Thursday

Middle Tennessee Goodwill Gears Up For Last-Minute Donations Surge

Goodwill Gears Up For Last-Minute Donations Surge
Record Number of Donors Expected

Each year from Dec. 26-31, the number of donations at Goodwill Donation Express Centers skyrockets.

In 2013, donations of clothing and household goods during that period rose by 80 percent compared to other days of the year. Goodwill’s donation team is gearing up to handle this critically important surge.

Donations fund Goodwill’s mission of providing employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities and others who have trouble finding and keeping jobs. The end-of-year donation rush is prompted in part by people cleaning out their closets, attics and garages to make room for holiday gifts. But many donors also are seeking last-minute tax deductions.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when donating to Goodwill:

● When de-cluttering your home, consider the “One-Year Rule”: If you haven’t worn it, used it or played with it in one year, it is probably time to donate it.
● Donors wishing to claim a tax deduction should request a receipt from the attendant when dropping off their donations. The IRS allows a deduction for each item, but it is up to the donor to estimate each item’s value.
● Prepare an inventory of your items before going to Goodwill.
● Please remove hangers from clothing.
● If you have a single donation worth more than $500, you will need to complete IRS Form 8283. You will also need a qualified written appraisal.
● Be certain you are donating to a legitimate charity. Resources for research include the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office and charity-rating agencies such as GuideStar. Be cautious of donation bins that don’t clearly state the organization’s mission and contact information.

You can avoid the rush by donating before Christmas. There are about 80 Donations Express Centers located throughout the 48-county territory, and most are open seven days a week. Locations and hours can be found online at www.giveit2goodwill.org, under the “Donate” tab.

Your donation at the end of 2014 will mean a happier new year for someone in need of a job.

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Wednesday

Tennessee Governor Haslam Names Candice McQueen Education Commissioner

Haslam Names Candice McQueen Education Commissioner
Teacher, Dean of Lipscomb University’s College of Education to Lead Department

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today announced that Dr. Candice McQueen, a teacher and dean at Lipscomb University in Nashville, will join his cabinet as commissioner of the Department of Education.

McQueen, 40, currently serves on Lipscomb University’s executive leadership team as senior vice president, and as dean she oversees the College of Education as well as the 1,300 pre-k through 12th grade students in three schools at Lipscomb Academy. She has led training, support and professional development efforts for thousands of current and future classroom teachers, instructional coaches and school leaders. Before joining Lipscomb in 2001, McQueen was a teacher in elementary and middle schools.

“Lipscomb’s College of Education produces some of our state’s best teachers, and Candice gets a lot of credit for that,” Haslam said. “She has taught in a classroom, so she brings both the experience of being a teacher and of preparing teachers to teach. I am grateful for her willingness to serve in this role, and I know she’ll do a great job as we continue our efforts to provide a quality education for all Tennessee students.”

McQueen’s college and teacher preparation programs have been highlighted at the state and national levels for excellence in teacher preparation design and teacher candidate outcomes. In her six years as dean, Lipscomb’s College of Education has grown by 54 percent with 72 percent growth at the graduate level, has added 15 new graduate programs, including a doctorate, and has created innovative partnerships that focus on collaborative design and delivery for coursework and programming.

In 2012, McQueen partnered with the Tennessee-based Ayers Foundation to initiate The Ayers Institute for Teacher Learning and Innovation, which focuses on supporting higher academic standards, embedded professional learning and new approaches to leadership training and support. Tennessee’s higher education institutions are using the resources to prepare new teachers and many Tennessee school districts and other states are using the resources for professional development.

“I have spent most of my career focused on developing and supporting educators to help our students succeed, and I look forward to bringing that experience and perspective to the important work of leading the Department of Education,” McQueen said. “Tennessee is headed in the right direction. We are making a real difference in the lives of our children and the future of our state. My goal is for every graduate to be college and career-ready so they can succeed in the future. I want Tennessee to continue to set the pace and lead the nation in the reforms and innovations that are making a real difference in the lives of our students.”

McQueen serves on the board of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education and the executive committee for the American Association of Independent and Liberal Arts Colleges of Teacher Education. She is frequently asked to serve as an expert on teacher preparation issues by groups such as the Aspen Institute, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and the Lumina Foundation.

McQueen was also named to the first Leadership Tennessee class in 2013 and serves on numerous boards, including the PENCIL Foundation’s executive board, State Collaborative on Reforming Education’s steering committee, STARS (Students Taking a Right Stand) Nashville, and the Mayor’s Youth Master Plan Leadership Council.

McQueen, a native of Clarksville, has a bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb, a master’s from Vanderbilt, and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas. She and her husband, Andy McQueen, a law partner at Bass, Berry and Sims, live in Nashville and have two children, Abigail, 11, and Henry, 8.

McQueen replaces Kevin Huffman who announced his departure last month. Her first day on the job will be Tuesday, January 20.

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Tuesday

GRAY’S on Main Announces New Year’s Eve Event - Dance Party

GRAY’S on Main Announces New Year’s Eve Event - Dance Party
Rings In the New Year With “Mo-Jazz Revue” Party & Live Entertainment

GRAY’S on Main prides itself on throwing events that harken back to the restaurant’s historical roots. On December 31, 2014 the venue will toast to the New Year while once again nodding to the past: a vintage Vaudeville-themed event titled “Mo-Jazz Revue” will include a prix fixe menu, live entertainment and a musical walk-through of the decades.


From 8 p.m. ‘til 1 a.m., New Year’s Eve guests can expect an evening filled with dancing, musical entertainment and a supper club-like atmosphere. In addition to the diverse ambience, guests will be able to enjoy gourmet appetizers and handcrafted cocktails that celebrate the theme. From Josephine Baker to Frank Sinatra, from the Charleston to the Twist—partygoers will have a chance to dance through the decades with the soulful sounds of Marquee Mayfield.

“We chose to honor these decades because it goes hand-in-hand with GRAY’S storied past and artisanal approach,” said Michael Cole, events coordinator and co-owner of GRAY’s on Main. “Our focus on history is seen in our d├ęcor, dishes and spirits, and we’ll use this evening to inspire another level of creativity and innovation.”

Cole says that GRAY’S on Main will build on an experience similar to a turn-of-the-century bash, as the wait-staff will be appropriately attired and the three-story building will be dressed with warm lighting and dramatic drapes for the themed night.

Those who wish to attend can purchase a single ticket for $65 or a couples ticket for $100—each including heavy appetizers, a drink ticket, the Marquee Mayfield performance and a champagne toast. Guests are encouraged to channel their best Moulin Rouge impressions, and break out their swankiest attire.

On New Year’s Eve, GRAY’S is also accepting reservations on its first floor from 5:00 p.m. until midnight for a chef-selected, four-course meal and complimentary glass of champagne for a cost of $75 per person. Guests who wish to participate in both the downstairs chef-selected meal and the New Year’s Eve party can do so for $110 per person.

For more information about New Year’s Eve at GRAY’S on Main, visit www.facebook.com/GRAYSfranklin. To purchase tickets for the party or to make first-floor dinner reservations, call (615) 435-3603 *limited seating and tickets are available.

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Monday

American Country Countdown Awards - LIVE from Nashville

Hosted by Florida Georgia Line’s Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, the American Country Countdown Awards is based on country music’s longest-running radio countdown show, “American Country Countdown with Kix Brooks,” and will honor country music’s biggest stars based on album sales and radio airplay.

Performers include Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Kelly Clarkson, Brett Eldredge, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and Hank Williams, Jr.

The inaugural American Country Countdown Awards, airs LIVE from Nashville’s Music City Center on Monday, Dec.15 (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape delayed) on FOX.

Presenters include country artists Kix Brooks, Sara Evans, Hunter Hayes, Maddie & Tae, Scotty McCreery, Thomas Rhett, Chase Rice and Chris Young. NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher and 2014 National League MVP Clayton Kershaw, actors Emily Kinney (“The Walking Dead”) and Melissa Fumero (BROOKLYN NINE-NINE) and Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev will also present.

The two-hour show will also honor Kenny Chesney with The Groundbreaker Award, which recognizes an artist who has consistently pushed the boundaries and is a trailblazer in the realm of concerts, musical accomplishment, creative innovation and connecting with fans across the United States.

Chesney will be on hand to accept his award. Multimedia entertainer Reba will receive the first-ever NASH Icon Award, presented by Kix Brooks, which celebrates an iconic artist whose extraordinary talent has influenced generations of musicians and who has made a profound and lasting impact on country music. Kelly Clarkson and Miranda Lambert will join together to honor Reba with a special tribute performance.

The American Country Countdown Awards is produced by dick clark productions. Allen Shapiro (CEO, dick clark productions), Mike Mahan (President, dick clark productions), Mark Bracco (Executive Vice President, Programing and Development, dick clark productions), John Dickey (Executive Vice President of Content and Programming, Cumulus), Richard Godfrey (“MTV Europe Music Awards”) and Tom Forrest (“CMT Crossroads”) are executive producers. Baz Halpin is co-executive producer. For more information, please visit: TheACCAwards.com

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Thursday

Five Steps to Being Financially Fit in the New Year

Five Steps to Being Financially Fit in the New Year

It’s another new year, and that means it’s time for yet another set of resolutions. But if you're like most Americans, you'll probably forget your goals by mid-February. So how can you turn your financial resolutions into reality in 2015?

Make a plan. The number-one mistake people make with their money is they don’t bother with a plan. They have no idea where their money is going! The money comes in and the money goes out, and only the names are changed to protect the innocent.

You have to do a budget! Put a name to every dollar you earn. Tell your money what to do instead of wondering where it went. Remember, it takes at least three months of practice and dedication to really make your budget work.

Save for emergencies. Murphy is going to visit. You know Murphy: If something can go wrong, it will. I promise you it’s going to rain from time to time, so you’ll need an umbrella. Save $1,000 in cash as quickly as possible for an emergency fund before you begin attacking your debt.

After you pay off all your debt except for your mortgage, increase your emergency fund to cover three to six months of expenses. Layoffs happen, cars break down, and kids get sick. A fully funded emergency fund can turn these disasters into nothing more than minor inconveniences.

Don’t make the mistake of putting life’s emergencies on a credit card. You’ll end up paying on them for months or even years to come. An emergency fund gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can handle whatever life throws at you.

Use the debt snowball. List all of your debts, except your house, from smallest payoff balance to largest. Make the minimum payment on every debt except the smallest and put every extra dollar you can find toward the smallest debt until it is paid.

If you can find a way to generate extra income, do it! Take on a part-time job for a while or have a big yard sale and get rid of that stuff you never use, wear or didn’t want in the first place! Then focus on paying off the next smallest debt, then the next, then the next, rolling the money over each time.

Have plastic surgery. Cut up all of your credit cards. We call this a plasectomy. Everyone says they pay off their credit cards each month, but the truth is virtually no one does.

Carnegie Melon conducted a study that showed when McDonalds began accepting credit cards, the average purchase increased by 47 percent. People are more reluctant to spend money when they see tens and twenties leaving their wallets and going into someone else’s. You really feel it when you have to lay out cash. Get rid of the credit cards!

Invest for the future. When you’re debt-free and have a fully funded emergency fund, you’re ready to start planning for the future. Invest 15 percent of your income in a 401(k), Roth IRA and other tax-advantaged retirement plans. Why not more? Because the extra money you’ll save can go toward saving for college (if you have kids) or paying off your home early.

Do these things sound like a dream? Well, I can tell you from experience that some dreams do come true. If you’re willing to be disciplined and focused, live on a budget, and have a plan for your money, the sky’s the limit. Make 2015 the year you begin to live like no one else, so later you really can live like no one else!

by Dave Ramsey

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