Wednesday, August 8

Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery opens in Henderson County (WBBJ-TV) The Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery at Parkers Crossroads officially opened Tuesday. The Department of Veterans Services determined a portion of veterans living between Nashville and Memphis did not have access to a veterans cemetery within a 75 mile radius. Now they do. The Tennessee Department of Veterans Services maintains and manages five veterans cemeteries in the state and their newest, as announced by Governor Bill Haslam Tuesday, now rests in Henderson County. “Our ‘why’ is gripped by compassion for grieving families looking for peace, beauty, reverence and honor,” said Many-Bears Grinder, Commissioner for Tennessee Department of Veterans Services.

Haslam Dedicates 1st Rural State Veterans Cemetery (Chattanoogan) Governor Bill Haslam, Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves in partnership with U.S. Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads), Senator Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), Parkers Crossroads Mayor Kenneth Kizer, Henderson County Mayor Dan Hughes and the Friends of the Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery at Parkers Crossroads dedicated the Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery at Parkers Crossroads on Tuesday.

Haslam goes to bat for Bill Lee in RGA ad (TN Journal) Gov. Bill Haslam espouses the virtues of Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Lee in a new ad released by the Republican Governors Association — the national group that Haslam chairs. “We can trust him to make the right decisions, not the political ones,” Haslam says in the ad.

Memphis Police, Shelby County implement domestic violence program (Commercial Appeal) A domestic violence-related homicide in Bartlett on Friday left Sheila Scott dead.  A double domestic violence-related homicide in Frayser in July left Natausha Gibbs and Izeal Jones Jr. dead. Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office hope a new program will help reduce these murders. Robert Massengill, 73, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Scott, who had been living in his house for three months. Markese Gibbs, 38, was arrested in Milwaukee in the killing of his wife, Natausha Gibbs, and Jones.  Memphis police started the Lethality Assessment Program, or LAP, in March and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office started it last October.

WSCC to hear outsourcing proposal (Morristown Citizen Tribune) Outsourcing maintenance and custodial jobs at institutions of higher learning, an initiative supported by Gov. Bill Haslam last year but rejected by the University of Tennessee Knoxville and East Tennessee State, has resurfaced at the state’s community colleges and technical schools. The Tennessee Board of Regents has asked community colleges and TCAT presidents to meet with Jones Lang LaSalle officials and discuss the possibility of facility management services. TBR officials have said the final decision will be made at the local level with the presidents of the various institutions determining whether or not partnering with JLL, which already has a contract to provide similar services at the state, will be beneficial to the college.

U of M raises record amount for academics (Memphis Business Journal) Donations to the University of Memphis aren’t just flowing in because of the hiring of new men’s basketball coach Penny Hardaway. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, the U of M had commitments of $23.1 million — a 60 percent increase over the prior year — to fund university academics. In 2017, the amount was $14.4 million. The 2018 commitments include gifts of cash, pledges and planned gifts from alumni, corporations, foundations and others to the University of Memphis Foundation. The more than $23 million pledged toward supporting U of M academics was a record amount, surpassing the previous record of $21 million for fiscal year 2015.

Sevier County leads region in adult education applicants (Mountain Press) It took less than 30 days for 10,497 Tennesseans to apply for Tennessee Reconnect when it launched earlier this year. In a 10-county region designated by state education officials, Sevier County led that number with 260 applicants. The program that allows adult learners to obtain a tuition-free two-year degree or technical certificate from a Tennessee community college will see its first official enrollees enter school this fall.

Shelby County, Nashville Schools express ‘no confidence’ in TN Ready (Tennessean) The leaders of the state’s two largest school districts sent a joint letter to Governor Bill Haslam expressing “no confidence” in its standardized test, TN Ready. In the letter, Shawn Joseph with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and Dorsey Hopson of Shelby County Schools stated the public opinion and trust of the test has fallen following “years of repeated implementation failures and missteps” by the vendors. “We are challenged to explain to teachers, parents and students why they must accept the results of a test that has not been effectively deployed,” they said. “When basic delivery is botched, it is difficult to trust the fundamental integrity of the underlying assessment.”

Dr. Joseph among school officials asking state to pause TNReady for now (WKRN-TV) Tuesday marked the first day back to school for Nashville students, but the director of schools is already taking action on TNReady testing. Dr. Shawn Joseph and the Director of Schools in Shelby County sent a letter to Governor Bill Haslam and the education commissioner asking them to stop TNReady testing for now. Part of the letter says after years of issues with the test, teacher and public trust has fallen to irretrievably low levels.The letter also addresses the millions of dollars schools have spent on technology to implement the tests that never happened, adding the technology will soon be obsolete.

15 States Side With Nevada in Drugmaker Delay of Execution (AP) Fifteen states are siding with Nevada in a state Supreme Court fight against drug companies suing to prevent the use of their products to execute a condemned inmate. In what a national death penalty expert on Tuesday called a setup for a showdown, documents filed with the Nevada Supreme Court argue that drug company Alvogen’s effort to block the use of its sedative midazolam in the stalled execution of Scott Raymond Dozier in Nevada is part of a “guerrilla war against the death penalty.” “The families of these victims deserve justice,” Arkansas’ state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a statement Tuesday. Arkansas is leading the 15 states that include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Death row inmate Billy Ray Irick moved to death watch ahead of Thursday execution date (Tennessean) The Tennessee Department of Correction confirmed Tuesday that death row inmate Billy Ray Irick had been moved to death watch, a period of increased supervision and security ahead of his execution date later this week. Irick, 59, was moved to death watch at 11:30 p.m. Monday; he is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday. The Tennessee Supreme Court and Gov. Bill Haslam have both denied requests to delay the execution.

Billy Ray Irick Asks US Supreme Court To Delay Execution (WTVF-TV) Death row inmate Billy Ray Irick has asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a delay ahead of Thursday’s scheduled execution. Irick’s attorneys filed an application for a stay of execution on Tuesday, just one day after the Tennessee Supreme Court and Governor Bill Haslam said they would not intervene. He was sentenced to death following his 1986 convictions for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old child, Paula Dyer.

Former TN chief justice expects Irick will be executed (WBIR-TV) If there’s anyone who knows what it takes to put someone to death, it’s former Justice Gary Wade. “There were four executions during my time in office,” said Wade, a former chief justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court and current dean of the LMU Law School. “Each and every one caused a great deal of pain and agony.”  Wade was appointed to the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2006 and served as chief justice from September 1, 2012, to August 31, 2014. He now acknowledges the challenges justices currently serving on the court face when it comes to capital punishment.

‘Tell the governor we pray for him:’ Group delivers petitions against executions (Tennessean) Tennessee faith leaders — along with a former death row inmate who was exonerated — delivered on Tuesday to Gov. Bill Haslam petitions with more than 62,000 signatures urging him to intervene in the scheduled execution of Billy Ray Irick. Irick, 59, is scheduled to be executed Thursday evening for the 1986 rape and murder of 7-year-old Paula Dyer. He has exhausted appeals on his original case.

At Tennessee’s largest prison, diabetic inmates say they are denied insulin to ‘maximize profits’ (Tennessean) For several nights in a row, Douglas Dodson says he did not receive the drug that keeps him alive. Dodson, an inmate at Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility, had been stuck in his cell for weeks as a lockdown dragged on and on at Tennessee’s largest and newest prison. The chow hall was off-limits, so food were served in his cell on cafeteria trays. Each meal was supposed to come with an insulin shot, which helps diabetics like Dodson control their delicate blood sugar, but sometimes the insulin wasn’t provided until hours later. Sometimes, Dodson alleges, it wasn’t provided at all.

Where do Democrat Karl Dean and Republican Bill Lee stand on key issues? (Tennessean) Democrat Karl Dean and Republican Bill Lee secured their respective gubernatorial nominations in the Aug. 2 primary. Now, as the two head toward the Nov. 6 general election, here is where they stand on some key issues facing Tennessee.

Off to the races: Tennessee general election for governor, Senate starts at quick pace (Times Free Press) Fresh off last week’s GOP primary victories, Tennessee’s Republican candidates for governor and U.S. Senate are back on the air with new ads as the Nov. 6 general election gets off to a fast start. In the case of GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Lee, the Republican Governors Association, led by retiring Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, has stepped in with an estimated $500,000 ad spend over the next two weeks in support of the Franklin businessman who emerged Thursday as Republicans’ choice.

Immigrants ‘are not criminals’ pastor tells Bredesen at Murfreesboro event (Daily News Journal) Democratic U.S. Sen. nominee Phil Bredesen recently asked conservative and liberal faith leaders to share their views about immigration. “It was very helpful to me to just see how they thought about this and how they viewed it and what their congregations thought kind of as they were hearing from their congregations,” Bredesen said after meeting with faith leaders gathered with him at The Grove at Williamson Place farm and event center in Murfreesboro.

From ‘Philbert’ to ‘Phony Phil?’ (TN Journal) President Donald Trump’s “Philbert” nickname for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen didn’t exactly stick. Republicans are now rallying around a new one: “Phony Phil.” Will it do any better? Only the phuture can tell. The state Republican Party sent out a release this afternoon calling Bredesen an elitist, essentially because he’s rich. (Here’s hoping nobody over there looks up Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s net worth.)

Blackburn highlights Trump endorsement in new TV ad in Tennessee US Senate race (Tennessean) Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn has made President Donald Trump’s endorsement of her campaign the entire focus of her latest television ad as Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race enters its final three months. It’s another sign that the conservative congressman intends to make the president’s backing a dominant theme — perhaps the dominant theme — in her race against former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen.

Blackburn touts Trump endorsement in US Senate race ad (AP) Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn is keeping President Donald Trump at the center of her Senate campaign in her second TV ad. The digital and statewide TV ad replays a Nashville rally in May when Trump boosted Blackburn. The ad touts Trump’s endorsement and Blackburn’s commitment to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, repeal the Affordable Care Act and keep tax cuts permanent. Blackburn is in a tight red-state race against popular Democratic ex-Gov. Phil Bredesen. Bredesen says he’ll be independent and support Trump’s good ideas for Tennessee and oppose the bad ones.

Small businesses weigh in with FedEx on trade, tariffs (Memphis Business Journal) FedEx doesn’t just track packages. It tracks the views of small businesses, as well. In the fourth installment of FedEx’s Trade Index, the survey showed the importance of global trade to small businesses. The FedEx Trade Index surveyed about 1,000 small business leaders in July and found that 82 percent see an increase in U.S. trade as beneficial to the economy, up 6 percentage points from a prior survey conducted in January. Small business executives also weighed in on two hot national topics — tariffs and trade agreements — with two-thirds saying that the U.S. could fall behind if not included in those agreements.

Soaring Tennessee home prices push American Dream out of reach for many, study finds (Tennessean) A key pillar of the American Dream is increasingly out of reach in Tennessee as housing costs swell and residents face a greater shortage of affordable homes than in most states, according to new research. The state’s housing challenges are detailed in a report released Tuesday by ThinkTennessee, the moderate public policy research organization, and the Tennessee Housing and Development Agency.

Communities across Middle Tenn. turn out for National Night Out Against Crime (WKRN-TV) Hundreds of families in Nashville, Murfreesboro, Franklin and beyond came out to see their neighbors, meet the police officers who patrol their streets, eat together, pray together and have a good time together. The focus of the night was on fighting crime and keeping the community safe. What many community leaders have learned over the years  – working together is important. “We need the help of the community. We need the interaction,” said Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson. “We want them to know us. We want them to know each other.” If you’ve never been to a National Night Out event, enjoy the video to see what you’re missing.


David Waters: All of us should witness Irick’s execution (Commercial Appeal) The state of Tennessee is preparing to execute Billy Ray Irick on Thursday. Actually, you and I are planning to execute Irick on Thursday. Why are we not all there to witness it? Whatever your views on capital punishment, however just or unjust you find Irick’s fate, you and I are legally and morally responsible for Irick’s execution. Not the long-suffering family of 7-year-old Paula Dyer, the child Irick — who was a trusted family friend — raped and murdered 33 years ago in her home in Knox County. Not the prosecutor or defense attorney or judge or jury that presided over Irick’s trial, conviction and death sentence 32 years ago.

Guest column: Billy Irick should not be executed (Tennessean) The State of Tennessee is scheduled to carry out its first execution since 2009 on Thursday. That is a grave mistake, and probably unconstitutional. The man who is to be executed, Billy Irick, raped and killed a child. That is obviously a horrible act. But Irick was severely mentally ill at the time of the crime. In fact, Irick has a long, documented history of serious mental problems up to and including the day of the offense, virtually none of which, unfortunately, was presented to the jury that convicted and sentenced him.

Guest column: Let Blackburn help Trump with vets (Times Free Press) I served in combat on the rivers in Vietnam with the U.S. Navy, and now I serve my fellow veterans as the quartermaster of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1289 here in Chattanooga. We have about 400 members, all of whom have served our country faithfully over the past several decades … President Trump is working to make the necessary changes that the Obama administration put off for too long, but he cannot do it alone. He needs senators and congressmen who are willing to work with him to get the job done. That’s precisely why I joined with a 1,000 veterans across the state in a coalition in support of Marsha Blackburn.

Pam Sohn: GOP preaches unity, but slaps Bredesen for it (Times Free Press) If we thought local GOP politics got nasty in the primary, we probably haven’t really seen nasty yet. Witness the dialogue from the Monday’s Pachyderm “unity” meeting. It was a come-to-your-Republican-Jesus meeting with U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee Sen. Bo Watson, Hamilton County party Chairwoman Marsha Yessick hoisting the “unity” flag and urging the faithful to support with words, action and money — especially money — the GOPers on the ballot in November. By their own words, they have to help Donald Trump achieve his agenda.

Clint Cooper: Bredesen deceptive out of the box (Times Free Press) Well, that didn’t take long. Only several days removed from a Tennessee gubernatorial campaign in which the two leading Republican contenders beat each other to death with negative and deceptive advertising and allowed a third eminently qualified candidate to win the nomination, Phil Bredesen’s Democratic campaign for U.S. Senate showed it was not above such deceptive advertising. On Monday, the campaign, which had previously employed well-done ads in which the former Tennessee governor talked moderately and said earnestly he was “applying for the job,” released a commercial in which some Republicans who don’t support him are shown saying kind things about him.


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