The first-term governor’s itinerary was still being formalized at press-time this morning, his Nashville office reported.
Next Thursday, Oct. 27, marks six months to the day that five tornadoes within a 12-hour period devastated much of Bradley County, leaving nine dead, 285 homes destroyed and more than 300 others badly damaged.
In observance of the date, Haslam will participate in the dedication of a new home for a Bradley County family whose residence was destroyed by the late-April storms. The event is being planned by the Long-Term Recovery Organization whose work is being led by Jim Polier, Bradley County recovery leader, and Lisa Mantooth, case manager supervisor.
A special segment of the dedication, which will include the governor’s participation, will include a remembrance of the nine lives that were lost in the deadly twisters. The dedication event, tentatively titled as “Six Months: Road to Recovery,” will recognize the work that has been completed as well as ongoing efforts still under way that are focused on helping impacted Bradley County families to move forward in their lives.
In the words of LTRO officials, the organization — in partnership with an array of local civic organizations, churches, businesses and individuals, as well as its own Unmet Needs Committee — is striving to help the Cleveland and Bradley County community reach its “New Normal.”
More information about the LTRO dedication will be announced soon.
“We are thrilled that Gov. Haslam has chosen to come to Cleveland,” according to State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland who represents the 24th Legislative District which spans the city of Cleveland. “While here, Gov. Haslam is planning to visit a local recovery site and the new residence of a Cleveland family whose home was lost in the April 27 storms. The governor’s visit falls on the six-month anniversary of those tragic storms.”
Brooks praised the governor for his decision to travel to the 24th District.
“Gov. Haslam was committed to helping our community from the very minute the storms hit,” Brooks stated. “He flew us (local legislators) home after that tragedy and he personally toured the areas affected six months ago.”
The Cleveland lawmaker added, “I am very pleased that Gov. Haslam is returning to see the progress being made here in Bradley County. He expressed his true concern for our families from day one. He is the real deal.”
Brooks also pointed to the interest by the governor in wanting to visit with Whirlpool leaders. The Whirlpool Corporation is nearing the completion of a $120 million manufacturing facility that is expected to begin production on Benton Pike sometime during the first quarter of 2012. The 1 million square-foot plant will be LEED-certified at the Gold Level, meaning that its design employs many “green” elements focused on energy and environmental conservation.
The new factory represents the largest single investment made by Whirlpool Corporation in its 100-year history.
“Our region has been blessed with many new investments and industries, and Gov. Haslam is stopping by to see one of those, the new Whirlpool plant,” Brooks said. “Whirlpool Corporation has placed their largest investment in the U.S. right here in the city of Cleveland. Their new plant ... is state-of-the-art and LEED-certified.”
Brooks added, “We are proud to show our governor how important Whirlpool is to our local families.”
The governor’s visit to Whirlpool will be a private visit.
Dicky Walters, plant leader of Whirlpool Cleveland Division, today joined Brooks in welcoming the governor to Cleveland and to the local plant.
“At Whirlpool, we are a company dedicated to quality manufacturing, and to this conmunity,” Walters said. “We are delighted to host the governor on his visit to our plant. It is coming at an appropriate time — in observance of the six-month anniversary of the late-April storms that impacted much of Bradley County, including many Whirlpool families and their loved ones.”
He added, “In addition to the six months of storm recovery, the governor is coming at a time that we are nearing the completion of our new state-of-the-art plant. We are proud to host his visit.”
The new Whirlpool plant will add a 400,000 square-foot distribution center at the same location by the end of 2012.
Whirlpool employs approximately 2,000 workers in Cleveland, including the Whirlpool Cleveland Division plant, the 20th Street call center (Whirlpool Cleveland Customer eXperience Center) and the engineering technology function (Whirlpool Cleveland Cooking Technology Center).