UTC Students Speak Out About Online Access Codes

By: Megan Montgomery

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop) — The times of technology are advancing and so are the prices of online websites used in the classroom. In addition to the price of textbooks, students are now asked to buy online access codes for some classes in order to do homework and other activities.

PasswordThe biggest problem facing students is the hefty price of an access code in addition to a textbook. Forty-two percent of students in a class requiring online access are asked to purchase a textbook as well, according to a survey recently conducted.

One professor at UTC says that she was unaware of the initial price of the online access code when it was first required for her students. She has seen more effective learning with the additional practice outside of the classroom and considers the online work a necessity.

Sophomore Alexis Scott says she likes online work because it shows you the correct answer right away, unlike having to wait on a test to see what you need to work on.

Freshman, Jenna Stewart uses a website to complete work for her Spanish class. She says, “The answers are really obscure and way too specific so I end up missing the questions.”

Stewart doesn’t believe the material is worth her money because she learns more from the lecture and the book.

This isn’t a problem faced only by students at UTC. University of Maine student Luke Thomas took to the internet when he and his fiance at the time were both forced to buy a $150 bundle for an English class. They attempted to share a book and access code, but the code, which could only be purchased in addition to the textbook, was essential to participation in the class discussion.

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UTC offers direct access to buying textbooks online through the Barnes and Noble campus bookstore

The situation presented by textbook providers is that access codes are very rarely offered separately from a textbook, forcing students to spend the extra buck. This process makes the value of textbooks near to nothing because bookstores are unwilling to buy back a book that can only be sold with an access code.

This extra investment in online access only lasts a limited amount of time. In the survey conducted, only six percent of students have been able to use an access code for longer than two semesters.

College is stressful time without extensive financial burdens. One student suggests that online access only be mandatory if it is used extensively in the classroom not just for additional exercises. Another student suggests that the purchase of students’ online access be included in the technology fee of tuition.

Online codes and website access are a fairly new concept in the classroom. One way to help prepare for the price is to make sure you are getting a good deal on the other textbooks you purchase.

One blogger took the time to analyze the prices of the average price of textbooks at leading bookstores and compare their prices as well as include tips on how to buy smart on ExtraBux.com.

Textbook average prices from store to store according to ExtraBux.com

 

For more information about buying textbooks cheaper and more efficiently, check out some other students’ research:

1. “UTC student are going broke due to textbook prices” by Taylor Ellis

2. “How Do Teachers Choose Textbooks: A Guide for UTC Students” by Rose Street

3. “Bookstore Buybacks: Things You Need To Know About The UTC Bookstore” by Arielle Henson

4. “Students pay for textbooks they don’t use” by Kami Rowe

Click Here to Take the Survey!

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Chattanooga School Fights for A Change

By Arielle Henson

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP/UTC The Loop) — Dozens of parents and students have gathered in front of the Hamilton County courthouse to protest a proposed budget that omits funding for a new Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press (http://bit.ly/1lgz2AA) reports parents said they planned to stay at the location through Wednesday, when the County Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposal from Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.

Children held signs supporting the school on Sunday afternoon and shouted and waved to passing cars.

Coppinger has said the county has enough funds to complete four of the school system’s six recommended school projects. His proposed budget left out the new building for the arts school and a new middle school in the East Hamilton area.

“We don’t have a voice inside that courthouse,” said Dana Cleckler, who has three children at CSLA. “We’re not a big enough entity in any one district to make noise and threaten a candidacy.”

CSLA has been asking for a new school for more than 25 years, but so far has been unsuccessful.

“We’ve been promised and they keep going back on their promises,” said Elizabeth Kimball, another CSLA mother. “At what point are they going to just give the money up or say to us, ‘this is it. This is exactly how long you have to wait.'”

Instead, they just keep saying “you can have the money. Don’t give up, don’t give up.”

Parents say the condition of the building keeps deteriorating.

“Our school is falling down and my son has asthma and he has to go into a portable that has mildew because there was a leak,” Kimball said. “They try to fix it but they’re just putting Band-Aids on the problem.”

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Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com

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Mayor Berke’s Pension Plan Makes It Through First Reading

By Jake Chapman 

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/ The Loop-Chattanooga) The City Council ok the new pension reform plan for the fire and police department proposed by Mayor Andy Berke in the first reading.

“As many of you know, we’ve been sued by a number of employees with regards to problems that we have in our police department with pay issues,” Berke told the council. “But we are able to look at retirees in the eye and tell them they are going to get the benefits that they expect.”

The proposed pension plan will end up saving the taxpayers of Chattanooga over $227 million over the next 26 years. Berke’s pension plan will be able to secure retirement from their pension holders such as employees of the Chattanooga Fire and Police Department.

Mayor Berke discusses new pension plan to press.

Mayor Berke discusses new pension plan to press.

Berke mentioned that this new pension plan has brought together many new stockholders and groups. Both of which have united in order to get this plan under way and benefit the firefighters and police officers of Chattanooga.

Such a proposal is favored by the majority of the Chattanooga City Council, receiving a unanimous vote at the recent City Council meeting. The new pension plan will have to go through more readings and votes in order for it to be placed in effect.

Majority of the people of Chattanooga are excited about the new pension plan and are happy that the city’s employees will finally receive the benefits that they deserve;but some are still questioning whether or not this plan is going to last long.

“This solution is set to where we don’t have to have this conversation in the future. When I took office, I wasn’t able to tell people you’re going to get the benefits that you expect. By making this change tonight, we are able to tell people ‘Yes. In fact, this will be secure in the long run.'”

Berke believes that in order for the people who work for the Fire and Police Department of Chattanooga and receive the benefits that they were promised, then some changes will have to be made.

The pension plan is set to begin as soon as it is set by the Board and will run until June 30, 2015. Beginning July 1, 2015, and continuing until June 30, 2016, each Member will be assessed a contribution to the Fund in an amount, fixed by majority vote of the Board, not less than ten percent (10%) of the Member’s Base Salary. Eventually, each board member will give 1/10th of their salary to the pension to make the pension more stable.

 

The pension plan has been approved on the first round of reading, but will not go into effect until after the next few readings. The new pension plan will have to go through more readings and votes in order for it to be placed in effect.

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HOMEAgain Funds Find A Home At Orange Grove

By: Sid Sadler

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop) – The Chattanooga City Council voted this past Tuesday to allocate HOMEAgain funds to Orange Grove Inc.

Orange Grove is according to their website, ” a private non-profit organization serving adults and children with developmental disabilities”. The total amount for the funding is $45,000, and will be used to help Orange Grove provide affordable housing.

Administrative Workers of Orange Grove

Administrative Workers of Orange Grove

Founded in 1953, Orange Grove offers an array of services ranging from family support all the way to rehabilitation programs.

According to their website, Orange Grove, “services approximately 730 individuals, and employs approximately 800 professional staff members to provide a wide array of community services.”

Kenny Gentner, Junior at UTC said, “I think whenever we can help people who need help we should.”

The HOMEAgain application states that their purpose is , “making HUD HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) funds available to area nonprofits, housing developers, and for-profit entities who wish to create permanent, affordable rental housing for families and individuals, to prevent homelessness and to re-house those experiencing homelessness or who may be at risk of becoming homeless.”

Larissa Hofstra, senior at UTC said, ” People with disabilities sometimes are ignored when it comes to giving them a normal living life, so I think this is great that Chattanooga is helping Orange Grove.”

Not anyone is given consideration for HOMEAgain funds, the application states in order to be given consideration projects must have a “high profitability of moving on.” This means that:

  •   the applicant has site control or a purchase agreement, subject to City funding.
  •   there is an experienced and qualified development team identified.
  •   there is a qualified service provider, if applicable.
  •   the project is economically feasible in terms of per unit cost of construction and for operational purposes during the affordability period.
  •   the applicant has included the project underwriting for the appropriate period of affordability;
  •   the applicant has conducted and included the Market Analysis.
  •   there is a detailed property management plan included in the proposal.
  •   other funding sources are in place or will be in place prior to any award of HOMEAGAIN funds.
  •   fifty (50) percent or more of the funding comes from other sources.

The application also says that the city must fund up 50% of the development cost for the program. According to the city council agenda, the city is funding $45,000 of the cost.

 

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Extreme Home Makeover: Orange Grove Edition

By: Robresha Jackson and Charnele Box

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop) –  For the intellectually disable, The Orange Grove Center is a safe haven. It is a place that is primarily focused on their mental and physical development in hopes of providing  more comfortable life like the rest of the world.

OGC

This is the document filled with the city of Chattanooga for assistance.

On Tuesday, February 25, 2014, the Chattanooga City Council agreed to continue this movement by approving funds for Orange Grove, Inc. to create affordable rental housing. These funds were awarded on behalf of the HOMEAgain Program, a program that assists in creating supportive rental housing for underprivileged individuals and families to prevent homelessness.

According to documents from the Chattanooga City Council, the Department of Economic and Community Development are to award HOMEAgain Program funds in the amount of $45,000. The owner is to contribute $73,250 to create these affordable apartments.

Orange Grove residential services help support about 50 individuals in 23 homes located throughout the metropolitan area. While the non-profit organization may not own the homes, they help assist the individuals in leasing their home in the community and provide the staffing and oversight for the homes.

Orange Grove also provide residential rehabilitation housing. OGC has 25 homes serving 146 individuals. The residential rehabilitation housing supports two to eight individuals in Orange Grove Center homes with a house manager and support staff as needed. The staff helps with life skill development and many activities throughout the community.

OGC 2

One of the Rehabilitation Homes provided by Orange Grove

Many agree that Orange Grove is a staple in the Chattanooga community that provides a safe environment for the mentally ill and that this initiative will only improve the private, non-profit organization.

“Orange Grove has worked hard to become the establishment that they are. If it wasn’t for Orange Grove coming along individuals with developmental disabilities would be left at home or in mental intuitions,” said Diamond Pride OGC employee.  She also stated that OGC allow the individuals have regular lives help them feel more inclusive in the community.

Darious James, Direct Support Professional at OGC weighed in on the mentally ill clients and OGC’s initiative to make them feel more independent. “Orange Grove does a great justice to the community plus they also let the individuals work and make money on real jobs. ”

Although it is not clear on who the new, affordable apartments will be made available to, it is clear that Orange Grove is always finding ways to improve their organization.

More information will be provided as the story continues to unfold.

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New Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension Fund: Burning Topic of Discussion

By: Alex Givens

 

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/ The Loop) — Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and City Council unanimously reached a verdict and decided to pass the new pension plan. Mayor Berke believes that this plan is critical in what it says about Chattanooga and the actions we are taking as a community.

The people of Chattanooga will finally be receiving the benefits they deserve. Mayor Berke says this new pension plan is about meeting goals, “It will continue to motivate the workforce, attract quality employees and we will do this by being responsible to tax payers”.

This new and improved pension plan will save Chattanooga 227 million dollars. With the fund saved Mayor Berke plans on investing in public safety and taking care of employees today. These funds will boost morale and help to fix the problem. Mayor Berke is proud of everyone who was involved in the development of the new pension, “We have outstanding employees who work for us- outstanding”.

The new pension fund:

  • - $227 Million saved
  • - Will improve public safety
  • - Take better care of Chattanooga employees
  • - Boost morale
  • - Reflection of the participants who were involved

Among many that disagree with the City’s plan to move forward with the updated pension plan is Kirk Salter. Salter was more than unhappy with the outcome of the court hearing.  He believes that the fund has continually sunk.

Kirk Salter taking a stand against new Chattanooga Pension Fund.

Kirk Salter taking a stand against new Chattanooga Pension Fund.

He believes they are making a change that is detrimental to the people of Chattanooga and as far as Salter is concerned, ” Andy Berke and Travis McDonald, okay, and the city council they are on notice that if you knowingly violate the law, okay, and go through with this you are exposing the city to liability… Travis McDonald and Andy Berke are no friends to public safety”.

Salter refers to himself as a “firecracker” and has reassured the people of Chattanooga that he is nowhere near done fighting against this pension plan. He believes the city has not been responsible for funding the pension over the years, and have allowed it to continually sink.

For some, this new pension fund may come as a shock and betrayal to the people but to others it is an extreme source of financial relief that has been long overdue.

Visit http://www.nooga.com/165541/pension-board-approves-retirement-overhaul/ for more information.

 

 

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North Shore Publix Granted Construction Requests

By: Megan Montgomery

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop) — The Chattanooga City Council passed an ordinance to grant wall tiebacks in the construction of the North Shore Publix at the February 25 meeting. The tiebacks will provide more stability for the walls along the blocks of Hamilton Avenue, Woodland Avenue, and Kent Street.

Neighbors of the construction are hoping that Publix will bring stability in more areas than just physical structure.gallery.53691

Rylee Johnson, Junior, lives in an apartment complex near the construction area. She is excited about the convenience of of a grocery store in the area.

Some residents fear that the store will threaten the local business in the area. Shervin Dadkhahi-Poor is hopeful about the increased traffic in the area according to an interview from News Channel 3 in April.

“I just hope the intent stays good and we keep Chattanooga original.” says Dadkhahi-Poor.

Johnson agrees that the convenience store could threaten the local novelty of the area, but believes that the increased traffic for businesses could out-weigh that risk in the long run.

Mary Alice Ozment, a Signal Mountain resident, says that a grocery store is an essential part of a community, and she thinks Publix can offer this to the North Shore area.

The ordinance to use wall tie-backs in the construction originally appeared at the February 18th meeting of Chattanooga City Council. It then was approved on the 25th. City Council members Sally Robinson and Deborah Scott said they believe it will “raise property values and bring in new sales and property tax collections” according to a 2012 interview by the Chattanoogan.

Other Publix locations in the area include:

  1. Creek Plantation Village
    5928 Hixson Pike Ste 112
    Hixson,  TN  37343-4839
  2. Hurricane Creek
    8644 E Brainerd Rd
    Chattanooga,  TN  37421-8325
  3. Snow Hill Village
    5958 Snow Hill Rd Ste 168
    Ooltewah,  TN  37363-7834
  4. Mouse Creek Crossing
    635 Paul Huff Pkwy NW
    Cleveland,  TN  37312-2970

You can find a location closer to you with the Publix Store Locator.

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Chattanooga Public Works Official Approved For Involvement in Eco-Friendly Competition

By Rose Street

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC/The Loop) – Chattanooga City Council approved the partnership between the Administrator of the Chattanooga Department of Public Works and the non-profit organization Green Spaces in the development of the Low Impact Design/Green Infrastructure Design Competition.

Lee Norris, the Administrator for the Department of Public Works, has been approved by City Council to work with Green Spaces to create the (LID)/Green Infrastructure Design Competition. The approval Tuesday, February 25 was unanimous.

Chattanooga City Council Chambers

Chattanooga City Council Chambers

Green Spaces is an environmentally conscious, non-profit organization whose mission it is to “work towards regional sustainability by progressing the way we live, work, and build.” The organization is based solely in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The (LID)/Green Infrastructure Design Competition will consist of two team members, a professional engineer and a registered landscape architect, and take place in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga.gov describes the competition as demonstrating “efficient, sustainable, cost-effective approaches to stormwater management and beautification of city infrastructure.”

Director Lee Norris relayed his hope for the competition to the Times Free Press saying, “The goal here is to get the architects, engineers and developers to get on the same page to see how green infrastructure can work on different areas.”

The time frame of the competition and the completion date has yet to be announced.

The Lyndhurst Foundation is providing a grant of $85,500 to develop the competition.

According to its website, The Lyndhurst Foundation “invests in initiatives, institutions, people and programs that contribute to the long term livability and resilience of the greater Chattanooga region.”

For more information about Chattanooga City Council, visit Chattanooga.gov for agendas and more.

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Chattanooga City Council Approves Eco-Beneficial Resolution 27798

By Andrew Carney CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (UTC / The Loop) – Chattanooga City Council unanimously approved Resolution 27798, authorizing the Administrator for the Department of Public Works to partner with Green|Spaces to assist in the development and implementation of the Green Infrastructure Design Competition.

This resolution finalizes plans to implement the first Green Infrastructure Design Competition, a Low Impact Development (LID) program which is being funded by the Lyndhurst Foundation in the amount of $85,500. Chattanooga City Council previously approved Resolution 27657 on September 24, 2013, which authorized the Administrator for the Department of Public Works to accept the grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation.

This resolution was integral in providing the necessary funding to allow for the creation of the design competition, while this recent resolution allowed for the Administrator for the Department of Public Works to assist in its development.

Credit: Lyndhurst Foundation

Lyndhurst Foundation Logo

The Lyndhurst Foundation “identifies and invests in initiatives, institutions, people and programs that contribute to the long-term livability and resilience of the greater Chattanooga region.” It has been important to the development of Chattanooga and has previously provided funding for such initiatives as:

  1. The Main Terrain Park in Chattanooga’s Southside neighborhood
  2. Revitalization of downtown in partnership with the RiverCity Company
  3. The SimCenter (National Center for Computation Engineering) at UTC
  4. Continued support for the Tennessee Aquarium’s sponsorship of Bike Chattanooga
  5. Matching support for the Chattanooga History Center’s Let’s Make History capital campaign

The Chattanooga Public Works’ Water Quality Program describes the Design Competition as “Chattanooga’s first Low Impact Design (LID)/ Green Infrastructure design competition will challenge design teams to demonstrate efficient, sustainable, cost-effective approaches to stormwater management and beautification of city infrastructure,” and that this “collaborative effort includes participation and input from Chattanooga’s Public Works Department (Engineering and Water Quality) and Chattanooga-Hamilton County RPA, and is funded by the Lyndhurst Foundation through a contract with Green|Spaces.”

According to an article by The Chattanoogan, the “competition participation requirements include a design team consisting of three licensed participants: engineer, architect, and landscape architect” and that “at least one member of each team based in Chattanooga and team leaders must be licensed in Tennessee.” This helps to ensure that the teams are well-qualified for the design competition and knowledgeable of both the region and state. The Chattanooga Times Free Press quotes Lee Norris, the current Administrator for the Department of Public Works, as saying,”the goal here is to get the architects, engineers and developers to get on the same page to see how green infrasture [sic] can work on different areas.”

Credit: Green|Spaces

Green|Spaces Logo

According to their mission statement, Green|Spaces “works towards regional sustainability by progressing the way we live, work and build.” It has been integral to achieving sustainability in Chattanooga since the initiative began in 2008 and has been involved in many projects in the region that include 17 LEED-certified projects.

 

The Chattanoogan article quotes Mayor Andy Berke on the Design Competition, “This is an important partnership that can highlight Chattanooga’s commitment to innovative, sustainable practices. Through a competitive process, we will empower talented individuals to explore solutions that can ultimately make our neighborhoods stronger and create a positive impact in every district of Chattanooga.”

Involved organizations are currently discussing when the design competition will take place; more information should be available after a timeline for the design competition is decided. For more information, visit the respective links to the organizations’ sites and to the two resolutions passed by Chattanooga City Council.

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Firefighter Pension Plan Passes Unanimously in Chattanooga

By: Kelli Findlay

Chattanooga, TN (UTC/The Loop) — Chattanooga Firefighter and Police Pension Fund receives unanimous city council vote.

On February 25, 2014, Mayor Andy Berke spoke at the Chattanooga City Council meeting and proposed the passing of the Chattanooga Fire and Police Pension Fund. 

Mayor  Berke addressing Pension Plan

Mayor Berke addressing Pension Plan

A pension is a defined benefit paid monthly to employees during retirement. Police officers and firefighters pay into a large fund with 8 to 9 percent of their salaries. The city contributes to the fund each year. In 2013, the city’s contribution was $11.2 million, an amount that’s expected to rise dramatically over the next 26 years. The fund also receives significant revenue from its investment portfolio.

“What you’re going to do tonight by adopting this ordinance is that you will secure the retirement for our pensioners,” said Mayor Berke.

Berke also said that they want to look these men and women in the eye and promise them a financial future with the new pension plan.

 One part of the bill requires those cities to contribute at least 100 percent of the annual amount needed to make or keep the plans sustainable over a 30-year period. This doesn’t affect Chattanooga’s fire and police pension plan because the city already pays 100 percent of its contribution.

Not all citizens approve of this new pension plan. The full opposition story and interviews about the passing of the Firefighter Pension plan covered by Channel 9  can be found here.

Kirk Salter, former Chattanooga Sgt., was upset that they didn’t take everybody’s interest into account. Salter said, “They wouldn’t listen to anybody in 2000 and they are not listening to us now.”

One part of the bill requires those cities to contribute at least 100 percent of the annual amount needed to make or keep the plans sustainable over a 30-year period. This doesn’t affect Chattanooga’s fire and police pension plan because the city already pays 100 percent of its contribution.

Task Force Proposal

The plan requires approval from the pension board and the City Council. Here are the key details.

• Minimum retirement age for non-vested members 50, new hires 55

• Employee contribution to go up from 8% to 11%, or 9% to 12% over the next 3 years

• Cost of living adjustments for retirees at an average of 1.5%

• The DROP will no longer include interest, and employees will have the option to stay 3 extra years without losing the benefit.

• Increases benefits to 100% for beneficiaries of those killed in the line of duty

Sources: Chattanooga Times Free Press, Nooga.com, Channel 9 News

 

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