Tennessee History for Kids (which adults can read, too) has a new section on Tennessee geography. Included are “eight things about Tennessee geography that will surprise you, such as:”
* South Carolina is west of Tennessee
* Tennessee has more caves than any other state
* Elevation-wise, Knoxville is lower than Cookeville
* Memphis is much closer to Dallas than it is to Mountain City.
Direct link to the “eight things” is HERE.
By Bill Barrow, Associated Press
ATLANTA — The “Solid South” was a political fact, benefiting Democrats for generations and then Republicans, with Bible Belt and racial politics ruling the day.
But demographic changes and recent election results reveal a more nuanced landscape now as the two major parties prepare for their national conventions. Republicans will convene Aug. 27 in Florida, well established as a melting-pot battleground state, to nominate Mitt Romney of Massachusetts. Democrats will toast President Barack Obama the following week in North Carolina, the perfect example of a Southern electorate not so easily pigeon-holed.
Obama won both states and Virginia four years ago, propelled by young voters, nonwhites and suburban independents. Virginia, long a two-party state in down-ballot races, had not sided with Democrats on the presidency since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Jimmy Carter in 1976 had been the last Democratic nominee to win North Carolina. Each state is in play again, with Romney needing to reclaim Florida and at least one of the others to reach the White House.
Southern strategists and politicians say results will turn again this year on which party and candidates understand changing demographics and voter priorities.
“The transformation of the South seems to never end,” said Mo Elleithee, a Democratic campaign consultant with deep experience in Virginia and federal elections. “Now it’s beginning to emerge, at least parts of it, as solidly purple.”
New citizens, birth rates, and migration patterns of native-born Americans make high-growth areas less white, less conservative or both. There is increasing urban concentration in many areas. African-American families are moving back to the South after generations in Chicago, New York or other northern cities.
Young religious voters are less likely than their parents to align with Republicans on abortion and same-sex unions. Younger voters generally are up for grabs on fundamental questions like the role of the federal government in the marketplace.
“I wouldn’t say the South is any more ideologically rigid than anywhere else in the country. Certainly, it’s complicated,” said former Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee. Bredesen, a Democrat, won twice while Republican George W. Bush occupied the White House. Before that, Bredesen was a two-term mayor of Nashville.
News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
Raleigh, NC– Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus and the Republican Party Chairmen of North Carolina’s border announced today their unified efforts to defeat President Obama and the Democratic ticket in North Carolina.
As solidly red states, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee are in a unique position to contribute to the Republican National Committee, NCGOP, and Romney for President’s already immensely successful efforts in North Carolina. Each state party today has committed resources to turn North Carolina red in November through efforts that include volunteer deployment, calling in to North Carolina from Victory Offices in their own states, and also utilizing the RNC’s Social Victory Center to call into the state.
In May of this year, the South Carolina Republican Party pledged at least 1,000 volunteers to North Carolina’s Victory efforts and have already begun volunteer efforts across the state. In fact, dozens of South Carolinians are in Charlotte today to help out with North Carolina’s Super Saturday efforts.
“Today’s commitments from the Republican Party Chairmen of Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee will help ensure North Carolina defeats Barack Obama and Democrats up and down the ballot on Election Day,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A Blountville, Tenn., abortion doctor who authorities say pulled a gun on protesters who approached his vehicle at a Charleston clinic has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and will pay a $100 fine.
The Post and Courier of Charleston reports (http://bit.ly/N30Fuk ) that 64-year-old Gary Boyle did not attend Friday’s hearing.
Boyle was originally charged with pointing a firearm at a person, which is a felony that carries up to five years in prison. He pleaded guilty Friday to disorderly conduct.
Boyle told police he raised the pistol from his moving SUV because several protesters approached his vehicle and he feared he might be attacked like other abortion doctors.
But the protesters say they were not aggressive and were peacefully demonstrating.
Boyle had a permit to carry the gun.
Corrections Corporation of America has expressed interest in buying a state-owned prison southwest of Nashville as part of a strategy it’s pitching to most state governments as a partial cure to their budget shortfalls, according to The Tennessean. The private prison operator has set aside $250 million to embark on the national effort. In informal conversations with state corrections officials in Tennessee in recent weeks, Nashville-based CCA cited South Central Correctional Facility in Clifton, Tenn., as a possible target.
“(State) officials have been intrigued and want to learn more, but that has been the extent of the conversation so far,” said Tony Grande, chief development officer with CCA.
Last month, the company sent letters to 48 states informing them of the initiative. In the letter, CCA said it’s trying to replicate what it considers a successful deal last year involving the 1,798-bed Lake Erie Correctional Facility in Conneaut, Ohio, which CCA acquired in exchange for a 20-year contract to manage that prison plus other guarantees.
Steve Owen, a CCA spokesman, said the company plans to follow up with other states to make them aware of the company’s new program and possible cost savings.
From reporter Josh Flory: In recent months, the News Sentinel sought travel records from local utility districts across East Tennessee and examined piles of receipts along the way. Many of them were for mundane purposes — meals at Cracker Barrel, registrations for conferences and the like.
But at some districts the records showed a willingness by employees or board members to spend ratepayers’ money on more extravagant expenses. Three local districts have either altered their travel policies or eliminated certain spending practices in recent months.
Listed expenses in the article include dinner for 18 at the Peddler in Gatlinburg for $886.99, dinner for seven at the Stock Yard in Nashville for $430.20 and dinner for six at the Palm in Nashville for $458.93.
…The (South Blount Utility) district has adjusted its policies on travel within the last year. In an interview this month, District Manager Henry Durant said that last November TAUD (Tennessee Association of Utility Districts) held a school for commissioners, and that was when South Blount learned it was not appropriate for a district to cover meal costs for spouses who are traveling with district commissioners or employees. He said South Blount stopped that practice at the end of last year.
“We didn’t really understand that there was a problem with that,” Durant said.
Durant said that because of the News Sentinel’s inquiry, South Blount decided to seek restitution for certain expenses incurred by spouses, although he said the amount of money won’t exceed $200 or $300.
In addition, Durant said that at a recent board meeting, the district adopted a travel policy to establish a per diem expense rate for employee travel. The manager said the district thought it had a travel policy, but realized recently that it did not.
Legislation aimed at forcing Amazon.com to collect sales taxes from Tennessee customers when it opens shipping centers in their state was shelved until January on Wednesday.
Paul Misener, vice president for global public policy for Amazon, declared the company “grateful to the committee for recognizing the jobs and investment that Amazon can bring to Tennessee.” The comment came after Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, formally deferred the bill (SB529) until January, 2012.
Earlier, Misener told the Senate Finance Committee that passage of the bill would have raised a “dark cloud” over opening Amazon “fulfillment centers” in Hamilton and Bradley counties now under construction, much less more tentative plans to expand into Knoxville and Nashville.
But the delay of the legislation until the new year still left questions hanging, some of them were raised in the committee hearing.
Misener testified, for example, that the deal negotiated by Amazon with officials of former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration only covered a guarantee that the company would not have to collect taxes on sales to customers living outside Tennessee.
He said negotiations are still continuing with the Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, represented by Revenue Commissioner Richard Roberts, over an “alternative arrangement” agreement to assure that sales taxes need not be collected from Tennesseans, though they are “very close” to an agreement.