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Press Releases

Comptroller: Jackson Assisted Living Facility Misspent Most of Nearly $55K State Grant

Press release from the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury; August 6, 2014: 

The administrator of the Jackson Street Faith Home in Jackson, TN properly used just $85 of the $54,650 in state grant funds the home received to assist with the care and services of low income residents. A new investigative report from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office reveals that much of the grant money was misspent or used for questionable expenses.

The Jackson Street Faith Home is a residential assisted living facility housing approximately eight full-time residents. The home received $54,650 in Quality Enabling Program (QED) funds from the Tennessee Department of Health, Division of Health Care Facilities over a three year period.

The Comptroller’s Office was asked to investigate after the Department of Health notified the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation about the alleged misappropriation of state grant funds. Investigators discovered a cash shortage of at least $38,235.43 as a result of misspending, falsified or no documentation, and documentation submitted outside the grant period. Investigators also identified $16,329.57 in questionable expenses.

The home’s administrator admitted using bad judgment and creating phony invoices that were submitted to the state as documentation. The Comptroller’s findings have been sent to the District Attorney General for the 26th Judicial District for consideration.

Comptroller investigators are recommending the Department of Health take steps to recover the QEP grant funds. The Department should also properly monitor grantee expenditures to provide proper accountability.

“It’s a shame that money intended to care for some of Tennessee’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged citizens was used for an administrator’s personal benefit,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “We must ensure state grant money is being used appropriately.”

Funding appropriations for the Residential Homes for the Aged Quality Enabling Program were eliminated by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2012. The Jackson Street Faith Home’s license was closed as of January 21, 2014.

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

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Press Releases

Haslam Announces Workforce Development Grant at TCAT-Jackson

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; Sept. 24, 2013:

JACKSON – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a $573,464 workforce development equipment grant for Jackson State Community College (JSCC) and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) – Jackson to help meet the future workforce needs of area communities.

The governor proposed and the General Assembly approved $16.5 million in this year’s budget for equipment and technology related to workforce development programs at Tennessee colleges of applied technology and community colleges, part of Haslam’s “Drive to 55” effort to increase the number of Tennesseans with post-secondary credentials.

These strategic investments resulted from the governor meeting with businesses and education officials across the state last fall to better understand workforce development needs. One of the most common themes he heard was the lack of capacity and equipment at Tennessee colleges of applied technology and community colleges to meet job demand, so these grants are aimed at addressing those gaps.

“Currently only 32 percent of Tennesseans have certificates or degrees beyond high school, and studies show that by 2025, that number must be 55 percent to meet workforce demands,” Haslam said. “We must have qualified Tennesseans to fill those positions, and these grants are going to have an immediate impact because these programs have high placement rates in fields that are looking to fill jobs now.”

Jackson State will receive $443,784 to fund needed equipment for its Advanced Maintenance Technician programs, providing the opportunity for students to learn different skills sets than are currently available. The community college has a strong relationship with Toyota and other area manufacturers and plans to establish a co-op for mechanically-inclined high school students.

The remainder of the grant, $129,680, will go to TCAT – Jackson for a mechatronics trainer for students in the Industrial Maintenance program and needed upgrades and additional welding equipment for its Advanced Manufacturing programs. Last year’s completion rate in the welding program was approximately 82 percent with placement in the field at 94 percent. Jackson State and TCAT-Jackson have signed articulation agreements to create a seamless transition for TCAT students to transfer into the JSCC Advanced Manufacturing program. Jackson State is also offering this articulation agreement with TCATs in McKenzie, Paris, Whiteville and Crump.

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Environment and Natural Resources NewsTracker

Jackson Annexation Advances; Tullahoma Leader Pitches Historic Zoning

The city of Jackson has extended police, fire and other services to a 7-square-mile area northwest of the city it is annexing, the Jackson Sun reports. The annexation, which prompted a lawsuit from affected property owners, will be completed later this month.

The newspaper talked to residents John and Susan Durfee, whose home was among the property the court exempted.

“We’re still very much against the annexation,” John Durfee told the newspaper. “We love living here. We don’t need any of the amenities they offer.”

Susan Durfee compared her situation to that of the country’s founding fathers: “We really feel the need to be less and less dependent on the government. Our country was founded by people who were self-sufficient. They grew their own food, made their own clothes, took out their own garbage.”

In other zoning news, the city administrator in Tullahoma has suggested the public does not understand what is and is not historic, and that once they understand they will embrace his plan to set up historic zoning in the city. But administrator Jody Baltz hinted at flexibility, saying his plan would allow for honorary designations for property where owners did not want to participate, according to a report in the Tullahoma News and Guardian.

Baltz said the public first needs to be educated about what is historic in Tullahoma before historic districts can be created.

“We want to identify what has historic significance, then educate people about what’s historic and then designate what’s historic,” he said. “We want to come up with a document that will have support.”

The News says a 2005 effort fell flat.

Concerns expressed from residents whose property could be in those districts regarding potential costs and requirements associated with maintaining historic themes led to establishing historic sections in Tullahoma in name only.

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NewsTracker

1986 Felony Comes Back to Haunt City Councilman

A city of Jackson councilman has resigned after more than a decade of service, after officials realized he was ineligible based on a felony conviction 25 years ago, the Jackson Sun is reporting.

City Councilman Johnny Dodd announced his resignation Thursday, saying that the conviction stemmed from a youthful mistake.

From the Jackson Sun:

Dodd was convicted of grand larceny in 1986 when he worked at Service Merchandise and gave away some merchandise from the store, he said in an interview Thursday. He said he thought his record had been expunged and he was told by election officials he was eligible for office when he first ran for council in 1999.

Election officials realized the mistake while researching another candidate’s eligibility.

Dodd said he hopes to have his full citizenship rights reinstated in time to run for City Council in the May election.

More coverage: WBBJ-TV Channel 7.

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NewsTracker Tax and Budget

Proposal for Jackson-Madison County Library Takeover On Hold

A proposal for the city of Jackson to take over the Jackson-Madison County Library — it’s jointly funded by the city and county now — is on hold for now, with the City Council voting Tuesday to set up a study committee. The library’s financial problems center on four years of missed retirement payments. More here from the Jackson Sun.

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Press Releases

Republicans Suspect Election Fraud in Burks Win Over Steakley

Press Release from the Tennessee Republican Party, Nov. 12, 2010:

TNGOP Calls for full  Investigation into Potential Election Fraud in State District 15; Troubling Voting Irregularities Reported Which May Have Compromised Election

NASHVILLE, TN – The Tennessee Republican Party is calling on the State Election Commission to investigate several reports of voting irregularities in State Senate District 15 where State Senator Charlotte Burks narrowly received more votes than Republican nominee Gary Steakley.

“Voters deserve to know what irregularities occurred and who is responsible for them. The fact that any irregularities may have occurred is troubling enough, but given the narrow margin of votes calls into question the accuracy of the election results and the legitimacy of the election’s outcome,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.

“We will relentlessly pursue what happened, and believe that nothing short of a thorough and detailed investigation from the State Election Commission will be able to address whether or not any criminal activity occurred.”

According to uncertified election results, Democrat Incumbent Charlotte Burks defeated Republican Gary Steakley by 183 votes. State Senate District 15 includes Cumberland, White, Putnam, Overton, Jackson and Pickett counties.