Friday, February 27, 2009

New group purchases Nashville Sounds

WKRN Channel 2 News
The Nashville Sounds officially have new ownership.
The group MFP Baseball got final approval to buy the Sounds Thursday. The new owners say they are committed to keeping the team in Nashville and to prove it, they've already spent $2 million of their own money on improvements to 30-year-old Greer Stadium. "To show and indicate not only to us inside the office but to the fans and to the community at large that these guys are serious and we are serious about change and providing that environment and getting that pride back," new Sounds GM George King told News 2. Inside the stadium, every surface is getting a fresh coat of paint and new seating will be installed. On the field, the infield and the outfield have been improved, and the famous guitar score board has been repaired so it works properly. A brand new sound system has also been added. A complete makeover is also in the works for Greer's restroom facilities. The new owners hope to have all construction complete by April 1. The 2009 season begins at home on April 9 against the New Orleans Zephyrs.

Police apprehend two suspects in hostage standoff

WKRN Channel 2 news Metro police apprehended two suspects Thursday morning after a hostage situation at a home on Gatlin Drive in south Nashville. Police said the homeowner and two female acquaintances awoke shortly after 8 a.m. to find two suspects in the house. According to police, the suspects were wearing disguises and demanded the homeowner write two checks for $9,000 each. Authorities said the suspects then bound the homeowner with tape and told the two females to go to the bank and cash the checks or they would kill the homeowner. Police said the bank got suspicious, called the homeowner and then called police. SWAT officers surrounded the area and put nearby Nashville School for the Arts on lockdown as a precaution. The suspects were apprehended within a block of the home after they attempted to flee on foot. Police said one of the suspects had tape and a weapon was recovered, along with various pieces of evidence. The homeowner had minor injuries to his wrist Police are still investigating and charges are pending. Police later arrested one of the female aquaintences of the homeowner and a fourth suspect that police said was the woman's boyfriend. The suspects' names have not yet been released.

Percy Priest Dam is classified high-risk

By Christina E. Sanchez • THE TENNESSEAN • February 27, 2009 Concerns about the limestone that lies under Nashville's J. Percy Priest Dam have led U.S. Army engineers to assign it a spot within the second-highest level of risk. There's no need for those downstream in Nashville, Ashland City or Clarksville to head for higher ground, because the Corps of Engineers says there's no imminent danger of the dam failing. But the results of the agency's recent survey of its 600 U.S. dams will lead to studies in the coming months to determine what work is needed to prevent potential failures, as well as determine the impact of a flood if the dam were to break. "There are no problems that we are aware of, as we were with Center Hill Dam and Wolf Creek," said Michael Zoccola, chief of civil design for the Nashville branch of the Corps of Engineers. "There have been no changes to the dam over its existence, but there are potential for problems to develop." Center Hill and Wolf Creek dams well upstream from Nashville are undergoing multimillion-dollar repairs to plug leaks that threaten the integrity of the structures and caused fears of catastrophic failures that would flood Nashville and other downstream communities. No such leaks have been found at Percy Priest. The problem with all three dams is their limestone foundations, which are subject to erosion. Percy Priest was built in the 1960s on the Stones River in eastern Davidson County, creating a 42-mile-long reservoir that also reaches into Rutherford and Wilson counties. At full summer depth, its 130 billion gallons of water cover 14,200 acres. Design standards of today weren't in place when the dam was built, which creates the potential for the underlying limestone to erode and lead to seepage, Zoccola said. "The Percy Priest dam design was more advanced than Center Hill and Wolf Creek," Zoccola said. "Any dam not being built at this moment is not going to be up to state-of-the-art design." TEMA is prepared While there's no foreseeable danger of catastrophe, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency says it would be prepared if Percy Priest were to collapse. "Many people envision the huge walls of water they see in the movies would happen here. That's not the case," said Jeremy Heidt, spokesman for the agency. "The rise in water would be sudden, but it could take days to reach the peak flood level." TEMA has no estimates of physical or monetary damage that would result along the Stones and Cumberland rivers in Nashville and beyond if the dam were to fail. They depend on the Corps to provide that data, which now will be gathered in the wake of the new safety ranking. Zoccola said engineers and experts would start creating a plan over the next 90 days on how to further assess the issues identified in the ranking report. "This ranking basically puts us in the queue for funding for more studies," he said. "There will be an in-depth risk assessment process to confirm the ranking." The Corps started ranking its U.S. dams in 2005, issuing Dam Safety Action Classification levels that range from I to V. The lower the number, the higher the risk — and the higher priority for funding. Percy Priest was given a DSAC II. The highest ranking was assigned to the leaky Center Hill Dam, on the Caney Fork River in DeKalb County, Tenn., and Wolf Creek Dam, on the Cumberland River in south-central Kentucky. Five of the 10 dams in the Corps' Nashville district have been ranked. The other two that have received rankings are Dale Hollow Dam on the Obey River near Celina, Tenn., and Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River downstream from Nashville in western Kentucky. They were assigned level three. Assessments are still being finished on the remaining five, including Old Hickory in Nashville and Hendersonville, Cheatham Dam near Ashland City, and Cordell Hull Dam near Carthage, Tenn.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bills would allow guns in restaurants, state parks

Carry-permit records would be closedBy Colby Sledge • THE TENNESSEAN • February 26, 2009 A House subcommittee passed a series of gun-related bills Wednesday that would allow handgun carry permit holders to carry their guns in restaurants, wildlife areas and state, but not local, parks. A bill that would close handgun records to the public also passed the House Judiciary Criminal Practice Subcommittee, where about a dozen gun bills were heard. The session was a victory for House Republicans. House Speaker Rep. Kent Williams, an Elizabethton Republican, attended in a show of support for a bill that would allow handguns in wildlife areas. During the meeting Williams sided with Democratic Rep. Janis Sontany to encourage lawmakers to remove local parks from a bill that would allow handguns in parks throughout the state. "I've seen too many fits of anger at these local parks," Williams said. "Where there's going to be and will be a fit of anger, we don't need somebody carrying a gun in that area." Williams and members of the committee were most concerned with fights during sporting events. Roy Wilson, Metro Parks director, said he was glad to hear his parks might not be included in the legislation. "You have all of these teams, and you know how these folks get crazy because they think the referee cheated. Those referees are my employees," Wilson said. Union County Republican Rep. Chad Faulkner argued to keep local parks in the bill, and the committee delayed the bill for a week to remove local parks from the stipulation. A separate bill, introduced by Strawberry Plains Republican Rep. Frank Niceley, that would allow handguns to be carried only in state parks passed to the full committee. The subcommittee also passed a bill that would allow handguns in restaurants until 11p.m. Keeping records secret The subcommittee passed a bill to make gun-permit application records confidential and would impose a maximum $2,500 fine for publicly disclosing such information. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Eddie Bass, D-Prospect, passed a subcommittee for the first time amid rancor over a database published on the Web site of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The Tennessean published a similar database in May 2007, but removed it after handgun permit holders said their safety was compromised. Nashville resident Robert Smith, whose name appears in the handgun carry permit database, said he would prefer the records be closed to the public. "I don't particularly like anybody knowing I've got a handgun, period," Smith said. The public records have helped news outlets discover when convicted felons and domestic abusers have illegally obtained handgun permits, said Frank Gibson, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. If the records were closed, that could no longer happen, Gibson said. "You can't foresee any other glitches that might come along in the future," Gibson said. "There would be no way to check the information." The bill next goes to the full House Judiciary Committee. The Senate version of the bill has yet to be discussed in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senior Health Fair offers screenings, low cost services

DNJ photo by Jim Davis Vivian Michael-Whilhoite of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority show Bobbie Black a phone that has large numbers and can be amplified at the Health Fair at the St. Clair Sr. Center. She also explained to Black the different assistance programs the authority provides.
THE DAILY NEWS JOURNAL • February 25, 2009 BY GREG MABRY Around 200 senior citizens attended Tuesday's health fair at St. Clair Street Senior Center to receive free health screenings and talk with health service vendors about their programs. The Winter 2009 Health and Education Fair, hosted by the senior center, was a "fantastic success," according to center director Linda Burt. "People get information and screenings, and the vendors get to show what they have available," she said. Connie Gaessler, 66, said she believes the fair saves seniors a lot of time. "I appreciate all the hard work that has gone on to provide us this information, so that we don't have to go out and look for it," said Gaessler, who retired from the Alvin C. York VA hospital in Murfreesboro after 40 years. MTSU nursing students were at the fair to provide seniors with a screening measuring blood sugar, hemoglobin, and blood-oxygen saturation. Brittney Glisson, a senior nursing major, said the screening provides the nursing students with excellent practice. "This room has been full all day," Glisson, 23, said. "Seniors usually have lots of questions and we have more time to answer them than a physician normally would." The fair addressed other quality of life issues as well. The Tennessee Regulatory Authority had a booth at the fair to provide information about government assistance available to low income utility consumers. Vivian Michael-Wilhoite, consumer educator for the TRA, was busy providing seniors information about a program that provides large button to people with visual impairments and amplified volume phones to people with hearing impairments, free of charge. "These are some of the best-kept secrets," she said. "Most people don't know about them." Another program, called Lifeline, provides low income telephone subscribers with a discount of up to $13.50 per month on a local service telephone bill. There's even a program that provides low-income citizens with a free cell phone and free monthly minutes, called Safe Link Wireless. The senior center hosts the fair twice per year. The next fair will take place in September. "I got some information about diabetes and about the heart," said Joe James, 67, who said he's been to previous health fairs at the center. "It's always enlightening," he said.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Economy leads to career changes

Adults go back to school BY TENA LEE/Staff • February 24, 2009 When Lisa Evans’s grandmother fell ill last year, she was struck by the warmth and compassion of the hospital’s nurses. “I just saw what a difference they can make in a person’s life,” said the 39-year-old Hendersonville resident. It was that desire to make a difference coupled with a rising need for nurses in a faltering economy that sent Evans - who already has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree under her belt - back to college this spring. Evans – who’s taking anatomy and human growth development courses at Vol State with the hope of getting accepted into TSU’s nursing program in the fall – is among a growing number of students returning to community college campuses such as Gallatin’s Vol State. According to Vol State Spokesman Eric Melcher, spring enrollment at the local community college is up 7 percent, setting a record for the school. Melcher noted the largest demographic at the college is still 18-to 20-year-olds. However, students like Evans are becoming more and more common. Economy playing a role Melcer believes the economy is playing a role in the school’s increase in enrollment and in the larger number of students who are returning with previous degrees. “We are seeing more students who already have degrees,” Melcher noted, attributing the interest in some fields like healthcare to an uncertain economy. “They are looking for areas that are experiencing growth instead of contracting,” Melcher added. “Healthcare is one of those fields.” “We do see quite a few students who have bachelor’s degrees,” said Vol State Admission Specialist Judy Hendon. Hendon says many are looking for a career change, particularly to the allied heath fields such as radiology and physical therapy. “We are seeing folks who have been laid off or are expecting to be laid off,” she said. “But many just want to improve their skills and protect the job they already have even more.” Union University’s Hendersonville campus, which holds classes at First Baptist Church of Hendersonville is seeing similar trends, according to its executive director, Charles Lea. The college started holding classes last fall and offers a master’s degree in Christian studies and a master’s of education degree. Union’s students often fall into two categories, Lea noted: students wanting to make a career change altogether, and those wanting to expand or improve on their current profession. The school is also looking into offering an accelerated nursing program at a medical facility off-campus, Lea added. “The economy is driving an interest in a new nursing program,” Lea said. “Many see the long-term viability in their profession as not good and want to get into a more stable field.” Lea also noted the economy has also had an opposite impact on the school: four or five prospective students have chosen not to pursue their education further because they simply can’t afford it at this time. Evans nervous about fitting in For Evans, the career change has more to do with wanting a fulfilling career that suits her growing family’s demands than economics, since hers is the family’s second income. She said she was nervous at first about going back to college after being out for so long. “I was concerned about balancing my family with needing to study again,” Evans said. So far she’s managed to maintain an A average in both classes. Evans added she was pleasantly surprised to not be the only “older” student and that she feels accepted and even appreciated among her peers. “We all have different perspectives,” she said, “and that adds to the whole academic experience. Everybody’s very accepting. I haven’t felt out of place at all.” Melcher hopes more older adults are encouraged by Evans’s experience. “It’s why a community college exists,” he said. “We help people reach their goals at any age.”

Newspapers' Chapter 11 filings promise shakeups

By Michael Liedtke and Andrew Vanacore • ASSOCIATED PRESS • February 24, 2009 With the four owners of 33 U.S. daily newspapers seeking bankruptcy protection in the past 2½ months, even more upheaval looms for an industry clearly gasping for survival. Analysts doubt those newspaper companies will be able to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection without agreeing to lenders' demands for radical changes, such as switching some newspapers exclusively to online delivery. Of course, the publishers already have been weighing dramatic makeovers, including scrapping their print editions, and it's still not clear whether their creditors can come up with any better ideas. But that probably won't discourage exasperated lenders from trying to shake things up. "These first few bankruptcy filings are like the canaries in the coal mine," said John Penn, a bankruptcy lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas. "It's almost a certainty that they are going to have to change their business models because the old ones aren't working." Ad prospects are bleak Newspaper publishers say the filings won't have any immediate effects on their day-to-day operations, and the 33 affected newspapers probably won't close en masse as part of any reorganization. Still, the industry's troubles were underscored over the weekend with separate Chapter 11 filings by New Haven (Conn.) Register publisher Journal Register Co. and by the owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News. They followed a December filing by Tribune Co., whose media stable includes the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, and January's filing by the owners of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Other publishers could seek bankruptcy protection in the coming months, too, as advertising prospects for 2009 remain bleak. "There's a fairly high degree of uncertainty," said Rick Edmonds, a media analyst with the Poynter Institute. He said the filings put "the future in the hands of the courts. Creditors will have a fair amount to say." Newspapers cut costs Newspapers nationwide have been cutting jobs, trimming newspaper widths and making other cost cuts to help offset reductions in advertising revenue, but for many, those efforts haven't stopped the bleeding. Although newspapers have been boosting their Internet operations, growth in online ad revenue isn't anywhere near what's needed to offset the reductions in print. In the third quarter of last year, print advertising in U.S. newspapers totaled $8.2 billion while the online operations fetched $750 million. "They have to hope some of their revenue comes back before their businesses just break through ice," Benchmark Co. analyst Edward Atorino said. "Some of these companies are looking at the end of the world here."

Merchants oppose Greyhound's move

Businesses worry homeless, crime will follow bus terminal By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • February 24, 2009
Bobby Joslin, owner of Joslin and Son Signs on Murfreesboro Road, stands at the vacant Music City Dodge property, where Greyhound bus lines would like to relocate. Joslin says the terminal would attract more homeless people to the area. SHELLEY MAYS / THE TENNESSEAN
The possibility that Greyhound will move its Nashville bus terminal from downtown to Murfreesboro Road is upsetting merchants there, who say panhandling and crime would increase. Business owners say the prospect stings even more when they think about the strides they've made in cleaning up the South Nashville street, long a haven for prostitutes. "It doesn't bring any value back to our community," said Bobby Joslin, owner of Joslin and Son Signs. "The people who hang around a bus station are not the people anyone wants hanging around their businesses."
Greyhound's terminal on Eighth Avenue South is in the footprint of a proposed new downtown convention center. Preparing for the likelihood that it will be asked to move so the city can acquire its land, the private bus company made plans to buy the former home of Music City Dodge at 710 Murfreesboro Road. Greyhound Lines Inc. carried 151,833 riders to and from Nashville in 2008. "They have to have some place to go, especially if that acquisition is on a short timetable," said Peter Heidenreich, a lobbyist working for Greyhound. Greyhound first will need to get a special zoning exception from the Metro Board of Zoning Appeals because the new site is zoned for light manufacturing. The appeals board will hear the case at 1 p.m. March 5 after deferring it last week. Abby Wambaugh, a Greyhound spokeswoman in Dallas, said the 3.3-acre property meets the company's needs for highway access — it's close to Interstates 24 and 40 — and efficient operations. She said proximity to the interstates is more important than being downtown, where Greyhound has been since buying Trailways and taking over its terminal in 1987.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Breakdown of stimulus funds for Tennessee

This list includes the amounts the state would receive from the federal economic stimulus plan February 20, 2009 EDUCATIONK-12 Education, Elementary and Secondary Education ActGrants to LEAs $174,210,000School Improvement — Innovation and Improvement $50,386,000 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act IDEA—Part B—Special Education $229,486,000 IDEA—Part C—Early Intervention $6,677,000 Other education itemsEducation Technology $10,994,000 Education for the Homeless $669,000 School lunch equipment $1,985,000 PROGRAM BREAKDOWNMedicaid $1,100,000,000 Foster Care/Adoption Assistance $10,200,000 Highways and Bridges $572,701,000 Mass Transit Capital Grants $71,988,000 Fixed Guideway Modernization $28,000 Drinking Water $20,394,000 Clean Water $57,814,000 Underground Storage Tank Not determinedHazardous Waste Not determinedWeatherization $97,467,000 State Energy Program $59,065,000 Immunization $7,199,000 Elderly Nutrition $2,614,000 Child Care $41,932,000 Community Services Block Grant (GSBG) $19,699,000 Temporary Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) $2,069,000 FEMA—Emergency Food and Shelter $2,064,000 Vocational Rehabilitation $11,500,000 Home Investment Partnership Program $30,394,000 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant $49,518,000 Crime Victims Assistance $9,770,000 Internet Crimes Against Children $646,000 Violence Against Women $4,496,000 Unemployment InsuranceState Administration Grants $9,600,000 Workforce Investment Act—Adult $10,945,000 Workforce Investment Act—Youth $25,353,000 Dislocated Workers $19,777,000 Community Service for Older Americans $2,472,000 Employment Service $7,426,000 Head Start $13,775,000 Public Housing Capital Fund $80,710,000 CDBG and Neighborhood Revitalization Not determinedHomelessness Prevention $20,397,000 SOURCE: Federal Funds Information for States, a joint service of the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Funeral Arrangements for Charlotte Parrish

Hibbett and Hailey Funeral Home, 429 Donelson Pike Visitation: Thursday, February 19 1- 4pm and 5-8pm Friday , February 20 9am - 12pm Funeral Service: Friday, February 20 12pm Hibbett and Hailey Chapel Thank you Susan Floyd for the update. To learn more about Charlotte Parish see the attached link: Mrs. Parrish had requested donations to the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 88 (Girls State or Emergency Auxiliary Fund), Box 140616, Donelson, TN 37214; or the Scottsville High School Pointers for the Future Scholarship Fund, Attn: Morris Grubs Bookkeeping service, 202 Jacks Shopping Center, Scottsville, KY 42164, in lieu of flowers. T.W. CROW & SON FUNERAL HOME, (270) 237-3114.

Some kind words sent in about Charlotte Parrish

Those of us in the Donelson-Hermitage community were saddened to hear of the loss of our dear friend and neighbor Charlotte Parrish. Her elegant and descriptive stories in the News Herald about our schools, neighborhoods, and community kept all of Donelson-Hermitage connected. In her words, you knew the details as if you had been there. She was often spotted late into the night finding the details of any issue that would impact our community. She always stuck around until the last citizen left to ask them their opinion and share it with her readers. Charlotte knew our names, our faces, and our issues. She was one of us and proud of it. They don't make them like Ms.Charlotte any more. Filling her shoes will be a mighty task for the News Herald. Donelson-Hermitage is a better place because of the life and work of Charlotte Parrish. We will miss her greatly. Susan Floyd Past President Donelson-Hermitage Neighborhood Association

A Southeast Davidson Loss

On the morning of Tuesday, February 17, 2009, Ms. Charlotte Parrish, a friend of our community and the print media world, passed away. Many of you know Ms. Parrish as the primary journalist of the News Herald also known as the News Beacon, the state's largest community paper. Ms. Parrish was a good friend to all of us and area community leaders alike as she would provided us with news that effected Davidson county, but specifically news that directly affected the Southeast community. She was like our own community Davidson AM. If you needed a story to get out to the community, Ms. Charlotte saw that it got in the Beacon paper. That is what made her journalism unique and special. I know that Ms. Charlotte (as I would affectionately call her) will be truly missed by Mr. Jack Soolthater, owner of the News Herald and fellow employees. Most of all, we, the Southeast Community, will miss her most. Vivian Wilhoite Check back for more information on funeral arrangements.

Zoo schedules job fair for seasonal positions

By Andy Humbles The Tennessean • February 18, 2009 The Nashville Zoo will offer a job fair for seasonal employment in its food and retail departments at 10 a.m.-3 p.m. March 2 and March 3 in the Croft Center. Those interested can attend either day. Representatives from the Zoo’s retail and food operations will be at the fair to answer questions and receive resumes and applications. Seasonal positions include cashiers, retail and food and beverage supervisors, cooks, bussers, concession operators, food preparers and warehouse attendants. Jobs have separate qualifications. Visit

Metro building codes, deadlines guide put on Web site

By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • February 19, 2009 Top-dollar developers and homeowners planning for more square footage have a new place to go for all the relevant Metro rules, codes and deadlines. A new Metro government Web site provides a guide to the city's development and planning processes, making it easier to navigate what can be a confusing and intimidating world. "It's meant for everybody from the big builder to somebody putting a porch on the back of their house," said Craig Owensby, spokesman for the Metro Planning Department. The site at offers a flow chart for builders to follow, from optional pre-application planning meeting through Metro Council approval, and on to the issuance of building permits. Current and proposed building codes are listed, too. The requirements of eight city departments, from Water Services to Public Works to the Nashville Fire Department, are posted as well. Skip Lawrence, a builder and developer with Lawrence Bros. LLC, said the site is "a welcome service, and a needed one." "For as long as we've been doing it, it's still confusing," Lawrence said. "Scheduling is always a trick. You can miss a submittal by a couple of days and be postponed by a couple of months." Mayor backs project Owensby said the site will evolve as city officials in the various departments get feedback from their customers. He said officials have recognized the need for such a site for a while, but Mayor Karl Dean's office pressed the issue. "As a government, we need to do all that we can to make it easier for companies and individuals to navigate the process for building and developing in our city and be involved as that process is changed," Dean said in a news release.

State layoffs are still likely, governor says

Stimulus money will cut numbers By Erik Schelzig • ASSOCIATED PRESS • February 19, 2009 The money Tennessee will receive from the federal stimulus package may reduce the number of state workers facing layoffs, but some will likely still be let go, Gov. Phil Bredesen said Wednesday. The governor said the number of layoffs would be substantially lower than the 2,300 that had been under consideration, but that he doesn't know what the total number will be. The governor said he hoped to avoid most layoffs through attrition. "I can't give you a ballpark, but I do not think right now there's enough money in the stimulus package that's flexibly available to preclude the possibility of any layoffs," he said. Tennessee is in line to receive $4.3 billion in federal money over two years, according to an analysis by the Federal Funds Information for States, a service of the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures. But most of that money is directed to specific programs. Bredesen had been planning for $900 million in cuts for the upcoming spending year. A preliminary look at Tennessee's share of the stimulus money indicates that about $500 million of the money will be available for plugging budget holes, he said. About $573 million of the federal money has been designated for road and bridge projects that can get under way quickly. The state Transportation Department has compiled a list of $850 million worth of projects that have been identified as "shovel ready." Bredesen criticized lawmakers who raised concerns in a Senate Transportation Committee hearing a day earlier that not enough road and bridge projects paid for by stimulus money are being directed to their home districts. "People doing the complaining probably ought to just re-look at what we were asked to do here," Bredesen said. "It was not a list that was designed to be fair to every county or every region of this state, it was a list of projects that were ready to go."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

DTV Transition Community Meeting

DTV Transition Community Meeting Just when you thought you knew everything about the Digital TV transition, the federal government changes the date of transition from February 17 to June 12, 2009. Councilmember Vivian Wilhoite has invited Whit Adamson, President of the Tennessee Broadcasters Association, to provide an informational hour session that will answer such questions as how the transition will affect you? Can you still get a coupon to get a converter? How do I connect my converter box? I have a converter box but could not get it to work and much more. There will also be a drawing for a converter box giveaway. Community Meeting on DTV Transition Lakeview Design Elementary, 455 Rural Hill Road Wednesday, February 18, 2009 6:30 pm in the cafeteria

Special Guest Speaker: Katherine Powers from the Federal Communication Bureau in Washington, DC

For more information contact Councilmember Vivian Wilhoite @ 589-2003 or go to See you at the meeting. Vivian

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mt. View Elementary students rock on

Rich Eckhardt jams the "Blues" with the students during Little Kids Rock at Mt. View Elementary School. SUBMITTED BY MARK HALE
Rich Eckhardt, guitarist for Toby Keith, participated in a Little Kids Rock event at Mt. View Elementary School.
Mark Hale, music teacher at the school, said that Rick met and played with 60 students in third through fifth grades. There was also a question and answer session. Little Kids Rock has provided Mt. View with free instruments. In Hale's room there are 70 acoustic guitars, 20 electric guitars and bass and four drum kits. The project teaches kids how to play pop, rock, reggae, funk, blues, rap and hip-hop music.
Students perform, compose and record their own music. More information can be found at:

Gardening tips scheduled weekly at Nashville Zoo

By Andy Humbles • The Tennessean • February 17, 2009 The Davidson County Master Gardeners will hold sessions at 10 a.m. Saturdays in March and April at Nashville Zoo. The sessions are included with Zoo admission. Sessions will cover different topics and include a question-answer period. The topics are: March 7 — In the Beginning: Site Preparation (soil, weeds, hardscape, wildlife protection). March 14 — Hi Hoe, Hi Hoe: Basic Garden Equipment & Container Gardening. March 21 — From Garbage to Salad: Composting & Seed Starting. March 28 — Everybody Has a Plan: Planting Schedules, Companion Planting & Beneficial Instincts. April 4 — Maters, Taters & Beans: Vegetable Gardening in Spring, Summer & Fall. April 11 — Pre-organic Gardening: Heirloom Gardening. April 18 — Strange Bedfellows: Medicinal and Culinary Herbs. April 25 — What’s in Your Beds? Annuals & Perennials, Bulbs, Shrubs & Roses. Call 833-1534.

Gaylord Entertainment cuts 350 jobs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — USA TODAY Gaylord Entertainment Co. has cut 350 jobs, about half of them in Nashville, where the company is based. Employees were told Monday. The Tennessean reported the hotel company had signaled staff reductions were possible in a Feb. 10 conference call with CEO Colin Reed and analysts during which Reed said layoffs could be one of several measures Gaylord would use to save an estimated $35 million. Gaylord earned just $4.4 million in 2008 -- a 96 percent fall from the previous year -- despite opening a new hotel outside Washington.

Nashville's WKRN Channel 2 won't lose jobs in bankruptcy

By Wendy Lee • THE TENNESSEAN • February 17, 2009 Young Broadcasting Inc., the parent company of WKRN-TV, Channel 2, in Nashville, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid steep declines in ad revenue and swift competition among stations for clients, according to court documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York last week. The company said it needed the protection to deal with mounting debts. Locally, Young Broadcasting's Chapter 11 filing will not affect its Tennessee operations, according to Gwen Kinsey, general manager for WKRN-TV and WATE-TV in Knoxville. No layoffs will occur at the local stations as a result and although ad revenue is down industry-wide, there is a "very healthy cash flow" at the local stations, Kinsey said, but she declined to state by how much ad revenue has declined. "We have money in the bank," Kinsey said. "Our normal day-to-day operations aren't going to be affected." Young Broadcasting listed total assets at about $574.6 million and total liabilities at around $980.4 million, according to court documents. The company, which owns and operates 10 television stations across the nation, said operations would not be restructured. "In these difficult economic times, domestic media companies across the board have witnessed an unprecedented decline in advertising revenue and, as a result, industry-wide revenue and operational performance has suffered," James A. Morgan, the company's executive vice president and chief financial officer said in court documents. Morgan said the decline in ad revenue had been going on for years, but it has been "accelerated and exacerbated" by the recession and "dislocation" of the credit markets. The company owes about $338.1 million in a senior credit facility and had $484.3 million outstanding under senior substantiated notes as of the end of December, according to court documents. Losing on two ends Broadcasting companies nationwide are suffering because they purchased stations starting in the 1980s at inflated prices, said Ray Harris, assistant professor of multimedia at Lipscomb University. The problem is the amount of time a station can air commercials is limited due to hours in a day and the ad price is determined by the economy, Harris said. Stations "are losing on two ends," Harris said, explaining that they're either losing ad accounts altogether or their existing customers aren't able to spend as much as they once did. "It's a double whammy." In response to the declining revenues, Young Broadcasting had a cost savings initiative to save the company more than $25 million by the end of fiscal 2010 by reducing the workforce by 15 percent, bringing in new technology, creating a consolidated accounting system and terminating certain outside professional services, according to court documents. In January 2008, the company planned to sell its largest station, KRON-TV in San Francisco, because it had suffered cash flow losses but had to suspend the sale process in November 2008 amid the decline in market conditions. In January and February this year, the company decided to forgo making the interest payments on some of its debt. Earlier this year, the company's stock was de-listed from Nasdaq.

Three Nashville TV stations go digital-only tonight

Fox 17, two sister stations shut analog at midnight By Naomi Snyder • THE TENNESSEAN • February 17, 2009 The Nashville area will get its first major test of the digital tv transition tonight if WZTV Fox 17 and two sister stations go ahead with plans to cut off their analog signals at 11:59 p.m. Other broadcasters have decided to wait to turn off their analog signals after Congress extended the mandatory deadline to June 12. The switch is expected to affect only analog TV sets that aren't hooked up to cable or satellite service and don't have a digital converter box. Despite more than a year of public informational programming about the digital switch, research firm The Nielsen Group estimated earlier this month that about 30,000 people in the Nashville area who depend on over-the-air signals are completely unprepared, or 3.5 percent of the media market. That means thousands could potentially lose top-rated TV shows such as American Idol, which airs Tuesday and Wednesday nights. At an event in Nashville on Monday, U.S. Rep Jim Cooper joked that residents who will lose the local Fox affiliate's signal will instantly become smarter. More coupons coming The federal government has run out of coupons meant to defray the cost of the digital converter boxes needed to receive digital signals on an analog TV set, although about $650 million in additional funding for the coupons was included in the economic stimulus bill passed by Congress on Friday. Whit Adamson, the president of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, said he didn't know when those coupons would become available, but it could be weeks. If they don't want to wait for the discounts to become available, consumers can spend about $60 to buy a converter box. Fox 17's sister stations also planning to make the digital switch tonight are WUXP-MYTV30 and WNAB-58, which play shows such as Judge Judy, Seinfeld and Two and a Half Men. Executives for the parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, could not be reached Monday. Other stations that have already made the switch are WJFB in Lebanon, which plays Jewelry Television, and WHTN in Murfreesboro, the Christian Television Network. The FCC estimated Monday that 421 stations in the U.S. plan to terminate analog broadcast signals today. Altogether, about 36 percent of the nation's 1,800 full-power stations have switched or will switch off their analog signal by the end of today.

Davidson County crime log from Feb. 7-11

These are the most serious calls handled by the Metro police, listed by time, crime reported and address. Some reports may be unfounded. Police calls are listed by police precinct or town. When police cannot immediately determine the location of a crime, the address given is that of the police station or hospital where the crime was reported. Feb. 11 Antioch 11:02 a.m., residential burglary, 2300 block Una Antioch Pike Hermitage 12:46 a.m., holdup/robbery, 1000 block Hickory Hill Lane 3:36 p.m., residential burglary, 500 block Newcastle Lane South 7:42 a.m., holdup/robbery, 500 block Murfreesboro Pike 10:05 a.m., holdup/robbery, 1700 block J.P. Hennessy Drive 10:23 a.m., holdup/robbery, 300 block East Thompson Lane 12:30 p.m., holdup/robbery, 700 block Space Park South Drive 3:24 p.m., residential burglary, 600 block Sugar Mill Drive Feb. 10 Antioch 2:25 a.m., residential burglary, 2300 block Una Antioch Pike Donelson 8:36 a.m., residential burglary, 1500 block Woodland Point Drive 5:12 p.m., holdup/robbery, 800 block Royal Parkway Hermitage 4:10 a.m., holdup/robbery, 800 block Fesslers Parkway 5:07 a.m., holdup/robbery, 1600 block Elm Hill Pike Priest Lake 2:43 a.m., holdup/robbery, 3400 block New Towne Road South 12:18 a.m., nonresidential burglary, 500 block Metroplex Drive 2:11 a.m., holdup/robbery, 14900 block Old Hickory Boulevard 10:54 a.m., residential burglary, 2900 block Hamilton Church Road 5:17 p.m., nonresidential burglary, 2100 block Utopia Avenue 9:16 p.m., residential burglary, 2900 block Baby Ruth Lane 9:50 p.m., residential burglary, 700 block Winthorne Drive Una 12:55 p.m., residential burglary, 700 block Longhunter Lane 9:07 p.m., holdup/robbery, 2200 block Murfreesboro Pike Feb. 9 Donelson 1:43 p.m., residential burglary, 200 block Blue Hills Drive 1:55 p.m., residential burglary, 100 block Lakebrink Drive Hermitage 10:53 p.m., nonresidential burglary, 900 block Murfreesboro Pike South 5:27 a.m., holdup/robbery, Fort Negley Boulevard at Bass Street 10:07 a.m., residential burglary, 5000 block Preserve Boulevard 12:03 p.m., nonresidential burglary, 50 block Parris Avenue 9:43 p.m., residential burglary, 2200 block Cruzen Street Feb. 8 Antioch 11:38 p.m., residential burglary, 300 block Dover Glen Drive Hermitage 12:15 a.m., rape, at Murfreesboro Pike 1:40 a.m., residential burglary, 800 block Pin Oak Drive 12:23 p.m., residential burglary, 3800 block Bonnacreek Drive 7 p.m., holdup/robbery, 4100 block Lebanon Pike 10:59 p.m., holdup/robbery, 400 block Rockwood Drive South 5:49 a.m., nonresidential burglary, 2700 block Murfreesboro Pike 2:26 p.m., nonresidential burglary, 50 block Parris Avenue Feb. 7 Antioch 8:34 a.m., holdup/robbery, 900 block Richards Road Donelson 5:01 a.m., residential burglary, 1800 block Woodland Point Drive South 11:35 a.m., residential burglary, 100 block Plus Park Boulevard 4:24 p.m., residential burglary, 1400 block Woodfield Drive 5:47 p.m., holdup/robbery, 200 block Chestnut Street 9:17 p.m., residential burglary, 400 block Swiss Avenue

Saturday, February 14, 2009

WKRN-TV’s parent company files for bankruptcy

By Rachel Stults • THE TENNESSEAN • February 14, 2009 The parent company of WKRN-TV Channel 2 says it has filed for Chapter 11 protection, according to a statement issued Friday by the New York-based company, although little local impact is expected. Young Broadcasting Inc. owns 10 television stations across the country, including WATE-TV in Knoxville and WKRN-TV, which the company bought in 1989. "We're not anticipating layoffs, we're not anticipating staff changes, we're not anticipating changes in programming," said Gwen Kinsey, general manager for WKRN-TV and WATE-TV. "All of those things are going to continue as always." The bankruptcy was filed in the Southern District of New York. Young officials said in the statement that the filing will not affect operations at any of its stations and is intended to give the company an opportunity to restructure its debt. "Our decision to restructure through a Chapter 11 filing will allow the company to bring its debt in line with current economic realities so that we can emerge a stronger and more financially secure company," Vincent Young, chairman of Young Broadcasting, said in the statement. "We believe that the company will emerge from Chapter 11 better equipped to thrive in this changing economic environment with less leverage," Young continued. "I strongly believe that our Chapter 11 filing is in the best interests of Young Broadcasting, its viewers, advertisers, employees and other key constituents." On Friday, Kinsey said WKRN-TV has sufficient cash flow and reiterated that no operational changes are expected to occur. "The company has been working on efficiencies for a while now, and that is why we're not in need of reorganization from a staffing standpoint or our day-to-day operations," Kinsey said. "It's really just restructuring the debt." Twice this year — once in January and again this week — Young Broadcasting elected to forgo making a large interest bearing on debt as a way to preserve liquidity. The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Rachel Stults at 615-726-8904 or

Police chief says crime down in Nashville

By Kate Howard • THE TENNESSEAN • February 14, 2009 Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas announced his 2008 crime statistics Friday, saying overall crime has decreased in Nashville for the fifth straight year. According to Serpas, the total number of major crimes committed in the city dropped by 2.3 percent in 2008. Murders rose by about 1 percent and burglaries remained flat, the police report says, but Serpas said all other major categories saw declines. The largest reported drop was in auto theft, which fell 17 percent last year. Violent crime dropped by 5 percent in 2008, the department says. During the announcement at Lipscomb University, Mayor Karl Dean thanked the police for their hard work and reiterated that public safety is among his top priorities. "These are good results,'' Dean said.

VA patients may have been exposed to contaminants

Murfreesboro clinic warns vets ASSOCIATED PRESS • February 14, 2009 CHATTANOOGA — Thousands of patients at a Veterans Affairs clinic in Tennessee may have been exposed to the infectious body fluids of other patients when they had colonoscopies in recent years, and now VA medical facilities all over the U.S. are reviewing their own procedures. A spokesman at the Alvin C. York VA Medical Center in Murfreesboro said the clinic is offering free blood tests and medical care to all patients whose records show they had colonoscopies between April 23, 2003, and Dec. 1, 2008. Christopher Conklin said in a telephone interview Friday that notification letters were sent this week by registered mail to 6,378 patients of the Murfreesboro facility. He said no related health problems have been reported, and every measure is being taken to ensure affected veterans are screened. VA officials also said a problem was found with equipment at an ear, nose and throat clinic at the VA medical center in Augusta, Ga., and 1,800 veterans have been notified they may have been exposed to infection. One veteran who received notification from the Murfreesboro clinic, Gary Simpson, 57, said, "The fact that it took five years for them to catch a mistake like that — it seems like somebody should have caught an incorrect valve and incorrect cleaning of the equipment during that time." Conklin said a valve on equipment used in the colonoscopies was discovered wrongly connected Dec. 1 and the mistake was traced to April 23, 2003. Procedures reviewed A statement from the VA said that in response to the discovery at Murfreesboro and an inspection that found a problem with endoscopic equipment at the VA medical center in Augusta, Ga., all VA medical centers and outpatient clinics are reviewing procedures in a special training program described as a "step-up." A VA statement released Monday said 1,800 veterans who were treated in Augusta, Ga., from January through November last year in the ear, nose and throat clinic at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center are being notified "that they may have been exposed to infection because the instrument used in the procedure was improperly disinfected." The statement described the risk of infection as "extremely small." Simpson, a Tennessee Valley Authority retiree who lives in Spring City, received his notice Wednesday and went Thursday to a local doctor for a blood screening. He was awaiting results Friday of tests that included HIV and hepatitis. Simpson, who served in the U.S. Army from 1970 to 1974, said he had a colonoscopy at the clinic in Murfreesboro in 2007. His wife, Janice, said she was "praying it comes out OK." She said the notification letter refers to an incorrect valve and also to "tubing attached to the scope that may not have been properly cleaned between patients." A statement released by Conklin said that while the "valve-tube connection does not come in direct contact with a patient, there is a possibility patients may have been exposed to infection." "We know this will upset many veterans," Juan Morales, director of VA Tennessee Valley Health Care System, which includes the Murfreesboro clinic, said in the statement. "Both circumstances present a minimal risk of exposure to the veterans who had this procedure."

Layoffs imperil Metro adult education classes

Seven victims blame planning, pools By Jaime Sarrio • THE TENNESSEAN • February 14, 2009 Seven adult education employees were laid off Thursday because the department wasn't earning enough revenue from class enrollment to keep itself afloat. But the ousted employees say it was Metro schools' poor planning and three district-run swimming pools that ultimately put the department under. The employees, part of the Community Education Alliance, worked in high schools to coordinate evening classes like pottery and photography for adults. Both Metro's central government and the school district funded the group, with the rest of the budget from course enrollment revenue. District officials who oversee the alliance said layoffs were necessary because the department has a $254,400 deficit and cannot afford to continue. The future of adult classes in Metro remains uncertain. Officials blame the economy for the low enrollment, but longtime alliance coordinators say it was the district's decision to put three costly swimming pools under alliance control that bankrupted the program. "I think that MNPS administration should be forced to come up with the funds to correct the deficit their mismanagement caused," said Carl Myers, who was laid off after working as a program coordinator since 1991. "It is not fair to the citizens of Nashville to use funds the Metro Council intended for the salaries of seven Community Education Alliance employees to pay off a deficit caused by mismanagement of the aquatics." In 2006, Metro Parks turned over control of pools at Whites Creek, Pearl Cohn and Glencliff high schools. The pools were in poor condition, school officials said, and had to be resurfaced so they would not keep losing thousands of gallons of water a week. Coordinators surprised Metro schools spent $100,000 and countless hours of manpower to repair the pools and eventually opened the Glencliff pool to the public. The swimming program then became the responsibility of the alliance, but the department got no extra money for pool maintenance. "Everyone thought the pool would be able to sustain itself," district spokes woman Olivia Brown said. Brown said the program was placed under the alliance because it was a natural fit with other adult education courses. But this year, the department needed $338,000 in revenue to break even. So far, it's earned $80,000, Brown said. Metro schools this year put in $215,000, budget documents show, while the city contributed $597,100 from general funds. Coordinators thought their jobs would be safe. "I was totally caught by surprise," said James Polk, community education coordinator, who was let go after 30 years. "We always knew we needed more people in classes and we need to have income to pay our instructors. I think the expectation of how much we must raise and what that meant was not clear." Metro schools also laid off four aquatics department employees and will close the Glencliff pool at the end of the month. Brown said the district would seek community partners to provide funding to reopen them next year. The next round of adult education classes begins Tuesday, continuing as scheduled with other departments running it, she said. After this semester, the district will have to find other ways to run the program. Feb. 27 is the final day for the alliance employees.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

ACT Prep Classes being offered

By Andy Humbles The Tennessean • February 11, 2009 The Hermitage Enrichment and Learning Program at 627 Shute Lane in Old Hickory behind the Kroger has scheduled ACT Prep Classes for the April 4 and June 13 test dates. At registration, students should plan to schedule a three-hour Practice Test prior to the first study session. Cost is $195. Classes are limited to 10 students. The schedule for the April 4 test date is: Session 1: General Test Taking Strategies — 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, or 5-7 p.m. Monday, March 2. Session 2: English and Reading — 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, March 7, or 5-8 p.m. Monday, March 9. Session 3: Math and Science — 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, March 14, or 5-8 p.m. Monday, March 16. Session 4: Review and Practice Test 2 — 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28 or 4-8:30 p.m. Monday, March 30. The schedule for the June 13 test date is: Session 1: General Test Taking Strategies — 9-11 a.m. Saturday, May 9, or 5-7 p.m. Monday, May 11. Session 2: English and Reading — 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, May 16, or 5-8 p.m. Monday, May 18. Session 3: Math and Science — 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, May 30, or 5-8 p.m. Monday, June 1. Session 4: Review and Practice Test 2 — 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 6, or 4-8:30 p.m. Monday, June 8. For more information, call 883-KIDS.

Obama delays digital TV

ASSOCIATED PRESS • February 12, 2009 WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has signed a bill to delay the switch to digital TV to June 12. Congress last week gave TV stations until June 12 to shut down their analog broadcasts to give viewers more time to prepare for the switch to digital signals. The change was to have taken effect next Tuesday. Obama says the June 12 date will give viewers more time to prepare. He says many would have been left in the dark otherwise. Money has run out for a federal fund that helps people without cable or satellite service pay for converter boxes they will need in order to keep watching their televisions. And there's a long waiting list for the coupons. Nearly 500 stations say they intend to go ahead with the switch on Tuesday and not wait until June.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Humane Association seeks donations for pet food

By Natalia Mielczarek • The Tennessean • February 10, 2009 The Nashville Humane Association is looking for donations to support its ongoing pet food bank that benefits struggling families. The service kicked off several weeks ago to accommodate folks who face surrendering their pets because they can’t afford to feed them. So far, close to 40 families have sought help, association officials said. Among them, Gary Mendenhall, who has three cats and two dogs.“I’d hate to think what would happen to them if I didn’t have help from this program; they’re kind of like my kids so I’ve got to take care of them,” said Mendenhall, who lives in West Nashville.“I’m in between work so I have no money coming in yet. St. Luke’s Community House (charity) helps me with my needs, but I also sometimes go to the humane association and ask for some help. ”The Nashville Humane Association and other shelters in the city and across the country have experienced a sharp increase in abandoned animals due to the economic downturn. Last June, city-run Metro Animal Care and Control saw a record number of owner-surrendered pets. That number was, for the first time, higher than the number of stray dogs and cats found or dropped off. The statistic motivated Kristin Milner, owner of Lucky Pup Boutique & Bath, to organize a donation drive earlier this month to benefit the humane association. “That number was such a huge reflection of the tough times that people are experiencing and the choices they’re having to make when it comes down to money,” she said.“It sounds as through animals aren’t winning out in this situation. This program is going to keep the pets out of shelters.” The pet food bank is available only to residents of Davidson County. Applicants’ income level, employment situation and whether they rely on government assistance are among the factors that determine eligibility, said Lisa Reeves with the Nashville Humane Association. “For some people, it was a choice of feeding their families or feeding their pets, especially in this rough economic situation,” she said. “There are certain instances where people may have suddenly lost their job, they have no income, and that’s where we can help.”But, Reeves said, the food bank isn’t a permanent solution.“It’s just a temporary fix to help people get through the rough patch and keep their pets at home,” she said. “That’s our ultimate goal.”

Priest Lake Presbyterian offering free Sunday meal to needy

By Andy Humbles The Tennessean • February 10, 2009 Priest Lake Presbyterian Church at 2787 Smith Springs Road, is offering a free Sunday dinner for anyone in need in the community, 5:30-6:30 p.m. each Sunday. There is no qualifying or questions to answer to be eligible for the meal. Call 366-0247 for information.

WHO GETS WHAT: Stimulus to pad pockets of jobless

By DEB RIECHMANN • Associated Press Writer • February 10, 2009 WASHINGTON -- More jobless workers would get fatter unemployment checks longer in the massive economic recovery package moving forward in Congress. Helping the nation's jobless has not been a controversial part of the stimulus package. Both the House and Senate versions offer an extra $25 a week in jobless benefits to millions of workers through the end of the year. The current average weekly benefit is roughly $300. It also would keep unemployment checks coming through the end of 2009 for more than 3 million people whose state benefits will run out after March. The nation lost nearly 600,000 jobs last month, the worst showing in a third of a century, as a vicious cycle of cutbacks by consumers forced ever more layoffs by beleaguered employers. The unemployment rate catapulted to 7.6 percent, the highest in 16 years, and seemed headed for double digits. The stimulus would give states $500 million to help process the flood of unemployment applications. There's been such a crush that some states are running out of money, forcing them to tap federal coffers to keep sending out unemployment checks. Computer systems in New York, North Carolina and Ohio have been shut down by technical glitches and heavy volume, and labor officials in other states are reporting higher-than-normal use. The Senate bill also includes a provision that would suspend federal income tax on the first $2,400 that jobless workers receive in unemployment benefits. "It goes a long way to fill the gaps in the unemployment program, but this is going to be a long recession, so more may be needed down the road," said Maurice Emsellem, policy co-director of the National Employment Law Project in New York. The stimulus package also would give $7 billion to states that adopt reforms that make it easier for part-time workers, low-wage earners and women qualify for benefits. Moreover, lawmakers are considering providing health care to unemployed workers, but it's unclear whether the House and Senate can reconcile their differences on this idea. Extending Medicaid to these workers would be a huge boost," said Elise Gould, an economist with the liberal Economic Policy Institute. "If they get sick, or someone in their family gets sick, they're going to go totally broke. Medicaid is what they really need." Lawmakers also are thinking about changes to COBRA -- a law that allows jobless workers to pay to keep health insurance from their old jobs for up to 18 months. It's expensive for people to buy that insurance, so Congress is considering whether to offer subsidies to help the unemployed stay insured. While the stimulus would cushion the blow for unemployed workers, employment prospects are grim. Tens of thousands of layoffs are being announced every week by well-known companies such as General Motors Corp., Pfizer Inc., Estee Lauder Cos., Caterpillar, Microsoft Corp. and Home Depot Inc. Besides job cuts, companies are imposing hiring freezes. And economists say the worst is yet to come.

Obama hails passage of stimulus

By TOM RAUM • Associated Press Writer • February 10, 2009 WASHINGTON — The Senate approved President Barack Obama's giant economic stimulus measure on Tuesday, part of a string of powerful government steps that could marshal close to $3 trillion in taxpayer and private money to revive the collapsing national economy. The 61-37 vote by the Senate was a key victory for the president but sets up difficult negotiations with the House, which passed a slightly different version than the $838 billion bill approved Tuesday. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., vowed to send a finished bill to Obama's desk "as soon as possible."Obama, who was in Fort Myers, Fla., welcomed the vote as "good news. ... It's a good start."It came shortly after the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve moved to commit colossal sums of money to help thaw credit markets and slow layoffs that have left 3.6 million Americans unemployed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Nissan CEO announces plans to cut 20,000 jobs

WKRN Channel 2 News An announcement from a major automaker could affect workers in Tennessee. Nissan has announced plans to cut 20,000 jobs due to the economy, which equals about 8.5% of its global workforce. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn announced the plan in Japan. "Today, the head count is 235,000. At the end of fiscal year 2009, which is March 2010, we will streamline our head count to no more than 215,000 which is a reduction of 20,000 compared to today," he said. The announcement comes as the company reports that it is expecting a loss at nearly $3 billion loss for its fiscal year, which ends in March. Ghosn said the industry is in turmoil and "Nissan is not an exception." "Revenue falls quickly and significantly creates a situation that is at the same time unsustainable and potentially very dangerous," he said. The company did not release specifics, but any North American job cuts would certainly be felt in Middle Tennessee. Japan's third largest automaker, Nissan moved its North American headquarters to Franklin in 2006. Two of Nissan's three North American manufacturing facilities are in Tennessee. The company has an assembly plant in Smyrna that employs about 6,000 people. Nissan also has an engine plant in Decherd, Franklin County and operates an assembly plant out of Tennessee, just north of Jackson, Mississippi. Analysts say the company may be well-positioned to sustain these kinds of losses. "They have cushion and a part-time or temporary worker and gives them flexibility which they can cut the part-time workers without having to cut into their full-time staff so that allows them to save on the big job cuts that you would see in western countries," said explained Hans Greimel, an expert in the automotive world.

IRS warns of stimulus scams

Offers for checks are identity-theft plotsBy Christina E. Sanchez • THE TENNESSEAN • February 9, 2009 Congress hasn't settled on a stimulus package yet, but scammers are preying on people's hopes for one that would put money in their bank accounts. E-mails and phone calls purporting to be from the Internal Revenue Service promise to get people a stimulus payment. Click a link. Fill out a form. Give personal information. A check will be yours. Not true, warn IRS officials who said there are scammers in more than 70 countries trying to steal people's identities. And federal and local officials are alerting the public, encouraging people not to let tough financial times get the best of their judgment. The IRS would never contact a person by e-mail, said Dan Boone, spokesman for IRS offices in Tennessee and Alabama. "Don't click on any links and don't open any attachments," Boone said. "Either delete it or forward it to the IRS." The IRS doesn't even have taxpayers' e-mail addresses, Boone said. The e-mail may read something like this: "After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a stimulus payment. To submit your stimulus payment form, please download the attached document … you'll be receiving a check." Under the economic plan Congress is crafting, most of the relief to individuals would come in the form of tax credits that would add money to each paycheck, not provide direct payments. 'Nobody is immune' Metro police Sgt. David Howard, who works with the fraud unit, said he hasn't yet seen the influx of IRS scams that arrived last spring when stimulus checks went out. But he is sure that if lawmakers do decide to give taxpayers extra money, the scams will start anew. "Nobody is immune from these scams, no matter what age you are, what race you are, what education level you have," Howard said. Howard offers his own advice on this scam or any solicitation. "Don't do business with people you do not know," he said. "If you need something done, talk to people you can trust and see what has been successful for them." IRS spokesman Boone said little can be done to stop all scammers because they are so widespread and in so many countries, though the agency is able to track some down. "The scammers read the news just like everyone else, and they try to tie their e-mail messages to whatever is going on with a stimulus check or a refund to make it look more official and believable," Boone said. "Our best defense is to make the public aware."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mayor optimistic Council will pass water bill

WKRN Channel 2 NEWS Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is optimistic his $555 million proposal to repair the city's aging water, sewer and stormwater system will pass the Metro Council. The plan, called the Clean Water Infrastructure Program, calls for spending $500 million over the next five years on water and sewer projects. To pay for it, residential water bills will go up nearly 8% this year, followed by smaller increases for the next two years. Plus, there will be a new monthly fee for stormwater repairs It pays for $50 million in stormwater projects over five years, and averages about $3 a month for residential users. "I am optimistic we will get the council to support this," he told a gathering of reporters prior to touring Nashville's Omohundro Water Treatment Plant Friday. The plant was built in 1889 served as a backdrop for a news conference Friday designed to pump up support for the project. "Some folks had advocated a 20% increase this year and we decided it would be better to spread out the increases overtime to minimize the impact on families," Mayor Dean said. From the depths of the old Omohundro plant next to the Cumberland River, the city's water director explained that half the cost of the project will be upgrading 3,000 miles of sewer pipes. Some pipes are more than a century old, and are prone to leaks, according to director Scott Potter. "All the stuff that goes into a toilet, all the stuff that goes into a sewer system we have got to pump it all and sometimes its not just water and that breaks stuff," said Potter. The Council is expected to consider the plan on the first of three readings on February 17. If approved by mid-March, the projects could begin by July 1.

Jobless benefit plan outdated

Program leaves over 5 million without aid By Christopher S. Rugaber • ASSOCIATED PRESS • February 7, 2009 WASHINGTON — The government safety net designed to protect laid-off workers from financial catastrophe is falling short, leaving nearly half the 11.6 million jobless Americans without unemployment benefits. The shortcomings are fueling the recession as an increasing number of workers fall through the cracks and curtail spending. The trend highlights what economists say is a growing need for a 21st-century makeover of a program started in the depths of the Great Depression. Among the key problem areas: • There are many more part-time workers now than in 1935, but the program covers only those looking for full-time work. • Many eligible jobless Americans are shut out because states use an outdated system for calculating their income, making it more difficult to meet requirements. • Unemployment spells increasingly last longer than the usual 26-week jobless benefits program. Jobless benefits essentially are mini-financial stimulus packages for struggling American families. Helping laid-off breadwinners continue to purchase goods and services until they find new jobs ultimately bolsters the economy and makes further layoffs less likely. About $27 billion of the economic stimulus package under consideration by Congress would be used to extend jobless benefits, which vary by state but average about $300 a week. That would cover roughly 3 million Americans through the end of 2009, according to the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group. The stimulus bill also would provide $7 billion to the states to encourage them to cover part-time workers and more low-wage workers. These changes could extend benefits to 500,000 people, according to the law project. The package also would add $25 a week to jobless benefits in an effort to further boost recipients' ability to spend. More fundamental reforms are needed to address the system's underlying weaknesses, several economists said. Benefits run out Many of the 5.2 million unemployed Americans without jobless benefits have exhausted their 26 weeks of assistance. The program, funded by states through taxes levied on employers, has been no match for a recession that is frustrating the ambitions of even the most qualified job hunters. Paula Stein's $363 weekly benefits ran out last month. The former office manager from Goochland, Va., who missed several mortgage payments even before her benefits ended, has had to drain her savings and lean on her partner's $124-a-week unemployment check to help make ends meet. "It's a domino effect," said Stein, 57, who receives a small pension from IBM, where she was an accounts receivable supervisor. "If you don't have a job, it touches everything." Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics at Moody's, said if the government provided benefits to more workers, it would reduce the severity of the recession. Congress extended unemployment benefits twice last year, adding up to 33 weeks of coverage for individuals. Still, there were roughly 500,000 more unemployed Americans not receiving benefits in December than a year before. Before the emergency extensions, only about one-third of unemployed Americans were receiving benefits. The proportion of workers covered usually increases during recessions as Congress typically enacts extended benefits. Resources drained High demand — and insufficient funding — has made it difficult for many unemployment offices to keep up. Last month, online systems for requesting benefits in three states crashed under the crush of claimants. Other states, such as Michigan, have hired more workers to process the claims. At least six states have had to borrow money from the federal government to pay benefits. Beyond that, the economy has changed in significant ways since the jobless benefits system was first set up. In decades past, layoffs during recessions often were short-lived and workers eventually were rehired. Today, companies are more likely to eliminate jobs for good, either by shutting down plants or moving them abroad, according to a study by the Brookings Institution. The result: Unemployment spells tend to be longer as workers seek opportunities with new companies or even in new industries. Jeffrey Kling, an economist at the Brookings Institution, says more comprehensive reforms are needed. He believes the government should temporarily replace part of the income workers lose when they take lower-paying jobs after a layoff. Some conservative-leaning analysts say extending unemployment benefits is the wrong way to go. "It does reduce the pressure and incentive to go out and search for a new job," said James Sherk, a labor policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Many unemployed people disagree. "Nobody wants to sit on their butt and collect welfare," said Sherri McClendon, 57, who was laid off from a customer service job at a health insurance provider in January 2008. She has applied for roughly 200 jobs but is worried that her age will make it harder to find work, forcing her to go on welfare. "I'm in a category I've never experienced before."

It's a workday for Cupid in Metro

Clerk's office will provide licenses, weddings Feb. 14 By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • February 7, 2009 Love knows no bounds — not even a five-day government workweek. If you want to get married on Valentine's Day, the Davidson County Clerk's office will be ready for you, even with the romantic holiday falling on a Saturday this year. The clerk's office will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. a week from today, ready to help the betrothed — or the spontaneous, or the momentarily irrational — start the rest of their lives together, Clerk John Arriola announced. The clerk's office married more than 50 couples on Valentine's Day last year, when it was on a Thursday. For those who need a one-stop shop for fulfilling the legal requirements of tying the knot, Arriola and his staff will help with marriage licenses and wedding ceremonies in the "St. Valentine's Chapel of Love." A marriage license costs $39.50 with a premarital counseling certificate, and $99.50 without one. The celebration will include a reception with refreshments, a live DJ, photos and a commemorative Valentine's marriage certificate, according to a news release. One couple will win a two-night trip to Gatlinburg, and some of the proceeds from the day will be donated to St. Jude's Hospital. Arriola's office said appointments are recommended but not required. For more information, or to make an appointment, call 615-862-6256. The clerk's office is at 523 Mainstream Drive in MetroCenter.

Input sought on Middle Tennessee bike and walking paths

The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization wants the public to weigh in this month on the development of regional bicycle and pedestrian paths for Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Wilson and Williamson counties. Meetings will be held Feb. 23-26 at the following dates, times and locations: Rutherford County: Monday, Feb. 23, 5:30- 7:30 p.m., the Smyrna Town Centre, 100 Sam Ridley Parkway E., Smyrna. Williamson County: Monday, Feb. 23, 5:30 -7:30 p.m. at Franklin First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 143 Fifth Ave., Franklin. Davidson County: Tuesday, Feb. 24, 5:30-7:30 p.m., East Park Community Center, 700 Woodland St., Nashville. Wilson County: Thursday, Feb. 26, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Lebanon City Hall, 200 Castle Heights Ave. N., Lebanon. Sumner County: Thursday, Feb. 26, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Hendersonville Public Library, 140 Saundersville Road, Hendersonville. Residents are encouraged to come prepared to share their thoughts and ideas, the agency said in a news release. More information is available at— MARIA

Friday, February 6, 2009

Digital TV switch postponed to June

By Joelle Tessler • ASSOCIATED PRESS • February 5, 2009 WASHINGTON — After weeks of debate, Congress is giving consumers four more months to prepare for the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting. The House voted 264-158 on Wednesday to postpone the shutdown of analog TV signals to June 12, to address growing concerns that too many Americans won't be ready by the Feb. 17 deadline that Congress set three years ago. The Senate passed the measure unanimously last week and the bill now heads to President Barack Obama. The change is being mandated because digital signals are more efficient than analog ones. Ending analog broadcasts will free up valuable space in the nation's airwaves for commercial wireless services and emergency-response networks. The delay is a victory for the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress, who maintain that the previous administration mismanaged efforts to ensure that all consumers — particularly poor, rural and minority Americans — will be prepared for the switchover. The Nielsen Co. estimates that more than 6.5 million U.S. households that rely on analog TV sets to pick up over-the-air broadcast signals still are not ready. People who subscribe to cable or satellite TV or have a newer TV with a digital tuner will not be affected. Speaking on the House floor Wednesday, Rick Boucher, D-Va., chairman of the House Commerce Committee's subcommittee on communications, technology and the Internet, said a delay was needed to prevent the digital transition from becoming a failure. Opponents of a delay warned, however, that the move will confuse consumers, create added costs for TV stations that will continue broadcasting both analog and digital signals for four more months and burden wireless companies and public safety agencies waiting for the airwaves. "It's time for us to move forward on this and keep our word to the American people," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., calling for the transition to proceed on Feb. 17. Democrats have tried to address these concerns by allowing broadcast stations to switch to digital signals sooner than June if they choose, potentially freeing up spectrum for public safety early. But it is unclear how many TV stations plan to use this option. The National Association of Broadcasters welcomed the delay. The group said it would provide new television spots to promote the June 12 deadline, and work with stations to coordinate additional analog shut-off tests to raise awareness and help consumers prepare.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hermitage Precinct Newsletter Feb 2009 Officer Troy Meadows Hermitage Precinct Community Affairs Unit Metro-Nashville Police Department Phone 880-1781

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Police foil alleged crime spree, arrest teens

WKRN News Channel 2 Antioch, Tenn. - Two teenage burglary suspects are in custody after an alleged crime spree Tuesday. Metro police said the teens broke into three homes in the Antioch area, stealing items like laptop computers, video game systems and big screen TVs. Authorities said they used church bulletins as a decoy when the approached the homes and if no one was home, they'd kick in the doors. "They would knock, if a person answered the door, they would show the bulletins, they would talk about their church and encourage the homeowner to attend their church," Metro police spokesperson Don Aaron explained. "If they got to the door and no one came to the door, they'd kick it in." Authorities said the suspects are 19 and 17 years old. The 17-year-old is a student at Whites Creek High School in Nashville. During the time of his arrest, police said the computer showed he was in school.

Juvenile crime victims' electronic records mislaid

Flash drive had kids' names, account infoBy Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • February 3, 2009 A Metro auditor misplaced a portable computer storage drive containing the names of more than 500 juvenile crime victims who receive government funds, potentially exposing their bank account numbers and balances. The victims' addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers were not on the device, and banks have been alerted to look out for suspicious activity on the accounts. But most of the victims are still minors, and their names alone are sensitive information that isn't meant for public consumption, Davidson County Juvenile Court Clerk Vic Lineweaver said Monday. "I don't see how they could have lost it," said Lineweaver, who was held in contempt of court in 2007 for failing to produce two files for a Juvenile Court referee. "But we're all human." Metro internal auditor Mark Swann said the computer flash drive was last seen Dec. 19 — almost exactly a year after thieves stole two laptops containing Metro voters' Social Security numbers. But the auditor who misplaced it didn't tell his bosses until mid-January. Swann said the auditor has not been disciplined for either the lost drive or the delayed report, however, because the office didn't have a policy on flash drives at the time. It has one now: Using flash drives is prohibited. "I wish it didn't happen," Swann said. "We realize the severity of the incident." Swann said his office was conducting a routine audit of victim compensation accounts in December. Parents or guardians of minors who are victims of crimes can use the accounts to pay for counseling, education needs and other court-approved expenses. The money comes from a federal grant that the state passes on to Metro. Swann said the auditor used the flash drive to transfer information from one computer to another in a different part of the Juvenile Court complex. After the transfer was completed, the drive "got lost in transit." The device contains 559 names but just 419 active accounts, because some victims' accounts have been closed since they became adults. Swann said 367 of the accounts contained less than $10,000 each. Lineweaver said the average account has $1,500 to $3,000. Lineweaver and Swann said they're waiting on advice from Metro attorneys before notifying the victims and their parents or guardians. Lineweaver's office asked banks late last week to watch for anyone trying to close an account, which would be unusual.

Metro Council OKs downtown noise bill

Vote on single beer sales is deferred By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • February 4, 2009 Downtown Nashville will be a bit quieter under legislation approved Tuesday by the Metro Council. But another bill backed by downtown quality-of-life advocates, a proposal to ban sales of single beers in the area, was delayed so sponsors can work to gather more support. The council unanimously approved the downtown noise ordinance, which represented a compromise after tourism officials balked at the first version of the bill. The final ordinance will limit recorded music to 85 decibels but won't restrict live music, one of Music City's calling cards. "It allows downtown residents to get a good night's sleep while preserving our reputation as a live-music mecca," said Councilman Mike Jameson, who represents downtown and sponsored the legislation. The council voted to defer the single-beer sales ban after adopting several amendments. Stores within the downtown interstate loop would be prohibited from selling single bottles or cans of beer. Supporters say the change would rein in vagrancy, litter, panhandling and public intoxication. The amendments call for the proposed law to expire in one year, and they remove an exception for craft and specialty beers that are often sold only as singles. But the changes didn't impress beer distributors, who remain opposed because they feel existing laws can address the problems cited by sponsors, lobbyist Joe Hall said. Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, the bill's lead sponsor, said she deferred it so the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and others can offer their opinions. "We're going to get some more weigh-in from other experts who deal with this in the city," Gilmore said. Tree ordinance approved In other business, the council:> >>Unanimously approved a residential tree density ordinance. It would require residential developers to put 14 tree units on each acre, excluding the building lots. A unit could contain one or more trees. Councilwoman Megan Barry, one of the sponsors, said the law gives developers incentives to save existing trees, which count more than new trees toward the density requirements. >> Deferred three bills concerning Habitat for Humanity's plans for a 350-house subdivision in northeast Nashville. Two of the bills would cancel Habitat's planned unit development district, forcing the organization to revise its plans, and rezone its land from multi-family to single-family, dramatically reducing the density. Metro attorneys advised the council to reject the bills, arguing that courts might rule the city targeted Habitat specifically and affected a particular class of people disproportionately. The Department of Law's memo said 93 percent of Habitat residents are members of minority groups.

January NES bills stir new calls

December charges also shocked customers By Chris Echegaray • THE TENNESSEAN • February 4, 2009 Nashville's Adugna Denbel purchased his first home in October, a 2,069-square-foot house built in 2005. But the thrill of being a first-time homebuyer lost its luster after he made payment arrangements to keep the place heated, Denbel said Tuesday. His most recent electric bill was $356, up from $190. "I've kept it at 68 and 65 degrees, no longer at 70," said Denbel. "I'm told nothing is wrong with the meter. It's just cold. Imagine that." Nashville Electric Service has received 35,000 calls — 12 percent of its residential customers — about January bills, including requests for payment arrangements. Some might also be among the 31,000 who called about their December bills, NES spokeswoman Laurie Parker said. A normal call volume for NES would be 2,000 a day, including making regular payments and typical inquiries, Parker said. After the January bills hit mailboxes, NES averaged 5,000 calls a day, mostly complaints, she said. NES serves about 355,000 customers in Davidson County and other parts of Middle Tennessee. "It's been unusual," said Parker. "It's been the perfect storm. The rate increases have been compounded with the cold weather." NES has maintained that the high electric bills stem from the Tennessee Valley Authority's 9.1 percent rate increase, the more than 20 percent fuel cost adjustment, extra days tacked on to bills and the cold weather. NES is working with customers, making payment arrangements and, in some cases, waiving late fees. It has customers who never had late payments calling and making arrangements. "We have people calling to complain, but they do pay the bills," Parker said. Denbel, originally from Ethiopia, said he went in person to deal with the issue, but there's not much he could do but pay the bill. The main question from many residential customers is why the kilowatt usage jumped at an exorbitant rate. Lori Eslick, who lives in an insulated home in Inglewood, said her kilowatt usage has increased by 3,000 kilowatts compared with last winter, translating to a January bill of $642. 26. "It just really makes no sense," Eslick said. "We are fortunate enough to be able to pay this. But no one can explain the kilowatt usage. Of course, my heart breaks for the people who can't afford these ridiculous bills."

Obama wants $500,000 executive pay cap at rescued firms

Associated Press • February 4, 2009 WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama wants to impose a $500,000 pay cap on executives whose firms receive government financial rescue funds, a dramatic intervention into corporate governance in the midst of financial crisis. The new restrictions, described by an administration official familiar with the new rules, are to be announced Wednesday morning at the White House. The steps set the stage for the administration's unveiling next week of a new framework for spending the money that remains in the $700 billion financial rescue fund. "If the taxpayers are helping you, then you've got certain responsibilities to not be living high on the hog," President Barack Obama said Tuesday. The move comes amid a national outcry over extravagant bonuses for executives heading companies seeking taxpayer dollars to remain solvent. Call it the maximum wage for some high-earners. The administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the plan had not yet been made public, said the most restrictive limits would apply only to struggling large firms that receive "exceptional assistance" in the future. Healthy banks that receive government infusions of capital would have more leeway. Firms that want to pay executives above the $500,000 threshold would have to compensate them with stock that could not be sold or liquidated until they pay back the government funds, the official said. The president and members of Congress have been weighing various proposals to restrict chief executives' compensation as one of the conditions of receiving help under the $700 billion financial bailout fund. The desire for limits was reinforced by revelations that Wall Street firms paid more than $18 billion in bonuses in 2008 even while struggling with the economic downturn. Banks and other financial institutions that receive capital infusions, but are considered healthy, could waive the $500,000 salary cap and the stock restrictions under the new Obama rules. But the companies would have to disclose the compensation and submit the pay plan to shareholders for a nonbinding vote. The administration will also propose long-term compensation restrictions even for companies that don't receive government assistance. According to the official, the proposals include: -- Requiring top executives at financial institutions to hold stock for several years before they can cash out. -- Requiring nonbinding "say on pay" resolutions -- that is, giving shareholders more say on executive compensation. -- A Treasury-sponsored conference on a long-term overhaul of executive compensation. Top officials at companies that have received money from the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program already face some compensation limits. But elected officials want to place more caps. "I do know this: We can't just say, 'Please, please,"' said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who has proposed that no employee of an institution that receives money under the $700 billion federal bailout can receive more than $400,000 in total compensation until it pays the money back. The figure is equivalent to the salary of the president of the United States. Compensation experts in the private sector have warned that such an intrusion into the internal decisions of financial institutions could discourage participation in the rescue program and slow down the financial sector's recovery. They also argue that it could set a precedent for government regulation that undermines performance-based pay. "It's not a government takeover," Obama stressed in an interview Tuesday with CNN. "Private enterprise will still be taking place. But people will be accountable and responsible." Even some Republicans, angered by company decisions to pay bonuses and buy airplanes while receiving government help, have few qualms about restrictions. "In ordinary situations where the taxpayers' money is not involved, we shouldn't set executive pay," said Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee. "But where you've got federal money involved, taxpayers' money involved, TARP money involved, and the way they have spent it, with no accountability, is getting close to being criminal."