DesJarlais visit includes mayors, educators, vets
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Apr 04, 2013 | 843 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bradley County Veterans Services Office Director Larry McDaris, center, points out characteristics of the property at 1940 Westland Drive to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, right, as Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland listens to the conversation. The congressman was in town Wednesday to learn more about the restructured 4th Congressional District. The property is the location of the proposed veterans home in Cleveland. Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
Bradley County Veterans Services Office Director Larry McDaris, center, points out characteristics of the property at 1940 Westland Drive to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, right, as Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland listens to the conversation. The congressman was in town Wednesday to learn more about the restructured 4th Congressional District. The property is the location of the proposed veterans home in Cleveland. Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
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Congressman Scott DesJarlais discussed a broad range of topics Wednesday as he toured Bradley County, acquainting himself to the area in the redrawn 4th Congressional District.

The congressman visited Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis before going to the Cleveland Municipal Building, where he met with Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and city department heads. At the Municipal Building visit the main topics were education and the 10-year effort to build a veterans’ home in Bradley County.

Cleveland Schools Director Dr. Martin Ringstaff said he is happy with the Common Core Standards established recently by the U.S. Department of Education because they are lower than state educational standards.

“We’re happy with the standards piece of it, but the implementation of Common Core is a huge question mark,” Ringstaff said. “Unfunded mandates for technology are a big piece.”

He said the governor allocated $51 million toward technology, of which $77,000 will go to the city school district.

“We’ve asked for that to be reoccurring,” he said.

Ringstaff said setting Common Core standards across the nation is the right way to go and applauded the tactic.

The school director pointed to the quick growth experienced in Cleveland. While it is a good problem to have, he said one challenge is students whose primary language is not English.

“We have 13 languages in our schools right now and that presents a challenge when it comes to standardized test scores,” he said.

The meeting moved to the site of the proposed veterans home at 1940 Westland Drive, where Larry McDaris, director of the Bradley County Veterans Affairs Office, discussed the timeline of the effort to build the veterans home.

McDaris said a May groundbreaking on the Clarksville facility moves the home in Bradley County one step closer to fruition.

The projected construction timeline for the home in Montgomery County is 14 to 16 months. It will take about 18 more months to fully integrate the new home into the system with the existing state veterans homes in Murfreesboro, Knoxville and Humboldt.

McDaris said the Tennessee State Veterans Homes Board celebrated the U.S. News & World Report ranking for 2013 which named the Tennessee State Veterans Homes in Knoxville and Murfreesboro among the best in the country.

The magazine rated more than 15,000 nursing homes using data research on nursing home safety, health inspection and staffing. The source of the data originated from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In 2012, CMS issued five-star ratings to the Ben Atchley State Veterans’ Home in Knoxville and the Tennessee State Veterans’ Home in Murfreesboro.