published Sunday, December 18th, 2011

Reporter's Notebook

by Cliff Hightower


During Thursday evening's meeting of the Hamilton County Board of Education, district officials honored Ooltewah High School's dance team, the Red Hots.

Board members congratulated the team for several recent national wins and its Nov. 11 TSSAA state championship, which the Red Hots won for their high-kick performance on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.

Board members also were impressed that the team managed to maintain a cumulative grade-point average of 3.68.

When greeting school board members on the dais, Chip Baker noted that each girl looked him in the eye when shaking hands.

"That's a real recipe for success," he said. "Keep doing that all your life."

"Beauty and brains, ladies," Rhonda Thurman added. "It scares men to death."


Superintendent Rick Smith announced the upcoming retirement of Lucile Phillips, the school system's director of federal programs.

Phillips oversees about a dozen staff members to coordinate No Child Left Behind compliance and oversee federal grant programs, such as School Improvement Grants and Title I funding. The department also ensures compliance of federal grants for non-English speakers, homeless students and migrant education.


Hamilton County Assessor of Property Bill Bennett will speak at Wednesday's noon meeting of the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club.

The meeting is scheduled for the DoubleTree Hotel, 407 Chestnut St. A buffet lunch is available for $14.

Bennett, a Cookeville, Tenn., native, won election to the Hamilton County Commission in 1980 and served as commission chairman for three terms.

He was appointed assessor of property in 1994 and won elections in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. He is running for re-election in 2012.

He was named Assessor of the Year in 1996 and served as president of the Tennessee Assessors Association for 1999-2000.


After financial statements were handed out to board members of the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority on Thursday, Executive Director Tom Dugan pointed out that the papers were formatted differently because of a mandated change in accounting regulations.

Board Chairman Steve Jett started to explain that the rules come from the Government Accounting Standards Board, whose acronym is pronounced GAZ-bee.

Then he gave up.

"It's very complicated," Jett said. "When we have a presentation on that, we'll double the strength of the coffee."

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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