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Comptroller’s Office Reviews TBI’s Fiscal Operations and Makes Recommendations

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Comptroller Justin P. Wilson, January 16, 2018:

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has released a special report examining several aspects of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s fiscal operations, including an analysis of TBI’s budget, the procurement of its Pilatus airplane, staffing, and grants and contracts.

The special report was initiated after Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson) called for an examination of TBI’s budgeting and accounting practices.

The General Assembly included language within the 2017 Appropriations Act requiring the review to be complete by January 31, 2018.

The Comptroller’s Office found TBI’s expenditures have exceeded its budgeted estimates since 2014, and TBI has relied on its various reserve funds for its continued operations. These accounts have been greatly diminished as TBI has used these funds. The Comptroller’s Office concluded that TBI and the Department of Finance and Administration should commit to improve communication during the budget process.

The review also includes an examination of the procurement of TBI’s Pilatus Airplane. The Comptroller’s Office found that, although policies were followed, the procurement could have been more cost-effective.

Additionally, the Comptroller’s Office researched the history of TBI and performed an analysis of TBI’s independence. TBI is an operationally independent cabinet-level agency that does not clearly belong to a single branch of government. TBI’s unique role in state government requires a balance between independence and accountability.

Comptroller Justin P. Wilson will present the results of the TBI Special Report to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee on January 16, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.

The Comptroller’s Office has also released TBI’s performance audit report which found TBI’s policies surrounding the use of its aircraft were not sufficient, a failure to collect all sex offender registration fees, and the Drug Offender Registry was not always accurate or up to date.

The Comptroller’s Office will present the TBI performance audit to the Judiciary and Government Joint Subcommittee of Government Operations on January 25, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.

To view the TBI Special Report online, click here.

To view the TBI Performance Audit Report online, click here.

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Bredesen-Chaired Solar Firm Lands Multinational Oil Company Investment

Press Release from the Silicon Ranch Corp., Jan. 15, 2018:

Shell Acquires Interest in Silicon Ranch Corporation Platform

Investment aligns Shell with best-in-class U.S. developer, owner, and operator of solar facilities

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Jan. 15, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Silicon Ranch Corporation, a leading U.S. developer, owner, and operator of solar energy plants, announced today that it has signed an agreement to make Shell its largest shareholder. As part of the agreement, Shell will acquire a 43.83% interest in Silicon Ranch from Partners Group, the global private markets investment manager, for up to $217 million in cash based on Silicon Ranch performance, with the possibility to increase its position after 2021. Partners Group will continue to support Silicon Ranch through a newly issued junior debt financing simultaneous with the closing of the sale. Subject to regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close in Q1 2018.

Standing left to right: Silicon Ranch board member Byron Smith; Shell GM Solar Projects, Shell New Energies, Boris Schubert; Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CFO Reagan Farr; Silicon Ranch Chief Corporate Development Officer David Vickerman; Sitting left to right: Silicon Ranch Chairman Phil Bredesen; Shell VP of Solar Marc van Gerven; Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CEO Matt Kisber (PRNewsfoto/Silicon Ranch Corporation)

Nashville-based Silicon Ranch will continue to operate under its existing management and the Silicon Ranch brand. The fast-growing business has doubled its operating portfolio for three consecutive years, with approximately 880 megawatts of PV systems that are contracted, under construction, or operating in 14 states from New York to California, and close to 1 gigawatt more in its development pipeline. The innovative company has been a first-mover in a number of U.S. states and has deployed a differentiated, demand-driven approach to business development across a diverse customer set, with particular emphasis on building long-term relationships with electric cooperatives, military partners, and corporate customers across the country.

The transaction will enable Silicon Ranch to accelerate its growth strategy by developing new projects, entering new markets, and expanding product offerings across its portfolio. The strategic partnership provides Shell a platform to establish a successful global solar business by aligning with a proven team in the second largest solar market in the world.

“We were impressed by Silicon Ranch’s proven track record, its market-led development strategy, and its long-term ownership model and commitment to the communities it serves,” said Marc van Gerven, Shell Vice President of Solar. “Partnering with Silicon Ranch progresses our New Energies strategy and provides our U.S. customers with additional solar renewable options. With this entry into the fast-growing solar sector, Shell is able to leverage its expertise as one of the top three wholesale power sellers in the U.S., while expanding its global New Energies footprint.”

Matt Kisber, Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CEO, said: “Our goal at Silicon Ranch has always been to ensure that Americans have access to a reliable, affordable, and clean energy supply, and we are honored to welcome Shell as our newest business partner. By pairing our solar expertise and trusted brand with the scale, resources, and brand equity of Shell, we are well-equipped to collaborate with our utility partners to provide comprehensive, win-win energy solutions for them and their customers. As we welcome Shell to our team, Silicon Ranch also wants to thank Partners Group for the financial and commercial support that enabled us to surpass our ambitious growth targets over the last two years.”

Reagan Farr, Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CFO, said: “Shell shares our steadfast commitment to long-term partnership, and together we will unlock tremendous value in the U.S. solar market. This significant and strategic investment by Shell is in the best interest not only of our company and our employees, but also of our customers and the communities we serve, because it will allow us to capture synergies with Shell’s businesses and benefit from its long heritage in providing energy services around the world.”

About Silicon Ranch Corporation
Silicon Ranch, based in Nashville, Tenn., is a leading U.S. developer, owner, and operator of solar energy plants. Silicon Ranch develops to own all of its projects for the long-term and brings the economic, environmental, and community benefits of commercial and utility-scale solar energy together in a full-service model that requires no capital investment from its stakeholders. The company’s operating portfolio includes more than 100 facilities across 14 states from New York to California, including the first large-scale solar projects in Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas, and Mississippi. To learn more, please visit www.siliconranchcorp.com and follow on Twitter @SiliconRanchCo.

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When Land Became Lake

“Under the Lake” is a book published in 2016 about life in the Caney Fork River Valley prior to construction of Center Hill Dam. Pictured above are the book’s authors (from left to right): Judy Taylor Fuson, Carol Denson Williams and Ria Baker.

Seven decades have passed since Center Hill Dam construction

This coming year will mark the 70th anniversary of Center Hill Dam’s completion and subsequent submersion of the Caney Fork River Valley above it.

Undeniably, many modern benefits accompanied the lake impoundment, from hydroelectric power production to flood control to numerous forms of recreation.

So it’s easy — perhaps too easy — to overlook the heart-rending historical reality that for hundreds of families living in the area, the coming of the federal government’s new dam meant doom for their old ways of living. Along with displacement, the rising of Center Hill Lake’s waters came at the price of washing away all but the memories of the only life many former inhabitants had ever known.

When the dam closed off in the fall of 1948, once rich farmland and forests were inundated, thus “completely changing the face of the northern and eastern sections of DeKalb County,” local historian Thomas G. Webb wrote in a “Tennessee County History Series” book published by Memphis State University Press.

Fortunately, three DeKalb County women — Judy Taylor Fuson, Ria Baker and Carol Denson Williams — have endeavored, with assistance from Mr. Webb, to record for posterity the remembrances and manners of life that existed in the valley before it was deluged.

Their 2016 coffee table-style book, “Under the Lake,” is a painstakingly assembled compendium of history, anecdotes, images, maps and family genealogies. It preserves and pays homage to a bygone epoch that gave begrudgingly away to the 20th Century surge of modern resource development.

Construction on Center Hill Dam, 1946

Williams, a retired school teacher of 30 years, said she, Baker and Fuson pored over property maps of the entire lake in an attempt to catalog all the families that owned land and were forced to move. Thousands were dislodged from throughout the region, particularly in the fertile farming areas areas close to the dam, she said.

“DeKalb County population in 1940 was 14,588 yet the following census, in 1950, recorded the county population at 11,680 showing a 2,908 population drop after the dam project was completed,” the authors write in “Under the Lake.”

It’s hard for people today to grasp the scope and process of removing all the people who used to reside amidst the fingers, branches, ravines and coves of what is now a lake in excess of 60 miles long covering nearly 19,000 acres, with more than 400 miles of crooked shoreline.

“That is a massive amount of land,” said Baker, formerly the town mayor of Alexandria. “We’re not talking about just taking a 500 foot strip for an interstate or whatever. And it wasn’t like they were saying, ‘We’re gonna to cut your farm in half and take just so many acres.’ No, it was, ‘We’re going take your whole farm and you’re going to move — we’re going to cover your house up or tear it down, and we don’t care if your grandmother lived there forever’.”

The process of picking up and clearing out was exceptionally difficult for the elderly, who were “really hurt” by the prospect of leaving forever behind family hearth and heritage, she said. Often they never recovered.

“So many people, the older people especially, were just broken,” said Baker. “This was their home, it was their lives. It would probably have happened to anybody in those circumstances, but it was just such a mass of people here. Of course, it also happened everywhere a dam went in.”

Williams said many were in denial about the inevitability of what was happening.

One man reportedly didn’t believe the water was going to submerge all his property, so he “neatly stacked all his belongings up under a bluff overhang.” Baker said. “They finally had to go get him and pull him out — he wasn’t going to leave.”

“A lot of people knew it was coming even before the Second World War, when (government agents) came and started surveying,” said Williams. “But when the war came they had to stop. After the war was over they started full-force. Some people kept saying, ‘Oh no, this is not going to happen.’ In the end, though, it did.”

If you’d like to inquire about ordering a copy of “Under the Lake,” visit the Facebook page maintained by the authors: DeKalb County, TN, Caney Fork River (@nowunderwater).

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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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Haslam Not Running for U.S. Senate

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam announced Thursday that he will not seek Tennessee’s United States Senate seat in 2018.

Former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker has occupied the office since 2006.

Corker announced last month that he won’t seek re-election next year. His decision has set in motion a scramble among prominent state Republicans looking to replace him.

Among those expressing interest or who’ve already announced they are joining the GOP’s 2018 U.S. Senate primary are Andrew Ogles, Tennessee’s Americans for Prosperity chapter president, state Sen. Mark Green of Clarksville, former state Rep. Joe Carr of Rutherford County, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher.

Haslam issued the following statement on Oct. 5:

“While Crissy and I will always be grateful for all of the encouragement and support to run for the United States Senate, I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for Senate in 2018. The primary reason is that I want to remain completely focused on my job as governor. I know that being a candidate for the Senate during my last 15 months as governor would be a distraction from the task at hand. And, while I have loved being a mayor and a governor, I don’t feel the same call to run for Senate at this point. At the end of my term, I will have been in public office for 15 years. I feel like I can be most helpful in my next service as a private citizen.”

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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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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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Medical Cost-Savings App Available for Free

Healthcare Bluebook seeks to empower patients to shop around, negotiate ‘fair prices’

A Nashville-based company that specializes in researching and comparing medical-care costs and rating quality-of-care outcomes is offering its services for free to Middle Tennessee residents.

“Health care is the one industry in which people make purchases without knowing the cost in advance,” says Jeffrey Rice, CEO of the price-transparency company called Healthcare Bluebook.

Often, even within the same general area, there are “huge differences between hospitals and other health care facilities for the exact same procedure,” said Rice, who is himself a doctor.

That needn’t be the case, he said. Healthcare Bluebook’s mission and function is to advance, in the company website’s words, a “simple, yet powerful idea: create fairness in the healthcare marketplace.”

American consumers obviously know how to shop for good deals on all manner of goods and services, yet when it comes to making health-care choices and obtaining medicines, they often just take what’s given to them without shopping around, said Rice, an editorial board for the American Journal of Medical Quality.

Healthcare Bluebook’s app works by crunching pricing information and service-quality assessments from a wide set of providers in regions around the country.

“We know that most hospitals perform most services, but they are not equally good at everything,” Rice wrote in an op-ed column for The Tennessean back in April. “Bluebook offers consumers information about quality of care that allows them to see hospital outcomes for the specific service they need. We combine this health-care quality information with cost information so that they can get the quality care they need at a price they can afford.”

Cost and quality-rating information is presented to the app’s users in easily understood color-coded grading and ranking schedules, giving patients and their families the ability to locate high-quality, lower-cost alternatives for medical treatment than what they might think are otherwise available.

Healthcare Bluebook also strengthens the patient-as-customer’s ability to successfully negotiate a “fair price” after the fact, if they feel overcharged, or when discussing payment arrangements with a care-provider’s billing department.

“We really like it, and a lot of people in the area really like it to help them get an objective price on medical procedures,” said Bob Gunter, CEO of Premier Diagnostic Imaging in Cookeville and Tennessee chapter president of the national Radiology Business Management Association.

If a medical services provider isn’t willing to negotiate a billing amount that’s in line with what Healthcare Bluebook has determined is the fair price for a procedure or service, “then you should probably go someplace else,” said Gunter.

A 2016 survey by the Kaiser Foundation, a national health policy analysis center, discovered that nearly 70 percent of patients sampled across the country reported substantial difficulty trying to find useful or binding estimates on prices for medical procedures ahead of time. And more than 65 percent who attempted to negotiate a bill-reduction with a care-provider afterward said their efforts failed.

Healthcare Bluebook helps patients deal with both issues, says the company’s marketing director, Greg Stielstra.

“This works for people who are insured as well as uninsured,” he said. “People mistakenly think the problem we must solve is getting everyone insurance so they can pay for overpriced health care. But what we ought to be doing is trying to solve the pricing of health care itself, which you can greatly reduce by making it more transparent.”

The lack of transparency in health-services pricing hasn’t just resulted in people paying more than they think they should. It also causes consumers to believe that market rates for health care services are higher than they actually are.

Health care need not be outlandishly overpriced, or prohibitively expensive, said Stielstra. To the contrary, Healthcare Bluebook shows that affordable options actually exist, and they’re usually not far away, he said.

Healthcare Bluebook has been available for free to Middle Tennessee residents since February. Stielstra said they typically market the premium app services to business owners, who in turn offer it as a free benefit to their employees.

Given that Nashville is “the health care capital of the nation,” said Stielstra, company officials want to see the app as widely available as possible here. They’ve determined that’s best achieved by offering it free to whoever wants it.

As a result, Stielstra hopes Nashville and the surrounding region will become “the most transparent in the nation in terms of price and quality.”

“Transparency is transformative,” he said.

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VIDEO: Condo Fire Aftermath

A fire suspected to have been sparked by lightning-strike early Monday caused extensive damage to Building H at Highland Cove Luxury Condominiums overlooking Center Hill Lake.

Crews had mostly extinguished the flames by 8 a.m.

The fire occurred about four miles south of Center Hill Dam just off Dale Ridge Road, Highway 96.

No one was reported injured in the blaze.