NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee has been ranked among the best in economic development by a national publication.
Area Development magazine picked the state for a 2012 Gold Shovel Award, along with Texas, South Carolina and Utah. The award goes annually to states that have achieved major success in job creation and economic impact. Tennessee also received the award in 2009.
Additionally, the state was recognized as a 2011 Economic Development Project of the Year for the $235 million General Motors venture in Spring Hill that is expected to create 2,350 jobs.
State officials said Tennessee had the second best year of job creation on record, topped only by 2007.
Financial and legislative pieces are coming together for the state of Tennessee and The Nature Conservancy to buy and develop Johnson County’s Doe Mountain into a multi-use tourist attraction for all-terrain vehicles, biking, horseback riding and hiking. Continuing a report by Hank Hayes::
“It’s looking good. … We should know something within a month or so where we are on this. … I’m trying to keep it low key … (but) I think everything will be fine,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said of the venture.
Last December, Ramsey said the Doe Mountain venture could have a similar economic impact as Southwest Virginia’s 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail, which is open to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. He envisioned spin-off businesses like campgrounds, restaurants and bike shops.
The 8,600-acre Doe Mountain property was a planned residential development that fell through, according to Ramsey.
Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has set aside $8.5 million in the state’s current budget, plus $300,000 in a supplemental appropriation to pay for the property, according to administration spokesman Dave Smith.
Smith noted the Doe Mountain acquisition is on the State Building Commission Executive Subcommittee’s agenda on Monday.
The Nature Conservancy State Director Gina Hancock said the plan is for The Nature Conservancy to buy the property and “hold it until the state buys it from us.”
The Tennessee Senate, meanwhile, has passed amended legislation creating a Doe Mountain Recreation Authority to manage the property.
With nearly one in five residents stuck below the poverty line, metropolitan Memphis ranks as by far the most impoverished large metro area in the nation, according to new census figures reported by the Commercial Appeal.
Of the 1.3 million people in the eight-county metro area, an estimated 246,265 — 19.1 percent — lived in poverty last year, according to figures released Thursday from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
That poverty rate, although a slight improvement from the 19.4 percent estimate for 2009, was the highest among the 51 U.S. metro areas with populations of at least 1 million. Metropolitan New Orleans, with an estimated 17.4 percent of residents living in poverty, had the second-highest rate.
News relelase from TWRA:
NASHVILLE —The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced that Catoosa Wildlife Management Area located in Cumberland, Morgan, and Fentress counties will be closed to all public access effective Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. TWRA officials believe this closure is necessary to ensure the safety of visitors using Catoosa WMA and agency employees working in the area.
Since late June, vandals have placed nails, spikes, and nail-boards in fields, secondary roads, and trails on the WMA. TWRA officials believe this vandalism may be a reaction by a small group of individuals dissatisfied with recent changes in the management of wild hog populations on Catoosa.
As part of the overall strategy to address the increasing wild hog population on the Cumberland Plateau, an aggressive program to trap and remove wild hogs was initiated on Catoosa WMA in early June, according to Kirk Miles, TWRA Region III Wildlife Program Manager. Shortly thereafter, employees began finding nails and spikes in fields and along secondary roads accessing wild hog trap sites.
“Initially, we felt that we were able to effectively find and clean up the vandalized sites,” Miles said. “However, the problem has escalated to the point that we no longer feel the area is safe for public use.”
To date 13 tires have been damaged on TWRA trucks used on the WMA. Ten of the tires had to be replaced. Four tractor tires have had flat tires repaired. One TWRA employee narrowly escaped serious injury when he stepped on a large nail.
Cummins Falls in Jackson County will become a state “natural area,” reports WPLN following approval of the purchase Monday by the State Building Commission.
The natural waterfall north of Cookeville had been held by private owners until last year. Then conservation groups scrambled to find funding. The state’s half a million dollars is the final piece of a $1.4 million transaction.
State Comptroller Justin Wilson is a members of the State Building Commission. He’s also a former commissioner of environment and a fan of the waterfalls.
“I’m very familiar with the area. It’s a beautiful place, it’s a beautiful falls,” he said.
As a “natural area,” Cummins Falls will be maintained in a primitive state, without the usual development to be opened as a park. Kathleen Williams of the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation says there are plans for two rangers to be assigned to the area.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has asked President Barack Obama to declare seven counties federal disaster areas as a result of severe weather June 18-25.
The counties are Anderson, Claiborne, Grainger, Henderson, Knox, Loudon and Marion.
A presidential declaration would make the counties eligible for various federal assistance programs.
Haslam said in his request Tuesday the weather included “historic floods and unprecedented storms.”