September 17 TN News Digest

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

Governor’s Plan Could Spark Small Business (Memphis Daily News)

After enough stimulus funding to float a boat, we know putting Americans back to work isn’t all about government money. The idea of public sector jobs or projects to bridge the gap between economic downturn and economic recovery was an honorable effort that was quickly detoured by endemic bureaucracy and a political pipeline with sticky sides.

Plotting a Course (Memphis Daily News)

State and federal officials are developing new programs and legislation to bolster small businesses.Many companies are facing a variety of hurdles in a lackluster economy in which millions remain jobless and the outlook for consumer confidence and companies’ confidence in hiring and investing remain bleak.

Triad Packaging brings 25 jobs to Bristol (Business Clarksville)

Triad Packaging is adding 25 new jobs to its Bristol, Tenn. headquarters while retaining 35 current positions. Triad Packaging will invest nearly $1 million to consolidate manufacturing operations into its Bristol facility.

Report: Spring Hill GM plant to reopen (Associated Press)

As part of a tentative agreement reached with the United Auto Workers, GM will reopen its idled assembly line at its plant in Spring Hill, officials said late Friday. Details weren’t immediately released, but the union said the contract will ensure that laid-off workers will be hired back.

Whether Jobs Return to Spring Hill Is Up to Market, Haslam Says (WPLN-Radio)

The state’s economic development commissioner is back from a trip to Detroit to press General Motors to bring more jobs back to its idled factory at Spring Hill. Meanwhile Governor Bill Haslam says that call is ultimately up not to GM, but to the demands of the market.

Electrolux groundbreaking scheduled for Oct. 5 (Memphis Business Journal)

Electrolux Home Products Inc. officially will launch construction of its $200 million Memphis manufacturing facility at a groundbreaking ceremony Oct. 5. The kitchen appliance manufacturer’s plant, being built in Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park, is expected to create more than 1,200 jobs.

Haslam Undecided Whether Court of Judiciary Needs Reform (MO News Horizon)

A panel of state lawmakers is expected to examine the Court of the Judiciary next week. But Gov. Bill Haslam said Friday he’s as yet unsure whether he supports altering the make-up of the appointed panel charged with investigating ethical complaints against Tennessee judges.

Lawrenceburg Gets Transportation Enhancement Grant (WKSR-Radio Pulaski)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer announced a $500,000 transportation enhancement grant to Lawrenceburg for downtown revitalization. The announcement was made yesterday in Lawrenceburg.

Grant to fund Downtown Revitalization Project (WDXE-Radio Lawrenceburg)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer announced today a $500,000 transportation enhancement grant to Lawrenceburg for downtown revitalization. The second phase of the Downtown Revitalization Project in Lawrenceburg is focused on improving pedestrian and vehicular traffic patterns on and around the city’s historic square district.

TDOT commissioner tours county (Leaf Chronicle)

Both mayors join Tennessee officials in surveying three local road projects Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer visited Montgomery County Friday as part of the TDOT Summer Projects Tour. Schroer traveled on a bus along with elected officials, including Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan and county Mayor Carolyn Bowers, and transportation officials to view the progress of construction projects in the Montgomery County area.

Savings add up at UTC (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Trevizo)

Turning off lights and computers when not in use, reducing the number of picnics for faculty and staff and making students pay the fees for credit-card tuition payments. All are tactics public universities and colleges across the state are considering as available funds decrease.

Paving to temporarily close ramp from I-75 South to I-640 West (News-Sentinel)

The interstate ramp from I-75 South to I-640 West will be closed 11 p.m.-5 a.m. Sunday and Monday while Tennessee Department of Transportation maintenance crews repave the road. While the ramp is closed, motorists can access I-640 West by following I-275 South to I-40.

Tenn. Supreme Court rules against lifetime alimony (Associated Press/Johnson)

The Tennessee Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a man does not have to pay lifetime alimony to his ex-wife. Craig and Johanna Gonsewski (gahn-ZES-kee), who lived in Hendersonville, went through a bitter divorce.

State Supreme Court reverses ruling on woman’s alimony (City Paper/Woods)

In a closely watched divorce case, the state Supreme Court on Friday struck down the award of significant lifetime alimony to a woman who already makes $72,000 a year. The trial court originally denied alimony for Johanna Gonsewski who, at the time, was divorcing her husband Craig in 2009 after 21 years of marriage.

TN Supreme Court reverses alimony decision (Tennessean/Gee)

The Tennessee Supreme Court issued an opinion Friday reversing the Court of Appeals’ decision to award lifetime and lump-sum alimony support to a divorced spouse in good health, with a well-paying job and who had received significant property assets in the divorce. In 2009, Johanna Gonsewski and Craig Gonsewski were granted a divorce after 21 years of marriage. Both spouses were college educated and held well-paying jobs.

Fixture in Secretary of State’s office passes away (Nashville Post/Whitehouse)

Margaret Tolleson, an employee for the State of Tennessee for 52 years, passed away early Thursday morning from heart issues. Tolleson, who for decades was known as the smiling face that greeted you when you walked into the office of the Tennessee Secretary of State on the main floor of the State Capitol, had been in and out of the hospital and rehabilitation facilities in the past year.

Infant deaths down, but rate still high (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Carroll)

Bad news: Thirty-three Hamilton County babies died before their first birthday in 2009. But records show that’s nine fewer than the year before, “which translates into nine more first words that are said, nine more first steps that are taken,” Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said Friday.

TN hospitals plan to fight federal cuts (Tennessean/Bewley)

Entire industry plans to lobby ‘supercommittee’ Tennessee’s hospitals have a message for the congressional “supercommittee” charged with cutting the federal debt by more than $1 trillion: Don’t look here. “It seems to me that we are turning into the piggy bank,” said Craig Becker, president of the Tennessee Hospital Association, which represents 154 hospitals.

Suspicious package sightings soar as public opens eyes (Tennessean/Haas)

The bomb squad worked for more than an hour outside the Marriott Hotel as a suspicious package shut down West End Avenue at the beginning of rush hour. The Aug. 4 scare turned out to be harmless, but part of a growing trend in Nashville and other large cities across the nation.

Corker and Cooper Not Happy With Political Play over Disaster Funding (WPLN)

More than two thirds of Tennessee’s counties have been declared disaster areas this year, which is on top of last year’s flood damage. State officials are waiting for Congress to send them $165 million to pay for recovery efforts.

Zach plans primary bid against Corker (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Sher)

News flash: Zach has announced plans to challenge U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in the Republican primary next year. But no, no, no, no, no.

Alexander: Exhibit no signal of political twilight (Associated Press)

Lamar Alexander said Friday that a new exhibit at Vanderbilt University featuring the Republican’s pre-U.S. Senate papers and memorabilia does not signal that his political career is nearing an end. “I do plan to run for the Senate again,” Alexander told reporters after touring the exhibit.

Alexander Tours His Vanderbilt Exhibit (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

The first Nissan truck built in Tennessee. Campaign memorabilia. And video of Governor-elect Lamar Alexander at his emergency swearing-in.

Ketron to be honored for hearing aid legislation (Daily News Journal)

Families of children who needed access to affordable hearing aids will honor state Sen. Bill Ketron Sept. 21. Families and many statewide agencies, including the host of the event, the Tennessee Disability Coalition, labored in support of this legislation.

Postal Service eyes 223 job cuts; may shut down distribution center (TFP/O’Neil)

The U.S. Postal Service is studying a plan that could cut up to 223 jobs by shutting down Chattanooga’s mail processing and distribution center. The four-month study will determine whether the local center’s work can be taken over by the Postal Service’s North Metro Georgia center in Duluth, Ga.

Civilian workforce at Fort Campbell faces cuts (Leaf Chronicle)

Officials on post anticipate ‘minimal impact’ While worries continue among Fort Campbell’s civilian workforce as to the impact of cuts announced by the Department of the Army for Fiscal Year 2012, the specifics are still being worked on, according to post officials. What is known is that the cuts will affect 8,741 positions Army-wide, with 80 percent of reductions coming from four commands.

ORNL hot spot finally being removed (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Munger)

After years of delays, unwelcome surprises and costly preparations, government contractors have finally started excavating a radioactive hot spot in the middle of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Department of Energy’s cleanup manager, URS/CH2M Oak Ridge (UCOR), announced this week that work was under way and should be mostly completed by the end of the year.

Amazon offers jobs to 1,500 (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Pare)

Internet retailer Amazon, fast-tracking the ramp-up of new distribution centers in Hamilton and Bradley counties, has offered jobs to about 1,500 people so far. Local officials say the hiring effort is one of the quickest undertaken by a company doing business here.

Company with entertainment ties moving to Knoxville (News-Sentinel/Flory)

A small company with big ties to the entertainment business is setting up shop in Knoxville. Egripment USA Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of a Dutch company that makes cranes, dollies and other camera-support equipment for the film and television industry.

Terminal plans for Cleveland airport unveiled (Times Free-Press/Leach)

Plans for Cleveland’s new airport include an 8,000-square-foot terminal that resembles an upscale East Tennessee chalet. Blueprints and conceptual digital renderings of the terminal met with approval from the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority on Friday.

Slump hits Memphis airport businesses (Commercial Appeal/Risher)

Slumping traffic at Memphis International Airport is starting to take a bite out of concessions. Delaware North Corp. closed Arby’s in the terminal lobby and Edy’s Ice Cream near international departure gates effective Sept. 8.

Work Still Slow in Construction Sector (Memphis Daily News)

The Mid-South commercial construction market is still trying to gain traction following a steady downturn spanning the past couple of years. Despite several large-scale and government-funded projects, a dearth of small- to mid-sized projects is keeping the market depressed.

Nashville revamps music classes for public schools (Associated Press/Hall)

Nashville city and business leaders want to keep the music playing in public schools in Music City USA through a new curriculum that will incorporate new musical genres and production technology into the classroom. Mayor Karl Dean and Jesse Register, director of Metro Nashville Public Schools, announced the “Music Makes Us” program on Friday on the stage of the historic Ryman Auditorium.

Dean, Register lead overhaul of Metro schools’ music program (C. Paper/Garrison)

Put down the trombone, and take a seat behind a soundboard. Though Metro Nashville Public Schools isn’t abandoning traditional music outlets like the marching band and choir, a new overhaul of the district’s music education program — relying heavily on private dollars — includes a greater focus on music technology.

Nashville schools to expand music education (Tennessean/Brooks)

Half a million raised for Metro initiative Music makes us better at math. Music makes us better readers. Music makes us more creative and better able to concentrate in school.

Charter school companies may run failing schools (Tennessean/Hubbard)

9 companies apply for state contracts Tennessee’s lowest-achieving 5 percent of public schools may find themselves run by charter school companies next year. Nine of them stepped up for the job this week, submitting applications that could result in up to $800,000 in startup money plus per-student funding if they’re successful.

Some question value of free, publicly funded tutors (Commercial Appeal/Roberts)

Parents milled around a tutoring fair at Ridgeway High School this week, studying the companies, their claims and giveaways. At the Eduwizards.com table, an HP laptop came with every registration.

Wave of New Disabilities Swamps School Budgets (Wall Street Journal)

Christina Gustavsson says she loves school. But her teachers have had a tough time educating her. In her freshman year at Kennett High School, 15-year-old Christina racked up five months’ worth of absences and never completed a full day of school. Sometimes, she had difficulty remembering assignments, completing homework or even waking up in time for school.

OPINION

Editorial: Hey, we’re AAA, bond raters told (Paris Post-Intelligencer)

“Few states could even dream of making the impressive case we did these past few days.” That how Tennessee’s lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey, described the financial presentation by a blue-ribbon delegation to the nation’s big three credit rating agencies this week.

Free-Press Editorial: UTC at 125 (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)

How fortunate we are to have the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga — whose 125th year we happily note this year. It began as Chattanooga University in 1886. Later, it became known as Grant University, and later still as the independent University of Chattanooga.

Editorial: The cell ban debate (Commercial Appeal)

A 40-ton truck, going 70 mph, with a driver distracted by a cellphone. It’s a formula for disaster, written many times each year in the cellular age.