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Acclaimed Percussion Group Coming to TTU

PRESS RELEASE from Tennessee Tech University:

The Sandbox Percussion quartet will perform in the Wattenbarger Auditorium of Tennessee Tech University’s Bryan Fine Arts Building Friday, Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Sandbox Percussion has established themselves as a leading proponent in this generation of contemporary percussion chamber music. Brought together by their love of chamber music and the joy of playing together, Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum and Terry Sweeney seek to engage a wider audience for classical music through collaborations with composers and performers.

In addition to their concert schedule, Sandbox has also participated in various masterclasses and coachings at schools such as the Peabody Conservatory, Curtis Institute, Cornell University and Furman University.

This is a Center Stage Event made possible by the university’s general education fund. It is free and open to the public.

Wattenbarger Auditorium is in the Bryan Fine Arts Building located at 1150 N. Dixie Ave.

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TWRA’s Phone App Updated

PRESS RELEASE from the State of Tennessee, Oct. 11, 2017:

Goal to Help Users Easily Discover Outdoors Opportunities

NASHVILLE — For nearly a quarter-million users of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s ‘On The Go 2.0’ smartphone app, finding a place in Tennessee to hunt, fish, boat, and view wildlife has become easier than ever. “We have put a lot of time into improving our app and we are happy to announce it is now available and free to all who enjoy our outdoors and want to learn more,” said Michael May, a TWRA assistant director.

“If you want to find a boat ramp, public land to hunt on, a convenient way to check-in big game, places where you can view birds and other wildlife, or keep up with news that pertains to the outdoors, this updated version of our app offers unlimited sources of information,” said May.

The upgrade is easier to navigate. Users can buy licenses, check big game while afield, view interactive maps, apply for quota hunts, and visit the TWRA website. One new feature includes a “Stay Connected Page.” It provides easy access to TWRA’s social media, Tennessee WildCast podcast, newsroom, outdoors and event calendar, and more.

Smartphone users should visit TWRA’s website by clicking here. If the current version is already installed, Apple users can easily upgrade via their app, while Android users will need to uninstall their current app before uploading the new one.

Hunters will have the opportunity to report big game harvests while in the field. There is also an interactive map to find TWRA wildlife management areas (WMAs), physical check station locations, and duck blind locations.

Another special feature is the “Hunter’s Backpack” where hunter education courses, a summary of hunting seasons, and full versions of the agency hunting guides are available.

For anglers, “Fisherman’s Tacklebox” includes, fish identification, interactive maps to find boat ramp and fish access information, fish attractor locations, trout stocking locations, and trout stocking schedules.

On the app’s boating page, the “Boating Locker” includes boat regulations, safety checklists, boating education information, navigational aids, and recommended boating equipment.

For wildlife watchers, there is information about where to view watchable wildlife across the state.

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Support for ‘Constitutional Carry’ Lacking Among Most TN Gubernatorial Candidates

Press release from the Tennessee Firearms Association, October 9, 2017:

Nashville Public Radio reports today that Senator Mae Beavers is the only candidate for governor of Tennessee in 2018 who supports adoption of Constitutional Carry in Tennessee. A growing number of states have adopted constitutional carry in the last few years – 14 have adopted constitutional carry and approximately 30 have no permitting or training requirements for “open carry”. Despite having a super majority of Republican legislators since 2011, Tennessee is now “behind the pack” of states moving forward on this issue.

What the responses of the candidates – except for Mae Beavers – is that they do not make their policy decisions based on what the constitutions say. They want to “rule” our lives based on what “big government” and “law enforcement” thinks is best for you without regard to constitutional limits or requirements.

The Nashville Public Radio story reports:

Q: Do you believe Tennesseans should be able to carry handguns without getting permits?

Republicans:

Randy Boyd: So, I’ve spent a lot of time talking with law enforcement agents, and most of them are opposed to it, and I want to support law enforcement. However, I do believe that the carry permit process is maybe extraordinarily burdensome. I recently got a carry permit about four months ago. It took me eight hours and cost $85. I personally think it could’ve been free and done in an hour. So, I think maybe there’s some happy medium there where we can do it more efficiently and still meet the requirements that law enforcement officers are wanting us to meet.

Beth Harwell: I think our permit system has worked very well in this state. It’s certainly is, I think, good for gun-carrying permit holders to have a reciprocal agreement with states around us, which they would lose if we went to “constitutional carry.” So, it actually could hold back some rights that we have given to people in the state of Tennessee to bear arms. However, I will say I understand the constitutional argument for it, and should the legislature in its wisdom pass it, I would sign it as governor.

Bill Lee: I don’t. Primarily because I’m a guy who’s listening to law enforcement and what they believe, and law enforcement is very much against that. I do however believe in Second Amendment rights, and I truly believe we ought to expand those Second Amendment rights by reducing and/or eliminating the fees associated with a carry permit. So, I believe we should expand Second Amendment rights, but I believe we ought to keep in place background checks and safety requirements.

Mae Beavers: I believe in constitutional carry, if you legally own a gun, because I think our Second Amendment rights guarantee us that. Remember, I’m talking about when you legally own a gun — not if you stole it — but if you legally own a gun, you’ve gone through the background checks. They’ve found out you’re not a criminal. So why shouldn’t you be able to.

Diane Black: Well, I do think the current system is working. I think that we should continue the current system, but if the legislature sends me a bill, I will sign it. I do believe there is a constitutional guarantee to a right to defend yourself. And, again, I think our system is working well, but I certainly would sign a bill if it comes to my desk.

Democrats:

Karl Dean: I am a supporter of the Second Amendment, but I believe the gun laws that we have right now are adequate. I think they cover what needs to be covered and I don’t see a need for a change.

Craig Fitzhugh: Well, I don’t know about that. That’s what you’d call anybody carries for any purpose. I don’t think that’s a good idea. I think there should be some control so that we can try to have for the ability of people who are not qualified for whatever reason — no fault of their own, maybe some mental issues or health issues and physical issues like that — they just can’t handle a firearm. So, I do think there does need to be a permit process.

If you want to wage in on the battle to elect someone to the office of governor who puts the constitution first and is a true public steward of your rights, please take a moment and go to the TFA’s PAC website and make a donation so that we can raise the funds to restore our rights.

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Dilapidated Campground at Hurricane Bridge Gets Breath of Life

PRESS RELEASE from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, Sept. 30, 2017:

Center Hill Lake volunteers convert campground into tobacco-free trail

By Park Ranger Sarah Peace

Lancaster, Tenn. (Sept. 30, 2017) – About 30 volunteers converted the former Hurricane Bridge Campground today into the new “The Old 56 Trail” at Center Hill Lake in support of National Public Lands Day.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District coordinated with the DeKalb County Health Department on the development of the trail, and garnered additional support from Tennessee Tech University’s Fisheries Society, DeKalb County High School, and other volunteers and partnerships.

The volunteers installed trail signage, distance markers, and benches. Small brush and overgrowth were taken out that revealed scenic views. Parking spaces were created at the entrance of the trail and debris and trash from years of runoff from State Route 56 were removed.

Prior to the National Public Lands Day event, decades of extensive overgrowth and debris were cleared thanks to a grant from the DeKalb County Health Department.

“The project (The Old 56 Trail) is the result of the Tennessee Department of Health Rural Access to Health and Healthy Active Built Environments grant recently awarded to DeKalb County.” explained DeKalb County Mayor Tim Stribling during his opening remarks.

The grant focused on improving health outcomes by enhancing access to free physical activity, and the county looked for areas that meets these qualifications.

A new trail at the Hurricane Bridge Recreation Area met these qualifications, and a portion of the grant helped clear the decades of overgrowth and debris, the first step to converting the campground into a paved trail.

In addition to overgrowth removal, the DeKalb County Health Government donated two new benches. The reason? The new trail at Hurricane Bridge is also the Corps’ first tobacco free area on Center Hill Lake, made possible by additional funding though a tobacco free grant.

National Public Lands Day served as the official opening of the trail, and the announcement of the trail name, “The Old 56 Trail,” voted on by the public via a Facebook contest, “Name that Trail.”
“This trail is made by the community, for the community,” said Park Ranger John Malone, lead coordinator of Center Hill Lake’s National Public Lands Day activity. “Volunteers and community members can take pride in knowing that the trail and its name would not have been possible without them.”

The 25 sites at Hurricane Bridge Campground closed nearly 30 years ago, with just the picnic areas and two launching ramps remaining. Since that time the campground became an equipment storage area, and fell into disrepair, leaving only a slight glimpse of what was once there. Now all visitors, new and old have a trail they can use for walking, bicycling, or simply to relax and enjoy the outdoors, free of charge. They also have an outdoor area that they do not have to worry about cigarette butts, and other tobacco products. This trail is proof that through partnerships and the hard work of volunteers, great things can happen.

National Public Lands Day began in 1994, focusing on education and partnerships to care for the nation’s natural splendors. In 2016 NPLD volunteers saved taxpayers an estimated $18 million though volunteer services to improve public lands across the country. For more information on National Public Lands Day, visit: https://www.neefusa.org/public-lands-day.

(For more information about the US Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District, visit the district’s website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and http://www.facebook.com/centerhilllake, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)

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TN Insurance Regulators Approve Medical Premium Hikes for 2018

PRESS RELEASE from the State of Tennessee, Sept. 20, 2017:

TDCI Announces Approval of Rates for 2018 Individual Marketplace

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) announces today the approval of insurance rates requested by the three carriers offering coverage on the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) ahead of Open Enrollment for 2018.

The rates sought by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Cigna, and Oscar Health for coverage on the FFM in 2018 are as follows:

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee: Average 21.4 percent increase (Range: 4.6% – 44.5%)

Cigna: Average 42.1 percent increase (Range: 12.2% – 182.2%)

Oscar Health: Initial Rate Filing (Rating Area 4)

A map detailing the carriers’ plans across Tennessee’s eight rating areas can be found here.

TDCI Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak, who testified twice this year to the Senate on behalf of consumers, has supported stabilization of the market by Congress in order to lower the 2018 rate requests. Recent bipartisan efforts ended Tuesday without an agreement.

“I’m disappointed by yesterday’s announcement out of Washington,” said McPeak. “While Tennessee is supportive of long-term strategies such as the Graham-Cassidy Amendment introduced in Congress, I appreciate the diligent efforts of Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray to find common ground in providing more immediate stabilization in the marketplace. Instead, it appears more likely that Tennesseans must prepare themselves for a round of actuarially justified rates for 2018 that are far higher than could be necessary as a result of uncertainty in Washington. On behalf of Tennessee consumers, I continue to urge Congress to take action to stabilize insurance markets. The Department stands ready to take action to aid consumers should stabilization measures be enacted.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) must now review Tennessee’s approvals.

Companies will have until September 27 to sign agreements with CMS to participate in the marketplace.

On Oct. 5, the Department will hold a public meeting where insurance carriers will present their coverage plans to navigators.

Open Enrollment for 2018 is slated to begin Nov. 1 and last through Dec. 15.

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Historian Visiting Cookeville to Discuss ‘Rowdy Origins’ of U.S. Constitution

PRESS RELEASE from Tennessee Tech University, Sept. 14, 2017:

The 13th Annual Nolan Fowler Constitution Day Celebration at Tennessee Tech presents “After Philadelphia: The Voice of the People and the Rowdy Origins of the Constitution” with Lorri Glover Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. in Derryberry Hall Auditorium.

Lorri Glover, author of “Founders as Fathers: The Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries”

Glover teaches at Saint Louis University, where she holds the John Francis Bannon endowed chair in history. She has written extensively about early America, from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth. Glover has published works concerning siblings and kinship in South Carolina, masculinity in the Early Republic, the seventeenth-century colonization of Virginia and its sister settlement Bermuda, the intersection of family and politics in the lives of leading American Revolutionaries, and, most recently, the contentious debates over ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1787-1788.

Her latest works include “Founders as Fathers: The Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries;” with Craig Thompson Friend, “Death and the American South;” and “The Fate of the Revolution: Virginians Debate the Constitution.” Glover received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Alabama and her master’s degree from Clemson University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky.

The Nolan Fowler Constitution Day Celebration, now in its 13th year, commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. Named in honor of Nolan Fowler, a retired history professor at Tech who taught history and constitutional law at the university from 1962 to 1979, the annual event is made possible by his financial endowment to establish the Constitution Day Celebration at Tech.

The event is free and open to the public.

Derryberry Hall is located at 1 William L. Jones Drive, Cookeville.

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TV’s ‘Fishing University’ to Shoot Episodes in Upper Cumberland

Press release from the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, Sept. 12, 2017:

Area to be Featured on World Fishing Network, Sportsman, and Outdoor Channels

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Internationally televised, Emmy-nominated television show Fishing University will soon make Cookeville-Putnam County home, filming two episodes to air in 2018 and featuring not only area lakes, but local dining, activities and attractions. The film crew, along with hosts/fishing legends Charlie Ingram and Ray Brazier, will arrive in late October, fishing and filming on area lakes with Center Hill Lake already confirmed.

Fishing University holds a viewership of more than 63 million households, airing in all 50 states as well as in 51 additional countries. The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau is serving as point for the project, viewing it as strategic marketing opportunity to reach a target audience of potential guests seeking an outdoor travel destination.

“When Fishing University reached out to us with their proposal, we knew it would be a natural fit to accompany our other marketing and advertising efforts for 2018,” said Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development for the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau. “We will not only be able to put a spotlight on the world-renowned fishing opportunities in our region, but also feature the community, culture and activities that guests can experience while visiting.”

“Fishing University filming on beautiful area lakes is an exciting opportunity for Putnam County and the state,” said Kevin Triplett, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “This is a testament to the natural assets we have for professional and hobby anglers alike. They can wet a line in more than 50,000 miles of rivers and streams and a half-million acres of lakes. Being featured on Fishing University features those assets, exposes scenic outdoor destinations and gives visitors a chance to explore communities along the water. We are thrilled they have chosen Tennessee and Putnam County.”

Within each 30-minute episode of the show, a 90-second promotional spot will be included. The spots will be created to mirror marketing efforts of the visitors’ bureau. Hosts Ingram and Brazier will also include numerous mentions of their location during each show.

In addition to filming promotional spots and fishing, the hosts and film crew will also present a one-hour program at local schools to share with area youth the importance of attaining an education and the outdoor career options available to them. The session will offer a “q & a” time with discussion of majors such as communications, marketing, biology, wildlife management, and animal husbandry. Each school will have a 2-minute segment within the show.

“We are proud to welcome Fishing University to Putnam County,” said Ben Prine, chairman for the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau. “Coverage such as this will be seen by an audience of anglers that travel and have expendable income which will be good from both a branding and economic impact perspective.”

The competitive fishing show is packed with how-to tips and tricks of the trade, making it popular among competitive amateur and professional anglers. Viewers of World Fishing Network and the Outdoor and Sportsman Channels tend to spend more time on the water and are more active consumers than those of competing networks.

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Pumpkin Picking Time Arriving Promptly

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Sept. 6, 2017:

More than Pumpkins to Pick on Local Farms This Fall

NASHVILLE– A trip to the pumpkin patch has become standard fare for autumn loving locals, and this year it’s worth looking around for more than great gourds. Many farmers are expanding options for consumers to learn how and where food and home goods are grown or made.

Bountiful Acres Farm near Watertown produces a wide range of personal care products, and found that customers also wanted to learn how to make their own. Owner Sue Dickhaus added a retail store in Lebanon where she hosts soap making classes using the same goat’s milk, honey bee products and herbs her family produces on the farm.

In addition to dairy and creamery tours, Noble Springs Dairy near Franklin hosts farm festivals every Saturday from September 16 through October 28. Their celebrations include pumpkin picking, food trucks at their picnic area, a bounce house and petting zoo.

Greeneville’s Two Roots Vineyard and Alpacas hosts a National Alpacas Farm Days festival September 24 and 25. Visitors can try spinning and weaving in addition to touring the vineyard, picnicking and mingling with the farm’s alpacas.

Most agritourism farms, like Falcon Ridge near Jackson, still offer farm favorites like wagon rides, petting zoos, pony rides, all kinds of fall décor, and pumpkin picking. Family movie nights in the pumpkin patch, praise and worship opportunities for area congregations, and educational corn mazes are also popular fall fare. The Plantation Barn of 1810 in Morristown is a popular wedding venue, and this year plans to host a community wide “trunk or treat” for the first time.

Find fall farm activities and products with the Pick Tennessee mobile app or here. Most on-farm activities depend on good weather, so call ahead and check the farm’s social media posts before traveling.

Pick Tennessee is the farmer to consumer service of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture and offers farm, farmers market, and farm product directories as well as seasonal recipes. Follow Pick Tennessee on social media.

TN Tourism Boom Continues

PRESS RELEASE from the State of Tennessee, Aug. 23, 2017:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Tourist Development Commissioner Kevin Triplett announced today Tennessee tourism’s direct domestic and international travel expenditures reached an all-time record high of $19.3 billion in 2016, up 4.7 percent over the previous year, as reported by the U.S. Travel Association.

For the 11th consecutive year, tourism topped $1 billion in state and local sales tax revenue, reaching $1.7 billion. That marks a 6.7 percent increase over 2015, higher than the national growth of travel related state tax revenues. Tourism generated 176,500 jobs for Tennesseans, a 3.3 percent growth year over year.

“More people from around the world continue to visit Tennessee each year,” Haslam said. “The $1.7 billion in sales tax revenue and job growth are good news for everyone in Tennessee. The hard work of the tourism industry, led by the Department of Tourist Development and Tennessee Tourism Committee, continues to produce record results and dedication to boost Tennessee’s economy.”

Five counties exceeded one billion in travel expenditures including Davidson ($5.996 billion), Shelby ($3.335 billion), Sevier ($2.217 billion), Hamilton ($1.060 billion), and Knox ($1.056 billion). All 95 counties saw more than $1 million in direct travel expenditures in the economic impact of tourism and 19 counties saw more than $100 million.

“The economic impact growth of the tourism industry is a result of guests from around the world discovering everything that makes Tennessee ‘The Soundtrack of America,’” Commissioner Triplett said. “It starts with what we have; the music, history, culture and experiences. It is enhanced by how those things are managed. The authenticity and Southern hospitality from our communities and partners create an environment for our guests in a way not only that helps them enjoy their stay but motivates them to return. These numbers are a reflection of Tennessee becoming a destination of choice. But a critical component of this is they do not include the staggering capital investments being made by tourism partners across the state to enhance the experience.”

In another record previously announced during National Travel and Tourism Week, 110 million people visited the state in 2016, up 4.4 percent from 2015, as reported by D.K Shifflet & Associates. An increase in leisure travelers also led to a jump in overnight stays. Tennessee places among the Top 10 travel destinations in the U.S. for the third consecutive year and is considered a top retirement destination.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development doesn’t achieve these numbers alone. In 2011 Gov. Haslam appointed the Tennessee Tourism Committee, made up of tourism leaders in both the public and private sectors. The Committee is chaired by Colin Reed, Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc. The department also works with local convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce and city and county leaders in all 95 counties to draw people to the state.

For more information, contact Jill Kilgore, public relations media manager for the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, at 615-927-1320 or by email at Jill.Kilgore@tn.gov.

For a complete breakdown of the 2016 Economic Impact for county by county in Tennessee, click here.

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Tennessee is the birthplace of the blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, soul, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll— delivering an unparalleled experience of beauty, history, and family adventure, infused with music, that creates a vacation that is the “Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee.”

Explore more at tnvacation.com and join other Tennessee travelers by following “tnvacation” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.

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Comptroller Releases Info on Student Data Privacy Law

Press Release from the Office of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, August 17, 2017:

The Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) has released a report that answers some common questions about student data privacy in Tennessee. The Q & A provides information on state and federal laws that protect K-12 students’ privacy.

In general, student data privacy refers to efforts to maintain the confidentiality of information that identifies individual students. The term “student data” is broad, encompassing almost anything that a student creates in school or that identifies an individual student.

Student data is not limited to social security numbers or test scores. Student data can encompass school work, class behavior, or even a student’s location. A key question to ask is whether a piece of information identifies an individual student or uses personal information about an individual student – if the answer is yes, then that information can be considered “student data”.

State and federal laws protect student data privacy by governing the actions of either a school employee, a member of the public, or a third-party vendor or technology operator. The new publication explains state laws in Tennessee that protect student data privacy. One of the laws – the Data Accessibility, Transparency and Accountability Act – gives the state more control and oversight regarding Tennessee public school employees’ collection of student data, and strengthens parental rights with respect to student data privacy. The Tennessee General Assembly passed this law in 2014.

Another law is the Student Online Personal Protection Act, passed in 2016, which primarily addresses the actions of third parties outside of Tennessee schools and districts. This law regulates vendors/contractors or other third parties operating online services used by students. The three primary federal laws related to student data privacy are also covered in the Comptroller’s publication.

School districts may take steps to protect student data privacy beyond what the laws require. However, those additional protections are likely to cost more in time or money.

OREA is a division within the Comptroller’s Office that is charged with providing accurate and objective policy research and analysis for the Tennessee General Assembly and the public. To view the full report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/OREA/