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Gov. Bill Haslam filled a room full of people with joy when he complimented a local sixth-grader today in Hendersonville.

"Hannah, if you ever run for governor, I'm toast," Haslam said. "Please wait a while before you run for governor."

Hendersonville resident Hannah Grubbs, 10, received $500 for her Bows & Ballcaps charity from the Hendersonville Rotary Club at Bluegrass Yacht & Country Club where Haslam was the guest speaker.

An upcoming sixth-grader at Sumner Academy in Gallatin, Grubbs has alopecia areata, a skin condition that caused her to lose her hair. Inspired by the kindness of others who often think she has cancer, Grubbs launched in 2013 a nonprofit that uses donations to distribute head accessories to children suffering from cancer.

During his speech, the governor emphasized he spends most of his focus on managing finances and getting Tennesseans employed.

"We try to run the state's finances just like you would at your house or your business in a responsible, conservative way," Haslam said.

He pointed out that Tennessee has the lowest debt in the country and double the savings of other states. With Tennessee running as the fastest improving state in education, Haslam emphasized the importance of post-secondary schooling for enabling employment with his Drive to 55 challenge. The challenge aims that by 2025, 55 percent of Tennesseans will have college degrees or certifications.

"We're at 33 percent," Haslam said. "To get from 33 percent to 55 percent is an incredible challenge.

"If we don't get there, Tennessee jobs will go elsewhere."

TN Promise deadline: Nov. 1

A key education facilitator under Drive to 55, he said, will be the Tennessee Promise program that offers graduating seniors two years of community college or college of applied technology for free. Interested graduates need to apply for Tennessee Promise before Nov. 1.

"We think that can dramatically impact the number of Tennesseans who go on to get a 2-year degree and then a 4-year degree," Haslam said. "Please help us get that message out."

Sumner County Executive Anthony Holt thanked Haslam for his support with the proposed vocational college in Portland. Projected to function as an extension of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Nashville, the Portland campus could offer classes as early as spring 2015.

"We're in a great position to take advantage of Tennessee Promise with Volunteer State Community College and the Portlandtechnical school," Holt said. "We're hoping for a better result than Drive to 55. We're hoping for Drive to 75."

Contact Dessislava Yankova at 575-7170. Follow her on Twitter @desspor.

Learn more

Tennessee Promise: www.driveto55.org/tennessee-promise/

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