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Viewpoint: Crossville council putting city in bad light

Liz Engel Clark
Tuesday, Apr 1, 2014

So, how about the city of Crossville?

Whether it’s the council’s infinite indecisiveness over ongoing downtown revitalization efforts, its recent limboing over a northwest connector road development project that could result in Cookeville’s equivalent to Restaurant Row, or bickering over failed grand jury indictments over fraud allegations, things sure aren’t looking up in the eastern UC. And since I slammed Sparta for bickering back in 2011 – when that city’s board of aldermen and chamber failed to get along – I felt it only fair to air some thoughts on what’s happening in Cumberland County as of late.

Disclaimer: I have nev... click here to read more

VIEWPOINT: Airing those Obamacare pet peeves

Liz Engel Clark
Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014

As a reporter, I’m used to having difficult conversations. From being interrogated by the common receptionist to straight up hang ups, no shows and missed call backs, it’s something I am – now more than seven years into my career – accustomed to. It really no longer bothers me. But I can’t quite remember the last time I’ve had such difficulty obtaining sources for a story. When it comes to the issue of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise lovingly referred to as Obamacare, no one (OK, I’m being a little dramatic here, but really it was very, very few) wanted to talk. A number of business- minded people simply ignored requests or, when I did mi... click here to read more

How well is your retirement plan protected?

Andrea V. Burckhard and Tammie Ragsdale
Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014

Planning for retirement is probably a top priority for you. Do you know how much money you need to retire? Are you concerned that you may outlive your money? Are you concerned about the burden a chronic health care need could have on your family and finances? Your retirement is the dream for you and your family’s future. Proper planning and protection of that dream are crucial to help make it a reality.

Preserve you and your family’s choices

Long-term care insurance can help protect and preserve your income and assets you have worked so hard to accumulate and give you the ability to spend money for care. ... click here to read more

On appeal: Can employer require truck driver to remain alcohol-free?

Jeff Jones
Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) greatly expands the definition of those considered disabled, and thus the requirement to provide reasonable accommodations. However, a recent case from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals demonstrates that the ADAAA may give employers broad rights in rehabilitating alcohol and drug- dependent employees. Specifically, the Third Circuit upheld an employer’s decision to require an alcoholic driver to remain drug and alcohol free as a condition of returning to work. Ostrowski v. Con-Way Freight Inc., No. 12-3800, 2013 WL 5814131 (3d Cir. 2013).

In this case, the plaintiff was employed as a driver sales representat... click here to read more

Viewpoint: Missing the boat on the World Wide Web

Liz Engel Clark
Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014

I can hardly believe it. It just doesn’t seem real. How can a business in this so-called digital age skirt by doing its day- to-day whatevers without a website?

Seriously, folks, it’s 2014.

When I research companies or industries, personally and/or professionally, for stories or in my own customer-driven interests, it’s the first place I look, online. I’m just curious like that. Scores of potential customers – and I’m going out on a real limb here – likely do the same. If you’re looking for a more concrete number, it’s more like 195 million consumers who are online. And you know what turns away my business faster? Not h... click here to read more

LEGAL: TN workers’ comp reform promises many employer-friendly changes

Jeff Jones
Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014

In 2013, the Tennessee General Assembly enacted major workers’ compensation changes initiated by Gov. Bill Haslam and supported by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The act, which is titled the “Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Reform Act of 2013,” was signed with the goal of making Tennessee more employer-friendly and more attractive for new business. In order to achieve these goals, the act aims to bring about shorter periods to resolve conflicts, quicker return-to-work for injured workers, more assistance for injured workers, more consistency in results,and fewer obstacles to medical care. The ... click here to read more

LEGAL: Weighing in on minimum wage and overtime changes for home care workers

Jeff Jones
Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division announced a final rule Sept. 16 extending the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime protections to most of the nation’s direct care workers who provide essential home care assistance to elderly people and people with illnesses, injuries, or disabilities. This change, effective Jan. 1, 2015, ensures that nearly two million workers – such as home health aides, personal care aides, and certified nursing assistants – will have the same basic protections already provided to most U.S. workers. It will help ensure that individuals and families who rely on the assistance of direct care workers have acc... click here to read more

Cookeville’s richness defies poorness rating

Jeff Dunn
Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013

In October, news came out that Cookeville was one of the poorest cities in America. That gem came from Credit.com after doing an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Cookeville City Manager Jim Shipley deftly handled the news by pointing out the shortfalls in the reporting, notably that the analysis didn’t consider cost of living.Cookeville and the region have many attributes that infuse richness into our community beyond a simple number.But that story sits on the Internet without context for all to see. It’s a speck of information based on sloppy analysis that presents an inaccurate portrayal.I’ve never heard of ... click here to read more

Viewpoint: Health care marketplace a marred experience

Liz Engel Clark
Wednesday, Nov 6, 2013

I logged in on a Wednesday, just your typical, run-of-the-mill cool-weathered fall day, a hair before the lunchtime strike. I entered my full legal name, email address (several times, actually), I picked a password and struggled to come up with easy-to- remember responses to the impossible- to-answer security questions. My identity was verified (thank heavens for that). More personal information was entered. And just like that, I was in. Welcome to the lauded land of the health insurance marketplace. So this was the fabled exchange.

It was a decently attractive site. But for some odd reason, I was expecting faux grocery store-like aisles, lined with binder-sized boxes, kind of lik... click here to read more

How an audiologist can lend an ear to help hearing loss

Lisa Davidson, Reed Norwood
Wednesday, Nov 6, 2013

In today’s world of health care, most of the body’s organs or systems have specialists, both medically and non-medically trained, who evaluate and treat or manage disorders of those organs or systems. For example, vision problems are evaluated and treated by optometrists, who are non-medical degreed specialists, while medical and/or surgical treatment of the eye is performed by ophthalmologists, who are M.D.’s and surgeons. Likewise, hearing and balance problems are evaluated and treated by audiologists who are non-medical degreed specialists, while otolaryngologists (ENT’s) are trained in the medical and surgical treatment of the ear.

Audiology is a relati... click here to read more

Non-profits as important to community as small businesses

Jeff Dunn
Thursday, Oct 3, 2013

We all know that small local business is a vital part of any community, particularly ours, with jobs and economic impact. But our value extends beyond the economic. We get involved in the community through volunteer work and financial support to non-profit organizations. Studies have shown that locally owned businesses provide greater support to non- profits than chain or non-locally owned businesses. Not only must we do all we can to ensure small local business survives and thrives, we also must ensure that our local non-profits do the same.

Though non-profits aren’t businesses in the traditional sense, they provide a tremendously important economic and social function in ... click here to read more

LEGAL: Obama administration postpones ACA requirements until after elections

Jeff Jones
Thursday, Oct 3, 2013

On July 2, in a Treasury Department blog post, the Obama administration announced it will postpone the effective date of several requirements imposed on employers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On July 9, the IRS issued “Notice 2013-45,” which provides some guidance on the transition relief for 2014 regarding information reporting and employer shared responsibility of the ACA and indicates proposed rules are expected to be published later this summer.

The blog post indicates that large employers (those with 50 or more employees) will not be subject to the employer shared responsibility payments until 2015.... click here to read more

Outsourcing bookkeeping saves time, money and headaches

Tom Rossi
Thursday, Sep 5, 2013

Not too long ago, an office employee was concerned about losing her job when her employer decided to outsource the bookkeeping operations.But she didn’t. Instead, quite the opposite happened as she was freed up to be more productive in her role, and she now helps her employer with marketing and taking on special projects making her much more valuable in the employer’s eyes.She still works with the bookkeeping, even making entries on occasion, but instead of spending hours each week working on the books, she is now only spending minutes each day reviewing and approving transactions.She now finds her job more rewarding as she is more involved in ... click here to read more

LEGAL: Get ready for new HazComm deadline: Dec. 1

Jeff Jones
Thursday, Sep 5, 2013

By Dec. 1, U.S. employers must be ready to comply with new hazard communications (“HazComm”) standards. The new rules bring the United States into alignment with other countries that have signed onto the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System (GHS) of classification and labeling of chemicals. They replace and expand upon OSHA’s current hazard communication standard, first adopted in 1983, that required employers to alert workers to potentially dangerous chemicals and other substances to which they could be exposed in the workplace.The new GHS still requires chemical manufacturers and importers to evaluate the chemicals they produce, import or use, and ... click here to read more

Viewpoint: Happy 100th and counting

Liz Engel Clark
Wednesday, Jul 10, 2013

Every now and then comes a time that’s worth celebrating.Instead of airing my opinion about flea markets, sustainability or the crapshoot that’s customer service these days, I’d like to toot our own horn as my “viewpoint” this month. Mostly because it’s been a busy month here at the Upper Cumberland Business Journal – and if you’re holding our latest edition in hand, you’ll know why. We’re celebrating an exciting milestone this July - ... click here to read more

An owner’s perspective: Is the Internet all it’s cracked up to be?

Jeff Dunn
Wednesday, Jul 10, 2013

It may be an understatement to say the Internet has had a tremendous impact on the way our lives operate. We surf the web for news and information, Facebook with friends and family, Twitter and so much more.But we also shop on the web – a lot. And brick and mortar businesses have felt the impact. Many have suffered as a result.It’s not just big business that has felt the pinch. Small local businesses have struggled as large portions of business disappeared into the Internet with buyers seeking cheaper prices. The National Retail Federation has projected that sales online will grow to $250 billion next year, ... click here to read more

LEGAL: Important deadline looming for PPACA’s ‘Notice of Coverage Options’

Jeff Jones
Friday, Jun 28, 2013

Employers must provide notice to employees by Oct. 1 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires all employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide all employees with a “Notice of Coverage Options.” The due date for the notice was originally March 1, but shortly before that date the Department of Labor (DOL) deferred the requirement until further notice. This month the DOL announced that employers must provide the notice to current employees by Oct. 1. Employees hired after Oct. 1 must receive a notice within 14 days of their start date.

The “Notice of Coverage Options” is intended to inform employees about... click here to read more

Viewpoint: Where, oh where, can good customer service be?

Liz Engel Clark
Thursday, Jun 6, 2013

Is it just me, or has customer service gone by the wayside?At the risk of sounding like I’m on a soapbox, I’d like to air my most recent grievances in regard to that thought, if for no other reason than as an outlet to vent. Because I really, really need to vent.But, maybe this column can serve another purpose, too. To put businesses on notice and remind them that customer service is still a crucial lifeblood to ensuring their success. I’ll be happy if my egregious experiences can be a learning experience for anyone, let alone myself.So here’s the situation: To date, there are three companies on my thou-shall-do-no-business-with lis... click here to read more

Editorial: Come on government, help businesses succeed!

Jay Albrecht
Thursday, Jun 6, 2013

Well, I’ve done it! I’ve gone and opened a new business in partnership with my wife, Seanaree – a restaurant, nonetheless, in Cookeville’s historic West Side district called Seven Senses Food & Cheer. Yes, call me crazy now – I’ve heard it many times already!Talk about the ultimate business lesson, this has been it! From financing the deal down to the codes requirements involved with actually opening a “place of assembly,” it’s been one heck of a ride. I believe our running the place day in and day out may end up being the easy part compared to all the rest.On one... click here to read more

Legal: What to know when working away from work

Jeff Jones
Thursday, Jun 6, 2013

Although it may be a boon to productivity, working away from “work” creates multiple issues. In addition to eliminating the line between employees’ personal and professional lives, there are other hazards. First, employers may be liable for accidents that happen to employees away from the office. Likewise, employers may be liable for accidents caused by employees away from the office. Finally, in some cases employers may need to consider telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation for disabled employees unable to work in the office.On-the-job injuries away from “work”Whether in a hig... click here to read more

Financial tips: Building a plan for your financial future

Bill Scruggs
Thursday, Jun 6, 2013

An investment program should be built like a pyramid – with a strong foundation. The bottom of the pyramid is comprised of low-risk investments (CD’s, treasury bills), the mid-portion is composed of growth investments and the top is speculative investments, like penny stocks, options and commodities.What is designing and managing an investment portfolio?Designing and managing an investment portfolio refers to a step-by-step process that helps you to pursue your investment objectives. This involves spreading investments over a variety of asset categories, such as stocks, mutual funds, cash or cash alternative investme... click here to read more

Pro Perspective: Investing in termite control

Randy Adcock
Thursday, Jun 6, 2013

Mention “termites” and the first thought in someone’s mind likely will be of a menacing pest that can destroy a home.Since termites have been on the Earth for millions of years, it appears they do in fact serve a purpose in the ecosystem beyond turning a wood structure to dust.The U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute has researched the termite’s ability to process wood as part of looking into better ways of producing biofuel. Apparently, the termite is quite an efficient machine at decomposing wood, and researchers have been looking at a particular termite enzyme that could be replicated. Termites also help keep soil fertile by recy... click here to read more

CRMC: Nursing still ‘booming’ career choice

Linda Crawford and Chevelle Johnson
Thursday, Jun 6, 2013

Nursing is an excellent choice for caring individuals that seek and desire a rewarding career in health care. It is a great career choice for job growth and security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment projections 2010-2020 released in February 2012, the registered nursing (RN) workforce is the top occupation in terms of job growth through 2020. It is expected that the number of employed nurses will grow from 2.74 million in 2010 to 3.45 million in 2020, an increase of 712,000 or 26 percent. The projections further explain the need for 495,500 replacements in the nursing workforce bringing... click here to read more

Viewpoint: Sustainability today’s top buzzword

Liz Engel Clark
Thursday, May 2, 2013

I’m not a big fan of buzzwords, but there’s one in particular that seems to keep popping up – thus far, multiple times in several interviews this year – that I can’t help but address it: “sustainability.” It’s loosely defined as the ability to maintain at a certain rate or level. To use a resource so not to permanently deplete.But what does it really mean, all this talk about sustainability? Is it just like other big keywords of the past – “green,” in particular, comes to mind – or does it carry more weight than that? And, most importantly, as a business leader, why should you care?Well, for one, ... click here to read more

Editorial: Fine line divides media and economic development issues

Jay Albrecht
Thursday, May 2, 2013

It’s always a pleasure attending the USDA Rural Development Conference annually held at Tennessee Tech University, and this year’s session in mid-April was no different. Seeing the many faces of economic and community development from across Tennessee personalizes the hard work that goes into making this state – and especially our Upper Cumberland region – such a great place to live and work.As you can imagine, seeing that the opening session was entitled “The Role of News Media in Economic Development” peaked my interest more than usual. That’s a long-standing debate typically h... click here to read more

Legal: The labor board and its lack of authority to rule – what's next?

Jeff Jones
Thursday, May 2, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled during 2010 that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) cannot act without a quorum of three members. New Process Steel, L.P. v. NLRB, 130 S. Ct. 2635 (2010). In a decision issued on Jan. 25, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has taken the issue one step further and ruled that the purported appointments of the last three members of the board were invalid under the Recess Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Noel Canning v. NLRB.Members of the board are “Officers of the United States” within the meaning of the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, which provides that the presiden... click here to read more

Pro Perspective: Keeping those pesky bed bugs away

Randy Adcock
Thursday, May 2, 2013

As the saying goes, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”With the tourism season upon us, travelers need to be aware of the risks of unintentionally bringing those bugs back along with souvenirs from the travels to far away places.In the middle part of the 20th century, we nearly eradicated bed bugs in the United States. But over the past two decades the pest has been on the rise again. Experts have given a variety of reasons for the reemergence. Pesticides have become more insect specific. A product that just kills ants replaced a product that once killed ants, bed bugs and other insects, for example.Also, more people travel overseas and more f... click here to read more

Applying the play or pay mandate to seasonal and temporary employees

Jeff Jones
Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013

As every employer who has not been living under a rock knows, as of January 1, 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to offer qualifying health insurance to their full-time employees, and those employees’ dependants, or pay a penalty. What many employers may not know, however, is how PPACA’s employer mandate applies to seasonal and temporary employees. Although this is still a grey area, the IRS’s proposed regulations, published on January 2, 2013, offer some guidance. The regulations include two sets of rules: (1) how to count hours to determine if an employer mee... click here to read more

Health care reform and the general contractor

Donnie Elkins
Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013

This article is intended to give a very brief overview of the current health care reform going on in this country as it relates to a general contractor. Much material has been written about current health care reform and its impending impact on society in general. One is encouraged to speak with their insurance carrier to find out the particulars relating to his or her personal situation. In general, contractors who work on projects that are publicly-funded are already subject to what can seem like a myriad of regulations. Among these are the Davis-Bacon Act, OSHA and DOT regulations, and local prevailing wage ordinance requirements. Now the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a... click here to read more

Striving to meet ‘meaningful use’ objectives

Les Bernstein
Tuesday, Apr 2, 2013

Les Bernstein | Chief Information Officer at Cookeville Regional Medical CenterOn February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which forever changed the landscape for how physicians and clinicians go about providing care. ARRA, which is a $789 billion stimulus bill, included $19.2B in incentives (funding) to accelerate adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) under the Healthcare Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. All incentives are tied to “Meaningful Use of Certified EHRs.” “Meaningful Use” sets specific objectiv... click here to read more
     
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