Tennessee editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:
Kingsport Times News on legislation that would give first responders and EMS personnel the ability to carry guns on the job:
Should firefighters and emergency responders be armed? A bill moving through the Tennessee legislature would allow local supervisors to make that decision, although it’s rare for first responders to be shot or shot at. Units authorized to carry concealed weapons will incur substantial increases in liability insurance, resulting in increased budget costs to local taxpayers.
Sponsors say the bill would allow firefighters and EMS personnel to protect themselves when they respond to emergencies in rural areas where law enforcement response times are slower due to the distance required to arrive at a scene. But those are areas least able to afford higher insurance costs. As well, there are concerns about how firefighters would secure weapons if they are fighting a fire and would need to disarm themselves.
We believe the bill blurs the line between police and other emergency personnel and places firefighters and EMS workers at greater risk.
Currently, they are seen as unarmed persons who come to help those in need. But if this bill is approved, the bad guys won’t know whether or not they are armed and will consider them as risks to be dealt with. And if EMS personnel are called to a scene where guns may be prohibited such as a school or a hospital, they will have to disarm themselves before entering, wasting precious time.
The bill provides that responders would only require eight hours of annual training, grossly insufficient to prepare emergency personnel to make life-or-death decisions with a weapon. It increases the odds that if under fire, they could return fire to the wrong person, shooting a team member or a bystander.
Police undergo thorough training and do not use deadly force except as a last resort. A firefighter who shoots someone to death without having the same level of training as a police officer could face repercussions. And so would the community for which the responder works.
There’s no doubt that in a more violent society, firefighters and EMS responders are at increased risk of being injured or even shot at. But it’s not at a level where they should be armed. And if it’s not a problem in Tennessee, why bother with legislation that causes a different one?
Johnson City Press, on a troubled local shelter for the homeless:
As one of a handful of organizations dedicated to helping Johnson City’s indigent population, the Haven of Mercy provides an essential service to this community. The ministry provides shelter and food when others would turn a blind eye.
The Haven offers men’s and women’s shelters for the homeless, a free dining room and other charitable programs.
On March 26, the Haven lost its primary source of funding when a fire ruined its thrift store on North Broadway Street, along with the cache of donated items inside. The building, which was insured, was condemned in the aftermath. The fire’s cause remained under investigation, however, leaving the Haven somewhat in limbo.
Grant Rockley, the ministry’s CEO and pastor, told Staff Writer Sue Guinn Legg the Haven was looking for another building to replace the burned out thrift store. In the meantime, the ministry still has a thrift shop in Boones Creek, where donated items are needed to replace those lost in fire.
Donations of furniture, housewares and clothing and other new or good used items can be dropped off at the Boones Creek shop, just off Boones Creek Road at 1017 Quality Circle, or at the Haven of Mercy shelter at 123 W. Millard St. in downtown Johnson City. Pickup can be arranged by calling the shelter at 929-0616.
Monetary donations can be made at the Haven of Mercy Ministries website at www.havenofmercy.net or by mail to P.O. Box 5490, Johnson City, TN 37602.
The Haven is there in times in need. Please be there in the Haven’s time in need.
Cleveland Daily Banner, on reducing household toxic materials:
Anyone who didn’t spend last weekend — or part of it, anyway — cleaning out under the kitchen sink, sorting through a cluttered storage shed or wading through the debris field of a basement, utility room or garage must not have gotten the message.
But don’t fret. There’s still time.
In our Cleveland and Bradley County community, Saturday will be the spring version of Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day, a semi-annual roundup of leftover toxic materials that — when their usefulness has expired — should not be tossed into the kitchen trash or the back-door garbage can.
If this happens, their next stop is the Bradley County Landfill and that’s the last thing the south Bradley County facility needs. Household toxins, also billed as hazardous waste, should be disposed of properly with the intent of protecting the environment and extending the life of the landfill.
The coming HHWCD, which continues a years-long tradition, will be held again in the parking lot of the Bradley County Justice Center from 8 a.m. to noon.
There’s no charge. All participants are asked to do is to deliver their household toxins in sturdy cardboard boxes — preferably lined in plastic or old newspapers to prevent leakage — and event volunteers and contract personnel will do the unloading . from trunks, from back seats or from the beds of pickup trucks, or from whatever means of transport the materials are brought; maybe even from horseback, though that likely would be a precedent.
Cheryl Dunson, now the retired executive vice president of marketing for Santek Waste Services which administers the HHWCD initiative with a slew of partners, still serves as project coordinator.
To borrow from the popular adage, this is not her first rodeo. A farmer’s wife in her private life, Dunson understands the beauty of nature and the benefits of protecting Planet Earth and her natural resources. Keeping toxins out of the soil and water — a commitment that starts with keeping them out of landfills — is what the collection day is all about.
And by the way, for those planning to deliver a load of household waste on Saturday, you’re also invited to bring along two bags filled with old personal documents that have outlived their use. Thanks to a partnership with the Better Business Bureau of Cleveland, this personal paperwork will be shredded on-site; and again, at no charge to the local resident.
Dunson lends an excellent perspective to the occasion.
“Spring is a great time of the year to take stock of what’s lurking under your sink, in your garage or buried in a stack of papers,” she told a Cleveland Daily Banner editor.
Santek, which has worked hard to keep this program going for years, is not doing it alone. As mentioned, the Cleveland office of BBB jumped aboard a few years ago to provide the shredding service. But some longtime partners include Bradley County government, Cleveland/Bradley Keep America Beautiful, Cleveland Utilities and the BCSO.
Here’s the skinny on what you can bring: Paints, solvents, cleaners, pesticides, automotive fluids, aerosols, old computers, TV sets and fluorescent light bulbs, and a lot more. For a complete list, see the flier that was included in your last Cleveland Utilities monthly statement.
But, don’t bring these: Tires, empty paint cans, microwaves and vacuum cleaners. They’re not considered hazardous. So, they can be tossed into the regular garbage or taken directly to the Bradley County Landfill. Also, take your lead-acid batteries and waste oil to the landfill for recycling.
A few additional reminders:
—Arrive early because the event will close promptly at noon.
—If original labels of containers are worn off or no longer legible, replace them with handmade signage.
—Do not mix substances like powders, liquids, granules or other materials. Improper mixing can create noxious fumes; or, in some cases they can go “boom.”
—No commercial or agribusiness waste will be accepted.
—Limited to Cleveland and Bradley County residents only.
—Be patient. Be patient. Be patient.
For additional information, contact Dunson at 423-641-5990.
We’ve said it for years, and we’ll keep saying it. HHWCD is a tremendous asset for our hometown and a valued opportunity to do the right thing.
So, didn’t do that cleaning out last weekend?
Not to worry. You’ve still got two days until Saturday morning’s big dance. If your job gets in the way, just tell the boss you need the afternoon off . not to watch March Madness, but to save the planet.