Press Releases

August 18 TN News Digest

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

TN governor to travel state to promote Tennessee Promise (WSMV-TV Nashville)
Gov. Bill Haslam will spend the majority of his week promoting his free community college plan. The plan, called Tennessee Promise, was signed into law earlier this year. It makes every high school graduate in the state eligible for two free years of community college or technical school. The current group of high school seniors is the first class eligible to take advantage of the deal. Haslam will visit several different schools across the state over the next few days to talk about the program.

Bus tour to mark Imagination Library anniversary (Associated Press)
The Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Tennessee with a statewide bus tour. The Imagination Library has mailed over 20 million free books to Tennessee children since it began. The Books from Birth Foundation helps support the program by matching the funds raised by local groups. The 50-county bus tour will include recognizing the work of volunteers and donors, signing children up for free books and building community support for the program. The Books from Birth Foundation will provide reading-themed giveaways for children at each stop.

Big part of Memphis’ future wrapped up in test scores (CA/Roberts)
The state Department of Education is kicking out a cache of test score data Tuesday that could say more about the future of Memphis than anything the City Council will do this year. Not only will individual school scores be available, but the state will also release the new priority list — schools that are in the bottom 5 percent and eligible for takeover by the Achievement School District. Both sets of data are central to assessing the experiments happening here since Tennessee won $500 million in Race to the Top funds in 2010. The test scores are embargoed until Tuesday, but school leaders have known the results since late June.

I-65 near tanker crash site reopened; driver who died is identified (Tenn/Williams)
The driver killed in the crash of a gasoline tanker truck on Interstate 65 at Peytonsville Road early Friday was Bobby Bobo, 67, of Columbia, the Franklin Police Department said Sunday. An explosion and fire resulting from the accident led to the shutdown of I-65 at Peytonsville Road all day Saturday and until early Sunday afternoon as state work crews and contractors removed the damaged Peytonsville Road/Goose Creek bridge over the interstate and repaired a stretch of burned pavement. There is now no bridge open to traffic over I-65 at Peytonsville Road, and a new bridge won’t be in place for at least 75 days, the state Transportation Department said.

Sex Week fallout may affect UTC programs (Times Free-Press/Omarzu)
Student organizations at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga may see their funding reduced by $43,000 this year, thanks to fallout over “Sex Week” at the university’s main campus in Knoxville. Conservative state lawmakers, outraged earlier this year that the weeklong event in Knoxville featured such events as a drag show, a poetry reading by a lesbian bondage expert and a talk titled “getting laid,” weighed such options as prohibiting speakers on University of Tennessee campuses. Legislators finally decided in March to let students pick between two options: Option one allocates a portion of a $120-per-semester fee to programming by student organizations.

MTSU to limit hours for part-time workers (Daily News Journal)
When classes resume at Middle Tennessee State University next week, part-time employees will not be eligible to pick up extra on-campus job assignments, according to an email from President Sidney McPhee. In an email addressed to the university community Friday afternoon, McPhee said part-time workers, which have traditionally included adjunct faculty, graduate assistants and resident assistants, have been able to “earn additional money by picking up extra assignments — such as an RA working as a hourly student worker.” University part-time employees, those working less than 30 hours per week, do not receive health care benefits.

Wise County lawyer suspended from practicing in Tennessee (Times-News)
A Wise County lawyer has been suspended from practicing law for one year in Tennessee after he did not adequately communicate and improperly advised a client. David Garrett Mullins Jr., was handed the suspension on August 12 by the Tennessee Supreme Court, according to a press release by the board of professional responsibility of the Tennessee Supreme Court. A petition for discipline was filed against Mullins on October 25, 2013. The petition was based upon a complaint made against Mullins that alleged he accepted a fee for representation then failed to adequately communicate with his client.

In District 30, a week of jockeying and learning about process (C. Appeal/Veazey)
It’s logical that Beverly Marrero, who represented state Senate District 30 for nearly six years, would want to return to the seat once it comes open in a special election this November. So it’s no surprise what she said Friday: “I intend to be a candidate.” “I’m trying to call people and at least let them know my name and let them know that I’m interested,” she said. She was also calling people last week to find out just how the nomination will happen. It was a popular parlor game among local Democrats last week, all the way to the top. “We were hearing so many different ways on how this replacement was going to take place,” said Bryan Carson, the local party chairman.

Chattanooga’s quest to dump old records stirs debate (TFP/Lukachick)
A $2.6 million taxpayer-funded project is under way to digitize hundreds of thousands of city records — a project that Mayor Andy Berke’s staff says will increase government transparency and efficiency. Yet since the City Council authorized the funds in February, the city attorney’s office has been simultaneously studying what records the city must legally retain and how many they can shred — potentially destroying decades of old documents. Those documents could include old discrimination complaints, incident reports and utility billing records — the latter of which have been employed recently during months of scrutiny into the city’s streetlight billing program.

Would Bob Corker stand a chance in presidential run? (WREG-TV Memphis)
One of Tennessee’s U.S. senators is making news this week. Bob Corker admits he’s entertaining the notion of a run for president. Does he have a chance?

Berke backs Lenda Sherrell in 4th District (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)
Chattanooga Mayor and former Democratic state senator Andy Berke today will endorse Lenda Sherrell for the 4th Congressional District seat. Berke and Sherrell will appear at the after-school program Educating Youth Ensures Success (EYES) in South Pittsburg, Tenn. The program is set for 4 p.m. CDT at the Moore Park Enrichment Center on the corner of First Street and North Magnolia Avenue. Sherrell will discuss with EYES program founders Lorraine and Monroe Powers, both 86, why they started the nonprofit program in 1999 and how the tutoring program assists elementary-age children needing help with homework in English, math and history.

Documents shed light on 2012 radioactivity scare at Y-12 (News-Sentinel/Munger)
All things considered, 2012 may have been the worst year ever at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. A July break-in by an 82-year-old nun and her protest partners made a mockery of the plant’s vaunted security. As if that weren’t enough, a design mess-up on the Uranium Processing Facility cost the government half a billion dollars and raised questions about the competency to carry out the biggest project in Tennessee history. There were other problems, too, and the National Nuclear Security Administration hammered B&W Y-12 in its year-end performance report, awarding the plant’s managing contractor only 58 percent of the available fee.

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