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Dandridge, Tennessee

July 23, 2012 www.jeffersoncountypost.com

EARLY VOTER TURNOUT SLOW TO START

Numbers Consistent With 2008 Voting Cycle

Staff Photo / Kathy Ridenour, Mountain View Youth Development speaks with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam during recent tour of facility
Surrounding County turnout to impact House & Senate race
 

Jefferson County residents are in their second week of early voting for the August 2, 2012 election.  Numbers for this year’s early voting are consistent with 2008 early voting cycle. According to information provided by Director of Elections Charles Gibson, historically the August election of the Presidential election cycle year has the poorest turnout. Conversely, the November election of the Presidential election cycle year has a significantly larger voter turnout than any other election in either the Presidential or Governor Election cycle. In 2008, which was the last Presidential election cycle, the August election had a turnout of a little more than 4,000 voters. The vote split between early/absentee voters and poll voters is traditionally around 50/50. Therefore, the early voting numbers are usually a good predictor for total voting turnout. During the November Presidential election, the 50/50 split does not apply. In 2008 Jefferson County voted a total of nearly 19,000 voters for the Presidential election in November. If the trend holds true during this election cycle, Jefferson County is on track to vote a total of between 4,200 and 4,500 total for the August election. Gibson would expect those numbers to hit around the 20,000 mark for the November Presidential election. The Director uses election trends as a predictor to assist with managing staffing and other issues during election times. He stated that many things can impact voter turnout. Poor weather can keep voters home and the absence of heavily contested local elections can play into the voter turnout. The recent district split in Jefferson County could make voter turnout a questionable indicator for candidates that are looking for voting indicators. The election office does not report voting numbers by individual districts, but rather the County as a whole. While the total voting numbers for Jefferson County may be traditionally low for the August election, one district may have a greater voter turnout than the other. Some of the spotlight races for this August election are those of the State House of Representatives and the State Senate. Because of recent redistricting, other Counties voter turn out will play into both races. House of Representatives District 17, which is split with Sevier County in a 55/45 division, and House of Representatives District 11, which is split with Cocke County in a reverse division, are both races whose candidates and supporters are keeping a close watch on the voting tally. As of the end of the week, Sevier County voter turn out was also slow, however, because they traditionally have a larger voter turn out than Jefferson County, their daily voting average is still significantly higher than Jefferson County. As of mid day on Friday, numbers were not in for Cocke County. The State Senate election will be impacted by voter turnout in five counties beyond Jefferson County. Some of those counties have contested local races that may push up the voter turnout in those counties, which may impact the outcome of the race. Gibson stated that voter turnout for intentionally registered voters, which are voters that were not registered in conjunction with other acts like health department visits or business with the County that registers citizens to vote, is high. Many who are registered to vote while conducting other business in the County did not register with the intention to vote. A large portion of registered voters in Jefferson County only vote once every four years. Those voters are the reason for the traditionally high turnout for the Presidential election. Gibson and staff are on hand thru Saturday July 28, 2012 for early voting for the August election. Absentee voting deadlines are July 27, 2012. (Staff Photo - L/R - Jefferson County Election Deputy Kay Moody, Sue Hodges, Carolyn Bugg)


Face of Education Changing for Jefferson County Students

 

Jefferson County parents and students may notice a change in curriculum when school starts in the Fall. The State of Tennessee has joined in a multi state initiative to promote better college and career preparedness for students who are participating in public education. Tennessee has consistently lagged behind National Benchmarks in education and has been making drastic moves to try to bridge the gap. This year students and teachers across the State will be introduced to the Common Core teaching concept and program, which has been in the conception and planning phase since 2009. The common core establishes a common benchmark that is the goal attainment for college and workplace readiness. Functionally, it will be phased in according to subject matter.

This year, local students will see a shift in Math. Previously, students simply performed the skills associated with whatever math concept was being taught at the time. In the common core curriculum, the student must be able to explain, in written form, the methods and steps used to achieve his answers. Educators and State Leaders are hoping that the explanation connection to the problem will allow teachers to identify where a student is struggling and will make the process of learning more complete. The program concept behind the common core will require more critical thinking skills and problem solving techniques. Tennessee students have struggled with college entrance exams that require a high level of critical thinking, rather than fact regurgitation. The common core concept is designed to promote the skills that are necessary for success in college or career. Another benefit of the Common Core is that it will provide an even testing field across the Nation, as 46 States have already adopted the program standards. Jefferson County teachers and administrators have spent a portion to their Summer preparing and training to implement the program.

Though there are portions of the program that still untried, it is the hope of the State that the new standards will be embraced by educators on the local level and by parents and students, as well. Testing for the Common Core Standards will replace the TCAP assessment that is currently taken in the Spring of each school year. Scores from the Common Core Standards Assessment will not initially be used in teacher evaluations. Common Core Standards will also be employed in the English Language Arts and phased into other course work over time. To alleviate some of the shock of the new and enhanced standards, the phased in method, course by course, was determined to be the most functional and least stressful for students and educators. While local administrators are unclear of the nuisances of the program, the hope is that it will turn out a better prepared work force and more college ready students in Jefferson County.

Syrian Civilians Flee Region

 
By Jake Depew

Amidst the violence in Syria, as many as 120,000 civilians have fled the region. There are many reports from citizens who attest that ordinary life is almost impossible to hold onto, due to the increase in violence. Random arrests and imprisonments are becoming more common in the country, along with acts of violence against those who would resist the government. In recent weeks, medical aid has become almost inaccessible. A number of refugees flee to surrounding countries, including Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. The Free Syrian Army is currently working underground with civilians who are looking to flee their homes. The United Nations‘ refugee officials, along with neighboring governments and non-governmental agencies, have started a drive for 193 million dollars to help refugees. As of this writing, there are as many as 43,000 Syrians who have fled to camps in Turkey. A further 30,000 have fled to Lebanon and Jordan, with reports ranging from 8,500 to 30,000 people crossing into Lebanon in a two day period. It is currently unknown what President Bashir al-Assad’s reaction to these fleeing families will be.

 

Shooter Claims 12 Lives
Injured Count at 58
 
By Jake Depew

On Friday, July 20, at approximately 12:30 a.m., a mass shooting occurred at a Century 16 theatre in Aurora, Colorado. The shooting took place during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the blockbuster ending to the Christian Bale Batman trilogy. Reportedly, the gunman used an AR-15 rifle, as well as a 12-guage shotgun and two .40-caliber handguns. Currently, it is believed that only one of the two handguns were used. Two canisters of an unknown substance were also used in the attack. In addition, it is known that the assailant was covered completely in protective tactical gear. The gunman, who has been identified as James E. Holmes, a 24 year-old doctoral student who had been studying neuroscience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Holmes recently quit the program for unknown reasons. Holmes gave no resistance to being arrested at the scene of the attack. Police have discovered that Holmes’ apartment has been rigged with various traps, including explosives and chemical substances, and authorities are currently trying to carefully disarm or control any incidents with the traps. As many as five building surrounding the apartment complex have been evacuated. As of this writing, a total of twelve fatalities have occurred, with ten of the deaths taking place at the theatre, while the remaining two victims died in the hospital. As many as fifty-eight injuries were reported, with almost all injured people having sustained gunshot wounds. It is currently unknown what motivation may have led to the shooting.


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