Monday, March 30, 2009

Smokers face tax increase this week

Regardless of how they satisfy their nicotine cravings, tobacco users are facing a big hit as the largest federal tobacco tax hike ever goes into effect on Wednesday. CAROLYN KASTER / FILE / ASSOCIATED PRESS
62-cent-per-pack hike is most in U.S. history
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar • ASSOCIATED PRESS • March 30, 2009 WASHINGTON — However they satisfy their nicotine cravings, tobacco users are facing a big hit as the single largest federal tobacco tax increase ever takes effect Wednesday. Tobacco companies and public health advocates, longtime foes in the nicotine battles, are trying to turn the situation to their advantage. The major cigarette makers raised prices a couple of weeks ago, partly to offset any drop in profits once the per-pack tax climbs from 39 cents to $1.01.
Medical groups see a tax hike right in the middle of a recession, as a great incentive to help persuade smokers to quit.
Tobacco taxes are soaring to finance a major expansion of health insurance for children. President Barack Obama signed that health initiative soon after taking office. Other tobacco products, from cigars to pipes and smokeless, will see similarly large tax increases. For example, the tax on chewing tobacco will go up from 19.5 cents per pound to 50 cents. The total expected to be raised over the 4½-year-long health insurance expansion is nearly $33 billion.
The tax increase is only the first move in a recharged anti-smoking campaign. Congress also is considering legislation to empower the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco. That could lead to reformulated cigarettes. Obama, who has agonized over his own cigarette habit, said he would sign such a bill.
Promising prospects Prospects for reducing the harm from smoking are better than they have been in years, said Dr. Timothy Gardner, president of the American Heart Association. The tax increase "is a terrific public health move by the federal government," he said. "Every time that the tax on tobacco goes up, the use of cigarettes goes down."
About one in five adults in the United States smokes cigarettes. That's a gradually dwindling share, though it isn't shrinking fast enough for public health advocates.
Philip Morris USA, the largest tobacco company and maker of Marlboro, is forecasting a drop in sales, but spokesman Bill Phelps said he cannot predict how big.

Unfinished streets upset Nashville residents

Metro hopes it won't have to foot bill if developers walk away By Brad Schrade • THE TENNESSEAN • March 29, 2009 The street names of Keeneland Downs seem like cruel misnomers in light of what's become of the southeast Davidson County subdivisions. Secretariat Drive, Buckpasser Avenue and Seabiscuit Drive — all named for champion racehorses — sit half-paved, mud-choked and forgotten. Work stopped as the developers fell on hard times. Graffiti mars unfinished houses. A car was recently abandoned in the development and set on fire. And a vandal threw a brick through the lone homeowner's truck window. "It's pitiful to see this," says Bobby Akin, a Metro public works road and infrastructure inspector, as he drives through the Antioch development. The financial slump has made these unfinished developments a growing problem in Davidson County and across Middle Tennessee. They pose potential public safety and health issues, as areas become dumping grounds and roads sit incomplete. Residents are frustrated. And in Metro, the city in some cases has lost one of its key tools for remedy. Metro auditors said last fall that a bonding program, managed out of the city's Planning Department, was lax and let certain securities expire that protected residents and taxpayers. Developers are required to provide performance bonds or letters of credit issued by insurance companies or banks so that if they fail to complete roads, storm drains, sidewalks and other infrastructure in a new subdivision, Metro can get it finished at no expense to taxpayers. By letting letters of credit expire, the city is unable to force money to be spent to finish such infrastructure in some stalled projects. That could mean even more waiting for residents. At Keeneland Downs, for example, Metro allowed a $1.1 million letter of credit to expire last May. Overall the city has about $11 million in surety bonds and letters of credit involving more than 60 projects that are incomplete or unresolved. About half the money involved relates to letters of credit that the city let expire through lack of oversight. Some, like Keeneland's, have already been turned over to Metro attorneys for possible legal action. "When the economy is going well it really doesn't pose much of a problem," said Planning Department Director Rick Bernhardt. "The problem came, if there is one, obviously when people started going belly up. Then you start collecting. Then everybody wants to be a little hard to get." Auditors in a draft of a report yet to be finalized found that the Planning Department had a backlog of 248 performance agreements that had been breached by developers. The Planning Department has cleaned up more than half of those, a later draft said. Still, auditors said, properly managing the program is vital to protect Metro and its residents. The report said the Planning Department didn't have the proper computer programs to track the bonds and it didn't have enough people dedicated to administer the program. And communication was lacking among the various departments that Planning depends on to help monitor the projects. The department is reviewing its bond agreements — 500 to 600 — to verify their status. A week and a half ago, the department launched an online database to help track the status of the agreements. The department says it can enforce the performance agreements as a last resort, and it doesn't believe Metro will lose money on any of these projects. "We don't believe there's any of those situations that have defaulted where Metro's going to have to go out, that I'm aware of ...," Bernhardt said. "I'm not aware of any circumstance where Metro is going to go in and put in infrastructure that would force the taxpayers to pay it. I'm not aware of it. You'd have to talk to other departments." Street has no lights When Jack Thomas and his wife, Cindy, first walked into their two-story home in the Hamilton View subdivision in Antioch they fell in love. It was the exact design they were looking for, and their tidy front yard shows the pride they take in the home they've lived in since 2006. Metro records show the developers, Homes by Design, are in breach of the agreement and a letter of credit is set to expire next month, which Metro says it will call unless the work is completed. Road paving is incomplete, with curbs jutting up and a dip in the pavement in front of the Thomas home collects a large pool whenever it rains. The road remains a private street until the work is completed and meets basic standards for Metro acceptance. Sidewalks remain patchy in spots, and at night the lack of street lamps in the unfinished development makes the place pitch black. Thomas stopped calling the developer because the number was disconnected. Brush grows high on the empty lots, and a cluster of half-finished homes up the hill from Thomas' home are splashed with graffiti, windows are broken and empty beer cans sit out front. Part of the street empty of homes had turned into a trash dump. "We're one of those screwy neighborhoods that's gotten screwed," Thomas said. "Nobody wants to spend the money to fix it up." Metro Councilman Robert Duvall, whose district includes Hamilton View, said some relief has been offered, but several Metro departments are still involved in trying to fix the problems. He said Metro has bypassed the developer and is now talking to the bank to get problems fixed. "We basically told them everything they had to do to get everything completed that was required," Duvall said. "A punch list had been given to them, and there's no reason to believe it wasn't going to be handled." Keeneland Downs also is in Duvall's district, and he said he was surprised when informed last Thursday that the letter of credit related to the development had expired. No one with Metro or the development company had told him about that issue, he said. Duvall said he'd spoken to one of the Keeneland developers, Jim Fischer, in recent months and he'd been assured the plan was to continue developing the subdivision. Fischer did not return phone messages before deadline last week. Duvall said residents in the neighboring subdivisions in the area have expressed concern that the two unfinished projects get completed. "They are worried about property values," Duvall said. "They are worried about who's going to cut the grass on vacant lots. Is the subdivision ever going to get completed? … What I'm going to do is continue to put the word out that we've got some situations here." Developers catching up Some developers with projects on the breached list say they have every intention of completing the work. Summerfield Village, a development in southeast Davidson County, has about $1.3 million of incomplete work associated with bonds — one of the highest totals on the list, according to Metro records. Records indicate the performance agreement was breached and that Metro has contacted the insurance company to make a claim on the bond so that work can be finished. Rick Cantrell, the chief operating officer with ParkTrust Development, which is managing the infrastructure for the development, said the company has the money to complete the work. He thought the remaining work was much less than the $1.3 million figure and didn't seem to agree with the assertion that the company was behind on the work. "I don't have any intentions of sticking Metro." He said he plans to meet with Metro this week. Affordable Housing Resources has about $800,000 of unresolved work across four developments. Three had letters of credit that expired more than a year ago, with two of them having expired in 2006, according to Metro records. The nonprofit company's CEO, Eddie Latimer, said it has contracts to complete asphalt topping on roads in a couple of developments, and there are sidewalks and storm detention ponds that are planned for completion. On one development, the company will have to get another bond, but the bonding markets have tightened, he said. He said the slowdown in the economy has affected the completion of projects. Most roads are not completed until most or all of the development is built out. "Everything has been slow since early 2007, things started slowing down," Latimer said. "We were hoping to get everything completed out and finish it up like we've been doing for 20 years. "It just didn't happen because of the economy. (Metro) gave us the notice. … We chose just to complete the paving even though the subdivisions have a few lots on them."

Wish List and Volunteer List

Here are two links for you to see if your are able to help in anyway. Wish list Volunteer List

Predators steam toward playoffs

Victory over Red Wings builds momentum
ASSOCIATED PRESS • March 30, 2009 DETROIT — The Predators capped a big week with a confidence-building victory over the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. Ryan Suter broke a tie on a power play with 4:36 left, and Pekka Rinne made 33 saves to help Nashville win its third straight, 4-3 over Detroit on Sunday night.
Not only did the Predators defeat the defending Stanley Cup champs, who are also second in the Western Conference, but they also beat the conference's top team, the San Jose Sharks, on Thursday night, and Los Angeles on Saturday night in overtime.
"This crew deserves a lot of credit for this week," Coach Barry Trotz said. It also was Nashville's fourth game in six days.
Steve Sullivan had a goal and an assist while Joel Ward and Jerred Smithson also scored for the Predators, who are seventh in the Western Conference playoff race with six games remaining. "We're in the fight of our lives for the playoffs," Sullivan said. "We've still got a lot of work to do." Henrik Zetterberg, Mikael Samuelsson and Johan Franzen scored for Detroit, which lost is second straight and third in four games. Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom each had two assists, and Chris Osgood stopped 22 shots.
"The bottom line is we got to find ways to win games and we're in it together," Osgood said. Suter beat him with a slap shot from the top of the left circle for his seventh goal, just 29 seconds after Chris Chelios took a cross-checking penalty.
Sullivan made the play as he took the puck off the left boards inside the blue line and headed into the middle of the ice, but he then passed it back to Suter at the left point, who moved in and blasted a shot high on the far side.
"Sully made a great play coming off the wall," Suter said. "I thought he was going to go to the other point. But he passed it back to me. I moved in and was looking for someone to pass to. I saw (Radek Bonk) in front of the net and then I just tried to go far side."
Franzen tied it at 3 with 5:25 left with a wrist shot from the high slot for his 32nd goal. Goals by Ward and Smithson 20 seconds apart gave Nashville a 3-2 lead. Ward tied it at 2, putting in a rebound for his 17th goal with 8:25 left in the third period. Smithson took a pass from Cal O'Reilly and beat Osgood from the bottom of the left circle. It was Smithson's fourth goal.
"A point shot. I went to the net to try and create traffic," Ward said. " And I was able to chip the rebound in."
Both goals were the result of Detroit turnovers. The first came when Jonathan Ericsson and Tomas Kopecky almost collided in the neutral zone.
"We actually checked our own guy in the neutral zone on the one," Red Wings Coach Mike Babcock said. "We found a way to lose the game. That drives you crazy, especially this time of year. It's the time of year you want to be ramping it up."
Samuelsson's power-play goal gave Detroit a 2-1 lead with 4:47 left in the second period. It came with the Red Wings holding a two-man advantage. Samuelsson put in a one-time shot from the left circle for his 19th goal.
Sullivan opened the scoring with a power-play goal 2:25 into the game for his 10th goal. Zetterberg tied it with his 30th goal, a short-handed effort at 4:29.
"I thought we were gassed after the first period," Trotz said. "But the guys just sucked it up."

Tennessee patients lose trust in VA hospitals after health scare

By Clay Carey • THE TENNESSEAN • March 30, 2009 For years, Gary Simpson received medical treatment at the VA hospital in Murfreesboro. Never once did he have a complaint. Now, Simpson and thousands more fear they may have caught serious diseases because of shortcomings at the government-run medical center. Simpson was one of nearly 6,400 current and former patients at the Alvin C. York Medical Center who were notified earlier this year that they might be at risk for HIV or other viral infections because of problems with equipment used to perform colonoscopies. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has said tubes used during the procedures had incorrect valves and may have exposed those veterans to body fluid from previous patients. At least 10 veterans treated in Murfreesboro have tested positive for hepatitis since their colonoscopies, but the VA says there is no way to know whether the test results are directly related to the equipment used at the hospital. Patients who went to at least two other VA health-care facilities have also been warned about exposure to diseases because of equipment issues. Members of Congress have questioned the VA's practices in the wake of the revelations, and patients have criticized the agency for not being forthcoming with information. "I felt real bad, and threatened by the possibility of getting all kinds of diseases from that procedure," said Simpson, 57, an Army veteran. Two separate tests for HIV and hepatitis came back negative, but he worries about other illnesses like syphilis that the tests would not catch. "It's hard to get it off my mind," Simpson said. "It just makes me sick to think of the unsanitary conditions … the nastiness." A VA spokeswoman said Friday that the agency is still going over the results of a systemwide review of the way the procedures are conducted. She could not say whether problems had been found at other hospitals. "This is an absolute priority," the spokeswoman, Katie Roberts, said. "We need to make sure we address this. … It could just be human error, but if it is something else, appropriate action will be taken." Problems at VA clinics Roberts said four patients treated at York have tested positive for hepatitis B and six have tested positive for hepatitis C, which is potentially life-threatening and can cause permanent liver damage. No one has tested positive for HIV, she said. After problems were discovered in Murfreesboro and at another clinic in Augusta, Ga., the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ordered a re-evaluation of safeguards and procedures for cleansing instruments used in colonoscopies. About 1,800 veterans treated at an ear, nose and throat clinic in Augusta were warned that they might have been exposed to infections as a result of improper disinfection of medical instruments. Earlier this month, more than 3,000 patients at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Miami were advised to take tests for HIV and other diseases after the hospital discovered that equipment used to perform colonoscopies had not been properly sterilized. "We take full accountability. We potentially put them at risk," Roberts said. She could not say Friday if that means the VA would help pay for treatment for hepatitis or other diseases. In hopes of quelling fears about infections, the agency set up a call center for Murfreesboro patients to contact them with questions. More than 4,300 called with questions or to set up appointments to be tested for diseases. "We're going above and beyond," Roberts said. "We are constantly evaluating. If we can do something better, we are making sure we do it." Questions unanswered Others disagree. Gary Simpson's wife, Janice, said many of their questions about what happened at the Murfreesboro hospital had gone unanswered. "They don't want to talk about it and they refuse to give you answers," she said. The VA has said the risk of infection through its colonoscopies is very small. But the agency is unable to say exactly how many of its former patients have been tested. Some refused to be tested, the VA said, and others chose to be tested by private doctors. "Some of these veterans are having a hard time trusting the VA to test them after, in their opinion, the VA made a big mistake," said Nashville attorney Mike Sheppard. Sheppard said his firm is working with about 15 patients. Simpson said he would never get another colonoscopy at the Murfreesboro hospital, though he will have to continue to go there for specialized care. "It will be hard," he said. "The trust that I had with them will probably never be the same."

Easter Event April 4th at the Antioch Community Center

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Water and Sewer Rate Increase Presentation, March 9, 2009

On Monday, March 9, 2009 at the Lakeview Design Center, 455 Rural Hill Road, I invited the staff of the Metro Water Service (MWS) to provide a presentation on the proposed water and sewer rate increase. I held the presentation prior to the third and final reading before passage by the Metro Council. I wanted to hear from residents of District 29 regarding their thoughts on the proposed water and sewer rate increase. Therefore I made announcements regarding the meeting at the Metro Council meeting and news television station and on my blog which I hope that you will continue to visit often. The MWS did a great job in the presentation and answering questions presented. The impact on an average water and sewer bill is about $3.76. The new plan will address several concerns, some of which you have experienced first hand, like storm water issues. This plan will address the many storm water problems that you have. Whether your project is rated an A, B, or C, your storm water concern will get attention in an orderly manner with the funds that will become available as a result of the rate increase. The plan also addressed the late fee and water capacity fees which both will be reduced. If you missed the meeting, click on links below for the Water and Sewer power point presentation provided on March 9 as well as the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Or connect directly to the MWS to learn more about their services. Power Point Presentation of March Frequently Asked Questions: General Website: Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. Gratefully, Vivian.

Davidson County crime log from March 12-18

Please click on Link to see entire list.

Dollar General to add 450 Stores

Thrifty shoppers drive discounter's growthBy Randy McClain • THE TENNESSEAN • March 25, 2009 Buoyed by a solid sales performance in a down year for many other retailers, Dollar General plans to add as many as 450 new stores in the year ahead and renovate others to build on its $10.5 billion in annual sales. "I think we're seeing a new era of consumerism in which it's going to be fashionable to be conservative and save money," said Rick Dreiling, the discount chain's chief executive officer and chairman. Dreiling made the comments after Dollar General reported annual and fourth-quarter gains in same-store and total sales as well as profits. "We were able to achieve these improvements despite the increasingly difficult economic conditions," Dreiling said. Annual profits rose to $108.2 million for the year ended on Jan. 30, compared with a loss of $4.8 million a year earlier. Goodlettsville-based Dollar General, which sells most of its merchandise for $10 or less, also said net income for the 13 weeks that ended Jan. 30 rose to $81.9 million from $55.4 million a year ago. Quarterly sales rose 11.2 percent to $2.85 billion. Sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, rose 15.1 percent in February, helped in large part by budget-conscious shoppers making more frequent visits to the discount chain's outlets. "The economy is giving us a lot of trial with a lot of people who haven't experienced Dollar General in a year or two, or maybe never, and they're coming in and seeing the improvements that we're making," Dreiling said on a conference call. "Even though the economy is going to turn around eventually, I think it's safe to say that there's going to be a new consumerism, and that saving money is going to be fashionable for a very long period of time." Dollar General operates more than 8,400 stores in 35 states and sells discounted merchandise ranging from food to shampoo to clothing. In 2007, as the retailer was trying to restructure, it was sold to private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. in a nearly $7 billion deal. This fiscal year, the company expects to remodel or relocate 400 stores, in addition to the 450 new stores it plans to open. Last year, Dollar General opened 207 stores, Dreiling said. Profits look sweeter "What's going on with our sales is a combination of a couple of things. Based on anecdotal evidence from store managers, they're seeing faces they haven't seen before, and they're seeing regular customers more often," Dreiling said. "More people are coming." Dreiling said the chain has made its store designs and merchandising efforts more efficient and boosted profits by selling more private label products, including food. The consumable side of the business is "performing exceptionally well," he said. "That means food and anything else that is consumed like paper towels, pet food or candy." One factor driving sales is that some middle- to upper-income shoppers are attracted to Dollar General, analysts say. The CEO said Dollar General plans to expand private label goods in the year ahead to include more non-edibles, including clothing and some seasonal merchandise. For the year as a whole, total sales increased 10.1 percent, and same-store sales rose 9 percent, the company said.

Housing agencies receive funding

By BILL THEOBALD • Tennessean Washington Bureau • March 25, 2009 WASHINGTON -- The Nashville Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency has been awarded $12.3 million under the economic stimulus legislation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Wednesday. The allotment is among $80.3 million to 85 housing agencies in the state. Nationwide, nearly $3 billion in grants were announced by HUD to 3,122 local housing authorities. The money is to be used to develop, finance and modernize public housing. It can be used for major construction projects or smaller projects that improve energy efficiency.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Brush Collection Service

Please have your brush out for collection by the following dates: April 1, 2009 Starting Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 Metro Public Works will be collecting yard brush in "Route-4". District 29 is in Route 4. The pick-up will be for approximately ten days or until the area has been completed. Remember that brush can be disposed of for free year-round at the Bordeaux Mulch Facility, 1400 County Hospital Road, or the Omohundro Recycle Convenience Center at 1019 Omohundro Place (off Lebanon Pike). You can review details for each route on our Website by clicking on this link:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Elementary principal warns parents of Facebook uses

WKRN Channel 2 Beth Ferguson is the principal at Nolensville Elementary School in Williamson County. Alarmed at the number of elementary students using Facebook, pretending to be older, she sent a letter to parents, urging them to check children's Internet use Ferguson said she decided to contact parents after a teacher came to her, uncomfortable that they'd received a Facebook request from a student. "[Facebook] has an age limit of 13. If your kids are on Facebook they had to misrepresent themselves and you might want to know what they are saying about themselves," she told News 2. To get a Facebook account, users must enter their birth date. If the date shows the person is under the age of 13, the social media network boots them off the system. Ferguson found kids under 13 who had obviously lied about their age. She said, "If a fifth grade girl represents herself as an 18, 19, 20 or 21-year-old and says she's on Facebook for dating relationships, then you have to worry about what she might say to a stranger who says 'Will you be my friend?'" The warning was appreciated by parent Tabitha Warren, whose daughter attends Nolensville Elementary School. While her daughter isn't allowed to have a Facebook page, her 13-year-old son has one she closely monitors. The letter, however, served as a reminder to just how readily available information on her page is to strangers. By accessing her Facebook page, News 2 found her phone numbers, e-mail addresses and photos of her friends and family in a matter of seconds. Facebook accounts are setup with default privacy settings that allow anyone in a person's network to see their private information and photos. This week, Facebook changed the privacy settings option to include "Everyone". To change those settings, users must go into their settings menu and click the privacy tab. "Sometimes we don't think about the fact the information we think we're just sharing with our friends is readily available to everyone," said Ferguson. Her email to parents worked. Groups and student accounts she found during her research are now no longer listed on Facebook.

Metro offers low-cost rabies vaccines

WKRN Channel 2 News Metro Animal Control is offering $10 rabies vaccinations at sites all across Nashville the next two Saturdays. Tennessee state law calls for every dog or cat to be vaccinated each year. Judy Ladebauche, director of Metro Animal Control, says pet owners can be fined and forced to pay court costs if their animal is found without rabies documentation. More than 80,000 pets were vaccinated in Davidson County in 2008, but the "reality is there are lots more out there that need to come get in line," says Ladebauche. "We encourage people to do this at a discounted price." A rabies vaccination protects your pet against wild animal bites, the primary carriers of the virus. In 2008 there were 129 documented rabies cases, most of which involved animals like skunks, raccoons and bats. The rabies virus can be fatal. Although human deaths are rare, a Tennessee boy from Franklin County died in 2002 after being bitten by a rabid bat. Rabies tags also serve as a means of identification for you animal. If a stray dog or cat is found with tags on, Metro Animal Control can trace it back to the owner because they have the information on file. Linda York brought her Blue Heeler named Smokey to be vaccinated because they live in the country. "It's important because I can't imagine him getting sick and having to put him down," York told News 2. "There are a lot of wild animals our way, so we do this every spring to stay protected." If your dog doesn't have the vaccination and bites someone else, Ladebauche says it may have to be euthanized. Low cost vaccination clinics are happening the next few Saturdays in Davidson and Williamson counties. Rutherford, Wilson and Sumner counties plan on holding low cost clinics in April.

Briefs: Visit Cheekwood for free

March 18, 2009 Tennesean Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art will offer free admission Saturday and Sunday to kick off the spring season. Some of the exhibitions and events include: • Passing Time: The Art of William Christenberry, who explores the spirit of Southern culture in the landscape and architecture of rural Alabama. • Temporary Contemporary, Michael Baggarly: Reverberant Measures. The sculptor and Middle Tennessee State University faculty member examines biological structures and machines to comment on the connection between concept and process. • Video Installation Lens with a Conscience; Curated by Greg Pond, an artist and professor of art at the University of the South. This exhibition confronts issues of significant social and political concern and presents those subjects in new ways. • In Tennessee Abstract Painters: 14 Tennessee painters offer many approaches to abstract imagery. • From 10 a.m. until noon Saturday, families can create an abstract work in one of the studios. Cheekwood is at 1200 Forrest Park Drive. For more information, either call 356-8000 or visit the Web site at

Antioch Dodge dealership seized by state

Owner says failure to pay $46,000 in taxes is an oversight By G. Chambers Williams III • THE TENNESSEAN • March 21, 2009 Nashville Didge in Antioch has been seized and locked up by the Tennessee Department of Revenue for nonpayment of state taxes, but the owner said Friday that the business could reopen as early as Wednesday after the past-due taxes are paid. Jamie Vegara, a Florida businessman who bought the auto dealership two years ago, said the Revenue Department padlocked the building on Crossings Boulevard on Thursday afternoon because the company had not paid about $46,000 in sales taxes from October. He said the unpaid taxes for October were an oversight, and the dealership had paid its taxes for November and December. In the meantime, he said, the dealership's 30 employees are out of work, and the facility's sales, service and parts departments are closed. The Revenue Department declined to discuss Nashville Dodge's case, citing strict state confidentiality rules. But spokeswoman Sophie Moery said that in most cases of a state seizure for nonpayment of taxes, the business makes arrangements to pay and is allowed to reopen in two or three days. "Our job is to administer tax laws fairly, and we can't allow one business to operate without paying its taxes while others are paying theirs," she said. "We know these are tough times, and if possible, we will work with taxpayers to make arrangements if they have good filing records. "But one thing to remember is that the sales tax is collected by retailers on behalf of the state and is not to be used for other purposes, such as overhead." Even if the taxes are paid and the dealership reopens, Nashville Dodge's future is in doubt because of the steep downturn in auto sales that has affected the entire industry, Vegara said. Franchised dealers of Chrysler LLC, which manufactures the Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep brands, have been particularly hard hit by the sales slump. Chrysler's U.S. sales are off about 50 percent so far this year compared with 2008. "I don't know if we will be able to survive," Vegara said. "I believe this economy will turn around, but I don't know when. I am talking to Chrysler about our options, and I do have a couple of potential buyers." More layoffs possible He said the dealership has cut its staff by nearly half in the past year, and might have to lay off more employees to try to get through the downturn. "I'm going to cross my fingers and see if we can turn this around," he said. "But I just don't have any money I can pull from my pocket right now, and the mortgage on the property there is costing me about $50,000 a month." He said he takes little solace in the fact that many other dealers are in the same boat. "It's really hard to stay in business with sales the way they are," Vegara said. "We have some very good vehicles, but right now people are scared to buy Chrysler products, and it makes it tougher for us to survive. "I don't think it's a good time to be a Chrysler dealer anywhere."

Post office to shed jobs in effort to save $100 million

Administrative, other cuts will hit Tennessee district By Colby Sledge • THE TENNESSEAN • March 21, 2009 The U S Postal Service will cut more than 1,400 jobs and 15 percent of administrative jobs across the country, including its Tennessee offices, as it faces its largest declines in history. The agency also will offer voluntary early retirement to 150,000 employees as part of an effort to save $100 million. The post office saw revenues shrink by $2.8 billion last year and is expecting even greater losses this year, despite an expected rate increase in May. The post office shipped 203 billion pieces of mail last year, 9 billion fewer than the previous year. The drop was the largest in the agency's history. "The credit, insurance and housing industries, they're all heavy mailers," spokeswoman Beth Barnett said. "Because of the economy, that's resulted in a mail volume decline." Six district offices across the country — none in Tennessee — will be shuttered by the end of August. The Tennessee district, which includes offices in Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Dalton, Ga., will see 15 percent cuts in administrative positions. More than 1,400 jobs also will be cut in mail processing supervisor and management positions across the country. Barnett did not know the timeline for such cuts. The Tennessee district employs 14,000 people. To qualify for early retirement, employees must have at least 25 years of service or be 50 years old with at least 20 years of service. Unions object The agency also made early retirement offers last year but unions discouraged their members from accepting the offers and they were not widely used. The post office did not say if the new proposal would include financial incentives. The American Postal Workers Union issued a statement Friday saying: "Retirement is a personal matter, and the union defers to the decisions of employees who meet the qualifications." However, the union said it continues to challenge the Postal Service's authority to offer voluntary early retirement without including severance pay. The post office had instituted a nationwide hiring freeze and had cut 50 million work-hours in the past year as part of cost-cutting measures due to declining revenues. Postmaster General John Potter has even asked Congress to consider allowing the agency to cut mail delivery back to five days a week to save money. The post office does not receive a taxpayer subsidy for its operations.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Briefs: Antioch students vie in leaders competition

Tennessean March 18, 2009 Several students from Antioch High School participated in the District Level 4 Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) Competition. A group of students who placed will go on to represent Antioch and MNPS in the state competition, which will be held in April at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Hotel. Representatives will be: Porsha Johnson, Job Interview, first place; Marleen Abdelenour, Illustrated Talk, first place; Mame Kebe & Brittney Mackie, Interpersonal Communications, first place; Robert Wallace, FCCLA Creed, second place. Glencliff and Overton On Feb. 21, there were 17 students and teachers from Glencliff and Overton High schools who plunged into 41-degree water as part of the annual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics. Through donations from family, friends and community members, the group raised $4,200 for the Special Olympics Nashville program. The majority of the students who participated are also peer tutors in the Life Skills classes and have the opportunity to work one on one with their peers who have special needs and participate in Special Olympics. Glencliff High On Saturday, March 14, Glencliff High's culinary arts program chef Mary Campbell will do a free cooking demonstration at 2 p.m. at Coleman Park Community Center, a project called "Teaching Kitchens.'' Nashville Collaborative, South Nashville Family Resource Center and the Flatrock Heritage Foundation are sponsoring the project. The first 25 families to sign up will also receive a free box of food with all the ingredients used to make the dish that is being prepared at that day's event. Parents can sign up at Coleman Community Center (615-862-8445). Here is the remaining line-up: March 21 — Robert Collins, professional chef; March 28 — Jerry Mayberry, personal chef. Percy Priest Elementary Percy Priest hosted a math night on Friday, Feb. 27 with the focus on how math is used in daily life. In the sports zone, students were able to study statistics, create their own trading cards, and take a fitness challenge. The Mindbenders Room featured puzzles, games, and activities such as origami. In Plato's Academy, participants had the opportunity to learn about the history of math in ancient Greece and Egypt. The free event was sponsored by the Percy Priest PTO and staffed by parent and community volunteers, including student volunteers from J.T. Moore Middle School, Christ Presbyterian Academy and David Lipscomb High School. The Green Hills Kroger donated refreshments and supplies. MLK Magnet The French Honor Society at Martin Luther King Jr., Magnet School sponsored a "Mardi Gras mini-float contest.'' Classes and clubs were invited to design and enter a mini-float depicting their club, language, or culture. Seven contestants entered the contest, which was held during lunch Feb. 24, this year's Mardi Gras. The clubs entering were: French Club/French Honor Society, Biology Club, Middle School Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Science Olympiad, Latin (7th grade), Chinese (7th grade), and Spanish II. The mini-floats were exhibited in the auditorium, and school and faculty were invited to view the exhibits and vote for their favorite. While votes were being cast, the French Honor Society/French Club hosted a Mardi Gras party in the French room, with King Cake and the traditional crowning of the festival's King and Queen. Votes for the mini-float contest were tallied and the winner was the Latin club. The Biology club was the runner-up, and the Middle School FCA came in third. Bordeaux Enhanced Option Bordeaux welcomed more than 100 guests during Read Me Week, including Metro judges, Mayor Karl Dean, NewsChannel5 Meteorologist Lelan Statom, Miller & Martin Law Firm (a school PENCIL partner), and several prominent community members. Each day, Bordeaux's reading specialist, Melanie Collins, read a Dr. Seuss trivia question on the WBEO school news broadcast, and the first class to correctly answer received a prize. Each afternoon, the book of the day was read on WBEO news. During the week, students participated in several themed days, including "Stop, Drop and Read Day," "Read My Shirt Day," "Hats Off to Reading Day," "Dress as Your Favorite Book Character Day," and "Wear Your Bordeaux Shirt Day Glengarry Elementary The Glengarry student body was given a little extra incentive by their principal, who offered to dye her hair blue if the school could read 5,000 pages before the week's end. By Monday, Feb. 23, the students had read more than 15,000 pages! Getting into the spirit of Read Me Week, other faculty and staff then agreed to dye their hair blue if students could read 25,000, 50,000 or 100,000 pages by the week's end. McGavock High On Saturday, Feb. 28, McGavock High hosted Raider Pride Day. Students and staff worked on school beautification projects. On Sunday, March 1, McGavock hosted a school showcase for all 2009-2010 incoming ninth graders, as well as all current ninth–11th grade students and their parents.

Bill aims to ban some Nashville gang activities

Proposal could ban some activities By Chas Sisk • THE TENNESSEAN • March 18, 2009 Flashing a gang sign might soon draw jail time, under a measure being explored by Metro law enforcement. Metro attorneys and police officials are working on legislation that would let courts ban some non-criminal gang-related activities, such as making identifying gestures and associating publicly with members, in areas that are dominated by gangs. Violators could be charged with a civil misdemeanor. They would face as much as a $50 fine, 30 days in jail or both. District Attorney General Torry Johnson told Nashville-area lawmakers this week that the measure could be a powerful tool to stamp out gang organizing activity. Metro police estimate that 3,200 adults and 200 juveniles are members of gangs in Nashville. But some legislators expressed fears that the measure might trip up innocent people. "Certainly gangs are something we all need to be concerned about," Rep. Brenda Gilmore said. "But this legislation feels like it's going to be so far-reaching that we're going to be arresting and pulling in young boys that may not have anything to do with gangs." The legislation is still being drafted, but it could be introduced within the next two weeks, supporters said. Nashville's delegation to the General Assembly was briefed on the idea at a Monday meeting meant to bring local lawmakers up to speed on the city's law enforcement priorities. The measure would be modeled after laws in place in California and four other states. "They (Metro attorneys) are taking the best parts of these laws and piecing them together to construct legislation for Tennessee," said Don Aaron, a spokesman for Metro Police. The legislation would work by expanding the state's public nuisance statutes. That would let government attorneys ask courts to declare gangs a nuisance under civil law and set limits on the activities that people could engage in. Potentially criminal actions, such as vandalism and intimidation, could be banned under the law. Other actions that also could be covered include throwing up gang signs, hanging out with gang members in public areas and recruiting new members. Questions raised about law Opponents say the law raises the risk that people who are not gang members but live in gang-dominated areas might be falsely accused and arrested. It also could put people in jail who have never been charged with an actual crime. Proponents say the law would be used sparingly, and only after a detailed investigation by Metro police has identified gang members and gang activity in a specific area. That process alone could act as a deterrent, they said. "Gang members don't want to be on any type of list," said Rep. Janis Baird Sontany, a likely sponsor of the law. "This is just one more tool in the toolbox."

Metro Council approves higher water, sewer rates

Council also signs off on a new stormwater fee By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • March 18, 2009 Nashville property owners will start paying more money for the water they drink and the waste they flush away in about six weeks. The Metro Council approved Mayor Karl Dean's plan for higher water and sewer ratesTuesday. Rates will go up each of the next three years, starting May 1, so the city can pay for $500 million in upgrades to its water and sewer systems over the next five years. The council also signed off on a new stormwater fee, which will pay for $50 million in projects to deal with stormwater runoff problems around the county. That will take effect July 1. The average homeowner is expected to pay an additional $6.76 a month — $3.76 for water and sewer, based on a 7.8 percent increase, and $3 for stormwater — in the first year. Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said the city had no choice but to raise rates, even in a recession. Federal regulators have been breathing down Metro's neck to shore up its water and sewer systems and reduce sewer overflows into the Cumberland River. "It's not something you like to do, especially in these economic times," Riebeling said. "But sooner or later, you've got to do it."

Council snubs menu labels

Two more votes could stop plan of health board By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • March 18, 2009 A move to undo a new rule requiring chain restaurants to post calorie information on their menus narrowly survived Tuesday as the Metro Council's fill-in presiding officer cast the tie-breaking vote. The council bill would overturn a recent vote by the Metro Board of Health, which decided to take on obesity by requiring chains with 15 or more outlets nationwide to put calorie counts next to menu items. Several council members said the health board had overstepped its bounds, despite an opinion from city attorneys that the board has the authority to put the requirement in place. The council typically approves bills with no discussion on the first of three required votes, sending them into the committee system for debate. But Councilman Erik Cole pulled out the menu-labeling repeal bill for debate in hopes of defeating it Tuesday, arguing that the council shouldn't "start following this path" of overturning regulations that have been legally adopted by Metro boards. When the vote came out at 14-14, the council's president pro tem, Greg Adkins, didn't hesitate in breaking the tie in favor of overturning the regulation. The bill will be up for a second vote next month. Adkins was presiding because Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors was out sick. A co-sponsor of the legislation, he said menu labeling would hurt restaurant chains already contending with the recession. "In this day and age of where we are with the economy, I don't want to punish restaurants in any way, shape or form," he said in an interview, adding that any labeling rules should be consistent across the state. Dan Haskell, a lobbyist for the Tennessee Hospitality Association, which includes restaurants and hotels, said it could cost $225,000 for a restaurant chain with table service to determine how many calories are in each of its dishes. Action reaches far The chain would have to hire scientists to do research and make the determination, Haskell said. Several council members argued that the Board of Health's appointed members shouldn't have adopted the labeling regulation. They said the elected council should handle changes of that magnitude. But Councilman Jason Holleman, whose wife formerly served as the Health Department's policy director, said the board's three doctors, one nurse and two other citizens have a better sense of what's best for public health. "This is a dangerous road to start down," Holleman added. In other business, the council voted 23-3 to allow Goodpasture Christian School in Madison to post a controversial light-emitting diode, or LED, sign. Some members said the council should wait for a sign ordinance task force it appointed to come back with recommendations before deciding the issue.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Davidson County crime log from March 9-11

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. To see the listing click here:

Obama offers aid for small businesses

By Naomi Snyder • THE TENNESSEAN • March 17, 2009 President Barack Obama on Monday unveiled his administration's plan to jump-start small-business lending in the hopes of stemming the nation's mounting job losses. The government will eliminate Small Business Administration loan fees on a temporary basis and buy up to $15 billion in securitized loans from lenders. While the SBA typically guarantees $20 billion in loans annually, new lending this year is on track to fall below $10 billion, according to the Obama administration. Beefing up loan volume for business interests will be a major challenge, though, local SBA lenders said. Basically, the government will buy from banks up to $15 billion in securitized small-business loans nationally — loans that normally are sold to investors. But the number of investors has dried up within the last year amid economic worries. "You deserve a chance. America needs you to have that chance," Obama told small-business owners gathered in the White House East Room. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress last month, the SBA will spend $750 million to temporarily increase the government backing for SBA loans and temporarily eliminate loan fees on its major lending programs. The fee elimination could save businesses thousands of dollars per loan, depending on the size of each deal, officials said. Also, government backing of SBA loans will go up to 90 percent and new tax breaks will be offered to small businesses. The government typically guaranteed SBA loans to 75 percent or 85 percent in the past. The moves come as loan volumes have shrunk. In the Nashville area, the Small Business Administration backed 70 loans during the six months that ended Jan. 31, compared with 174 during the same period a year earlier, according to the Tennessee SBA district office. The total dollar volume during that time was down 65 percent from $36 million to $12.7 million. Major SBA lenders in Middle Tennessee, including Superior Financial Group, U.S. Bank and Bank of America, all have seen smaller loan volumes. Bank of America went from providing 33 SBA loans in the state during that six-month period last year to none this year. Demand may be slight A company spokeswoman said the bank was committed to small-business lending and made $4.8 billion in new loans to nearly 250,000 small businesses nationwide last year, but she declined to provide figures for Tennessee. Not all small-business loans go through the SBA. But SBA lending is designed to help small businesses that have trouble getting conventional bank loans. The Obama administration may have a tough time persuading some business owners to expand and take on more debt amid a recession. Clint Gwin, the president of nonprofit small-business lender Southeast Community Capital in Nashville, said he knows of some borrowers who are trying to reduce their debt, not increase it, to deal with tough economic times. In addition, lenders are less willing to lend to borrowers who have deteriorating financial statements, he said. Another part of the American Recovery Act provides SBA funding for "business stabilization" loans of up to $35,000 to small businesses to help them get through the recession. These loans require no payments for 12 months. That loan program, however, hasn't gotten started yet. Some lenders are hopeful that the latest federal plans will jump-start small-business activity. "If government can come in and take the place where buyers have left the market temporarily, it should increase the availability of loans,'' Gwin said. "It will help." Clint Smith, the director of the SBA district office in Tennessee, said the administration's plan gives lenders an incentive to make more loans by reducing risk and offering a ready buyer for the loans — namely, the government. That frees up capital for the banks to lend more, he added.

Police Chief Serpas backs anonymous complaints against officers

March 17, 2009 Tennessean DAVIDSON COUNTY Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas is speaking out against a legislative proposal to do away with anonymous complaints against law enforcement officers. Serpas says the proposal sponsored by Rep. Eric Watson, a Cleveland Republican who is also a Bradley County sheriff's deputy, would have a chilling effect on people who want to file complaints. As introduced, the bill would require all complaints to be made in writing before an investigation could be launched. The targets of investigations would be given a signed copy of the complaints within five days. Watson says that he is still fine-tuning the bill and that the final version will be based on what is already the law in states such as Florida and Texas. The bill is scheduled to be heard in a House subcommittee next week.

Volunteer List

Please see the following link to all of the organizations that are looking for some volunteers.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hermitage Precinct Neighborhood Watch Crime Data Update Conference

Crime Update Meeting 2009 Everyone is invited to attend. Gratefully, Vivian Date; March 30th, 2009 Time: 6:00 pm Location: Hermitage Precinct Community Room 3701 James Kay Ln Hermitage TN 37076 Dear Neighborhood Watch Leader, The Metro Nashville Police Dept, Hermitage Precinct, will be hosting a Crime Prevention and Crime Statistic Presentation on March 30th, 2009. You, or members of your group, are invited to attend. Current crime trends, and issues facing neighborhood’s will be discussed.. Other neighborhood watch groups and officers will be on hand to go over up to date issues going on the community. We hope you can attend. For more information, you can contact Sgt. Todd Leach (880-1855) or Officer Troy Meadows (880-1781) at the Hermitage Precinct.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Councilman wants stimulus money for mall area police

WKRN Channel 2 News A Metro councilman hopes stimulus money the state will receive will help brighten the image of Antioch's Hickory Hollow Mall. Councilman Sam Coleman says $350,000 in stimulus money bring an increased police presence to the mall by adding four officers assigned to the mall area as part of a proposed safety plan. He feels it would help ease safety perceptions and in turn, attract new mall tenants. "I am hoping the General Assembly, the governor and the mayor will consider earmarking the federal stimulus dollars to be used here to implement the plan here in Hickory Hollow," he told News 2 Friday. Recent police statistics show a 26% crime decrease in the first six months of 2008 compared to the first six months of 2007. Coleman said, "I think that once people see there is a safety plan in place, and economy kick in, I think we are going to be in better shape, I really do." He said mall managers have told the neighborhood they have no plans to close the mall but said the use of the vacant space might change. Commercial realtors have promoted the mall for a variety of potential uses including an educational campus or medical facility.

1 dead, 3 injured in Antioch Pike Crash

WKRN Channel 2 news One person was killed and three others injured Friday in a two-car crash on Antioch Pike near Harding Place. Authorities on the scene confirm the driver of one of the cars was killed. Three persons in the other car were injured. The extent of their injuries is not known. Emergency officials had to cut all four victims from the vehicles. Antioch Pike is shut down in both directions. Authorities said speed appears to be a contributing factor.

Intruders Sought in South Nashville Invasion

WKRN Channel 2 News Police in Nashville are searching for three men who broke into a home off Haywood Lane in south Nashville late Friday morning. Metro police said a woman and her two children were inside the home when they received a knock at the door around 11:15 a.m. One of the children inside opened the door and three men burst in. The woman reported the men demanded jewelry and money and then fled. The children were not harmed and the woman was injured slightly but was able to call police after the men left the home. An investigation is underway and police are searching for the suspects. Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 74-CRIME.

Labor Union Wants Metro Guarantee to “Buy American”"

Nashville Public Radio WPLN 90.3 FM WPLN 1430 AM Labor Union Wants Metro Guarantee to “Buy American” Thursday, March 12, 2009 The Nashville chapter of the United Steelworkers Union wants a public commitment from Metro Government to use federal stimulus money to “Buy American.”The $787 billion federal stimulus package includes a provision that public building projects use only U.S.-made products like iron and steel. But there are exceptions. Councilwoman Vivian Wilhoite is co-sponsoring the Union resolution. It requests a guarantee from Nashville to do everything it can to spend stimulus money within the U.S. “Because that way you’re pouring the money back into your community so you can actually stimulate your community. And then your community, as a domino effect, is going to go out and possibly stimulate other communities as well.” The resolution only asks that products and services are American, whether that be union or non-union. To learn more go to

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stimulus money will help fight crime

Metro police, others are deciding how funds will be spentBy Kate Howard • THE TENNESSEAN • March 12, 2009 Though Metro law enforcement will get nearly $4 million in economic stimulus money, it's unclear whether that money will create — or save — any Metro jobs. The city has asked every department to cut their proposed budgets by 10 percent in a tight fiscal year, and when Metro police submitted its proposal, it said the cuts would mean more than 200 officers taken off the streets. The money is part of more than $50.3 million allocated to Tennessee policing agencies, distributed through the federal Economic Recovery Act. Rutherford County policing agencies will get more than $500,000, and according to Murfreesboro police spokesman Kyle Evans, the exact split between the county's four agencies or use for the money hasn't been determined yet. Agencies in Wilson County, Sumner County and Williamson County will all also get some funding through the grant. Janet Parham wants to see Nashville's money put directly into her North Nashville neighborhood. She is a member of the North Nashville Organization for Community Improvement, and she says police presence on her street is dismal. "I would love to see more cars, and bike or walking patrols as well," Parham said. "When the community gets to know the officers, I think that's huge." Her neighborhood has struggled with burglaries and robberies for years, Parham said. Now, with the economic downturn, they're also struggling with more vacant houses. Parham says police should take the windfall and lease a vacant house in the neighborhood to create a police bureau where people can report crime and get to know officers. Last year, according to Metro police spokesman Don Aaron, the department got about $270,000 in federal money to share with other justice agencies, including the Davidson County Sheriff's Office, the public defender's office and school security. The police department kept about $90,000 last year. "There is no doubt that this money will be a shot in the arm for law enforcement and the justice system in Nashville," Aaron said. "What has to take place in the coming weeks is a deliberate discussion on what specific programs or initiatives this money will support." Family violence is a concern Recessions usually produce higher rates of family violence. That's why Kathy Walsh hopes some of the money gets put into the police department's domestic violence unit. "We've certainly had a few domestic homicides already this year … and the division has suffered from cuts over the years," said Walsh, the executive director of the Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. "With people losing their jobs, being at home with their partners more, you can certainly see an increase in violence." In Wilson County, Sheriff Terry Ashe said he and officials at the Lebanon city police department have already discussed using their combined $190,000 on fighting their growing gang problem. They have a joint task force that deals with gangs along with the narcotics trade, but Ashe said the violent crimes associated with the gang activity is where he needs the most help. "We're recognizing (our problem) and we're targeting it," Ashe said. "We've got a lot to do here. We're not going to stick our heads in the sand." Multiple uses for grants The grant money can be used for technical assistance, training, personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and information systems for criminal justice. According to Aaron, it will be some time before Nashville decides how it will spend the $3.8 million designated for Davidson County. Though nothing has been ruled out, Aaron said the federal government usually discourages local agencies from using the money to fund new jobs, since the money may not be there the next year.

Nashville Electric Service warns about bill-collecting scam

Tennessean DAVIDSON COUNTY Nashville Electric Service is warning customers to be cautious if they receive an automated call claiming that NES has not received their electric bill payment. The Nashville-based utility says some customers have received automated calls claiming to be from NES telling them that it has not received a payment, says Tim Hill, NES spokesman. Hill said that NES does not make any type of outgoing collection calls and that the call is a ploy to get personal or banking information from unsuspecting customers. Also, the utility cautions customers to be wary of any claims for payment from someone in person. NES employees in the field do not collect or solicit cash from customers for an electric bill payment or any type of work they perform.

12,000 youths in Tenn. could get stimulus jobs

By Bonna Johnson • THE TENNESSEAN • March 12, 2009 In what could be one of the worst summers ever for young people looking to land jobs, there is one bright spot: about 12,000 jobs for youth are coming to Tennessee in June as part of the federal stimulus. The jobs will go to low-income 14- to 24-year-olds and will be in places like state parks and government offices. Some private employers with established internship programs also may take part. The $25 million program is part of a larger $1.2 billion pool of stimulus funds aimed at putting young people to work nationwide. In Tennessee, participants will make $7.25 to $10 an hour — paid by stimulus funds, not the employer, during the eight-week program. "Awesome," said 17-year-old Jasmine Wilson, a bubbly East Literature Magnet High School senior. She may not get one of the stimulus jobs, but she figures the federal program could help others and free up other summer jobs for her. Wilson has tried with no luck to land jobs at a dress shop, a downtown Italian restaurant, a dry cleaner and several fast-food places. "It's frustrating. Nobody called back for an interview," said Wilson, who needs the money to pay for graduation invitations, college application fees and other expenses. Job analysts forecast unemployment rates in the high double-digits for teens this summer as employers scale back and as adults in search of hourly wages snap up the jobs that are available. Indeed, some teen-friendly workplaces that have no minimum education requirements are seeing a flood of applications from experienced adults who have had trouble finding work elsewhere. Nashville Shores, a water park that hopes to hire 300 people to fill summer positions, expects more than 1,000 people to apply during the course of three job fairs — the first of which is scheduled Saturday. Nashville Shores expects more adults to apply for jobs in sales or even as lifeguards this year, including some with master's degrees. "When we call them back, they're telling us that, at this point, they want anything," said David Businda, director of park operations. Teen job market tightens Last summer, the unemployment rate for Tennessee teens, ages 16 to 19, soared to 31 percent. In 2007, the figure was 18 percent, and in 2006 it was 13 percent. "Based on how bad things were last summer and what has happened with job losses in the labor market, we expect this summer may be on par or set a new record," said Joseph McLaughlin, a senior research associate with the Boston-based Center for Labor Market Studies. Nationally, last summer ranked as the most dismal job market for teens in the post-World War II era, he said. In Nashville, organizers of youth job fairs say fewer employers seem to be in a hiring mood — even among sure bets from years past. Ice cream shops don't need as many scoopers as they once did; public libraries don't need as many teenage workers to shelve books. At the Donelson Baskin-Robbins, for instance, manager Kim Gleaves usually doubles the summer staff from two to four workers on every shift. "I'll probably hire a couple more kids, but it will depend on the money we bring in," Gleaves said this week. It may be a brighter picture at Nashville Shores. Despite the economic downturn, the summer attraction has sold more season passes than it did last year — perhaps more families are giving up vacations to stick closer to home — and it has no plans to scale back its workforce. It will hold a series of job fairs, starting this weekend. Young people in the stimulus program will work between 25 to 35 hours per week. Although teens as young as 14 can apply, the program probably will be geared toward 17- to 24-year-olds because of labor law restrictions on younger workers, said Susan Cowden, employment and workforce development administrator at the Tennessee Labor Department. To qualify, teens must be from low-income families, such as those that participate in the state's food stamp or welfare programs, and face other barriers, such as being disabled or in foster care. While most of the stimulus jobs will be in government agencies, such as driver's license offices, some private employers could also qualify to take part, Cowden said. For instance, places with established internship programs that can show they will provide a meaningful work experience may be considered, officials said. But companies that have laid-off workers won't be able to hire summer help to take their places. "We don't want to create job losses within the regular work force or to supplant work that was being done by people who lost their jobs," Cowden said. Some work with no pay At the Nashville Career Advancement Center, a March 28 jobs fair will be refashioned as an activities fair because organizers can't find enough companies willing to pay to hire teens. Nonprofits will be there to recruit teens to participate in structured volunteer activities, which don't pay but could provide a valuable work experience and teach responsibility, said Ellen Zinkiewicz, director of youth and community services. Zinkiewicz worries that as the economy worsens, more teens could lose out on valuable first-time job experiences to adults who are forced to apply for entry-level jobs to pay the bills. "You can't take anything away from an unemployed adult who has a family to feed, but everyone remembers their first job and the life skills they learned," said Austin Lavin, 24, co-founder of Philadelphia-based, a job site for teens. "Don't underestimate the affordable, enthusiastic energy that teenagers can provide," he said. Antioch teenager Kenya Douglas is one of those enthusiastic students in the midst of a job search. The 16-year-old junior has applied at five different places only to hear that they would rather not hire someone under 18. "They think we're not as responsible as adults or have as much experience," said Douglas, who has a car note and insurance bills to pay. Douglas said she would feel a bit guilty about taking a job away from an adult with a family to support but added, "teens should have a fair shot, too."

Dell reduces workforce nationwide

WKRN Channel 2 News Local Dell workers lost their jobs Wednesday. In the Mid-State, Dell employs around 3,000 people at facilities in Donelson and Lebanon but that number is shrinking. The computer company is laying off employees around the world but won't say where or how many. Dell does not issue press releases about the job cuts, and its employees are contractually bound not to speak out. Dell spokesperson David Frink said Wednesday the layoffs were part of the company's efforts to streamline. "We've been streamlining our business for more than a year and said as recently as two weeks ago that we'd continue to do so," he said in a statement released to News 2. "We'll confirm that Dell is reducing its global workforce as part of its ongoing initiative to remain competitive. Workforce reduction is difficult, but this is a deliberate part of Dell's ongoing focus on competitiveness. We recognize the reduction is significant for affected and other employees, and are working to minimize consequences. Affected employees will be offered competitive severance packages, including career counseling and outplacement services." News 2 spoke with several current and former Dell employees who were afraid to speak out about Dell. They were afraid the company would take action against them. "It's in the severance package, you can't say anything negative about them," a former Dell employee told News 2 anonymously. He said he was one of 84 laid off in February. The Dell location in Donelson has been around for nearly 10 years. In 1999, Metro government gave Dell a nearly $50 million tax break to build their campus near the airport. In a statement, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said, "The city views Dell as a great corporate citizen, but, like everyone else, they are going through a difficult economic time. The agreement Metro Government has with Dell is based on their employment level. At this point we don't know the specific number of jobs affected in Davidson County, and so it's unclear whether or not this agreement will be impacted. Once specifics are available, we're certain that is something that will be discussed." The Round Rock, Texas-based company has been shifting work from its own factories to contract workers in the last year as the personal computer market has declined.

Husband admits to killing wife

WKRN Channel 2 News Metro police arrested the husband of the woman found dead in their Antioch home last week after he admitted to committing the crime. John Kratochvil was taken into police custody Wednesday after detectives said he admitted to killing his wife, 32-year-old Manisha Kratochvil. Manisha Kratochvil's mother found her daughter strangled to death in her home on Sunnywood Drive on the morning of March 2. A detailed examination of her body revealed certain trauma indicative of foul play, police said, but the home showed no signs of forced entry. John Kratochvil initially told investigators he was in South Carolina on business at the time of his wife's death. Detectives said part what Kratochvil had said to them was inconsistent, and he finally broke down when confronted Wednesday. He changed his story and admitted he was in South Carolina, returned to Nashville to kill his wife and then went back to South Carolina. He also told investigators he staged the scene so it would appear an outside person or intruder committed the crime and said he killed her during a time of "marital discourse." Investigators said the murder appears to be planned. Metro detective Brad Corcoran said, "It appears he has been planning this, if nothing else, in his mind, and it looks like when he put it into play... He didn't indicate whether he wanted to talk to her or whether he was coming to carry out what he had planned." Along with Manisha Kratochvil's mother, the couple's children, ages three and six, were also inside the home at the time of the murder. The children are expected to live with Manisha Kratochvil's sister in Arizona. Officers booked John Kratochvil on criminal homicide charges late Wednesday. He remains in jail on $750,000 bond. To see the video go to:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How the stimulus helps laid-off workers

By Kimberly Lankford Several provisions in the stimulus bill aid recently unemployed workers. Help with health-insurance bills. When you lose or leave your job, you can generally continue coverage through your employer's health-insurance plan for up to 18 months through a federal program called COBRA. You can't be rejected or charged more because of your health. But the costs of COBRA coverage are very high. While employers usually pay about three-fourths of the premiums for their current employees, that subsidy disappears for laid-off workers -- leaving them with an average annual bill of $12,680 for family coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The stimulus provides a 65% subsidy to help cover the cost of COBRA for up to nine months. To qualify, a worker must be involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008, and December 31, 2009. The subsidy ends if you find a job and your new employer offers health-care coverage or you become eligible for Medicare. Workers who have lost their jobs since September 1, 2008, but didn't elect COBRA will be given 60 days to elect COBRA and receive the subsidy after being notified by their former employer that they are again eligible. To qualify, your income for the year must be less than $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families. Keep in mind, however, that not all laid-off workers qualify for COBRA. The federal law requires only companies with 20 or more employees to offer COBRA benefits (some states have similar programs, or "mini COBRAs," for smaller companies), and COBRA is available only if an employer continues to offer health benefits to employees. If the employer discontinues its health-insurance plan entirely or goes out of business, there is no COBRA. If COBRA coverage is not available, you may be able to get an individual health-insurance policy or, if you have health problems, you may be able to get coverage if your state has a high-risk pool or some type of continuation policy. See Keeping Coverage After a Job Loss for more information about your health-insurance options after a layoff. Bigger and longer unemployment benefits. The stimulus bill also increases weekly unemployment benefits by $25 through 2009. The amount of your unemployment benefits continues to vary based on your previous income and your state, but everyone will receive an extra $25 per week. This increase is automatic -- people who are receiving benefits won't need to take any special steps to boost their benefits. But it may take a few weeks for the state unemployment offices to reprogram their software programs and add the extra money, says Rich Hobbie, executive director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. Plus, people collecting unemployment benefits get a tax break. Unemployment benefits are usually subject to federal income tax. But people receiving unemployment benefits in 2009 will be able to exclude the first $2,400. Any benefits you receive beyond that in 2009 will be subject to federal income tax. The bill also extends the emergency unemployment-compensation program, which provides up to 33 weeks of extended unemployment benefits to workers who exhaust their regular benefits. Contact your state unemployment-benefits office for more information about receiving extended benefits (see the unemployment benefits map for links. For more information about collecting unemployment benefits, see What You Need to Know About Unemployment Benefits.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How the stimulus helps laid-off workers

Channel 5 News By Kimberly Lankford Several provisions in the stimulus bill aid recently unemployed workers. Help with health-insurance bills.When you lose or leave your job, you can generally continue coverage through your employer's health-insurance plan for up to 18 months through a federal program called COBRA. You can't be rejected or charged more because of your health. But the costs of COBRA coverage are very high. While employers usually pay about three-fourths of the premiums for their current employees, that subsidy disappears for laid-off workers -- leaving them with an average annual bill of $12,680 for family coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The stimulus provides a 65% subsidy to help cover the cost of COBRA for up to nine months. To qualify, a worker must be involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008, and December 31, 2009. The subsidy ends if you find a job and your new employer offers health-care coverage or you become eligible for Medicare. Workers who have lost their jobs since September 1, 2008, but didn't elect COBRA will be given 60 days to elect COBRA and receive the subsidy after being notified by their former employer that they are again eligible. To qualify, your income for the year must be less than $125,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families. Keep in mind, however, that not all laid-off workers qualify for COBRA. The federal law requires only companies with 20 or more employees to offer COBRA benefits (some states have similar programs, or "mini COBRAs," for smaller companies), and COBRA is available only if an employer continues to offer health benefits to employees. If the employer discontinues its health-insurance plan entirely or goes out of business, there is no COBRA. If COBRA coverage is not available, you may be able to get an individual health-insurance policy or, if you have health problems, you may be able to get coverage if your state has a high-risk pool or some type of continuation policy. See Keeping Coverage After a Job Loss for more information about your health-insurance options after a layoff. Bigger and longer unemployment benefits. The stimulus bill also increases weekly unemployment benefits by $25 through 2009. The amount of your unemployment benefits continues to vary based on your previous income and your state, but everyone will receive an extra $25 per week. This increase is automatic -- people who are receiving benefits won't need to take any special steps to boost their benefits. But it may take a few weeks for the state unemployment offices to reprogram their software programs and add the extra money, says Rich Hobbie, executive director of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. Plus, people collecting unemployment benefits get a tax break. Unemployment benefits are usually subject to federal income tax. But people receiving unemployment benefits in 2009 will be able to exclude the first $2,400. Any benefits you receive beyond that in 2009 will be subject to federal income tax. The bill also extends the emergency unemployment-compensation program, which provides up to 33 weeks of extended unemployment benefits to workers who exhaust their regular benefits. Contact your state unemployment-benefits office for more information about receiving extended benefits (see the unemployment benefits map for links. For more information about collecting unemployment benefits, see What You Need to Know About Unemployment Benefits.

Interest in home improvement classes grows

WKRN Channel 2 News The economy seems to be turning more homeowners into do-it-yourselfers. At Home Depot, the popularity of home repair classes is on the rise. "You know, you can do it, we can help," said David Comer, who manages the Home Depot in Brentwood. Comer is putting that motto into practice, more now than ever before. He is busy helping customers who are fixing up their house, instead of paying someone to do the work for them. "The goal is to show them how to do it, sell them a product and let them have fun," says Comer. The Home Depot offers free clinics on a variety of subjects from hanging dry wall to painting, cleaning, or tiling floors. "They start you from the very beginning and walk you through step-by-step how to do it," Comer said. Customer Michael Wright took the class to learn how to tile a kitchen and says he saved a few hundred dollars by doing the job on his own. "It was simple instructions anybody can do, hands on... They let us do the tile ourselves right there on the spot, a real good class," Wright said. By the time consumers finish a class, Comer says most are eager to plunge into a project. "There's a certain pride you take from doing it yourself, and you know, 'That's the floor I laid down,' and they really like that." In-store workshops are free and offered on weekends. For more information on the workshops and online classes available at your local Home Depot store, visit

Davidson sheriff's office offers free Sober Ride on St. Patrick's Day

DAVIDSON COUNTY Anyone celebrating in Nashville on St. Patrick's Day can get a free designated driver through the Sober Ride program. Volunteers with the Davidson County Sheriff's Office are preparing for the seventh annual Sober Ride St. Patrick's Day, which has provided about 3,500 rides since its inception, according to the sheriff's office. The program operates in Davidson County only and reservations are not accepted. For a St. Patrick's Day ride from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., call 615-862-RIDE (7433).

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Una Dads Group Volunteers Time

Check out the Una Dads "District 29" neighbors.They are a perfect example of great volunteering. Congratulations to the Una Dads on a job well-done. Thank you Una Dads and continue the great work! Gratefully, Vivian The Una Dads Group Volunteers Time, Children First, March 6 This past February, the Una Dads group volunteered a morning to come and paint the construction wall of the school cafeteria, which would be used later in the month for the school's Father/Daughter dance. The Una Dads sprang into action and painted the wall so the cafeteria would be warm and inviting for the special night out with their daughters. The Una Dads group is a group of Una Elementary fathers who choose to donate their time and attention to make their child's school a better place. All dads who showed up received a special "I'm a Una Dad" t-shirt. Pictures can be found at:

Meeting to discuss the proposed Metro Water Rate Increase

Tomorrow, Monday, March 9
at 6:30 pm at
Lakeview Design/Elementary School,
455 Rural Hill Road
Please join me and Metro Water Department officials to learn about and discuss the proposed Metro Water rate increase.
This is to remind you of this important meeting in hopes that you will attend. Gratefully, Vivian

Friday, March 6, 2009

Metro chain restaurants must add caloric information to menus

Channel 2 News WKRN Trying to calculate exactly how many calories are in your food when dining out can be a mystery, but not for much longer. All chain restaurants in Davidson County will be required to post calorie counts on their menus by March 2010. The Metro Board of Health approved menu labeling in a meeting Thursday afternoon. Restaurants with 15 locations or more will print caloric information for each item on the menu. That includes food and drinks, but not alcohol. For Terri Ray, who says she has long struggled with her weight, the new, informative menus will be a needed change. "I've had lifelong problems with obesity. Mainly because we're just not educated in what's healthy and what's not healthy," says Terri Ray. Ray had gastric bypass surgery in 2005. "I didn't know what to eat. I was scared to eat anything. I didn't know what was in it," she said. Although many restaurants must follow the menu-labeling mandate, entertainment venues like movie theatres and stadiums are exempt. That's an exemption that some say shouldn't exist. "Movie theatres are a minefield of calories, same as a lot of the stadiums and people do go there for meals and they don't understand how many calories they're consuming," says Joan Randall with the Tennessee Obesity Taskforce. In a telephone survey conducted by the Metro Health Department earlier this year, 78% of the 400 residents surveyed at random supported posting calorie information on menus. Health officials agree that calorie counts will help people dining out make better decisions, but say it will take time and money for businesses to change. "From the health department's standpoint we think people want the information and the sooner the better," Dr. Bill Paul with the Metro Public Health Department told News 2. "From the restaurant's standpoint, it takes time because they are part of a larger organization and there are costs involved." New York City was the first in the nation to require chain restaurants to post calories on their menus and Seattle followed. All chain restaurants in California will have to post calorie counts on their menus come 2011.

Dynamite found near I-40, Briley Parkway

Channel 2 WKRN News Crews are working to remove dynamite found along a busy thoroughfare early Friday morning, east of Nashville. An excavating crew found the dynamite around 2 a.m., along side an exit ramp near Briley Parkway and Interstate 40, Metro police called an explosives crew to the scene and closed down the roadway for a time. Traffic was impacted on both I-40 and Briley Parkway. The road has since reopened. Officials will remove the dynamite later Friday morning, after additional equipment arrives on the scene.

Davidson County crime log for Feb. 26 - March 1, 2009

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. To see the list please look at the following link:

Learn how to get rid of old TVs

Wondering what to do with an old television? Davidson County residents can take them to any one of Metro's three Recycle Convenience Centers for disposal. Televisions are no longer accepted for curbside bulk item pickup. Old TVs with tubes can contain lead, cadmium, beryllium and other substances that are harmful to humans and should not be put in a landfill. For details, visit or call 615-880-1000.

What's being built in Davidson County

Tennessean March 6, 2009 Construction projects in Davidson County from the gleaming high-rises in the Gulch to new subdivisions in Bellevue and Donelson are staying on track, despite the daily dose of worrying economic news. Developers may have secured funding in better times, and many admit sales are slower than they were in a year like 2006, but there is optimism about projects that are somewhere in the building process. An example is the high-profile Terrazzo development in the Gulch. It's 50 percent pre-sold, with 58 units left to sell. "We're already seeing signs that lending is improving and will continue to improve,'' said Bill Barkley, president of Tennessee Crosland, the developer of the Terrazzo. "We're experiencing a very high level of activity since opening our model last month. Although Terrazzo won't be fully completed until April, we will begin initial closings for the first two residential floors later this month. We think our prices are very competitive, particularly given the quality of our product. Given the current economic climate, we're pleased with our progress.'' At Belle Meade Court, six of 65 condos have sold. "We've actually got a lot of activity, and we haven't really opened yet,'' said Scott Reynolds, development director with Giarratana Development, LLC. What happens if the economy doesn't turn around? Would developers lower sale prices? Reduce rents? Turn a condo into an apartment? "Belle Meade Court will always be condos; that's the way we have it set up,'' said Reynolds As for the luxury apartments, the Marquee at Belle Meade, Reynolds said the prices remain steady. "With any type of rental property, you want to stabilize the asset, which means, you want to rent it out," Reynolds said. "But with any type of rental property, people move out because they bought a house, so you have to constantly be after new people. If someone leaves, it's an opportunity for someone else to lease it. And at this point, we're going to try to maintain our prices." With 151 units sold at Velocity, Charles Carlisle of Bristol Development Group agrees: "We are not planning to reduce prices or lease. They make take longer to sell in this economy, but we think we have a competitive price point and a good value.'' Belle Meade/Green Hills BELLE MEADE COURT Six of 65 units have been sold in the high-end Belle Meade Court condos at the corner of Kenner Avenue and Ridgefield. Cost is $30 million, a joint venture between Giarratana Development, LLC and Newport Development of Atlanta, and the project's exterior is built out. People are moving in. The luxury condos have several different floor plans, with square footage ranging from 1,252 square feet to 1,967 square feet. Prices for the one-, two-, three- bedroom units are $400,000-$750,000. The U-shaped building wraps around a courtyard and a pool with a fountain. THE MARQUEE AT BELLE MEADE The $30 million luxury apartment building is getting finishing touches with about 10 percent of the 54 units rented. The Marquee and a Harris Teeter grocery store are part of the Belle Meade Town Center, which has vacant retail and office space, including part of the former Belle Meade Theatre. The development features one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with industrial-style accents, such as bare concrete floors, exposed brick and ductwork. Rent ranges from $1,305 to $3,530 a month. The apartments' sizes range from 763 square feet to 1,325 square feet. The Marquee at Belle Meade is a project of Giarratana Development, LLC and PGM Properties of Brentwood. LIPSCOMB UNIVERSITY Construction started in March 2008 at Lipscomb University on a 300-space parking garage and tennis center at the corner of Granny White Pike and Shackleford Road. The $9.5 million complex, the school's only construction project at this time, is expected to be completed by June 1. It will include six tennis courts and a tennis clubhouse on the roof. Access to the parking garage will be from Belmont Boulevard. The school is tentatively planning to begin a $4 million art building, located north of Fanning Residence Hall, before the end of the year. A firm start date will depend on how successful fundraising efforts are over the next few months. CAPSTAR BANK Construction started in October 2008 on CapStar Bank, a new bank headed by president and CEO Claire Tucker. The bank raised $88 million in start-up capital in 2007, a record for a Tennessee bank. There's a core group of local investors who have put money in, including venture capitalist Dennis Bottorff. The 4,100 square-foot building on Crestmoor Road, built by Solomon Builders, is valued at more than $610,000. Construction should be completed by the end of this month. Bellevue AVONDALE PARK Avondale Park subdivision, which is less than two miles from I-40 on McCrory Lane, consists of three sections set to bring 500-600 homes to the area: The Estates, starting from the $250,00s; The Landings, starting from the $200,00s; and The Groves, starting from the $170,00s. Builders on the project will include Fox Ridge Homes and Beazer Homes. Construction began in 2008, but Charles Jeter, a sales and marketing representative for Avondale, said it will take five to six years to complete the community. Jeter said the subdivision hasn't officially been opened yet, but that 25 homes have been sold. At least seven building permits have been taken out for homes ranging from $261,000 to $324,000. Amenities will include a pool, a cabana, walking trails and sidewalks. HILL CENTER AT NASHVILLE WEST The $13 million, 76,000-square-foot development at Charlotte Pike and Annex Road will include a 45,600-square-foot Publix grocery store and a 26,000-square-foot two-story retail and office structure. The Bank of America branch on the site will be replaced as the bank builds a new prototype branch on a one-acre out parcel in the center, closer to Charlotte Pike. The retail and office structure will be constructed where the bank branch is located. The developer is Nashville-based H.G. Hill Realty Company, and the architects are Southeast Venture and Street Dixon Rick. Funding is set. "It's all a go,'' said Brian Harkness of the Buntin Group, the project's advertising firm. A groundbreaking ceremony is expected for May or June. The redevelopment is scheduled to start early this summer, with completion planned for late spring 2010. Donelson/Hermitage/North RESERVE AT STONE HALL Infrastructure work began in 2007 on the $17 million project in Hermitage, and it is complete except for the building of a connector road to the Ravenwood Club. The connector road and work on the entrance should be completed by the end of March. The model home is being framed. Phillips Builders are building 185 single-family homes and 152 town homes on 90 acres over six or seven years. The units will not go on sale until the middle of March, with price ranges from $289,900 to $400,000. The project is adjacent to and partners with the Ravenwood Club. Single-family residents will have free membership to the Ravenwood Club for one year. Membership would include use of the clubhouse, golf course, pool and tennis courts. Residents would then have the option to remain as members after the year. The project included improvements to Ravenwood Club facilities done by Phillips Development. VILLAGES OF RIVERWOOD Initial home construction has started on the The Villages at Riverwood, which began infrastructure work last spring. Beazer Homes will be the builder for about 700 town homes and single-family homes expected for the development. The first phase will house 93 town-home units and 107 single-family homes. Beazer Homes had three town homes sold. Beazer is developing on about 160 acres. The estimated cost for the town homes and single-family- home portion of the project is about $145-$150 million. Beazer Homes is partnering with Nashville-based CSP Associates to also develop on the site up to 500 apartment units, and a 778-unit senior living facility. The entire project, which is on 220 acres formerly known as Brown's Farm, is estimated at $250 million. The buildout is expected to be six to 10 years, but will depend on market conditions. HERMITAGE MEDICAL CENTER Construction began in late summer 2008 on the three-story, 35,211-square-foot medical office building at 3810 Central Pike in Hermitage. The shell is complete and tenant improvements have begun. There are signed leases or commitments for two of the three floors, according to Chris Pardue, developer group CSP Associates. The first tenant is planned to open in less than 60 days. The estimated cost for the center is $9.5 million. NASHVILLE COMMONS AT SKYLINE The retail project estimated at $75 million includes a Lowe's Home Improvement Store off Dickerson Pike. The building appears near completion. Lowe's corporate office did not give a scheduled opening date. A new Walmart is also under construction, with an anticipated opening date of fall 2009. Initial work on the development began in 2007, and infrastructure work for other commercial spaces in the development has been ongoing. Other stores could be operational by fall 2009 as well. Downtown THE PINNACLE AT SYMPHONY PLACE The $180 million development on Third Avenue South recently topped out with the pouring of the 29th and final floor. The Pinnacle is the future home of law firm Bass Berry & Sims and will be the headquarters of Pinnacle Financial Partners. Adjacent to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, it is the first office high-rise to built on the south side of Lower Broadway (Sobro). The building encompasses 520,000 square feet and is 50 percent pre-leased. It is scheduled to open in January 2010. TERRAZZO The $68 million, 14-story mixed-use development on the southeast corner of 12th Avenue South and Division Street is almost complete. Price ranges for the 117 condos are from $317,000 to $1.6 million. Terrazzo is 50 percent pre-sold, with 58 units left to sell. Four floors of retail and office space in the building are topped by 10 stories of residential space. The first phase, floors one through six, are finished, which includes the underground garage, first floor retail space, three floors of office space and the first two residential floors. The remaining eight residential floors will be phased in over the next 60 days and will be completely finished in April. BB&T is completing a build-out of its space on the first floor for a full-service retail financial center, which is slated to open in early April. Bill Barkley, president of Tennessee Crosland, the developer, says that no other retail leases have been signed other than BB&T, but there are negotiations with several restaurants and other retail prospects. VELOCITY Velocity, one of the newest projects to be built in the Gulch on 11th Avenue South, is scheduled to bring 264 condos and 21,000 more square feet of retail space. The commercial units are nearly completed and should be ready for tenant buildout in May. Residents who pre-purchased are also scheduled to move in May. Mark Deutschmann, owner of Village Real Estate, the firm handling unit sales, declined to give the number of units pre-sold or currently under contract at this property. The project cost is estimated at $63 million. There are 151 units sold in a price range of $130,000-$400,000. Some are earmarked as affordable and certain income restrictions apply. ROLLING MILL HILL The development of Rolling Mill Hill, the 34-acre site formerly home to Metro General Hospital and several city-owned facilities, will finish its first phase in the summer of 2010. The project, which had been in planning stages with the Metro Development and Housing Agency for a decade, began construction in 2008. The first phase of the project will cost around $30 million. Its four phases will take at least 10 years to complete, at a price tag in excess of $250 million. MDHA will build 109 units in the first phase and is also fronting about $7 million for infrastructure costs for the second phase, a large portion coming from federal grants. Phase one includes the renovation of two of Metro General's buildings — the Victorian building, part of which dates to the hospital's founding in the late 1800s, and an art deco building from a 1920s-era expansion — and the construction of a six-story structure called the Metro building. During this phase, 175 condos between $139,000 and $678,000 will be constructed. The project's second phase will include the rehab of the set of 1930s-era trolley barns that will bring retail to the site. Mark Deutschmann, owner of Village Real Estate, the firm handling unit sales, declined to give the number of units pre-sold or under contract at this property. West End/Vandy 12TH & PARIS The $5 million mixed-use project is under way at the corner of Paris Avenue and 12th Avenue South, making way for eight condominiums, 14 apartments and eight commercial spaces. Seven of the eight condos are under contract, and the developer won't begin leasing apartment space until it's complete. The development will include a mix of flats and town homes ranging from $179,000 to $300,000. Burger Up, a new venture by Frothy Monkey owner Miranda Whitcomb-Pontes, will become the project's anchor tenant. Construction began in November on the project, which is slated to wrap up late 2009. An art gallery, an architect's office, an organic market and a workout studio will also be located in the building's commercial space. BELMONT UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PHARMACY Construction started on Belmont University's $30 million pharmacy building last October. The building is directly behind the Inman building and will face Acklen Avenue. Workers have been excavating the site for the 450-car underground parking garage since November. The facility will house the university's School of Physical Therapy and will include expansion space for the Schools of Nursing and Occupational Therapy, and social work and psychology programs. The anticipated completion date is June 2010. GALE LOFT APARTMENTS Construction on the 92-unit apartment building at 811 Gale Lane began last December. Applications for the rental units are not being accepted yet. The project will include a four-story building with three sides surrounding a center courtyard. The loft-style units, priced from $900 to $2,000 monthly, will feature 10-foot ceilings, hardwood floors and large oversized windows, among other amenities. Construction should be complete by the end of the year.