WZTV FOX 17 - Top Stories
January 11, 2013
Tennessee's Department of Children's Services is under pressure.
There are new legal challenges and criticism from state lawmakers.
Much of the criticism stems from the number of children who have died while in state custody, and what some view as a culture of covering up problems.
Representative Sherry Jones is known as a champion of children on Capitol Hill.
These days her attention is focused on the Department of Children's Services.
"And I want everybody to know what a serious serious emergency this is for the children of this state," says Rep. Sherry Jones, (D) Nashville.
Jones is referring to new reports that more than 70 children died in Tennessee last year after their cases were brought to the attention of DCS.
She says the agency is taking giant step backwards.
"The Commissioner is not taking care of business, and she's allowing these children to be hurt and to die," says Rep. Jones.
DCS is also facing a challenge in federal court. Children's Rights, a national advocacy group has filed a motion asking for child death records to be released.
The motion seeks investigation records.
The associate director of Children's Rights wants to ensure kids are safe.
DCS says it is not commenting on the new motion because of the pending litigation, but the agency is starting to take action.
Two senior level employees, Alan Hall and Debbie Miller, were fired this week.
Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill, some lawmakers are calling for a public hearing about the problems with DCS. They say the department can't operate in secret.
"And we need to bring them before the public and they need to say why they're hiding these things," says Rep. Jones.
Representative Sherry Jones says she has severe concerns and believes children may be hurt.
She's calling for transparency and decisive action.
"And I want the Governor to step up, and I want him to say we need to fix it, and then I want it done," says Rep. Jones.
DCS Commissioner Kathryn O'Day is also being criticized.
Representative Jones believes she needs to replaced, and Republican Senator Jim Summerville says it is time for a change in leadership.
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Tuesday, January 22 2013, 05:57 PM CST
Pipeline work can continue at state natural area
May 24, 2013 11:16 GMT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee environmental officials have given Piedmont Natural Gas permission to resume drilling on a Nashville pipeline project.
Work was halted on May 11 when a mixture of bentonite clay and water spilled from a drill into Otter Creek at the Radnor Lake State Natural Area.
The mud was later scraped out of the creek using buckets and hand tools.
Meredith Benton, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/199LA54 ) that Piedmont agreed to 11 new terms and conditions to prevent a recurrence of the spill.
Those include creating a pit to capture any spilled slurry and daily water quality monitoring.
Benton said the department has not decided whether to issue fines or citations.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com
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