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Tennessee editorial roundup

August 28, 2019

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:


Aug. 28

The Cleveland Daily Banner on a Tennessee Department of Transportation grant that’ll help expand a public trail:

When the modest Phase 1 of the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway opened in October 2001, few could have imagined the linear park’s eventual impact on exercise, recreation and transportation in our community.

The greenway’s opening leg stretched only from 20th to 25th streets, and physically the initiative lay dormant for the next four years until work began on Phase 2 in Spring 2005. Of course, that doesn’t account for behind-the-scenes planning taking place for the greenway’s future phases.

But now look at it . a 4.1-mile stretch of uninterrupted concrete trail stretching from the northernmost end just beyond Mohawk Drive to the southernmost tip to Willow Street, and slightly beyond.

And it’s the “beyond” part that now finds itself in the news.

For those who follow community headlines, the greenway will not only be getting longer, it will provide a path to Inman Street and The Village Green. And with that access means a direct route to the downtown district.

Thanks to a $1.4 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and a 20% local match — as announced during the Aug. 12 session of the Cleveland City Council — the greenway will be extended south to its longtime goal: Inman Street.

Where the greenway currently ends just south of Willow Street, the extension will pick up and stretch the rest of the way to Inman, connecting the user to Starbuck’s and The Village Green at the corner of Inman and Keith streets, and to all points that make up downtown Cleveland.

The extension has been a goal of city, county and greenway planners for years. It might have come a little sooner, but work on the greenway’s Casteel Connector — which links North Ocoee Street at Ocoee Crossing to Keith Street, and the rest of the way to Tinsley Park — had to be completed first.

The latest grant is coming from TDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program, an initiative launched in 1991 that has since distributed more than $137 million in funds for sidewalks, and bike and pedestrian trails, as well as for the restoration of historic buildings such as train depots and other transportation-related structures.

TDOT, and its sister state office — the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, as well as the locally grown Healthy Community Initiative and other sources — have been especially generous to the greenway. To date, these entities have contributed more than $3.4 million in grants to the linear park.

TDOT is a relevant source of funding for the popular pathway because it has evolved into much more than an opportunity for exercise and recreation. Literally, our community’s greenway is rapidly becoming a means of transportation — a direct and indirect route — to multiple points.

Truly, the greenway has come a long way since connecting 20th Street to 25th. It now provides safe passage to neighborhoods, parks, schools, businesses and recreational facilities for walkers, runners, bicyclists, skateboarders and almost anyone who relies on non-motorized transport.

Cameron Fisher, longtime chairman of the Greenway Board, has worked alongside many to unfold the greenway dream: Board members, the Greenway Public Arts Committee, a slew of greenway advocates, sponsoring businesses and individuals, and local government supporters, among others.

Fisher wisely reminds us much work remains before dirt can be moved on the southern extension. An environmental review must be completed, as well as the acquisition of multiple rights-of-way. Plus, designs must be finished before the pathway is placed on either the north or south side of South Mouse Creek.

In Fisher’s words to our newspaper, “We have lots of I’s to dot and lots of t’s to cross.”

Conceivably, the entire process could take three to four years, but the wait will be worth it. That’s because the greenway is becoming a critical player in the redevelopment of the downtown district.

As important as the greenway is now for recreation and exercise, its role in transportation will be compounded with the coming revitalization of the downtown area.

With a growing legion of amenities — benches, historic markers, its own park, a music stage, a pavilion, restrooms, water fountains, lighting, sponsored banners, gateway arches, a dog park and more — the greenway is stepping into the future.

While the winding linear park will always be a reliable source for exercise, more and more it will become a route from Point A to Point Anywhere.

Online: http://www.clevelandbanner.com


Aug. 26

The Crossville Chronicle on the importance of voting:

A young man who was willing to heed his mother’s advice almost a century ago changed history.

″ . Hurray and vote for Suffrage and don’t keep them in doubt,” Phoebe “Febb” Burn urged her 24-year-old son via a letter from home in McMinn County. “I’ve been waiting to see how you stood but have not seen anything yet ..”

Remembering those words convinced the young man, Tennessee House of Representatives member Harry T. Burn. And with his “aye,” U.S. women gained the right to vote in this country’s elections.

It’s almost appropriate that we reflect on the difference one vote can make as we prepare to celebrate the first century of the 19th Amendment to our U.S. Constitution.

Guaranteeing women the right to vote was one of the most impactful expansions of our democracy. In the years since, women have achieved milestones that many at the founding of this country would have thought improbable, if not impossible.

Women both design and build bridges. They travel to space. They compete in professional sports arenas. They heal in hospitals, pilot jets, make scientific breakthroughs and head up multi-million-dollar corporations.

They serve as prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges from municipal courtrooms up to the U.S. Supreme Court. They make the laws of our land, with more women than ever elected to Congress in the 2018 midterm elections than at any period in U.S. history. Tennesseans made history by sending their first-ever woman to the U.S. Senate. And two years earlier, one of the two major political parties nominated a woman as its candidate for president.

A century of impact, all traced back to one vote.

Today’s political arena is fraught with controversy. Health care, immigration, the environment and social problems are only some of the issues that send elected officials to their party corners. Politicians attack each other and the voters on social media. Nobody wants to rock the boat, for the party’s sake.

In the words of Febb Burn, “I’ve been waiting to see how you stood but have not seen anything yet.”

No matter your leanings, we believe it’s in all of our interests if our leaders cease the partisan postulating and start working together. One person crossing the aisle — either aisle — is all it takes.

One vote can change history.

Online: https://www.crossville-chronicle.com


Aug. 22

Johnson City Press on a hepatitis A outbreak in the state:

If you or members of your family are not up to date with vaccinations against hepatitis A, heed the warning issued by the Tennessee Department of Health and get thee to a clinic or pharmacy.

In the last nine months, more than 2,250 hepatitis A cases have been reported in Tennessee as part of a multistate outbreak that began in 2017. Thirteen deaths have occurred — more than half of them in East Tennessee.

Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by a virus. The highly contagious culprit can be transmitted through contact with feces or consumption of contaminated food or water. Cases can range from mild illness lasting a few weeks to severe conditions lasting several months. Deaths are considered rare, but given the current mortality numbers in Tennessee, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The Department of Health did not specifically address the anti-vaccination movement as a factor in the outbreak, but those who elect not to be vaccinated or have their children undoubtedly are taking unnecessary risks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a single dose of inactivated hepatitis A vaccine is considered to be up to 95% effective and offers protection for up to 11 years.

As Press Senior Reporter Becky Campbell reported the Department of Health’s alert specifically referenced awareness among high-risk groups, including but not limited to people with direct contact with someone who has hepatitis A; people who use drugs, both injection and non-injection drugs; and men who have sexual contact with men. Local health departments are offering free hepatitis A vaccine for people in high-risk groups.

But even if you do not fall into such a category, you and society are better off if you are vaccinated, especially given the potential for infection from contaminated food or water and the highly contagious nature of the virus.

That’s why a single hepatitis A case at Johnson City’s West Market Street McDonald’s last month prompted the Department of Health to urge anyone who ate at that location on July 24 to get the vaccination. More than 800 people did. To be clear, the Department of Health reports that none of the deaths in Tennessee have been linked to the McDonald’s case, and the restaurant was allowed to resume service.

We urge anyone lacking protection from hepatitis A to act immediately. While you’re at it, ask your doctor about any risk for hepatitis B, another serious infection that may be prevented through vaccination.

For more information about all forms of hepatitis and vaccinations, visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/ or call your county’s health department.

Online: https://www.johnsoncitypress.com

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