of educators. From this very small sample, Gov. Haslam had a major epiphany. He now believes that teachers aren’t really upset about new evaluations and other reforms — they simply don’t understand why they are necessary. Now, he seems to think it’s his job to explain it to them in a condescending, paternalistic letter. Let me explain something very clearly to Gov. Haslam: Tennessee’s teachers understand your reforms, they understand the what, how and why, but they don’t like what they see.