Rep. Watson: Moving Tennessee Forward

Thursday, October 17, 2013 - by Rep. Eric Watson

I was honored to join my colleagues in Nashville, along with officials from the Department of Safety & Homeland Security, and the Department of Veterans Affairs during September to announce the addition of a new veterans designation for Tennessee drivers licenses. 

Many of the citizens of my district are veterans and to publicly recognize those that gave so much for our state and country is humbling.  The new driver’s license designation is offered to any honorably discharged service member who presents a certified copy of their discharge papers, or DD-214, to any of the driver service center facilities located across Tennessee.  The primary purpose of the license designation is to allow the state to publicly recognize veterans for their time in service. The new license also serves as proof of veteran status for those who do not carry copies of their DD-214 papers with them on a regular basis.

For more information about this new program which is now being offered statewide, visit http://www.tn.gov/safety/ or call the Department of Safety and Homeland Security at 615.251-5166.

I joined Governor Bill Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell to help launch Tennessee’s new “Drive to 55” education initiative.  This program aims to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with a college degree or certificate to 55 percent by the year 2025.  We focus so much on the future of Tennessee with our attention on the children.  Now, we can bring an added emphasis to the adults as we encourage those to return to school for their secondary education. Currently, only 32 percent of the state has a degree or certificate.

The initiative will work hand-in-hand with the recent launch of Western Governors University Tennessee, an online school which seeks to expand access to higher education for all Tennesseans. Differing from most brick-and-mortar institutions, WGU Tennessee uses an innovative learning model called competency-based education. Instead of earning a degree based on credit hours or time spent in class, students must demonstrate their knowledge of required subject matter through rigorous testing procedures. 

This new program will help both traditional college students achieve success while also aiding those who now wish to go back to school to finish their degrees. As the state continues to move into the 21st Century, Republicans believe having these new opportunities available will help ensure Tennessee students are being prepared for the high-skilled and high-wage jobs of the future.

Other than law enforcement, one of the key areas that has been a priority for me is to bring more business to our state.  I was thrilled when Forbes magazine released their 2013 “Best States For Business” and Tennessee is now number 15, as compared to number 24 just last year.  Our pro-business and AAA rating from Moody’s Bond Agency, which is a major sign that proves our state’s fiscal environment and why our state is a leader were both major factors in the substantial change.

I would like to congratulate Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce on his recent election win as president of the Tennessee Economic Development Council Board.

Where Has All Our Road Money Gone?

I travel four roads almost daily:  Dodds Avenue, Dayton Boulevard, Third Street and Northpoint Boulevard.  Why these roads cannot be repaired I will never know. I know, part of Northpoint is privately owned, by not the most. Just about everywhere you go the streets are in terrible shape. We need to get this resolved.  Joan Smith Chattanooga (click for more)

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to  news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

2 People Shot And Killed On 12th Street After 1 Car Chases Another; 1 Vehicle Crashes Near Willow Street

Two people were shot and killed in the 2100 block of E. 12th Street on Friday night in an incident in which one vehicle was chasing another. One of the vehicles crashed, landing on another car near Willow Street. Two people in the car that wrecked were dead when officers arrived. Police said the incident happened around 8:15 p.m. Police are looking for suspects in the ... (click for more)

School Board Approves 4-Year Contract Extension With Independent Bus Drivers, Who Say They Can Handle 100 Routes; Extension Given On Custodial Contract

The county school board on Thursday night extended the contract by four years of school bus owner operators, who said they could deliver on 100 bus routes. The board delayed until a special meeting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Central High School the issue of whether to accept the offer of 100 contract routes. That would be handled by many of the current 49 owner operators taking ... (click for more)

Bradley Girls, Cleveland Boys Post Big 5-3A Wins

(Story will be updated) CLEVELAND, Tenn. – At this juncture in the District 5-3A basketball title chase, the No. 1 question is can anyone slow down the Bradley Central girls and Cleveland boys. About 3,000 fans packed Raider Arena on Friday night and they probably left strongly feeling like the No. 1 Bearettes and No. 3 Blue Raiders are fairly entrenched atop the league ... (click for more)

Mocs Basketball Hosts Samford Saturday

The Chattanooga Mocs return home after a week off to host Samford Saturday at 5 p.m. The game is the second half of a doubleheader with the ladies facing UNCG at 2 p.m. It is also Military Appreciation Day with free general admission seats for all veterans and active service members and immediate families.   It’s a meeting featuring two of the top teams in the early Southern ... (click for more)