Press Releases

January 4 TN News Digest

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

Anchor Bolt Manufacturer Moving to McKenzie Industrial Park (TN Report)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty today joined with Henry County officials in announcing the decision by Tower Support Services, LLC to locate a manufacturing facility in McKenzie, Tenn. The newly-formed company invested approximately $650,000 in a leased facility and expects to create 15 jobs over a three-year period.

Anchor bolt company expects to create 15 new jobs over three years (J. Sun)

Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty today joined with Henry County officials in announcing the decision by Tower Support Services LLC to locate a manufacturing facility in McKenzie, according to a news release. The newly formed company invested about $650,000 in a leased facility and expects to create 15 jobs over a three-year period, the release said.

Teacher evaluation system to be evaluated (Murfreesboro Post)

Gov. Bill Haslam has commissioned an outside review of Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system, following a recommendation by the House Education Committee. The committee found that principals and teachers across the state are overwhelmed by the amount of time needed to prepare for a single observation.

State teacher evaluations to face tough exams (State Gazette)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Dec. 21 that there will be both an external and internal review of the new teacher evaluation system. He has charged the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) with conducting an independent, third-party evaluation and is asking the state Department of Education to formalize a review process, which the department has already begun.

Tennessee education board losing staff to higher-paying jobs (Tenn/Hubbard)

Gary Nixon says he’s tired of watching the state Board of Education’s employees leave for better-paying jobs and having no ability to negotiate to keep them. Nixon, the board’s executive director, said his staff hasn’t had a salary adjustment since at least 2004, and now their pay isn’t competitive.

Packed house questions proposal to close Taft youth center (TFP/Sohn)

About 250 people packed a Bledsoe County courtroom Tuesday night to protest the proposed closing of Taft Youth Development Center — the main destination for many of Hamilton County and Southeast Tennessee’s youthful offenders. “I’m so heartsick about this. I consider this one of the finest facilities Tennessee has for delinquent children.

Powerball ticket price to rise by a buck (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Garrett)

In 11 days, Powerball tickets in Tennessee and Georgia will double in cost to $2 per play. But lottery retailers don’t expect the price hike to squash sales because officials say the new game will offer better odds and bigger jackpots.

GOP to unveil redistricting plan for Tenn. House (Associated Press)

House Republicans are unveiling their plan for how to redraw districts in the 99-member lower chamber of the Tennessee General Assembly. The changes follow the 2010 Census and will reflect shifting population and political trends over the last decade.

Tennessee GOP eyes 9 seats in House (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Sher)

State House Democrats could lose as many as nine seats under a Republican-drawn legislative redistricting plan to be presented publicly for the first time this morning, Democrats said. The GOP plan will put Democrats currently representing eight districts into four districts, forcing them to run against each other, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, of Nashville, told caucus members.

GOP putting mark on Tennessee redistricting (Commercial Appeal/Locker)

New district maps for state legislative and possibly congressional districts will be given their first public viewing today after months of closed-door preparation by Republicans in control of Tennessee redistricting for the first time. Maps for state House districts will be unveiled when two state House committees meet to begin the legislative approval in time for this year’s elections.

Turner: GOP Redistricting Plan Cuts Black Reps. (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

Tennessee Democratic legislators could lose between four and nine seats in the state House of Representatives under a redistricting plan to be unveiled Tuesday. The legislature must re-draw voting districts after each census to be sure districts are roughly the same size.

Shelby County Commissioners file suit in redistricting case (C. Appeal/Connolly)

Three Shelby County commissioners filed a lawsuit Tuesday that asks Chancery Court to get involved in a contentious debate over redistricting. The issue has deadlocked the commission for weeks.

County Redistricting Goes to Court (Memphis Daily News)

Three Shelby County commissioners – one Democrat and two Republicans – filed suit against the full commission Tuesday, Jan. 3, over the body’s stalled deliberations on a redistricting plan. Commissioners Walter Bailey, Mike Ritz and Terry Roland are seeking a Chancery Court injunction that would bar any future elections of county commissioners using the existing district lines because those lines no longer meet federal “one person-one vote” standards for proportional representation.

Lawmakers debate plan giving school buildings to Memphis suburbs (CA/Roberts)

Suburban lawmakers plan to introduce bills this session that would force the unified school board to turn over extra buildings to municipalities pushing to run their own school systems. “They are trying to get to the point where suburban districts wouldn’t have to pay or at the very least, would pay a discounted value for the facilities,” said Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, based on legislative research he has seen.

Meth lab cleanups cause a quandary, but Tenn. may offer solution (TN/Gonzalez)

Who pays? State’s solution is watched Tennessee’s meth lab cleanup program was in disarray last July when La Vergne police learned of a home-based drug cooking operation tucked into a neighborhood cul-de-sac. No one was picking up the phone for the Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force, and as far as city officials knew, federal funding for cleanups had been yanked.

New voter ID law takes effect in 2012 (Memphis Business Journal)

One of Tennessee’s new laws taking effect in 2012 will require all voters to possess photo identification at the polls.  My Fox Memphis reports the law has been the subject of some controversy, as it could further dampen already poor voter turnout performance.

Sixth Circuit to Hear Kurita Appeal Against TNDP (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

A former state senator will appeal her case against the Tennessee Democratic Party to a three-judge panel later this month. In 2007 Clarksville Democrat Rosalind Kurita cast a deciding vote to hand control of the state senate to Republicans.

Wharton proposes to shrink Memphis city government (Memphis Biz Journal)

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton will propose a reduction in the size of Memphis city government in 2012 as he plans to merge three city departments with overlapping duties. WMC-TV reports Wharton wants to merge the Public Services, Parks and the Community Enhancement divisions into one broader Parks Division.

Judge Hollingsworth to again hear Littlefield recall case (TFP/Hightower)

The judge who ruled in favor of Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield in his battle to stave off a recall vote will hear the case again. On Tuesday, the recall case against Littlefield was transferred to Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth.

Officials’ forecast: Winter will chase off Occupy Nashville (AP/Johnson)

Protest has tripled since law officers’ emails predicted its wintry demise Some law enforcement officials expected bad weather would eventually disperse Occupy Nashville protesters encamped on the plaza across the street from the state Capitol, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press. The Safety Department emails were released after a public records request.

Joe Graham, Chuck Fleischmann examine railroad bridges (TFP/Haman)

Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham stood near a railroad bridge at the beginning of Cummings Highway on Tuesday, asking state and federal representatives for help with what he says have been two long-standing traffic bottlenecks.He asked U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.; state Sen. Bo Watson and state Rep. Richard Floyd, both R-Chattanooga, to meet him for a drive down Cummings Highway to see the bridges.

USDA to assist farmers (Jackson Sun)

Disaster aid offered in 43 Tenn. counties The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 14 counties in Tennessee as primary natural disaster areas due to losses caused by drought and excessive heat that occurred from May 1 through Oct. 31, according to a news release. Those counties are: Haywood, Fayette, Blount, Fentress, McMinn, Monroe, Scott, Cumberland, Macon, Morgan, Wilson, Loudon, Meigs and Roane.

Tenn. National Guard unit coming home Wednesday (Associated Press)

More Tennessee National Guard members are coming home. About 300 soldiers of the 230th Sustainment Brigade were processed at Camp Shelby in Mississippi on Tuesday and are expected to arrive at four Tennessee armories on Wednesday.

Guardsmen heading home from Kuwait (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

About 300 soldiers, some from Knoxville, expect to arrive home Wednesday after serving during the last days of the U.S. drawdown in Iraq. The members of the Tennessee National Guard’s 230th Sustainment Brigade, based in Chattanooga, spent 10 months in Kuwait before heading out at the end of December.

Tennessee Guardsmen Return After Final Convoys Out of Iraq (WPLN-Radio Nash.)

Roughly 300 Tennessee Guard soldiers return home Wednesday after helping move the final pieces of military equipment out of Iraq. The unit logged more than 12 million miles on the highway during the 10-month deployment.

E-Verify Use On The Rise, But Some Businesses Frustrated (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

The number of Tennessee businesses using E-Verify is way up. It’s a federal online database that checks if someone is in the US legally.

Tune Shows Signs of Life for General Aviation (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

Smaller airports are showing the first glimmers of a rebound in Middle Tennessee. They’re watching a rise in their key indicator – fuel sales.

Trane finalizes Memphis distribution lease (Memphis Business Journal)

Trane Inc. has finalized a lease for a large warehouse and distribution center in Southeast Memphis. The residential and commercial HVAC company inked a 625,000-square-foot lease at Chickasaw Distribution Center Building E.

City Council members question Electrolux commitment to minorities (CA/Maki)

Several Memphis City Council members expressed buyer’s remorse Tuesday about the terms of an incentive package the council approved unanimously last year to lure a large Electrolux manufacturing facility here. The contract exempted Electrolux from diversity requirements that have been a condition for other companies receiving local tax breaks.

Dayton businesses optimistic despite 2 closures (Times Free-Press/McMillian)

Christmas sales were steady for some downtown Dayton retailers, though two neighboring businesses along Market Street bid farewell as the year ended. Bill Harrison, owner of Mudpies and Flutterbuys, an outlet store, said there were multiple reasons behind his decision to close, but one factor was that he couldn’t “get merchandise from the warehouse” he had used for purchasing his core products.

Principals’ teacher ratings vary widely by district (Tennessean/Hubbard)

In Murfreesboro City Schools, principals rated nearly half the teachers a five — the best score possible on the state’s new evaluation. But in Fayette County Schools in far West Tennessee, only 1 percent garnered that rating.

Kentucky: Kentucky Trots Toward a Vote on Casinos (Wall Street Journal)

Kentucky political leaders could propose legislation as soon as this week to pave the way for legalizing casino gambling, making it the latest state to consider lifting a longtime ban on slot machines and roulette tables. Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat who easily won re-election in November, said expanded gambling is a top priority for his second term.

Montana: Montana Tests Supreme Court Political-Spending Ruling (WSJ)

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2010 striking down federal limits on corporate and union political spending doesn’t apply to similar state laws, the Montana Supreme Court has found, renewing a legal debate over how sweeping the high court intended its ruling to be. In a decision released late Friday, the Montana court held that the state’s Corrupt Practices Act, a century-old voter initiative banning corporate spending to support or oppose political candidates or parties, complies with the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.


Editorial: Higher education building plan necessary (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

The Tennessee Legislature might have a full plate with the issue of higher education alone when it convenes later this month. Among the priority items will be spending on capital projects, an ambitious plan that is certain to challenge those making the budget for the next fiscal year.

Editorial: MTSU faces challenge on funding science bldg (Daily News Journal)

In a perfect world, the state Legislature would appropriate the $126 million MTSU needs to build a science building to replace antiquated and decaying facilities — no questions asked. But the world is far from perfect in this economy, and sometimes we wonder if the university draws the short straw compared to the University of Tennessee.

Editorial: Willingness to accept education innovation is key to change (J. Sun)

A Jackson-Madison County school system parent, teacher and community workshop held Monday offered an inspiring view of what public education could be. It is hard to argue with some of the relationship, behavior and character-building techniques used at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, and presented to attendees.

Editorial: Throwing in the towel (Commercial Appeal)

The lawsuit filed by three Shelby County Commission members Tuesday charts a disappointing but perhaps inevitable path toward resolution of a dispute over the commission’s district boundaries. The lawsuit by Commissioners Walter Bailey, Mike Ritz and Terry Roland likely puts the issue in the hands of a judge.

Guest columnist: College degrees fuel prosperity (Tennessean)

TN must find way to graduate more students for less As Nashville dives into a new year of economic uncertainty, a new vision is needed that can propel the region to greater prosperity and a better quality of life. The solution hinges on graduating significantly more area residents from college, and it’s not an overstatement to say that Tennessee’s economic future depends on doing just that.

Frank Munger: Oak Ridge plants manage for tough times (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

The past decade has been pretty doggone prosperous for Oak Ridge’s government operations, so a downturn of sorts was inevitable. So far, most of the key programs are surviving a tightening federal budget, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been impacts. There have, and there will be more. Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason said there was probably a net loss of about 200 jobs at ORNL during calendar year 2011.

Editorial: Slicing the Electrolux pie (Commercial Appeal)

Concerns about local companies getting a fair share of the construction work are valid, but it’s also crucial to get the plant built. A nagging economic development issue for Memphis and Shelby County is playing out in the construction of the Electrolux manufacturing plant.

Editorial: Raising Standards for Head Start (New York Times)

The Head Start program, which prepares disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-olds for school, has served nearly 30 million children since it was created in 1965. While there is little doubt that the federal program is critically important for these children and their parents, quality varies widely among programs.

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