For this reason, and with permission from the Banner, I would like to begin with a reprint of that article.
It is as follows:
A local resident received one of Tennessee's highest art awards during a presentation Tuesday in Nashville.
Charles Towler of Cleveland was presented with the Folklife Heritage Award by Gov. Bill Haslam and first lady Crissy Haslam during a ceremony with the Tennessee Arts Commission. Towler is a Southern Gospel convention singer and is well-respected in his field, according to the Tennessee Arts Commission.
Middle Tennessee State University professor of musicology Steven Sheron nominated Towler for the award.
“I knew he nominated me but I thought nothing (is) going to come of this,” Towler said.
Towler said he was surprised and appreciative when he found he had been selected.
Sheron met Towler while working on a documentary about Southern Gospel convention music, Towler said. During interviews for the documentary, Towler said the two became friends.
Winners are chosen by a committee composed of members of the Tennessee Arts Commission, according to communications director Dennis Adkins. Forty people were nominated for the awards and the committee narrowed the list down to eight recipients in three categories, according to Towler.
During his time in Nashville, Towler also received a tour of the state Capitol from state Rep. Kevin Brooks. Brooks presented Towler with House Joint Resolution 230, honoring him for his lifetime of achievements.
Towler said he became interested in gospel music while growing up in church. After working with Pathway Press for 32 years, Towler started Gospel Heritage Music after his position at Pathway was eliminated. Now, Towler teaches music classes and summer camps. He has also formed a Gospel Heritage Quartet and a youth quartet, which for the past three years has traveled to Oklahoma during the summer to hold a music camp for the Choctaw Nation.
According to a Tennessee Arts Commission press release, the Folklife Heritage Award is a Governor's Arts Award that honors individuals or foundations which have had a lasting influence on the traditional arts of the state.
Adkins said the commissioners base their decision on the influence the artist has had on their area of expertise. Sometimes they also look at the attention the artist has brought to the state and volunteer work of the applicant.
To be eligible for the award a person (or foundation) must be nominated through the commission's website. Adkins also said the artist must submit three letters of recommendation to be considered. Commissioners of the Tennessee Arts Commission are appointed by the governor.
Voter photo ID
Late last week, the House passed a major reform to our electoral system that calls for Tennesseans to present a valid photo ID in order to vote. Various public opinion polls from Tennessee show citizens overwhelmingly support the common sense measure.
The bill, HB 7, passed the House by a wide 57-35 margin. Numerous comments were made in support of the legislation. One of the bill's backers stated, “For years our system has operated under the premise of 'one person, one vote.' This bill respects that premise and removes any doubt that is the principle guiding our electoral system.”
By requiring a simple photo ID, the legislation institutes a common sense reform that ensures every legitimate vote in Tennessee counts.
“With the technology we have in today's world,” noted another legislator, “there is no excuse to allow someone's legitimate vote to be cancelled out by a person who shouldn't be voting in the first place.”
The bill now moves to the Tennessee Senate for consideration.
Tenure Reform becomes
law in Tennessee
During the mid-week, the governor officially made the Education Tenure Reform Bill law by signing HB 2012. The legislation moves tenure for educators from three to five years and links the tenure privilege to revised performance evaluations. The law is part of an ambitious education agenda advanced by the General Assembly to remake the face of education in Tennessee.
The core principles of these reform initiatives are promoting student achievement and encouraging teacher excellence throughout Tennessee. In the long-term, leaders of the House believe these initiatives will lead to a better trained workforce for the state.
“If Tennessee is going to become the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs, then it is critical that we improve education because businesses are looking to compete with employees educated for the 21st century workplace,” Gov. Haslam said.
The House Speaker added, “Our goal is to make sure our teachers are equipped with the best tools possible to educate Tennessee students. We want an effective teacher in front of every classroom and we want those who are excelling to be rewarded. This proposal is absolutely key to education reform.”
"Study after study shows when our students have the highest quality teachers leading them they will reach their full potential,” said the House Majority Leader. “I'm proud to support the governor's efforts to identify and protect the best educators in our schools. Ultimately, this law ensures our next generation will be better equipped to enter the workforce and make Tennessee a better place to live and raise a family.”
(Editor’s Note: State Rep. Kevin Brooks serves the 24th Legislative District in Cleveland and Bradley County. Rep. Brooks and his wife, Kim, are actively involved in their community and local schools with their two children — Zach, who is attending Lee University, and Elizabeth, who attends Cleveland High.)