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SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2012 Haslam, Hagerty and Dean join announcement of HCA expansion (Biz Clarksville

Gov. Bill Haslam, ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, joined HCA officials on Feb. 22, to announce HCA plans to build a new data center at The Crossings in Antioch, Tenn. and expand its existing IT locations in the Nashville region. The construction and expansion plans represent a total investment in excess of $200 million and the creation of approximately 155 IT jobs during a fiveyear period. “HCA played a key role in establishing Middle Tennessee as the national healthcare hub it is today. “W e appreciate the company’s continued investment in our state and its commitment to being such a valuable community partner over the years,”said Governor Haslam. HCA is the nation’s leading provider of healthcare services, comprised of locally managed facilities that include 163 hospitals and 111 freestanding surgery centers in 20 states and England. At its founding in 1968, Nashville-based HCA was one of the nation’s first hospital companies.

Haslam names Phillip Robinson Judge of Third Circuit Court (Clarksville Online)
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today announced Phillip Robinson as judge of the Third Circuit Court for the 20th Judicial District, replacing Barbara Haynes who retired last year. Robinson received his J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law and has spent the entirety of his 36-year legal career practicing in Nashville. “Phillip has practiced law in Davidson County his entire career, and he will bring that extensive experience to the bench,” Haslam said. “I appreciate his willingness to serve.” The Third Circuit Court will likely be designated a new family law court for Davidson County. Robinson’s practice originally included domestic relations cases, personal injury and criminal and probate matters, but for the last 25 years it has exclusively been domestic relations with Robinson opening his own practice with associates in 2001.

Governor faces squabble over veterans' preference in hiring (Leaf Chronicle)
Gov. Bill Haslam has introduced an act that will provide a new way of hiring civil service employees. The Tennessee Excellence Accountability and Management (TEAM) Act was created to “establish a system that will attract, select, retain and promote the best applicants and employees based on performance and equal opportunities,” according to the TNForward website. It will also create a system that will be free from coercive political influences and provide technically competent employees, the governor said. Haslam said in his state of the state address the state has a hiring system that’s broken. “Let me be clear, this is not an indictment of our workforce. I’ve visited with employees in all of our 22 departments over the past year, and I have seen firsthand many dedicated, hardworking, and impressive people,” he said. “This is about an antiquated system that limits who we can hire and limits growth opportunities for current employees.”

State's Fusion Center draws trends on crime (Associated Press/Hall)
Since opening five years ago, the Tennessee Fusion Center has become the state’s centralized database for criminal information and records that aids analysts in discerning patterns in criminal activity throughout the state. Fusion centers like the one in Tennessee were created after 9/11 to address gaps in communication about potential criminal and terrorist activity between law enforcement agencies on the local, state and national level. Agents who oversee the center say the information they gather is leading to the prosecution of criminal gangs, the recovery of abducted and missing children and increased awareness of human trafficking in Tennessee. In large room inside the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Nashville, analysts scour and vet information from arrest reports and search warrants to tips and leads from the public. More than 30 analysts and agents work out of the center that operates seven days a week. Jerri Powell, special agent in charge of the TBI crime information unit and co-director of the fusion center, said the center connects and shares information between about 450 law enforcement agencies in the state. S01/302250060/State-s-Fusion-Center-drawstrends-crime?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

State holding hearing on use of War Memorial Plaza (Associated Press)
State officials will hold a public hearing on proposed rules that will decide how people can use War Memorial Plaza. The notice of the hearing comes as lawmakers are voting on a measure to evict Occupy Nashville from the plaza. The group has been camping on War Memorial Plaza for nearly five months. Lawmakers want to make it a misdemeanor to camp on state-owned property without permission. The House is scheduled to vote on the measure Monday. Some of the proposed rules ban camping on the plaza, playing music or amplifying sound that can be heard more than 50 feet away and outline procedures for reserving the space. The State Department of General Services will hold the public hearing on April 16 at Legislative Plaza.|newswell|text|News|p

Six People In White County Charged With TennCare Fraud (W TVF-TV Nashville)
In one middle Tennessee County six people have been arrested and charged with TennCare Fraud and in each case investigators say every single person planned on selling at least part of the prescription drugs they got to others. Authorities said each of six people got the prescription drugs by using TennCare to pay for them. Police arrested 51-year-old Allan Henry, 29-year-old Gaines Lewis, 42-yearold Michael Gonzalez, 27-year-old Dana Yearwood, 31-year-old Crystal Dillon and 18-year-old Zachary Young. "Prescription drug abuse is a concern of communities large and small across Tennessee," Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. "With the help of local police like Detectives Craig Capps and Joey Williams of the White County Sheriff's Office, we're sending a message that abusing TennCare will have serious repercussions." The arrests were made in a six month long undercover round-up that wound up with the White County Sheriff's Office charging a total of 48 people for selling prescription drugs.

University of Memphis gets $1.5M software development grant (M. Biz Journal)
The University of Memphis will receive $1.5 million from the Office of Naval Research to develop digital tutoring software for a math and science teacher training program. The Science Technology Engineering and Math program trains future math and science teachers through a partnership with the University of Memphis and Christian Brothers University . The Office of Naval Research has selected four academic and industry teams — including Arizona State University , the University of Massachusetts and Raytheon BBN Technologies — to participate in the $8 million program, which is designed to create digital tutors that will teach according to the individual needs of students. The University of Memphis team will consist of 10 faculty members and five psychology and computer sciences graduate students. The tutor systems are designed to mimic interactions between students and teachers. 2

Stringer's Ridge (TFP/Sohn)




U.S. Highway



When roadwork to widen U.S. Highway 27 between the Olgiati Bridge and the Signal Mountain exit is done, the new stretch could be dubbed the “hundred-million-dollar” mile. The 1.6-mile passage through narrow breaks in the folds of Stringer’s Ridge is budgeted to cost $102.5 million and probably will go over that budget, according to Ken Flynn, the regional construction manager for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. Because the now four-lane road is in a valley between unstable hills lined with condos, widening it to six lanes and adding adequate acceleration and deceleration space for three sets of on- and off-ramps means moving up the ridge on both sides. “It’s a big challenge,” said Flynn. “There’s a lot going on in not a lot of space. And there are complications.” TDOT and road contractors must build 31 retaining walls, most of them specialty — read: costly — walls. In the process of widening the four lanes to six, they also must tear out 10 bridges and build six new ones.

Patey seeks Circuit Court judgeship (Jackson Sun)
Mark Patey, a prominent local attorney, announced Friday that he will seek the Circuit Court judge’s seat vacated by Judge Roger Page after his appointment to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. A native Jacksonian, Patey has practiced law for nearly 25 years within this district and throughout rural West Tennessee. The 26th Judicial District includes Madison, Henderson and Chester counties. Patey attended Jackson Central-Merry High School and graduated in 1980, then continued his undergraduate education at Union University on an athletic scholarship and graduated with honors. He finished his law degree at the University of Memphis, then returned to Madison County to begin a regional law practice. When asked why he wanted to pursue the public service position, Patey stated, “I passionately care about fairness and justice for the citizens of our three counties. Having worked in every courtroom in the 26th Judicial District, it would be the greatest honor of my career to serve the people of Madison, Henderson and Chester counties.” The general election will be held Aug. 2.

GOP discuss need for 'Don't Say Gay' ban (Associated Press/Johnson)
Legislation that would ban the teaching of gay issues to elementary and middle school students may be stalled, as Republican lawmakers discuss whether they should proceed with the bill. House Speaker Beth Harwell told reporters during her weekly press conference in her office Thursday that she and her colleagues are reviewing the current curriculum "to see if this bill is necessary or if we have unintended consequences with this." The legislation, known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, limits all sexually related instruction to "natural human reproduction science" in kindergarten through eighth grade. Harwell said there's concern the measure could inadvertently open the doors to "sex education at an inappropriate age bracket" in public schools. State Education Department spokeswoman Kelli Gauthier didn't know if that would happen, but she did tell The Associated Press on Friday that the proposal is "consistent with the state's current curriculum as established by the state Board of Education." Earlier this week, a vote on the bill was delayed in the House Education Committee after supporters were told of fellow Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's concerns.|newswell|text|News|s

Legislator trying again to allow deer farms (Associated Press)
An East Tennessee legislator is again trying to get approval for commercial deer farms after a similar effort failed last year. Rep. Frank Nicely, R-Strawberry Plains, has accused opponents of his bill of spreading disinformation. However, the measure has raised alarm among hunting groups and wildlife conservation advocates, according to The Tennessean ( 9v When Nicely crafted ). the bill this year, he steered it to the House Agriculture Committee, which he chairs. A similar measure last year received little support before the chamber's Conservation and Environment subcommittee. The 3

Tennessee W ildlife Federation says deer farms open the state to the possibility of chronic wasting disease. The committee heard testimony on the bill Tuesday and it was limited to the state veterinarian. "Actually, bringing in 10 more deer would probably be no more a risk than bringing in 10 more head of cattle," Niceley said, referring to infectious disease. He then asked Charlie Hatcher, Tennessee Department of Agriculture veterinarian, "Would you agree — or could you almost agree with that?" Hatcher replied that deer brought into the state would have to meet import requirements, including health documentation.|newswell|text|News|s

Bill would guarantee counsel for juveniles accused of truancy (N-S/Lakin)
They stand before a judge as a defendant but with no right to a lawyer. Tennessee law guarantees the right to legal representation to all defendants accused of crimes — unless they're kids accused of skipping school. A new bill seeks to change that. State Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, and state Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, are sponsoring legislation that would grant children involved in truancy cases the right to counsel. "The legal system is complex and doesn't always help the kid get to the right place," Berke said. "They're facing fines and other consequences. By having an attorney, we're going to encourage kids to cooperate and get back in school so they don't have to suffer those consequences." Juvenile defendants in Tennessee have no right under current law to counsel during truancy proceedings. That's because truancy — defined as at least five chronic, unexcused absences from school — doesn't technically qualify as a crime, even though it's illegal. The law in Tennessee and most other states classifies truancy and certain other cases as "status offenses" rather than crimes because they're illegal only for juveniles and not for adults. Tennessee law guarantees juvenile defendants the right to a lawyer only if they're in danger of being found delinquent — guilty of a crime — or removed from home.

New Tennessee PAC pushing education reforms (Times Free-Press/Sher)
There’s a new political action committee on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill and it’s playing big time. Tennessee Parents/Teachers Putting Students First gave $117,000 to state lawmakers, leadership PACs and legislative caucuses from December and Jan. 15. The PAC is the creation of StudentsFirst, a group pushing its version of education reform. The group was created by Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the Washington, D.C., school system. Rhee is the ex-wife of state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, whose boss is Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. All of the PAC’s $126,000 in funding comes from StudentsFirst. The StudentsFirst PAC ranked No. 5 in contribution to individual lawmakers or legislative candidates with $65,400. Most contributions went to Republicans, who dominate the General Assembly these days. But Democrats were not forgotten. The Senate Republican Caucus received $10,000 as did the House Republican Caucus. The PAC gave $5,000 each to the House Democratic Caucus and the Senate Democratic Caucus. Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey’s leadership committee, RAAMPAC, got $5,000 as did Ramsey’s personal campaign. Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell got $5,000 for her leadership committee, Harwell PAC, and another $5,000 for her personal campaign.

Voters back education (Tennessean/Hubbard)






A majority of Tennessee voters support education reform and think the state is heading in the right direction, a recent poll found. A memo to state lawmakers last week from Mike Carpenter, Tennessee’s director of nonprofit StudentsFirst, showed its poll backed teacher tenure changes, new teacher evaluations and more charter schools. The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, surveyed 600 likely voters on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, and had a 4 percent margin of error. Among the findings: 72 percent of those polled like teacher evaluation changes, 68 percent favor alternate teaching licenses and 58 percent favor ending forced placement of teachers by districts without teacher or principal consent. Gov. Bill Haslam garnered a 72 percent approval rating and lawmakers a 63 percent approval rating by voters.|newswell|text|News|p 4

Snapshot shows (NS/McCoy)








One in every eight Tennessee children is growing up in a high poverty community, according to data snapshot released this week by the Annie E. Casey Kids Count project. "The concern is there are reduced opportunities they have to be successful in school and in life," said Linda O'Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. "I think it's important for us to realize we have be strategic to help families and children to be successful." The report — which highlights newly available national, state, and city data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey — found that one-fourth of Tennessee children live in poverty. The snapshot indicates how high-poverty communities are harmful to children, outlines regions in which concentrated poverty has grown the most, and offers recommendations to address these issues. O'Neal said her agency is familiar with the numbers but was surprised to see that the number of children in concentrated poverty areas had doubled since 2000. From 2006 to 2010, about 200,000 Tennessee children lived in concentrated poverty areas, or communities where 30 percent or more of the children live in poverty.

DUI deaths spur questions about bars' liability (Tennessean/Gee)
Servers, stores can face risk A handful of recent and tragic accidents have raised the question of who else — in addition to the driver — is responsible when an intoxicated person causes an accident that results in the injury or death of others. Police investigators want to know where 22-year-old Rebecca Benson had been before she got in her car early Wednesday and drove south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 65. Benson, who police believe was drunk, collided head-on with Steffanie Leonard, 29. Leonard died. Her family will bury her today. Benson has been charged with vehicular homicide. Anyone who sold her alcohol also could face legal problems of their own. “W here she was prior to the crash is an important element of the investigation,” Metropolitan Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron said of Benson. “We are not 100 percent sure of where she was. W e have strong suspicions, but those are not confirmed.” Citing the attorney-client privilege, Benson’s attorney, David Raybin, would not say where Benson was immediately before the crash. “Rebecca and her family’s thoughts and prayers are directed at this time to Steffanie Leonard and her family,” he said. Vendor liability laws vary from state to state and, in some cases, even city to city. In 21 states and the District of Columbia, vendors can be held liable for intoxicated adults. In 14 other states, they cannot. S01/302250022/DUI-deaths-spur-questions-aboutbars-liability?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Audit looms for KTSC (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Witt)
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett looking for firm figures An audit is imminent for the Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corp. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said Friday the county is close to an agreement with Pugh and Company to have accountants audit the nonprofit KTSC and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. "I don't put a lot of faith in the facts and figures coming out of the KTSC," Burchett said, adding that he wants the audit done by May, before the county negotiates a contract with KTSC. The Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corp. is doing its own review of a pre-existing $4 million account that could be used to purchase the Hall of Fame from Knox County. The KTSC doesn't know how much of that money is earmarked for the Hall of Fame, or how it can be spent. "There was a path that they were going down with SMI and the money," KTSC interim president Kim Bumpas, said about Sports Management Inc., which oversees operation at the Hall of Fame. "There may be options that we don't know." Bumpas also said that KTSC welcomes the audit and "will work diligently with all the auditor requests."

Authorities investigate suspicious letter at Sen. Alexander's office (City Paper)
Crews responding to a suspicious letter at U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Nashville office decontaminated one person who came in contact with the letter and have sent it to the state lab to be analyzed further. The FBI, along with Metro police and fire crews, responded to a call of a suspicious package around 2 p.m. Thursday at 3322 West End Ave., the building that houses Capitol Records and the local offices of Alexander and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker. Fire department Deputy Chief Kim Lawson 5

said crews responded to Alexander’s office, isolated the letter and decontaminated a woman who worked in the office. Lawson said there have been no reports of illness associated with the letter so far. The Associated Press reported W ednesday that several members of Congress had received “threatening letters containing a suspicious powdery substance,” which turned out to be harmless. Reuters, citing an unnamed “U.S. law enforcement official,” also reported W ednesday evening that TV personalities Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert received letters stating that all 100 U.S. senators would receive letters, 10 of which “would contain a deadly pathogen.”

Lamar Alexander casts Sentinel/Blackberby)






U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., gave his stamp of approval to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Friday morning. Alexander, who was in town to speak at a naturalization ceremony at Maryville College, made a quick mid-morning stop at the Blount County Election Commission to vote in the Republican presidential primary. After casting his ballot, Alexander, a Republican serving in his second term, revealed that he believes Romney has the best shot at unseating President Barack Obama. "I learned a long time ago that Tennesseans didn't elect me to tell them how to vote, but I voted for Gov. Romney," Alexander said. "W e're electing a commander in chief who knows something about creating jobs, not a legislator in chief. For me, Gov. Romney is the right choice. He's led a state, he's led a business, he's led the Olympics." Alexander said he "likes all three" of the main Republican candidates, including former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, but he touted Romney's business background and ability to "bring jobs" as key differences.

George Flinn Mulling Over 9th District Race (that's right, 9th!) (Memphis Flyer)
George Flinn, the Memphis radiologist/radio magnate who has increasingly turned to politics in recent years, will very likely do so again, sources tell the Flyer. This time Republican Flinn, who served six years on the Shelby County Commission and made races for County Mayor in 2002 and for the 8th District Congressional seat in 2010, apparently is aiming at Congress once more. Only now it’s the 9th District seat, the one currently held by Democrat Steve Cohen. There’s already a Republican running — Charlotte Bergman, making her second consecutive try — but she’s on a shoestring budget, and Flinn, who is independently wealthy and spent more than $3 million in his 2010 race, would clearly be able to match war chests with Cohen, who is said to have close to $1 million on hand himself. Flinn, who formerly lived in the River Oaks section of East Memphis, is now firmly within the confines of the 9th District, which has been redistricted to include sections of North Shelby County and Cordova that his backers believe are Republican-friendly. The 9th District, however, is still majority-black, and is considered the most reliably Democratic of Tennessee’s nine congressional areas.

Tennesseans leaving $16.1 million on the table, IRS says (Memphis Biz Journal)
About $16.1 million is awaiting Tennesseans who have not yet filed their 2008 tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service is reporting. But time is running out. Nationwide, the agency said it has more than $1 billion for about 1 million people who still haven’t filed their 2008 returns. About 18,400 Tennesseans didn’t file, the IRS said. The deadline to file in order to collect refunds is April 17. For those expected to get money back, there is no penalty for late filing, the agency said. By law, most taxpayers get a threeyear grace period to claim refunds. The one caveat: If taxpayers haven’t filed their 2009 and/or 2010 returns, those refund checks could be held until those are filed, too.


IRS says 18,000 Tennesseans could get 2008 refunds (Knoxville NewsSentinel)
As taxpayers prepare their income tax returns for 2011, the Internal Revenue Service is still holding millions that are owed to Tennessee residents from 2008. IRS spokesman Dan Boone said the funds can't be refunded because more than 18,000 Tennesseans it should go to haven't filed returns from three years ago. Refunds totaling $16,130,000 await 2008 filings in Tennessee. Nationally, the estimate is more than $1 billion for people who have yet to file for that year. Boone said the late filing can still be done without penalty if a refund is owed, but only until April 17. After that, the money is turned over to the U.S. Treasury. The IRS can still withhold refund checks for 2008 from taxpayers if they didn't file returns for 2009 and 2010.

Bill would slash highway funds for Tennessee (Tennessean/Bewley)
The environmental reviews have been completed, sound walls are going up, and design work is nearly complete. All officials need now is federal money to widen the run-down stretch of Interstate 65 between Trinity Lane and Dickerson Road in Nashville. But they could be waiting awhile. House lawmakers are considering revamping a long-awaited transportation bill to lower its price tag. That could push passage of the legislation closer to the March 31 expiration of the temporary measure funding projects across the country. Further delays could prevent new projects from starting until mid-summer at the earliest, state officials say. And the bill Congress eventually passes is almost certain to slash federal funding for highways in Tennessee, further compromising major construction projects that rely primarily on federal dollars. The last multi-year transportation bill expired in 2009. Congress has been renewing with temporary measures because lawmakers haven’t figured out how to pay for a new one. “I would like to know that we had a higher funding level, but just knowing the funding level (would be) a powerful tool for us,” said Paul Degges, chief engineer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. “By continually having these continuation bills, I can’t do good, solid transportation planning. It’s hard for us to deliver on transportation projects when I’ve got the project ready to go and the money’s not there.” S21/302250008/Bill-would-slash-highway-fundsTennessee?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Chatt. Tea Party brews big day for presidential candidate Santorum (TFP/Carroll)
If you're going to Rick Santorum's speech today in Chattanooga, plan on a long afternoon at Abba's House. The Chattanooga Tea Party is bankrolling the event at the Southern Baptist church in Hixson, but Tea Party President Mark West declined Friday to publicly release the event's three-hour agenda. Sources close to Santorum's campaign said the Republican presidential candidate would speak toward the end. The church's auditorium holds 3,100 people, and organizers expect a standing-room-only crowd. "I don't think we'll have an issue with parking," said Alicia Montijo, event coordinator at the church. Montijo declined further comment, saying church officials "don't want to get involved in politics." West said the local tea party paid Abba's House to rent the auditorium, but wouldn't disclose the amount. "That's probably not relevant," West said. So far, Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are the only presidential candidates hitting the Chattanooga area before March 6, the day Tennessee, Georgia and eight other states host presidential primaries on what's known as Super Tuesday. Gingrich has scheduled an invitation-only fundraiser in Chattanooga and a public rally in Dalton, Ga., Tuesday.

Medicaid Cuts Rile Doctors (Wall Street Journal)
Hospitals Also Fight W ashington State's Drive to Trim Emergency-Room Visits A plan by Washington state's Medicaid agency to stop paying for certain emergency-room visits is prompting pushback from hospitals and doctors, who say they will be stuck with bills for vital care they often are legally required to provide. The new cuts, set for April 1, focus on about 500 diagnoses including common infections, mild burns, strains and bruises. If an enrollee comes to an emergency room and is diagnosed with one of these conditions, the Washington Medicaid program won't pay the hospital and doctors. Instead, the state will pay a screening fee of about $50 if the patient is in a private-plan version of Medicaid, which 7

currently enrolls about 60% of beneficiaries and is slated to grow. Patients won't be charged. The move would be the latest cut to Medicaid programs as states struggle to reduce health-care costs—and as the downturn has boosted Medicaid's ranks. Some 43 states have Medicaid initiatives designed to deter unnecessary use of emergency rooms, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that studies health issues. Several states now charge patients copays for nonemergency services in an ER. mod=ITP_pageone_1 (SUBSCRIPTION)

TVA head predicts future use of spent fuel (Associated Press)
Tennessee Valley Authority chief Tom Kilgore predicts the federal utility will one day use its spent nuclear fuel to generate electricity. "I'll make a prediction," he said to a questioner who asked about spent fuel recycling. "One of these days we'll go out there and start mining those dry casks," he said. TVA stores spent fuel rods from nuclear reactors at the sites. Kilgore, president and CEO of TVA, spoke to Chattanooga area engineers on Thursday and noted that the process is already used elsewhere. "France does it now. We just don't have the political will to do it," Kilgore said. Kilgore delivered the keynote speech at the Chattanooga Engineers Week 2012 banquet on why nuclear power is still needed. "We build nuclear to keep your rates down. The best economic tool we have — and we are in the economic development business — is to keep rates low," Kilgore said. Kilgore also stressed TVA's safety record. He said he was pleased with the decision of the utility's nuclear chief to stand down work at the Watts Bar Unit 2 to get workers' attention.|newswell|text|News|s

‘Déjà vu all over again’ as 150 jobs slated for Williamson County (Nashville Post)
If there was a local academy award for “Most Job Announcements” made in a given year, Williamson County would get the nod, few questions asked. Just ask Matt Largen, the county’s director for economic development, who confirmed this morning that Connecticut-based Affinion Group will add 150 jobs to its Williamson County operations. The jobs will be filled before year's end and will be divided between Affinion’s two Cool Springs sites. “We are more than pleased as this is our first jobs announcement for 2012, continuing where we left off in 2011,” Largen said. Largen confirmed that Affinion’s marketing support functions are growing and that additional jobs will be spread over the company’s Duke Drive and Corporate Centre Drive locations. Affinion now occupies the first five floors at 801 Corporate Centre building, a significant amount of space for the area, as the company will soon have 650 employees in Williamson. “We are excited about the prospects for 2012 and this gives us a great start,” Largen said. Largen said that in 2011, companies announced the addition of 2000 jobs in Williamson County. unty

Affinion adding 150 jobs in Williamson County (Nashville Business Journal)
Connecticut-based Affinion Group is adding 150 jobs to two existing locations in Williamson County. The operation and call center jobs will be spread out between offices at Duke Drive and Corporate Centre Drive, according to Matt Largen, head of economic development for Williamson County. The company currently employs 500 people in W illiamson County, and is expected to grow to 650 by year's end. Affinion Group is a worldwide customer service company and privately held by Apollo Management and General Atlantic Partners.

East Hamilton Middle/High School rezoning unveiled Tuesday (TFP/Hardy)
School officials are bracing for large crowds at two rezoning meetings next week that will kick off the process of reshaping the attendance zone for the overcrowded East Hamilton Middle/High School. At the meetings, administrators will unveil their plan on how to rezone the school as well as how they’ll incorporate two new planned elementary schools — a new Ooltewah Elementary and a new East Brainerd Elementary. Officials have prepared proposed zone boundaries for East Hamilton but won’t 8

release those plans until the meeting, set for Tuesday. They said they want families to attend the meetings to find out if and how they’ll be affected by the proposal. It’s already clear that many parents are interested — or concerned — about the changes. Board of Education Chairman Mike Evatt said the school system’s central office has been bombarded with phone calls about East Hamilton’s zoning change. “The East Hamilton folks are getting anxious to know something,” he said. “We’re trying to encourage parents to attend the zoning meeting because we just don’t have the manpower to answer all those personalized questions.” loca

OPINION Guest columnist: Technology showing success against meth crime (Tennessean)
Last year, Gov. Bill Haslam and the General Assembly passed the “I Hate Meth Act,” a landmark bill that implemented tougher penalties for methamphetamine criminals. The new law was also a win for consumers, as it put in place real-time technology that protects law-abiding citizens’ access to safe and effective medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) and stops illegal sales of PSE. Used by 18 million American families each year, PSE is a safe and effective active ingredient found in leading cold and allergy medicines to provide congestion relief, but it can also be used to illegally manufacture meth. This newly implemented electronic technology, called the National Precursor Log Exchange or “NPLEx,” allows pharmacists to refuse an illegal sale, based on purchases made anywhere in the state or even in neighboring states, and it also provides law enforcement with a critical tool to help them more aggressively track and arrest meth criminals. The Tennessee Pharmacists Association has supported NPLEx and, based on impressive new “blocking” data released this month, will continue to do so.|newswell|text|Opinion|p

Free-Press Editorial: Assembly should keep incentive process transparent (TFP)
Companies have an interest in keeping certain financial data private, so a state is justified in not divulging that information when it considers granting incentives to a business to get it to build or expand in the state. But lawmakers of both parties are rightly skeptical of legislation backed by Gov. Bill Haslam that would keep not only sensitive financial data but also the ownership of companies getting taxpayerfunded grants confidential. True, the state might lose some economic development if a company went elsewhere upon realizing it would have to make its ownership public to get an incentive. But that concern is outweighed by the need for transparency when taxpayer dollars are at stake and by the possibility of conflicts of interest -- a possibility that transparency may head off. Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey says the bill in its current form likely would fail. It would deserve to.

Editorial: Infiniti JX adding jobs and more to community (Daily News Journal)
Much has been made of Nissan’s plans to produce the all-electric Leaf at its Smyrna plant by the end of the year. But for those of us still driving around in cars that run on gasoline, the 2013 Infiniti JX is a pretty big deal. On Monday, autoworkers proudly applauded alongside Nissan execs and elected officials as the first JX off the line rolled onto a stage and was showered with confetti. The all new seven-passenger JX is the first luxury car to be manufactured in Tennessee and it’s the first Infiniti to be made outside of Japan. If that’s not impressive enough, Nissan officials also say the JX — and the Pathfinder, which will be made in Smyrna later this year — should create the need for about 1,000 more jobs at the plant. Smyrna Town Manager Mark O’Neal may have said it best when discussing the positive energy at the plant Monday. “You hear the excitement and that’s nice,” he said. “That’s what we need: more excitement in the business community.” There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to the JX. 9

Free-Press Editorial: Worthwhile but costly transfers put schools in bind (TFP)
Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith is trying to make the best of a bad situation: the question of students being allowed to transfer out of low-performing public schools and attend better ones. He is stuck between high costs for the transfers on one hand and the prospect of students having to remain involuntarily in poorly performing schools on the other. Until now, the federal No Child Left Behind law has permitted students in many cases to leave weaker public schools and attend better ones. W hile it has taken awhile for such transfers to catch on locally, it appears they are growing rapidly, as parents seek a better education for their children. For example, this year, the school system is busing well over 400 students to schools other than the ones they are zoned for, as part of the transfer option. That is more than twice as many students as took advantage of the transfers just last year. Only a few students choose to transfer from some schools, but in other cases, scores of students make the move. Almost 80 students who would ordinarily attend Orchard Knob Middle are instead going to Hunter Middle or Ooltewah Middle this year. ###