A Covenant Transport truck drives along I-24 over Cummings Highway in this file photo.Photo by Gillian Bolsover
Covenant offers driver bonuses
Covenant Transport launched a precedent-setting incentive package last week to encourage its owner-operator drivers to keep driving under the Covenant banner.
The Chattanooga-based trucking giant is offering an extra $10,000 per year in bonuses to drivers who own their trucks and carry at least 35 loads every three months of hazardous materials. Covenant officials said paying quarterly incentives of $2,500 to haz-mat drivers who stick with Covenant will help drivers pay some of the rising costs of their trucks and maintenance.
"Our company has decided that owner-operators shouldn't be in it all alone when it comes to paying to replace their tractors," Covenant Vice President John Arthur Daniel said. "The $80,000 truck expenditure from just a few years ago has suddenly turned into a $120,000 expenditure [from new regulations and equipment standards] and that hits owner-operators hard."
Covenant has more than doubled its owner-operator fleet over the past couple of years and wants to expand the number of such drivers from 130 today to 400 by the end of 2014.
The trucking industry has cuts its annual driver turnover from a high of 137 percent in 2005 to about 88 percent today. But that still leaves nearly every driver job needing to be replaced every year.
"These incentives set us apart in the industry and we believe will be a big driver in this growth," said Robert Pierson, vice president of capacity development at Covenant.
About 72 percent of Covenant's trucks are licensed for hazardous materials, which include everything from hair spray to batteries, Pierson said.
Family Dollar has critics smoking
A group of antitobacco activists is protesting Family Dollar's recent decision to start selling cigarettes, saying the stores will push more cigarettes on low-income consumers, who already smoke more than average.
Family Dollar responded that its decision was driven by customer demand.
"We're not in the business of judging our customers for their purchases," said Family Dollar spokesman Joshua Braverman. "It's just another category where we add the convenience for them."
Family Dollar has been bulking up its selection of food and drinks. The rationale is similar with tobacco: Executives hope to spur more frequent trips, and allow customers to cross off more of their shopping list at Family Dollar.
But in a letter to Family Dollar CEO Howard Levine, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Break Free Alliance said the increased availability of tobacco at Family Dollar's 7,100 stores will add to customers' health problems.
"Selling tobacco to your customers will make it easier for them to become addicted or sustain an existing addiction," said the letter, co-signed by the groups' directors.
The groups said about 26.9 percent of low-income adults smoke, compared to 19.3 percent of the total adult population.
Alexander praises Oak Ridge funds
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander may want to limit federal spending and deficits, but the Tennessee Republican said he was pleased last week with extra money for projects in Oak Ridge.
The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill approved by a Senate committee for the next fiscal year would provide $340 million to more than double funding for the construction of the Uranium Processing Facility in Oak Ridge. The proposed measure also will provide $25 million to begin addressing mercury contamination at the Y-12 National Security Complex and $94 million for a supercomputer upgrade at Oak Ridge National Lab, Alexander said.
"Even while we are reducing overall spending in this bill, the committee's support for these projects demonstrates they are priorities for our entire nation," Alexander said in a statement. "Oak Ridge could again be home to the most powerful computer in the world, the Uranium Processing Facility will safely house all future uranium production operations for the nation's nuclear weapons."
The U.S. Senate must still approve the budget proposal and the funding measure will have to be reconciled with another version from the U.S. House of Representatives.
TVA opens 2 visitor centers
The Tennessee Valley Authority opened visitor centers for the season Saturday at its Fontana Dam in North Carolina and Norris Dam in Norris, Tenn.
TVA also operates a similar center at its Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Plant near Chattanooga, which is open year round.
The centers provide maps, videos and written information about TVA history and the construction of each particular site and are staffed by volunteer TVA retirees.
Raccoon Mountain Pumped Storage Plant near Chattanooga is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and is located off Raccoon Mountain Road, which is accessible from U.S. Highway 41/64. Recent improvements include new displays and videos depicting the history of TVA and the construction of the pumped storage facility in the 1970s.
"The drive up the mountain gives visitors the opportunity to see abundant wildlife. And once at the center at the top of the mountain, the overlook offers a spectacular view of the narrow gorge below and the river just before it winds into downtown Chattanooga," Laura Smith, manager of the visitor centers, said in a statement.
Fontana Visitor Center, located off N.C. Highway 28 near the Tennessee border, is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until Oct. 28. The center is also a stop on the Appalachian Trail with a shelter, showers and public restrooms.
The Norris Dam Visitor Center is off Interstate 75, Exit 122 north of Knoxville. The center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday through Nov. 30. The visitor center overlooks the powerhouse, Norris Reservoir and a marina.
Ramsey leads reform office
Christopher L. Ramsey has been chosen as director of the Office of Health Care Reform for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.
In this new role, Ramsey will lead efforts of BlueCross to adapt business practices to comply with the federal health care reform law passed in 2010. Ramsey most recently served as BlueCross' director of vendor and pharmacy contracting.
"Chris has the talent, experience and energy to take on this important role and succeed," said Calvin Anderson, senior vice president of corporate affairs.
Ramsey started at BlueCross in 1991. He has earned a master's in business administration from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Austin Peay State University.
Hutton office adds staffers
Chattanooga-based Hutton Construction Inc. has named Christine Manis as an assistant estimator.
Also, Jerry Porter and Daniel Bowen have joined Hutton Co.'s financial services team.
Manis is working on her degree in civil engineering and construction management at Chattanooga State Community College. She holds licenses in residential and commercial appraisal, real estate affiliate broker and is a specialist in lead paint inspection and remediation, asbestos abatement, soil and water sampling, hydro-blasting and vacuum services, trenching, excavating and soil mechanics and forklift safety.
Porter graduated from Carson Newman College with a bachelor of science in business administration.
Bowen has a bachelor of science in business administration from Bryan College.
Bankers graduate credit school
Thirty-four Tennessee bankers recently completed requirements for graduation from the 2012 session of the Southeastern School of Consumer Credit, an intensive one-week school that exposes students to the major issues consumer credit managers face on a daily basis.
The graduates in Southeast Tennessee included Tammy Manier, Bank of Putnam County, Cookeville; Jeremy Jones, Community Bank of the Cumberlands, Cookeville; Jenny Wilson, Putnam 1st Mercantile Bank, Cookeville; Josh Roddy, Community National Bank, Dayton; Chasity Smith, First Bank of Tennessee, Dayton; Jenny Tart, First Bank of Tennessee, Dayton; Casey Jackson, Franklin County United Bank, Decherd; Erin Barrick, Citizens Tri-County Bank, Dunlap; Jennifer Fults, Mountain Valley Bank, Dunlap; Patricia Morris, Citizens State Bank, Jasper; Chrystal Bohannan, The First National Bank of Manchester, Manchester; Amy Jones, The First National Bank of Manchester; Matt Rains, Security Federal Savings Bank of McMinnville; Melinda Vaughn, Citizens Tri-County Bank, Soddy Daisy; and Alex Reed, First Bank of Tennessee, Spring City.
Henderson earns CDPE certification
Crye-Leike Chattanooga Realtor Rachael Henderson has earned the certified distressed property expert real estate designation to help people who are falling behind on their mortgage payments.
"I make it a priority in my business to be always learning," she said.
Real estate professionals with the CDPE designation have a specific understanding of the complex issues and hardships homeowners are facing in today's market and have completed extensive training in foreclosure avoidance and short sales.
She is a licensed Realtor in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.
Invista wins Pinnacle award
Polymer and fiber manufacturer Invista received Delphi's Pinnacle Award for Supplier Excellence. The award recognizes suppliers that met or exceeded a series of requirements, such as zero major supply disruptions or repeat issues, a high 12-month average quality score and supplier status for at least three years.
Invista's engineering polymers business in Chattanooga supplies Delphi with nylon resin for automotive and electronic applications. This is the first Pinnacle Award for Invista.
"Our team in Chattanooga works tirelessly to create value for customers and society as a whole," said Stephen French, Invista's Chattanooga site manager.
Delphi recognized 26 suppliers from 13 countries with its annual Pinnacle Award for Supplier Excellence.
Scott joins FSGBank
FSGBank has named Debbie B. Scott to its private banking team.
She began her banking career 31 years ago with Union Planters Bank in Chattanooga.
For the past 16 years, she worked at SunTrust Bank as a client adviser in the private wealth department. She is a Chattanooga native and graduate of Mid-South School of Banking.
Dockery named outreach manager
Emily Dockery has been named exchange outreach manager for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.
In her new role, Dockery is responsible for the day-to-day planning, development and implementation of communications and outreach efforts to key stakeholders for BlueCross about the health insurance exchange for Tennessee. Beginning in 2014, the exchange will allow individuals to compare health insurance options and purchase coverage online.
Dockery began her career at BlueCross in 2005 as the senior writer for BlueCross' corporate communications department.
"Emily brings years of diverse experience in communications and health care to this position," said Roy Vaughn, vice president of corporate communications.
Extendlife earns Commerce award
For the second consecutive year, Extendlife Training Systems has received from the U.S. Commerce Association's the Best of Chattanooga Award in the category of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first-aid training.
"Our company is celebrating its 23rd anniversary and is gratified to win this coveted recognition," said Vantha Carter, CEO of the locally owned business.
The award program recognizes outstanding local businesses.
CodeScience opens office
CodeScience Inc. has opened its office headquarters at 100 Cherokee Blvd., Suite 320, in Chattanooga.
Co-founded by Tim Youngblood, of Chattanooga, and Mike Witherspoon, of San Francisco, the company has been incorporated since 2010 and has developers and project managers in Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Knoxville. In January, the company moved its headquarters to Chattanooga.
CodeScience is a business process automation consulting firm.