This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Editorial: Investment in higher education programs must be ongoing (N-S)
One of the best terms for the statewide Tennessee Promise program is that it could become a “game-changer.” The words from Pellissippi State Community College President Anthony Wise apply to the plan to enable high school students to attend a community college or state technical college free of charge. The scholarship program is modeled on the Knoxville-based tnAchieves, which gets mentors together with last-dollar funding to help students prepare for college. “Last dollar,” according to the Tennessee Promise website, means that it will cover college costs not being met by Pell grants, the HOPE Lottery scholarship or Tennessee Student Assistance Award funds.
Under Armour Facility to Create 1,500 Jobs (Associated Press)
Athletic apparel maker Under Armour says it will build a new distribution center in suburban Nashville. The $100 million facility is projected to create 1,500 jobs in the next five years. Gov. Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty and U.S. Rep. Diane Black were decked out in Under Armour shirts to welcome the company to Tennessee. The distribution center will be Baltimore-based Under Armour’s third in the nation when it opens in 2016. The others are in Maryland and
Under Armour to bring 1,500 jobs to Mt. Juliet (Tennessean/Humbles)
Local officials didn’t hide their enthusiasm Thursday in announcing that Mt. Juliet was Under Armour’s choice for a massive distribution facility targeted to open in January 2016. Many, including Gov. Bill Haslam, were decked out in Under Armour shirts, as the sportswear apparel giant announced it would build a one million-square-foot distribution “house” that promises to employ about 1,500 workers. “We picked Mt. Juliet mainly for its location, relative to the rest of the country and our customers,” said Kip Fulks, chief operating officer for Under Armour. “It offers a superb hub for our distribution network. And the incentives have been tremendous from the state and local government.”
Under Armour to create 1,500 new jobs in Mt. Juliet (Lebanon Democrat)
A spot near Beckwith Road in Mt. Juliet will be the new location of a new 2 million-square-feet distribution center for Under Armour, officials announced Thursday afternoon. The sports clothing and accessory company will bring about 800 to 1,000 new jobs to the area by fall 2015, with a 1 million square-feet facility. Within five years, the company is expected to add another 1 million square feet of facility and 400-500 additional employees. “This whole thing started in April,” said G.C. Hixson, Wilson County Joint Economic and Development Board director. “…That just shows how long it takes for something like this to develop and come together.”
It’s official – Under Armour is coming
Gov. Bill Haslam made it official Thursday, confirming in a “significant economic development announcement” at Beckwith Farms West that the sports clothing giant Under Armour will be locating a major new $100 million warehousing complex at the site near Mt. Juliet’s newest I-40 exit. The announcement was “significant” indeed – it means that Under Armour will be bringing about 1,500 new jobs to Mt. Juliet and West Wilson County, according to Haslam. “And I’ll bet 1,500 won’t be the end of it,” the governor added. “We’ll continue to see this grow, because Under Armour is a world-class brand.” Introducing Haslam was Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty, who could barely contain his excitement.
Under Armour creating 1,500 jobs outside Nashville (Times Free-Press)
Athletic apparel company Under Armour Inc. will build a 1 million square foot distribution and warehousing facility outside Nashville and create 1,500 new jobs, state officials said today. The company plans to invest more than $100 million and create the jobs in Wilson County over the next five years. “We want to welcome Under Armour to Tennessee and thank the company for choosing to invest and create 1,500 new jobs,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in a statement. The Mount Juliet facility, scheduled to open in early 2016, will be Under Armour’s third distribution facility in the United States, with the original warehouse in the company’s hometown of Baltimore, and the other location in Rialto, Calif.
Under Armour Picks Mt. Juliet for $100M Distribution Center (WPLN-Radio Nash)
Mt. Juliet has snagged a new distribution center expected to create 15-hundred jobs in the next five years. Athletic apparel maker Under Armour plans to invest 100-million dollars in the facility to start. Officials at today’s groundbreaking and announcement were quick to point out that the site includes room for future expansion. Under Armour will build in Beckwith Farms, an industrial park that already has several large tenants, including distribution hubs for Dell Computers and a medical manufacturer. But this project’s size took Whitfield Hamilton by surprise. “We had secured another 208 acres that we thought was gonna be this 4 or 5 year wonderful expansion that we’d keep building on.
Under Armour confirms plans to invest $100M in Mt. Juliet, create 1,500 jobs (NBJ)
Cracker Barrel will soon be surpassed as the largest private employer in Wilson County. Under Armour today confirmed its decision to build a massive distribution facility in Mt. Juliet, bringing 1,500 new jobs to the area over five years. The facility represents a more than $100 million investment for the Baltimore-based sports apparel company. According to a news release, the center is set to open in early 2016. It is the company’s third U.S. distribution center.
Under Armour distribution facility coming to Mt. Juliet (WKRN-TV Nashville)
Officials announced Thursday that an Under Armour distribution facility will soon set its roots in Mt. Juliet. The announcement came at 1:45 p.m. from Governor Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, and other local officials such as the Mt. Juliet and Wilson County mayors. The one million square foot distribution and warehousing facility will be built in Beckwith Farms. “We like the fact that they’re aggressive folks who we think are going to grow. We’re betting on them to add another million square feet at some point, so we think it’s a good match,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. Under Armour, a leader in performance apparel and footwear, is investing over $100 million and creating over 1,500 jobs over the next five years.
Under Armour announces $100M facility in Mt. Juliet (WSMV-TV Nashville)
Under Armour announced Thursday it is building a $100 million facility in Mt. Juliet. The project is expected to create 1,500 jobs in the next five years. Dressed in the sports gear, Under Armour has been made popular worldwide, about 100 people came out to break ground on the company’s new distribution house. “I don’t have to announce Under Armour, because once we saw the logo, everyone knew who we were talking about,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. Distributing some of the world’s top athletic wear and equipment, the massive facility will be spread across 1 million square feet in Beckwith Farms.
Under Armour To Build Distribution Facility In Mt. Juliet (WTVF-TV Nashville)
Athletic apparel maker Under Armour has announced plans to build a new distribution center in Mt. Juliet. Several city and state officials were on hand for the announcement, including Mayor Ed Hagerty, Governor Bill Haslam, Congressman Diane Black and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty. All the officials wore Under Armour apparel for the announcement. The 1-million square foot facility will be built at a site off Interstate 40 near Beckwith Road on 208 acres. The first phase will include a building that covers 44 acres. Officials said 1,500 were expected to be created within five years.
Under Armour: TN site made up for its cost with speed of delivery, location (NBJ)
Tennessee wasn’t the cheapest state that Under Armour looked at for a new distribution hub in the Southeast. In fact, the location in Wilson County was the costliest for the Baltimore sports retailer, state officials said Thursday. Nonetheless, Under Armour announced today its decision to invest more than $100 million in the first phase of a massive distribution facility in Mt. Juliet, expected to create 1,500 jobs in the next five years. The city beat out Atlanta and Greenville, S.C., which also were on Under Armour’s short list. Kip Fulks, the chief operating officer of Under Armour, said Thursday “cost is not everything.” “We’re a premium brand. We’re not always looking for the cheapest site. We’re looking for the most well-rounded [location],” he said. “Our brand is not predicated on selling an athlete the cheapest thing.”
Haslam: Wide-Ranging Common Core Discussion Coming Soon (TN Report)
Gov. Bill Haslam indicated Wednesday that he wants to have a constructive public conversation about concerns Tennesseans are having with Common Core. But the governor reiterated that he’s committed to making sure the state doesn’t slip in its commitment to carrying forward with stricter measurements of K-12 academic performance. “What we are not going to back up on in Tennessee is having higher standards,” he told reporters at the Capitol following a swearing in ceremony for Herb Slatery, the state’s new attorney general. And Haslam said he still supports the controversial nationally focused education-standards system, which appears to be growing in unpopularity among Tennessee teachers.
$20K reward offered in unsolved slaying (Associated Press)
A reward is being offered in an effort to find the person responsible for the only unsolved slaying in the city of Franklin. The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/1CHf73C) reports the $20,000 reward is being offered by the city, in collaboration with the FBI and Gov. Bill Haslam’s office, for information that helps police find the person who pulled the trigger in the fatal shooting of Peggy Cox. Police say Cox was working at Hardee’s on Feb. 1, 1991 when someone shot her through the drive-thru window. Police also are putting up billboard and installing special graphics for police cars as part of a campaign to highlight the case and try to solve it.
LaunchTN names Tenn startups (Tennessean/McGee)
Two Nashville startups were selected to participate in Launch Tennessee’s accelerator program The TENN: Healthcare MarketMaker and Stony Creek Colors. The companies were chosen along with eight other Tennessee startups and through the program they will have access to Launch Tennessee’s mentor network and receive training in marketing and financial managements. The companies’ CEOs will travel throughout the state to meet with top business executives and spend time with business leaders in California and New York. “We look forward to working with this diverse group of early-stage companies,” said Charlie Brock, CEO of Launch Tennessee.
UT receives national recognition for graduation rates (News-Sentinel/Boehnke)
A national organization has honored the University of Tennessee for a decade of progress in retention and graduation rates by naming the school a finalist for a “Trailblazer” award. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities named UT a finalist for its MVP — “Most Visible Progress” — award in the second year such recognition has been handed out. UT’s four-year graduation rates have gone up 12 percentage points to 43 percent over the last six years, and it has raised its six-year rates from 60 to 69 percent over the same time period. The school improved retention rates between freshman and sophomore years to 87 percent in the last three years. “We’re always pleased to get recognition for doing good work,” said Chancellor Jimmy Cheek.
UT system forecasts $155M funding gap over next decade (Tennessean/Garrison)
With rising tuition the norm at his institution and others, University of Tennessee system President Joe DiPietro has made no secret of his desire for greater state funding in higher education. He’s now forecasting trend lines 10 years in advance, with experts estimating a gap of more than $155 million in state funding to address needs at the UT system — that’s with modest assumptions of 3 percent annual tuition increases over that time and no new state revenue. That outlook, though hypothetical, has him and other UT officials rolling up their sleeves to create a new long-term business model to prevent raising tuition even higher to fill that gap.
UT trustees ponder answers to possible 7% funding cut (News-Sentinel/Boehnke)
The University of Tennessee may have to eliminate open positions and turn to a higher tuition increase to address a possible 7 percent cut in state funding. Gov. Bill Haslam last week asked agencies to examine what they would cut after the state’s general fund showed a $302.4 million revenue shortfall. “A 7 percent (cut in funding) would not be fun to deal with,” said UT System President Joe DiPietro, following the first day of a two-day board of trustees meeting on the agriculture campus. “We would have to probably not fill some positions that are open. We would have to probably look at a tuition increase to help us cope, although I would regret doing that. There are a lot of ways we can come to a bottom line.”
Economic developers gather for annual TEDC meeting (Jackson Sun)
Kingsley Brock was excited, not only by the importance of having the Tennessee Economic Development Conference in Jackson but by the heavy hitters who served as guest speakers on Thursday. Brock is the executive director of the Jackson Regional Partnership, a nine-county economic development organization in central West Tennessee. He served as moderator when C.R. (Buzz) Canup and Jeff Counsell spoke to members at the annual conference in the Andrew Jackson Ballroom at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton. “It’s a big advantage to have the council meet in Jackson, and it’s also important to have people like Buzz and Jeff to agree to come,” Brock said. “This visit will stick in their minds when they see projects come across their desks.”
Johnson City DMV’s wait time one of the worst in state (WJHL-TV Johnson City)
It has become a punch line over the years. If you go to the DMV, expect to be there awhile waiting in line, watching the clock and hoping you can get in and get out as soon as possible. At one point, it was so bad at some locations in Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) made it a priority to try and fix the problem. Records reveal the state’s driver service center in Johnson City alone had an average wait time of an hour and four minutes back in 2011. Since then, Tennessee has made major across-the-board improvements to speed up the process. However, despite cutting Johnson City’s wait time in half, that location still remains one of the worst in the state when it comes to the wait.
Police capture 1 of 2 remaining Woodland Hills escapees (WSMV-TV Nashville)
Metro police have captured one of the two remaining escapees from the Sept. 1 escape at Woodland Hills Youth Development Center. Madison Precinct Flex officers and members of the department’s Special Response Team apprehended 17-year-old Kuyvonta Cain as he walked near the intersection of 12th Avenue North and Cass Street on Thursday afternoon. De’Mario Fisher, 17, remains on the run. Police said officers had been pursuing Cain most of the day. He was spotted on Doverside Drive earlier Thursday, but was able to leave the area before a perimeter was established. Officers then discovered he was likely in the area of 14th Avenue North. C
Shelby County judge faces public censure (Associated Press)
A Shelby County judge is being censured after he was found to have retaliated against an attorney who complained about him. According to The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/1vyCAQk ), a six-member panel found Thursday that General Sessions Judge John Donald violated judicial canons of integrity and avoidance of the appearance of impropriety. Attorney David Gold said Donald refused to hear his legal argument and an apology for their disagreement during a 2011 case. Gold said the judge also failed to notify him of a future hearing date. According to testimony and arguments in court, Gold filed a complaint against the judge, and Donald then filed a baseless complaint against Gold in retaliation.
Libertarian think tank Cato gives Bill Haslam a ‘D’ grade on fiscal policy (TFP/Sher)
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has gotten a “D” grade on fiscal policy from a libertarian think tank which says Tennessee’s governor hasn’t done enough to cut state spending and taxes. In its 2014 “Fiscal Policy Report on America’s Governors,” the Washington-based Cato Institue also faults Haslam for spending more on salaries for public school teacher and talking about it as if that were a good thing. The report, meanwhile, gave Republican Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia a “C” grade. Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bentley was awarded a “B” grade.
Former Gov. Phil Bredesen advocates for Amendment 2 (TFP/Anderson)
For former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, the vote on Amendment 2 is simple — “Yes.” The state has argued for decades over how it selects its top judges, and on Nov. 4 voters will be asked to resolve the issue. Bredesen met with Times Free Press editors and reporters on Thursday morning about the “Vote Yes on 2” campaign he has been stumping for across the state. “This is not a partisan issue at all,” said Bredesen, a Democrat, citing his work with Gov. Haslam and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, both Republicans, and support from interest groups including the Tennessee Sheriffs’ Association, the Farm Bureau, the NAACP and the Chamber of Commerce. The proposed amendment would put a modified version of the state’s current judicial selection plan into the Tennessee Constitution and end repeated challenges to the process.
Lundberg pushes amendment for judicial selection by Tenn. Governor (H-C)
Tennessee Rep. Jon Lundberg is pushing a state constitutional amendment — one of four on the ballot in November — that would allow the governor to appoint judges subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. Amendment two is meant to clarify a portion of the state constitution that states: “Judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the state,” Lundberg, R-Bristol, said Thursday during a meeting with the Bristol Herald Courier’s editorial board. “What does that mean? What is an election? Every eight years, we get together and say ‘retain or replace,’” he said. “There’s been a lot of discussion — is that an election? Our Supreme Court said yes that constitutes an election. There are still a lot of people who believe it really isn’t an election. Who is the candidate? Who chooses the candidate? Before, it was the governor.”
Dem. Party chief fires back at Alexander after GOP barrage at Ball (CA/Locker)
After weeks of press-release attacks by the Tennessee Republican Party on Democrat Gordon Ball, Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron fired back Thursday, contrasting U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s 2013 statement that he would abolish the minimum wage with his decades on government payrolls. Herron traveled to Nashville’s Capitol Hill to fire off a number of political shots against Alexander and to counter a recent barrage of press releases issued by email from the state GOP headquarters — including one earlier this week demanding that Ball quit his campaign because several of the policy position statements on the Democratic nominee’s campaign website were copied and pasted from other Democratic officeholders.
Fleischmann, Headrick share views without debating (Times Free-Press/Brogdon)
Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and challenger Mary Headrick shared a stage for the first time Thursday, along with three other candidates seeking state or federal office. The smattering of candidates met for a Lookout Valley Neighborhood Association candidate forum at the John A. Patton Recreation Center. Along with Fleischmann and Headrick, U.S. Senate candidate Gordon Ball, a Democrat challenging Sen. Lamar Alexander, and state House District 27 candidates, Republican Patsy Hazlewood and her Democratic opponent Eric Mcroy, shared their views with the nearly full auditorium Fleischmann’s pitch Thursday was a far cry from the hard-line partisan stance he took during the Republican primary.
Erlanger, United negotiations fail (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Belz)
Strained negotiations between Erlanger Health System and UnitedHealthcare broke down Thursday and both parties began to alert patients in United’s Medicaid plan they will not be able to receive services at Erlanger after next week. The disruption affects pregnant mothers and children covered by United’s plan for TennCare patients. Erlanger has the region’s only children’s hospital. Erlanger officials have said that if the parties can’t agree on the TennCare contract, the hospital will drop all of United’s networks, including commercial insurance and Medicare. If that happens, it would affect thousands in the Chattanooga region as of Jan. 1, 2015.
Tennessee among worst states for teachers (Memphis Business Journal)
Teaching is a tough profession anywhere, but in Tennessee, it’s even harder. Tennessee is among the worst in America when it comes to opportunities for teachers, according to financial website WalletHub’s new ranking of the Best and Worst States for Teachers. The ranking used teacher pay, public school spending per student and teacher job openings per capita for its rankings. Tennessee scored an overall ranking of No. 41. The top state for teachers is Wyoming, followed by Pennsylvania and Minnesota. The worst state is North Carolina, followed closely by Mississippi.
Williamson schools get go-ahead for tougher standards
Williamson County Schools, one of Tennessee’s highest-performing school districts and center of a bitter fight over Common Core, is looking to ensure that its academic standards go beyond those required by the state. The district sought special permission from the state for that last month. But in a Wednesday letter in response, Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman reminded WCS that the state’s academic standards are just a baseline minimum. Local districts, Huffman noted, have the authority to set curriculum, shape instruction and select textbooks and other instructional materials.
Marsha Blackburn: It’s states’ job to decide on broadband (Tennessean)
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler insists he knows how to run the state of Tennessee. In fact, the unelected head of the FCC not only believes that he knows what’s best for Tennesseans, but also is now professing that he may have the power to pre-empt Tennessee state law regarding municipal broadband. As a former Tennessee state senator, I find the FCC chairman’s approach deeply troubling. President Reagan once stated, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Twenty states have held public debates and enacted laws regarding municipalities’ offering broadband services. Governors and legislatures have decided how and to what extent municipalities can build and operate Internet and cable services.