Editorial Roundup: Tennessee

Kingsport Times News. April 25, 2022.

Editorial: Wise County Deputy Nathaniel Baker is a hero

If anyone has ever been at the right place at the right time, it is Wise County Sheriff’s Deputy Nathaniel Baker, who joins those heroes who have saved a life. Baker is credited by Appalachia Fire Department personnel with saving an Inman Village resident after a fire started in her apartment’s kitchen.

Baker got an early start to his shift on April 18 and responded to a disturbance call at Inman Village. While talking with two men about 6:20 a.m. at a second-story balcony of one of the apartment blocks, one of the two men noticed a fire directly below them.

When he investigated, “I saw smoke at the door and soot accumulating at the top of the door,” Baker said of the fire, which started in the apartment downstairs from where he had been standing.

“I knocked at the door, and there was no response,” he said.

Going around to the ground-floor appointment’s rear, Baker could see more smoke. He went to his car and retrieved a sledgehammer and pry bar and broke down the front door. Inside he found thick smoke through which he could see a fire in the kitchen area.

“I located a female about 10 to 15 feet from the front door, and she was not responsive,” Baker said. “I pulled at her and she came to but was kind of frantic.”

Baker led the woman from the apartment’s living room, and she was checked by emergency personnel and found to suffer no major injuries.

“The guy who lived there told Baker that his wife was inside and the door locked,” Appalachia Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Travis Anderson said. “If Baker hadn’t been there, she might have died from smoke inhalation. He’s a brave deputy and does his job well.”

Anderson said his department arrived just as Baker had rescued the woman. Fire and rescue crews were able to secure the fire scene within an hour.

“Baker and two other deputies started clearing residents from the building, and no one else was injured,” said Anderson.

“I’m very impressed with Deputy Baker,” Wise County Sheriff Grant Kilgore said. “With everything that law enforcement has gone through, especially through the pandemic, our deputies show their dedication and professionalism every day.”

Baker, who suffered no injuries, has been reluctant to take credit for his rescue.

“I’ve got a family who supports me and what I do,” said Baker, “and I work for a great agency that gives me the tools and equipment I need to do my job.”

Baker holds a bachelor of science degree in environmental science from The University of Virginia’s College at Wise and has been with the sheriff’s department for a decade. He joins others in the region who have saved a life such as Brandon Keller and his father, Tim, who saved an 89-year-old Sullivan County man trapped in an overturned and burning vehicle last Christmas Day. The Kellers were presented the Citizen Lifesaving Award by Sheriff Jeff Cassidy.

On Thursday, Baker received a standing ovation from the Appalachia Town Council, which passed a resolution telling Baker, “Thank you for what you do.”

We join them in honoring Deputy Baker. Had he not forced his way into the apartment, the unconscious woman would likely have lost her life.

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Johnson City Press. April 27, 2022.

Editorial: Get ready for kitten season

Animal shelters in our region are preparing for an onslaught of strays as the temperature warms, and they need everyone’s help to weather the influx.

Each spring marks the start of a new kitten season, when cats give birth to hundreds of unwanted animals that end up on shelters’ doorsteps.

Tammy Davis, director of the Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter told Press reporter Jonathan Roberts this week that it seems kitten season gets longer every year.

Davis and her staff are already gearing up for the expected flood of felines and will hold a kitten shower donation drive this Saturday for funds and needed items to help care for the animals.

The shelter needs items like canned and dry food, litter, toys, treats and cleaning supplies. For a full list, visit bit.ly/3Ke2mWi.

Animal lovers can also help shelters relieve the burden of pets in their care by adopting or fostering.

Hundreds of grateful and loving animals are currently looking for forever homes and would make terrific companions.

Current pet owners can also proactively help control the pet population by having their pets spayed and neutered. One of the best ways to prevent unwanted animals is to keep them from being born in the first place.

It’s up to us to do our parts to help care for our animal friends.

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