Whittler, woodworker Bill Henry earns prestigious arts award

Bill Henry

Bill Henry

Oak Ridge resident, whittler, and woodworker Bill Henry was one of 10 people to earn a Governor’s Arts Award for representing the best in arts and culture in Tennessee in 2015.

Henry won a Folklife Heritage Award. He will receive the award, considered Tennessee’s highest honor in the arts, from Governor Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam on March 17.

Distinguished artists honored include Mary Costa, Dr. Bobby Jones, B.B. King, Loretta Lynn, and Cormac McCarthy, a press release said.

“We want to congratulate the recipients for their incredible work adding to the rich cultural heritage of Tennessee,” Governor Haslam said. “Their dedication, leadership, and contributions to the arts have enhanced our way of life and will continue to influence Tennesseans for many years to come.”

The 2015 recipients are: [Read more…]

Haslam makes case for Insure Tennessee

Bill Haslam during Presidential Visit at Pellissippi State

Governor Bill Haslam is pictured above during a visit by President Barack Obama at Pellissippi State Community College on Friday, January 9. (Photo by Rob Welton)


Governor says his plan provides health care coverage to more Tennesseans at no cost to the state

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Govenor Bill Haslam on Monday evening addressed a joint convention of the 109th General Assembly as legislators began an extraordinary legislative session to consider his Insure Tennessee plan.

The proposal, a two-year pilot program to provide market-based health care coverage to more than 250,000 Tennesseans who currently don’t have access to health insurance or have limited options, does not create any new taxes for Tennesseans and will not add any state cost to the budget, the governor’s office said.

“Two years ago, the General Assembly made two requests of us,” Haslam said in a press release. “First, to bring a unique and specific plan to Tennessee that met the needs of our citizens and was financially responsible for our state and the country, and secondly, to bring that plan back to the General Assembly for a vote.

“I have done both of those things. This plan is overwhelmingly supported by Republicans and Democrats in our state. Tonight, I am asking for your vote to help Insure Tennessee.” [Read more…]

Two ORHS students among 100 in state to earn perfect score on TCAP writing test

Abigail Greenhalgh, David Bryant, and Sarah Dowling

From left are Abigail Greenhalgh, David Bryant, and Sarah Dowling. (Submitted photo)

Two Oak Ridge High School students were among only 100 students in the state of Tennessee to earn a perfect score on the 2014 TCAP Writing Assessment, a press release said.

Abigail Greenhalgh and Sarah Dowling each received a perfect score on all categories of the assessment, which was given statewide last February. The students each received a certificate signed by Governor Bill Haslam and the commissioner of education.

“This is a fine example of how well our teachers are preparing our students to be proficient writers, not only at the high school, but at the elementary and middle schools as well,” Oak Ridge High School David Bryant said.

Haslam announces winners of LEAP competition, including Roane State

Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam


Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam in December announced the recipients of the Labor Education Alignment Program, or LEAP, competition, a state effort focused on increasing opportunities for Tennesseans to obtain a certificate or degree beyond high school that is aligned with the needs of the workforce in their communities.

“These types of intentional partnerships between local agencies and their colleges or TCATS are what we want to see across the state as a significant piece of the Drive to 55 initiative,” Haslam said. “Tying the training and skills that our colleges are teaching directly to current workforce needs will help more Tennesseans qualify for good paying, high quality jobs.”

The communities and colleges selected as LEAP recipients exemplify the collaboration and alignment between workforce needs and higher education that are at the core of the Drive to 55,” Haslam said. [Read more…]

U.S., Tennessee, community college officials react to president’s education proposal

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, U.S. senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, and U.S. representatives Chuck Fleischmann and John J. Duncan Jr., all Republicans, released statements or commented on the East Tennessee visit by President Barack Obama, a Democrat, on Friday and his proposal to make the first two years of community college free to responsible students. Pellissippi State Community College President Anthony Wise and Roane State Community College President Chris Whaley also released statements or commented on the visit and education proposal.

The president’s proposal, America’s College Promise, will be proposed in his State of the Union on January 20, and it is modeled after the Tennessee Promise.

Here’s what the officials from Tennessee said:

Bill Haslam during Presidential Visit at Pellissippi State

Governor Bill Haslam was among the Tennessee leaders who received praise from the president during Obama’s 5.5-hour visit to East Tennessee on Friday. (Photo by Rob Welton)

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

The president recognizes that good things are happening in Tennessee. We are proud of the Tennessee Promise. It is changing the culture of expectations in Tennessee by encouraging more students to pursue a certificate or degree beyond high school. The Tennessee Promise is focused not just on access but success in terms of making certain that students actually attain their degree. We think having a mentor available for the students is an important part of achieving that success.

Regarding the specifics of the president’s plan, we look forward to seeing more details in the coming days about the cost of the program and how it will be covered. [Read more…]

Obama’s visit: Education, manufacturing, a chance to see the president

President Barack Obama at Pellissippi State Community College

President Barack Obama announces a proposal to offer two years of free community college to responsible students during a half-hour speech at Pellissippi State Community College in Hardin Valley on Friday. (Photo by Rob Welton)


Note: This story was last updated at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 15.

HARDIN VALLEY—It was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for some, a chance to shake hands with the president of the United States of America or wave at his heavily guarded motorcade as it passed by on a local roadway.

For others, it was a chance to hear about a presidential proposal modeled after a Tennessee program that would make the first two years of community college free to students who maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average. That proposal, officially announced at Pellissippi State Community College in Hardin Valley on Friday, expands on the 20th century idea that all children in the United States are entitled to a public education. In the 21st century economy, the White House said, 12 years of school is no longer enough.

For a much-smaller group, Friday’s visit by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and his wife Jill Biden offered an opportunity to hear an in-person announcement of a new advanced manufacturing hub, the country’s fifth, that will be led by the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and have Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a founding partner. That announcement at Techmer PM in Clinton was highlighted by a 3-D printed carbon fiber replica of a Shelby Cobra that the president joked about receiving for his birthday. [Read more…]

Pellissippi State transcript: Obama proposes free community college for two years

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama


This is a transcript of remarks made by President Barack Obama at Pellissippi State Community College in Hardin Valley in west Knox County on Friday, January 9. The president was at Pellissippi State to announce a proposal that would make community college free for two years to responsible students across the country. The proposal is modeled on the relatively new Tennessee Promise.

Friday’s visit was the first by a president to Pellissippi State.

Pellissippi State Community College

Knoxville, Tennessee

2:05 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Hey!  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Please have a seat.  Well, it is good to be back in Tennessee.  I hope you guys aren’t getting tired of me.  I’ve been coming around a lot lately, because there’s a lot of good stuff happening here.

I want to begin by thanking Joe and Jill Biden.  They’re not just good friends and good partners, but they really believe in the power of education and they really believe in creating those kinds of ladders of opportunity that gave all three of us and Michelle the chances, the incredible opportunities that we’ve had today.  And they understand the promise of America’s community colleges.  Well, Jill really understands it, and Joe — (laughter) — he doesn’t really have a choice.

Before I get into the reason that I’m here today, I want to begin by saying just a few words about the tragic events that we’ve watched unfold in France over the last several hours and days.  And because events have been fast-moving this morning, I wanted to make sure to comment on them. [Read more…]

President Obama’s trip to East Tennessee explained

President Barack Obama, Sen. Bob Corker, Sen. Lamar Alexander, and Rep. John Duncan at Air Force One

President Barack Obama, front; U.S. senators Lamar Alexander, second, and Bob Corker, third; and Representative John J. Duncan Jr. arrive at McGhee Tyson Airport in Alcoa on Air Force One at about noon Friday. (Photo by Julio Culiat)


Before President Obama landed in East Tennessee on Friday, a spokesman explained the purpose of the trip to reporters. The 5.5-hour visit included stops at Pellissippi State Community College in Hardin Valley and manufacturer Techmer PM in Clinton. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Congressman John J. Duncan Jr. were guests, and so was Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

Eric Schultz, principal deputy press secretary, told reporters on Air Force One that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill would unveil the president’s plan to make two years of community college free for all responsible students no matter their age during the East Tennessee trip. It was a preview of a “cornerstone” of the president’s State of the Union to Congress on January 20.

Separately, during a stop in Clinton, the president announced a manufacturing innovation hub that involves the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. [Read more…]

Tennessee again named economic development ‘State of the Year’

Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam

Tennessee first state to win award in back-to-back years

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced Monday that Business Facilities, a leading national publication focused on site selection and economic development, has named Tennessee its 2014 State of the Year for a second consecutive year.

Tennessee becomes the first state in the award’s history to win back-to-back honors for economic development efforts and the first state to win the designation three times, winning in 2014, 2013, and 2009, a press release said.

“It is an honor to be the first state to receive this recognition two years in a row,” Haslam said. “We have a great story to tell in Tennessee. Businesses continue to make the decision to locate, expand and grow here, and we are grateful for those strong partnerships. We will continue doing all we can to make sure we offer an attractive business climate and skilled workforce to be the number one location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.” [Read more…]

Gov. Haslam announces Insure Tennessee plan

Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam this month unveiled his Insure Tennessee plan, a two-year pilot program to provide health care coverage to Tennesseans who currently don’t have access to health insurance or have limited options. The program rewards healthy behaviors, prepares members to transition to private coverage, promotes personal responsibility, and incentivizes choosing preventative and routine care instead of unnecessary use of emergency rooms, a press release said.

The governor announced that he plans to call a special session to focus on the proposal after the 109th General Assembly convenes in January.

“We made the decision in Tennessee nearly two years ago not to expand traditional Medicaid,” Haslam said in the press release. “This is an alternative approach that forges a different path and is a unique Tennessee solution. This plan leverages federal dollars to provide health care coverage to more Tennesseans, to give people a choice in their coverage, and to address the cost of health care, better health outcomes, and personal responsibility. [Read more…]

Halsam names Candice McQueen education commissioner

Candice McQueen

Candice McQueen

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced Wednesday that Candice McQueen, a teacher and dean at Lipscomb University in Nashville, will be the next commissioner of the Department of Education.

McQueen, 40, now serves on Lipscomb University’s executive leadership team as senior vice president, and as dean, she oversees the College of Education as well as the 1,300 pre-k through 12th grade students in three schools at Lipscomb Academy, a press release said. She has led training, support, and professional development efforts for thousands of current and future classroom teachers, instructional coaches, and school leaders.

Before joining Lipscomb in 2001, McQueen was a teacher in elementary and middle schools.

“Lipscomb’s College of Education produces some of our state’s best teachers, and Candice gets a lot of credit for that,” Haslam said. “She has taught in a classroom, so she brings both the experience of being a teacher and of preparing teachers to teach. I am grateful for her willingness to serve in this role, and I know she’ll do a great job as we continue our efforts to provide a quality education for all Tennessee students.” [Read more…]

3M will invest $135 million, create 100 jobs at Clinton manufacturing facility

Food Lion Distribution Center and 3M Company Manufacturing

The 3M Company purchased the former Food Lion Distribution Center on J.D. Yarnell Industrial Parkway in the Eagle Bend Industrial Park in Clinton on Friday. 3M paid roughly $14.4 million for the 772,00-square-foot building on 160 acres, and the company will use it to make products for the oil, gas, and automotive industries. (Photo courtesy Tim Thompson/Anderson County Economic Development Association)


Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam

Note: This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 8.

NASHVILLE—The 3M Company has purchased the former Food Lion distribution center in the Eagle Bend Industrial Park in Clinton and will use it to manufacture products for the oil, gas, and automotive industries. The company is expected to invest $135 million and create 100 new jobs in Anderson County.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty joined 3M Company officials in Nashville to announce the company’s investment on Friday afternoon.

3M purchased the 772,000-square-foot building on 160 acres on J.D. Yarnell Parkway in the Eagle Bend Industrial Park for roughly $14.4 million. The sale closed on Friday, said Tim Thompson, president of the Anderson County Economic Development Association. [Read more…]