Tennessee editorial roundup

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

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Nov. 19

The Greenville Sun on smoke detectors:

Smoke detectors save lives.

If you needed convincing of that, an article on the front page of Monday’s edition (Nov. 18) of the Greeneville Sun should’ve done the trick. As Ken Little reported, a family of seven likely survived a Saturday morning fire that destroyed their Collins Road home thanks to a smoke detector.

Kimberly Brockwell told firefighters the sounding alarm of a smoke detector woke her up around 4 a.m. She found the living room ceiling on fire. Brockwell, her husband, their four children and a nephew made it out safely before firefighters arrived to find the home engulfed in flames.

Jay Wihlen, chief of the United Volunteer Fire Department, left no doubt as to what he believed saved the family. “Had she not had a smoke detector she would have perished in that fire,” Wihlen said of Brockwell. “She only had seconds to get out of the house.”

Another family evacuated their Old Stage Road home early Monday after a fire started in the garage. Again, smoke detectors alerted the residents to the blaze and, Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department Chief Marty Shelton said, may have saved their lives.

It’s not a difficult connection to make. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, an arm of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 60% of home fire deaths occur in properties without working smoke alarms, and nearly 40% result from fires where no smoke alarms are present. The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms, according to the agency.

Those are odds worth taking into account when weighing how to protect your own life and the lives of loved ones. And it’s an especially easy decision to make given that smoke alarms are available free of charge through a State Fire Marshal’s Office program. Call your local fire department to get one, and to learn more about how to keep yourself and your family safe from a home fire and what to do if you’re confronted with one.

It’s simple: make sure your home has smoke detectors; make sure they’re working; make sure your family knows what to do if you hear their alarm. Those steps could make all the difference when you only have seconds.

Online: https://www.greenevillesun.com

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Nov. 18

The Crossville Chronicle on local bus routes:

Thank you, Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency.

Your new Go Upper Cumberland bus service combined with the My Ride Upper Cumberland rideshare program helps people of this community overcome the barriers that prevent them from getting out of their homes and into our community.

There are so many reasons people may not have access to reliable transportation, from health conditions that make driving unsafe to trouble affording repairs on vehicles.

Go Upper Cumberland bus service is available six days a week, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Rides are $1 per trip with a 50% discount for veterans, disabled residents and seniors over age 60. One-day and monthly passes are available.

There are two routes: Gold and Blue. Both start at the UCHRA office on Old Jamestown Hwy., every hour, with the following stops:

GOLD ROUTE

•Save-A-Lot — every hour at 5 minutes past

•Art Circle Public Library — every hour at 12 minutes past

•Cumberland County Health Department -- every hour at 18 minutes past

•Cumberland Medical Center — every hour at 25 minutes past

•Garrison Park — every hour at 30 minutes past

•Food City — every hour at 35 minutes past

•Kroger — every hour at 40 minutes past

•Walmart — every hour at 47 minutes past

BLUE ROUTE

•Kroger — every hour at 10 minutes past

•Cumberland County Health Department — every hour at 23 minutes past

•Cumberland Medical Center — every hour at 28 minutes past

•Art Circle Public Library — every hour at 31 minutes past

•Walmart — every hour at 53 minutes past

If you need a ride, simply wave at the bus from the curb.

This deviated fixed-route bus system also allows the buses to go off the route slightly to pick up individuals within three-fourths of a mile off the route. Call 456-0691 Monday-Thursday or 335-9012 on Friday and Saturday to request this service.

The project uses funding from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

My Ride is a rideshare program for seniors. Volunteers use an app and can choose which rides they will take, providing door-through-door transportation.

This service is for individuals age 60 and older. They pay a $25 membership fee each year and then $2 each way per trip with a $1 charge for additional stops.

Call 1-833-9MYRIDE to learn more. Volunteers are an essential part of the program. Call Beth Stephens, volunteer coordinator, at 931-260-6408 to learn about helping seniors get back into the community, get to their medical appointments, take care of errands and live independently.

As a columnist of this publication noted earlier this year, the transportation options available for people without a vehicle were quite scarce. While these programs don't address all transportation needs of our residents, they are a quantum leap forward for residents across the county.

Thank you to UCHRA and the local leaders who helped bring this important program to Crossville and Cumberland County.

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

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Nov. 17

The Johnson City Press on the legacy of a segregated high school and the first African Americans to integrate into East Tennessee State University:

Every person who calls Johnson City home should commit these names to memory: Eugene Caruthers, George Nichols, Luellen Wagner, Elizabeth Crawford and Clarence McKinney.

As the first blacks to integrate what is now East Tennessee State University in the 1950s, these five pioneers paved the way for thousands of others toward a rightful place in higher education. They bravely enrolled despite the violence in other communities perpetrated by whites who opposed integration.

Shamefully, 60 some years later that legacy is still being targeted. Two weeks ago, flyers with the phrase “It’s Okay To Be White” were plastered across the ETSU campus, including over the five placards memorializing the contributions these five students made to the institution’s history.

It was a cowardly act born of ignorance, hate and jealousy. The still-faceless perpetrators clearly have an inherent lack of self-worth since they feel a need to diminish the accomplishments of others to state their own places in society.

It is now and has always been OK to be white in America.

What’s lost on the imbeciles who posted those flyers is that it has not always been safe and socially equitable to be a minority in America.

And while progress may have been made, the struggle for equal footing continues in 2019. No magic wand has been on hand to erase centuries of prejudicial treatment, oppression and generational disadvantages.

That’s why the memorial at ETSU is so important. Our history shapes our present.

Four of the five on that memorial wall spent time at Langston High School, the city’s secondary school for blacks during segregation. Three — Nichols, Crawford and McKinney — were Langston students. Caruthers, the first to enroll at East Tennessee State College as a graduate student in 1955, taught Nichols and others at Langston.

Today (Nov. 17), Johnson City took another step for history and social justice with the opening of the Langston Centre, a multicultural education facility and community gathering place created from the school’s shell. It took Johnson City 54 years to make this right.

When the courts forced Johnson City schools to integrate in 1965 — 11 years after the U.S Supreme Court said they should have — the city closed Langston and later used it as a school maintenance facility. By the time the maintenance department vacated the building in 2016, severe negligence had left the original 1893 building and a later classroom addition unsalvageable.

As Langston alumni lobbied to see their old school converted for community use, they were disappointed to learn that only the gymnasium addition would stand.

But stand it does. The $2.5 million project is a testament to the perseverance of Langston’s alumni who challenged a city to do the right thing — even if it was 54 years after the fact. The Langston Education & Arts Development organization, which led the charge, has helped adorn the facility with memorabilia from Langston’s glory days as a lasting tribute.

It should not be lost on you that the ugly incident at ETSU happened just weeks before the Langston Centre’s grand opening. The dichotomy at hand represents exactly why the Langston project was a long overdue step in this town.

We strongly believe the Langston Centre’s development represents the growth of sentiment in this community. Yes, as proven at ETSU, some among us are unwilling to shed themselves of the racist trappings of the past, which hold back all of humankind. But far more are opening their minds — some more quickly and definitively than others.

As of today, at least some justice is in brick and mortar in Johnson City. We should celebrate.

Online: https://www.johnsoncitypress.com