Press Releases

August 28 TN News Digest

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

General Motors to move Cadillac SRX production to Spring Hill, Tennessee (AP)
General Motors announced Wednesday that it is moving production of its next-generation Cadillac SRX crossover SUV from Mexico to its plant in Tennessee, leading United Auto Workers leaders to chide Tennessee Republicans for their opposition to the union increasing its influence in the state. The UAW has represented workers at the former Saturn plant since it opened on the outskirts of Nashville in 1990, but state Republicans including Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker have fought the union’s efforts to gain representation of workers at Volkswagen’s plant about 100 miles to the east in Chattanooga.

GM to build Cadillac SRX, add engine in Spring Hill (Tennessean/McGee)
General Motors is investing $185 million in small gas engine production in Spring Hill, along with moving assembly of the next-generation Cadillac SRX to the plant from Mexico. Arvin Jones, General Motors manufacturing manager, said Spring Hill was chosen for its production track record. “They know how to make good quality products,” Jones said at the announcement on Wednesday. “They have multiple products here that they do well with. The union management relationship is very good, very business-like. They have our confidence.”

New Cadillac to be built in Spring Hill (Columbia Daily Herald)
Two new products have been announced for General Motors Spring Hill. The next generation Cadillac SRX crossover and a new Ecotec small gasoline engine will be manufactured at the Spring Hill plant, officials announced Tuesday morning. Production on the Cadillac is being moved to Spring Hill from Mexico, which officials said is part of a larger push to bring more GM manufacturing back to the U.S. Production of the new engine will bring with it a $185 million investment in the plant and will retain 390 jobs. The all-new Ecotec engine family will be used by five GM brands in 27 models by the 2017 model year, powering many of the company’s high-volume small cars and compact-crossover vehicles.

Tennessee GM Plant Shifts Gears (WZTV-TV Nashville)
The General Motors plant will start cranking out Cadillacs and next generation engines, according to a company spokesperson at a press conference Wednesday. The engines are part of a $185 million GM investment, the company said. “On behalf of the state of Tennessee, we are very grateful for your investment, General Motors,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “To the men and women who work here we’re grateful that you’ve shown we can produce a product here that can compete with anyone in the world.” A factory in Mexico makes the Cadillac SRX but GM announced Spring Hill workers will soon make it right here in middle Tennessee The expansion is part of last year’s $350 million investment to build two new midsized cars at the plant.

GM to produce Cadillac SRX at Spring Hill plant (WSMV-TV Nashville)
General Motors announced Wednesday morning that the company will be producing the next-generation Cadillac SRX at the plant in Spring Hill. GM is also investing $185 million to make small gas engines at the plant and will be one of six manufacturing locations worldwide producing the new engine. “We want to congratulate GM on this important investment in its future in Spring Hill and Middle Tennessee,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in a news release. “Today’s announcement speaks volumes around the country and world about our state’s business-friendly climate and strengths in automotive manufacturing, bringing us another step closer to our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

Next-Generation Cadillac SRX Will Be Built At GM’s Spring Hill Plant (WTVF-TV)
General Motors has announced the next-generation Cadillac SRX will be built in its Spring Hill, Tennessee plant. A new small gas engine will also be built at the plant. Company officials said $180 million would be invested in the plant in relation to the small gas engine. They said the investment would retain 390 jobs in Spring Hill. The announcement was made at a press conference Wednesday morning. Details about when the vehicle would be produced were not available. It had been widely speculated that GM would introduce the Cadillac SRX as the new product. There were reports of a second vehicle, but only the one vehicle was announced.

Haslam Announces $185M Expansion of Spring Hill GM Complex (TN Report)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with General Motors officials announced today the company will invest $185 million to make small gas engines at its Spring Hill manufacturing complex. GM also identified the next-generation Cadillac SRX as a future mid-size vehicle to be produced at Spring Hill. “We want to congratulate GM on this important investment in its future in Spring Hill and Middle Tennessee,” Haslam said.

GM to put $185 million in Tennessee plant (Detroit Free-Press)
General Motors will move production of the next-generation Cadillac SRX crossover from Mexico to Spring Hill, Tenn., where it will invest $185 million to expand assembly and engine production. The investment gives new life to the site, first developed to build Saturn cars but idled in the aftermath of GM’s 2009 bankruptcy reorganization. The Cadillac SRX is made in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, where GM also produced the Chevrolet Captiva and Sonic. The three- and four-cylinder Ecotec engines, which Spring Hill workers also will produce, will be used in 27 models across five GM brands by the 2017 model year. GM also said it will invest $48 million to upgrade its Bedford, Ind., casting plant, which is making parts for the engines.

GM to build Cadillac SRX, new engine at Spring Hill plant (WATE-TV Knoxville)
General Motors announced Wednesday that the next-generation Cadillac SRX and a small gas engine line will be manufactured at its plant in Spring Hill. Official word came from GM Manufacturing Manager Arvin Jones who spoke at the event held in the Spring Hill Manufacturing Welcome Center. He was joined by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, U-S Senator Lamar Alexander and numerous other state, UAW and local leaders. GM previously announced a $350 million investment into the Spring Hill plant for two future mid-size vehicles, one of which will be the Cadillac SRX. Sources within the plant expect the other vehicle to be announced within the next six months. The small gas engine line announced is a $185 million investment.

GM to build Cadillac SUV in Spring Hill, but no new jobs (Memphis Biz Journal)
General Motors and state officials announced Wednesday morning that production of a new vehicle will “retain” 390 jobs at the auto giant’s Spring Hill plant. Spring Hill will soon make the next-generation Cadillac SRX crossover SUV, which is currently made in Mexico, officials announced today. The expansion is tied to GM’s announcement last year to invest $350 million to prepare for production of two future mid-sized vehicles. GM also announced today that it will invest $185 million to build new small gasoline engines at the plant. The new engine will be used by five GM brands in 27 models by the 2017 model year. GM’s Spring Hill plant currently makes the Chevrolet Equinox.

GM To Invest In Spring Hill, But That Might Not Mean New Jobs (WPLN-Radio)
General Motors is investing $185 million into Spring’s Hill’s auto plant, bringing production of a Cadillac crossover vehicle from Mexico to Tennessee. The plant currently makes the Chevy Equinox, with plans of adding one more vehicle in the near future. Still, the company says it won’t create any new jobs just yet. GM also announced on Wednesday that it will start making small engines used in a variety of the company’s vehicles at the Spring Hill plant. In all, the investment means nearly 400 jobs will be retained. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t be creating new jobs in Middle Tennessee. We will be,” said Spring Hill’s plant manager Ken Knight.

GM Expansion Expected To Bring More Congestion To Spring Hill (WTVF-TV)
With General Motor’s announcement to expand the assembly plant in Spring Hill, officials will now have to address the increase in traffic on city’s already-congested roads. Wednesday’s annoucement of a GM expansion in Spring Hill further solidified the city’s recovery from the Great Recession, adding hundreds of jobs within the community. Economists said each of those jobs will create another six support jobs. It’s great news if you own a business or build and sell homes, but Spring Hill has been struggling with infrastructure challenges, dealing mainly with roads. The main roadways are consistently clogged during the morning and afternoon rush hours and even sometimes on the weekends.

Haslam Announces 135 Job Expansion at Federal-Mogul in Rutherford Co (TNR)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with Federal-Mogul officials announced today the company will invest $6.2 million to expand its current distribution facility in Smyrna, Tennessee and create 135 new jobs in Rutherford County. “We are thankful for Federal-Mogul and their continued investment in our state and the new jobs they are creating in Middle Tennessee,” Haslam said. “When companies like Federal-Mogul choose to reinvest here, it speaks volumes about our workforce and the quality of Tennessee-made products, and today’s announcement is another step toward our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

Smyrna auto equipment company to grow (Daily News Journal)
The Rutherford County Industrial Development Board granted a $135,000 tax break Wednesday to a Smyrna-based automotive supplier in exchange for 150 jobs. Federal-Mogul wants to invest $6.2 million to expand its existing Worldwide Aftermarket Distribution Center in Smyrna because of the recent purchase of part of Affinia’s product line. “We have a dedicated and hard-working team here that takes pride in distributing high quality products for our customers. We are excited to grow our Smyrna operations and create more job opportunities,” said Paula Silver, Federal-Mogul’s vice president of corporate communications and Investor rlations, in a release.

Positive Growth: Federal-Mogul will invest $6.2 million in Smyrna (WGNS-Radio)
Federal-Mogul officials announced today the company will invest $6.2 million to expand its current distribution facility in Smyrna, Tennessee and create 135 new jobs in Rutherford County. “We are thankful for Federal-Mogul and their continued investment in our state and the new jobs they are creating in Middle Tennessee,” Governor Bill Haslam said. “When companies like Federal-Mogul choose to reinvest here, it speaks volumes about our workforce and the quality of Tennessee-made products, and today’s announcement is another step toward our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

Groundbreaking set for Beretta’s Tennessee plant (Associated Press)
Company and state officials are celebrating the groundbreaking at Italian gun-maker Beretta USA’s new plant in Tennessee on Thursday. Berretta announced in January that it would build a new manufacturing and research facility in the Nashville suburb of Gallatin. The company later announced in July that concerns over a strict gun-control law enacted in Maryland last year have made it necessary to move all its weapons making from there to Tennessee. Several states began wooing Beretta from Maryland after the gun-control measures were enacted there last year. Beretta has operated in Italy since 1526. The family-owned company makes a variety of firearms, ranging from hunting shotguns to the U.S. Armed Forces M-9 pistol.

Staff fired after 2 teen suicides in DCS custody (Tennessean/Wadhwani)
An independent review of two teen suicides within three weeks inside one Department of Children’s Services facility for delinquent youth has detailed widespread problems at the facility, including delays in giving kids medication, a failure to conduct regular required checks on children, poor staff training and severe staff shortages. Two security officers at the Mountain View Youth Development Center were fired Tuesday and the facility’s security manager, Steve Harrison, resigned the same day in response to the findings submitted by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.

Report critical of youth detention center where two hanged themselves (N-S/Lakin)
Two teenage inmates who hanged themselves within three weeks of each other at a youth detention center in Dandridge had shown warning signs that should have been better heeded by overworked guards, a report released Wednesday found. Brandon Greene, 16, of Mountain City, Tenn., hanged himself July 13. Frank Cass, 18, of White County, Tenn., hanged himself Aug. 1. Both had been sent to Mountain View Youth Development Center, which is run by the state Department of Children’s Services, as juvenile offenders. The suicides were the first at the center in 20 years.

Kingsport woman suspected of TennCare fraud, police seize pills (Times-News)
A search of a Kingsport home has led to approximately $2,000 worth of prescription drugs being seized, along with the arrest of a woman suspected of using state benefits to obtain the pills for resale. According to a Kingsport Police Department press release, vice detectives and patrol officers executed the search warrant at approximately 11 p.m. Tuesday. Inside 1310 Willow St. they reportedly located approximately 50 Subutex pills. Officers allegedly uncovered evidence that the resident, Jennifer N. Christian, 31, had been selling the pills after obtaining them through TennCare. A quantity of marijuana and assorted drug paraphernalia were also located, according to police, while $170 believed to be profits from illegal narcotic sales was seized.

Two Tenn. lawmakers ask for hearing on new AP U.S. history course (CA/Locker)
The chairmen of two state legislative committees joined a chorus of conservatives nationally questioning whether a new advanced placement U.S. history course offered to high school students across the country for college credit “emphasizes negative aspects while omitting or minimizing the positive” aspects of American history, their news release states. AP course frameworks are developed by the private College Board — which also administers college entrance exams — and offered across the United States by participating high schools. The courses cover college-level content and students who pass the end-of-course tests receive both high school and college credit and don’t have to take the same courses in college.

Memphis’ Senate District 30 Tangle (Memphis Flyer)
As many have noted, there is virtually never a time when an election isn’t happening or getting ready to happen in Shelby County. There are, however, brief spells of relative inaction in the aftermath of elections, and it might have been expected that, following the election cycle ending August 7th, the rest of the month might have constituted one of those spells. But no, political candidates in the county’s three major suburbs — Bartlett, Collierville, and Germantown — busied themselves trying to meet last Thursday’s filing deadline for municipal elections in November; other candidates, like Knoxville lawyer Gordon Ball, the recently nominated Democratic opponent for Republican GOP incumbent Senator Lamar Alexander, spent the time putting together campaign organizations for the fall; and Tennesseans at large, in Shelby County as elsewhere, girded for November 4th showdowns on four proposed constitutional amendments.

Gilmore elected to 2 national leadership posts (Associated Press)
State Rep. Brenda Gilmore has been elected to two national leadership positions. The Nashville Democrat will serve as president-elect of the Women’s Legislative Network and a national board member of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. The network focuses on issues unique to women, as well as provides training to help women legislators better communicate with their constituents. As for the caucus, Gilmore has been an environmental leader in Tennessee, having consistently been ranked as one of the top environmentally friendly legislators by Tennessee Conservation Voters.

Wine in grocery stores petition fails in Springfield (Tennessean/Reeves)
Springfield voters will not see the wine in grocery stores question on the November ballot. Petitioners trying to gain support for the measure in Springfield, Cross Plains and Greenbrier did not gather enough valid signatures for the question to appear on the ballot, according to Robertson County Elections administrator Cathy Hamsley. The filing deadline was Aug. 21. Petitions had to include signatures from 10 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the November 2010 General Election. Hamsley said only 267 of 340 valid signatures were collected in Springfield. Greenbrier needed 105 signatures, but collected 11, and Cross Plains needed 40 and collected 23.

George Barrett funeral set for Saturday (Tennessean/Cass)
The funeral Mass for legendary civil rights attorney George Barrett is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Cathedral of the Incarnation, family spokeswoman Beth Courtney said today. Barrett died Tuesday evening of acute pancreatitis. He was 86. Tributes to the man known as “The Citizen” or “Citizen Barrett,” a dynamic, hard-charging member of Nashville’s legal community since 1957, continued to roll in today. U.S. Rep. John Lewis was a Nashville college student protesting the segregation of downtown lunch counters when he met Barrett, a white man helping a group of mostly black young people who were 12 to 15 years younger.

Tenn. tea party supporters take heart from vote (Associated Press/Schelzig)
For U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the elder statesman of Tennessee politics, a primary challenge by a little-known tea party opponent was supposed to be little more than a glorified victory lap around the state. Instead, the former governor and two-time presidential candidate had to crank up the campaign machinery in the closing weeks of the Republican primary to fend off state Rep. Joe Carr. And while Alexander ultimately won, it was by just 9 percentage points – a far smaller margin than his campaign and most political observers had expected. The result is giving hope to tea party supporters they could be poised to break the moderate wing of the state Republican Party’s decades-long grip on statewide races.

Cohen: Ferguson Police Could Have ‘Shot to Wound’ (Memphis Daily News)
U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen said police in Ferguson, Mo., could have shot to wound instead of shot to kill Michael Brown in the fatal incident there this month that has prompted national and international reaction to a number of race-related issues beyond the shooting. Cohen commented Tuesday, Aug. 26, during an interview on the CNN program “New Day,” mentioning his past role as legal adviser to the Memphis Police Department. “There are too many killings and this was a situation where a man was unarmed. He could have been Tasered. He could have been shot in the leg,” Cohen said.

State Budgeting With an Eye on Results (Stateline)
“Performance-based budgeting,” buzzwords for states making spending decisions based on specific benchmarks, gained traction in the 1990s, then fell out of favor during the budget-cutting era of the Great Recession. Now the strategy is making a comeback — with mixed results so far. The idea is to use specific measures of past performance to assess whether a particular budget item, such as a child nutrition program or a new road, is worth the expense. Traditionally, spending decisions are dictated by population growth or predictions of what construction projects will be necessary in a coming budget year.

Medicare: Not Such a Budget-Buster Anymore (New York Times)
You’re looking at the biggest story involving the federal budget and a crucial one for the future of the American economy. Every year for the last six years in a row, the Congressional Budget Office has reduced its estimate for how much the federal government will need to spend on Medicare in coming years. The latest reduction came in a report from the budget office on Wednesday morning. The changes are big. The difference between the current estimate for Medicare’s 2019 budget and the estimate for the 2019 budget four years ago is about $95 billion. That sum is greater than the government is expected to spend that year on unemployment insurance, welfare and Amtrak — combined. It’s equal to about one-fifth of the expected Pentagon budget in 2019.

Chattanooga-based Tranco Logistics doubles staff to supply VW (TFP/Pare)
A Chattanooga-based transportation, warehousing and logistics business has won Volkswagen contracts to move and sequence parts for the automaker, nearly doubling the local company’s workforce. Tranco Logistics, which has hired 57 more employees for the VW work, also is aiming to land some of the business generated by the new sport utility vehicle the German car maker is ramping up to assemble in Chattanooga. “We think we will,” said Bruce Trantham, who owns Tranco with twin brother Bryon. Last month, the company was hired by VW to pick up and transport parts from various suppliers in the South to Chattanooga, securing the business from an out-of-town venture.

Unexpected growth costs Murfreesboro schools $1.5 million (Daily News Journal)
Murfreesboro City Schools has hired 22 new teachers to accommodate more than 400 unexpected students, a district official said. Enrollment has increased by more than 5 percent so far this year, said Gary Anderson, the school system’s finance and administrative services director. As of Tuesday, the district’s enrollment stood at 7,927, an increase of 433 students from the end of the past school year. At Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, Anderson said he studied enrollment numbers for the past 25 years and noticed a spike in enrollment each year a new school opened.

Editorial: Mentors needed for Tennessee Promise (Daily News Journal)
Although Tennessee Promise is offering two years of post-secondary education free for state high school graduates, the program is offering more, including mentors to help students make the transition from high school to post-secondary education. Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland recently urged participation in the mentoring program at the Murfreesboro Young Professionals’ Leadership Luncheon, and we want to commend him on that action and join him in encouraging participation. Among those whom Tennessee Promise is targeting are those who may be the first in their families to receive post-secondary education, and these students may not have wide sources of information on the requirements and demands of such studies.

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