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Weather blamed for hayfield fire

Recent dry weather led to a Rogersville farmer losing a valuable piece of equipment and hay bales, as well.

According to Hawkins County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey Walker, the property fire on West Bear Hollow Road occurred about 3 p.m. on May 26. Chuck Mayes told Walker he was baling hay for his father, Glenn Mayes, who is the property owner. He said the bearings got hot in his hay baler and caught on fire. He said the fire immediately spread and soon most of the hay field in flames, due to the dry, windy weather.

By the time Walker arrived, he said, the hay baler was completely engulfed in flames.

Fire departments from Stanley Valley, Carters Valley and Persia coordinated extinguishing what Walker described as a “vast property fire.”

Mayes reported the loss of a $20,000 hay baler and an undetermined number of round bales.

ABB's Rogersville plant receives state safety award

ABB’s Rogersville plant may need to create more room on its trophy shelf.

The plant recently received the Commissioner’s Award for Safety Excellence from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. To qualify for the award, an establishment must compile the number of man-hours without a lost work-day incident that is at least 10 percent below the national average for work-day incidents. The total case incident rate is based on federal industry-specific figures.

Tom Carpenter is the plant manager.

“We have a strong safety culture here at ABB and we all work together to make sure one another in our work family go home the way we came in,” Carpenter said.

The plant serves several industries including agriculture, food and beverage, air handling, unit handling, transportation, textile, forest products and aggregates.

The facility opened in 1971 and manufactures Dodge mounted ball bearings, as well as plain and spherical bearings. These products are made of cast iron housings containing steel bearings and races which contain a friction-reducing material such as grease. The bulk of the work performed at the Rogersville facility is machining, heat-treating, grinding, and assembly of steel anti-friction bearing components.

The award honors employers and employees who work hard to maintain a safe work environment.

“No job is so important and no service so urgent that we cannot take the time to perform our work safely,” said David Glover, plant safety manager.

The plant has won the Governor’s or Commissioner’s award six times.

Tennesseans continue to return to work

NASHVILLE – Tennesseans continued returning to the workforce in counties across the state in April. According to newly released data from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, nearly all counties experienced a decrease in unemployment during the month. In year-to-year comparisons, each county showed a remarkable recovery from pandemic-era unemployment rates one year ago.

The department reported 87 counties saw lower unemployment rates in April when compared to the previous month. The rates remained the same in two counties, while six counties did experience higher unemployment.

Seventy of the state’s 95 counties now have rates less than 5 percent. Unemployment is 5 percent or greater in the remaining 25 counties.

Hawkins County reported 281 new claims for the week ending May 29, while Grainger County had 11, Greene County had 71, Hamblen County had 41, Hancock County had 5 and Sullivan County had 138.

At 2.8 percent, Williamson and Moore counties recorded the state’s lowest unemployment for the month. Williamson’s rate is down 0.5 of a percentage point from March and 7.9 percentage points from April 2020, during the height of business closures due to the pandemic. Moore County’s rate is down 0.9 of a percentage point from March and 9.8 percentage points from its rate one year ago.

The state paid a total of 113,807 claims for the week ending May 29.

At-home book series now available

NASHVILLE —This week, the Tennessee Department of Education announced the free At-Home Decodable Book Series is now available to Tennessee families of kindergarten, first-, and second-grade children to help the youngest learners become stronger readers. This launch is part of the family component of the state’s Reading 360 initiative to help boost strong reading skills among Tennessee students.

Designed for Tennessee children in grades K-2, in partnership with Tennessee teachers and state-adopted instructional materials from the State Board of Education approved list, each free pack has seven decodable booklets which contain 20+ exciting stories full of sounds and words to help practice phonics and develop strong reading skills.

Tennessee families can order one booklet pack for each of their kindergarten, first- and second-grade students by going to https://decodablerequests.powerappsportals.com/decodable-requests/.

“Reading and strong literacy skills open doors of opportunity for children throughout their education and well after they graduate. Tennessee has deeply invested in literacy to help strengthen and extend the learning that happens in classrooms every day,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “From teachers to school and district personnel, state officials to elected leaders, and most importantly, parents and families — everyone can play a role in helping our youngest learners become strong readers. As a parent, I hope all Tennessee families will order the free At-Home Decodable Book series to support their children in learning and reading together.”

A decodable is a book or story carefully sequenced to include letter sounds and words familiar to readers that allow them to practice important phonics and decoding skills at their grade level.

As part of Reading 360, the At-Home Decodable Book Series was intentionally designed to practice important grade-level sounds and provide adult readers with guidance on how to focus on sounds when reading aloud with their child.

“Family support for early reading is crucial to student success and I am so excited that families will be able to get free decodables to read with their children at home,” said Kristy Brown, director of schools, Jackson County Schools. “This is a great resource that will support strong literacy skills for students in Jackson County and throughout the state.”

Teachers can also utilize these resources to help families extend learning that takes place in the classroom.

“Helping families have access to decodable booklets, which are filled with engaging stories full of sounds and words to practice, will enable them to support their children, who are hungry to read independently at home as they continue to build upon the foundational skills they have acquired in the classroom,” said Hannah Cunningham and Brandy Puckett, first-grade teachers at Indian Springs Elementary School, Sullivan County Schools. “There is nothing better than seeing the delight and self-confidence students exhibit when they successfully transition to reading stories on their own. As we know, early literacy leads to future success!”

For family ordering: Families seeking to order booklet packs for their kindergarten, first- or second-grade students can do so at https://decodablerequests.powerappsportals.com/decodable-requests/. Booklets will be delivered to the mailing address provided. In addition to the order form, a step-by-step ordering guide, FAQs and additional information can be found online at www.tn.gov/education/decodables.

For teachers: Kindergarten, first-, and second- grade teachers participating this summer in the Reading360 Early Literacy Training program will receive At-Home Decodable Reading Series booklet packs for their K-2nd grade classrooms for free. If you are a teacher who will not complete the training, please contact TN.decodables@tn.gov to learn more about how to help your students access these free resources.

Tennessee families and teachers are encouraged to share fun and exciting reading moments using these and other reading resources on social media. Join in by using the hashtags #TNDecodables, #Reading360 or #ReadTogetherTN.

Reading 360 is a comprehensive statewide literacy initiative to provide optional grants and resources to help more Tennessee students develop strong phonics-based reading skills by supporting districts, teachers, and families. Components of the Reading 360 initiative including the At-Home Decodable Book series are funded with federal COVID-19 relief and stimulus funding.

To access additional resources on Reading 360, go to https://www.tn.gov/education/top-links/reading-360.html.

Ebbing and Flowing

Ebbing and Flowing Spring UMC will hold its annual ‘Singing on the Lawn’ on June 27.

Clinch teachers chosen to participate in state training

Clinch High School teachers Brittney Rhoton and Misty Williams were selected to participate in the 2021 TSIN MEEP program. They were two of 150 applicants from TN K-12 educators and two of 50 who were selected to participate.

The Tennessee Stem Innovation Network, in partnership with the Office of Naval Research, created the Manufacturing and Engineering Externship Program (MEEP) to help close a growing skills gap in manufacturing and engineering fields. The program offers K-12 Tennessee educators with the opportunity to participate in training and externship experiences with local manufacturing and engineering partners. Teachers who participate will complete four days of training, participate in one or two-day externship placements, will develop a project-based learning curricular unit, and will participate in a wrap up training in Nashville during the winter of 2021.

Clinch K-12 School in Hawkins County is known locally and across the state as the smallest K-12 school in Tennessee, but big news comes out of Clinch K-12 School on a regular basis, including when the TSIN MEEP candidates were announced. Brittney Rhoton and Misty Williams, both Clinch High School teachers, were selected as two of 150 teachers who applied, and 2 of only 50 who were selected to participate. Both Rhoton and Williams are veteran teachers of Clinch High School. Brittney Rhoton teaches biology, chemistry, physical science, anatomy & physiology, foundations of technology, advanced design, probability & statistics and also serves or has served as Teacher Leader, Title I Coordinator, STEM LD Liaison, CER Biology Committee, Rural STEM Cohort member. Misty Williams teaches 9th-grade world history, 11th-grade U.S. history, 12th-grade government and economics, 9th-12th grade teaching as a profession, and 9th-12th grade intervention and enrichment and also serves or has served as the 8th-grade social studies teacher, 9th-12th grade computer teacher, instructional technology leader, Webpage designer, media liaison, Title I oordinator, CER History Committee Member, and mentor teacher. Additionally, Rhoton and Williams are both currently pursuing doctor of education degrees from Carson Newman University.

On being selected to participate, Rhoton said, “The MEEP program provides a very exciting opportunity for teachers to learn firsthand the expectations of our students once they enter the workforce. I look forward to using this experience to better prepare my students for success upon graduation.”

Williams said, “It is an honor to be selected for the MEEP program. This experience will assist in our effort to provide exposure to industry skills and career opportunities for the students at Clinch School. It will significantly contribute to our commitment of closing the science, technology, engineering, and math skills gap for our students in order to prepare them for becoming effective members of an advanced workforce.”

Thomas Floyd, Hawkins County Schools Secondary Supervisor, expressed his excitement for the opportunity Rhoton and Williams have earned to participate in the MEEP program. Mr. Floyd remarked, “We are extremely proud of Clinch School, Mrs. Rhoton, and Mrs. Williams. Their efforts will expand opportunities and enhance the educational experiences for their students, better preparing them for their future.”

Director of Schools Matt Hixson added, “I am proud of these two teachers who have demonstrated a willingness to go above and beyond to support HCS and Clinch students. Their willingness to stay current on their training, adapt to meet student needs, and their unwavering support for our students is evidenced by their selection into this grant. Congratulations to Brittney and Misty for their selection for MEEP. We look forward to seeing what they learn and experience translate to additional opportunities for students in the near future.”

Several members of the TWRA Public Land Duck Hunting Team were on hand to accept the Ged Petit Award. The presentation was made by the Tennessee Wildlife Federation at the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission’s May meeting in Union City.