Press Releases

October 28 TN News Digest


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

Haslam makes small business listening tour stop in Lenoir City (WATE-TV Knox)

Growing jobs and helping small businesses, it’s a theme we’re hearing from pundits and politicians on the local and national level. On Thursday, Bill Haslam hit the road, listening to business owners and workers in East Tennessee.

Viacom shared services center will create 100 new jobs (Tennessean/Walters)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty announced today that Viacom Inc. is establishing a shared services center to support the company’s finance group in Cool Springs. The project will create more than 100 new positions in the accounting, finance and other corporate support function areas.

Officials confirm Viacom to bring more than 100 jobs to Franklin (N. Biz Journal)

State and local officials confirmed today that Viacom Inc. will open a new accounting and finance office in Franklin that will create more than 100 new jobs. Today’s announcement from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty made official our story from Wednesday afternoon.

Viacom bringing 100+ jobs to Franklin (Nashville Post/De Lombaerde)

Entertainment giant Viacom Thursday morning announced it will create more than 100 jobs in Franklin by next summer as it builds a shared-services center that will handle back-office tasks for its finance group. Officials at Viacom, the parent of MTV as well as downtown-based Country Music Television, said they scoured several regions of the country for suitable sites but settled on Williamson County in large part because of its skilled workforce.

Viacom To Bring 100 Jobs To Williamson County (WTVF-TV Nashville)

Governor Bill Haslam announced Thursday that Viacom is bringing about 100 new jobs to Williamson County. Viacom is bringing a shared services center to support the company’s finance group in the Cool Springs area.

Governor visits Whirlpool (Cleveland Daily Banner)

GOV. BILL HASLAM today began a visit to Cleveland by dropping in on the new-plant construction of Whirlpool Cleveland Division on Benton Pike. From left, front, are Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, first lady Crissy Haslam, the governor, state Rep. Kevin Brooks, Beth Harwell, speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, state Rep. Eric Watson, back, state Sen. Mike Bell, and Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis.

Gov. Haslam visits Bradley Co. 6 months after tornados (WBIR-TV Knoxville)

Bradley County was one of the hardest hit areas when a tornado outbreak tore across parts of Tennessee back in April. Now, six months later, leaders are marking the road to recovery.

Governor Visits Dedicated Home (WTVC-TV Chattanooga)

The April 27th tornadoes changed everything. Like several hundred Bradley County families, Terry and Sandy Parker lost almost everything. But they quickly found out compassion and community can do almost anything.

Cleveland Family Dedicated New Home 6 Months After The Deadly Storms (WDEF)

Today, marks the 6 month anniversary since the deadly tornadoes of April 27th. Many lives were lost and homes damaged or destroyed. One Cleveland family celebrated a milestone as they dedicated their new home.

After the Storm: “Welcome Home Parker Family!” (WRCB-TV Chattanooga)

The Parker family’s Cleveland home was all but destroyed six months ago by a widespread tornado outbreak that changed their lives forever. Terry Parker, the family’s patriarch, remembered it as if it happened yesterday.

State budget hearings come to University of Memphis (WMC-TV Memphis)

Someone once said that if you like laws and sausages, you shouldn’t see either being made. And while you won’t be able to see laws being made next month when Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam comes to town, you will be able to see how the state decides on its budget.

Haslam plans budget hearings on UT campus (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Humphrey)

Gov. Bill Haslam will hold budget hearings on five state government departments at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville next month rather than at the state Capitol as has been tradition. Hearings on the Departments of Education, Tourist Development, Children’s Services and Veterans Affairs will be Nov. 22 at UT Knoxville by Haslam and state Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes, according to a news release.

Haslam appoints ETSU College of Public Health dean to Task Force (H-C)

Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health, is one of 16 people selected by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam to serve on his Health and Wellness Task Force, a group charged with developing an initiative to improve the state’s health status. The Health and Wellness Task Force was formed by Haslam with the intent of leveraging private and public resources to meet that goal.

Haslam awards $16.2 million in Highway Safety Grants (Crossville Chronicle)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner John Schroer today announced more than $16.2 million to support highway safety in Tennessee. The funds support the mission of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO) to save lives and reduce injuries on Tennessee roadways through leadership, innovation, coordination and program support in partnership with numerous public and private organizations.

State to foster job creation by business (Marshall County Tribune)

Opportunities, methods and challenges while working to achieve Gov. Bill Haslam’s goal – to make Tennessee the No. 1 place among southeastern states for high quality jobs – were discussed Wednesday afternoon at Columbia State Community College. The discussion was the luncheon program for another monthly meeting of the Workforce Employer Outreach Committee, an arm of the state Labor Department.

Haslam administration imposes curfew on Capitol (AP/Johnson, Schelzig)

Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is imposing a nighttime curfew on the Capitol complex in response to what it calls deteriorating safety conditions surrounding anti-Wall Street protests. The Department of General Services announced Thursday that the Capitol grounds, the War Memorial Courtyard and the Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville will be closed to those without specific permission each night between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Arrests made at Wall St. protest in Nashville (Associated Press/Johnson)

Authorities in Tennessee made about 30 arrests early Friday at the site where a few dozen Wall Street protesters have been encamped for about three weeks in Nashville, protesters said. Authorities began moving in a little after 3 a.m. using a newly enacted state policy that set a curfew for the grounds near the state Capitol, including Legislative Plaza where the protesters had been staying in tents.

THP arrests Occupy Nashville protesters (Tennessean/Brooks)

A large force of THP troopers moved on to Legislative Plaza just after 3 a.m. this morning and arrested all members of the Occupy Nashville who would not leave the Plaza when ordered to do so. Witnesses said the officers marched in mass unto the plaza, stood there for several minutes, then an officer with a bullhorn told them they were being served notice and that anyone that was still on the plaza in 10 minutes would be arrested.

Police kick Occupy protestors off Capitol Hill, arrest 20+ (WKRN-TV Nashville)

Police kicked Occupy Nashville protestors off Legislative plaza in the early Friday morning hours, arresting more than 20 of the demonstrators. State troopers arrived downtown just after 3 a.m. telling protestors they had 10 minutes to leave their posts.

20-30 Occupy protesters arrested near Capitol (WSMV-TV Nashville)

Police started making arrests at the Occupy Nashville Protest early Friday morning. Officers arrived around 3 a.m. in buses filled with about 50-100 law enforcement officers.

State announces overnight curfew on Legislative Plaza (City Paper/Hale)

In response to the Occupy Nashville movement, state officials announced a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Legislative Plaza and the surrounding state grounds. Additionally, a permit will be required for the protesters to remain during the day.

Change in rules worries Occupy Nashville protesters (TN/Brooks, Gee, Sisk)

The state of Tennessee is rewriting the rules in an effort to oust Occupy Nashville protesters from Legislative Plaza. Three weeks into the protest that has drawn scores of protesters — and even more homeless — to the plaza, state officials announced this week that they were imposing a curfew and a daily permit fee for any groups who want to gather in the space.

New Policy Sets Up Potential Confrontation for Occupy Nashville (WPLN-Radio)

The state has issued new guidelines for the use of Legislative Plaza nearly three weeks after protesters began camping out there as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Effective immediately, permits will be required for gatherings outside the state capitol. And no one will be allowed to stay overnight.

Nashville Occupiers Weigh Risk of Arrest (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

State officials say as of Friday protesters at Occupy Nashville must get a permit and obey a nightly curfew. Thursday night between one and two hundred people met to weigh their options, deciding for the time being to stand defiant, and risk arrest.

Occupy Nashville sparks memories for Freedom Riders (Tennessean/Haas)

Freedom Riders see parallels between civil rights protests and new movement Ernest “Rip” Patton joined the protesters in Legislative Plaza last week and suddenly the memories flooded back. “It just brought back that 1960, 1961 feeling again,” said Patton, 71.

Terminally ill teen denied coverage: TennCare’s response (WKRN-TV Nashville)

TennCare spoke with Nashville’s News 2 on Thursday as a response to the claims of denying a terminally ill 16-year-old from Smyrna. Ty Green is blind, disabled, and bed ridden.

Knox jobless rate unchanged in September (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

Knox County again had the lowest unemployment rate in September among Tennessee’s major metropolitan areas, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Knox County’s rate of 7.7 percent was unchanged from August and was lower than Hamilton County’s 8.6 percent, Davidson County’s 8.7 percent, and Shelby County’s 10.8 percent.

Memphis metro area jobless rate rose to 10.5 percent in September (CA/Evanoff)

Signs the Memphis economy remains sluggish surfaced again Thursday with a report of rising September layoffs. The jobless rate in metropolitan Memphis ticked up to 10.5 percent last month, wiping out a slight employment gain the month before.

Some health care providers facing 4.25% cuts (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Sher)

The federal government’s failure to pay back $82 million it owes TennCare is sending shudders through some segments of Tennessee’s health care industry that now face 4.25 percent cuts in their Medicaid reimbursements. Nursing homes warn that the reductions could lead to layoffs in at least some of the estimated 325 facilities in the state. Tennessee Health Care Association Executive Director Jesse Samples called the prospect of cuts a “real possibility.”

UT to name joint center at ORNL after Bredesen (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Boehnke)

UT to name joint center at ORNL after Bredesen A joint University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Lab research and education center championed by former Gov. Phil Bredesen may soon bear his name. University trustees are expected to vote today to rename the program the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education in honor the former governor’s push to strengthen the partnership between the UT and ORNL.

Interim leader gives TSU students a lesson about dressing (Tennessean/Young)

Tennessee State University Interim President Portia Shields is on a makeover mission. When she sees students walking around campus in saggy pants or revealing clothes, she makes it a point to pull them aside for a private conversation.

State troopers offer Halloween safety tips (Jackson Sun)

The Tennessee Highway Patrol would like to encourage everyone to take extra precautions this weekend to ensure a safe and happy Halloween. State troopers will conduct safety checkpoints, sobriety roadblocks, saturation patrols and using other enforcement techniques to look for aggressive or impaired drivers and ultimately save lives, according to a news release.

National ad campaign targets drivers who text (Associated Press)

Although texting while driving is illegal in Tennessee, the state attorney general says younger drivers are not getting the message, so states are working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council to remind teens of the risk of distracted driving. A public service advertising campaign is starting this week to reach out to young drivers.

Tennessee law protects lost military medals (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/South)

A local state senator and representatives from the Tennessee Treasury Department were in East Ridge on Thursday promoting a new state law intended to safeguard unclaimed military medals. The law requires bank officials to send unclaimed military medals from safety deposit boxes to the Treasury rather than auction them with the remaining contents, as was the past practice.

Voter outreach planned for voter ID law (Associated Press)

Election officials in all 95 Tennessee counties will be holding town hall meetings and open forums for voters to ask questions about a new state law requiring photo identification at the polls. The secretary of the state’s office has a list on its website of locations and times for each county for the outreach meetings scheduled for Tuesday (

Partisan Potshots Pouring Forth Over Photo ID Law (TN Report)

Rep. Mike Turner is rejecting Republican attacks that he waffled on opposing the state’s new photo ID law and instead says the GOP should put its money where its mouth is. If Republicans want to prove they don’t seek to disenfranchise voters, they need to spend as much as $8 million in taxpayer dollars to ensure that every voter can get to and from the DMV for a photo ID and better train people in the state’s driver’s license centers or repeal the law, Turner, of Old Hickory said.

Some College Students Feel Targeted by TN Voter ID (Associated Press)

Tennessee’s new voter identification law allows most state and federally issued IDs to be used to vote, including work IDs issued to the faculty and staff of state-run colleges. But the student IDs issued at those same schools are specifically prohibited.

Public input on redistricting process limited (Associated Press)

Tennesseans can suggest changes to the districts that make up the General Assembly and the state’s congressional seats, but public interest has been limited. The once-every-decade redistricting process is under way and Tennesseans can submit their own maps using census data and maps available on the General Assembly website.

City to seek TDOT grant for Amazon (Daily News Journal)

City Council members agreed Thursday to pursue a grant to build two signalized intersections to serve traffic at a proposed Amazon distribution center. City Manager Rob Lyons said the industrial access grant, for what he calls Project Tango, would be sought from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).

Gender bias alleged by Memphis officials (Associated Press)

Two Memphis City Council members claim that they are being disrespected because they are women. Wanda Halbert and Janis Fullilove, the only two women on the 13-member council, have each recently complained in writing to city officials about what they say is mistreatment because they are women, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported.

Rep. Diane Black’s bill to fix $13 billion Medicaid ‘glitch’ passes House (TN/Bewley)

The House on Thursday passed a bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin that would fix a $13 billion “loophole” in the 2009 health-care reform law. The loophole would allow several million middle-class people to receive Medicaid, government-sponsored health insurance intended for the poor.

Protesters gather as U.S. House Speaker Boehner visit raises $200,000 (TFP/Carroll)

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner helped U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann raise more than $200,000 Thursday evening, exceeding campaign expectations and eclipsing what Fleischmann collected between July and September. “I’m very, very thankful,” Fleischmann said after the event.

Medicare Premiums Rise Less Than Expected (Wall Street Journal)

Most Medicare beneficiaries will pay $99.90 a month in premiums in 2012, a smaller-than-expected increase of $3.50, federal officials said Thursday. About three-quarters of seniors and disabled people have been paying $96.40 a month for the Part B federal health-insurance program for the past three years.

Repeal Health Law? It Won’t Be Easy (Wall Street Journal)

Every Republican presidential candidate has promised to repeal the Obama administration’s health-care overhaul. But despite full-throated criticism, it’s going to be hard for any of them to fulfill that pledge if elected. Standing in the way of that seemingly simple campaign promise—an article of faith among GOP voters—is a welter of practical and political obstacles.

Hyatt plans 255-room hotel for SoBro (Nashville Post/Garrison)

A development group for Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corp. is preparing to build a 13-story, 255-room Nashville hotel south of downtown’s Demonbreun Street on property two blocks from Music City Center, has learned. The planned mid-level Hyatt Place hotel — slated to front Third Avenue on the current site home to Rock City Machine Co. and to be sandwiched between the Encore condominum tower and the restaurant Sole Mio — would be one block from the under-construction high-end Omni Hotel, designated to serve as the anchor hotel for Nashville’s new Music City Center.

Methodist to announce ‘partnership’ with The West Clinic (Memphis Biz Journal)

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is apparently on the cusp of its own significant entry into cancer care and will announce a partnership with The West Clinic Friday morning. Numerous sources have indicated that Methodist officials have been working for months to align the health care system with The West Clinic, one of the area’s major cancer treatment centers.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare to Announce West Clinic Partnership (MDN)

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare on Thursday, Oct. 27, confirmed an announcement is pending concerning a new partnership between Methodist and The West Clinic. A spokesperson for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare said it is not an acquisition.

Normal Park school zoning dispute on agenda (Times Free-Press/Hardy)

After filling up the school board meeting room, about 60 residents of the Hill City neighborhood left Thursday’s meeting deflated that board members didn’t bring their concerns to a vote. But the Hamilton County Board of Education said it will hear both sides of a years-long back-and-forth over zoning of Normal Park Museum Magnet School at a special meeting next week.

Parents, community leaders oppose school closings (News-Sentinel/McCoy)

Barbara Ellison hopes that school officials walk through the halls of Gap Creek Elementary School, and the other four schools being considered for closure, before they make any decisions. “With these small schools, with a smaller teacher-to-student ratio, our kids are not only getting a good education, they’re learning life skills,” said the mother of a first-grader at the school.

Public forum held to discuss proposed school closings in Knox County (WATE-TV)

The Knox County School System has proposed shutting down five schools to deal with next year’s seven million dollar shortfall. The schools include Maynard, South Knoxville, Gap Creek and Corryton Elementary Schools, and Vine Middle Magnet Schools.

Schools Planning Group Maps Path (Memphis Daily News)

The schools consolidation planning commission will probably hire a consultant sometime next month and the group should begin making the first decisions on what a consolidated school system looks like early next year. Four firms have responded to the group’s request for proposal according to Dr. Fred Johnson of the planning commission, who is heading the committee coordinating a recommendation.

Alabama: Critics See ‘Chilling Effect’ in Alabama Immigration Law (NY Times)

The champions of Alabama’s far-reaching immigration law have said that it is intended to drive illegal immigrants from the state by making every aspect of their life difficult. But they have taken a very different tone when it comes to the part of the law concerning schools.

California: California Proposes to Curtail Workers’ Benefits (Wall St. Journal)

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday unveiled what would be one of the nation’s widest-reaching pension overhauls, a proposal that would raise the retirement age and shift more investing responsibilities to public workers. The 12-point plan includes meshing a 401(k)-style component into newly hired workers’ retirement plans, raising the age at which some future employees retire to 67 from 55 now and boosting pension contributions for current workers.

California: Budget Cuts Erase a Daily Lifeline for the Elderly and Disabled (NYT)

The elderly people who gathered for a recent protest at City Hall in San Francisco waved placards and chanted in English and Chinese, “We won’t go to a nursing home!” Sitting in folding chairs or wheelchairs, surrounded by caregivers and relatives, the protesters cheered speakers who stood at the top of the City Hall steps and railed against the impending closing of adult day health care centers because of the California budget crisis.

Colorado: Proposition 103 to test voters’ willingness to raise taxes (Stateline)

When Colorado voters go to the polls November 1, the only statewide issue on the ballot will be Proposition 103, a measure that would increase sales and income taxes to provide money for public education. The controversial measure, which would generate $2.9 billion over the five years the tax increase would be in effect, is lauded by supporters as “standing up for better schools” and vilified by opponents as a “job killer.”

Texas: When Letting Students Slip Away Looks Like a Budget Blessing (NY Times)

Every time a student drops out of public school, taxpayers save money. That’s one fewer student, at a savings of more than $11,000 per year from state and local sources.


Pam Strickland: State task force short on experience (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

About a month ago, apropos of nothing, a member of my family who isn’t particularly political allowed as how Gov. Bill Haslam had left his common sense somewhere on the side of Interstate 40 between Knoxville and Nashville when he made the move earlier this year. I recalled that bit of wisdom on Monday, when I read the list of appointees the governor had named to his new Health and Wellness Task Force.

Editorial: Modest steps toward a cure for childhood obesity (Commercial Appeal)

The General Assembly is offered sensible ideas regarding a pressing state concern. How do you reverse a trend that could make American children die at a younger age than their parents?

Jim Henry: Let’s dispel myths of ‘intellectual disability’ (Commercial Appeal)

The problem is one of communication, not talent, to help us bridge the gap between people with disabilities and employment. The ability to shape your own destiny is what sets America apart.

Guest columnist: Young adults must be proactive to secure their future (TN)

More than any other time in recent history, young people today face an uncertain future. Countless blogs have highlighted the crisis faced by college students and recent graduates struggling under mountains of debt.


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