Articles by: Blake Farmer

A worker at Nissan's Smyrna plant, where the LEAF is made. Sales of the electric car rose 319%. Credit: Nissan

Mindblowing Stat: Nissan’s Smyrna Plant Now Makes Two Cars Every Minute

June 30, 2014 at 4:05 am

Nissan’s plant in Smyrna has quickly ballooned to become the most productive auto factory in the country. The Franklin-based company expects to build more than 650,000 cars there this year.

US Attorney of the Middle District of Tennessee David Rivera held a press conference Friday to announce the indictments of 22 people accused in a heroin drug ring. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Prosecutors Accuse Nashville Heroin Ring Of Contributing To Deadly Overdoses

June 27, 2014 at 2:03 pm

The U.S. Attorney in Nashville has indicted 22 people who are accused of selling heroin mixed with synthetic opioids imported from China. Law enforcement blames drug dealers for contributing to numerous overdoses.

The Infiniti engine plant in Decherd was built next door to the Nissan engine plant. Employees watched Thursday as their bosses stood with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and other officials to be photographed with the first engine produced at the plant. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Nissan’s Infiniti Opens First Dedicated Plant – And It’s In Tennessee

June 26, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Executives and dignitaries marked the start of a new engine line in Decherd Thursday. The standalone building is a step out from the Nissan nest.

Thousands of Vanderbilt fans stood on Dudley Field to watch the final strikes of the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. The Commodores held onto their slim lead and made history for the school. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Vanderbilt Fans Celebrate Championship That Was A ‘Long Time Coming’

June 26, 2014 at 12:49 am

The celebration lasted into the wee hours on West End after Vanderbilt’s baseball team won the College World Series in Omaha. It’s the school’s first national title in any men’s sport.

Dr. Jonathan Perlin has been HCA's chief medical officer since 2006. According to a calculation from Bloomberg Businessweek, his total annual compensation is $3.6 million. Credit: HCA

Embattled VA Taps Nashville Health Care Exec To Advise Agency Overhaul

June 25, 2014 at 3:03 pm

The Department of Veterans Affairs has brought on a Nashville health care executive to help right the ship after a scandal over wait times. Dr. Jonathan Perlin is taking a 60-day leave from his position as chief medical officer of HCA.

Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville) was recently rated as one of the most conservative members of the Tennessee Senate. He's often an ally of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who has launched a campaign to unseat the three members of the Supreme Court appointed by Democratic governors. Credit: TN Photo Services

Did Tennessee’s Chief Justice Break Judicial Ethics Code? Conservatives Keep Pressing

June 24, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Conservative legislators spent the better part of Tuesday questioning whether Tennessee’s chief justice broke rules that bar judges from making political endorsements.

Talking to reporters Monday, Gov. Bill Haslam chooses his words carefully in explaining that he doesn't expect Tennessee to move toward benefits for same-sex partners of state workers. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Don’t Expect Same-Sex Benefits For Tennessee Workers Anytime Soon

June 24, 2014 at 1:05 am

In the last week, President Obama extended marriage benefits to federal employees in same-sex relationships. The Metro Council decided city employees can cover a domestic partner. But what about state workers in Tennessee?

Governor Bill Haslam swears in Kevin Huffman as education commissioner in April 2011. Credit: TN Photo Services via Flickr

Haslam Keeps Backing ‘Controversial’ Ed Chief While Pledging To Hear Out Critics

June 23, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam won’t be firing his education commissioner, despite the chorus of conservative legislators asking him to in a letter last week. But his endorsement of Kevin Huffman has lost some spark after a year of high-profile complaints.

Vanderbilt slipped past the University of Texas Saturday night on a 10th-inning infield grounder that drove in the winning run. It is the team's first trip to the College World Series finals. Credit: John Russell / Vanderbilt University

Vandy Closer Than Ever To Nat’l Championship, Except For That Bowling Title

June 23, 2014 at 5:31 pm

If Vanderbilt’s baseball team can beat Virginia this week at the College World Series finals, it would be the first championship for any men’s team on campus – a feat the Commodore women achieved in 2007.

A new Tennessee Department of Education analysis find that teachers scoring high on the five-point evaluation are slightly more likely to stay than those who score low. But looking just at the high performers, those teachers are more likely to leave early in their careers. Credit: US Dept of Ed via Flickr

Tennessee Schools Lose Best Teachers Early In Their Careers, Report Says

June 23, 2014 at 4:55 am

For the first time, Tennessee education officials are sifting through data to get better ideas for how to keep teachers who score highest on a five-point evaluation scale. What they’ve found is that the youngest are more likely to leave.

Maj. Gen. James McConville (left) has been promoted to a job in the Pentagon. Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky (right) took over command of the 101st Airborne Division in a ceremony Friday.  Credit: Larry Noller / U.S. Army

The 101st Airborne’s New General Has Big Army Boots To Fill

June 20, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky formally took command of the 101st Airborne Friday, becoming the 45th commander of the division. He arrives behind Maj. Gen James McConville, who becomes the longest-serving leader of the division.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean - pictured here in 2011 - held a fundraiser for Sen. Thelma Harper this week. Credit: TSU via Flickr

Opponent Knocks Thelma Harper As Out Of Touch, But She’s Still Got Democratic Clout

June 20, 2014 at 4:08 am

One of Nashville’s long-serving lawmakers is having to work harder than usual to get reelected. For the first time in several cycles, Sen. Thelma Harper has drawn a competitive challenger in the Democratic primary.

Currently, Tennessee judges are allowed to waive the 12 hour hold intended to keep domestic violence offenders from returning home and continuing the abuse. Credit: Joe Gratz via Flickr

Nashville Judge Waiving Hold In Domestic Violence Case Inspires Legislation

June 19, 2014 at 6:23 pm

The premature release of a Nashville man who allegedly beat his girlfriend has already resulted in a legislative proposal to make the 12-hour holding period mandatory.

IRS Complaint Suggests Tennessee Charter Center Shouldn’t Be Tax Exempt

IRS Complaint Suggests Tennessee Charter Center Shouldn’t Be Tax Exempt

June 19, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Labor groups in Nashville are taking a high-profile swipe at charter school advocates.

Nashville isn't the first, second or even third city in Tennessee to offer benefits to same-sex partners of employees. Knoxville, Chattanooga and Collegedale preceded Nashville. Credit: Blake Farmer / WPLN

Nashville Council Does ‘Right Thing,’ Passes Benefits For Same-Sex Couples

June 17, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Nashville will join the ranks of Tennessee cities who fund health insurance for the same-sex partners of employees. Tuesday night the Metro Council signed off on a plan estimated to cost as much as $1 million a year.

According to epidemiologist and entomologist Abelardo Moncayo, the Asian Tiger mosquito pictured here is capable of transmitting the Chikungunya virus. And there are many Asian Tiger mosquitoes in Tennessee, very active during daylight hours. "If you're outside having a picnic, he says, "and you're bitten by mosquitoes, that's probably the mosquito that's biting you." Credit: Naturegirl78 via Flickr

Why Timing Is Terrible For Tennessee Arrival Of Chikungunya Virus

June 17, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Tennessee happens to have the kinds of mosquitoes that could transmit the Caribbean virus. And it also happens to be peak season for group mission trips to nations hard-hit by Chikungunya, such as Haiti.

Metro Police think they deserve a larger raise than the 1% proposed by Mayor Karl Dean. Credit: Office of Karl Dean

It Doesn’t Look Like Metro Police Will Get Their 3% Raise

June 17, 2014 at 4:16 am

The Fraternal Order of Police has even been running TV ads to make its case, but the council hasn’t gotten behind the across-the-board salary bump.

Gov. Bill Haslam signs the bill granting instate tuition to U.S. citizens with undocumented parents. He's flanked by Sen. Todd Gardenhire (left) and Majority Leader Gerald McCormick. Credit: TN Photo Services

Immigrant Families Benefiting From New Tennessee Tuition Law: Maybe 0

June 16, 2014 at 4:23 am

Starting this fall, students with undocumented parents will be able to get in-state tuition at Tennessee universities and community colleges. The Republican legislature was commended for making overtures to the immigrant community. But the gesture might have been only symbolic.

In August, Tennessee voters will be asked to retain or replace three Supreme Court justices: Chief Justice Gary Wade, Justice Cornelia Clark and Justice Sharon Lee. The TBA's secret ballot will ask members to rate each with one of four options: (1) highly recommend retention, (2) recommend retention, (3) do not recommend retention or (4) do not have an informed opinion at this time. Credit: TN Photo Services

Unlike Lt. Gov. Ramsey, Lawyers Want To Keep Tennessee Supreme Court Justices

June 13, 2014 at 12:05 pm

The Tennessee Bar Association is all but endorsing three Supreme Court justices sitting for retention elections this year. The group released a poll Friday showing 90 percent of respondents favor keeping the court as it is.

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is an outspoken supporter of charter schools and says the Metro Schools Board of Education should be open to expanding charters. Credit: Office of Mayor Karl Dean

Karl Dean Doesn’t Want Charter Haters On The Nashville School Board

June 13, 2014 at 4:51 am

Nashville’s mayor says he “sort of doubts” he’ll endorse specific candidates running for school board. But he does have criteria for who he wants on the panel – charter school advocates.