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Haslam Announces Gruppo Opening First U.S. Facility in Maury Co

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development; March 5, 2015:

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd along with Gruppo Concorde officials announced today the company plans to build its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Mt. Pleasant, where it will produce porcelain tiles. Gruppo Concorde, through its North American subsidiary UST Inc., will invest approximately $80 million to construct a new 600,000 square foot facility on 96 acres in Maury County, creating 180 new jobs.

“We want to thank Gruppo Concorde for its investment in Tennessee and the 180 new jobs they are creating in Maury County,” Haslam said. “Having this global company locate its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Tennessee says something—that we compete with anyone as we continue our work to become the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

Gruppo Concorde was founded in 1968, and with over 2,200 employees worldwide, the company has expanded to become one of the largest producers of high-end ceramic tile, operating production sites in Italy, France and Russia and exporting its products to more than 130 countries around the globe.

“Tennessee continues to build upon its reputation as the North American location choice for the international tile manufacturing industry,” Boyd said. “Since 2011, five ceramics companies have committed a total of 630 new jobs to our state. Gruppo Concorde, and the jobs they are creating, is a valuable addition to the community, and I look forward to their continued growth and success in Tennessee.”

“We have chosen Tennessee for a number of reasons, including the state’s vibrant and business-friendly environment and the warm and proactive welcome we have received from the local community in Maury County,” Gruppo Concorde Executive and UST Inc. President and CEO Federico Curioni said. “Tennessee is also very close to some of the most important raw material used in the tile industry, such as plastic clay and feldspar, which greatly benefits our production capabilities.”

UST Inc. is building this new facility, to be located at 1433 North Main St. in Mt. Pleasant, in order to increase Gruppo Concorde presence on the U.S. market. Through this expansion, Gruppo Concorde will be able to improve its services and products portfolio.

“We are ecstatic to have an internationally recognized company such as Gruppo Concorde locating to Maury County,” Maury County Mayor Charlie Norman said. ”Over the last two years, The Maury Alliance, The Industrial Development Board of Maury County, Maury County Government, and the City of Mount Pleasant have been working hard to ensure this project came to fruition. This is a prime example of what community teamwork can accomplish and I am proud of all of those involved.”

“TVA and Mount Pleasant Power System congratulate Gruppo Concorde on its decision to start new operations and create quality jobs in Mount Pleasant,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “We are pleased to partner with the state of Tennessee, the Maury Alliance, South Central Tennessee Development District, City of Mount Pleasant and Maury County officials to facilitate Gruppo Concorde’s finding its optimum location.”

Approximately 1,260 Tennesseans are employed in the ceramics industry, representing an increase of more than 14 percent from 2010-2014.

UST Inc. expects construction to begin this month and plans to have the facility operational by the second half of 2016.

The company will begin hiring for these new positions sometime in the second half of 2015, and will later communicate the details for the application process.

Federal Assistance to be Awarded to 18 Counties Harmed by June Flooding

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 14, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced President Obama has declared 18 counties as federal disaster areas as a result of severe weather on June 5-10. State and local governments and electrical utilities spent nearly $10 million in response to and recovery from the wind damage and flash-flooding impacts.

“This federal aid will help our communities in rebuilding and recovery,” Haslam said. “State and local teams worked quickly to survey damage in more than 35 counties to determine the impact of these storms, and we are grateful for this assistance.”

Anderson, Bledsoe, Carroll, Decatur, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Lawrence, Lewis, Madison, Marion, Maury, McNairy, Moore, Perry, Roane, Sequatchie, and Tipton counties will have access to federal assistance that provides reimbursement for 75 percent of eligible costs. A presidential disaster declaration also includes FEMA’s hazard mitigation grant program on a statewide basis.

Three fatalities were attributed to the severe weather and flooding. Two deaths occurred in Lawrence County and another in Hickman County.

The National Weather Service confirmed two tornado touchdowns were part of the storm system. The first tornado, an EF-1 with wind speeds in excess of 80 m.p.h., left a 12-mile debris path across Lake and Obion Counties on June 7. The other confirmed tornado, rated an EF-0, touched down in Kingston, Tenn. More than 28,000 customers were left without power due to wide-spread damage from downed trees and broken power lines.

The disaster declaration provides FEMA’s Public Assistance to the declared counties for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and rebuilding and repairing roads, bridges, water control facilities, buildings, utilities and recreational facilities.

Additional information about state and federal assistance for affected counties will be released as details become available.

State Prohibits Open-Air Burning for 7 Counties, More Expected

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture; June 29, 2012:  

NASHVILLE – State Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson has issued a burn ban for Cheatham, Dickson, Gibson, Giles, Marshall, Maury and Sumner counties. The burn ban is effective immediately and will remain in place until further notice.

The ban applies to all open-air burning including leaf and woody debris and construction burning, campfires, outdoor grills and other fire activity outside of municipalities where local ordinances apply.

Under state law, the commissioner of agriculture, in consultation with the state forester, has the authority to issue burn bans at the request of county mayors under certain weather conditions. Requests from county mayors for a burn ban are considered in consultation with the state forester based on a number of factors including weather, climate, fire danger, fire occurrence and resource availability.

“We’re working with local officials to take action when requested and where appropriate to reduce the risk to citizens, property and emergency workers,” Johnson said. “With the extremely dry conditions and little prospect for rain anytime soon, we want to encourage the public to use good judgment and to avoid situations that can cause fire, even in areas not covered under a burn ban.”

A violation of a Commissioner of Agriculture Burn Ban is considered reckless burning and is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor which carries a fine of $2,500 and/or up to 11 months 29 days in jail.

The burn ban does not prohibit the use of fireworks. However, citizens should check for local restrictions and are encouraged to attend public displays as an alternative to shooting fireworks themselves for the Fourth of July holiday.

In areas not under a burn ban, the public is asked to refrain from debris burning until significant precipitation is received and to avoid other activities that could cause fire.

State and local firefighters are seeing an increase in fire activity statewide. Major causes include sparks from field equipment and vehicles, escaped debris burns, discarded cigarettes, lightening, campfires, arson and fireworks. Citizens can help support their local fire departments by checking for and following local burn restrictions and quickly reporting any wildfire.

Counties currently under a burn ban, additional fire safety tips and wildfire information can be found on the TDA Division of Forestry’s wildfire prevention website at www.burnsafetn.org.

Note: A press release from TDA will not necessarily be released for each new county added to the list of the Commissioner of Agriculture Burn Bans. Please check www.burnsafetn.org for updated information.

Running Gov’t Like a Business

A Maury County couple in charge of a county events building charged renters an additional fee and pocketed the money, state auditors have found.

“We were advised by the building manager and her husband that they required renters to sign a a separate contract and pay a separate maintenance fee to them personally in addition to the county’s approved contract and fee,” the audit by the state comptroller’s office said. “Both stated that differing amounts were paid based on who rents the building, with the maintenance fee ranging from nothing to $200.”

The couple, Elmer and Pauline Cooper, did not comment in a story on the findings by The (Columbia) Daily Herald. County officials defended them.

The county mayor, district attorney and a county commissioner whose committee oversees the Memorial Building describe the situation differently than state auditors, saying the Coopers were being paid for after-hours cleaning performed outside their normal scope of duties. …

(County Mayor Jim Bailey Jr.) said his investigation into the matter found no evidence the couple did anything wrong or that their actions cost the county money.

In its written response to the audit, county officials said Pauline Cooper would cease cleaning up the building or collecting any fees. Elmer Cooper resigned at the end of December, after being questioned about the fees in November, according to the audit and the Daily Herald report.

The audit also found that officials had overspent, by more than $175,000 total, its funds for parks, general sessions court and other services. County officials said expenses outpaced appropriations because “some charges get through in the month of June after the County Commission has met, and we are unable to get funds appropriated before the year closes.”

The county schools spent $75,000 more than had been appropriated in two pots of money within the general purpose school fund, auditors found.

Keep Bringing Out Your Dead in Maury County…For Now, Anyway

Talk about your bulk items.

Livestock carcasses will continue to be picked up in Maury County, at least for another six months, after the county Budget Committee voted earlier this week to extend a collection-and-disposal contract valued at $20,700 with the Appertain Corp. and the South Central Tennessee Development District, The (Columbia) Daily Herald reports.

The 5-1 vote came after debate over whether the program constitutes an unnecessary subsidy or rather a worthwhile public service that also happens to primarily benefit a key regional economic sector.

“When it comes down to using our tax dollars to subsidize a business expense, I don’t like that, because I don’t think that’s how tax dollars should be spent,” said Commissioner June Beckum.

Mayor Jim Bailey countered that Maury County is one of the top cattle-producing counties in Tennessee,  and local ranchers “produce several millions of dollars worth of income for us and a tremendous property tax base for us.”

According to the paper, the county allocated another $1,000 “to fund a study to come up with a long-term solution,” but the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service has yet to complete it.

TNGOP: Cobb ‘a Student of the Obama/Pelosi School of Political Correctness’

Press Release from the Tennessee Republican Party, Sept. 28, 2010:

Ty Cobb Toes Obama Line on Illegal Immigration; Gives Citizenship Status to Undocumented Workers

NASHVILLE, TN – During a debate last night, Democrat State Rep. Ty Cobb made it clear that he doesn’t believe those residing in the United States unlawfully should be referred to as “illegal immigrants,” but instead should be called “undocumented citizens.” Rep. Cobb’s comments were published in the Columbia Daily Herald:

The topic of immigration drew a strong reaction from the crowd, which appeared to be evenly divided between supporters of the two candidates.

Cobb said he prefers to refer to people in the United States illegally as “undocumented citizens.”

“I would say I don’t really like the [word] illegal, because we are all God’s children,” Cobb said, drawing shouts and groans from supporters of his opponent.

“Apparently Ty Cobb is a student of the Obama/Pelosi school of political correctness and believes illegal immigrants have earned the right to be called ‘citizens’,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney. “Plain and simple, those residing in this country unlawfully are illegal immigrants and are such unless they obtain U.S. citizenship through the proper channels. It is troubling Rep. Cobb would refer to illegal immigrants who are knowingly breaking the law as ‘citizens.’”

“The people of District 64 aren’t looking for a representative whose focus on illegal immigration remains on the most politically correct way to talk about the issue,” continued Devaney. “They want a representative who will enforce illegal immigration laws and protect jobs in Maury County – a county plagued by an unemployment rate of nearly 15 percent. The candidate who will work toward those goals is Republican Sheila Butt who believes we have to fight back against illegal immigration in Tennessee.”