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Reeves, Marsh Chamber guests

Legislative update given

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A Chamber Luncheon was held Thursday at the Riverbend Country Club with guest speakers State Rep. Pat Marsh and State Sen. Shane Reeves— both who expressed how proud they are of Bedford County.    

“Bedford County has a lot of good things going on right now―you can just feel it, everywhere you go,” said Marsh.  

Having advocated for a $42.6 billion budget for the region, a lot of funding is being poured into sects like education and economic development. Legislative update Marsh explained the 112th General Assembly’s latest two sessions―one held in late October that dealt with the new Ford Motor plant moving to the Memphis area, and another in early November dealing with the mask and vaccine mandate. They will start back in session Jan. 11, 2021 (the second Tuesday) of the month.     

“We are number one in fiscal stability in the nation,” said Marsh. “We’ve got super low debt...and we’re top three, if not the lowest, tax in the nation.”  

This year, Marsh explained, the state did away with the hall tax (on personal interest from bonds and dividends from stock), state income tax, and gift tax.    

Education  

The new Tennessee College of Applied Technology facility, costing over $40 million, according to Marsh, was one of the top discussion points at the luncheon. “I think this TCAT is a remarkable opportunity,” said Reeves.    

Also in education, Marsh talked about the state’s intent to reconstruct the Basic Education Program formula, which Marsh described as “antiquated, hard to understand.”  

And some $163 million went into raising teacher salaries. “Teachers have had it hard this year, and they deserve it,” said Marsh.    

Local projects  

As for Bedford County, Marsh expressed excitement for the Nearest Green Distillery and its “prime location” on Highway 231. And city projects like the historic town square revamp, new ideas at the Walking Horse National Celebration and at the airport that are part of the area’s plans.    

“Really and truly, five years ago, I’m not sure I knew anybody in this room...But the relationships and the people are what really make the job,” said Sen. Shane Reeves.     

He spoke on two main points.    

COVID-19, according to Reeves, a pharmacist, is “here to stay.” It’s going to be cough, cold, and COVID season.  

Reeves said one in 500 Tennesseans (around 16,800 people) have died from COVID-19 since the onslaught of the virus nearly two years ago.  

The good news? Hospitalizations are down from 13,000 to 676. Daily cases have gone down to 1600 from the highest number which was 11,400. Reeves said he encourages people getting the vaccination. Bedford County is at 38 percent fully vaccinated.    

“It’s a free country. If you want to get it, go get it,” Reeves said. He also emphasized his stance against closing businesses and schools again.   

Reeves also touched on the health of the state, saying that you live longer in 45 other states than you do in Tennessee, which is based on obesity, cancer, and narcotics.   

“It’s all kind of linked. People’s health is tied to education; it’s tied to poverty. You’ve got to make sure people have good jobs, got good education, got good healthcare,” said Reeves.  

Economic development  

Reeves also pointed out the local and state economies. He referenced Economic Director Shane Hooper, who was in attendance. As a state with “pro-business policies” (low taxes, low debt), according to Hooper, auto makers, electric, food manufacturing, and metal fabrication industries are some of the top businesses coming to Tennessee.    

“So, what you want to bring can absolutely change the game of this county,” Reeves said. “Businesses still fall in love with communities. They care about your schools, your parks, your churches...those things do matter.”    

Lacey Deeds said she wants “good conversation” and “just need people to talk.”  

Alzheimer’s Awareness  

Also speaking―and singing―as guest speakers was Fran Gray from Alzheimer’s Tennessee (not associated with the Alzheimer’s Association), who presented Marsh and State Rep. Iris Rudder from Winchester with a certificate of appreciate for supporting the Silver Alert bill.    

Reeves and Marsh also spoke last week to Bedford County Board of Education. See Wednesday’s T-G for story and chamber lunch photos 

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