Friday, May 23, 2008

Hello District 29 Neighbors:Tomorrow is the Day!

It's that time of year again to get geared up for the Great American Clean-up 2008, hosted by the Alliance of District 29. The attachment has some detailed information about FREE Shredding services, the clothing drive, household furniture & appliances drop-off and much more all on May 24, 2008 from 8am to 1 pm with a food fun and fellowship from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. Read on....see you Saturday, May 24, 2008. I would appreciate your help to share this worthwhile community event with other District 29 residents. Gratefully, Vivian Wilhoite Metro Council, District 29 Visit for up-to-date information in and around District 29. Committed to keeping you informed! Phone: (615)589-2003 Email Address: mailto:589-2003/ . Please take a look at what is planned for this day on the link below. District_29_Clean_Up_2008.pdf

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

McGavock and Mt. Juliet students receive scholarships from Brandywine Woman's Club

By ANDY HUMBLES 726-5939 • May 21, 2008

The Brandywine Women's club recently announced scholarship awards to Jennifer Prince of McGavock High School and Chelsea Burch of Mt. Juliet High. Pictured left-to-right are Ann Nicks, chairman of the Brandywine Woman's Club scholarship committee, Chelsea Burch, Jennifer Prince and Brandywine Woman's Club president Tammy Edwards

Jennifer Prince of McGavock High School and Chelsea Burch of Mt. Juliet High are each recipients of $1,500 scholarships awarded by the Old Hickory based Brandywine Woman’s Club.

Jennifer was named to the National Honor Society two years, was on the student council for four years. She also participated in Film club, Show Choir and interned at Channel 4 in Nashville as part of an educational prep program.

“Hardworking, positive and involved — these are three words that describe Jenni Prince,’’ said McGavock Advance Placement English instructor Stacey Hinchman.

Challenging classes were also regularly tackled by Jennifer, Hinchman and McGavock foreign language teacher Jeff Hunt stated.

Jennifer is planning to attend the University of Tennessee and major in special education or business.

Chelsea Burch was in the top 5% of her class at Mt. Juliet High and was on the Student Council for three years and participated with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes among other activities and community service work.

Chelsea plans to attend Western Kentucky University and major in Business Management.

8-year-old's artwork earns display at Kennedy Center, on national tour

By ANDY HUMBLES • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 21, 2008

Good evening all. Tonight I decided to forget all the bad things going on all around us and find some great Human Interest Stories. This story really got to me and made me think about how much we can all really learn from children..I hope you enjoy as much as I did...And Alexandria Congrats!! Congrats also to Elizabeth for her contribution!

Alexandria Williams, 8, is a student at Tennessee School for the Blind in Donelson.

About the group

VSA arts is an international organization that helps people with disabilities learn through participation and enjoy the arts.

VSA stands for:

Vision of an inclusive community.
• Strength through shared resources.
• Artistic expression that unites us all.

Alexandria Williams, an 8-year-old student at Tennessee School for the Blind in Donelson, wears almost a permanent smile.

"Just a fun student,'' teacher Ginger Bell said about Lexie, as most call her.

But the smile on Alexandria's face resonated joy a little deeper when she talked about the way she feels now that her artwork is part of an exclusive national tour.

"I like to make art,'' Alexandria said, the tone and smile more convincing than the words.

Alexandria loves to draw, said her mom, Taronda Williams. But it was a drum and mallet that she made as part of an art project in which different artists came to the school to work with students earlier this year.

VSA arts was the group leading the project, and Alexandria's work was one of two pieces to be selected for a chance to be exhibited at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Alexandria's work was chosen for that exhibition, then it was picked as the Tennessee representative for a 2-year-national tour as an extension Kennedy Center exhibit. Alexandria was one of 10 artists from the exhibit to receive an expenses-paid trip, with an adult chaperone, to be honored May 20 at a reception on Capitol Hill.

"When they called, I thought she had drawn something, because that's all she does in her room,'' Taronda Williams said. "When they said it was something she made, it just blew my mind.''

VSA sent several artists to work with 47 School for the Blind students at different times after receiving a grant from CVS Pharmacy, said Doug Walker, assistant technology specialist at the school and a VSA board member.

Sessions included:

• Art, in which students did a mosaic of different elements.

• Auditory art, in which students made drums and mallets or rain sticks.

• Drumming sessions that emphasized music and rhythms.

• Performing arts, working with the school's Junior Forensics team.

Different students participated in different sessions, Walker said.

Alexandria's entry was part of the auditory art session under teacher Yvette Parish.

"The color of the fabric, along with the feathers and the beads and all those things, just flowed together,'' Walker said of the project.

Alexandria is legally blind, with 20-200 vision with correction, her mom said. Alexandria was born with glaucoma and cataracts. Doctors prepared parents Taronda and Doug Williams, saying Alexandria may be totally blind. Both parents plan to go to Washington, Taronda said.

School for the Blind student Elizabeth Harden, 15, also had her mosaic picked for submission to the Kennedy Center.

VSA chose two pieces for submission from Tennessee. Each state and the District of Columbia had one piece chosen for the national tour out of about 300 submissions.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Employees warm up to state buyouts

Plan includes cash, college, health care By JENNIFER BROOKS • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 20, 2008 A fat cash payout, extended health benefits and free college tuition are part of the buyout deal the state plans to offer to its workers this summer as Gov. Phil Bredesen tries to balance the state's budget. New details released Monday about the buyouts — and a guarantee from the state that it would not consider employee layoffs until the state legislature returns in January — seemed to reassure state employees and lawmakers. "We're very pleased," Zoyle Jones, president of the Tennessee State Employees Association, said Monday after the governor, House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and state finance officials emerged from a closed-door meeting with new details about the buyout package. "The plan as we have seen it today is a very generous plan." The $50 million buyout will offer employees four months' salary, plus an additional cash incentive equal to $500 per year for every year they've worked for the state. Workers who take the buyout offer also will be offered a six-month extension of their state health coverage, as well as two years' free college tuition at any public college or university in the state. The average payout per employee would range from $23,459 for someone with less than five years' service with the state to an estimated $46,132 for workers with 30 years' seniority or more, according to estimates by the state Department of Human Resources. Some workers 'ecstatic' Some employees who had been terrified of the job cuts are now "ecstatic," and eager to sign up for the buyout package, Jones said. The Bredesen administration is trying to cut $468 million from next year's budget before the new fiscal year begins in July. If 2,011 state workers accept the buyouts, it would save the state $63 million a year. If the state doesn't get enough volunteers, it would move on to involuntary layoffs. State legislators, particularly Democrats, had balked at the administration's initial request that they sign off on the job cuts. Retiring state Rep. Rob Briley, D-Nashville, said lawmakers had been ready to push through a bill that would have put a freeze on any layoffs for the next year unless they got more information about the buyout package this week. The details that emerged Monday will probably satisfy most members, he said. Letters offering the buyout will go out to between 8,000 and 12,000 state employees on June 5. State departments and agencies were asked to identify positions that could be eliminated permanently. Among the first offered a crack at the buyouts could be the estimated 160 employees of the Department of Children's Services who are about to be laid off as a result of separate federal budget cutbacks, Jones said.

Magazine ranks two Metro schools as nation's best

By JAIME SARRIO • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 20, 2008 Two Metro Nashville schools earned a spot in the top 25 of Newsweek’s list of America’s best public high schools, released this week. Martin Luther King Jr. ranked 23rd while nearby Hume-Fogg took the 24th slot. Both schools are academic magnets, meaning they have selective entrance processes. The schools were the highest placeholders in Tennessee. The Newsweek list is devised using the number of Advanced Placement and or International Baccalaureate tests taken by students at a school in 2007 divided by the number of graduating seniors. Rounding out Tennessee’s top five is Brentwood High School in Brentwood, which placed 187th, Hillsboro High in Nashville at 390th and Ravenwood High in Brentwood at 465th. BASIS Charter School in Tucson, Ariz., took first place. Contact Jaime Sarrio at 726-5964 or

Police veteran takes interim role at 911 center

By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer(tennessean) • May 20, 2008 A 36-year Metro Police Department veteran will take over as interim director of the Metro Emergency Communications Center, city officials announced today. Lt. Duane Phillips will take a leave of absence from the police department and replace Terry Griffith, a Metro Finance Department employee who has been the center's interim director since July, Mayor Karl Dean and Police Chief Ronal Serpas said in a news release. Phillips most recently was in charge of all of the North Precinct's investigative operations. “Duane Phillips has spent more than half his life protecting and serving the citizens of Nashville and is in a unique position to understand the critical role the 9-1-1 call center serves as the public’s direct link to emergency responders," Dean said. "He is a perfect fit while we take our time finding the best person to be in this role permanently."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Police dog halts attempted school prank at Glencliff

A 2008 high school graduate who tried to pull off a prank at Glencliff High School was caught in the act after an alarm went off, police said. Police and school security responded to an alarm call just before 4 a.m. Monday at Glencliff High at 160 Antioch Pike, Metro police Capt. David Imhof said. The canine unit was brought to the scene, and the typical warnings were yelled out, he said. Police located a suspect inside the school, a 17-year-old girl. The police dog grabbed her but didn't bite her, Imhof said. However, the teen received some scrapes that were not considered serious injuries, according to police. The teen refused medical treatment at the scene, but because she is a minor, she was transported to Nashville General Hospital at Meharry as a precautionary measure, police said. Apparently the teen, a recent graduate, planned to throw water balloons from the roof onto students and faculty as they arrived, police said. She had entered the school through an open window and was filling water balloons when found, police said. The teen faces trespassing and curfew violation charges, Imhof said. — LEIGH RAY(Tennessean) Leigh Ray can be reached at 615-726-5951 or

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Davidson County: Extra officers assigned to graduations

A special nine-officer task force has been assigned to cover Metro schools graduation ceremonies, which began Thursday and run through May 24. The group consists of one school resource sergeant, one gang unit detective, one youth services detective and six flexible-assignment officers. The group started work on May 7 and is also assigned to make sure the school year closes smoothly by patrolling high schools and middle schools during lunch and at the end of the day. The task force adds to the 70 officers assigned throughout the year to patrol schools, according to police. — JAIME

Friday, May 16, 2008

Vandals spray-paint cars in Antioch neighborhood

Reported on WKRN Channel 2 News Residents in one Antioch neighborhood are calling for more police protection after vandals damaged several cars on their street. Several residents on Paddington Way, off Mt. View near Percy Priest Lake, woke up Thursday morning to find their cars spray-painted. Police woke up Samuel Sanford to tell him his truck had been vandalized. He broke the news to his wife, Karla. "He said someone just spray-painted our truck and my stomach just sunk," she said. The Sanford's are not the only ones who woke up with paint on their cars. Every single home on the one side of the street woke up with some kind of vandalism. Vandals hit one mailbox and all of the cars, trucks and SUVs left in the driveway or on Paddington Way. Brian Leedham said it is the fourth time his car has been hit. The vandals wrote the word "Crip" on several cars, further instilling fears of gang violence in some. Leedham, however, isn't convinced. "That's kids being kids," he said. "From my travels, I know what Crips and Bloods look like. Those are just copy cats. Crips and Bloods aren't interested in doing stuff like that." Metro police took pictures of the damage to determine if it is in fact gang activity. To see Video Click Here:

Dean hears teachers' ideas on schools

Davidson County Mayor Karl Dean heard from Nashville teachers Thursday about how to solve the district's problems, including the lackluster graduation rate and school truancy. Dean met with teachers at the headquarters of the Metro Nashville Education Association. Teachers used the chance to vent about overwhelming expectations, the need for more professional development and fewer experimental programs, and the lack of resources for teachers and schools. "I want you to feel I'm on your side," Dean said. "I want schools to be a priority the entire time I'm here." — JAIME

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Metro asks Wackenhut for payments tied to laptop theft

By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 15, 2008 Metro Nashville is asking a security contractor to reimburse the city for more than $840,000 for expenses related to a break-in last year at the Davidson County Election Commission. Metro Law Director Sue Cain wrote a letter Wednesday to Wackenhut Corp. attorney Jim Vines, a former United States attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. Wackenhut was responsible for security at the election commission's building in December, when thieves stole two laptop computers containing the Social Security numbers of 337,000 voters. Wackenhut subcontracted with a Mt. Juliet firm, Specialized Security Consultants Inc. An audit later showed Wackenhut had billed Metro for some days when security guards didn't work at the Metro Office Building. Cain asked Wackenhut to pay the city $48,387 for the audit by Kraft CPAs; $21,575 for security services that were not provided; $235,757.35 for two mailings to voters, and $534,391.75 for the cost of providing identity-theft protection to more than 56,000 voters who responded to the city's offer to cover a year of free protection. "The expenditure of these funds was unexpected and has worked a hardship on the government," Cain wrote to Vines. Vines, an attorney with King & Spalding in Washington, D.C., said this afternoon that he had not seen the letter yet. Wackenhut continues to work for Metro, but Cain asked that the company explain in writing why the city shouldn't put the security contract out for new bids.

Crime Report: Gang member back in custody

Davidson County A high-ranking gang member who told police he has been involved with gangs since he was 14 has been arrested again for parole violation, police said. Terrance D. Crutcher, 28, is a member of the Rollin 40s Crip street gang, police said. He was released from prison last July after serving four years of a 10-year cocaine possession sentence. But he violated parole when police found him in the 1500 block of Ninth Avenue North with keys to a Chevrolet Tahoe that contained a loaded 9 mm pistol, 28 grams of cocaine and a scale with cocaine residue on it, police said. The police department's Gang Unit has been monitoring known gang leaders for law violations or outstanding warrants. — RACHEL STULTS (Tennessean)

LP Field serves as computer drop-off site

Davidson County A roundup has begun at LP Field in which you can drop off old computers, along with many other no-longer-want ed electronic de vices. The event will last through Saturday. Vanderbilt University is among the sponsors, along with Apple and Canon. "Computers — especially monitors and screens — are difficult to get rid of," Bill Tyler, with MacAuthority, said Wednesday. "We're already filling up trucks and pallets." MacAuthority is one of the drop-off sites, at 2018 Lindell Ave., at I-65 and the Wedgewood exit. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today through Friday, schools, government and nonprofit agencies can take electronics to LP Field. Groups should pre-register at tennessee.power On Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., the public is invited to leave items that can include: computers, monitors, printers, copiers, fax machines, TVs, cell phones, iPods and mp3 players and game consoles. What can't be recycled are household appliances, smoke detectors, hair dryers, micro waves and contaminated or hazardous equipment. — ANNE

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Another Problem with '911" Calls in Nashville

Couple Displeased By 911 Response Time Husband, Wife Mugged Downtown Reported By Marc Stewart POSTED: 1:45 pm CDT May 14, 2008 UPDATED: 2:45 pm CDT May 14, 2008 NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A Nashville couple was mugged on a downtown city street, and they aren't pleased with the response time from 911. The victims said it took almost five minutes for anyone to answer their call. "I was just about to swipe (my security card,) when the guy put me in a headlock and threw me on the ground right here," victim Ben Bahil. Bahil said he was attacked from behind, put in a headlock and thrown to the ground as he was about to enter a building. He called 911 for help but someone didn’t pick up his call until four minutes and 28 seconds later. "Four minutes is ridiculously long for someone to answer the phone at 911," said Bahil. He and his wife were not hurt, but he wonders what would have happened if the situation was more serious. "If one of us had been bleeding, if one of us had been hurt severely, four minutes can mean the difference of life and death in some situations," said Bahil. If there is a delay in the 911 system, there is a goal set for answering in no more than 90 seconds. Amanda Sluss of the office of emergency management said that, "People should absolutely have confidence in the 911 system." According to 911 dispatch officials, when this happened at 1 a.m. two weekends ago, the 911 center was getting a spike in calls. During the 15 minutes before Bahil dialed, Sluss said they were handling several emergencies, including a suicide attempt and an officer needing assistance. They said 27 calls came during that period, seven of which were hang-ups that required call backs. "This situation that we're talking about here, when you're referring to when you have these great spikes in 911 calls is not a staffing issue. We're dealing with technology, and we're dealing with the fact that sometimes there are major incidents," said Sluss. "It's not that, we can't have 50, 40 call takers at any given time. We don't have that staffing, but we don't have those numbers to be able to staff." Bahil said he doesn't like that explanation and will push for change. "Until it is (changed,) my advice is to anyone living in Davidson County is try not to have a life threatening emergency," said Bahil. Currently there is no permanent director of the Davidson County 911, but a national search is being conducted to fill the position. Please watch this video. Copyright 2008 by All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Valedictorians and salutatorians-Congratualtions

Valedictorians and salutatorians By SUZANNE NORMAND BLACKWOOD • Staff Writer • May 14, 2008 Each year, high school graduation is a stressful time, both for students and for school officials. But it's also a sentimental time and a rewarding time. Below, a high school guidance counselor and two graduating seniors talk about the experience of graduation. ANTIOCH HIGH SCHOOL "It's all pretty amazing," said Antioch High School valedictorian Mary Anne Hagan, about graduation. The best part, though, is "seeing all my friends accomplish their goals," she said. Shandie Potts, the school's salutatorian, said she would miss the individualized attention she received in high school. She said she was fortunate to have "small classes" and "teachers that were nice and helped you get through things." Antioch High School will have its graduation at 7 p.m. Friday, May 16, at 7 p.m. at Belmont University's Curb Center. Valedictorian: Mary Anne Hagan GPA: 4.0 College: Vanderbilt University Area of study: Secondary education and English Salutatorian: Shandie Potts GPA: 3.9 College: Plans to attend Motlow State Community College and transfer from there Area of study: Business and art NASHVILLE SCHOOL OF THE ARTS "It's a very hectic time, but usually very rewarding when it's over," said Steve Brown, guidance counselor at Nashville School of the Arts. At the last minute, Brown ended up filling in for senior guidance counselor Amy Flajnik, who is on maternity leave. "Everybody's worried about final grades," Brown said. "Some are applying for scholarships . . . nervous about getting accepted into college. "It comes down to the wire." Nashville School of the Arts will have its graduation at 7 p.m. today, May 14, at the Grand Ole Opry House. Rebekah Horton GPA: 100.07 College: Middle Tennessee State University Major: Music Salutatorian: Caitlin Kelly GPA: 98.67 College: Hampshire College in Massachusetts Major: Undeclared

Metro police say speaker poses as firefighter

Nashville fire officials say they have known about Gregory K. Pillow for years

He has given safety talks at schools, day cares
By KATE HOWARD • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 14, 2008

Gregory K. Pillow has earned rave reviews from day cares where he has talked about fire safety, but it isn't clear where he learned so much because Pillow is not a Nashville firefighter — and never has been.

Pillow, who never even applied for a firefighting job with Metro, is being investigated by the Metro police fraud unit for claims that he has been impersonating a firefighter and entering schools and day cares to give fire safety presentations.

While Nashville fire officials said they've known about Pillow for years, he resurfaced this week when someone called the department to verify Pillow's claim of employment.
"We've actually heard he's done a good job," Nashville Fire spokeswoman Kim Lawson said. "But this person has no connection to us, and it's a little odd. If someone is approached, call us or the police department."

According to a fire department memo, Pillow, 33, has been sporadically pretending to be on the job for many years.

A few years ago, a day care called to ask where to send Pillow's thank-you card. Several other calls have come in from day cares asking for Pillow by name to give a presentation, the memo said.

He resurfaced last week when someone called to check his job status at the fire department: he claimed to have worked there since 1995.

A couple years ago, he actually showed up at a fire station asking for a pair of boots to use in a school program, according to the memo. He didn't get them.

Pillow could not be reached for comment.

He's had series of arrests

Michael Hills, who said he is Pillow's fraternity brother from college at Tennessee State University, said he and his friends are completely shocked by the accusations. He said Pillow majored in criminal justice and, as far as he knows, Pillow really is a firefighter in a small town, but he declined to identify the town.

"What I can tell you is, he did go to a training academy" Hills said. "He also worked for a fire department."

According to police records, the majority of Pillow's arrests have been on charges of domestic assault and related probation violations. Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman Dorinda Carter said Pillow was convicted of felony aggravated assault in 2003 and served some of a three-year sentence in a local jail.

Police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford said the fraud unit is investigating the impersonation reports. She said they are not aware of any other allegations against Pillow.

Metro Nashville Public Schools spokeswoman Olivia Brown said they have had no reports that Pillow was ever in their schools.

Discretion to book speakers is left up to individual principals, Brown said.
Lawson said the fire department is notifying area schools and day cares about the issue. They sent along a picture of Pillow and a number to call if anyone needs to confirm a speaker.
"It's important for schools and day cares to check credentials," Nashville Fire spokesman Charles Shannon said. "We do not solicit opportunities to go into day cares and schools for fire safety programs. If someone is calling and showing up on their doorsteps, that should be a red flag."

'Wooded Rapist' suspect appointed public defender

Suspected "wooded rapist" Jason Burdick appeared in criminal court with public defender Gary Tamkin, right, during an arraignment hearing.

By CHRIS ECHEGARAY • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 14, 2008

The man accused of being the Wooded Rapist was appointed a public defender after he filled out paperwork claiming he was indigent at his arraignment this morning.

Robert Jason Burdick, 38, already facing charges in two other counties, entered the standard not guilty plea in front of Judge Seth Norman.

Two victims sat in the courtroom looking at who they think attacked them. One of the women claims to have bitten Burdick during the attack. The women declined to comment. .

Burdick is suspected in at least 13 rapes and other sexual related charges stemming from attacks between 1994 and 2008 in Davidson, Williamson and Wilson counties.

He has been held without bail since his May 1 arrest on Interstate 24 in Rutherford County. Senior Assistant District Attorney General Roger Moore says it’s a high-profile case that’s important to the community. “How big this case is, I’ll answer when it’s over,” Moore says. “It’s important to our office and it’s important to the community.”Burdick’s lawyer, Gary Tamkin,
declined to comment.

Hard work pays off for valedictorian Kelly Marie Smith

McGavock High valedictorian Kelly Marie Smith is graduating from a class of about 630. She plays the piccolo and flute and will study graphic design at Western Kentucky University, beginning in the fall semester.

By ANDY HUMBLES • Staff Writer (Tennessean)• May 14, 2008

McGavock valedictorian Kelly Marie Smith is described by one of her teachers as a renaissance woman.
"She draws well, writes well, understands literature, she's in band, funny, just an all-around well-rounded kid,'' said Stacey Hinchman, an English literature and composition teacher at McGavock.

All that and a 3.976 grade-point average, too.

All valedictorian-type attributes, but there is a striking normalcy to Kelly.

"Loves video games,'' said her mom, Nancy Smith, telling how Kelly is motivated to get done with homework and other activities to have some time with the PlayStation II in the evening. "People think she just comes home and studies. She does have to study, but she always did most of her homework and came home to play video games.''

Kelly's valedictorian speech on May 18 as McGavock graduates about 630 students "won't be anything too deep,'' she said. After all, being valedictorian "just happened,'' she said. "Just doing my thing.''

But Kelly's thing includes quite a bit of drive.
Her mom said Kelly's time management skills are advanced for a high school student.
Kelly says she has old-fashioned effort, and that comes out when she gives her view on public schools and her education at McGavock.

"I think public education is awesome,'' she said. "Some countries don't even have education. Whatever you do you might as well try your hardest. It seems sometimes people don't try their best because it's hard.''

Kelly could have gone to Metro academic magnet Hume-Fogg, and that was the vote of parents Nancy and Marcus Smith. But she wanted to participate in the McGavock marching band, which has a high reputation in the state and beyond. Kelly plays the piccolo and flute.
But McGavock hadn't always had the reputation as a safe campus, something principal Michael Tribue has worked to turn around since arriving there in 2001.

"I'm satisfied with my learning experience at McGavock,'' Kelly said. "Some don't get that, but some don't want it. I've been exposed to a lot of useful experiences here, it's very diverse — there are tons of different people at McGavock. It's improved with Mr. Tribue here and the fighting has stopped.''

Art is Kelly's passion, and she'll study graphic design at Western Kentucky University beginning in the fall semester. Kelly will get academic scholarship money that will help considerably with college, a reason she worked to get good grades in order to help her family with the cost.

80-year-old chef turns students into pros

Larry McCormack / The Tennessean (Photigrapher)
Chef Mary Campbell, center, shows some carving and decorating tips to culinary arts students Salvador Mota, right, and Luke Abscon at Glencliff High School.

Glencliff culinary arts program only high school program in Tennessee with accreditation
By SUZANNE NORMAND BLACKWOOD • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 14, 2008

SOUTH NASHVILLE — As Glencliff High School culinary arts student Helbin Shemssulldin rushed toward the dining room, thoughts rushed through her head about what she had to do.
"Oh my gosh, hurry up. Set the tables," she thought to herself. The students were supposed to be preparing a brunch for Metro's Teacher of the Year nominees. But a misunderstanding over the time meant the teachers arrived early, and students had to quickly prepare breakfast instead of brunch.

Although stressful, such an experience is close to what students can expect in the real world of culinary arts. And it's the real world for which Chef Mary Campbell, the school's culinary arts instructor, tries to prepare her students.

Campbell, 80, is an honorary member of the Academy of Chefs, a certified culinary arts educator and certified culinary cuisine chef. She founded the Glencliff program 23 years ago.
"I've always liked working with young people," she said. "These kids make me stay young."
On the wall in the dining room, which is set up to resemble a tearoom, are awards and certificates of accomplishment the program has received throughout the years. More awards and certificates occupy a display case.

The program, which was accredited in January by the American Culinary Federation, also recently began having events for outside guests. One event involved a luncheon in which state employees, community leaders and representatives from the restaurant industry offered critiques of the food and service.

"It's my way of finding out if the students are doing the job they need to be doing," Campbell said.

Chef keeps her eyes peeled

The students will cater a luncheon later this month for a group from Vanderbilt University. Often, said Campbell, the school also has visits from other high schools, which send representatives so they can learn about starting their own programs.
Next year, the Glencliff program will expand when the school converts to "small learning communities." It's the only high school in Tennessee to receive accreditation, an honor generally reserved for colleges, Campbell said.

"I just want my class to be the best class in Metro if I'm going to teach it," the chef said.
Campbell said she holds her students to high professional standards.
"Chef knows when we do something wrong," said senior Beyan Omer, adding it's not easy to hide things from her.

Beyan said her experience in the program has been challenging, and she's learned that serving is as much as a challenge as cooking. That's because you have to keep the orders straight, added Helbin.

"Basically, it's just like a restaurant," Beyan said.

Some enter profession

Campbell said she often sees great improvement in her students when they return from summer break. It's as if she's seeing "a whole new student."

"What they heard sunk in, and it takes form," she said, adding many practice what they learned throughout the summer.

Some of Campbell's former students have gone on to have culinary arts careers. Ryan Rucker, for example, is one of the executive sous chefs at the Capitol Grille in Chicago. Joseph Garrett is a chef at the Belle Meade Country Club, she said.

But even if they don't go on to establish careers as chefs, Campbell said she hopes their experience in the program will lead to a lifelong love of cooking. Also, she said, she hopes it helped make their experience at Glencliff a positive one. Campbell said many students have told her that if it weren't for the culinary arts program, they probably would have dropped out of school.

Helbin and Beyan, both of who were born in Turkey and have families from Kurdistan, said they don't plan to pursue culinary careers.

But they do hope to use their skills to cook foods from their native country, as well as new dishes they were exposed to through the program at Glencliff.

"Cooking is fun, because you can always be creative," Helbin said.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Metro likely to pay $485,000 to settle suit with rape victim

By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 13, 2008 Metro Nashville is expected to pay $485,000 to settle a lawsuit because its hospital didn't tell a rape victim about drugs that might have prevented her from contracting HIV, and its police department didn't immediately test the rapist for the virus. City attorneys have advised the Metro Council to approve the settlement next week. The assault victim would be paid $250,000; her husband would receive $235,000. The woman, who is now HIV-positive, was raped in 2004. Metro Law Director Sue Cain said police did not have a procedure in place to test the suspect for human immunodeficiency virus, which leads to AIDS, despite a state law requiring immediate testing of rape suspects. The suspect was not tested for several weeks. At the same time, a nurse at Nashville General Hospital at Meharry failed to tell the victim that antiretroviral drugs could have prevented her from contracting HIV. "We think the likelihood is that the courts would find that the protocol being used (at the hospital) did not meet the standard of care and that a policy to have criminal defendants tested should have been in place," Metro Law Director Sue Cain told The Tennessean on Monday. The newspaper does not identify victims of rape or sexual assault. Cain said the 1994 law requiring immediate testing of rape suspects does not say who's responsible for the tests, but it can be inferred that police are. Metro police now take suspects to Nashville General for testing, though it's rare to catch them so soon after the crime. The hospital, which since the early 1990s has offered antiretroviral drugs to employees who work with HIV patients, now requires anyone examining a sexual assault victim to explain what the drugs can do, Cain said. Liability laws would have limited the woman and her husband, who sued the city in Davidson County Circuit Court, to awards of $250,000 each. The husband claimed he had lost the chance to have sexual relations with his wife and has had to take on much more responsibility at home..

Monday, May 12, 2008

Suspect in 'Wooded Rapist' case to have arraignment this week

By RACHEL STULTS • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 12, 2008 The man police believe to be the “Wooded Rapist” will appear in court Wednesday for his arraignment. Robert Jason Burdick, 38, has been charged with four rapes and two attempted rapes in Davidson County. He is suspected of committing 13 rapes in Davidson, Williamson and Wilson counties between 1994 and 2008. Most of those crimes were committed in homes that were near wooded areas. The arraignment will be held at 9 a.m. in Davidson County Criminal Court. Burdick has been held without bail in the Davidson County Jail since his arrest May 1. He was arrested on Interstate 24 in Rutherford County after police said they matched his DNA with biological samples recovered from many of the Wooded Rapist's crime scenes.

Dean to give State of Metro speech Tuesday

By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer(Tennesssean) • May 12, 2008 Mayor Karl Dean will deliver the annual State of Metro address - his first since he was elected last year - Tuesday morning. Dean will speak in the Grand Reading Room of the Nashville Public Library, 615 Church St., at 10:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public, but limited seating will be available, the mayor's office said in a news release. Overflow seating will be provided. The library setting will be new this year. State of Metro was held in the Nashville Convention Center for years, then moved to the Public Square in front of the Metro Courthouse last spring amid criticism that the convention center seemed uninviting to average citizens. Many government and business leaders routinely attend the event. Dean is the sixth mayor of Metro government, which formed from the consolidation of the Nashville and Davidson County governments in 1963.

Advocates fear vulnerable group will lose medical benefits

By CLAUDIA PINTO • Staff Writer Tennessean) • May 11, 2008 Healthcare advocates fear that 140,000 TennCare enrollees will lose their benefits in the coming year, and they are urging legislators to create a safety net now. The Tennessee Health Care Campaign calls for using up to $125 million of existing TennCare budget money to treat the sickest of these enrollees, who have been exempt from annual eligibility checks and are expected to face re-evaluation. The funds would be used to treat about 20,000 people with severe mental illness and life-threatening conditions, such as transplant patients needing anti-rejection drugs and cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment. “We are not asking to take care of all those who could be cut, just the 20,000 whose medical conditions are so serious that it could jeopardize their lives or the lives of others,” said Tony Garr, executive director of the Tennessee Health Care Campaign, a health care advocacy group. “As a caring civilized group of people we need to make sure we don’t place people’s lives at risk.” However, Marilyn Wilson, TennCare’s spokeswoman, said providing medical care for these enrollees and not others, who have been found to be ineligible, wouldn’t be fair. She said in an average month 20,000 people lose TennCare, the state’s insurance program for the poor and disabled, because they are no longer eligible and another 22,000 new enrollees are added. “Every dollar you use to serve someone who isn’t eligible, you take away from someone who is eligible,” Wilson said. “Those taxpayer dollars are meant to provide care for people who are eligible for the program.” Furthermore, Wilson said it’s premature to speculate on how many people will lose coverage before a re-evaluation process takes place. Those at risk of losing coverage are in two different TennCare categories: the Daniels class, made up of 150,000 people who used to receive Supplemental Security Income; and those in “Standard Spend Down,” about 50,000 who were bankrupted by medical bills. Garr estimates that about 100,000 people in the Daniels class will be found ineligible for coverage and about 40,000 in the spend down category will lose coverage. Kathryn Corley fears that her 19-month old daughter, Anna, will be one of those cut. Anna has born with Down syndrome and a host of medical conditions, including a form of leukemia and two holes in her heart. Corley, of Signal Mountain, said her family has private insurance, but that it would fall far short of covering the multiple surgeries that Anna will need in the future. “It will cost thousands and thousands of dollars even though we have insurance,” Corley said. “It will reduce our family to poverty.” Like others in the Daniels class, Anna used to receive federal Supplemental Security Income, a monthly stipend for people who are disabled. Being SSI-eligible in Tennessee makes you eligible for TennCare, even if SSI benefits are lost at a later date because a recipient gets better or, as in Anna’s case, the family or enrollee makes too much money to qualify. The reason this group hasn’t been able to lose TennCare coverage goes back to a 21-year-old court decision. In 1987, the courts found that the state was cutting people off the Medicaid program when they lost SSI benefits without checking first to see if they met other criteria that would still make them eligible. As a result, there was a ruling that the state could not cut any one off the program until a plan was in place to see if they were eligible for Medicaid based on different criteria. TennCare officials say the program now has such a process in place and in January they asked a federal judge to make people in this group go through same annual eligibility checks that other enrollees are subject to. A decision is expected in the coming months. Those in the spend down category have been exempt from annual eligibility checks for a different reason. That category was frozen in April 2005 as part of TennCare changes designed to save the state money. Now that the program is expected to reopen in the fall, the 50,000 people currently in it are required to reapply to see if they are still eligible. When the program is reopened it’s expected to be capped at 100,000 enrollees. Although that cap could be lowered because the state’s budget situation.

Curby steps out on the town

By BONNA JOHNSON • Staff Writer • May 12, 2008 Metro’s green recycling cart, Curby, is showing up all over town at major events to encourage people to recycle their aluminum cans, paper and plastic items. Attendees at the CMA Summer Music Festival in June, the city’s Fourth of July celebration downtown and the Bluebird on the Mountain summer concert series at Dyer Observatory can pitch their recyclables into the carts, said Veronica Frazier of Metro Beautification and Environment. “Special events generate a large number of plastic bottles, aluminum cans and other items that can easily be recycled instead of thrown into the trash, so we’re eager to form partnerships with event planners and organizers to provide recycling at their venues,” Frazier said. Some 30 Curby carts were set out at the Iroquois Steeplechase last Saturday to collect recyclables.

Some state workers put retirement on hold to consider buyout

By ERIK SCHELZIG • Associated Press Writer • May 12, 2008 The prospect of lucrative buyout packages is leading some state employees to put their retirement plans on hold. The Associated Press has found that Gov. Phil Bredesen's plan to try to entice about 2,000 state employees to volunteer for buyout packages has caused some workers who had notified the state of their imminent retirement to reconsider. Bredesen, a Democrat, last week announced the plan to eliminate about 5 percent of the state work force as part of his efforts to balance the budget amid the state's deteriorating revenue picture. The governor was scheduled to lay out details about nearly a half-billion dollar budget cut in a speech to a joint assembly of the legislature on Monday night. Jill Bachus, director of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System, confirmed that there's nothing to prevent state workers from rescinding their retirement paperwork so long as they haven't yet started collecting their benefits. "Many of them are saying, 'Well I'd like to withdraw and hold my retirement for a week or two,"' she said. Bachus couldn't say how many state workers had called to stop their paperwork from being processed, but she expects the volume of such requests to increase when Bredesen releases details of the buyout plan. "We expect to have a lot of business," she said. Summer is already the busiest time of the year for the retirement system because that's when most teachers and a large portion of other state employees decide to retire. So state workers are encouraged to hand in their paperwork about three months in advance of their planned retirement date, Bachus said. State officials have said the buyouts will be targeted at the roughly 6,000 state employees who have at least 30 years of experience. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said last week that another approach could be to offer younger state employees free courses at state colleges in addition to cash as an incentive to give up their government jobs. Bredesen has said trimming the state's payroll would lead to about $64 million a year in savings. The voluntary buyouts have drawn the support of the Tennessee State Employees Association and legislative leaders. "I'm glad that in tough budget times we're not even looking at raising taxes and we're doing what everybody else has to do, which is live within their means," said Ramsey. Some lawmakers, led by House Democrats, are considering a one-time cash bonus for all state workers as a way to make up for the loss of a 2 percent pay raise that has been canceled because of the funding shortfall. House Finance Chairman Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said the amount of the bonuses would be based on how much money can be drummed up without tapping into the state's "rainy day" reservers. "I don't think everybody's going to get overjoyed about the amount of any bonus," he said. "But I guess any little bit could help."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Do not forget to Start Saving your Pull Tabs

We have a few weeks before the District "29" cleanup at the end of May, so you do have some time to save them. At the District "29" cleanup you will be receiving little house to bring home with you to start saving them. Bring what you have collected so far, At a later date we will tell you when we will be collecting them. If you do not have one of the little houses that the Ronald House workers gave us a plastic bag will do... I am also was notified yesterday that there are many organizations collecting the tabs for other causes such as making wheel cheers from the Tabs... It is amazing that such a little thing such as a tab can turn people's lives around...

Valedictorians and salutatorians

GLENCLIFF HIGH SCHOOL In 2006, it was Joseph Mikhail. Last year, it was Demiana Abdallah. This year, it's Ann Hanna. For three years in a row, Glencliff High School's salutatorians have been students from Egypt. Demiana's family came here because of religious persecution. Ann said her family, which came to the U.S. in 2004, simply came for better opportunities. Ann's family is Coptic, as is Demiana's. In fact, the girls are friends and they both attend St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church on McMurray Drive. Ann's sister, Mira Hanna, is a junior at Glencliff. Ann said she's hoping Mira will break from tradition next year and be the school's valedictorian instead of salutatorian. Glencliff High School will have its graduation at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 18, at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Valedictorian: Andrew Lo GPA: 3.97 College: Middle Tennessee State University Salutatorian: Ann Hanna GPA: 3.93 College: University of the South, Sewanee LIGHTHOUSE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL As tension grew stronger toward the end of the school year, the Class of 2008 at Lighthouse Christian School was still left wondering about who would be its valedictorian and salutatorian. The announcement came just a week before graduation. And the winners are … Sarah Rodriguez-Sawao and Shannon Dennis, respectively. Sarah plans to study forensic science in college, and Shannon is trying to decide between nursing and theater as a major. Lighthouse Christian School will have its graduation at 7 p.m. Friday, May 16, in the school's auditorium. Valedictorian: Sarah Rodriguez-Sawao GPA: 4.0 College: University of Mississippi Salutatorian: Shannon Dennis GPA: 3.94 College: Lipscomb University EZELL-HARDING CHRISTIAN SCHOOL Each year at graduation, a school's list of honors goes far beyond its valedictorian and salutatorian. A student may be a National Merit Scholar or a Ned McWherter scholar, for example. That was certainly the case this year at Ezell-Harding Christian School. Not only is the school's salutatorian, Kara Beaty, a National Merit Scholar, but so is senior Todd Osborne. Todd is also a Ned McWherter scholar. The Ned McWherter scholarship is offered to high school seniors who have high school GPAs of at least 3.5 and have scored in the top 5 percent on the SAT or the ACT. National Merit Scholars are chosen based on their scores on the PSAT/MNSQT as well as on academic record, leadership, school recommendation and an essay. Ezell-Harding Christian School will have its graduation at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 24, at the school. Valedictorian: Kara Beaty GPA: 4.0 College: Harding University Salutatorian: Danielle Schlappi GPA: 4.0 College: University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Metro program aims to change nonprofit grant process

By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer (tennesseam) • May 8, 2008 Nashville nonprofit organizations have about three weeks to apply for $2 million in Metro government grants under a new program Mayor Karl Dean announced today. The "community enhancement grants" will be available to groups working in three areas: domestic violence ($750,000), education/aftercare ($750,000) and community service ($500,000), which the program defines as services "that enhance the lives of Nashvillians and the community in which we live." Dean aides have previously mentioned the American Red Cross and Second Harvest Food Bank as examples of community service agencies. Dean said the city needs a new, less political system for awarding grants to nonprofits. “We have a number of nonprofit agencies that offer vital services to our community, many of which government itself cannot provide and would not otherwise be available. This grant program will ensure that those are the services our resources support and that funding decisions are based on needs and results,” the mayor said in a news release. A panel of reviewers selected by the mayor, the vice mayor and the chair of the Metro Council's Budget and Finance Committee will evaluate applications and make recommendations to the mayor, who will submit a budget amendment for the council's final approval as part of the city's operating budget, Dean spokeswoman Janel Lacy said.Lacy acknowledged that applicants who are turned down by the reviewers could lobby council members for funding in the final budget. She said the program could change in future years "depending on how this year goes." Applications are available today on page 11 of this web site: They're due at 4:30 p.m. on May 28 and will be reviewed June 10-12. "Pre-application training meetings" are scheduled for May 15 and 16. Times and places for the training sessions weren't announced.

Metro Council to look at mayor's budget deadline again

By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 9, 2008 A proposal to give Nashville's mayor an extra two months to prepare the city's operating budget each year could go to the voters in a charter amendment referendum this summer, Metro Council members said today. The council will decide next month whether to put the proposal on the August ballot, said Councilman Rip Ryman, who is sponsoring the council bill. The idea is to change the deadline for the mayor's budget recommendations back to May 25, which was the original deadline until voters changed the Metro Charter in November 2006. The deadline is now March 25, giving the council an additional two months to review and tweak the mayor's proposal. But Ryman, who chaired the council's budget committee last year and serves on it this year, said the change has made the mayor's job more difficult and hasn't helped the council in a substantive way. "I just don't see that last year or this year we've accomplished anything," he said, adding that full revenue projections from the state aren't available by March 25. "We had it like that for 40 years." Councilman Jim Gotto said he was opposed to going all the way back to the earlier deadline, however. Five weeks isn't enough time for the council to digest the mayor's proposal, talk to all the Metro departments and make changes, he said. The council has to approve the operating budget by June 30."I'm not sure we need as long as we have, but we certainly don't need to go back to the way it was," Gotto said. "That's just ridiculous." Gotto said getting the mayor's budget proposal by May 1 "would probably be sufficient." Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling, Mayor Karl Dean's budget chief, said the extra time would be helpful, "but it's not something we're out there advocating or demanding." Ryman's charter amendment proposal would need to be approved by 27 of the 40 council members to be placed on the August ballot, where it would need approval from a simple majority of voters.

Friday, May 9, 2008

District 29 Great American Clean-up

Get on Your March, Get Ready, Get Set, GO! Saturday, May 24, 2008 is the District 29 Great American Clean-up. The Metro Council recognized by Council Resolution, the period of March 1 to May 31 as the Great American Clean-up with the month of May for when Davidson residents are to get with neighbors, watch groups, associations and various community organizations to clean-up, spruce up and clean out. Many Davidson county groups have started with one of the largest clean-up thus far occurring last Saturday at the Percy Priest Lake.

In the month of May, The Alliance of District 29 will host the District 29 Great American Clean-up on Saturday, May 24, 2008 from 9 am to 1 pm with Food Fun and Fellowship to be held from 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm in the parking lot of the Smith Springs Church of Christ, 2783 Smith Springs Road in Nashville. Neighborhood groups should contact Lawrence Jackson of Metro Beautification @ 862-8418 to get FREE gloves, trash bags, flower seeds, and T-shirts for your clean-up of eye sores in your immediate neighborhood.

Services that will be available at the Smith Springs Church of Christ are between
9:00 a.m and 1:00 p.m
Ø Donate your not-so-used clothing to Goodwill.Ø Shred all of your confidential documents for FREE.

Ø Throw away your large household items until the roll-off bins are full.

Ø Special containers to throw away old paint will also be available.

Ø Donate your old cell phones and chargers to domestic violence shelters. The shelter will give your old cell phone to victims to call for help.

Ø Donate your soda can tabs to help the Ronald McDonald House.

Ø Sign the District 29 Community Pledge to help keep our neighborhoods clean.

Ø Get a FREE T-shirt, gloves, trash bags and flower seeds.

Ø Get with neighbors to clean-up eye sores areas in your immediate neighborhood.
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Ø Bring a lawn chair for fun, fellowship and FREE food with your neighbors after the clean-up. "This is a great way to begin your spring and summer by cleaning up your community and neighborhood and visit with your neighbors," says Mr. Jackson.

In case of inclement weather, the rain date is Saturday, June 28, 2008 with times remaining the same.

District 29 residents/community organizations are asked to contact Juanita Veasy, Beautification Commissioner of District 29 @ 399-6746 or Lena Brown Prince at 366-3728 for District 29 Great American Clean-up day. Or contact Council member Vivian Wilhoite at or 589-2003 for detailed information.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Operation Dad 2008 Needs You

Dear Neighbors of District "29"

The Madison Church of Christ has started an impressive endeavor to honor the
6,000 or so Fort Campbell Fathers serving in Iraq.

This is worthwhile to give honor to these fathers and is sure to make you feel even more proud on Father's Day.

Please take a moment and show your big heart for our Father Troops.

Vivian Wilhoite

Crime Update Information FYI

Precinct: South Detail: Precinct: South Detail: B-Shift, Patrol Major Event Information Significant Event * A tractor trailer driver for New Prime Inc. stopped at 13011 Old Hickory Blvd (TA Truck Stop) around 6:45 pm. He was inside the TA Truck Stop washing some clothing and getting something to eat. He stated that he was inside the TA for approximately 15 minutes. When he came out he noticed his dog running loose in the parking lot and his tractor and trailer missing. He stated that the vehicle had pharmaceutical drugs in the trailer of the vehicle. The e xact value of the contents of trailer is unknown but he stated that it's in the millions. Auto Theft Detective responded to the scene. No suspect information is known. The investigation is ongoing. Update from Vivian Wihoite

Parents of special-needs kids offered legal aid

Program bolsters lawsuits vs. Metro By NATALIA MIELCZAREK • Staff Writer • May 8, 2008 Metro Nashville parents have a new ally in their efforts to educate their special needs children. Under a new program, the Nashville office of the Legal Aid Society, an independent, nonprofit law firm, will provide families that qualify with free services from legal advice to representation in court. Metro's problems with special education are documented: State education officials recently criticized the district for over-identifying African-American and other groups of students in special education. They also said the school system doesn't provide services to suspended students with special needs as required by law. The extra support, one Nashville mother said, will have a huge impact on parents new to the special education world and learning about their children's rights under federal law. "If this program was up and running earlier, I probably wouldn't have hesitated filing a complaint and pursuing legal action," said Gaye Carmon, a Nashville mother of a first-grader diagnosed with a type of autism. "If parents feel they're not getting what their children need at school and facing a legal path and the cost that will go with it, it's a challenge. This makes me feel bold in asking for what my child needs. I don't feel so alone." Last year in Metro, more than 13.3 percent of all students — more than 9,300 kids — received special education services, according to state data. Those range from intense remedial courses to basic lessons in doing laundry and cooking. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004, which is an update of the law originally passed in 1975, spells out the rights of special education students and what schools must do to meet their needs and provide adequate education. Nashville parents who feel their schools have failed to follow that law have only a handful of local legal resources to consult, said Erin Richardson, director of the Legal Advocacy Project, a pro bono legal advice program started this summer. It's offered through the Arc of Davidson County, a family-based organization that advocates for people with disabilities. Richardson works with attorneys who volunteer their time to work with parents and school districts to get special needs students the best personalized services, including classroom assistants or special therapies. Some cases involve just phone consultations but others require representation in legal proceedings. "As parents become more knowledgeable about the rights of their children under federal law, they notice that some districts are not in compliance," Richardson said. "As their awareness increases, my phone rings off the hook. I'm really pleased that Legal Aid Society is dedicating resources because it's going to help us." The new program is possible, in part, thanks to a $50,000 gift from a donor who wants to remain anonymous, said Linda McLemore, an attorney with the Nashville office of Legal Aid Society. The nonprofit usually helps those with low incomes — a family of four earning an average of $3,400 a month. But the new program will also consider those with slightly higher incomes, on a case-by-case basis, she said. "There's been such a great need in the community for a long time," McLemore said. "We also hope to identify some systemic problems that we could take to the school system to address on a broader basis." HOW TO GET HELP: Nashville office of Legal Aid Society: 244-6610. If you call, leave your name and number. Someone will call you back to talk about the special education issue and assess your financial eligibility to receive help. Your case will be referred to an attorney, who will contact you. The Arc of Davidson County's Legal Advocacy Project: 321-5699.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Woman shares story of addiction, recovery

Candace Mullins with her three boys, Cortez, 3, Marcus, 9, and Anthony, 1, at her home in Renewal House.

She credits Renewal House, a residential program for women and kids, with helping her beat drugs
By LEA ANN OVERSTREET • Staff Writer • May 7, 2008

Candace Mullins was strung out on crack cocaine and lost custody of her kids until she decided life was not life if it meant living addicted and alone.

The struggling mother had become another faceless drug user, a woman addicted and hiding in her isolated world. She sought comfort in drugs and lost sight of what life could offer. But having gone down that path, she prays that the memories stay with her, no matter how difficult.

"I never want to forget where I came from. From being in crack houses to turning tricks to waking up and just feeling disgusting because I didn't know what I had done. You can't imagine what that's like," Mullins said.

Grief over son's death kept her using drugs

Mullins' life was filled with disappointment and tragedy; it's not an excuse for her choices, but a reason. She said the relationship that was lacking with her mother might have led her to use drugs, along with a relationship with a man who used, but what would follow would keep her addicted.

Mullins had three boys when 5-year-old Carlyle died in 2005 after being taken out of his mother's care by the state and placed with family members.

"When my son passed away, I was grief-stricken, and I kept using. Then I got pregnant with Anthony, and that's when I said enough," Mullins said. Anthony is now 15 months old; brothers Marcus and Cortez are 9 and 3, respectively.

Mullins found refuge at Renewal House, a center in Bordeaux dedicated to treating drug-addicted women. But it's not just the women who are welcome.

"We are the only program in Nashville that allows women to live here with their children while going through the recovery process," said Dani Lieberman, development director.

And that impresses Ann Brooks with the Department of Children's Services. Brooks said she frequently sees women in need of help in her profession and a place like Renewal House "is very important to Davidson County."

Lieberman said the center wants to focus on early intervention, so mothers with children older than 10 must make other living arrangements for the children.

The Renewal House campus has two, three-story buildings with 15 one-bedroom apartments, which can house up to 15 women and their children. The program's staff includes licensed clinical social workers and an addictions counselor.

Rules are strict; expectations are high
Once the women have committed to staying at Renewal House they are subject to strict guidelines.

"This is a very structured program, and we expect a lot from the women," Lieberman said. "We have a lot of rules, but they understand that when they enter the program."

The women are responsible for the upkeep of their apartments, which are inspected regularly, and are subject to random drug testing.

"If they have drugs in their system, then that's automatic dismissal" from the program, Lieberman said.

Televisions are not allowed in the rooms, only in the community area of the apartment complex, and no phones, to keep the women completely focused on their recovery and their children.

As a woman moves through the program, the strict rules lessen and privileges increase. After graduating, they can move into Renewal House's affordable housing units, which are separate from the apartments.

Mullins, who spent 14 months in the program, now lives in one of the affordable housing apartments and has been paying for it for seven months. She has been clean and sober for 21 months, but she will not forget her past.

"You look at life different, and you look at other people different. I see people on the streets like I was, and I could still be there. I know what they're going through; … everybody has pain and everybody has a story," Mullins said.

To learn more infommation and what they might be able to help you with click on the follwing link.

Mayors discuss plans for tornado preparation

Mayors discuss plans for tornado preparation BY KATRINA CORNWELL Staff (Tennessean) • May 7, 2008 Deadly tornadoes – killing 15 people in just two years in Sumner County – have officials talking about the best way to notify the public and save lives when severe weather strikes. A council of mayors in Sumner County is weighing the merits of installing a countywide tornado siren warning system, according to Gallatin Mayor Jo Ann Graves.Meanwhile, Ken Weidner, director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA), is spearheading a parallel initiative by asking the group to consider putting a weather radio in every home in the county instead.Ray Horky, of Gallatin, says he wants tornado sirens installed.“I think it ought to really be looked at, Mayor,” Horky said. “There are several companies that provide such equipment. As we all know, one of the nice things a government gets to do is protect its citizens. This might be another way the government can protect its citizens with a warning at nighttime.” “The verdict is out whether sirens are the best to do or weather radios,” Graves said in a City Council meeting. “I will say this: weather radios are fairly inexpensive, at least as an interim, until we decide whether we’re going to do sirens or not.”Weidner told The News Examiner on Monday that although he had discussed his idea of placing weather radios in Sumner homes with the mayors’ group, he had not begun that dialogue with the county commission.“I’ve been looking at what it would take to do that,” he said. “It hasn’t gone to any committees. EMA could possibly secure federal grants to do that. I would go to emergency services committee to discuss that first.”Much of Tennessee, along with parts of Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi, has been identified as being part of a band of frequent fatal tornado strikes in a study published by Walker Ashley, a meteorologist who teaches at Northern Illinois University. According to Ashley, the Mid-South has the most deaths in the nation as the result of tornadoes, even though the Great Plains has been known as the national funnel-cloud hotspot for generations. “The weather changes we have seen in the last couple of years, we are in tornado alley,” Weidner said. “If that is so, we definitely need to look at ways to protect ourselves, and with the weather changes we’ve seen and the warm weather, it does present a problem.”Outdoor warning systems generally cost between $25,000 and $30,000 per siren, and the typical installation would include multiple sirens. Portland, for example, was examining estimates for an eight-siren system that would serve a 13-mile radius of the city at a total cost of about $216,000.Weather radios generally cost between $20-$50 each. EMA will program them free for residents at the emergency operations center on Cairo Road.“They’re fairly inexpensive,” Graves said. “I have one. It stays on 24 hours a day. They’re wonderful about warning you, if you’re in your home.”A tornado siren system is most effective in notifying people who are outdoors, Weidner said.“The best fit for sirens is in places where people are outdoors, in parks, downtown areas, or college campuses,” he said. “I think they are very useful for their intended purpose, not to blanket an entire city or an entire county.” Gallatin officials have discussed the possibility of putting tornado sirens in city parks.Issues like decibel level, when to activate the system, a system’s range and maintenance are part the ongoing discussion into tornado sirens. Placing weather radios into homes and businesses is another kind of severe-weather warning system, Weidner said.“Why not have a weather radio in our homes?” he asked. “It does the same thing. It saves lives from severe weather just like a smoke detector saves people from fires. If everybody had a weather radio in homes or businesses, we would have 40,000-50,000 tornado sirens in the county.”Tennessean staff writer Lacey Lyons and staff writer Jennifer Easton contributed information to this report.

Governor announces plan to cut 2,000 jobs from state payroll

By THEO EMERY and COLBY SLEDGE • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 7, 2008 The state will trim its payroll by over two thousand state employees because of budget cuts, and hopes to avoid layoffs by offering buyout packages, Gov. Phil Bredesen said Wednesday. “We’re going to do this in a way that’s respectful of them and to try to minimize the impact on any employee,” he said. The governor said the state will try to shed a total of 2,011 jobs, which total five percent of the executive branch of government, as part of his administration’s plans for budget cutting. In all, the state needs to shed $468 million from next year’s spending plan, of which $64 million will come from job cuts, he said. The reductions come in response to sinking state revenues. The State Funding Board had estimated that the administration could have to lop over $550 million from next year’s budget; the governor chose to cut less in order to minimize the impact on jobs, he said. On Monday, the governor will present the General Assembly with budget amendments that will close out this year with a balanced budget, as well as revisions to the state budget for next year.Some of Bredesen’s policy priorities have become casualties of the budget cuts. There will be no new spending for pre-Kindergarten in the revised budget, Bredesen said. An expansion of pre-K classrooms had been a major priority for his administration.The dire budget situation also spurred Bredesen to spike a bill that would have instated a new police policy of automatically revoking licenses for motorists pulled over for drunk driving. State Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz told House members that the administration will be looking for buyouts from among the 6,000 employees with 30 or more years of service in the state, but said the state would try to make the package appeal broadly to employees. “We are having to take steps we otherwise would not want to take,” Goetz said.

Overton student returns from car accident to graduate

Educational Assistant Elayna Boynton writes for senior Robert Wood during an Introduction to
Overton student returns from car accident to graduate Visual Arts class at Overton High School.
By SUZANNE NORMAND BLACKWOOD • Staff Writer (Tennessean)• May 7, 2008

SOUTH NASHVILLE — When Overton High School student Robert Wood Jr. receives his diploma this month, it will signify far more than the accomplishments of most graduating seniors.
For Robert, it will be a sign of how he has overcome such obstacles as learning how to survive without the use of his legs and with limited use of his arms — abilities he had just a year ago.
Last year near graduation, when Robert was a junior, he was involved in an automobile accident.
"We got done bowling after 2 in the morning. We started to race afterwards on Edmondson Pike," said Robert, recalling the moments leading up to accident.
Robert said they hit speeds up to 85 miles per hour.
"We took a slight turn, lost control (and) flipped over four times," he said.
Robert doesn't remember anything about the accident, itself. His only knowledge of it through the police report and what people told him.
"I remember waking up in the hospital," he said. "My first memory in the hospital was I was tied down to a bed. I didn't know what was going on. I had a whole bunch of machines hooked up to me."
Robert spent 3½ months at Shepherd Center, a rehab center in Atlanta for patients with spinal cord injuries. It was there that he realized his condition was really serious.
"I wasn't sure what was going to happen," he said.
Learning the basics
Robert was homebound for the first part of this school year. His dad, Robert Wood Sr., described the new lifestyle as "a total change."
"It's the everyday things — showers, getting dressed," he said. Of course, added Wood, those aren't "his" challenges, they're Robert's.
Wood said his challenge as a dad has mostly been keeping everything on schedule.
Robert said studying wasn't so much difficult during this time, but it was lonely and frustrating otherwise. "It sucks not being able to see your friends, not being around people," he said.
The only way he was able to deal with his condition emotionally, he said, was because "family and friends were there."
Art student to Web designer
Robert was able to return to school in January and has been able to attend classes regularly with the help of educational assistant, Elayna Boynton.
"I'm his hands basically," said Boynton, adding the accident affected Robert's motor skills.
"Art is the class in which he probably has the most socialization," she said. "It's really energetic."
Robert's art teacher, Michael Qualls, said Robert has tried really hard this school year. He has seen Robert's ability to draw improve, despite having weakened motor skills.
"He's got a really positive attitude," Qualls said. Also, Robert is "polite, courteous."
Robert plans to attend Nashville State Community College or another technical school to study Web design. He wants to manage and design Web sites.
Already, he has designed a few Web sites, including his own,
Overton grad "Mr. Personality"
When he returned to school, Robert said he had a lot of socializing to do to make up for lost time.
"I was excited to be around everybody," he said.
But he still faced frustration, "not being able to do stuff with my friends like I used to."
In spite of all that he has endured, Robert's classmates speak of him as if he's "Mr. Personality."
"He's really funny," said Joanne Tan, a freshman.
Added freshman Jessika Kelly, "He's kind. He makes people laugh. He likes to joke and talk."
Even with all he's been through, he has chosen not to isolate himself or become bitter, Jessika said.
"He doesn't keep to himself. He's not judgmental."
Don't 'take things for granted'
Wood said his son has made him very proud. "The first week he was at Shepherd Center, I wouldn't have thought that was going to happen," he said, referring to graduation.
Robert will have family coming from out-of-state for a huge graduation celebration.
Recently, Robert spoke to his classmates about being safe.
"I talked to seniors about not taking chances such as racing and how they shouldn't take things for granted," he said.
"You have something one minute, and then the next, you don't have nothing."

Bill to make child abusers serve full terms approved

House names legislation 'Josh Osborne Law'
By COLBY SLEDGE • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 7, 2008

Convicted child abusers could face longer stays in jail, thanks to a state bill inspired by a Wilson County teenager with mental retardation who was found chained to a bed.
The bill, which passed unanimously in the House on Tuesday and the Senate last week, would require a person convicted of child abuse or aggravated child abuse to serve 100 percent of the imposed sentence.

The bill was introduced in honor of Josh Osborne, whom authorities found in 2004 chained to his stepmother's bed at their Lebanon home. Osborne, then 15, weighed between 50 and 60 pounds.

The bill explicitly includes the effects of dehydration and starvation as factors to be used in determining the extent of the child abuse.

"We look at children still as property, not as people with rights," said House bill sponsor Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville.

Ironically, the bill was passed two weeks after Osborne's stepmother, Christine Osborne, received a reduced sentence from the Court of Criminal Appeals. Her six-year sentence was reduced to three and a half.

Christine Osborne's husband, James Osborne, was sentenced to six years.

Josh Osborne, who is now 18 and lives with an aunt, appeared with Jones before the House on Tuesday. The House erupted in applause after the 97-0 vote was announced.

Thanks to a House amendment, the bill will be known as the "Josh Osborne Law." The name change means the bill will return to the Senate, which is expected to send the bill to Gov. Phil


Mayor's budget plan cuts 200 jobs

Few departments to get more funds.
By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer (tennessean) May 7, 2008

Metro Nashville's budget is expected to increase slightly in 2008-09, edging toward $1.6 billion.
But rather than adding a job here and a job there, the city will lay off 200 people and eliminate 127 vacant positions if the Metro Council approves Mayor Karl Dean's budget recommendations.

Most Metro departments would receive less money in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. The school district, Davidson County Juvenile Court and some programs for the homeless would get more, however.

Mark Naccarato, political director and spokesman for the union that represents many Metro workers, said Dean seemed to be "robbing Peter to pay Paul" by boosting schools' funding 4.8 percent at the expense of some employees.

"We think you can do both," Naccarato, with Service Employees International Union Local 205, said Tuesday. "It's about priorities. … What these people do is important to the city. You get what you pay for."

Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said he and others in Dean's administration tried to limit the cuts to jobs that aren't involved in providing direct services to the public. Riebeling also said many of the 200 people who would be laid off would land in other Metro jobs.

"Technically, it's still a layoff, but the good news is that they won't be without a job," he said.
Whether those people will still make as much money remains to be seen, Naccarato said. SEIU represents more than 2,500 Metro employees, including some who work for the school district, he said.

Erik Cole, chairman of the Metro Council's Budget and Finance Committee, gave Dean and Riebeling credit for "an extraordinary job" of balancing competing priorities in a tight year. But he said the job cuts were his biggest concern.

"At this point, my inclination would be that if we do something (to adjust Dean's budget), it would be to try to ease the pain of the layoffs," Cole said.

School funds to increase

Metro schools would be the biggest winner under Dean's plan, reflecting his consistent statements that education is the city's top priority. The district's budget would increase by about $29 million, including about $10 million in state money, to reach $627 million.

It's not yet clear where the new money would go, said David Fox, chairman of the Metro school board's Budget Committee.

The school district is under great scrutiny from state education officials after years of failing to meet federal standards, and the state could take over the district if its performance continues to lag.

School board members are getting input from the state on how they should spend the additional money to address the district's most pressing needs, Fox said.

"We've been in a lull for a month," he said.

The Davidson County Juvenile Court's budget would increase so the court could start another education-related program, a $500,000 truancy center. The center would take teenagers who regularly skip school and work to get them back on track educationally.

Dean also would increase the budget for the city's homelessness commission by 18 percent, pushing it to $1.15 million. There would be more money for direct health care for the homeless and a $110,000 software package to help city and nonprofit agencies better manage and avoid duplicating services.

New jobs found elsewhere

Metro Human Resources Director Dorothy Berry said her office has placed at least 40 to 50 layoff victims in new jobs, mostly within the government. She said she expects to be able to place "a large number" of the eventual 200 victims.

But Berry acknowledged Naccarato's point about the possibility of reduced salaries.

"You can't guarantee everybody's going to stay whole when you're doing a reduction in force," she said.

NES president tops Metro pay chart again

By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 7, 2008 While the Metro government prepares to lay off 200 people, another 200 sit at the top of the city's salary heap, each of them pulling in a six-figure salary. The list of Metro's best-paid employees is again led by Decosta Jenkins, president and CEO of Nashville Electric Service, the city's power utility. Jenkins is making more than $257,000 this year, according to data compiled by Metro Human Resources. But Raul Regalado, president of the Nashville Airport Authority, could make more than Jenkins if he meets performance goals. Regalado makes $232,000 but could earn a 20 percent bonus for an additional $46,400, said airport spokeswoman Emily Richard, who noted that Regalado's pay comes from airport revenues, not property tax dollars. Jenkins and other NES employees aren't eligible for bonuses. However, 49 of them are among the city's 200 best paid, including three of the top four and six of the top 10. No other Metro department or agency has more than 13 employees on the list. NES is run by an appointed board that doesn't answer to the mayor or Metro Council and doesn't receive tax dollars to pay its employees. Leo Waters, chairman of the NES board and a former councilman, said the salaries are often necessary to attract good people. "Compared to Metro government, the salaries are high," Waters said. "But most of those folks have very technical, specialized skills, and some of them have been there a long time." Waters also called Jenkins, NES's day-to-day leader since 2004, "one of the better administrators you'll find anywhere." Each of the 200 employees in the elite group makes at least $101,749. Two years ago, 160 employees made at least $100,000, and the lowest salary on the top-200 list was $95,971. There are more than 10,000 employees in Metro's central government. When NES, the airport, schools and several other agencies are included, the work force jumps to about 22,000. The salary list also shows that the mayor's salary doesn't go as far as it used to. Former Mayor Bill Purcell ranked 26th on the pay scale in 2006; his successor, Mayor Karl Dean, ranks 43rd. The mayor's salary is fixed by Metro statute at $136,500. Dean's deputy mayor, finance director and law director all make more, and Dean made more when he was Purcell's law director, earning $143,190 in 2006.