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Tennessee forward Cierra Burdick has become the 25th student-athlete at UT to be named a Torchbearer, and only the second Tennessee women’s basketball player to receive this honor (the first of whom was Kara Lawson in 2003). Being named Torchbearer is described as the highest student honor given by the University. Burdick is a communications studies major, has a 3.86 GPA, a three-year member of the Southeastern Conference’s Academic Honor Roll, and a two-year member of the SEC Community Service Team. She averaged 11 points and 7.6 rebounds per game this season for the University of Tennessee.
Governor Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer released their three year transportation improvement plan. The plan for 2016 through 2018 features $1.2 billion in spending on infrastructure for 39 projects and 15 statewide programs. Two new projects are scheduled for 2016. The rest of the projects in 2016 were delayed because of federal funding. In 2014 the transportation funding bill expired and a new bill was not passed right away, delaying dozens of projects. TDOT warns funding could be cut again. The current federal transportation funding bill expires May 31, 2015. If a new bill is not passed by Congress TDOT could lose funding for the remaining four months of 2015. “TDOT is continuing its long held ‘pay-as-you-go’ philosophy, and this three-year plan reflects our state’s ongoing commitment to remain debt free on our roads,” Haslam said. “The department’s conservative approach also ensures that projects already under construction won’t be negatively impacted by decisions out of Washington.” The two new projects added in 2016 include completing construction of State Route 66 in Hamblen County and State Route 13 in Montgomery County for improvements related to the future of Hancook Tire Company’s manufacturing facility. Six-hundred eighty million dollars will also go towards resurfacing and bridge repair projects over the next three years. “At this critical juncture in federal transportation funding, TDOT’s priority must be maintaining our existing pavement and bridges rather than new projects,” Schroer said. “We must also prepare for the reality of possible continued delays to the projects in our building program.”
Legislation that would replace the state’s current academic standards is advancing in the state Legislature. This proposal would replace current standards with ones that have been developed solely in Tennessee. Sponsored by Republican Representative Bill Spivey, this proposal would make law a public review process of the standards created by Governor Bill Haslam. The measure was approved on a voice vote in the House Finance Subcommittee on Wednesday, and its companion bill is awaiting vote in the Senate.
A bill that would not require motorcycle riders to wear helmets passed the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday with a 5-4 vote. This same bill failed to pass the same committee only last month. The bill, proposed by Republican Senator Kerry Roberts, would allow motorcycle riders who are at least 21 years old and older to decide whether or not they want to wear a helmet. Robert’s bill now goes to the Senate Finance Committee, and its companion bill is awaiting vote in the House Finance Subcommittee.
The Cumberland County Board of Education approved the change to the student dress code policy with the second and final reading of the change at its March 26th meeting. The policy passed with a 5-4 vote. However, the policy will not be implemented until the next school year. This policy states that the length of skirts, dresses, or shirts may be worn up to 5 inches above the knee with or without leggings. This means students will no longer be able to wear legging so long as that student’s shirt/dress/skirt covers the buttocks. This change in policy came about because so many students were pushing the limits or downright not following the rule, prompting administrators and board members to push for the change.