Haslam visits Dyer County

On October 17, 2012, in News 2012, by Mark Norris

Dyersburg State Gazette
October 17, 2012

Gov. Bill Haslam was welcomed to two events in Dyer County on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

The governor spent the afternoon congratulating local students and educators at two Dyer County schools for earning Reward School status. From the stage in Fifth Consolidated Elementary School’s new building, Haslam interacted with students and congratulated local educators on the hard work needed to earn the designation.

The busy Haslam then traveled to downtown Newbern to announce grant funding in the amount of $300,000 for the purchase of a new pumper-tanker truck for the Newbern Fire Department.

Two Dyer County schools lauded by governor

The governor was treated to a look at Fifth Consolidated Elementary School’s new facility while recognizing the two schools in the Dyer County School System recently earning Reward School status.

Both Fifth and Trimble Elementary School earned the distinction of 2011-2012 Reward Schools late this summer under new accountability standards set forth by the state of Tennessee. Tennessee initiated the new standards after the state was granted a waiver to No Child Left Behind by the federal government earlier this year.

The 169 schools earning Reward School status are spread across 70 districts in Tennessee in both metropolitan and rural areas. Schools honored make up the top 5 percent of schools in the state for annual growth as well as the top 5 percent for academic achievement.

Dyer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Dwight Hedge said he is pleased that the governor chose to be a part of the system’s celebration.

“I was trying to figure out a way to celebrate this achievement,” said Hedge. “We are real pleased that the governor chose to visit us, that the children were involved in this celebration.”

State and local leaders attending the event included State Sen. Lowe Finney, State Rep. Bill Sanderson, County Mayor Richard Hill, representatives of the Dyer County School Board, members of the Dyer County Commission, Alderman Bob Kirk, and Joe Armstrong and Jeff Agee of First Citizens National Bank.

Although Haslam’s scheduled did not include a visit to Trimble, students and faculty from the historic school were included in the celebration as honored guests. Both groups had their pictures taken with the governor after the event.

Haslam first addressed educators of both schools, assuring them that legislators on the state level are aware of the job they do each day.

“You many think it’s a long way from Nashville to your classroom,” said Haslam. “But we really do appreciate what you do and we know that gains like this don’t just happen.”

Students were given a chance to answer a few questions as the governor turned his attention to the youngest in the audience.

After learning what students thought the duties of the governor entailed, Haslam turned the tables by asking, “What would you do if you were governor?”

“Give more money to schools” was second only to “Make candy free” in popularity and applause from both students and guests attending the event.

“The governor and your legislators, we don’t get to come to every school,” said Haslam as he praised the students for their hard work in growth and achievement. “Of all of Dyer County, your two schools did the very best.”

Haslam thanked the Dyer County School Board and the Dyer County Commission for their role in constructing the new Fifth facility. He also thanked Fifth Consolidated Elementary School Principal Greg Cherry, Trimble Elementary School Principal Cindy Hutching and administrators for their hard work.

“On behalf of the state, thank you,” said Haslam.

Haslam presents $300,000 grant to city of Newbern

As the school day ended, Haslam traveled from Fifth Consolidated Elementary School to downtown Newbern for a grant presentation in the city’s Municipal Courtroom.

Haslam announced the city of Newbern as the recipient of a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $300,000. The funds will be used to purchase a new fire truck.

Newbern Mayor K.W. Dennison and members of the Newbern Board of Mayor and Aldermen were on hand to celebrate the grant, along with many community leaders.

State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, State Sen. Lowe Finney and State Rep. Bill Sanderson were also on hand to present a big check to officials with the city of Newbern and the Newbern Fire Department.

“Since he was elected, Gov. Haslam has been a friend to towns like Newbern,” said Newbern Mayor K.W. Dennison as he introduced the governor. “I speak for everyone when I say we are deeply grateful for these funds.”

The CDBG program is administered in Tennessee by the Department of Economic and Community Development, with funds allocated under a process authorized by the Tennessee General Assembly. CDBG funds are awarded based on priorities that best meet the needs of local communities.

“These block grants are one thing that Washington got right,” said Haslam, who said CDBG grants provide federal money through a program that allows the state to choose the most beneficial projects for its communities. “With these grants, we are focusing on smaller towns because we know that rural areas and small towns have struggled more than urban areas. For every one grant we are able to award, we get three applications. (These grants have been designated) for basic services that benefit the community.”

The grant will be combined with $30,000 provided by the city of Newbern to purchase a pumper-tanker truck and safety gear for volunteer firefighters. The city’s current truck leaks and has been known to break down on past emergency calls. Air packs and breathing apparatuses for the firemen are also included in the grant.

“These are grants the state is privileged to award,” said Haslam. “It is a competitive process. We are glad to be able to meet the need.”

State and national leaders who aided in securing the funding for the Newbern grant include Norris (R-Collierville), Sanderson (R-Kenton), Dennison, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.)

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime event for someone like me to get to introduce the governor of the state of Tennessee,” said Dennison after the event. “I hope everyone in our community and our town is as excited about the grant as I am. This grant won’t only be used in the city of Newbern. It is a larger tanker truck than we have and it is the first truck that will leave out to help the county (in times of emergency). It is important not only for the citizens in town, but for those who live in the surrounding area. It is going to benefit a lot of people.”

“We really appreciate the effort from the community and state leaders in helping us get this grant,” said Newbern Fire Chief Phillip Cottrell. “It is going to be helpful for both the citizens of the town and county residents.”

Because of the presentation, the Newbern City Board of Mayor and Aldermen canceled its regular October meeting. The board is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

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