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MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2012 Harris Research Inc.

names Nashville for regional headquarters (Biz Clarksville)

ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announced,n March 14, that Harris Research, Inc. (HRI) is establishing a new regional headquarters in Nashville. The company, which offers franchises under the in-home consumer services brands Chem-Dry and N-Hance, will create 30 new jobs and invest more than $1 million in its new 8,500 square foot space in the Braid Building in Nashvilles Gulch area. Chem-Dry, the worlds leading carpet and upholstery cleaner and N-Hance, a revolutionary wood renewal system, have more than 4,200 franchises in 43 countries. The companys new location will house its finance, franchise administration group, franchise sales, marketing and international divisions. Governor Bill Haslam and I would like to thank HRI for investing in Tennessee and its citizens. With our quality workforce and business friendly climate, our state is well on its way to achieving the governors goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. We look forward to working with the Chem-Dry and N-Hance brands along with CEO Dan Tarantin and his executive team as they establish and grow their presence in Middle Tennessee, Hagerty said.

Volkswagen selects Roane County for distribution center site (Biz Clarksville)
Volkswagen Group of America announced on March 13 that it will invest $40 million to build a warehouse in Roane County for distributing domestic auto parts for the Chattanooga-made Passat. The 400,000-square-foot facility is expected to open by spring 2013 and will employ up to 45 people by 2016. Addressing the need for increased infrastructure, the facility will begin as a redistribution center to service warehouses and will later expand to include a parts distribution center. The redistribution Master Depot will support the US, Canada and Mexico. The parts distribution operation will improve service parts delivery times to over 100 dealers in the surrounding regions. Im grateful Volkswagen is expanding its presence here in the state and bringing new jobs to Roane County because projects such as this bring more direct and indirect investments to Tennessee, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said.

4 businesses in Tennessee, state agency recognized (Associated Press)

A national economic development publication has recognized four businesses in Tennessee for their community impact. Amazon, General Motors, Quaprotek USA and MANN+HUMMEL were honored by Trade & Industry Development. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development also was recognized. All were chosen for the magazine's 2012 Corporate Investment and Community Impact awards. The publication, which focuses on company site selection and facility planning, picked 30 winners.|newswell|text|News|s

TN education chief urges more classes with technical and career focus (AP)
State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said the state needs to provide high school students with better technical and career-oriented classes. The comments, which were reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, came at a Friday meeting of education and business leaders in Chattanooga billed as a career-ready summit to align education and business priorities and enhance the workforce. I think we have a real need to revamp some of the course offerings and an opportunity to do that with the encouragement of the business sector, Huffman said. Robert Schwartz, academic dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said students increasingly are told they must get some form of post-secondary education and even a four-year degree, but only about 30 percent of people earn a four-year degree by age 25. Another 10 percent get a two-

year associate degree while about 10 percent more attain a post-secondary certificate.|newswell|text|News|s

Publishing evaluation with names splits open government debate (CP/Greenberg)

On its own accord, the Tennessee Department of Education wont publish controversial teacher evaluation scores alongside the names of the instructors, but some of this information could be available via open records requests this summer. Yet until a media outlet in Tennessee follows the formula from other states, cites the states open records laws and asks for the updated personnel files of the states 65,000 teachers, its unclear which areas of the complicated 1-through-5 scoring rubric would be accessible to the public. And that raises an ethics question. W hether a media outlet should actually post evaluation data and teacher names is as contentious as the evaluation system itself. Even open government advocates are torn on the issue. Its a debate that has created a firestorm elsewhere, most recently in New York, whereThe New York Times, after a long legal battle with city schools, obtained and posted teacher evaluations in an online database. In an interview with The City Paper, Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, nearing his first full year in the position, dismissed as incorrect media reports that his department planned to publish evaluation scores attached to teachers names.

Tenn. education stats as compiled in new report (Associated Press)

A look at some findings for Tennessee from the 2012 Building a Grad Nation report released Monday. Tennessee was among a dozen states reported to have made the most progress from 2002 to 2009. The report was sponsored by America's Promise Alliance, a children's advocacy organization founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Graduation rate: 77.4 percent in 2009, up from 59.6 percent in 2002. Benefits to Tennessee of a national 90 Percent Graduation Rate: $88 million in increased annual earnings; $16 million in increased annual state tax revenues. Goal: By 2020. Poverty: 16th in childhood poverty at 23.7 percent. College education: 36th in college completion at 26.7 percent. AP exams: Number of students taking AP exams during high school increased from 11.8 percent to 19.8 percent from 2001-2011. Slightly more than half, 52.5 percent, scored at least a "3" or higher.|newswell| text|News|s

TennCare Fraud In Coffee County (Tullahoma Radio)

Two Coffee County women are charged with TennCare fraud for selling prescription drugs paid for with TennCare benefits. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced the arrest of Monica LeeAnn Dodson, 25, and Melissa Shannon Coker, 41, both of Tullahoma, after a joint investigation with the Tullahoma Police Department. Both women are each charged with one count of TennCare fraud and one count of sale of a controlled substance. The charges say they each used TennCare benefits to obtain a prescription for the pain reliever Hydrocodone, concealing that they planned to unlawfully sell a portion of the prescription. TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison, and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud is a Class D felony, punishable by two to four years in prison. District Attorney General Mickey Layne is prosecuting.

Sinkhole leaves dip in road in W ashington County, Tenn. (Herald-Courier)

A sinkhole has left a small dip in the road on State Route 353 in Washington County, according to a press release issued today by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The road is a rural two lane and one lane is closed with traffic being flagged around the dip. County crews are working now to patch the hole and they will re-open the road later today. After county crews patch the dip left in the road, regional crews and supervisors will investigate the situation on Monday to see if excavation and solid rock fill are needed.

Nursing Board Revamp Referred Back to Committee (TN Report)

Attempts to gut the nursing board and stitch it back together fell apart in the House Thursday after lawmakers from both sides of the aisle asserted the proposal went too far. The Board of Nursing will dissolve June 30 2

without some sort of nod from the Legislature to continue setting standards for the profession. But the board has become notorious for butting heads with the General Assembly. In the last two years weve been round and round from the abuses of our nurses by that board, period, said bill sponsor Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, who wants to revamp the panel and says some of those issues have been worked out in his bill. Theres absolutely no retaliatory premise in this, he continued. Shipley and Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, were the focus of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe for pressuring the Board of Nursing last year to rescind disciplinary action against three area nurses the board had punished for allegedly over-prescribing medication.

Pro-gun, pro-business GOP stance leads to difficult position with bill (CP/Woods)
With Tennessee Republicans now enjoying the second year of their ascendency, gleeful business leaders expected to spend this legislative session pushing through changes in state law to make their lives easier and less expensive. Among other pro-business goals, they hoped to stamp out living-wage laws once and for all and to make it harder for laid-off workers to collect unemployment checks. Instead, theyve been forced unexpectedly into a prolonged fight to fend off the latest attempt to expand Second Amendment rights in Tennessee legislation to let employees tote any legally possessed firearm into their company parking lots and then leave the guns locked in their cars during their workday. Businesses say the bill tramples their private property rights and threatens the safety of all their employees. Now this seems to be at the top of their list, as opposed to fighting labor unions, living wage, fighting workers compensation issues, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey mused at one of his press availabilities this month. A whos who of the Tennessee business world has paraded to the Capitol to try to persuade lawmakers to buck the National Rifle Association, which is demanding passage of whats become known as the guns-in-parking-lots bill.

Tennessee Legislature's social conservatives have full agenda (NS/Humphrey)

Legislation that critics see as a means of promoting creationism in classrooms was revived last week after a year of dormancy while a so-called "don't say gay" bill suffered a setback that some supporters say is only temporary. Having drawn national media attention, those two bills are perhaps the best-known and most controversial measures in a broad agenda of social conservative causes pushed by Republican legislators. But they are not necessarily the most significant among the multiple bills with religious, moral and social overtones. The bill on teaching of scientific theories in Tennessee schools dubbed "the monkey bill" by the National Center for Science Education passed the House last year. House Sponsor Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, said it was to promote "critical thinking" about scientific theories by protecting teachers from discipline when they engage students in discussion about prevailing scientific theories such as evolution or global warming. Sen. Bo W atson, R-Hixson, refused to put the bill to a vote in a Senate committee last year. But he did so last week, winning Senate Education Committee approval of SB893 after attaching an amendment that Watson said "neither side particularly likes."

Republican legislatures move to preempt local government (Stateline)

Mayor Ken Moore and the elected aldermen of Franklin, Tennessee, unanimously approved a resolution last Tuesday warning against overbearing central government. That may not be a surprise, since Franklin is a conservative, reliably Republican city. What is surprising is that the target of Franklins concern wasnt the Obama administration or the federal government. Instead, it was the central government half an hour up the road in Nashville: the Republican-led Tennessee General Assembly. The resolution included a list of 14 bills the mayor and aldermen opposed. On the list was legislation to substantially reduce local zoning and planning powers, as well as narrower bills to limit local regulation of signs, to ban localities from requiring residential sprinkler systems and to end local regulation of fireworks. Taken together, local officials are worried that these bills will preempt powers they consider an essential part of their jobs. All the mayors in our region, says Moore, a Republican, are quite concerned about this potential gutting of our ability to do whats in the best interest of our communities.

TN bill mandates publication of abortion data (Tennessean/Sisk)

Doctors who perform abortions in Tennessee could see their names listed online, and women who undergo the 3

procedures could be unintentionally identified under a bill pending in the state legislature. State lawmakers are debating a measure that would require the Department of Health to publish more details about abortions, bringing Tennessee into a roiling, state-by-state battle over how to regulate abortion procedures. Supporters say the bill, scheduled to come up Wednesday in a state House committee, only requires state health officials to post information online that they already collect. But critics say the measure is intended to intimidate women and doctors involved in abortions, even in emergency situations. I think publicizing this information will do nothing but cause serious consequences, said state Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville. This is dangerous. This is a dangerous piece of legislation. Known as the Life Defense Act of 2012, or House Bill 3808, the measure gives Tennessee lawmakers a rare opportunity to tighten regulations on abortion, which the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in 2000 is a right protected by the state constitution.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Tennessee Senate delays vote on mountaintop coal mining ban (TFP/Sohn)

Opponents of mountaintop coal mining havent given up after Tennessee senators, in what they called a calculated act of political cowardice, last week delayed a vote on the Scenic Vistas Protection Act. Senators avoided an outright decision on a bill to ban mountaintop removal coal mining in Tennessee. Instead, they voted 19-14 to delay a floor debate and vote until April 2. Moving an issue to the crowded and hurried last days of action typically signals lawmakers do not intend to pursue it. [This] vote was a calculated act of political cowardice, said J.W. Randolph, Tennessee director for the environmental organization Appalachian Voices. Senators chose to delay the bill, hoping it will die in the House, rather than stepping forward to protect Tennessees historic mountains from the destructive practice of mountaintop removal. A coal industry executive defended the mining method in an article on the Friends of Coal website. In my mind, mountaintop removal implies the site is mined and then left barren, lifeless and flattened. This couldnt be further from the truth, wrote Chris Hamilton, of the W est Virginia Coal Association.

Pastors don't want TN to cut Healthy Start visits (Tennessean/DeVille)

A group of local pastors is calling on state legislators to restore funding for a program that provides home visits to first-time parents. Healthy Start, a program aimed at reducing or preventing child abuse and neglect, is at risk of being eliminated on June 30 if legislators cant find money to fund it. Pastors and ministry leaders from throughout the state plan to release a report Tuesday to state legislators calling on Tennessee policymakers to support funding for evidence-based programs. The investment we, as citizens, make in this particular program pays off in the long run, said Ted Denny, senior pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, near Clarksville, Tenn. This gives parents the tools that will help them become wiser in some of the choices they make, he said. It pays off in the long run. The report, which was prepared by the Christian nonprofit Shepherding the Next Generation, says nearly 9,000 Tennessee children were abused or neglected in 2010 and 38 died as a result. In addition to the report, an open letter also set to be released Tuesday from more than 20 pastors and ministry leaders throughout Tennessee calls on legislators to restore funding for Healthy Start.|newswell|text|News|s

State Rep. Niceley to run for state Senate (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Humphrey)

Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, says he will not seek re-election to his House seat and instead run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill. Niceley joins Cynthia Bundren Jackson of Rogersville, who operates a real estate firm and is president of the Hawkins County Republican Women club, and Jeffrey Brantley, a Union County commissioner, as candidates for the Republican nomination. The seat, designated as the 8th Senate District under the new Senate redistricting plan, covers Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson and Union counties. It previously was designated as the 4th Senate District. Niceley ran for the same seat in 1992, winning the Republican nomination over former state Rep. Bruce Hurley but losing in the general election to Democrat Danny W allace by about 700 votes out of 40,000 cast. That was the year of "the Clinton landslide," when Bill Clinton and Tennessee Sen. Al Gore carried the state in the presidential election, Niceley said. "I don't expect a landslide this year for the Democrats," he said. So far, no Democrat has announced as a candidate for the seat. 4

Rep. Hawk arrested on domestic violence charge (Associated Press)

The Greene County Sheriff's Department has arrested state Rep. David Hawk on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. The Knoxville News Sentinel reports ( that the Greeneville Republican was booked into the Greene County jail on Sunday morning. Sheriff's Lt. Edward Yokley said Hawk was being detained until his arraignment on the charge until Monday morning. No details of the incident were immediate available, and Yokley said he didn't have any information on whether Hawk had a lawyer. Messages left for the House Republican Caucus spokesman were not immediately returned late Sunday. The 43-year-old Hawk has represented Unicoi and Greene counties in the House since 2003. According to the Legislature's website, Hawk is married and has two daughters.| newswell|text|News|s

Greene County state representative arrested (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

State Rep. David Brian Hawk was arrested this morning on a charge of domestic violence, according to authorities. Hawk, 43, of Greeneville, was arrested by the Greene County Sheriff's Department, according to a news release. Details of the incident were not immediately available. Hawk, a Republican, represents the 5th House District. He was booked into the Greene County jail at 10:10 a.m. today. His bond was not immediately known.

Rep. David Hawk arrested for domestic violence (Herald-Courier)

According to the Greene County Sheriff's Department, Tennessee State Representative David Hawk was arrested Sunday morning. Sheriff Steve Burns says Hawk was arrested for domestic violence at his home in Greeneville. Hawk remains in the Greene County Jail as of Sunday evening. Because it is a domestic violence charge, Sheriff Burns says Hawk has to remain in the jail until he appears before a judge. Hawk is scheduled for arraignment in General Sessions court Monday morning.

City budget hearings begin Monday (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Witt)

New funds for major projects are unlikely in Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero's first budget. "It's not a year for a lot of major new initiatives," Rogero said Thursday. She and City Council will begin hearing pitches from city departments to kick off the 2012-13 budget process today. "There's always a lot of saying no," she said. A near certain increase is the expected rise in the city employees pension shortfall. That cost could go from $13.06 million in this year's $172.1 million operating budget to more than $14 million next year. Rogero previously said that she didn't expect a property tax rate increase in the 2012-13 budget. Police and fire departments will offer their presentations at 1 p.m. today in room 453 of the City County Building. Discussions continue 8 a.m. Tuesday in the same room. Knoxville Fire Department Capt. D.J. Corcoran said his department's requests will include repair and replacement for turnout gear, an updated alert system for fire stations and an increase in the uniform allowance for regular clothing. "In the scheme of things," Corcoran said, "I don't think they're all that big of an increase price wise."

Memphis, Shelby County weigh merger of prisoner re-entry programs (CA/Bailey)

Memphis and Shelby County officials may soon consolidate programs designed to help prisoners reconnect in society. The city has a program called Second Chance under the direction of Eddie W alsh. The county's effort is known as the 3R Project -- Rehabilitate, Renew & Reconnect -- and is run by Stanley Lipford, administrator for the county's division of corrections. The two programs apparently will soon operate together under county government. "We're doing some things to put both entities together," Walsh said. "There's a move afoot to do an Office of Re-entry." Lipford said Wednesday he would act as administrator of the merged program, which he described as an effort to transition offenders back into society. "The ultimate goal is to try and affect the reduction of recidivism in our community," Lipford said. "That's the greatest thing we're trying to do is address the needs of offenders." According to a report from the county on the merger, the effort would increase effectiveness and service while connecting with the Board of Probation and Parole to provide services "for offenders from incarceration through post-release." According to the City of Memphis website, the Second Chance program, 5

formed in 2001, is a partnership between the city and local businesses to connect ex-offenders willing to work with employers who are willing to hire them. (SUB)

Madison panels discuss budget (Jackson Sun)

The Madison County Board of Commissioners met last week to review the agenda for their meeting scheduled for this morning. The primary topic of discussion during the meeting was the county budget. All the county departments will turn in their proposed budgets on April 2. Commissioners discussed how much educational capital should be given to the schools, the countys current pension plan for retirees and how this plan will change for employees hired after July 4. The current costs of prisoner transports also raised concerns. Doug Stephenson, chairman of the Budget Committee, said that in the last year there were 997 prisoner transports and that he believed these numbers could be cut down. The committee debated whether or not school bus routes could be optimized and discussed the efficiency and liability of the stock/bond ratio of the countys current pension plan. The meeting did not last long, since it was only a review of this mornings agenda, and Jerry Bastin, chairman pro tem, said things were expected to be quite straight forward again for this mornings meeting.

Survey is first step to revive hopes, dreams of at-risk kids (Tennessean/DeVille)

Promise Neighborhood grant promotes health and success Hundreds of volunteers went door-to-door in East Nashville this weekend to gather resident input for a new program that would help children from cradle to career. Nashville is one of 10 locations nationwide to receive a $500,000 Promise Neighborhood grant from the U.S. Department of Education to promote vibrant neighborhoods, healthy families and successful students. The Martha OBryan Center is the lead agency for the initiative and is partnering with government agencies, nonprofits and schools to create year-round programming for about 6,000 at-risk children living in the Stratford cluster, which includes the 37206 and 37216 ZIP codes. Part of the strategy for the Promise Neighborhood is to use data to inform where communitys strengths and areas of risk are, said Robin Veenstra-VanderW eele, the director of the Nashville Promise Neighborhood. This is an opportunity for us to not only directly engage with neighbors around the initiative, but also to get local level data on a variety of measures that are typically only found on the county or state level. This is a community we believe that has extraordinary capacity to really benefit from an initiative like this.|topnews|text|News

4 justices control health law's fate (Associated Press/Sherman)

Heres a thought that cant comfort President Barack Obama: The fate of his health-care overhaul rests with four Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices. His most sweeping domestic achievement could be struck down if they stand together with Justice Clarence Thomas, another GOP appointee, who is the likeliest vote against. But the good news for Obama is that he probably needs only one of the four to side with him to win approval of the laws crucial centerpiece, the requirement that almost everyone in this country has insurance or pays a penalty. Lawyers with opposing views of the issue uniformly agree that the four Democratic-appointed justices, including Obamas two picks, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, will have no trouble concluding that Congress did not overstep its authority in adopting the insurance requirement that is aimed at sharply reducing the now 50 million people without insurance. On the other side, Thomas has made clear in several cases that he does not take an expansive view of Congress powers. Both the Obama administration and the health-care laws challengers say they believe they can attract the other four Republicans to their side. The group includes Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, the two appointees of President George W. Bush who have swung the court to the right in several areas; conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia; and the less doctrinaire Anthony Kennedy. odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s

States look to enact cyberbullying laws (USA Today)

Lawmakers in at least five states aim to stiffen or enact cyberbullying laws as national concern grows over electronic harassment and its deadly consequences. The states Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine and New 6

York want to put penalties on the books for the types of digital bullying that led students in several states to commit suicide. Among the victims was Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman who jumped to his death in 2010 after his roommate used a webcam to spy on his gay encounter. The roommate, Dharun Ravi, was convicted Friday on 15 counts in a case that drew national attention. North Carolina passed a law in 2009 to criminalize cyberbullying, making it a misdemeanor for youths under 18. The trend in legislation is "bringing our laws into the digital age and the 21st century," said New York state Sen. Jeffrey Klein, sponsor of a bill to criminalize cyberbullying. "When I was growing up, you had a tangible bully and a fight after school. Now you have hordes of bullies who are terrorizing over the Internet or other forms of social media." Under Klein's proposed law, anyone found guilty of using electronics to stalk or harass someone could face a misdemeanor or felony charge that could carry a prison sentence.

Millington citizens to weigh in on school report (Commercial Appeal/Bailey)

Millington leaders have heard the recommendations of consultants for a municipal school system, and now it's time for citizens to weigh in. The North Shelby County suburb will hold a series of public hearings on the feasibility report regarding Millington schools beginning at 6:30 tonight at the Millington Civic Center. Other meetings are slated for Tuesday and March 27 and 29. "My goals are to allow everyone the opportunity to make statements and ask questions," interim Mayor Linda Carter said in an e-mail, adding that those comments will be addressed by Southern Educational Strategies when the consultants attend the March 27 public hearing. "I think the citizens of Millington are very energetic about the idea of having their own school district," Alderman Keith Barger said last week after the board saw a presentation by Southern Educational Strategies on what it would take for Millington to start a system. "Where there's a will, there's a way. We'll see if the people are really behind it when we have a referendum. But I think there's a lot of support for it." Millington, like the rest of Shelby County's suburbs, is seeking to start its own municipal district to avoid inclusion in the merged Memphis and Shelby County school system. All have used Southern Educational Strategies as consultants on the feasibility of the idea. (SUBSCRIPTION)

City, county school leaders to discuss budgets (Commercial Appeal)

School leaders from the Memphis and Shelby County school systems will discuss proposed budgets for next year in a hearing starting at 5:30 p.m. today at the Teaching and Learning Academy, 2485 Union. A second session at the same time and place is planned March 26. Staff from each district will present budget highlights before taking questions from the audience. The $1.1 billion MCS budget is posted at The proposed budget is about .05 percent less than last year and covers costs of educating a projected 104,829 students. Enrollment in the district has dropped about 1,840 students a year since 2007-08. The nearly 700-page MCS budget includes a local economic outlook of the region in its executive summary that includes details on unemployment and home prices. To save money, MCS plans to cut about 100 positions and close three elementary schools. The budget identifies spending down by category, allowing visitors to see costs to offer string instrument instruction, for instance. (SUBSCRIPTION)


OPINION Guest columnist: FastTrack expansion would be vital boost for business (Tenn)
Tennessee is in a global competition for jobs. If we want to continue to be successful, we must have an outstanding education system and an attractive quality of life. But we also need to be prepared to use economic development incentives when it can make the difference for a Tennessee company expanding or an out-of-state firm choosing to relocate. The states FastTrack program is a valuable tool used by the Department of Economic and Community Development to provide funding for infrastructure and job training when a private-sector business commits to locate or expand in the state and create or retain jobs. Currently, the General Assembly is considering legislation (SB 2206/HB 2344) that would expand the use of this tool to include relocation expenses, temporary office space and capital improvements. The funds would be distributed in grants to local industrial development boards. These one-time, direct assistance programs allow greater transparency, are often more attractive to companies and can cost governments less than traditional tax credits, which are drawn out over a longer period of time. The proposed FastTrack changes resulted from a yearlong review of state incentive programs with input from companies, site consultants and local economic development officials. The result is legislation that would allow greater flexibility and a higher economic impact, with the same disclosure, transparency and oversight as the current fund.|newswell|text|Opinion|p

Editorial: VW warehouse will be a boon for ET (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

If there is cautious optimism about the increase in jobs in East Tennessee, there must be unabashed buoyancy in Roane County, where ground was broken last week for a large Volkswagen Regional Distribution Center. The popular automobile manufacturer, which recently established a $1 billion plant in Chattanooga to build the VW Passat, is investing $40 million to build a 400,000 square-foot warehouse just off Interstate 40 and near I-75. The plant is expected to generate a $3 million annual payroll, with 45 jobs in the Roane Regional Business and Technology Park. Volkswagen can expand the warehouse to 600,000 square feet. The great news for Roane County also is good news for the rest of East Tennessee. Successful economic development in one county can have a ripple effect for the others. The VW facility will be close to the point where Roane, Anderson, Loudon and Knox counties meet, so its economic impact should spill over into other communities as well. The 45 jobs the new center will bring are only for openers. The reward in the longer term likely will be the attraction of other industries and businesses to the county and possibly to other area counties as well.

Guest columnist: Sustainability strengthens our communities (Tennessean)

As I finish my 24th year as mayor of my hometown, North Little Rock, Ark., I often reflect on my guiding principles. I believe in the U.S. Constitution, which I have sworn to uphold, and I have deep respect for those who have sacrificed to give us the best form of government on earth. As an elected official, I am tasked with maintaining my communitys way of life and increasing our prosperity. Thats why it is difficult for me to comprehend the message sent last Thursday by the Tennessee House of Representatives to local elected officials: Do not attract new business investment by making your community a great place to live. Do not pursue economic opportunity that also benefits the environment. And by no means should you plan ahead for what kind of community you want to leave your children and grandchildren. How did they manage to do all this? By passing a resolution condemning sustainability and a 20-year-old United Nations blueprint called Agenda 21, deeming it all part of a vast conspiracy at work in Americas local governments. Thousands of mayors and county leaders nationwide understand the plain truth about sustainability. To be sustainable is to balance economic, environmental and social concerns, and to think about how our actions today will affect future generations. In practice, it is about helping our communities save energy and money, create more transportation choices, preserve clean air and bring economic prosperity in the process.|newswell|text|Opinion|p

Editorial: No harm in talking (Commercial Appeal)

Extra time could be useful: A year's delay would give all parties time to consider the schools merger issue in a less contentious manner. A proposal to delay the merger of Memphis and Shelby County schools, along with a corresponding freeze in the push to create suburban municipal school districts, is an idea worth discussion. Delaying the effective date of the merger for one year could give all parties breathing room to view the merger with a sharper focus on how a single county district could lead to a quality education for all children. Currently, Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools are working toward merging into a unified county school district by the start of the 2013-2014 school year. The county's suburban municipalities, where resistance to a countywide district has been strong, are moving to create their own individual school districts. Transition Planning Commission member David Pickler, who is also a member of the unified school board now governing city and county schools, proposed the one-year delay in the effective date of the merger. He says the additional time would give the community a chance for a more thorough and meaningful debate over the future of public education. That is a high-minded thought, and one that makes practical sense, given what it will take for the municipalities to have their school districts ready to go by the beginning of the 2013 school year. The same holds true for the TPC and unified school board's task to merge the two systems. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Times Editorial: Dealing with severe weather (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)

There are many reminders of the waves of deadly tornadoes that struck here last spring and the similarly dangerous string of storms that pummeled the region earlier this month. There are the physical reminders in the form of damaged property, ravaged landscape and still-rebuilding infrastructure. There are emotional scars, as well, present in people who suffered the storms' fury first-hand and in those who witnessed the devastation 9

following them. Another legacy is the increased desire by area residents to do something to help their communities prepare for future outbreaks of severe weather. The SkyWarn program provides that opportunity. SkyWarn is the National Weather Service's volunteer network that trains individuals to identify and describe severe storms in their hometowns. It's a valuable program. Currently there are almost 290,000 trained spotters across the county. The group is an important adjunct of the W eather Service, providing meteorologists there with information that helps the service to issue timely warnings to those in the path of possibly death-dealing weather. There's no doubt the services of the spotters are valuable. Weather Service officials say that the work of the volunteers enables the agency to issue more accurate warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods. Area residents need no reminder that statement is true. Information gathered by storm spotters last spring and earlier this month provided details that allowed the W eather Service to issue detailed warnings that in many cases provided additional minutes needed for those in harm's way to seek life-saving shelter. What better way to assist friends and neighbors? opiniontimes

Free-Press Editorial: Public again says it dislikes ObamaCare (TFP)

The sheer staying power of the dislike that so many Americans feel toward ObamaCare is a testament to the broad public understanding that the complicated, expensive law was a bad idea from the outset -- to say nothing of the fact that it violates the Constitution's limits on federal power. That unpopularity has been evident in literally scores of Rasmussen Reports opinion polls of likely voters since ObamaCare was signed into law about two years ago. In all but one of those surveys, a majority said the law ought to be repealed. Now, an Associated Press-GfK survey also shows how much the law is disliked. It found that only 35 percent of Americans support the law, while 47 percent oppose it. And about six in 10 say they oppose the most objectionable provision of ObamaCare -- its mandate that virtually all Americans buy federal government-approved insurance or be fined. That requirement is unconstitutional, and it justifies the Supreme Court striking down ObamaCare when it rules on the law later this year. opinionfreepress