Press Release from the Upper Cumberland Home Builders Association, March 23, 2018:

Exhibit Winners at 2018 Upper Cumberland Home & Garden Show

COOKEVILLE, TN – At the Upper Cumberland Home & Garden Show in Cookeville, the Home Builders Association presented awards to exhibits, based on effective marketing of company and products.

Jeff Woods with Larry Suggs, HBAUC president.

The winner of “Best of Show” was Jeff Woods Construction.

Best Large Exhibit was Bath Fitter. Best Small Exhibit was Pampered Chef.

The metal awards were custom made for the event by JCL Metals. The Home & Garden Show included over 175 exhibits that featured a variety of products and services for homes and outdoor living. For more information about the Home & Garden Show, visit www.uchba.com.

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, March 20, 2018:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee State Parks is offering vacation packages that take visitors on guided tours through some of the state’s most scenic waterfalls, swimming holes and wildflower trails.

Spring, summer and fall tours will take participants through Tennessee’s Highland Rim and Cumberland Plateau, an area nationally-known for its cascades, gorges, rock houses and waterfalls. Tours include folklore and history shared by State Naturalist Randy Hedgepath and Park Ranger Cara Alexander, educational and interpretive programs unique to each location, meals and transportation.

Specific tours offered in 2018 are:

  • Waterfalls & Wildflowers Photography Workshop & Tour: April 13-15; locations include Cumberland Mountain State Park, Ozone Falls, Piney Falls and the Head of the Sequatchie; led by published Nature Photographer Byron Jorjorian.
  • Spring Waterfall Tour: April 27-29; locations include Cumberland Mountain State Park, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Ozone Falls, Piney Falls and Lost Creek Falls.
  • Summer Swimming Hole Tour: July 16-18; locations include Edgar Evins State Park, Rock Island State Park, South Cumberland State Park and Cummins Falls State Park.
  • October Waterfall Tour: October 1-3; locations include Cumberland Mountain State Park, Burgess Falls State Park, Colditz Cove State Natural Area, Cummins Falls State Park, Frozen Head State Park and Rock Island State Park.
  • November Waterfall Tour: Nov. 14-16; locations include Cumberland Mountain State Park, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Ozone Falls, Piney Falls and Lost Creek Falls.

All tours are $350/person and include meals, taxes, gratuities, interpretive programming and transportation. Onsite lodging, including camping or cabins, is available at an additional cost.

Complete itineraries and registration information can be found at https://tnstateparks.com/about/tennessee-state-parks-vacation-packages.

Press Release from the Office of Governor Bill Haslam, March 21, 2018:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced today that 25 communities will receive more than $9.6 million in Site Development Grants.

The Site Development Grant program is part of the larger Rural Economic Opportunity Act passed in 2016 and updated in 2017.

“By making our rural communities ready for investment and economic success, we help them attract jobs and more opportunities for citizens,” Haslam said. “I congratulate the Site Development Grant program recipients and look forward to watching as they thrive and bring new businesses to our state.”

The grants are intended to help rural communities overcome barriers to site certification and prepare them to receive an economic development project that creates jobs in their community. These funds assist communities in finalizing infrastructure and engineering improvements for project-ready certified sites.

“We want to help these rural communities up their game and increase their close rate by making our rural county site inventory among the most attractive and project-ready in the world,” Rolfe said. “We are proud to see these 25 communities taking the initiative to invest in themselves and look forward to seeing their future success.”

“Each of the recipients is taking a major step to enhance their community and with the assistance of the site development grants, they are given the opportunity to compete for jobs and business,” TNECD Assistant Commissioner for Community and Rural Development Amy New said. “The Site Development program shows great return on investment, and I am thankful that the investment from the Rural Economic Opportunity Act will continue to help many more communities in the years to come.”

The Site Development Grant program works in cooperation with the department’s Select Tennessee Site Certification program.

“Through its Site Development Grant program, TNECD has awarded $21.6 million over three years to communities throughout Tennessee,” TNECD Site Development Director Leanne Cox said. “These grants are a valuable resource for local economic development projects, demonstrating Tennessee’s proactive approach to industrial development and support for further growth and job creation.”

Applications were reviewed by an advisory committee made up of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Austin Consulting, Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Department of Transportation and the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

Press Release from Tennessee Tech University, March 21, 2018:

Middle schoolers learn crafts hands-on at Craft Center

Tennessee Tech University’s Appalachian Center for Craft hosted students from Janis Nunnally’s eighth grade art class from Upperman Middle School as part of its Outreach Program recently.

Students chose a medium in which to work and got hands-on experience in that craft. They made hooks in blacksmithing, enameled copper, made glass beads, learned clay hand-building and slip decorating techniques, carved wooden spoons, Shibori dyed silk, and, on the second day of outreach, a book-making class was offered.

Nunnally has been bringing her students to the Craft Center for years.

“Taking UMS eighth graders on their annual trip to the Appalachian Center for Crafts is always a wonderful experience,” Nunnally said. “The students discover a world outside of their community while finding out that they can create amazing things!”

During the more than thirty years of its existence, this outreach program has served tens of thousands of students from the Upper Cumberland and from as far away as Memphis and Chattanooga. The program allows eighth through 12th grade students to experience college-level, hands-on art activities in professionally equipped studios on the craft center campus.

“The students got the opportunity to create projects that we are not able to do at school,” Nunnally said. “They did amazing work and were so proud of their artwork. It is a joy to work with Gail Gentry on this field trip, she is always able to be calm and make it all work!”

It is funded in part by the Tennessee Arts Commission. To learn more about the Appalachian Center for Craft, visit https://www.tntech.edu/craftcenter/.

Press Release from the Tennessee Firearms Association, March 22, 2018:

Rep. Jeremy Faison expresses frustration with a “special kind of stupid” as one of Beth Harwell’s House committees continues to play games with his legislation on medical marijuana.

Tennessee Firearms Association wants to recognize with appreciation the frustration that has caused Rep. Jeremy Faison to finally share with the public the hard facts of trying to pass controversial legislation even when the law or facts might be otherwise clear.

His comments related to his efforts to enact “medical marijuana” legislation, a topic not normally addressed by TFA other than its impact under federal law on the 2nd Amendment rights of those who might be helped by such a law. However, his comments evidencing his frustrations with Beth Harwell’s committee leaders and system are strikingly similar to the problems that 2nd Amendment advocates have experienced repeatedly and consistently under a Republican “super majority” when led by the wrong kinds of leaders.

On March 21, Rep. Faison presented his medical marijuana legislation to the House Criminal Justice committee. The bill debate started but did not finish. Speaking to reporters after his bill was pushed off, Rep. Faison’s frustrations with the situation were evident in his comments as recorded by a local news station:

“You gotta be a special kind of stupid to not realize this helps Parkinson’s,” Faison said. “This whole notion that this is a schedule one drug, you are a special kind of ignorant human being if you think this is still a schedule one drug. That means there’s no value to human life. Holy smokes. Why don’t you tell that to all of the people who are illegally alive today that this plant has no value to them.”

Over the last 8 years, the super majority of Republicans in the Tennessee legislature have been under the total control of certain individuals who identify as Republicans. During this time bills to eliminate infringements on the 2nd Amendment and the Tennessee constitution have repeatedly been shut down in the committee system or in the Senate under the thumb of the Lt. Governor and Judiciary chairman Brian Kelsey.

Sadly, those conspiring in the shenanigans and stunts often rely heavily on representatives from law enforcement, Haslam’s administration, the TBI, and the Department of Safety rather than to rely on the single sentence comprising the 2nd Amendment.

What bill topics have they killed?

– constitutional carry
– permitless open carry
– permitless concealed carry
– eliminate gun free zones
– decriminalize the posting statute relative to private property
– holding businesses and government agencies that post “no guns” liable to individuals injured as a result of those policies
– prohibit 2nd Amendment based discrimination by local governments
– allow citizens to have private rights of action against government officials over 2nd Amendment violations
– exempt permit holders from the TICS/NICS system
– eliminate the TICS system (at a cost of over $5,000,000 per year to gun owners) and proceed under the NICS system
– failures to treat all “citizens” equally relative to the rights of self-defense, carrying of arms, and reciprocity
– true restoration of rights on entry of a court order of restoration or pardon
– allow school employees who want to carry to do so
– campus carry for college students
– campus carry for parents and adults
– eliminate inclusion of antique weapons as a “firearm” so that state and federal definitions are consistent; and
– enforce the 10th Amendment against federal infringements of the 2nd Amendment

… just to name a few.

Now, not all gun owners may be 100% on all of these issues. That’s ok – that is how a constitutional republic works.

However, it is critical to understand that through stunts and shenanigans by leadership and the committee chairs over the last 8 years these issues are not even getting to the floors of the respective houses for consideration and debate by all legislators. That is outright disenfranchisement of the voters because probably 80%-90% of the elected legislators in the last 8 years have never had the opportunity or the duty to debate or to vote and be held accountable on these topics. Sadly, that same 80-90% have never acted in unison to demand that these issues be put before them on the floors of the House or Senate.

What can you say about 8 years of votes, stonewalling, stunts, shenanigans and dereliction in a system set up and controlled by the Legislative leadership to make sure that these bills are never openly heard and debated on the House or Senate floors by all elected representatives and senators?

Do they not understand that these issues implicate constitutionally protected rights? Do they not understand that these issues directly impact the capacity for individuals to defend themselves, their spouses, their families and friends? Do they not understand that keeping, bearing and wearing arms are not just about hunting or recreational activities?

Borrowing from Rep. Faison’s frustrations on medical marijuana should we now be asking if these legislators who are at fault for these shenanigans and abuses are a “special kind of stupid” or a “special kind of ignorant”? Is it something even worse than failing to comprehend the constitutional significance? Is it something worse than ignoring campaign promises? Is it a willingness to disenfranchise the citizens of 80-90% of the state whose elected legislators are never called upon to consider and vote on these issues?

Again, TFA applauds the enthusiasm that Rep. Faison has shown on a topic that is clearly important to him and on which he is trying get a vote. TFA applauds Rep. Faison for looking past the stonewalling and raising the important question for voters and citizens of whether such failures are special stupidity, special ignorance or something else.

If you are tired of the stonewalling, the shenanigans, the disenfranchisement that has been the standard operating procedures under Beth Harwell’s leadership – then you need to be doing something about it. Call your legislators and demand that all 2nd Amendment bills be brought to the floor this year – this election year. Go ahead – demand it because our bet is that they will simply listen but not do it. Then, after they have been given a chance we encourage you to go to the polls in August and vote to replace those who have conspired to disenfranchise you, those who have ignored the constitution and those who have stood by as mere spectators while their peers have so clearly chosen to keep these important issues from public hearings, debate and consideration by all elected legislators.

Let your voice be heard and contact your legislators. You can identify your legislators on this website tool.

Putnam County has secured a place among just over a dozen Tennessee counties to earn a “clean” audit report from the state agency charged with examining local-government fiscal affairs.

Ninety of Tennessee’s 95 counties have been audited since the last fiscal year ended on June 30. Only 13 have been declared free of accounting discrepancies and defects in spending oversight.

Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson’s office issued a news release last week declaring that Putnam County’s financial management — as well as that of Lincoln and Louden — has recently been reviewed without identifying any “weaknesses or deficiencies in government operations.”

Elected officials from Putnam and other counties that earn clean audits deserve appreciation for making a serious commitment to “accurate financial reporting and clear checks and balances that help protect taxpayer money,” according to the comptroller’s office statement.

“A clean audit is a positive sign that a county government in on track,” Wilson said. “I commend all of the elected officials, leaders, and county staff who have committed to a well-run government. This is an accomplishment worth celebrating.”

Putnam County Executive Randy Porter indicated he was obviously quite pleased with the audit results, saying that one of his “primary goals” upon taking office in 2014 was to work toward a clean audit.

“This is really significant for Putnam County, as we know this has not happened in the past 25 years and possibly never,” Porter said in an emailed statement. Making Putnam County government more fiscally responsible “has truly been a team effort” among all the county’s elected leaders and department employees, he said.

On average, Tennessee counties examined this year by state auditors received 3.76 “findings” of fiscal failing or budget-management blundering of one sort or another. That number is an improvement from the previous fiscal year, when the state average per county was 4.26.

The other counties besides Putnam, Lincoln and Louden awarded recognition for state auditors finding no fault in their administrative financial affairs this year are Bedford, Blount, Franklin, Gibson, Giles, Marshall, Rutherford, Tipton, Unicoi and Williamson.

Press Release from Tennessee Tech University, March 13, 2018:

Tech is ranked first in Tennessee among public colleges and universities, and second in the state overall once private institutions are considered, by both groups.

Nationally, Tech is ranked #83 by Student Loan Report and #121 by LendEDU.

“College is a significant investment,” said Tech President Phil Oldham. “Students and their parents need to consider the return on that investment. These rankings, along with numerous others, show that Tennessee Tech provides a strong return on that investment by providing a high-quality education at an affordable price.”

The only other public university in the top five of Student Loan Report’s rankings for the state is the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (#5/#226 nationally). Vanderbilt University is the top-ranked school in Tennessee (#1/#78 nationally). More than 1,000 schools were ranked in the report.

The annual Student Debt Repayment Success Indicator report uses a formula to determine graduates’ chances of successfully repaying student debt. The indicator includes early career salary, student loan default rate, and average student loan debt per borrower. Several datasets – including federal repayment data from the Department of Education, data from Peterson’s Financial Aid dataset, and early career data from PayScale – are used.

The study showed Tech’s early career pay at $51,000 with the debt per borrower at $19,363 and the default rate at 5.31 percent for an indicator rating of 2.49.

A similar index from LendEdu, the College Risk-Reward Indicator, also ranked Tech as the top public university in the state, second overall and #121 nationally. Tech is the only public university in LendEDU’s top five rankings for the state. Nearly 1,000 schools were ranked by LendEDU.

LendEDU compared the average student loan debt per borrower with the average early career pay, or the median salary for alumni with zero to five years of experience.

The Student Loan Report rankings are at https://studentloans.net/student-debt-repayment-success-indicator/. The LendEDU rankings are at https://lendedu.com/blog/college-risk-reward-indicator-2018.