Editorial Roundup: Tennessee

Johnson City Press. September 6, 2023.

Editorial: Don’t contribute to Tennessee Trash

Tennessee Trash was one of the state’s longest running and most successful public service announcement programs for a reason.

The anti-littering campaign debuted on television in 1976, featuring a dirty convertible driver tossing trash onto our roadways with a twanging country song running throughout to tell us what he heel he was. It was rebooted in the 1990s with a new actor but retained the message — “There ain’t no lower class than Tennessee Trash.”

Still, those oft repeated words must have been wasted on some people in our area.

John Thompson, the Press’ Elizabethton Bureau Chief, wrote last week of the efforts of Don Hlavaty, leader of Keep Carter County Beautiful, a volunteer organization dedicated to combating litter and dumping.

In addition to the litter commonly found in ditch lines, the “throwaway bottles” and “pop-top cans” sung about in the ad, Hlavaty and his volunteers often encounter illegal dump sites in remote areas.

Some, like dumps found on steep terrain in the Cherokee National Forest, spoil public lands that are supposed to be preserved in pristine condition for all of us to enjoy and require specialized equipment and personnel to remove.

The Tennessee Trash dumping their old tires and ratty furniture in our scenic wilderness to save a few bucks on landfill fees really are the lowest of the low.

That land is set aside for all of us to enjoy. It provides us with health and quality of life benefits, and the tourism it generates is an economic driver for our region.

That’s why littering and dumping in the state is illegal. Violators can be fined and sentenced to community service or jail time.

The problem is catching Tennessee Trash in the act. Law enforcement officials and park rangers have neither the personnel or the resources to patrol for littering violations.

If you see someone tossing trash out of a car window or dumping their loads as they travel, take down their license plate number and call the Tennessee Department of Transportation hotline at 1-877-854-8837.

Callers to the state hotline will reach a recording that asks them to provide information about the vehicle’s license plate, make and model; the day, time and location of the incident; and the type of item tossed or blown from the automobile.

TDOT will mail a letter to the registered owner of the vehicle, along with anti-litter information.

The letter is being called a “gentle reprimand” reminding the recipient that littering is against the law and punishable by a fine of up to $2,500.


Kingsport Times News. September 1, 2023.

Editorial: Please stay cautious in highway work zones

For the next two years, workmen will be busy with repairs of the 60-year-old bridge on State Route 93/John B. Dennis Highway, spanning the South Fork of the Holston River.

That makes for hazardous conditions, and motorists should slow down and take care if they travel this bridge.

But that’s not the only highway construction underway in the region that demands caution, especially for the safety of the workers in these areas.

For purposes of highway repairs, Tennessee is divided into four regions. We’re in region one, where there are 25 state highway projects in various stages of development. Most are to our west, and most are not yet underway, but there are active projects on roads we travel every day in the immediate area either by the state, county or city.

Construction on the bridge began in July, leading to one lane on both sides of the busy bridge. Exposed rebar in the superstructure is being patched and hairline cracks drilled out and repaired. The bridge was constructed in 1963 and handles more than 24,000 cars and trucks daily.

There are several other bridges throughout the area in need of repairs. The most prevalent are two bridges on West Stone Drive that span the North Fork of the Holston River and are rated as “poor.” Those bridges were constructed in 1962 and are slated for replacement, though there is no timeline as yet.

Other projects in the area:

• Lone Star Road: The project along State Route 93 from Interstate 81 to State Route 347 in Sullivan and Washington counties consists of spot improvements.

• Memorial Boulevard: This project extends 8.3 miles from East Center Street to I-81, including four divided lanes from East Center Street to Harbor Chapel.

• State Route 31, Hawkins County: This project consists of spot improvements for 4.3 miles to Adams Lane, addressing sharp curves and limited sight distance.

• Greeneville Bypass: TDOT is considering a bypass around Greeneville, and an Environmental Impact Statement is currently underway to determine what impacts the proposed project will have on the natural and human environment.

• State Route 66, Hawkins County: Proposed improvements for Route 66 from State Route 34 to south of Speedwell Road include widening or realignment of the existing roadway for approximately 5.71 miles.

• State Route 34, Hamblen County: Widening or realignment of the existing roadway.

• State Route 91, Elizabethton: The work involves mainly the addition of a center turn lane between Holly Lane and Roan Street and reconfiguring three traffic signals.

Twenty-six people died in work zone crashes last year.

Also keep in mind is that fines for violating reduced speed limits in work areas are not less than $250.