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August 5, 2011 News Summary

Published on June 2016 | Categories: Types, Government & Politics, Public Notices | Downloads: 4 | Comments: 0
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FRIDAY, AUGUST 5, 2011 State's annual sales tax-free holiday ready for weekend run (City Paper)
Tennessee shoppers are taking advantage of three days of savings during the state’s annual tax-free holiday that runs from Friday through Sunday. Consumers in Nashville can save 9.25 percent in local and state sales taxes on eligible purchases, including clothes and school and art supplies priced at $100 or less and computers priced at $1,500 or less. “The annual sales tax holiday was designed with Tennessee families in mind, providing savings for families, especially as students begin to prepare for the upcoming school year,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. Tennessee’s first sales tax holiday was in 2006, and shoppers saved $15 million that year. Since then, they have saved up to $10 million across the state every year. Last year, the figure was $8.6 million. http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/lifestyles/states-annual-sales-tax-free-holiday-ready-weekend-run

Tennessee sales tax holiday begins Friday (Nashville Business Journal)
Tennessee retailers are bracing for an uptick in sales this weekend as shoppers ready to take advantage of the three-day sales tax holiday. Consumers in Nashville will save 9.25 percent — once state and local sales taxes are waived — on eligible purchases which include clothing items priced at $100 or less, school supplies priced at $100 or less and computers priced at $1,500 or less. The sale will begin Friday at 12:01 a.m. and conclude Sunday at 11:59 p.m. It is available to individuals but items purchased for use by a trade or business are not exempt. Tennessee is one of at least 16 states that offer sales tax holidays. Most of the holidays are held in August and are designed to help make back-to-school shopping more affordable. Tennessee first initiated its sales tax holiday in 2006. Shoppers have saved $8 million to $10 million each year since the incentive was put in place. http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2011/08/04/tennessee-sales-tax-holiday-begins.html

Retailers celebrate tax holiday (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Hardy)
Tennessee and Alabama shoppers are poised to save millions this weekend as the two states continue their back-to-school sales tax holidays. The three-day sales tax hiatus applies to school supplies such as notebooks, pencils and art supplies as well as many electronic products such as personal computers. The draw of potential savings -- upward of 10 percent on eligible purchases in Tennessee -- has retailers comparing this weekend to the frantic madness of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. This marks the second year in a row that Georgia's Legislature, citing the loss in revenue, hasn't authorized a sales tax holiday. Analysts estimated Georgia lost upward of $13 million on its sales tax holiday, while the Tennessee Department of Revenue predicts a loss in sales tax revenues of $8 million to $10 million for the weekend. Estimates weren't available for Alabama's losses, because local cities and counties can opt out of offering the sales tax break. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/aug/05/retailers-celebrate-tax-holiday/?local

Retailers stock up for tax-free weekend (Johnson City Press)
Beginning today, a majority of “back-to-school” items will cost about 10 percent less than usual. The sixth annual Sales Tax Holiday for Tennesseans will last through Sunday and local retailers have been stocking up for a surge of customers looking to buy school supplies, clothing and big ticket items like computers. “This is probably our third biggest weekend of the year, so we put several weeks of preparation into it,” said Lance Campbell, sales manager at Office Depot. In order to have enough laptops in stock, surrounding Office Depot stores in states without tax-free weekends have shipped excess machines to Johnson City. Campbell suspects that business will be a bit more consistent than the two-hour slam of sales during “Black Friday.” He’ll have about 25 people on staff this weekend to handle the volume of shoppers. Computers priced $1,500 or less are tax free, along with items like printers, monitors and keyboards if they are purchased at the same time. School and art supplies costing $100 or less are also exempt from sales tax and include items like backpacks, binders, lunch

boxes and paper. http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/News/article.php?id=93077#ixzz1U9KsHhiP

Sales Tax Holiday will kick off Friday (Cleveland Daily Banner)
Back-to-school time means some extra spending for Cleveland and Bradley County parents, but it also translates into opportunities for major cost savings; at least, for a long three-day weekend that starts Friday. Tennessee’s sixth annual Sales Tax Holiday, which can save consumers 10 percent on tax-free clothing, school and art supplies, as well as computer purchases, kicks off Friday at 12:01 a.m. and runs through Sunday, Aug. 7, at 11:59 p.m. Local families figure to be in the whirlwind of shopping whose frenzy might not equal the rush of Black Friday or January White Sales, but its positive impact on retail spending favors the merchants thanks to increased business and the consumers due to significant price cuts via lack of state and local sales taxes. The cost-cutting weekend has been blessed by Gov. Bill Haslam and strongly endorsed by a pair of area legislators, State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland representing the 24th Legislative District, and State Rep. Eric W atson, RCleveland representing the 22nd Legislative District. http://www.clevelandbanner.com/view/full_story/14947922/article-Sales-Tax-Holiday-will-kick-off-Friday? instance=latest_articles

Sales tax holiday on purchases attracts fewer takers (Associated Press/Johnson)
Tennesseans taking advantage of the state's sixth annual sales tax holiday this weekend say it provides needed relief in a tough economy, but state figures show that shoppers aren't using it as much as they first did. Today through Sunday, there will be no sales tax applied to purchases like clothing, school and art supplies and computers. There is a maximum price of $100 per item to be exempt. Computers are exempt up to $1,500. "I think it's a good idea, especially the way the economy is right now," said Lee Cheese, who plans to shop for her 4-year-old grandson. "No children need to go back to school not properly clothed or not have the supplies that they need." Gov. Bill Haslam said the tax-free period was "designed with Tennessee families in mind, providing savings for families, especially as students begin to prepare for the upcoming school year." States started adopting the sales tax holidays in the late 1990s, and by 2001 a dozen states held them. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/aug/05/death-still-certain-but-taxes/

Sales tax holidays arrive, despite economists' grumblings (Stateline)
This weekend begins a summertime rite of passage for some states: the sales tax holiday. Some 17 states this year are temporarily waiving their sales taxes on clothing, backpacks and other items deemed essential for students headed back to school. Though sales tax holidays are popular with shoppers, economists have long complained that the events don’t actually stimulate spending that wouldn’t have happened anyway. And when it comes to the most expensive items up for tax breaks — computers — one could argue that the rules aren’t exactly keeping up with the times. For example, Missouri and North Carolina will waive the sales tax on computers priced up to $3,500, even though the average price of a PC sold in the U.S. is around $600 and has been dropping for years. And in Tennessee, an iPad qualifies for the break but a Kindle does not. http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=592179

First Lady Haslam Hosts Military Spouses (TN Report)
First Lady Crissy Haslam today hosted more than 100 spouses of deployed soldiers of the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard for a reception at the Tennessee Residence. The purpose of the event was to honor the sacrifices that military families have made and to pay tribute to the spouses who play a vital role in our nation’s defense. Country Singer/Songwriter Josh Thompson provided entertainment at the event. “Men and women in the military make incredible sacrifices, and we can never thank you enough for the sacrifices your families have also made for our country,” Mrs. Haslam said during the event. She also shared best wishes from the governor, who is currently overseas visiting soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Col. Many-Bears Grinder, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs, and Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Adjunct General of the Tennessee National Guard, both attended the event to honor military families. A Military Spouses’ Day Proclamation, recently signed by Gov. Bill Haslam, was read aloud to acknowledge the significant contributions, support and sacrifices of spouses of the Armed Forces. http://www.tnreport.com/2011/08/first-lady-haslam-hostsmilitary-spouses/

Guthrie charged TennCare fraud (Cleveland Daily Banner)
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The office of the Inspector General has charged a Bradley County man with alleged TennCare fraud. Clifford Michael Guthrie, 29, was booked into the Bradley County Jail Tuesday, according to reports from the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office. Cpl. James Bradford served the warrant for his arrest, according to Bob Gault, media relations coordinator for BCSO. A grand jury indicted Guthrie on three counts of TennCare fraud for “doctor shopping,” and three counts of obtaining the painkiller Lortab, a brand version of hydrocodone, by fraud, according to the OIG. “Guthrie is accused of knowingly giving false information or withholding information in order to fraudulently obtain the drugs, using TennCare benefits to pay for both clinical visits and the Lortab prescriptions. Doctor shopping is a crime that is unacceptable and not tolerated by the OIG or local law enforcement,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said in a media release. “We are working closely with pharmacists and other medical providers in order to stop this crime dead on.” http://www.clevelandbanner.com/view/full_story/14947846/article-Guthrie-charged--TennCare-fraud? instance=homethirdleft

Tennessee schools get $3 million for fresh fruit, veggies (Tennessean/Hubbard)
Tennessee schools will share $3 million in federal funding for more students to eat healthy fresh fruit and vegetables this school year. The state was awarded a $3.15 million grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to prepare the healthy snacks at no charge to students in 156 low-income elementary and middle schools. “Our schools play a major role in developing active, healthy lifestyles among Tennessee children that ultimately encourages healthier, more engaged students,” Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said. In Metro Nashville, 19 schools were awarded $438,000 in funding, including Una Elementary with a $50,000 grant and Wright Middle with a $41,000 grant. Sumner County’s Vena Stuart Elementary was awarded $30,000 in federal grants. Rutherford County will receive $48,500 and Murfreesboro City Schools $54,350. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110805/NEWS04/308040064/Tennessee-schools-get-3-million-fresh-fruitveggies?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Provider’s grant may be extended (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Carroll, Sher)
A top state official is offering to extend a $774,000 grant for Chattanooga-based TEAM Centers Inc. through June 30, 2012, so the provider has more time to pursue alternative funding for diagnostic and treatment services it provides to people with intellectual disabilities. “I’m probably going to give them another year,” state Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Jim Henry told the Times Free Press on Thursday. “The Legislature can do what it wants to, but we’re probably going to extend this grant.” Local state lawmakers from Hamilton County have been asking questions about the defunding. Earlier this week, Sen. Bo W atson, R-Hixson, confirmed he was trying to work out an agreement but declined to discuss details. TEAM Centers’ interim executive director, Peter Charman, said Thursday that after Henry’s interview with the Times Free Press, the commissioner called him and “told me the grant would be extended through the current fiscal year.” http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/aug/05/providers-grant-may-be-extended/?local

Politics not 'at play' over landfill expansion, TDEC says (Marshall County Tribune)
There have been reactions to reports that a state department's reconsideration of permitting expansion of Cedar Ridge Landfill -- instead of leaving the decision to the state Solid Waste Disposal Control Board -- is a result of a business friendly governor succeeding one perceived as environmentally friendly. A state spokeswoman says that's not what's happening since Republican Gov. Bill Haslam succeeded Democrat Phil Bredesen. Tisha Calabrese-Benton, communications director for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation this week responded to a Tribune question that started on July 28 with Gov. Bill Haslam after his remarks during a "meet and greet" event in Columbia. Haslam was asked about expansion of Cedar Ridge Landfill on eight acres that include a sinkhole. The governor replied that he was unaware of the details, but would check with TDEC Commissioner Robert Martineau and the subject could be revisited. http://www.marshalltribune.com/story/1750596.html

Jackson Sues Judges Over Suspension (Memphis Daily News)
General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson is suing the General Sessions Court Judges who suspended him from office earlier this week. Attorney Jay Bailey, representing Jackson, filed the petition late Thursday in Chancery Court seeking an injunction from Chancellor W alter Evans to stop the suspension. Jackson’s suspension was effective as the end of the business day Thursday. Evans has scheduled a hearing for Aug. 25 on the request for a temporary injunction. The judges met last week and with a majority vote decided to suspend Jackson with pay for 60 days and appoint Ed Stanton Jr., former head of the civil division of the clerk’s office as 3

the interim clerk. The action followed Jackson’s indictment last month by the Shelby County grand jury on four counts of official misconduct. In the court order suspending Jackson the judges cite a provision of state law that reads: “Immediately upon indictment found against any clerk for a felony or misdemeanor in office, the court of which the clerk is clerk may suspend the clerk from office and appoint a clerk pro tempore, until a final decision can be had, who shall be entitled to the fees and prerequisites of office during the suspension.” http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2011/aug/5/jackson-sues-judges-over-suspension/

New Tennessee legislation aims to protect roadside utility workers (N-S/Vela)
An expansion on Tennessee's "Move Over" law gives added protection to roadside workers and makes it a legislative leader in the country. The updated law, which took effect July 1, requires vehicles to shift over, yield if necessary or slow down and proceed with caution if that's the only option to create a buffer for electric and other utility vehicles with flashing lights parked on the side. Tennessee drivers already are required to move over when they see police, fire and highway construction vehicles along the road. According to the Knoxville Utilities Board, a similar law in North Carolina also includes utility workers but only requires drivers to leave an empty lane during emergency situations. The Tennessee law is an attempt to increase safety for the workers and requires the empty lane any time a utility vehicle with flashing lights is present. Sgt. Randall Martin, over special programs for the Tennessee Highway Patrol's Knoxville district, emphasized the importance of heeding the work zone policy. "Tennessee doesn't hide work zones," Martin said, "If there is a work, construction, or a crash zone ahead, pay attention to the signs on the road and message boards on the interstate." The Tennessee Department of Safety reported that in 2009, there were 187 work zone, construction zone, maintenance and utility zone crashes. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/aug/04/new-tennessee-legislation-aims-to-protect/

Knox redistricting proposals would match board, commission lines (NS/Balloch)
Four plans. Eight maps. One vision. A common thread in a package of redistricting proposals for how Knox County Commission and Knox County Board of Education voting districts will be drawn is to show how both political bodies can have the same district lines. "All of these plans are a first attempt at making an alignment between the County Commission districts and the school board districts," said Tim Kuhn, Metropolitan Planning Commission's assistant manager for geographic information services. "All of them are a first step to that." Ultimately, however, it will be County Commission itself that will decide how its own lines as well as the school district lines will be drawn. MPC released the package of plans and maps Thursday. It can be viewed on www.knoxredistricting.org. Click on the line "follow the Knox County redistricting committee's work," then click on the gray box that says "Data, Maps and Redistricting Plans." The package will be reviewed by the Joint Redistricting Committee for County Commission and School Board, which is scheduled to meet Aug. 18 for a public hearing and forum. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/aug/04/knox-redistricting-proposals-would-match-school/

Middle Tennesseans move from fat to fit (Tennessean/Quinn)
As Tennessee wrestles with widespread obesity, some residents reap the benefits of major life changes Tennesseans will do battle over which restaurant makes the best biscuits. It’s a state where macaroni and cheese is listed under a menu’s vegetable category. W here cornbread and butter is considered a light appetizer. Where even candy bars can be fried. Thirty percent of Tennesseans are obese, reports Trust for America’s Health, a health advocacy organization. The number climbs to 68 percent when figuring in all overweight people. This geographically skinny state is the fourth-fattest in the nation. But in the midst of Tennessee’s obesity crisis, even surrounded by a culture that pushes the most fattening food, folks are somehow defying the odds. Calls to Middle Tennessee gyms searching for people who have shed 100 or more pounds are met with the response: “Yeah, we know a lot of them.” Having so many heavy people changes the face of weight loss. Tennesseans used to set out to lose 30 pounds. Now, for many, it’s 100. TV viewers see those sorts of huge losses on hit shows like The Biggest Loser or read about them in women’s magazines. But doctors warn: It’s not easy. And it’s not even necessary to see large health gains. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110805/NEWS07/307290105/Middle-Tennesseans-move-from-fat-fit? odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Bledsoe group keeps relief efforts going (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Benton)
Just over three months after two tornadoes, one an EF4, ripped across Walden's Ridge on the Bledsoe-Rhea county line, state and federal officials are teaming with local folks to keep help available for victims of disaster. About 40 to 50 local residents in July underwent training provided by the federal and Tennessee emergency 4

management agencies to form a disaster aid group called People Helping People Recover from Disasters, Bledsoe County Mayor Bobby Collier said Thursday. Officials say the April 27 tornadoes damaged at least 200 homes and destroyed more than 25 homes and businesses in Bledsoe. As the Tuesday deadline approaches for April storm victims to register for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid, Collier said the People Helping People group will be ready to pick up where FEMA leaves off in helping storm victims. "We went through training with our people and, in a nutshell, it's to help people who have not got their registration in [before the deadline]," Collier said. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/aug/05/bledsoe-group-keeps-relief-efforts-going/?local

People React To "Smelly" Chattanooga Story (WTVC-TV Chattanooga)
When New York-based writer Jamie Kitman came to Chattanooga to tell the Volkswagen story for Automobile magazine his focus shifted. That's because Kitman discovered a dirty little secret to outsiders -- our downtown sewer system sometimes belches an obnoxious odor during hot, dry weather. How bad is it? We hit the downtown streets Thursday as the aroma of sewer gas wafted in the afternoon air to find out what locals think and smell. "I'll be thinking something done died somewhere, that's all I'll be thinking, maybe something in the sewer went bad you know," Dennis W illiams said. Victor Leftwizc noticed the smell at Market and 11th Streets saying "it's like raw sewage, it's a bad smell and you smell it for two weeks after you leave here." In his September article "The Not-So-Sweet Smell Of Success," Kitman writes "I was greeted by the most incredible stench." "O death, where is thy sting? W e know where your stink is," Kitman continues. But before you say poopoo on Kitman remember most days there is no stench. "I haven't noticed any odors at all, I haven't been here long enough," W ayne Maxwell said. http://www.newschannel9.com/news/chattanooga-1003616-kitman-story.html

Jackson airport losing airline that provides Nashville service (Tenn./Bewley)
Flights to and from Nashville will end Sept. 30; airport could also lose subsidies Commercial air service to Jackson’s McKellar-Sipes Airport was dealt a double blow Thursday. First, the airport’s director said the commercial airline that provides flights to and from Nashville won’t continue service after Sept. 30. Second, a deal reached by Senate Democrats and House Republicans could cut off subsidies to the airport and up to 12 others in rural areas. Pacific W ings, which serves McKellar-Sipes as TennesseeSkies, has told the government it intends to end service to the airport. Under the Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes airlines serving rural airports, such notice must be given 90 days before an airline stops service. “They have recently given their 90-day notice. They’re not going to stay,” Steve Smith, executive director of the Jackson-Madison County Airport Authority, said Thursday. Pacific Wings gets about $1.2 million annually from its two-year contract with the federal government. The contract expires Aug. 31, but the airline will continue service at least until Sept. 30 — the 90-day mark. Under current law, the Federal Aviation Administration could require Pacific Wings to stay beyond Sept. 30 if it can’t find a replacement carrier by that time. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110805/BUSINESS01/308050056/Jackson-airport-losing-airline-providesNashville-service?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

No easy explanations: Why are Smokies visits plummeting? (NS/Blackerby)
Mary Webb has greeted inquiring tourists at the Townsend Visitors Center with a pleasing smile and answered questions with aplomb since 1997. Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, of course, want to know the best places to eat, camp, hike and fish — and W ebb can answer most any of their questions. But Webb, the visitor information management specialist at the center, doesn't field as many questions as she used to. In fact, not nearly as many. The number of visitors at the center has dropped steadily each year since Webb began keeping track of foot traffic in 2005. The center had 154,643 visitors in 2005, about 30,000 more than last year's turnstile count of 123,125. With only 58,262 visitors to date this year through July, Webb said 2011 is likely to set another new low for traffic. The dwindling visits to the center are reflective of dramatic short- and long-term attendance drops in both the Smokies and the Big South Fork National River and Recreational Area. Theories abound about possible causes for sagging attendance numbers, leaving many officials scrambling for answers and asking if the tourism jewels in the region have lost some of their luster. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/aug/04/no-easy-explanations-why-are-smokies-big-south/

TVA cuts power at Browns Ferry nuclear plant because of warmer river (TN/Paine)
TVA has reduced power by about half at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant since Monday because of rising temperatures in the Tennessee River. But the frequent and costly problem could be fixed soon. An $80 million 5

tower that will cool the water released back into the river in summer should “substantially reduce if not eliminate” such occurrences, said Ray Golden, a Tennessee Valley Authority spokesman. “After the summer of 2010, TVA saw a need to address this long-term,” he said. “Hopefully we can get the tower operational by the end of the summer or early fall.” The tower, which is 95 percent complete, could pay for itself within about two years, Golden said. That’s because the power producer won’t have to buy fill-in electricity from elsewhere at a premium cost that is passed on to its customers. The price tag for the purchased power ran about $50 million last summer, the spokesman said. TVA’s two nuclear plants farther upriver generally don’t have such issues because the water is cooler farther upstream. Some of the utility’s coal-fired power plants, however, also can have to reduce electricity generation at times during summer to meet water quality regulations. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110805/NEWS11/308040063/TVA-cuts-power-Browns-Ferry-nuclear-plantbecause-warmer-river?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

TVA uses sand baskets as temp. fixes for flawed flooding calculations (TFP/Sohn)
Sand baskets installed to protect against extreme flooding and protect nuclear plants at Watts Bar and three other TVA dams have upstream neighbors unhappy about their new views. But the safety vs. beauty question — prompted by a decades-old mistaken calculation by TVA — may mean even more dams must be raised with sandbags or permanent fixes, according to the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “We had to fix the problem by raising the embankments as soon as we could or possibly have to shut down [W atts Bar and Sequoyah nuclear] plants. That could result in $3 million to $5 million a day in lost generation,” said Mike Eiffe, TVA program manager for hydrology and hydraulics. Compared to those numbers, TVA’s cost to prepare for what utility officials have called a “highly unlikely probable maximum flood” would seem to be chump change. The project involved placing temporary cages of sand — most about 4 by 4 feet — atop the sides and embankments of the W atts Bar, Fort Loudoun, Tellico and Cherokee dams. The goal was to protect the dams and downstream plants from a flood about four times the amount of the region’s heaviest known rainfall. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/aug/05/raising-dams/?local

Tennessee to keep Moody’s top rating (Nashville Business Journal)
Moody's Investors Service, which warned that Tennessee and four other states with close ties to the federal government could lose their top credit ratings, said those states will keep their Aaa ratings after Congress reached agreement on lifting the debt ceiling. On Tuesday, Moody’s confirmed it would not downgrade its ratings on U.S. debt. “While these indirectly linked issuers’ outlooks were moved to negative as a group based on the identification of certain shared characteristics, their outlooks will be reviewed on a case by case basis in the coming weeks,” Moody’s said in a statement. “In order to have a stable outlook, an issuer will need to have credit quality that could be expected to remain higher than that of the U.S. government in the event that the sovereign were downgraded from Aaa.” http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2011/08/04/tennessee-to-keepmoodys-top-rating.html

Five Rutherford Co. booster clubs paid coaches (Tennessean/Taft)
Football coaches at five Rutherford County high schools have been receiving unauthorized payments by booster clubs, a violation of state government policy and state athletic association regulations. A recent internal audit by the school system has revealed that booster clubs at Blackman, Oakland, Riverdale, Siegel and Smyrna have been making the improper payments, dating back to the 2008-09 school year. In a memo sent Wednesday to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association, Rutherford County Director of Schools Harry Gill Jr. stated that “several coaches were paid ‘supplements’ directly from booster club funds.” Neither Eagleville nor La Vergne, the county’s other two public high schools, was cited in the memo. Direct payment of the booster club money to coaches is a violation of state and county school board policy. It apparently took place without the knowledge and approval of Gill or the Rutherford County Board of Education. “There’s been a few mistakes made, but it’s not catastrophic. In every case here, there was no criminal misconduct, just things weren’t done in accordance with county procedures. We’re going to get that in line,” Gill said. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110805/SPORTS07/308050061/Five-Rutherford-Co-booster-clubs-paidcoaches?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|p

College launches mentor program (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Leach)
Cleveland State Community College, in cooperation with the Allan Jones Foundation, has launched bradleyAchieves, a financial and mentoring program to give Bradley County high school graduates an opportunity to attend the college in return for community service. "This is a great day for education," Cleveland 6

State president Dr. Carl Hite said Thursday afternoon while announcing the program's launch. "This is a great day for Bradley County." The local program is part of the statewide tnAchieves program, which seeks to increase higher education opportunities for state students through "last-dollar" community college scholarships, school officials said. Such funding bridges the gap between tuition costs and any grants already awarded to qualifying students. "As a result of the generosity of [Check Into Cash CEO] Allan Jones and the work of tnAchieves, we can now provide vital help to students who struggle to pay for a college education," Hite said in a news release. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/aug/05/college-launches-mentor-program/?local

Blount school board rejects charter school's application (News-Sentinel/Wilson)
By unanimous vote, the Blount County Board of Education rejected an application to establish Hope Academy, the first charter school in Tennessee outside an urban area. A member of the board of the Innovative Education Partnership, the organization trying to gain approval of the school, said the action was not unexpected and that it is "another step" in the process. The vote came at a meeting of the board Thursday night, following a lengthy statement by school board member Don McNelly, during which he said the 450-page application was "confusing." "The application says Blount County schools are failing," he said, an assertion he disputed. And he listed a host of reasons why the application should be denied, including that the lack of a transportation component or free or reduced-cost meals would discriminate against "those without financial means." Rob Britt, director of Blount County schools, recommended against approval of the application, calling it "overall vague and ambiguous." http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/aug/04/blount-school-board-rejects-charter-shools-applica/

Council members riled over raises for Memphis City Schools admins (CA/Roberts)
The City Council approved the Memphis schools budget this week, and although they have no say over how the money is spent, individual council members are peeved that it will include raises for school administrators. Workers in Memphis City Schools got a 1.6 percent raise, effective July 1, part of 4.6 percent in wage increases they have received since July 1, 2008. "We can't control it, but it appears to me that all through this recession they have given raises for years and never cut anyone's pay," said council member Jim Strickland. Last year, every city worker being paid more than $80,000 also took a 5 percent cut as the city tried to reel in expenses. MCS did not intend to give raises this year until it was notified by the state that all state employees, including teachers were to receive a 1.6 percent cost of living increase. The state provided 70 percent of the funding for the raise. "It was only when the new governor mandated a cost-of-living increase that we adjusted the budget," said district chief financial officer Pam Anstey. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/aug/05/cityofficials-riled-at-mcs-raises/

Tri-state area ‘abnormally dry’ (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Johns)
The tri-state area is “abnormally dry,” according to a drought report issued Thursday. The classification doesn’t quite mean that drought has returned, only that it could be on the way, according to W illiam Schmitz, a climatologist with the Southeast Regional Climate Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “You may be beginning a trend and that’s when you need to start watching it,” he said. In Tennessee, most of Hamilton, Bradley, Marion and Polk counties were added to the abnormally dry classification Thursday. In Georgia, all of Murray, Whitfield and Catoosa counties were similarly classified, though parts of each and W alker, Dade and Chattooga counties already were on the dry list. The past two weeks have been particularly dry, according to National Weather Service data. Only about three-quarters of an inch of rain had fallen before Wednesday night’s storms, compared to the 2 inches the area normally receives in that span. Overall, however, the Scenic City is still 2.63 inches of rain ahead of the average rainfall. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/aug/05/tri-state-area-abnormally-dry/?local

Police find meth lab at Evansville residence (State Gazette)
Two suspects were taken into custody on Tuesday evening after Dyersburg Police discovered the components of a meth lab in a residence in Evansville. Chris Burns, 38, 119 First Ave., Evansville, and Tabatha Rogers, 34, 121 Walnut Drive, are both charged with initiating methamphetamine manufacture. Police received information the couple were allegedly cooking meth at Burns' residence. When they approached the house they could smell a strong ammonia smell. After receiving consent to search the residence, police discovered numerous items used in the manufacturing process of methamphetamine and the couple was taken into custody. Members of the DPD's Street Crimes Unit were called to the scene to remove the items from the house. Three of them donned biohazard suits with respirators and entered the residence to retrieve the toxic ingredients. 7

http://www.stategazette.com/story/1750401.html

Colorado: County Ups the Ante in Voucher War (Wall Street Journal)
In a bold bid to revamp public education, a suburban district south of Denver has begun handing out vouchers that use public money to help its largely affluent residents send their children to private and church-based schools. The move is being challenged in state court and a judge has held hearings this week to determine if the program can go forward. The Douglas County School District experiment is noteworthy because nearly all voucher programs nationally aim to help children who are poor, have special needs or are trapped in failing public schools. Douglas County, by contrast, is one of the most affluent in the U.S., with household income nearly double the national median, and has schools ranked among the best in Colorado. The program is also unique in that the district explicitly promotes the move as a way for it to save money. The district is, in effect, outsourcing some students' education to the private sector for less than it would spend to teach them in public schools. If Douglas County persuades the courts to sign off, it could transform the debate about vouchers nationwide, potentially turning them into a perk for families who want more than even high-performing public schools offer. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903885604576488472660592718.html?mod=ITP_pageone_1 (SUBSCRIPTION)

OPINION Columnist: Tort reform: the verdict is in (Lexology)
When the 107th General Assembly convened this January, the Republican Party controlled the legislature and Governor’s office for the first time in modern Tennessee history. Newly-elected Governor Bill Haslam was determined to make Tennessee more attractive to businesses, and key among his initiatives was tort reform. By session’s end, the General Assembly delivered to Governor Haslam his tort reform measure, which he signed into law on June 16, 2011. The Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011, better known as the Tennessee Tort Reform Bill, goes a long way toward constraining the amount juries may award an injured plaintiff. Foremost, the law caps noneconomic damages at $750,000, and caps punitive damages at twice the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. Also, the new law addresses forum shopping by limiting where a plaintiff may file a lawsuithttp://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=f1173632-bfbb-429e-b1fde17b8c8250c0

Columnist: If momma's not happy, nobody's happy (Marshall County Tribune)
A reader suggested I get out of the office, venture out and return with a broader view of things. So I did when Gov. Bill Haslam went to the Copper Kettle restaurant near Maury County's Courthouse in Columbia. The usual political suspects showed up, including Stan Butt of Columbia, the immediate past executive director of the Tennessee W alking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association that's headquartered in Lewisburg. Butt's wife, Sheila, a state representative since her autumn election, closed the more formal presentation of what was billed as a "meet and greet." Marshall County's state senator, Bill Ketron, introduced the governor, but passed on an opportunity to mimic Ed McMahon, the longtime Johnny Carson sidekick known for the introduction: "Heeeeeeerre's Johnny!" to open the Tonight Show host's monologue. Ketron could have introduced Haslam by saying, "Heeeeeeerre's Billy!" He didn't, but Haslam was ready. "It's good to be back in Columbia," he told a couple hundred in the room. http://www.marshalltribune.com/story/1750618.html

Editorial: Huffman's visit to Haywood County focused on kids (Jackson Sun)
We were please to see Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman in West Tennessee this week when he spoke to Haywood County educators. Huffman brings a lot of public education experience to the job and a keen eye for doing things that matter most to students when it comes to education reform. In his comments to Haywood teachers and administrators about improving public education in Tennessee, Huffman said, "W e have to go class to class and school to school and work on what needs to be worked on." This might seem obvious, but there is more to education reform than merely measuring average yearly progress and meeting complex No Child Left Behind Law statistical expectations. Huffman stressed the need for teachers and school systems to focus on children and families. We would add that focus also should include student support systems such as mentors and other community-based programs that interact one-on-one with students, especially at-risk students. Tennessee has asked the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver exempting it 8

from meeting the latest No Child Left Behind requirements. http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20110805/OPINION01/108050305/Huffman-s-visit-Haywood-County-focusedkids

Times Editorial: Optimism about Hamilton County schools (Times Free-Press)
The challenges facing Hamilton County schools over the coming year and further into the future are big. Among them: • Enrollment in the system is expected to increase this fall by roughly 500 students -- although funding for the schools is already strained in this time of economic crisis, and lots of new money is unlikely. • Recent numbers on educational achievement have not been encouraging. Fewer than half the schools in Hamilton County earned good standing under federal standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act. More than a dozen schools failed to make adequate yearly progress this year, and even more have missed AYP two years in a row. Among Hamilton County eighth-graders, about a third are performing at the below basic level in math. That threatens their prospects for future academic achievement and, eventually, for good jobs. New schools Superintendent Rick Smith said during a visit to the Times Free Press on Thursday with Board of Education Chairman Mike Evatt that a renewed focus on the basics -- particularly math and literacy -- is key to addressing lack of achievement. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/aug/05/optimism-about-local-schools/?opinionfreepress

Editorial: Don't allow politics to overshadow redistricting (Daily News Journal)
When you're talking about the redistricting process, "politics" will always be involved. And that's the case now as Rutherford County prepares to redraw County Commission district lines. We just hope the political jockeying doesn't become so pronounced that it overshadows the very important work that lies before the redistricting committee. Follwing the most recent census, each of the 21 commission districts needs to be within 5 percent of the average size of 12,205 people, based on the 2010 U.S. Census count of 262,640 for the county. W ith significant population growth, particularly in the western half of the county, a handful of districts are 30-plus percent above the target with just as many roughly 30 percent below. That means lines will change significantly for some districts, and serving on the committee that determines those lines carries with it a good deal of power, prestige and responsibility. http://www.dnj.com/article/20110805/OPINION01/108050310/Editorial-Don-t-allow-politics-overshadowredistricting?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Diane Black: Fight over spending is just beginning (Tennessean)
I came to Congress because I believe government has gotten completely out of control. The size and scope of the federal system is far beyond what the Founders ever intended. For years, presidents have spent us further into debt with no plan for how to pay our bills. This staggering debt is a threat to the very greatness of our country; many economists believe that we have five years to turn this around, or else America will sink under all this debt. But much like someone who purchases a small business from bankruptcy, this Congress must work to return our government to fiscal solvency and begin paying the bills. In the past five years, Congress increased the debt ceiling six times with no substantive debate or regard for the long-term impact of their decisions. Thanks to Americans saying “enough is enough,” this debt limit debate was vastly different. W ith the Budget Control Act of 2011, this Congress used the debt limit as a tool to cut spending and enact reforms on a scale like never before. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110805/OPINION03/308050025/Fight-over-spending-just-beginning? odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Opinion|p

Editorial: TVA's plans for park near spill site should benefit community (N-S)
The Tennessee Valley Authority announced plans on Tuesday to convert a residential area adjacent to the Kingston coal-ash spill site into a park and recreational area. The proposal — which involves demolishing houses and includes baseball diamonds, soccer fields, walking trails and wetlands — would ensure that private property the federal utility bought after the spill will be used for the public good. TVA's plan for the area is a reasonable road map for the renewal of the Swan Pond community, which was devastated by the spill. "We can't change the fact that the spill occurred, but we can fix what happened and help make things right for the community," TVA's Katie Kline said about the proposal. A failed coal-ash waste pond at TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant ruptured on 9

Dec. 22, 2008, sending 5.4 million cubic yards of coal-ash sludge into the Emory River and the surrounding area. No one was killed, but several houses were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. The utility vowed to clean up the mess and bought houses from many property owners who lived nearby. TVA bought 889 acres within 171 tracts for $46.6 million in the months following the catastrophe. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/aug/05/tvas-plans-for-park-near-spill-site-should/

Editorial: Copper capers are on the rise (Commercial Appeal)
Watching houses would help: A casualty of the mortgage crisis is the damage to property values that thieves can inflict. It would be hard to tally the damage from the home mortgage crisis that gripped Memphis and the rest of the country in the late 2000s. One certainty is that the suffering here is worse than just about anywhere else. An emerging symptom described in Thursday's editions of The Commercial Appeal shows how the crisis continues to reverberate. Throughout the city, in vacant homes among a huge inventory of foreclosed properties, thieves are taking advantage of the situation by stealing copper and other valuable materials. Central air-conditioning units, kitchen appliances, light and plumbing fixtures are disappearing, leaving scars that detract not only from the value of the house but the neighborhood, as well. Rising copper prices have exacerbated the problem, creating profit margins that make it worthwhile to ship stolen material to places where it can't be traced. Brazen thieves have been known to flood homes and yards while stealing from homes where water valves haven't been shut off. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/aug/05/editorials-copper-capers-are-on-the-rise/

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