In This Issue


Grant Applications

2017 Risk & Insurance Symposium

Welcome, Bob Lynch

FEMA and Natural Disasters

Public Trust and Public Funds

Why Texting Isn’t Like Other Kinds
of Distracted Driving


Tennessee Trivia

Q. How many states share a border with Tennessee?

Click here for the answer

Message from the President

Dawn

Stress. Most of us are faced with it every day. It is good to learn how to handle stress as it can affect our performance and relationships at work and at home. At work, stress can lead to distraction and cause an unfortunate accident. At home, stress can put a strain on family relationships.

Stress usually occurs when there are changes in our lives and we feel that we don't have enough resources to deal with them. Some people react to stress by eating or drinking too much, losing sleep or smoking cigarettes. Stress may also make you more susceptible to illnesses, including the common cold and ulcers.

The first step to managing stress is to identify your stressors. Stressors may not only be events that cause you to feel sad, frightened, anxious or happy. You can cause stress through your thoughts, feelings and expectations.

Stressors can include:

  • Not having enough time
  • Unexpected change(s)
  • Family problems
  • Extra responsibility
  • Personality clashes
  • Financial difficulties

Coping with stress in a positive way is the key to dealing with the big and little everyday stressors.

  • Acceptance — Many of us worry about things over which we have no control. One way to manage stress is to accept when things are beyond our control. It may be helpful to think positive thoughts, such as "Someday I'll laugh about this," or "It's a learning experience."

  • Attitude — Try to focus on the positive side of situations. Ask yourself, "What good can come out of this?" or, as I used to say to my children, “Let’s find the silver lining in the cloud.” Solutions come more easily when you focus on the positive, and your stress level will be reduced.

  • Perspective — We often worry about things that never happen. Keep things in perspective by asking yourself, "How important is this situation? Can I do anything about it?”

Think about the situations in your life that cause you stress. Are they important or unimportant? Are they controllable or uncontrollable? If they are controllable events, you can take action to change the situation. If they are uncontrollable, you can use your skills in acceptance, attitude and perspective to reduce the stress.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

— William James

Best Regards,
signature
Dawn R. Crawford
President/CEO

 

Grant Applications

Applications for the James L. Richardson Driver Safety Grant will be accepted until Sept. 29th. This grant program offers financial assistance to PE Partner members to address training needs and safety concerns for employees who operate city or agency vehicles. PE Partner members who have automobile liability coverage are eligible to apply for this 50/50 matching grant. Recipients will be notified in October.

Public Entity Partners’s Property Conservation Grant is for property loss prevention items, such as lightning protection systems, security fencing, infrared thermography, and sprinkler head protective cages. Applications will be available beginning the week of Oct. 9th.

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2017 Risk & Insurance Symposium

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2nd Annual Risk & Insurance Symposium! We were fortunate to host 167 participants at this year’s symposium, representing 78 PE Partner members and numerous insurance agent partners.

We received great feedback from participants in a follow-up survey, confirming that our members truly value the training opportunities that we provide. More than 80 percent of survey respondents were very satisfied with the symposium, with 98 percent of survey respondents being satisfied or very satisfied overall. We will take your feedback and work to make the program even better next year!

Congratulations to Stephanie Richey with the South Central Human Resource Authority, who won the drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card! Everyone who submitted a survey had an opportunity to enter the drawing.

Be sure to save the date for next year’s symposium, scheduled for Aug. 22nd – 24th, 2018. We will be back at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs.

If you have suggestions for sessions at next year’s symposium, please contact Halie Gallik at 800.624.9698 or hgallik@PEpartners.org.

Here’s what survey respondents had to say about the symposium . . .

“I love the diversity of topics.”

“The conference was very informative with appropriate subject matter. Good speakers.”

“Great sessions! Very informative and relative to my job.”

“This was a very nice conference. I will be attending again in the future!”

“The conference was one of the best planned I've attended. The breakout sessions were great!”

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Welcome, Bob Lynch

Please join us in welcoming Bob Lynch as our Property Conservation Consultant for Middle Tennessee. Bob comes to Public Entity Partners after a lengthy career with the City of Cookeville, where he worked in police, fire and emergency medical services, and most recently as the city’s risk coordinator.

Bob has worked closely with Public Entity Partners for many years in his roles with the City of Cookeville, and PE Partner members will benefit from his wide array of experience and expertise. In his new role, Bob will conduct property conservation surveys in the Middle Tennessee territory, and make recommendations to assist members in protecting public resources and infrastructure.

“I couldn’t be more excited to work with the fine folks in the Middle Tennessee area,” Bob says. “I am looking forward to meeting PE Partner members. Public Entity Partners provided assistance to me as I helped to build the City of Cookeville’s risk management program, and I hope to be able to help PE Partner members in the same way.”

Public Entity Partners’s Property Conservation team works daily to assist members in their property conservation programs. From implementing simple housekeeping measures and installing fire extinguishers to evaluating transformers and substations, property conservation is a vital part of an effective risk management program.

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FEMA and Natural Disasters

We have recently watched our peers in Texas and Florida endure hurricanes, severe winds and flooding, and our peers in the western United States as they've battled wildfires. These hardships bring to mind the natural disasters we have faced here in Tennessee. Our state is no stranger to these same types of events. From tornadoes and flooding to the tragic wildfires experienced in the Smokies last year, we encounter some sort of natural disaster nearly every year.

It is very important that you take some time to familiarize yourself with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) processes for applying for aid and for determining eligibility. Be sure to take a look at “An Introduction to FEMA for Government Entities and Eligible Nonprofits” by Gallagher Public Sector Practice, which provides valuable information to help you gain a better understanding of the pre- and post-event actions that will protect and prepare your entity.

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Public Trust and Public Funds

Public trust is one of the most revered responsibilities that is bestowed on elected officials and government employees. Sadly, that trust is frequently broken. As of July 1st, 2017, public employees could receive harsher penalties if they are convicted of misdemeanor offenses during their employment.

Elected and appointed officials have long been on the list of the types of offenders who are ineligible for pretrial diversion. During this past legislative session, the General Assembly passed legislation to extend that prohibition to all public employees.

Suspended prosecution or pretrial diversion allows a case to be put on hold for a period of time. After the conclusion of that period, the case could be dismissed if there are no other similar offenses during that period of time. The changes to TCA § 40-15-105, however, stipulate that public employees who commit misdemeanor offenses in the course of their employment do not qualify for suspended prosecution or pretrial diversion.

One way that governmental entities can help bolster public trust and protect public monies is to adopt sound internal control policies and practices. All Tennessee municipalities are required by law to have written guidelines for internal controls.

To download the “Internal Control and Compliance Manual for Governmental Entities and Other Audited Entities in Tennessee,” click here.

Public Entity Partners offers a Financial Control Loss Control Guideline on our website. To view this guideline, along with additional guidelines that are available through Public Entity Partners, log in here.

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Why Texting Isn’t Like Other Kinds of Distracted Driving

Great post from Livescience.com

A "sixth sense" may protect drivers when they're a bit distracted behind the wheel — but not if they're texting while driving, a new study finds.

Drivers in the study were able to stay in their lanes when researchers distracted the participants with challenging questions. This likely happens because the brain subconsciously corrects for any mistakes that are made. But when the drivers were asked to text while behind the wheel, they tended to drift between lanes. Normally, "the driver's mind can wander, and his or her feelings may boil, but a sixth sense keeps a person safe, at least in terms of [avoiding] veering off course," Ioannis Pavlidis, a professor of computer science at the University of Houston and the lead author of the study, said in a statement. "What makes texting so dangerous is that it wreaks havoc into this sixth sense."

In the study, 59 participants were asked to drive, in a driving simulator, down a challenging stretch of virtual highway under normal, nonstressful conditions. Then, the participants drove the same stretch under three different stressful conditions: cognitive stress, during which the driver was asked mathematical or analytical questions; emotional stress, during which the driver was asked "emotionally stirring" questions; and "sensorimotor" stress, "where the driver needs to move [his or her] eyes and one hand between the car's controls and the smartphone all the time." In this study, the sensorimotor stressor was texting.

The researchers measured every driver's biological stress response during each condition by looking at how much the driver was sweating around the nose. They also measured how many times the driver drifted into another lane.

In all of the stressful situations, the drivers' stress levels went up. In addition, the increased stress levels were associated with jittery handling of the steering wheel, which could result in drivers drifting into other lanes. However, when drivers were challenged cognitively or emotionally, they were able to correct for these "jitters" and stay in their lanes. It was only when the drivers' hand-eye coordination was disrupted, such as while texting, that they drifted into other lanes.

The "sixth sense," or the ability of drivers to correct their driving mistakes, may come from the part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex. This part of the brain "is known to automatically intervene as an error corrector" when there is a problem, Pavlidis said. For example, if a jittery, stressed-out driver turns the steering wheel to the left, the brain responds instantaneously by steering back toward the right. This ensures that the driver's steering is straight, he said.

This "sixth sense," or subconscious correction, requires hand-eye coordination. When drivers text at the wheel, they interrupt the necessary hand-eye coordination, and the brain no longer immediately corrects the mistakes.

Still, the results of the study don't give people license to let themselves get distracted while driving. The researchers noted that extreme levels of cognitive and emotional stress would lead to unsafe driving, and that the threshold for the amount of stress that could cause unsafe driving is unclear.

See more at: http://www.livescience.com/54718-distracted-driving-texting-sixth-sense.html#sthash.MF1xmeiJ.dpuf

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Tennessee Trivia

Q: How many states share a border with Tennessee?

A. Tennessee shares a border with eight other states: Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. Missouri is the only other state to share a border with as many states.