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Tennessee editorial roundup

August 7, 2019

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

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Aug. 7

Johnson City Press on recent mass shootings across the country:

Hate. Hatred.

Either term defines strong emotions of intense dislike. With increasing frequency, hatred manifests itself in the form of violent, directed animosity eradicating or causing injury to innocent lives. Witness the dead and injured in El Paso last Saturday. Witness the dead and injured just hours later in Dayton, Ohio.

We take some solace in the fact that most expressions of hatred pull up short of deadly violence. But what is not a demonstration of violence now often fuels other shared sentiments. The flames of hate rise with each word spewed at the fire.

Dislike is one thing. We can dislike something or someone for any number of differing reasons. You may dislike a politician for a vote, a viewpoint or a political tactic. You may dislike a baseball team because that team habitually keeps ‘your team’ out of the playoffs. You may dislike a particular food simply because it doesn’t agree with your palette.

Hate is stronger. Hate blazes in the soul. Hate consumes and feeds upon itself and on other encountered hate. Without control — or letting the hate go in favor of something positive — hate seeks fuel to perpetuate.

The horrors in El Paso and Dayton last weekend yet again demonstrated the depths hate can reach. They yet again demonstrated the depth of hate and the deepening of that ugly, vile emotion in this country.

Theorize as the talking heads will about how we got to this dark place. Theorize as the talking heads will about where, and on whom, to place the blame. (Hint: No matter how young or old you are, you don’t have enough time to complete that list.)

Theorize all you want. Those theories bring us no closer to starting to turn hate on its head.

Instead, make a difference. Just remember: Hate denouncing hate is hate inflamed.

How can you be part of the solution?

If you personally feel an ember of hate about to burst into flame, look for something positive to take your attention.

Choose your words carefully. Words do matter. Not only can they hurt, but they can feed ever-hungry hate.

Disassociate yourself with those filled with and fueled by hate. That’s in real life and on social media.

Don’t be fooled by those who say with hate that they denounce hate. They’re pretty good about disguising themselves.

Digest information with a critical eye and only share that which is factual and void of hateful messages.

Be kind. Be civil. The feeling of calm is oh so much better than the feeling of anger and hate.

Be respectful of those with whom you disagree. Disagreement need not be violent.

Finally, if you see something, say something. Don’t dismiss this as a tired, overworked line. Recently, a grandmother in Lubbock, Texas, who listened to her grandson, found he was plotting a mass shooting and was able to get him help. He was arrested on multiple charges, but not before spending time getting mental health treatment. That grandmother saw something, said something, and saved countless lives.

Simplistic? You bet. That’s intentional. Walk (quickly), then we can run.

Idealistic? Perhaps a little. But every point above practiced by every person reading it will make a difference in multiple lives.

World changing? We must start somewhere. There’s no place like home.

Online: https://www.johnsoncitypress.com

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Aug. 1

The Cleveland Daily Banner on a local teacher’s long career:

In an era when more and more frustrated teachers are leaving the profession — one they once loved — because of pay, hours and unprecedented classroom demands, the question might be asked of those who stay: “Why?”

Linda Lemons, a longtime English teacher at Cleveland High School, answered it best the other day: “The students,” that’s why.

In describing the popular educator, we use the term “longtime” with purpose. She has taught a long, long, very long time.

As classroom doors to begin a new season of learning, Lemons will launch her 50th year in teaching.

No, that’s not a typo. This school year, she celebrates 50 years in the classroom. The Big 5-0. Five decades. Half a century.

If our arithmetic is correct, her first year of teaching came in 1969. That’s the same year Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Richard Nixon commanded the Oval Office. Dave Thomas founded Wendy’s, and the franchise’s popular Frosty cost 35 cents. Hollywood released “The Godfather.” CBS premiered “Hee Haw.” And 90% of American children walked to school.

Yes, 50 years is a long, long, very long time ... to do anything.

Linda Lemons comes to mind as the new school season approaches because last week during the city school system’s inspiring Convocation (teacher in-service) event, she earned a much-deserved award as the recipient of the prestigious Lillie F. Fitzgerald Excellence in Teaching Award.

Locally, it’s the top honor an educator can receive. That’s because the award’s namesake — Lillie F. Fitzgerald, a long-ago teaching legend at Bradley County High School — taught with the kind of passion for her students that now inspires a new generation of educators.

Dr. Rodney Fitzgerald, a retired professor at Cleveland State Community College and former director of the Bradley Cleveland Public Education Foundation — which sponsors the Excellence in Teaching Award — used all the right words when he used an array of words to describe the award recipient.

“Certainly, this year’s winner has inspired many students,” Fitzgerald, the son of Lillie F. Fitzgerald, stressed. “Colleagues, students, administrators and parents describe this teacher as rigorous, respected, compassionate, empathetic, wise, humorous and a problem-solver with a tireless passion for her job.”

The award recipient also possesses a unique talent for engaging not only her high-achieving students, but also those who struggle academically. To her, each student is every student. All students bring a sense of joy, and love, to her job.

In Fitzgerald’s words, Lemons ”... provides an open, non-judgmental classroom,” and one of her many strengths is an uncanny ability to help students relate literature and writing to their personal lives.

As for the award recipient, why again is it that she keeps teaching?

“My heart is with my classroom, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” she told her hundreds of Cleveland colleagues and fellow educators. “I am humbled and honored to be recognized today.”

It is this community that should be humbled. To know we are home to a teacher who still loves the challenge as much as she did on the opening day of the 1969-70 school season should make us all proud, just as it should serve as a model for all regardless of profession or career.

To emulate the enthusiasm of Linda Lemons is to bring education to a new level, one most would have considered improbable in this life, and beyond.

For her dedication to what is still one of the most noble professions imaginable, Lemons will receive a $5,000 gift ... $3,000 of which is for her personal use, and $2,000 goes to her school.

In prior editorials, we have mentioned some people seem destined for certain awards. This is one such telling. Linda Lemons reflects the epitome of what teaching is all about. She embodies the passion required for success in such a career. She understands the patience it takes to mold a student and to touch a classroom.

We congratulate Linda Lemons for all she has done, and for her many good deeds that go unseen.

We credit those who made the selection. And we thank the two whose vision keeps the embers burning in the hearts of those who teach: Dr. Rodney and Margo Fitzgerald.

Teaching is not a chore. It is a gift.

The Fitzgeralds know it, and so did the Fitzgerald who came before.

Online: http://clevelandbanner.com

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July 31

Kingsport Times-News on developers asking for community input on a new site:

How many times have you wished that this store or that restaurant would locate in Kingsport, but then thought, well, they don’t really care about what I think.

But they do. They’re even asking.

“They” are Foresite Commercial Real Estate of San Antonio, which owns Kingsport Pavilion. The 394,000-square-foot shopping complex opened 12 years ago along East Stone Drive. Continuing east along the highway, it owns another 1 million-plus square feet of undeveloped space. And it wants you to help in deciding what to do with it.

When the Pavilion opened, Foresite said that one day, Phase II would get underway. That day has arrived, and signs have gone up with contact information.

According to a conceptual site plan for the eastern expansion, the property could accommodate 34,000 square feet of shops, include three outparcels, a 26,000-square-foot grocer and a 47,000-square-foot theater. But that’s just speculation at this point.

“We believe the ideal tenants for Phase II of Kingsport Pavilion will be entertainment and dining-related concepts which will benefit greatly from the success of the retailers in Phase I,” said Bethany Babcock, a principal and co-owner of Foresite. “Our pre-leasing team is actively approaching these businesses on behalf of the development.”

Since development discussions are preliminary, Kingsport does not have a role to play in the project at this time, said Nathan Woods, a development planner with the city.

“We are in contact with the developer and will walk alongside him as he finalizes plans and secures tenants for the site,” Woods said.

“Our hope is that this development would present Kingsport with retail opportunities not previously seen in the region. Such a development would likely fare well.”

Meanwhile, Foresite officials are encouraging Kingsport residents to share their ideas and suggestions for the project on a Facebook page: facebook.com/pg/kingsportpavilion/posts. And ideas are pouring in.

Among suggested retailers are Home Goods, Christmas Tree Shops, Trader Joe’s, Hills Department Store, Costco, Buckles, Torrid, Publix, Dress Barn and The Container Store. And among suggested eateries: Jack In The Box, Whataburger, Baskin-Robbins, Carl’s Jr, The Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang’s. Babcock said Foresite would use these suggestions when approaching prospective retailers, showing them how much local demand exists for their services and products.

Phase I of the site is home to 25 businesses. Phase II can support many more, and Woods believes the demand exists.

“The buying power is here and the demand is here, so we really feel like that would totally complement what’s there,” he said.

Phase II also could involve residential.

“Hopefully some things we don’t have in Kingsport or haven’t seen before,” Woods said.

The developer plans to visit with city leaders in the near future. There is no solid timeline on Phase II as yet, but now’s the time to get your suggestions in.

Online: http://clevelandbanner.com

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