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Tues., May 29 News Summary

Tues., May 29 News Summary

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Published by: TNSenateDems on May 29, 2012
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TUESDAY, MAY 29, 2012A question and answer session with Gov Bill Haslam (Herald-Citizen)
While traveling through the Upper Cumberland last week, Gov. Bill Haslam made a stop at the Herald-Citizen.During that visit, H-C Managing Editor Buddy Pearson, Business Editor Laura Militana and Schools Editor BaileyDarrow had a chance to ask the governor some questions submitted by readers and some questions of our own.Here's what he had to say. Education In response to a question submitted by Tracy Jones we asked: "A lot ofteachers have mixed feelings about many of the education reforms that have come through our state in the lastyear to year and a half. Some of them feel like some of the items you have supported were not as supportive tothem as the promises you had made in campaigning, such as collaborative conferencing. Some teachers maybefeel like you promised you would support them and then some of the things like collaborative conferencing werenot supportive." Haslam: "Well, I am not certain what campaign promise they would be talking about there tobegin with there, number one. Number two, collaborative conferencing actually was a legislative initiative. Lastyear our, key initiative for teachers and schools had to do with tenure reform. This year it was about getting thewaiver for No Child Left Behind, which most teachers wanted.http://www.herald-citizen.com/view/full_story/18747610/article-A-question-and-answer-session-with-Gov--Bill-Haslam?instance=latest_articles
Dollywood, Graceland, distillery offer new lures (Associated Press/Edwards)
Dollywood has a new roller coaster. Elvis has a different side to see. And you can prepare to take a nip at theJack Daniel distillery. Those are just three of the lures this year as Tennessee's summer tourism season getsunder way. The peak of the travel year falls as gasoline prices are high, but going down. For the state's busy $14billion tourism industry, which employs more than 170,000, there are signs that business is picking up. Thesprawling Great Smoky Mountains National Park already is seeing a 15 percent increase in visitors over lastyear. With 9 million visitors annually, it's the most popular national park. Andrew Kean, president and COO of thehighly promoted Rock City atop Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, says gas prices have had little impact onhis attraction. "I think for us, the additional expense for visitors from Atlanta, Nashville and Birmingham is in the$10 to $20 range over two fill ups," he said.http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/28/dollywood-graceland-distillery-offer-new-02/ 
Nashville tourism building on summer travel projections (Tennessean/Marsteller)
Tourism officials, attractions hope to continue big year More Tennesseans and Americans are expected to travelthis summer, and that has Nashville-area tourism officials and attractions hopeful that an already strong year willcontinue. Several attractions are reporting higher or even near-record attendance, bed-tax collections arerunning ahead of last year’s pace and ticket sales for next week’s CMA Music Festival — the region’s largestsingle tourist event — are outpacing last year. “It’s been a really good year so far, and indications are we aregoing to continue our strong run,” said Butch Spyridon, president of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau.That optimism is based on projections that summer travel will increase, although only modestly, from 2011levels. AAA projected that more than 700,000 Tennesseans would travel more than 50 miles from home thisMemorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the summer travel season. That’s up 1.7 percent from last year. Inall, AAA said 34.8 million Americans — a 1.2 percent increase — would travel during the holiday period. And theincrease is forecast to continue all summer long.http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120528/BUSINESS01/305280018/Nashville-tourism-building-summer-travel-projections?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s
Copperhill, Tenn., making a comeback as a tourist destination (TFP/Higgins)
 
Copperhill's foundations rest on copper slag, but today townfolk are looking for tourist gold. A generation ago, thetowns of the Copper Basin were famous for the red desert that surrounded them for 50 square miles. The redhills, with no green in sight, were the result of clear-cutting the timber for fuel to burn in open-air smelters and theresulting acid rain. The desert hills were featured in national magazines, including National Geographic, andphotographed from space by NASA. That desert past, from the discovery of copper in the 1850s until the closingof the mines in the 1980s, is recalled in photos, mining equipment and documents at the Ducktown BasinMuseum, just across U.S. Highway 64 from Copperhill. "My daddy never owned a lawnmower until I was older,"recalled Joyce Allen. She has worked at the museum for 18 years. "We get visitors sometimes who say stuff like,'My parents brought me here to see the desert when I was little,'" she said.http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/29/052912a01-copperhill-comeback-tennessee-tn-ga/?local
Police, clergy team up to fight sex trafficking (Associated Press)
About 160 people attended a three-day Trafficking in America Conference in Nashville where police,prosecutors, clergy and child advocates gathered to bring awareness and find solutions. The conference, whichconcluded on Saturday, reflected the sense of urgency that many state and federal officials feel about the needto stop trafficking in the United States, the Commercial Appeal reported. First Lady Crissy Haslam wrote in aletter to the attendees that trafficking was “an epidemic of tragic proportions,” and her husband, Gov. Bill Haslam,declared May as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. A Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report last yearfound more than 4,000 known victims statewide. One of those victims, Kim Benson, spoke about how she wasforced into prostitution in Chicago as a teenager before she was able to escape her kidnappers. “I survived helland back,” said Benson, who now lives in Cordova. Benson said her abusers would put a gun to her head andtell her they could kill her if they wanted and she would never get away.http://timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/28/nashville-police-clergy-team-fight-sex-trafficking/?breakingnews
State park pools happy to be in splash business (Knox. News-Sentinel/Simmons)
On June 20 the sun will reach its farthest point north of the equator resulting in the longest day of the year.Officially, it's the first day of summer, but never mind the calender. For a lot of people, summer started MemorialDay weekend with the opening of public swimming pools. Traditionally, Tennessee State Parks have providedswimming opportunities almost as routinely as they have hiking and volleyball. But pools are expensive tooperate, and this year, as the state park system celebrates its 75th anniversary, officials continue to take a hardlook at how much swimming state parks can afford to provide. "We're constantly reviewing our operations andtrying to make everything better," said Brock Hill, the state's deputy commissioner of parks and conservation."We talk about pools all the time in connection with whether or not to close them." Early this year at a statebudget hearing in Nashville, Bob Martineau, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment andConservation, proposed closing six state park swimming pools and replacing them with splash parks, whichwould be cheaper to maintain. The closures were expected to save about $200,000 a year.http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/29/state-park-pools-still-in-splash-business-have/ 
Officials offer tips for avoiding fake insurance (Associated Press)
State officials have offered tips for guarding against fake health insurance. They include asking hard questions,reading all materials and scrutinizing websites. Coverage that boasts low rates should be alarming. Be skepticalof ads for insurance via spam emails or blast fax. Make sure insurance agents are selling a state-licensedinsurance product. Deal with reputable agents. According to a news release from the Department of Commerceand Insurance, unlicensed companies defraud consumers by collecting premiums for bogus insurance policieswith no intention of paying claims.http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/29/officials-offer-tips-for-avoiding-fake-insurance/ 
UT ranked nationally for teaching organic farming (News-Sentinel/Williams)
UT among best in teaching how to grow crops that meet organic standards After just five years in existence, theOrganic Crop Unit at the University of Tennessee has been ranked among the six best programs in the nation forteaching students how to grow crops that meet U.S. Department of Agriculture organic standards, according tothe Organic Farming Research Foundation in Santa Cruz, Calif. UT's program was the newest one to be namedthe best by the foundation's first-ever Organic Land Grant Assessment. "There's no money with that, just fame,"said Annette Wszelaki, an assistant professor and UT extension specialist. "We got a perfect score on their eightcriteria." The criteria included elements such as having organic crop production classes and dedicated faculty
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members, a farm where students do hands-on learning and an internship program, among other things. On arecent morning, several interns pulled weeds out of cabbage rows at the university's 90-acre farm off Gov. JohnSevier Highway. Mary Rogers, intern coordinator, stopped to point out to the other students how a wasp haddeposited eggs inside a cabbage worm, which had destroyed a cabbage leaf.http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/29/ut-ranked-nationally-for-teaching-organic/ 
Univ of Tennessee gets money for nuclear training (Associated Press)
The University of Tennessee is receiving more than $1.7 million for nuclear industry training and research. Themoney comes from the U.S. Department of Energy for scholarships, a fellowship and research grants. Forty-sixcolleges and universities nationwide received money under the department's Nuclear Energy University Programand Integrated University Program. According to a news release from the university, UT students were awardedmore scholarship money that any other institution. Six undergraduate scholarships worth $5,000 each wereawarded to UT students in the Department of Nuclear Engineering. A graduate student is being awarded afellowship worth $50,000 annually over three years and $5,000 toward a summer internship at a nationallaboratory.http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/29/univ-of-tennessee-gets-money-for-nuclear/ 
After fall from power, state Democrats look for 'new path forward' (CP/Hale)
In the most generous terms, the Tennessee Democratic Party is a fighter on the mat, just beginning to seestraight after a near-knockout punch. If the arena stops spinning, they can start thinking about standing up again.After some 150 years as the state’s dominant political party, Democrats have become a mostly marginalizedminority in state politics. While party officials describe the fall as having occurred slowly over the past decade, acritical moment came in 2008. Despite Barack Obama’s historic national victory, his 15-point loss to JohnMcCain in Tennessee bled down the ballot. Republicans, who had already seized control of the state Senate,gained four seats in the House, making Democrats a minority in both chambers of the state legislature for thefirst time since Reconstruction. After losing another seat in a special election the following year, Democrats facedpivotal midterm elections, in a cycle even more ripe with anti-Obama fervor. “There is no more important electionthan November of 2010,” Chip Forrester, then working his first election cycle as party chairman, said at the time.“We have a plan. … This is the most critical election cycle of our lifetime.”http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/after-fall-power-state-democrats-look-new-path-forward
Tenn's immigrant high school grads seek in-state college tuition (CP/Garrison)
Diploma in hand, Johnny Garcia walked off the stage at McGavock High School’s graduation and left behind asparkling academic record. A 3.8 grade point average placed him in the top 10 percent of his senior class,earning him the title “distinguished scholar” from Metro. “I tried my hardest in school,” Garcia, who graduatedMay 20, told The City Paper. “I want to make it so where my parents struggles and efforts some day pay off.” Butclassroom success carried no meaning in his search to find affordable, in-state tuition to continue his education.Not in Tennessee. Garcia, born in Mexico, arrived in the United States when he was 4. His residency in thiscountry was unauthorized, however, and he became one of the estimated 70,000 undocumented studentsnationwide who graduate annually. In Tennessee, undocumented students like him are not eligible for the state’sin-state tuition at public universities. Lacking this financial tool makes the cost of higher education three timeshigher, he said, a price tag out of reach for him and other immigrant students.http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/tennessees-immigrant-high-school-grads-seek-state-college-tuition
Chattanooga area colleges hold the line on leaders' pay (Times Free-Press/Trevizo)
Since the beginning of the recession, area colleges and universities have held the line on what they pay their topleaders, data show. But school presidents say that must change if the state wants to attract and retain thoseleaders. Presidents at the four area public schools -- Chattanooga and Cleveland state community colleges, theUniversity of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Dalton State College in Georgia -- all earn below the nationalmedian except for James Catanzaro, president of Chattanooga State. His base salary is right on the median at$170,568. "Most systems are very cognizant of the economy," said Gretchen Bataille, senior vice president of theWashington, D.C.-based American Council on Education. "At the same time, they are hiring people who have tooversee very large budgets, whose spouses or partners are expected to participate in a lot of activities. It's a
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