A $4 million plane has been added to the fleet of aircraft used to fly Gov. Bill Haslam and members of his cabinet around the state, reports WTVF-TV. The King Air 350, a 2007 twin-engine turboprop purchased back in December, is now the lead plane in the fleet operated by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
“The governor is always the first priority for this aircraft,” said Lyle Monroe, the state’s chief pilot.
Monroe said the aircraft has lots of advantages over the 1985 model King Air that Tennessee’s governors have flown for years, including more powerful, more efficient engines.
“We can burn the same amount of fuel and get further with this aircraft because of the increased speed,” he said.
Inside the cockpit, it’s got more advanced systems to make the pilots’ jobs easier — including conflict-avoidance systems to help then steer clear of other aircraft.
“If an aircraft encroaches within a certain limit of the airspace, it’ll tell us pull up, turn left, turn right — and it’ll keep telling us to do that until we’ve actually gotten out of the conflict area,” he added.
Inside the cabin, the aircraft provides comfortable seating for nine people, not counting the two-member flight crew.
“It’s not something that we started and did quickly. We’ve been looking at this for several years,” the chief pilot added.
Former congressional hopeful and vocal Tennessee income tax opponent Steve Gill is ending his nationally syndicated radio show after 15 years on the air, reports The Tennessean. The Steve Gill Show will broadcast for a final time on Jan. 31 or Feb. 1, Gill said. Gill, a Brentwood attorney, said he is ending the show so he can focus on other business ventures, including speaking engagements and consulting, through his company Gill Media Inc.
He said he also wants to continue as a political analyst on News 2 WKRN.
“We’d been looking over the last several months at what we were going to do past the New Year,” Gill said. “We’ve got some other business ventures and opportunities to pursue and we thought this would be a good time.”
He said the growing corporate influence on radio also has made it more difficult for small broadcasters to thrive.
“When we started 15 years ago, radio was a different animal,” Gill said. “The way corporations work, it’s difficult to have a grassroots, listener-focused show right now.”
Rejecting appeals by state officials, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that three Memphis-area counties, as well as three others in East Tennessee, violate federal air-quality standards for ozone pollution, reports the Commercial Appeal. The decision, issued late Tuesday, means that Shelby, Crittenden (in Arkansas) and part of DeSoto county (in Mississipp) will remain classified as “non-attainment” for ozone standards – a designation that officials say makes it more difficult to attract industry. Anderson, Blount and Knox counties also retain the designation.
Tennessee and Mississippi had filed petitions appealing EPA’s initial decision earlier this year classifying the counties as non-attainment. The appeals cited data showing improvement in local air quality, particularly during a three-year period ending in 2011 during which all Shelby County air monitors met federal ozone standards.
State and local officials had sought to escape the non-attainment classification because of its potentially chilling effect on economic development. New or expanding industries generally are held to stricter pollution-control requirements in non-attainment areas.
And this from the AP:
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation commissioner Bob Martineau said Wednesday that the federal agency chose the “most burdensome of several options” in dealing with air pollution in the counties.
“It’s important to note that while EPA’s decision will have long-term negative economic impacts for Tennessee, this decision does nothing to improve air quality,” Martineau said.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., joined with Senate Democrats in voting down a measure seeking to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s new limits on mercury, arsenic and other toxic pollutants released by coal-powered power plants.
From Action Andy:
The measure, sponsored by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., failed on a 53-46 vote.
The new rule “will hasten the day Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville are not three of the top five worst asthma cities in America and Nashville is not competing to be in the top 10,” Alexander said. “We know that every Tennessee metro area is struggling to stay within legal clean air standards.”
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., a former Chattanooga mayor, voted to overturn the EPA rule.
By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A state lawmaker hit back Tuesday at critics of a YouTube video she posted of her dog Pepper being held outside a moving car for what she called an “air swim.”
Freshman Rep. Julia Hurley said in an interview in her legislative office that her Chinese crested named Pepper enjoys being held out into the wind.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Hurley’s short video titled “Pepper Air Swims” was pulled two days after being posted on YouTube. Hurley, a Republican, said she removed the video because she “didn’t want to deal with” criticism she calls politically motivated.
“I think it’s a liberal ploy to take the attention off the bills and the legislation I’ve passed and the positive things I’ve done, to make me look like a bad person,” the Lenoir City Republican said.
Hurley said people who complained about the video should explain why they don’t have a similar reaction about other unrestrained dogs in the beds of pickup trucks or leaning out windows.
“My dog obviously enjoys it,” Hurley said. “She’s very happy.”
A brief YouTube video linked to state Rep. Julia Hurley showing a small dog being held outside a moving convertible was removed from the Internet Monday, two days after it was posted.
More, lifted from the News Sentinel’s website:
The video, titled “Pepper Air Swims” shows the small dog being held out the passenger window, its front legs moving in the air, as two people laugh in the background. (Note: Though the video has been taken off YouTube, the KNS has it up, HERE.)
The faces of neither person are shown. Only the forearms of the person holding the dog are seen. The video was posted to the freshman lawmaker’s YouTube channel under the user name “repjuliahurley.”
Hurley, a Republican seeking re-election to a second term in the 32nd House District, owns a Chinese crested, a hairless breed of dog that she named Pepper. She drives a BMW convertible.
Hurley didn’t return repeated calls and emails seeking comment Monday.
A Roane County resident blasted the video Monday.
“I find Ms. Hurley’s behavior to be extremely unkind and irresponsible,” the Rev. Peggy Blanchard stated in an email.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Air National Guard in Memphis would get eight C-17 planes under planned restructuring by the Air Force, replacing C-5A aircraft being retired.
Nashville would get an unmanned aircraft squadron under the proposal, announced Friday in Washington. The city would lose six WC-130 aircraft to Luis Munoz, Puerto Rico, to replace retiring aircraft.
McGhee-Tyson in Knoxville would lose two KC-135s.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said the proposals continue to recognize the important role of the Tennessee Air National Guard.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said the plans show that Tennessee Air National Guard bases are crucial to U.S. readiness.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who represents parts of Memphis, said the proposals fit well with the skill set of the Air National Guard. Note: News release from Tennessee National Guard is below.
NASHVILLE (AP) — A leak in the air conditioning unit that caused a power outage at the Cordell Hull office building in downtown Nashville has forced some state offices to close temporarily.
Lola Potter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Finance and Administration, said the offices inside the Cordell Hull building would be closed through today. The building houses the health department, children’s services, mental health and some employees of the state attorney general.
Potter said a leak in the air conditioning units at the top of the building got into the building’s electrical system. A total of about 800 state employees were affected by the closure on Thursday.