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Dandridge, Tennessee

January 30, 2012

White Pine Pilot Gets IdleAir 
New Station Designed To Reduce Emissions and Utilize Solar Power
Staff Photo

IdleAir, operating under the new management of Convoy Solutions, LLC, opened their IdleAir station in White Pine on January 25, 2012. The White Pine site is part of a EPA to TDOT grant that has recently come under fire due to the foreclosure of TR Trucking in Dandridge, which also received grant money from TDOT. IdleAir has also struggled and, under the new management, is reopening locations that were previously closed. According to Mike Fielden, who is heading up the new efforts of IdleAir, the company is committed to providing drivers with an environmentally friendly and cost effective alternative to letting their engines idle during time of rest. IdleAir allows truck drivers to enjoy the comforts of heat and air conditioning, as well as other comforts of home, without the cost of burning fuel or the environmental impact of diesel emissions. An IdleAir representative stated that though the Winter can be uncomfortable for drivers, it may actually be the hot summer months that find drivers seeking the benefits of IdleAir. The projected rising cost of fuel should also make the White Pine station attractive to drivers in the coming months. Thursday’s grand opening was attended by local officials, as well as representatives from IdleAir, EPA, TDOT and ET Clean Fuel Coalition. Fielden stated that the company appreciates their partnership with Pilot, as they have at the White Pine location, and are expanding Nationally. The project is a part of a recent movement by the Environmental Protection Agency, TDOT, the ET Clean Fuel Coalition and the Department of Energy Clean Cities Program to improve the quality of air, particularly in high risk areas such as the Tennessee Valley. The White Pine location is solar powered, which increases the environmental benefits of the project. For roughly half the cost to run their engines overnight, drivers can hook up to the IdleAir station. Jefferson County is a hot spot for programs such as this because of its interstate accessibility. Fielden stated that though there are no current plans to acquire the TR Trucking location off of the Deep Springs exit in Dandridge, they would be interested in the site if Pilot purchases the property, though Pilot has not yet publicly expressed an interest in the location.


Carson-Newman Strategically Plans Future

Carson-Newman opened the spring semester with strategic restructuring that has reduced its workforce by 11 positions, which reflects some three percent of employees. The institution’s 44-member housekeeping operation will also be outsourced in the coming weeks. The efforts are designed to trim institutional costs and strengthen C-N’s economic position for the future, say officials who noted the difficulty of such decisions.

“We are strategically addressing the financial realities that have been and continue to confront families, businesses and other educational institutions,” explained Parker Leake, senior director of Marketing and Communications. “While it has been difficult news to share with employees, our senior administration put everything on the table and sought to trim tightly while maintaining the academic program, Christian commitment and dedication to community service for which Carson-Newman has a strong reputation.”

The reduction includes the cessation of three academic programs; Athletic Training, Computer Information Systems, and French. Program coordinators and deans of Schools are working with those majors to ensure they have a degree plan and will graduate. Five faculty members have been notified that their contracts will not be renewed for academic year 2012-13. Other eliminated positions include three midlevel administrators and three members of the clerical staff. 

C-N will expand an existing contract with Premiere Building Maintenance to include its housekeeping operation. The Knoxville-based janitorial services vendor, which is expected to assess staffing needs in the coming weeks, has overseen a portion of the school’s athletic facilities since 2008. Premiere will determine how many positions it requires and has agreed to afford due consideration to current C-N housekeeping staff members.

“These are difficult decisions, but they are necessary for us to be as lean as possible as we move forward into a strategically planned future while offering the quality academic program for which we are known," said C-N President Randall O'Brien. “It's important that we continue to reduce costs and raise funds while trying to keep tuition increases to a minimum.”

In a December 7 email to employees, O’Brien noted that while affirmation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools was good news, responsible lean management remains important. The positive report came after the accrediting organization’s Commission on Colleges examined C-N’s financial records of the previous two years as well as a corresponding report written by school administrators.

O’Brien wrote, “Let us all enjoy our Season of Christmas cheer, while realizing the first of the new year calls us back to the work … of downsizing, managing lean, outsourcing, eliminating and consolidating positions, and perhaps programs, as necessary, adapting, re-inventing, innovating, recruiting, fundraising, and thriving all for the golden reward of ensuring an ever greater, permanent, Christ-centered liberal arts-based college for the glory of God in our world.”

“We will continue diligent efforts to match our economic strength to our level of academic excellence and continue to provide our students a great education.” said O’Brien today. “We strive to improve the way we operate because we are responsible stewards of our mission to change students who are in turn helping to change the world. We are the nation’s leader in community service and noted as being in the top eight percent of America’s colleges and universities. Our next goal is to become one of the country’s best supported institutions.”

Jefferson County Unemployment Rates

Figures show increase in last month of 2011

Jefferson County is one of 27 counties in the State of Tennessee that saw a rise in unemployment rates for the last month of 2011. Though the increase was not considerable, going from 10.7% in November to 10.8% in December, it echoes a pattern of stagnation that Jefferson County has been in for several months. The non-seasonally adjusted numbers were made available by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development late last week and show that the majority of  Tennessee counties, including Hamblen and Knox County, are showing improvements in their unemployment rates. Hamblen County showed a 0.9% decrease to post a 8.7% rate for December, making Hamblen County’s unemployment rate more than 2 full points lower than Jefferson County’s. Knox County dropped 0.4% to break the 6% mark and post a low of 5.9%,showing the State’s lowest rates for a metropolitan area and almost half of the rate that Jefferson County currently maintains. In fact, only one of Jefferson County’s neighboring counties has a higher unemployment rate. Cocke County, though showing a slight improvement in their December numbers, still has a unemployment rate of 12.1 %. Sevier County is comparable to Hamblen County and Grainger County, though still in the double digits, is slightly lower than Jefferson County with a 10.2 % December rate. Although Jefferson County is lagging behind her neighboring counties in significant improvement to the unemployment numbers, it is important to note that the December 2011 postings for the County are lower than the previous year. December 2010 closed with Jefferson County at a 11.% unemployment rate, which is 0.2% higher than the close of 2011. Jefferson County has one of the ten lowest improvements rates when comparing December 2010 to December 2011 in the State of Tennessee. The seasonally adjusted rates for the last month in 2011 are only slightly higher in the State, at 8.7%, than the National numbers of 8.5%. Both State and National numbers showed an improvement over both the previous month and the 2010 December postings.

Occupy Oakland
Estimated Number of Arrests 350 - 400
By: Jake Depew, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer

On Sunday, January 29, 2012, several Occupy protestors were arrested in Oakland after breaking into a YMCA and City Hall and challenging police. Although an exact number has not been release, reports say that the number of arrests could number as high as 400. Once protestors broke into City Hall, they proceeded to paint graffiti on the walls and vandalize the interior of the building. Many protestors have come forward in support of these arrests, claiming that a certain faction has arisen in the movement that is using the protests as a playground. The protestors in question grew violent when they were denied access to Henry Kaiser Community Center, a long-vacant building. While the Occupy Oakland twitter channel reports that police repelled the protestors with rubber bullets, police forces and witnesses claim that the bullets being used were bean-bag bullets, as well as smoke and tear gas grenades. No details have been given on the ramifications that might arise from the arrests in regards to further protests, but police in the area are not being shown in poor light by protestors or residents alike. At the time of this writing the estimated number of arrests stands somewhere between 350-400. More information on the charges will likely come to light in the following days.

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