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Press Releases

Comptroller Investigation Uncovers Multiple Issues in Greene County Utility Districts

Press release from the Tennessee Office of the Comproller; August 18, 2014:

A special investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury has identified a number of problems with the Chuckey Utility District and the Cross Anchor Utility District in Greene County. Until recently these two districts shared a common staff, including upper management.

Investigators made several findings associated with retired general manager Shirley Collins, and former general manager Kandie Jennings. Collins served as general manager for both districts until 2012, at which time the two districts appointed her daughter, Kandie Jennings, general manager.

Comptroller investigators found that Shirley Collins received $25,056 in bonuses that had not been approved by the boards of commissioners. In December 2012, Kandie Jennings directed performance bonuses and longevity bonuses be paid to her mother. Individual board members told investigators they did not approve and were not aware of the bonuses.

Investigators also discovered that former general manager Kandie Jennings spent $2,064 of district funds to purchase an Apple MacBook Pro and accessories for her personal benefit.

There are additional concerns surrounding a $182,334 consulting contract between the Chuckey Utility District and retired general manager Shirley Collins. Investigators found inconsistencies with the authorization, interpretation, and initiation date of the contract.

Comptroller investigators have included a number of recommendations in their final report. These include establishing policies for district expenses and credit card usage. There should also be more oversight of district fuel cards and utility district vehicles.

“Utility Districts are entrusted with large amounts of money,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “Ratepayers must have confidence that these funds are not being misspent. We are committed to making all forms of government work better.”

To view the investigation online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/ia/.

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Press Releases

Haslam Awards Greene Co $1.3M in TDOT, TDEC Grants

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; July 25, 2014:

GREENEVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced more than $1.3 million in grants to make downtown Greeneville and Walters State more pedestrian friendly, to improve energy efficiency in Greeneville’s Municipal Solid Waste Division with the purchase of a hybrid-automated garbage truck, and to convert the EastView pool into a splash pad.

“These types of projects strengthen our communities,” Haslam said. “Increasing energy efficiencies saves taxpayer dollars. Making our cities and towns more pedestrian friendly and improving our recreation areas improves the lives of Tennesseans. We want Tennessee to continue to be the very best place to live, work and raise a family, and projects like these are key to making that a reality.”

A $1 million transportation alternative grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will fund phase I of the Walters State Community College Pedestrian Facilities Project located in downtown Greeneville near the intersection of N. Main Street and Tusculum Boulevard. Walkways will connect the Monumental entrance, Main Street entrance, the campus amphitheater, the Greeneville Historical Walkway, and sidewalks outside the campus.

The transportation alternative grant is made possible through a federally funded program formerly known as transportation enhancement and is administered by TDOT. A variety of activities, such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects are eligible for grant funds under the federal program.

“Through these grants, TDOT has funded more than $306 million in non-traditional transportation projects,” TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said. “This program has assisted communities all over the state in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, highlight historic areas, provide alternative means of transportation, and increase opportunities for economic development.”

A $197,000 Clean Energy Grant from Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) will be used to purchase an Autocar E3 Hybrid-automated garbage truck for Greeneville’s Municipal Solid Waste Division, replacing the conventional transmission to utilize hydraulic pressure to propel the truck and potentially saving Greeneville 2,908 gallons of fuel or $8,957 annually.

A $125,000 Local Park and Recreation Fund grant from TDEC to the town of Greeneville will go toward replacing the EastView pool with a new, state-of-the-art splash pad with numerous water features.

“From land acquisitions for new municipal parks to renovating and improving existing facilities, these grants help expand recreational opportunities for Tennessee citizens,” TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “We are always looking for ways to promote environmental awareness and energy efficiency, and these investments in our local communities help improve the quality of life for all Tennesseans.”

Clean Tennessee Energy Grants were established by the Haslam administration in 2012 to fund energy efficiency projects for local governments and municipalities, utilities, and other private and public organizations across Tennessee. These grants support projects designed to reduce air emissions, improve energy efficiency and create cost savings.

The Local Park and Recreation Fund is a 23-year-old state program that provides local governments with resources to support development and improvements to local parks, greenways, trails and recreational facilities. Grant recipients were selected through competitive scoring with careful consideration given to the projects that met the selection criteria and expressed the greatest local recreation need. All LPRF grants require a 50 percent match by the recipient.

Sen. Steve Southerland (R-Morristown), Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), and Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville) represent Greene County in the Tennessee General Assembly.

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NewsTracker

Haslam Releases Storm Journal Video

Days before the Mississippi River is expected to crest in Memphis, Gov. Bill Haslam’s office is releasing a “video journal” of him on the ground tromping through the rubble left from last week’s storms.

“This is flooding of historic proportions. Everyone keeps talking about the flood of 1937 and being back to that level,” Haslam said during a stop in Dyersburg May 3. “We are prepared to respond as quickly as possible both in response and in relief after the flood waters recede.”

The YouTube video featured Haslam looking over destruction in Bradley, Hamilton, Greene counties with stops in Memphis and Dyersburg.

The five-minute production included highlights of remarks from federal lawmakers and officials including Sen. Bob Corker, Congressmen Scott DesJarlais and Phil Roe and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

Local area lawmakers also offered remarks, including Bradley County Mayor Gary Davis, Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield.