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The octogenarian on the assembly line: Charles Bowers is celebrating a quarter-century at BTL Industries at the age of 85

By Sarah Colson and Scott Robertson Charles Bowers rises at 3:58 every morning to make it to his manufacturing job by 5 a.m. He works four ten-hour shifts each week and loves his work. The same could be said of all his co-workers. But the difference between Bowers and his colleagues is Charles Bowers is 85 years old. Bowers could teach a master class in work ethic, if there were such a thing, and Greenevill ...

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Career Technical Education: Making a good thing better

By Jeff Keeling By the time some of his peers are receiving their bachelor’s degrees, Ethan Lyle is likely to be earning a pay packet in the mid-five figures – perhaps more if he’s willing to travel. Many of those who took the four-year (or five, or six) route will be starting to think about student loan debt coming due. Lyle may be starting to think about a starter home. I met Lyle late last month in Scien ...

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Sprint closing call center in Blountville Feb. 5 — 444 to lose jobs

By Jeff Keeling Since December, Sprint employees everywhere had known the mobile phone company was planning job cuts in the near future. Today, more than 400 workers at Sprint's Blountville call center learned they would be among the casualties. The center will close Feb. 5, Sprint spokeswoman Roni Singleton said in an emailed statement. Sprint leaders spoke in December of plans to take up to $2.5 billion o ...

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Legislators return to state capitals with shorter business-related agenda

By Scott Robertson The National Federation of Independent Business has a great line about the need for businesses to be well represented when state legislatures start to meet: “You are either at the table, or you are on the menu.” As rhetoric goes, it’s an appeal to fear, so it’s not quite as strong with business owners who are naturally confident, or with those who are already well-represented by their loc ...

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First Tennessee Development District a quiet force in regional economic development

By Scott Robertson Under Director Susan Reid the First Tennessee Development District (FTDD) hasn’t chased headlines. But behind the scenes the organization has been a regional economic development player for years. It’s not unusual for companies to issue press releases and hold ground-breakings or ribbon-cuttings when they make major hires or purchase a new facility. But what’s rarely said in the releases ...

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Alliance for Business and Technology assisting former CSX employees

Pierce’s empathy, experience benefit 300 who were laid off  By Sarah Colson When CSX Transportation announced it would close its Erwin, Tenn., operations, laying off around 300 employees, Kathy Pierce and the Alliance for Business and Technology (AB&T) began working to help those 300 individuals re-enter the workforce. Pierce, AB&T’s executive director, immediately oversaw the opening of a temporary ...

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Northeast State hits 50: Anniversary celebration to begin January 11

By Thomas Wilson   A U.S. education act long ago breathed life into Northeast State. The simple charge: provide “education for persons of substantially varying needs.” Through the years, there have been name changes, five presidents, several new buildings, and a thousand other transformations. But Northeast State has always lived up to that original mission of serving individuals with diverse needs. Wh ...

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Area farmer Aiken elected Tennessee Farm Bureau president

By Jeff Keeling Jeff Aiken stood outside a barn at his Bowmantown farm in the crisp December air, one of his most crucial tools in hand. Unlike many of the important implements in his agricultural career to date, this one won’t show its usefulness through a weathered combination of grease, dirt and feed. In fact, exposure to any of those ubiquitous elements of farm life would spell big trouble for Aiken’s s ...

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When it comes to health care reform, we’re all frogs – and scorpions

By Jeff Keeling A recent news release from a lobbying group for health insurance companies regarding the proposed Mountain States Health Alliance-Wellmont Health System merger brought to my mind the fable of the frog and the scorpion. In the story, a scorpion and a frog encounter each other on a stream bank. The scorpion asks the frog to carry him across the stream on his back, since he can’t swim. The frog ...

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