Wednesday, September 30, 2009

GM To Shut Down Saturn After Penske Walks Away

Sep 30, 2009 4:15 PM CDT (AP) DETROIT - General Motors Co. said it's shutting down the Saturn brand after an agreement with Penske Automotive Group Inc. to acquire the unit fell apart. Penske, citing concerns about whether GM could continue to supply vehicles after a manufacturing contract with the automaker ran out, ended talks with GM Wednesday to acquire the brand. GM CEO Fritz Henderson said in statement that Saturn and its dealership network will be phased out. In a statement, the Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based auto retailer said an agreement with another manufacturer to continue producing Saturn vehicles after GM stopped making them fell through, leading Penske to terminate talks with GM. In June, Penske agreed to take over the Saturn brand and related dealerships. GM agreed to produce the vehicle for a limited period of time. (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Briefs: Get out and take a walk in October

September 30, 2009 The 2009 Walk Nashville Week celebrates and promotes walking in daily life in Davidson County. This year's 11th annual event is Oct. 3-9 and is sponsored by the Nashville Community Health and Wellness Team. • Walk to Worship Day encourages local congregations to walk to their worship activities on Oct. 3-4. • The Community Health and Wellness team is developing a printable booklet of various maps of community-based walks for Walk Your Neighborhood Day on Oct. 5 that will encourage physical activity and learn about Nashville. • Walk to Work Day on Oct. 6 asks Nashville workers to walk to work for the day and to consider walking to work more often. The Community Health and Wellness Team will set up at various locations around town to provide free breakfast to walkers. • Walk to School Day on Oct. 7 is designed to increase students' activity, focus on the walkability of the surrounding environment and increase safe walking skills. • Walk for Active Aging on Oct. 8 promotes walking among senior citizens and the senior centers. • Walk at Lunch Day on Oct. 9 promotes walking at lunch for the day. Area companies and local office buildings will be promoting walking groups for the day, and it is hoped they will continue these walking groups throughout the year. For details, visit www.nashvillechwt.org. March Gallery hosts new exhibit The artists of Popsicle Sticks will exhibit their latest works in a pattern-themed show "On and On" in the Janet Levine March Gallery at the Gordon Jewish Community Center. The show will open with an artist reception 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, at the GJCC, 801 Percy Warner Blvd., and remain up until Oct. 31. Popsicle Sticks and Rhinestones includes the following artists: Jennifer Bronstein, Adrienne Miller, Julie Sola, Mary Sullivan, Bethany Taylor, Nieves Uhl and Brad Vetter. Tourney benefits Cumberland River Compact The Middle Tennessee Stormwater Coalition will host a golf tournament to "Tee Off Against Dirty Water" Friday, Oct. 2, at Long Hollow Golf Course in Gallatin. Proceeds will benefit Nashville-based nonprofit the Cumberland River Compact. The entry fee is $350 per four-member team, which includes cart, green fees, and lunch. Door prizes will also be given. Mixed teams of women, men, and youths are encouraged. Sign in is at 7 a.m., with tee off at 8 a.m. Long Hollow Golf Course is at 1080 Long Hollow Pike in Gallatin. Opportunities to participate in or sponsor this event are still available. For more information, contact Goodlettsville Public Works at 859-2740 or the Cumberland River Compact at 522-7602.

Tennessee to lose $190 million in federal funds for roads

Nashville, 3 other metro areas will be hardest hit By Bill Theobald • TENNESSEAN WASHINGTON BUREAU • September 30, 2009 WASHINGTON — Tennessee will lose about $190 million in federal highway spending authority because Congress hasn't passed a new version of a law that OKs funding for most highway, bridge and mass transit projects across the country. Paul Degges, chief engineer with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, said the loss of spending authority would force delays in road projects across the state. "You are going to have to totally reprioritize things," Degges said. The state receives about $800 million in federal highway funds each year. That was augmented this year by an additional $500 million in funds through the economic stimulus legislation passed in February. The previous multi-year transportation authorization bill expires today. It included a requirement that states would lose some already-authorized funds if the money hasn't been committed to specific contracts. Degges said the four largest metropolitan areas in the state, including Nashville, probably will be hardest hit because the more expensive projects occur there. The delay in enacting a new spending plan also will make planning future transportation spending difficult, he said. The problem is that with health-care reform and climate change legislation getting all of the attention, lawmakers have neither the time nor the inclination to debate transportation policy, advocates say. They expect Congress to eventually adopt a new law, but the big question is when. Congress will decide this week how long the current law should be extended. One proposal calls for a one-month extension. The House has approved a three-month extension. The Obama administration favors an 18-month delay, saying lawmakers need that much time to resolve issues such as whether to raise fuel taxes or find some other means to fund transportation programs. Under any extension, states will continue to receive transportation money from Washington at present levels. A new law probably would cost substantially more, meaning states could receive more federal money for transportation. A six-year, $500 billion bill introduced by Minnesota Democratic Rep. James Oberstar is the only comprehensive legislation pending in Congress. It envisions the biggest federal commitment for high-speed rail ever: $50 billion. Oberstar, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, says his bill would create 6 million jobs over the next six years. But transportation is a lower priority in the Senate, where the tax-writing Finance Committee is deeply involved in health care and the Environment and Public Works Committee is focused on climate change legislation.

Tennessee to lose $190 million in federal funds for roads

Nashville, 3 other metro areas will be hardest hit By Bill Theobald • TENNESSEAN WASHINGTON BUREAU • September 30, 2009 WASHINGTON — Tennessee will lose about $190 million in federal highway spending authority because Congress hasn't passed a new version of a law that OKs funding for most highway, bridge and mass transit projects across the country. Paul Degges, chief engineer with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, said the loss of spending authority would force delays in road projects across the state. "You are going to have to totally reprioritize things," Degges said. The state receives about $800 million in federal highway funds each year. That was augmented this year by an additional $500 million in funds through the economic stimulus legislation passed in February. The previous multi-year transportation authorization bill expires today. It included a requirement that states would lose some already-authorized funds if the money hasn't been committed to specific contracts. Degges said the four largest metropolitan areas in the state, including Nashville, probably will be hardest hit because the more expensive projects occur there. The delay in enacting a new spending plan also will make planning future transportation spending difficult, he said. The problem is that with health-care reform and climate change legislation getting all of the attention, lawmakers have neither the time nor the inclination to debate transportation policy, advocates say. They expect Congress to eventually adopt a new law, but the big question is when. Congress will decide this week how long the current law should be extended. One proposal calls for a one-month extension. The House has approved a three-month extension. The Obama administration favors an 18-month delay, saying lawmakers need that much time to resolve issues such as whether to raise fuel taxes or find some other means to fund transportation programs. Under any extension, states will continue to receive transportation money from Washington at present levels. A new law probably would cost substantially more, meaning states could receive more federal money for transportation. A six-year, $500 billion bill introduced by Minnesota Democratic Rep. James Oberstar is the only comprehensive legislation pending in Congress. It envisions the biggest federal commitment for high-speed rail ever: $50 billion. Oberstar, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, says his bill would create 6 million jobs over the next six years. But transportation is a lower priority in the Senate, where the tax-writing Finance Committee is deeply involved in health care and the Environment and Public Works Committee is focused on climate change legislation.

Mother of kidnapped Nashville baby: "I need my baby back"

By Kate Howard • THE TENNESSEAN • September 30, 2009 The mother of kidnapped newborn Yair Carillo came out of the hospital in a wheelchair to tell the media about the woman who attacked her. Maria Gurrolla, 30, had swollen eyes and a long cut on her cheek. Bandages covered stab wounds on her neck, and she was wrapped in a blanket that obscured the rest of the nine stab wounds she received on Tuesday afternoon. "I was attacked by a white woman," Gurrola said in Spanish. Her cousin, Norma Rodriguez, interpreted. "I don't know the person that did that. I've never seen her before." The woman arrived at her doorstep and told her she was an immigration agent there to arrest her. Gurrolla asked the woman to identify herself. She said it was soon after that the blonde, heavyset woman pulled a knife and began to stab her. She did not tell Gurrolla she intended to take her child. Gurrolla went out of the house and to a neighbor's house for help. When they returned, the baby was gone. Gurrolla's 3-year-old daughter was unharmed. "The only thing she said was that she was going to arrest her," Rodriguez said. Gurrolla's mouth tightened when she spoke about her baby son: he has a full head of hair. He's chubby, with big cheeks and big eyes. Her own eyes appeared to tear up. He was born on Friday, and they had just come home from the hospital Monday night. "Physically, (I) feel fine," she said. "Emotionally, (I) feel sad because of what my family is going through." She was asked what she would say to the woman who attacked her and took her son. "She says for her to reflect," Rodriguez said. "She needs her baby back." Police were initially searching for a Lebanon woman who was reported as a possible suspect. She was located in upstate New York and is no longer believed to be involved or a person of interest, Metro police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford said. Gurrolla is working with a sketch artist to develop a composite of the suspect, and Youth Services detectives are retracing her steps on Tuesday to look for clues, Mumford said. She suffered nine stab wounds, many of them very deep, and a collapsed lung, said Gurrolla's doctor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, William Dutton. Gurrolla also had a complicated birth and signs of that are still visible, Dutton said. "She is in stable condition and doing well now," Dutton said. Gurrolla's only arrest history was for driving without a license about 10 years ago, Metro police said. There was no record of police calls to her south Nashville address. Her immigration status is unclear.

'Person of interest' in abduction caught in NY; baby still missing

Tennessean A Lebanon woman named a "person of interest" in the abduction of a newborn from Nashville has been found in New York State. However, the baby boy -- Yair Carillo -- was not with her, Metro Police said. Investigators began looking for 30-year-old Lisa Sampson on a tip late Tuesday after the baby was forcibly taken and his mother was stabbed at her home. The mother, Maria Gurrolla, was recovering Wednesday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center from approximately eight stab wounds. Police said the child was taken by a white female who was posing as an immigration worker. She had come to the home and demanded Gurrolla give her the baby. Gurrollo was stabbed when she refused. Nashville police said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the FBI are aiding in the investigation. Police did not say where in New York Sampson was found. PREVIOUSLY REPORTED Metro police, the TBI and the FBI are searching for a Lebanon woman in the abduction of a 4-day-old baby taken from his South Nashville home Tuesday afternoon after a brutal attack on his mother. A citizen's tip helped police identify Lisa Sampson, last known to have lived on Sugar Flat Road, as a person of interest in the kidnapping. Sampson is described as 5feet, 6 inches tall, weighing 225 pounds. Anyone with information is asked to call the police or 1-800-TBI-FIND. The baby's mother, Maria Gurrolla, 30, told investigators that a white woman in her 30s with blond hair knocked on her door about 2:30 p.m. and claimed to be an immigration agent. She asked to see the new mother's immigration papers. Gurrolla let her inside, and the woman attacked her with a butcher knife. Gurrolla "was stabbed multiple times," said police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford. The mother ran out a side door. She knocked on Eric Peterson's front door, three houses down on East Ridge Drive. At first, Peterson said he thought Gurrolla was playing a prank on him, but then he got a good look at her. "She had stab wounds from head to toe," Peterson said. "She was telling me to go get (her) babies and that a lady attacked her in her kitchen." Mumford said Gurrolla's attacker was still in the house when she ran out. Gurrolla told investigators she saw a black four-door car resembling a police sedan parked in her driveway. By the time Peterson got to the home the car was gone and so was Gurrolla's son, Yair Anthony Carillo, born Friday in Baptist Hospital. Peterson found Gurrolla's 3-year-old daughter outside the house. "I wasn't sure if she could speak English, so I told her to come on, and I didn't have to say it again," Peterson said. "She jogged behind us back to the house." Condition is criticalMoments later, an ambulance arrived and took Gurrolla to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she remains in critical condition with stab wounds to the head, neck, breast and thigh, her family said. As investigators worked behind a blue sign saying "It's a boy" in the front yard and yellow crime scene tape surrounding Gurrolla's home, her husband of four years, Antonio Carillo, and her cousin Jessenia Sigala watched. "I was with her all morning," Sigala said. "I left for a job interview and this happened." Carillo said his wife had been receiving strange phone calls for about two days before the incident. "They would call from a private number and make weird sounds then hang up," Sigala said. "They just thought it was someone playing a prank, so they stopped answering them." Police said Gurrolla's injuries were not life threatening and that she was talking to detectives at the hospital. Sigala said she was certain the announcement sign in the front yard played a role in the abduction. "Nobody knew outside the family that he'd been born," she said. "They just got out of the hospital last night. "All I'm thinking is about the baby. Is he eating? Is he okay? Is he alive?"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Amber Alert Issued In Stabbing, Newborn Abduction

Posted News Channel 5 Sept. 29 NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An Amber Alert has been issued after a woman stabbed a new mother and kidnapped her newborn baby in Antioch. The suspect reportedly knocked on the door of 30-year-old Maria Gurrolla at 3816 East Ridge Drive Tuesday around 2:40 p.m. Gurrolle told police the suspect claimed to be with INS and wanted to see her immigration papers. After Gurrolla allowed the suspect inside, she was stabbed several times in the neck, head, thigh and breast. The suspect fled the home with 4-day-old Yair Anthony Carillo. Yair is a hispanic male with brown hair and black eyes. Gurrolla was transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. The suspect was described as a heavyset white woman in her mid 30s, 5'4" tall with blonde hair in a pony tail. She wore a black blouse and blue jeans. Officials said the woman was driving a black four-door car resembling a police vehicle. Anyone with information should call police at 615-862-8600 or 1-800-TBI-FIND (1-800-824-3464).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nashville school art contest sets deadline

Karen Sosa was the 2008 first-place winner. She was a Una Elementary fourth-grader. (SUBMITTED BY METRO BEAUTIFICATION COMMISSION)
Beautiful Nashville Art is for third- and fourth-graders September 25, 2009
Third- and fourth-grade artists in Metro Schools, it's time to get creative for the Beautiful Nashville Art Contest. Metro Public Works, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and Red River Service Corporation are sponsors, challenging young artists to let Nashvillians know that keeping Davidson County beautiful and recycling are important for the community.
The winning entry from each school will be featured on the side of a Red River waste collection truck.
Last year's winner was Karen Sosa of Una Elementary School.
Deadline to enter the contest is Wednesday, Oct. 28. Three grand prize winners will be chosen from among all winning entries submitted by each school.
The art departments of each grand prize-winning contestant's school will receive prize amounts of $1,500 (1st place), $1,000 (2nd place) and $500 (third place).
The winning artwork will be featured on a truck in the Nashville Gas Christmas Parade on Friday, Dec. 4.
All winning entries will be displayed on Red River waste collection trucks from December 2009 through May 2010 and will be seen by more than 9,000 people each day while the trucks are on their routes. For complete Beautiful Nashville Art Contest rules, visit www.nashville.gov/pw.

Help arrives for Nashville entrepreneurs

Center, Web site may help spur job opportunities By Wendy Lee • THE TENNESSEAN • September 25, 2009 function changeFontSize(inc){ var p = document.getElementsByTagName('p'); for(n=0; n At a time when several thousand Nashville-area jobs were lost due to the economic downturn, local business leaders said Thursday they hope to spur renewed opportunities by encouraging entrepreneurs to invest and expand. The Nashville Entrepreneur Center, aimed at helping early-stage entrepreneurs, launched on Thursday. Its creation was recommended by the entrepreneurial task force of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce's Partnership 2010. "It's important to (be) creating jobs," said Joe Freedman, a local businessman who sits on the board of the Entrepreneurs' Organization in Nashville, a self-help group of business owners. "If we can have community support and resources for entrepreneurs to create stronger businesses, we can turn the tide on job losses." The Nashville area lost 14,733 jobs from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009, according to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, falling short of the chamber's goal of an 11,500 job gain for the same period. Chamber officials said the center would help entrepreneurs get the financial resources and information they need to start businesses. Already, 21.6 percent of the work force is made up of sole proprietorships, said Janet Miller, the chamber's chief economic development and marketing officer. The center is currently a Web site at www.entrepreneurcenter.com, but the organization's product manager, Joe Kustelski, said eventually it will establish a physical office and hire a small staff as well as an executive director. The center would operate on a $1 million to $2 million annual budget, raised by private, state and federal funding, Kustelski said. The move to create more jobs comes as the Nashville-Murfreesboro metro area's August unemployment rate crept upward to 9.8 percent, up 0.2 percentage points from July, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Soumen Ghosh, head of the economics and finance department at Tennessee State University, said he believes we've probably seen the worst in unemployment. He expects the jobless rate will not go beyond 10 percent here. The upcoming holiday season will help improve the situation, Ghosh said, as retailers hire seasonal help and consumers become more apt to buy products. Still, don't expect to see major improvements when it comes to job growth. Several Nashville-area businesses, such as engineering firms S&ME and Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon Inc., said they expect hiring will remain flat through the first quarter of next year. Center 'a good idea' Local economists said challenges to starting up the chamber's new center include locating capital and people willing to fund new ideas in a recession, but in the future the center could boost the area's economy. "I think in the long run, it's a good idea," said David Penn, director of the Business and Economic Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University. "We need more business formation to get more jobs to get job growth going again." Statewide, last month's unemployment rates increased in 47 counties, fell in 42 counties and remained the same in six counties. The August unemployment rate in Maury County decreased 4 percentage points to 12.4 percent, according to data from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Lauderdale County held the state's highest unemployment rate at 19.7 percent. Meanwhile, Lincoln County had the lowest county jobless rate at 7.2 percent.

Student loan borrowers can apply for relief

By Sandra Block • USA TODAY • September 25, 2009 When money is tight and jobs are scarce, repaying your student loans is painful. But if you let your loans go into default, you'll enter a world of hurt. Defaults on federal student loans rose to 6.7 percent last year from 5.2 percent a year earlier, the highest default rate since 1998. In general, if you fail to make payments on a federal student loan for nine months, the loan will be considered in default. Your loans probably will be turned over to a collection agency, and your credit report will be trashed. Unlike private lenders, the federal government can garnishee your wages without going to court, said Margaret Reiter, an attorney and co-author of Solve Your Money Troubles. There's no statute of limitations on collection of federal student loans, Reiter added, which means the government can go after you for the rest of your life. Filing for bankruptcy probably won't solve your problem. Under federal bankruptcy laws, it's not enough to show that you can't afford to repay your loans now. You also must convince the bankruptcy court that you'll be unable to repay them in the future. This standard is extremely difficult to meet, Reiter said. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid default. Options include: • Deferment. This option is available for borrowers who are still in school, unemployed or experiencing other types of economic hardship. Payments are typically deferred for up to three years. If you have subsidized federal student loans, which are provided to borrowers who demonstrate financial need, the government will pay the interest during deferment. If you have unsubsidized Stafford loans, interest will accrue during the deferment period. Deferment is not automatic. You must apply for it through your lender. • Forbearance. In this case, your lender will allow you to postpone payments, or pay a smaller amount, for up to three years. Forbearance is granted at the discretion of the lender, and the requirements are generally less stringent than those for deferment, said Robert Murray, spokesman for USA Funds, a company that guarantees student loans. Interest will continue to accrue during forbearance, so it's important to resume payments as soon as you're able, Murray said. Otherwise, you could end up with a much larger balance. • Income-based repayment. This new program allows borrowers with federal student loans to have their payments capped, based on their income. Most borrowers who qualify for the program will never have to spend more than 10 percent of their income on student loan payments. Those whose income falls below 150 percent of the poverty level won't have to make any payments. Deferment or forbearance will help you put your loans on hold during a short-term crisis, such as temporary unemployment, said Lauren Asher, acting president for the Project on Student Debt. But if you're facing long-term financial difficulties, income-based repayment is the better choice, she said. To apply for income-based repayment, contact the lender that is servicing your student loan. You can learn more about the program at http://www.ibrinfo.org/. Borrowers who are having trouble repaying private student loans have fewer options. The rules governing repayment of these loans are determined by the loan contracts, not federal law. That means private-loan borrowers "are really at the mercy of lenders," said Deanne Loonin, staff attorney for the National Consumer Law Center. Your loan may be declared in default after you miss just one payment, depending on the terms of your loan contract. Private lenders aren't required to allow borrowers who are unemployed to defer payments. Your lender may grant you forbearance, but the period depends on the terms of the contract, Loonin said. Private lenders don't have as many collection tools as the federal government, but they can still make your life pretty miserable. They can turn your account over to a collection agency and add the fees to your balance. They can sue to have your wages garnisheed. And private student loans are identical to federal loans in one critical respect: They're nearly impossible to discharge in bankruptcy. The National Consumer Law Center offers a list of resources for borrowers who are having trouble managing their federal or private student loans. You can find it at www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Metro Water flushes raw sewage into Percy Priest home

by Andy - September 23rd, 2009 - 2:24 pm Messed Up Results, Public Work Whose fault is it? That’s a question being asked by a Nashville couple whose basement flooded with raw sewage. It all begins Saturday September 12th. That’s the day the commode in the Percy Priest Lake residence of Arnold and Tina Bailey begins bubbling over with raw sewage. The Bailey’s show me pictures of a basement mud room that is blackened by the disgusting mess. On the day Messed Up arrives, Mrs. Bailey is packing her trunk with suit cases. The woman tells me she has respiratory problems and the on going environmental disaster is forcing her to stay with relatives in Kentucky. Her husband, Arnold stays behind to manage the hideous mess. The retired military pilot says dealing with metro has been messed up, so much so, he wrote this letter to Mayor Karl Dean. My name is Arnold Bailey. I live Clearlake Dr west. On Saturday public works was cleaning sewer lines next to my house at the sewage pumping station and back flushed raw sewer water into my home. They started cleanup late Saturday night, ran blowers and drying equipment, and tore out walls and contaminated items and were going to remove contaminated tiles and clean the air ducts. This afternoon they pulled out the workers and said they were still investigating who was at fault for this problem. This was and is a very serious health problem. They told me to contact my insurance company for repairs. It was a metro pump truck that was blowing the lines at their pumping station. My wife has acute asthma and could not be in the house so we slept in our Motor home. The motor home went for maintenance today so she left to stay with relatives until work is complete. I am staying in the house but am not comfortable with it. Metro caused this problem and they need to take care of it. This pumping station has been a problem for the 25 years that I have lived here with spills, overflows, smells, noise and chemical sanitation blocks hanging next to my pool and patio. I am requesting your help in solving this problem as I have run into a solid wall and they are treating me poorly and seem to think that it is my problem not theirs. When he gets nowhere with the city, Arnold Bailey calls That’s Messed Up. I call his Councilwoman, Vivian Wilhoite who tells me she has all ready been investigating the matter. She tells me that Metro should be more responsive to her constituent’s needs. “They are trying to tell me that this is an act of God. Don’t ever tell me that it is an act of God for him to put poop in a man’s house.” Wilhoite tells me she tells water department officials to handle this matter now, because she doesn’t want to see it show up on her council desk later, with much heftier price tag. “This better not end up on my desk. Approve his claim. Take care of this now. It’s only right. I’m not so sure Metro isn’t at fault. That goes along with running Metro Water. If Mr. Arnold was in his yard and did something to the line, that is one thing. But in this situation, he was in his house, and poop comes back up the line.” The councilwoman indicates that Metro Water was pulling out its crews and limiting the city’s financial responsibility in the matter. She says she told them to reevaluate. “I asked they open this back up. This makes no sense. It makes no sense. Look back at this and provide me a reason why he should not be compensated. I better not see this a year from now when it could have been resolved on the front end.” I talk with Sonia Harvat who represents the Metro Water Department. Harvat says the Bailey’s troubles begin when a sewage pipe is blocked in the neighborhood. Harvat says the pipe is blocked with house hold materials including grease, which neighbors have been dumping down their drains over time. According to Harvat, Metro crews pumped the line clean, and when they did, there was a sudden surge that forces its way through the pipe, that pressure rushed to the lowest point, which just happened to be the commode in Arnold Bailey’s home. “Metro Water Services is paying for the initial clean up,” Harvat says. “Our priority is health and safety. Our system was not malfunctioning, our system was not broken. It was nothing inside our sewer system causing the back up it was grease! Metro will look to see if there was negligence on the part of metro water services. Did we break something that caused the over flow, but there was no negligence and that is what claims will look at it to see who pays for it.” Bailey says the city did initially hire a company to clean up the filth. But after a few days, the city pulls the plug and the cleaning stops. Thanks to Messed Up and Councilwoman Wilhoite, the city has reconsidered its position. An attorney for Metro Legal tells Messed Up, the city will pay for the clean up as long as it is deemed reasonable. A water department official tells Messed Up “We don’t want to build the Taj Majal, but we will pay for the mess.” Arnold and Tina Bailey say that’s the least the city can do for what they have been through. Check out this link that educates citizens on the do’s and don’ts of flushing things into the system.

Lowe's helps schools

September 23, 2009 LOWE'S HELPS SCHOOLS Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation offers the Lowe's Toolbox for Education. Up to $5,000 per school is available for a grant. Lowe's will donate $5 million to schools and school parent teacher groups at more than 1,000 schools during the school year according to its Web site. The grant is open to individual nonprofit public K-12 schools at least 2 years old or to parent groups associated with such schools. For more information, visit www.toolboxfor education.com.

Bill extending unemployment benefits could help 35,500 Tennesseans

By Bonna Johnson • THE TENNESSEAN • September 23, 2009 Laid off more than a year ago, Sharon Loveall estimates that she has sent out 500 resumes with no luck. The former legal secretary even tried to get a job delivering pizzas. With no job prospects in sight, her final unemployment check was scheduled to come in the mail in November. But as tens of thousands of Americans like Loveall were poised to run out of such aid, the House approved an additional 13-week extension of unemployment benefits in states with high jobless rates, including Tennessee. The measure passed 331-83 on Tuesday evening, with similar legislation pending in the Senate. Though the extension would come when the economy is showing some signs of recovery, advocates say jobless rates continue to climb in many areas and the labor market has been slow to rebound. "There is no scenario where the job market will come back quickly enough and workers will be able to find jobs," said Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project. The proposed extension would help an estimated 1.3 million people nationwide who live in states with unemployment rates of at least 8.5 percent and whose benefits will run out between now and the end of the year. Tennessee had an unemployment rate of 10.8 percent in August. With an extension some people could qualify for as much as 92 weeks of unemployment pay overall. "I'm grateful I may get another 13 weeks, but I'm also horrified," Loveall said. "I hate this. You feel absolutely ashamed." An estimated 35,500 in Tennessee would be eligible for the extension, according to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. There are about 150,000 Tennesseans receiving unemployment benefits in total. Loveall, a 57-year-old Hendersonville resident, was laid off by a Nashville law firm in May 2008 and depends on her weekly $275 unemployment check and her elderly father to pay her mortgage and other bills. Despite 17 years of experience, she has had no job offers despite a number of interviews. "My savings are gone. I have no health insurance," she said. "Relying on my 85-year-old dad is horribly embarrassing." Benefit bridges a gap "It's safe to say we are seeing thousands of Tennesseans exhausting unemployment benefits each month," Tennessee Labor Commissioner James Neeley said. "Many of these claimants have been on unemployment for more than a year. This extension really is important to bridge the gap for those who are actively seeking work." Since July 2008, Congress twice has voted to extend unemployment benefits, and Tennessee lawmakers approved a third extension as part of the federal stimulus package earlier this year for a total of 79 weeks of benefits. Still, that hasn't been enough time for many people to find work. Some 5 million Americans have been out of work for six months or more, representing about one third of the nearly 15 million people in the country who are unemployed. That's a proportion that has never been reached in any post-war recession, according to the National Employment Law Project. It's unlikely the extension would be a disincentive for people to find jobs, Stettner said. Rather, jobs are scarce, with more than six jobless workers for every job opening in the U.S., he said. The extension would go to jobless workers in 27 states and in Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. It would not add to the deficit, its sponsors say, because it would extend for a year a federal unemployment tax of $14 per employee per year that employers have been paying for more than 30 years.

Recession, family ties compel more moms to stay at home

By Chris Echegaray • THE TENNESSEAN • September 23, 2009 Franklin's Diana Wampold was enjoying a successful career and the notion of not working didn't occur to her until her daughter was born. Wampold was working in sales for AT&T, making good money, when Ashley arrived. She and her husband decided to make a change. "I loved what I did, but I missed my daughter," she said. "Whenever I went to work, there was a pain in my chest when I left my first daughter. We made a choice, and I've been home ever since. We made a few sacrifices.'' But staying home to take care of her children — Ashley, 11, Megan, 8, and Emily, 6 — has been worth it, Wampold said, and she is not alone. An analysis of 2008 Census data released this week shows Williamson County mothers are staying home at a higher rate — 36 percent of them — than the state average of 30 percent. At its highest peak, 4 out of 10 Williamson County moms stayed at home in 2006. It's not unusual for affluent communities to have a high number of stay-at-home mothers, but the recession has forced some working women in the middle class to stay at home. In Davidson County, 35 percent of mothers are staying at home, a 6 percent increase since 2006. Adriana DeLeon of Nashville was forced to stay at home about two years ago when she lost her job at a local plant. She said she doesn't mind her stay-at-home mom status but when the children are older, it's easier to go to work. Dads stay home, too Fathers also are in the mix, with Rutherford County trending upward as 4 percent of dads are staying home with their children. Daniel Hickman of Murfreesboro made the decision to stay home on Christmas 2007, the day their son, DJ, was born. Hickman said he and his wife did a cost analysis of their income, and after calculating the money that would be spent on gas and child care, it was a fairly easy decision for him to stay home. "My wife works at Dell and made a lot more money, so staying at home made sense for me," Hickman said. "I can watch him grow up, and it's been going pretty good." Hickman plans play dates for DJ with other stay-at-home fathers, and they learn from each other. A strong pull for moms Even though more fathers are staying home with their children, the number of stay-at-home mothers dwarfs the number of stay-at-home dads. There is still a strong social consensus, including working mothers themselves, that wants mothers with young children to stay at home, said Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center, which tracks social demographic trends. The Pew Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit center in Washington, D.C. In a survey conducted by Pew earlier this month, 61 percent of working mothers of young children said they would prefer part-time work. In contrast, 19 percent of fathers with full-time jobs and a young child said they would prefer to work part time. "There is a real tension, clearly, over the last generation as more women, mothers are increasing in the work force," Taylor said. "But, yet, those family tensions are experienced by women at a higher level than men." Wampold said some working mothers and single women still view the stay-at-home option negatively. But Wampold, who was raised by her stay-at-home mother, feels fulfilled. "I think it all depends on people's personality," she said. Database editor Lisa Green contributed to this report.

Tamiflu children's dosages run out

Pharmacists meet need by converting adult capsules to liquid By Christina E. Sanchez • THE TENNESSEAN • September 23, 2009 Public demand for a prescription drug that lessens the symptoms and duration of the H1N1 or swine flu virus has caused a shortage of the children's dosage. Pharmacies have run out of Tamiflu in the liquid form, often given to children and adults who can't swallow a pill. The shortage is nationwide. Until more of the liquid prescription can be manufactured, pharmacists must convert the adult dosage capsules into a liquid by following FDA-approved guidelines on mixing. Health officials are concerned that if more liquid is not commercially made soon, the items needed for the makeshift version also could run short. All pharmacists are equipped to make the compound, and the mixing takes about 15 minutes, said Baeteena Black, executive director of the Tennessee Pharmacists Association. "There is no need to panic," Black said. "Roche (the manufacturer) is working diligently to get some more made. "Customers do need to be patient. It takes longer to make, obviously, than if you pulled a commercially prepared bottle off the shelf." Tamiflu has become a hot item since a resurgence of H1N1 cases in the late summer as students returned to school. Just how many people have contracted the virus is unknown because health officials no longer track the numbers. In some cases, when one family member gets the virus, doctors prescribe a five-day cycle of the drug for the whole family. It probably will remain popular until the H1N1 vaccine begins to be available in October. Not everyone with flu needs drug Not everyone who has the flu needs an antiviral medicine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Tamiflu and Relenza, another flu drug, be given on a case-by-case basis, and primarily reserved for people who are hospitalized and groups at high risk for complications. At-risk populations include children younger than 5, pregnant women, people with chronic conditions and illnesses, and the elderly. The drugs should be given within the first 48 hours from the onset of symptoms to be most effective. Common symptoms include fever, chills, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. "If it is a healthy individual and it's been going on more than 48 hours since symptoms appeared, it is not going to be helpful to put them on Tamiflu," said Dr. Mark Krakauer, who practices internal medicine and pediatrics at Saint Thomas Hospital. He also said that if one person in an overall healthy family gets the flu, he might not prescribe Tamiflu for everyone. Most people should ride out the flu at home, getting plenty of rest and fluids, he said. "Most people do not need to see the doctor," Krakauer said. "If they are healthy, they are going to get over it." Making sure the antiviral medicine is started within the first 48 hours is important to prevent the virus from replicating inside the body, said Paul Peterson, a pharmacist and strategic national stockpile coordinator for the state health department. "The drug inhibits the virus from releasing new virus in the body," Peterson said. Antivirals can shorten the length of illness by about two days. Duration of the flu varies; it can last three to seven days. Drug can be costly Vanderbilt University Medical Center is making the compound version of Tamiflu in batches of about 25 prescriptions at a time to provide the liquid prescription to Vanderbilt patients who need it, said Michael O'Neal, procurement manager for the hospital. The crushed adult capsule of Tamiflu is mixed with one of two liquids, Ora-Sweet or cherry syrup — items federal health officials worry also could run out. Vanderbilt fills prescriptions only for its patients, so O'Neal recommends that non-Vanderbilt patients call around to retail pharmacies before going. Roche Pharmaceuticals is the only manufacturer of Tamiflu. Relenza is available from a different company, but because it comes in the form of an inhalant powder, it is not recommended for all patients. No generic brands are available, which can make the prescription costly. Whether a person has insurance and what it covers can cause the cost of Tamiflu for the customer to vary. TennCare, the state version of Medicaid, estimates that the cost it picks up for a Tamiflu capsule prescription is about $84, the Tamiflu liquid is about $74, and Relenza is about $60. Adults on TennCare will have a co-pay of $3 unless they are pregnant, under hospice care, in an institution or on home care. Children do not have co-pays. Nancy McGinnity, a Nashville parent, had to buy Tamiflu for each of the six members of her family and had no trouble finding a pharmacy to fill the liquid prescription for her 11-year-old and 8-year-old sons. That was Labor Day. McGinnity, her husband and two older sons, ages 14 and 13, took the pill. Her portion of the bill — at a co-pay of $20 each — came to $120. "The doctor offered it as a preventative medicine for the rest of us," she said.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Antioch man could face deportation following traffic stop in Franklin

FRANKLIN — A traffic stop could lead to the deportation of a man accused of being in the country illegally. Juan Carlos Garcia, 33, who lives in Antioch, was stopped for speeding on Cool Springs Boulevard near Windcross Court on Sunday morning, according to police. Garcia was clocked traveling 55 mph in a 45 mph zone. A police officer determined that Garcia's license was suspended for failing to satisfy a previous traffic violation. A computer check revealed that Garcia was wanted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a deportation warrant. Garcia faces charges of driving on a suspended license and speeding. He is being held at the Williamson County jail for federal agents.

Dell buys tech services firm Perot Systems

By Andrew Vanacored • ASSOCIATED PRESS • September 22, 2009 NEW YORK — Dell Inc. will spend $3.9 billion for the technology services company Perot Systems Corp. in an attempt to expand beyond the PC business and compete more aggressively with Hewlett-Packard Co. — which recently bought another tech-services company founded by H. Ross Perot. Dell said Monday that it will offer $30 per share in cash for Perot Systems — a 68 percent premium over its closing price Friday. Perot Systems' shares rose $11.65, or 65 percent, to close at $29.56. Dell shares fell 68 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $16.01. Former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot Sr., 79, serves as chairman emeritus of Perot Systems, which he founded in 1988. According to an April regulatory filing, Perot and related trusts controlled at least 25 percent of the company's stock, though the beneficiary of those shares was not clear. The company did not respond to a request for comment on Perot's stake. Perot had already made a fortune from founding Electronic Data Systems Corp. in 1962 and selling it to General Motors Corp. in a 1984 deal worth $2.5 billion. Hewlett-Packard bought EDS last year for $13.9 billion as it, too, tried to augment its services offerings and diversify beyond hardware. In a conference call with analysts, Dell's founder and CEO, Michael Dell, said Perot Systems will serve as an "anchor" acquisition for a global information-technology services business. Plano, Texas-based Perot Systems would bring Dell more than 1,000 customers, including the U.S. military and the Department of Homeland Security. About 48 percent of Perot Systems' revenue comes from the health-care industry and 25 percent from government. Last year Perot Systems earned $117 million on sales of $2.8 billion. A more competitive Dell Dell's services business is more basic than those of its larger competitors, and its revenue comes mainly from the hard-hit PC business. As a result Dell's profits have been slumping, down 23 percent in the second quarter. Perot Systems would add consulting and other kinds of computing services, such as "systems integration," to Dell's lineup. "This would, at least from a product standpoint, put them definitely more competitive with HP and IBM," said Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu. "It's a step in the right direction." Wu said Dell's hardware business could benefit from exposure to Perot Systems' customers, while Dell's broader services line may look more attractive to customers seeking one provider for multiple technology needs. Combining the businesses could also help Dell find new ways to cut costs. However, Dell's tech-services business would still be relatively small; EDS had revenue of $21 billion before HP bought it. IBM Corp.'s services revenue was $59 billion last year. Nor will the acquisition give Dell much of an international presence in services. "If they're really going be strategic in services, they're going to need a footprint that's more global than Perot," Jefferies & Co. analyst Joseph Vafi said. Acquisition was expected Analysts have been expecting acquisitions from Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, which hired IBM's former mergers and acquisitions chief this year and has raised almost $1 billion by selling debt securities since March. HP and Dell are reaching out beyond PCs — a business IBM exited in 2004 — because it's getting harder and harder to make money there. The recession, fierce competition, fluctuating prices for components like memory chips and display panels, and a shift to cheaper little laptops called "netbooks" have all hurt PC makers' profit margins. HP's PC and services businesses have roughly the same revenue, but the services operation had three times as much profit in the past nine months. After the acquisition, which is expected to close by the end of January, Perot Systems would become Dell's services unit. Dell said it expects additional acquisitions to expand on the business but emphasized that it is looking to hold on to Perot management, including CEO Peter Altabef. Ross Perot Jr., the chairman of Perot's board, will be considered for a director slot at Dell, the company said.

Nashville starts giving regular flu shots

Tennessean September 22, 2009 A steady stream flowed through the Metro health department for flu shots Monday, the first day for the fast-track clinic that runs through Friday. The shots will not protect against the H1N1 flu virus. The health department anticipates providing those shots later. The clinic is in the auditorium at the Lentz Health Center, 311 23rd Ave. N. There are 14 stations open simultaneously so there was no wait, said Brian Todd, health department spokesman. The shots cost $20. The clinic accepts Medicare Part B and TennCare. The fast-track clinic will be open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Friday at Lentz. Flu shots will then be available through the regular clinic at Lentz and at the East and Woodbine health centers. Todd said health officials expect seasonal flu cases to begin appearing in mid-December. It is doing the flu shot clinic early so people can get that out of the way before the H1N1 shots are available. High-risk groups for seasonal flu shots are children, pregnant women, those 50 or older, people with chronic illnesses and those who live or work in long-term care facilities or are health-care workers. But Todd said anyone who wants to avoid the flu can get a shot.

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Mad-As-Hell Doctors" tour hits Nashville Monday

Lentz Public Health Center draws kudos Tennessean September 20, 2009 A group of doctors who say health care is a right are holding a rally on Monday, beginning at 4:30 p.m., along Charlotte Avenue at 25th Avenue South. The six doctors, part of the "Mad-As-Hell Doctors tour, say they are traveling in their “Care-A-Van” to tell people that a single-payer health system is needed, in which the government covers everyone and the private insurance industry is cut out. The message is flatly opposed by many, who say they want the government to play little or no part in the health care system. The government is involved in health care today in programs such as Medicare, which is for those who are 65 and older. The rally includes a march at 5 p.m. to the nearby HCA Headquarters at One Park Place, one of the country's large private health care companies. The group says health care reform is stymied by corporate interests that make campaign contributions to lawmakers. "This industry has hijacked health care--they are all about profits, and not the public good," Dr. Paul Hochfeld, a Corvallis, Ore., emergency room doctor for 24 years, said in an emailed statement. Supporters will deliver gift baskets before the event to the staff of Lentz Public Health Clinic, according to the information provided. The Metro Nashville center, which provides flu shots among other services, is an example of a publicly funded health care program that, though operating on a shoestring, provides valuable health care services, the group said. For more information about the doctors and the 26-city tour, see www.MadAsHellDoctors.com. -Staff reports

Nashville Mayor Dean won't relax push for major goals despite recession

Recession fails to stymie vision By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • September 21, 2009 As Nashville Mayor Karl Dean moves into the second half of his term, he hopes to take a page from his last two predecessors when it comes to economic development. Where Phil Bredesen aimed to move Music City into the big leagues with pro sports facilities and teams and other downtown growth, and Bill Purcell focused more on enriching the "quality of life" embodied by schools, parks and neighborhoods, Dean is trying to do both. The mayor, who turned 54 on Sunday and will discuss his economic development goals with the Rotary Club of Nashville today, has long said public education and public safety lead to economic growth. He's also pushing the biggest, most expensive building project in the city's history, an approximately $600 million convention center, while harboring ambitions to help spur creation of a regional mass transit system. Yet most of Dean's first two years in office have coincided with the worst economic recession in 70 years, making it tough to do much beyond keeping the city budget intact. "To say this is a difficult time is an understatement," said David Penn, an economist at Middle Tennessee State University. Dean and Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, say the city has had its share of successes anyway. In the past year, 102 companies have announced major expansions or relocations here, generating 7,286 jobs and $1.9 billion in investment, according to chamber data. Dollar General and Standard Candy, for example, added 150 jobs each, while Asurion added more than 500. Two food processing companies, Five Star and Supreme Oil, brought more than 400 jobs combined when they moved here from Texas and New Jersey, respectively, said Paul Ney, outgoing director of the Mayor's Office of Economic and Community Development. But those gains have only offset some of the city's recent losses. Tom Frye, managing director of the Nashville office of CB Richard Ellis, a real estate brokerage, said Nashville has lost 30,000 to 35,000 jobs in the past year. Still, the officials tasked with recruiting businesses to Nashville have been seeing more action lately. "We've had more economic development activity in terms of leads we're following in the past month than we've had in a year," Dean said in an interview Thursday as preparations for Live on the Green, a new concert series, went on outside his courthouse office. Big projects in mind As the economy begins to show signs of life, the mayor starts the second half of his term today — exactly two years after his inauguration — with some big projects in mind. First and foremost is the convention center, which still needs final approval from the Metro Council later this year. Last week, Dean ordered the construction team in charge of the project to bring the facility in for less than $600 million, knocking at least $35 million off the price that had been on the table for the past 20 months. Some council members still have questions about the project's viability in this economy, however, and think it will be difficult for the city to find much, if any, private financing for a 1,000-room, approximately $300 million hotel. But Dean continues to push the convention center, saying Nashville needs it and the accompanying hotel to maintain and strengthen the city's No. 2 industry, tourism. "I don't think we can afford not to do it, frankly," he said. Dean also plans to continue focusing on mass transit, an area in which the city's budget problems have stymied some of his ambitions. He and a group of suburban mayors took an important step in the state legislature this year, securing the right to create a new funding source to pay for transit programs. Now it's time to take the next, more politically difficult step of finding a way to come up with the money, which Dean said could be reallocated from within the city's budget. "We're the hub of the region," he said. "We can't be afraid to lead by example. Clearly I'm going to keep pushing this issue." Dean noted that the two cities he compares Nashville to the most, Charlotte and Austin, opened light rail systems in the last year. "In the long term, for this city's health, this has to be a place where people can move around," he said. 100 Oaks a model Another aspect of economic development Dean's administration wants to examine is how to grow strategically. Alexia Poe, Dean's incoming economic and community development chief, said she wants the city to grow "in a thoughtful and strategic way" so that it controls sprawl and doesn't have the traffic problems of a place like Atlanta. Poe, a political and government communications veteran, as well as a former lobbyist for Gaylord Entertainment Co., will participate with Dean, downtown developer Bert Mathews and Metro Planning Director Rick Bernhardt in an Urban Land Institute program that will help the city look at ways to develop major corridors like Charlotte, Gallatin and Murfreesboro pikes. The Urban Land Institute program will also enable Nashville to focus on infill development, the process of renovating or redeveloping properties within urban areas. Dean said he sees Vanderbilt University's recent $99 million renovation of 100 Oaks Mall as a model, and he hopes to see similar projects at other struggling malls. Poe will start work on Oct. 5, replacing Ney, an attorney who will return to legal work after a low-profile 20 months on the job. No quick turnaround Despite some promising signs that the economy may ease during the second half of Dean's term, analysts said the city might not see a full turnaround for a while. Frye said office vacancy rates, like the job loss numbers, have been unusually high. Corporate executives have hesitated to pull the trigger on office relocations, he said. But Nashville remains visible and attractive, and he believes the proposed convention center would help bring some companies here. "They don't want to sign a big lease now and find out six months later that they could have gotten a better deal," Frye said. "Once we get a break in the economy, I think we'll be fine." Penn, the MTSU economist, said it would take Middle Tennessee longer than most of the nation to recover from job losses because the manufacturing mix here has been especially sensitive to the downturn. "We know the stop sign is out there, but we're not able to see it real clearly," he said. Dean said he's confident about Nashville's chances to add jobs and make downtown an even "cooler" place. He said he started working downtown as an assistant public defender in 1983, before there was an arena, a stadium, an art museum, a symphony hall, the existing convention center or many other attractions. "This is not a young city," he said, noting 19th century water and sewer equipment Metro is getting ready to replace. "But in many ways, there is a dynamic air about Nashville."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Senior healthcare program at Summit Medical in Hermitage

By Andy Humbles The Tennessean • September 17, 2009 “Put It in Writing: Healthcare Decision Making,’’ is the title of the next Summit Partners in Prime seminar targeted toward senior adults, 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, at Summit Medical Center in Hermitage. The program is free, but reservations are required and space is limited. The program will be in classrooms D and E on the ground floor of the hospital. Members of the Senior Partners in Prime program are entitled to special discounts in the hospital’s Pinnacle CafĂ© and Grill and Summit’s gift shop, opportunities to participate in health screenings, monthly seminars, receive a Summit Partners in Prime binder for healthcare information, discounted flu shots and more. Membership is free. Call 342-1919.

Used Book Fair scheduled at McKendree Village

By Andy Humbles The Tennessean • September 18, 2009 A Used Book Fair for the public is scheduled at 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, at McKendree Village, 4343 Lebanon Pike in Hermitage. Novels, mysteries, biographies, history and other categories of used books will be sold. Price ranges are 25 cents for paperbacks, $1 for soft cover books and $1.50 for hardback cover books. Proceeds benefit the library at McKendree Village, a continuing care community for senior adults.

Free admission offered Sept. 26 at The Hermitage

By Andy Humbles The Tennessean • September 18, 2009 Free admission will be offered at The Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson, on Saturday, Sept. 26, as part of the fifth annual Museum Day, presented by Smithsonian magazine. People can download a Museum Day Admission Card that must be presented. Each card provides access for two people. One admission card permitted per household. To download the Museum Day Admission Day Card and obtain information on other participating museums in the Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day visit www.smithsonian.com/museumday. The Hermitage is at 4580 Rachel's Lane off Old Hickory Boulevard in Hermitage. For information about The Hermitage call 889-2941 or visit www.thehermitage.com.

Nashville police focus on weekend crime

By Nicole Young • THE TENNESSEAN • September 19, 2009 Plainclothes police officers hit the streets each weekend in a campaign to crackdown on crime and gang activity in Nashville's neighborhoods. The initiative launched in 2006, called Operation Safer Streets, is about saturation, said Metro Police Sgt. Gary Kemper of the specialized investigations unit. "Every weekend, we usually have one or two other agencies going out with us," Kemper said. "If I can send 20 cars to an area at a time, it will deter crime. Word gets out, and when we hit an area, we can shut it down." This year, the Operation Safer Streets has resulted in 2,783 arrests and 34 gun seizures. Officers have conducted 370 field interviews with people they believe have information about gangs and crime in the city. Officers from every Metro precinct, the Davidson County Sheriff's Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, FBI and the United States Marshals join the patrols, usually working Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. "None of us want to come out at 6 p.m. and work until 2 a.m. but that's when the crime is occurring,'' Kemper said. "And, when the crime pattern changes, that's when we change our hours." Police decide where to work based upon weekly crime activity, said Kristin Mumford, Metro police spokeswoman. Some of the officers target a specific address or area. Others walk the streets, making contact with community members or possible gang members who might have information about any open cases. Last weekend, the initiative netted 65 arrests. Areas targeted included Madison, the J.C. Napier public housing development, University Court, Murfreesboro Pike, Thompson Lane, Harding Place and the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Fair gets attention For Buck Dozier, executive director of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, the extra officers are a welcome addition. Dozier, who took the reins as director 18 months ago, says the fair once had a bad reputation, but there have been no arrests or gun seizures at the fair since he has been there. "It had an image of not being a safe place," Dozier said. "But, we've increased patrols and we've adopted a zero tolerance policy." On any given day, 43 off-duty Metro Police officers work security at the fair. The Operation Safer Streets officers are not included in that total. "All large fairs across the country get that gang element," he said. "In the past two years, we've noticed less and less because of (electronic metal detectors) and increased security measures, but it's good to have more officers, especially those that will come in and talk to gang members or those associated with them to further deter crime." For Mumford, the Operation Safer Streets campaign not only serves as a crime deterrent, but also as a method for gathering information. "This unit does a lot of things behind the scenes," she said. "For example, the field interviews they conduct could be, and have been, helpful in the future in identifying suspects in cases." Cynthia Orr, of Belshire Road, credits police with improving the neighborhood in East Nashville where she grew up. "When I used to live in East Nashville back in the '90s, the crime was bold and in your face,'' she said. "Today, it's a different story. That neighborhood in East Nashville is completely different.''

Titans traffic plan will close streets on Sunday

By Natalia Mielczarek • THE TENNESSEAN • September 19, 2009 An alternative traffic plan kicks in at 9:30 a.m. in preparation for Sunday's sold-out Titans vs. Texans game. The Woodland Street bridge will close to regular vehicle traffic and allow only pedestrians and shuttle buses, Metro police said. The Shelby Avenue pedestrian bridge will serve as a connector to the stadium for those who park along and south of Broadway. "Once we reach the regular-season games, most of the people coming are longtime Titans fans who are well aware of the traffic plan and how it works," Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said. "During the preseason games, that wasn't necessarily the case," "The best advice that the police department can give is that if you're coming to LP Field and you don't know where you're going to park, plan on the downtown area and look for shuttle buses." The Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge, also known as the Gateway Bridge, will remain open in both directions until moments before the conclusion of the game. There will be no access to the LP Field campus to eastbound traffic coming across the bridge from the downtown area in the two-hour period before the game. All lanes of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge will be open to westbound traffic only at the end of the game. The game starts at noon. Gates to LP Field open at 10 a.m. Stadium parking lots will open at 8 a.m. to fans with parking passes only. InShuttle will provide bus service from Greer Stadium parking lots and state parking areas downtown. The Music City Star is offering train service to the game. Visit to www.nashvillemta.org for more information about the train schedule. I-440 will be open on Sunday because of the game. Lanes have been closed on recent weekends for concrete repair. The westbound lanes between I-65 and I-40 are closed today and set to reopen at 6 a.m. Sunday.

Tennessee State Fair's future in air as Nashville bails out

Mayor says event no longer can make enough money at State Fairgrounds By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • September 19, 2009 After a century of running the Tennessee State Fair, the city of Nashville is calling it quits. Mayor Karl Dean said Thursday that the city will stop putting on the fair because the fairgrounds is the wrong place for it. Metro won't run the financially struggling event in 2010 and doesn't plan to build an expensive facility. "The fair has had a great run, but I think at this point the determination has been made that there will not be a Tennessee State Fair at that location next year," Dean said. "The Tennessee State Fair itself, that designation, might be somewhere else. But I don't see us having a fair backed by the city and Davidson County in the foreseeable future." The decision, which comes as Metro continues to look at redeveloping the fairgrounds, could silence a 103-year tradition of games, rides, livestock, corn dogs and canned goods. But the chairman of the fair's board said other organizations, whether public, private or nonprofit, could pick up the banner after this year's fair ends Sunday. "More than one entity has expressed an interest in taking a shot at it," said James Weaver, who declined to identify the parties. The fair regularly loses money, and its board has burned through most of its cash reserves to make up annual losses at the fairgrounds a few miles south of downtown. City officials said it doesn't make sense to keep subsidizing a failing enterprise until the reserves, now at about $1.3 million, are gone. The city also is looking at the future of the fairgrounds, which critics consider too small and hilly for the fair. A consultant said last fall that Metro would have to relocate the fair to make it a truly viable statewide event. But the city doesn't plan to spend the $30 million or more it would cost to acquire about 100 acres and develop a new fair site. "That's not something I'm interested in pursuing," Dean said. News of the move upset longtime fairgoers like Andy Haley, a concert roadie who lives near the fairgrounds. "As a citizen of that area, it's really disappointing to hear that they would move it," Haley said. "It seems like something to be really proud of. It really saddens me to think that they want to put shopping and condos there." Haley said he wouldn't hold his breath waiting for the fair to re-emerge in another form. "I don't trust that anybody's going to step up and start a new one," he said. Annie Ehrhart and Barbara DuVall, Nashville natives who were at the fair Thursday afternoon, fondly recalled getting a day off from school more than 50 years ago to attend the fair. "I'd hate to see them do away with it," said Ehrhart, 67. "It's just a tradition to me." First-day attendance upThe fair is a self-sustaining unit of Metro government, meaning it must make its revenues match its expenses or else cover the difference from reserves. That arrangement has put a strain on the fair in recent years, when the event's reputation for being unsafe and unclean hurt attendance and revenues. Even in 2008, when attendance increased 9 percent under new management, revenues declined as $4-a-gallon gas prices cut into spending on rides, officials said. The fair lost about $200,000 last year. But Buck Dozier, the fairgrounds' executive director for the past 18 months, said his staff's moves to "reinvent" the fair — cleaner, greener, safer and more family-friendly — have been working. Dozier said this year's fair would have broken every record for attendance and revenues if rain hadn't overtaken the past few days. Management responded to the weather Wednesday by moving most activities indoors and lowering ticket prices through Friday. Attendance was up 34 percent from 2008 on Sept. 11, the first day of the event, and the crowd included many more families than in previous years, Dozier said. "We know this: The people of Nashville will come back to the fair when we have a good product," he said. "We've proven that. … People who wrote off the Tennessee State Fair need to come back and see something totally different." Weaver said Dozier's team has put on "the best fair I think we've had in anybody's memory." While the annual 10-day fair gets most of the attention, the fairgrounds also has more exhibit space than any other place in Nashville except Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. Dozier said he would propose this fall that the fair board change the name of the site to "The Nashville Exposition Center, home of the Tennessee State Fair." Dozier called the fair's future "the million-dollar question." "If it's not coming back here, where, and how long will it take to do that?" he said. No plans for groundsWeaver said the fairgrounds is simply too small for the fair. The fair board decided last fall to hold one more fair and one more season at the racetrack on site, then turn the issue over to Dean. "We've been playing a football game on a basketball court," Weaver said. Dean said there are no specific plans yet for redeveloping the fairgrounds. The mayor said the flea market and Christmas Village will stay "as long as we're working through what will happen next." Audrey Moss of Tulsa, Okla., who puts on the "Tropical Illusions" traveling magic show, said she hopes the fair will continue somewhere. It's smaller than similar events in some other places but has just as much to offer, said Moss, whose mother grew up in Gallatin. "They need to keep a fairgrounds going," she said Thursday. "Because you lose a lot of history when you get rid of things like this."

Friday, September 18, 2009

WEEKEND TRAFFIC ALERT: Roadwork to close I-440

WKRN Channel 2 News NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The westbound lanes of Interstate 440, from Interstate 65 to Interstate 40, west of town, will again be closed this weekend as a major concrete rehabilitation project continues. The roadway will close at 8 p.m. Friday, September 18 and reopen no later than 6 a.m. Monday, September 21. Crews with the Tennessee Department of Transportation will saw out and remove damaged sections of concrete and pour new concrete, which must harden completely before the road can reopen to traffic. TDOT Spokesperson BJ Doughty said the construction will continue, despite the rainy weather. "The contractor wants to work rain or shine," Doughty said. "They have got some means to cover up if it starts raining, but we've got a lot of work that we're trying to get done on 440 in a short amount of time so they're going to go for it." The opening will be one day earlier than previous I-440 weekend construction to help with traffic flow for Sunday's Titans game at LP Field. "We don't like doing things like this when we know we have heavy volumes of traffic at a particular time," Doughty said. The project, which is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, includes repairs to deteriorating concrete along I-440 and this weekend's closure is one of several planned. "The concrete surface along most of I-440 is experiencing significant deterioration and is in need of extensive repairs," said TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges. "By closing sections of the road on weekends over the next few months, we can complete these repairs in a relatively short amount of time and provide a smooth riding surface for this heavily traveled roadway." Read more at TennesseeAnytime.org.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Health-care plan leaves some gaps in coverage

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar • ASSOCIATED PRESS • September 17, 2009 WASHINGTON — You're a 51-year-old single mother raising two kids and juggling a mortgage and a car loan. Because you're self-employed, getting health insurance has always been a problem. Under the new Senate plan, you still might have to stretch your budget to pay premiums even if the coverage is more secure. The health-care plan unveiled Wednesday by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., strives to contain costs for taxpayers, reducing the risk that covering the uninsured will blow the federal deficit wide open. But that means benefits are not as generous as in competing plans from Senate and House Democrats. "We've done everything imaginable to get the most generous, most affordable coverage we can within President Obama's target of $900 billion," Baucus said, referring to the president's 10-year estimate of what the legislation should cost. A free lunch it's not. For consumers, the Baucus plan comes with costs and benefits, rights and responsibilities. Though people with employer-provided health care would not see dramatic changes, the plan is broad enough that it would touch every American family in some way. Here's a look at how consumers in different circumstances would be affected: • Self-employed head of household.If anyone is meant to benefit from the plan, it's people who have to scramble to find and keep coverage because they work for themselves, not a large employer.Baucus would eliminate onerous insurance practices, such as denial of coverage due to a pre-existing health problem. But subsidies in the plan may not be enough to make coverage affordable for all middle-class families, who would be required under the bill to carry insurance. The Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for low-income people, compared the Baucus plan to two other major proposals — the House Democratic plan and the Senate health committee bill. A family of three earning about $55,000 — three times the federal poverty level — would have to pay 13 percent of its income. That's roughly $7,100 a year. It compares with costs of about $5,500 under the House bill, and $4,300 in the Senate health committee bill. The three-person family earning about $27,500 would have to pay 5.5 percent of its income, a premium of about $1,570. That compares with $824 a year in the House legislation, and $275 under the Senate health committee proposal. "They're getting subsidies, but the question is, do those subsidies go far enough both for the premiums they have to pay, as well as the cost-sharing charged under the plan," said Edwin Park, a health- care analyst with the center. The numbers used in the examples are based on 2009 incomes. The dollar figures would likely be higher — to account for inflation _ when subsidies take affect under the plan in 2013. • Senior covered by Medicare. Seniors would get a 50 percent discount on medications if they fall into the "doughnut hole" coverage gap in the Medicare prescription drug benefits. At least 3 million a year get caught in the gap. Medicare recipients also would get a free annual wellness visit with their doctor, to focus on ways to stay healthier. Coverage for end-of-life counseling, which caused an uproar when it was included in the House bill, isn't part of the Baucus plan. Coverage for preventive care would be expanded. "Most Medicare beneficiaries will feel like they have gotten something very tangible," said John Rother, the top policy strategist for AARP. Baucus has proposed scores of changes in Medicare to make the program more efficient. Medicare accounts for most of his proposed cuts of $500 billion over 10 years in federal health-care spending. The reductions would affect managed-care plans, hospitals and other medical providers, but Rother said that should not erode the benefits seniors receive. • Single woman in her 20s. People in their 20s account for a sizable share of the uninsured. Under the Baucus plan, they'd be required to get coverage and pay into the pool. But depending on income, they'd be eligible for subsidies they can't get now. They'd also have the option of buying a lower-cost plan, tailored to those 25 and under, which would cover mainly preventive care and catastrophic medical costs. Insurers would not be allowed to charge women more because of gender, a practice that is now common. And health-care plans would have to cover prenatal care and pregnancy. Coverage for abortion continues to be controversial. Baucus said his plan would not allow federal funds to be used to pay for the procedure, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Abortion opponents say loopholes in the proposal would allow subsidies to health plans that cover abortions. Abortion rights supporters say they will oppose any effort to restrict coverage of the procedure by private insurance plans. • Immigrants. Immigrants are more likely to be uninsured than the U.S. population as a whole. The Baucus plan would let legal immigrants get federal subsidies for health insurance but would bar benefits for those here illegally. U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants _ who are considered citizens under the law — would be eligible for benefits. Baucus has called for a verification system to make sure that no subsidies go to illegal immigrants.

Nashville prepares for aging baby boomers who have no plans to slow down

Nashville prepares for aging baby boomers who have no plans to slow down Committees study ways to make city more accessible By Chris Echegaray • THE TENNESSEAN • September 17, 2009 Nashville is planning for a not-too-distant future when one in four people is 65 or older and the city needs better sidewalks, public transportation and fitness opportunities to keep an aging population mobile. Those findings and others were unveiled Wednesday at the FiftyForward Knowles Center as part of the yearlong Nashville Livability Project. Several committees were charged with finding ways to keep Nashville livable for a "tsunami" of baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — as they age. Transportation, housing, health, work force, civic engagement and safety were at the project's core. "This study places the issue on their radar," said Patrick Willard, AARP Tennessee advocacy director. "This lets them know they have to start planning." The baby boomer generation has long been a planning focus for the nation as it carried elections, made up the bulk of the work force and is expected to work and live longer than previous groups. Mayor Karl Dean, a baby boomer himself, said the city already has made itself more accessible for older residents by making structures compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sally Solesby, 60, the center's director, said she is already looking to the city to provide services in her future, particularly transportation, because she will be working long past retirement age. "It's by need and desire," she said. She lives 15 miles away from work and at some point would like to use public transportation instead of drive. Like most baby boomers, Solesby wants to remain active. "I see it as vital in making Nashville a livable city," Solesby said. "Transportation when coming to the city is important … if you want to take in the symphony or go to TPAC." The task force, made up by many people from several agencies, was formed in 2008.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Low Mid-State gas prices to stick around, experts say

WKRN News Channel 2 NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A new report suggests low gas prices in Nashville and surrounding areas won't be going anywhere anytime soon. According to analysts, the United States last week saw the first increase in oil supply since July and crude prices are down. Fuel prices are down nationwide and will continue to drop for a least the next couple of weeks, according to analysts. In Tennessee, the decrease is happening at a faster rate than nationwide. Tennessee drivers said they are happy to see the lower prices but think they still could be lower. "Still a lot when you think about it," said Tennessee driver Marquita Holmes. "With the economy, you just work with the best way you can and you got to go to work, you got to buy the gas, be it $4 or $2." Holmes also said since last year, she has been able to go visit her family more often because of the big difference in gas prices from 2008. According to AAA, in September 2008, the average price of regular fuel grad gasoline in Nashville was $4.09 per gallon. The average price this year is $2.37 per gallon. Analysts attribute the vast difference in prices to the active hurricane season of 2008. The hurricane season in 2009 has been very inactive and analysts said as far as prices at the pump are concerned, no hurricane news is good news. Find the cheapest gas in your neighborhood, visit NashvilleGasPrices.com.