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Local News Stories from 92.3 WNPC
Friday, April 18, 2014

NPI property to have new ownership
Members of the Newport/Cocke County Economic Development Commission were told Thursday that a lease purchase of the former NPI building off Cope Boulevard is being finalized. Partnership President Don Hurst said the plan is to lease the property for five years with the new firm then paying off the estimated note at that time. Currently he said the property has an appraised value of about $600,000. Hurst also has been asked by the firm to facilitate with the county, the purchase of an additional minimum of five acres behind the building, in the county owned industrial park. The additional acreage will be needed for future expansion, he said. "The big thing is getting jobs for the community. We feel this company will do that, The company is known to us.... we've seen what they've done in other areas. Our goal is not necessarily to make a profit on the real estate, but to bring in jobs by a firm that will be a part of the community and then after five years the property will go back on the tax rolls," Hurst explained. The board also was told there are three companies currently renting space in the Partnership owned spec building in the industrial park. Hurst also reported that TVA and state officials are continuing to work with his agency in the search for new jobs for the community. Sales tax collections are increasing, and Hurst said March numbers total collections of $715,183, an increase of eight percent over March, 2013 collections. In addition the fiscal year as a whole shows an increase of 4.5 percent year-to-date. It likely will be the Fall till the South Highway 321 stretch from Newport to Wilton Springs is let for four-laning. State revenues are down and that project alone is expected to have a cost of $18 to $20 million. Engineering work for the stretch from Wilton Springs to the Hooper Highway also is underway. Hurst is pleased with the move by the state legislature to support Governor Bill Haslam's request for free tuition at community colleges across the state. The move Hurst said means Tennessee is about to move from a k-12 education program, to a k-14 year program. Thursday's meeting was held at the American Appliance facility on Chemwood Drive. Manufacturing Manager Anthony Ottinger said the operation is owned by SSW Holding Company, Inc. and manufactures racks for cooking, refrigeration and HVAC units. The company has annual sales of $50million from the Newport operation, which also utilizes a warehouse on Thinwood Drive. Currently there are 240 hourly workers and 40 salaried personnel in the three shift operation which uses 60 ton of steel daily. HR Manager Callisse Finchum said although the pay scale is competitive, the plant has a difficult time retaining employees. Many do not complete the 90 day probationary period. And the firm is pressured financially in it's wage scale because of competition from China and Mexico. Ottinger said a rack that cost $1.00 to produce in the local plant can be manufactured in China and shipped to the U.S. for 40 cents. But after the probationary period the local firm provides full benefits including medical, dental and vision insurance, as well as life and disability insurance, and a matching 401K program The commission was told that the salary does not seem to play a part in absenteeism because other area firms with higher salaries have similar problems. Another issue that plays a part in the high turn-over at the pant is drug abuse. Finchum said the majority of new employees are not working after the probation period. Hurst offered to assist the firm in connecting with available state worker training programs in an effort to address the issues.

March jobless numbers
Tennessee’s unemployment rate for March was 6.7 percent, according to Tennessee Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips, down from 6.9 percent in February The U.S. rate stands at 6.7 percent unemployed. • Over the past year, Tennessee's unemployment rate decreased from 8.3% to 6.7%. • The number of unemployed persons at 203,800, is the lowest since June 2008, and is 5,900 lower than last month. • Total non-farm employment increased 4,200 jobs from February to March, with the largest increases in mining/logging/construction, leisure/hospitality, & professional/business services. • Over the last year, non-farm employment increased 46,100 jobs

Tennessee lawmakers adjourn
The Tennessee General Assembly adjourned on Thursday But the 108th Tennessee General Assembly rejected a key educational proposal to create a program that gives parents the option to move a child from a failing public school to a private school using state funds, and eliminated planned raises for teachers and state employees, which ended up being one of the most contentious issues toward the end of the session. Gov. Bill Haslam had planned to give a 1 percent pay increase to state employees and 2 percent to teachers, but later said he wouldn't be able to because of poor revenue collections.The session ended with no pay increase A school voucher legislation was withdrawn from the House Finance Committee because there weren't enough votes. The governor also received pushback on the implementation of the state's Common Core standards and their testing component, developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The tests were scheduled to begin statewide in the school year that begins in August, but lawmakers voted to delay their implementation for a year. Haslam is against any type of delay saying the standards are needed to better prepare students for the future. They're intended to provide students with the critical thinking, problem solving and writing skills needed for college and the workforce. The governor did get a victory with passage of his signature proposal to create a program that would cover tuition at two-year colleges for any high school graduate. Other legislation that passed includes the state's $32.4 billion spending plan.

Friday, April 18, 2014

  • NPI property to have new ownership
  • March jobless numbers
  • Tennessee lawmakers adjourn

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

  • Legislative action Update
  • Interstate work to shut down for Easter
  • Garver arrest
  • Dillard provides law enforcement update
  • TVA charges to drop

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

  • Rolling Rescue is not economically viable
  • Dunn asks for dismissal of Norwood case
  • Brown reports major theft
  • Revenues down in Tennessee

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

  • County forced to pick up cost of unfunded mandate
  • Reynolds funeral is set
  • Nashville legislation

    Monday, April 14, 2014

  • Cocke County home fires
  • Women injured in deck collapse
  • Cruise Against Cancer
  • Roe votes in Congress

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