- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

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April 21

The Knoxville News-Sentinel on a handgun company that’s moving its headquarters to Tennessee:

The announcement that handgun maker SCCY Industries is moving its headquarters to Maryville from Daytona Beach, Florida, is good news.

The company says it plans to start construction on a 75,000-square-foot plant later this year and begin production in mid-to-late 2018. The company has agreed to hire at least 250 new employees, pay at least $17 an hour including benefits and reach a total workforce of 350 employees within five years.

It also says it will invest $22.5 million in Maryville, including $15 million in improvements and equipment. A chunk of that will be $10 million in equipment moved from Florida to Tennessee.

SCCY has moved before, from California to Florida. It grew from one leased building in 2003 to five buildings in 2016 with sales rising from $125,000 to a projected $30 million in 2016.

So, what did it take to entice a company like SCCY to come to Blount County?

The cities of Alcoa and Maryville and the Industrial Development Board of Blount County have been forthcoming in releasing an incentive agreement dated April 5. The agreement says SCCY will pay $1.7 million for a 68-acre parcel in the Big Springs Industrial Park.

The company also may choose between a two-year property tax abatement on land, buildings and equipment or a grant of up to $400,000 to train 250 employees.

Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development declines to discuss incentives, saying it doesn’t have a contract yet for the project, even though the announcement of the move was made last week.

TVA, as is its custom, refuses to discuss incentives, contending they are privileged business data. TVA says the information could be used by other entities for their own recruitment.

SCCY did not return a call to discuss incentives from the state or TVA.

This silence at an announcement of a new industry and well-paying jobs doesn’t serve the public well. Each of the government entities involved is a steward of public money and has a responsibility to disclose how much it is using to attract new or expanding industries. The industry itself has a responsibility to disclose what it is receiving in return for its investment.

TVA - a federally-owned utility - particularly isn’t forthright in how much it subsidizes projects, even if the information has been publicly released otherwise.

For instance, Blount County announced in 2015 that an ammunitions plant would build a $553 million global headquarters in Alcoa’s Partnership Park.

The Blount Partnership said the incentive package was worth $26.6 million, not counting city and county property tax abatements. That included $11 million in free land, $6 million in incentives from the state and a $6.8 million grant from TVA, which TVA wouldn’t acknowledge.

We want new industry and understand oftentimes it costs heavily to make it happen. Letting the public know what it costs should be forefront in any announcement.

Online: https://www.knoxnews.com/

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April 25

The Daily Times of Maryville on synchronous fireflies:

One of the great attractions of these Southern mountains and their foothills is that there are four authentic seasons to enjoy. Aside from the variety that offers, there’s the myriad of memories linked to each time of year.

If you’ve been at the right place at the right time recently after darkness has fallen, you may have already seen one of those little marvels of nature that appear this season of spring: lightning bugs.

They’re already out there - promise, they are. And if you’ve seen one you’ve probably seen more - the flashing tails attract mates.

As for memories, who can’t recall summer evenings as a child running barefoot across a yard at the edge of a woods trying to catch a lightning bug to keep in a jar for just a little while.

It’s one of those rites of passage that link generations. Grandpa and grandma catch the action from their lawn chairs, relishing their memories as the grandkids make their own.

You may be thinking, sure, but there’s one thing wrong. It was fireflies you chased as a kid. Not lightning bugs.

Same thing, of course, but a point well made.

One interesting enough so that a linguistics professor at the University of Cambridge elicited answers from Americans on this question: “What do you call the insect that flies around in the summer and has a rear section that glows in the dark?”

Nationwide the vote was close, with 30.4 percent going for firefly and 29.1 percent picking lightning bug.

In Appalachia the preference is more pronounced, but in the other direction, as 39.7 percent use lightning bug while only 20.9 percent say firefly.

As for the rest, 39.4 percent of respondents replied they interchange the names.

It’s all the same to the Lampyridae family of insects within the order of Coleoptera, which are winged beetles. Talk, talk, talk. They don’t need any of it since they’ve got their signal lights to communicate their desires well enough.

They don’t all have flashing tails, by the way. Some species, and there are lots of ‘em, communicate with each other using pheromones instead.

Think of perfume.

Hey, it’s breeding season, whatever works, right?

It all comes to mind now because Great Smoky Mountains National Park just announced the dates to view the synchronous firefly viewing at Elkmont.

It happens May 30-June 6 and is so popular a parking pass is required and shuttle service provided.

The parking passes go to lottery winners.

The lottery opens for application at noon April 28, just two days away.

Poet Robert Frost might have taken in the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont if he’d had a chance.

After all, he was inspired enough to write “Fireflies in the Garden.”

“Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,

“And here on earth come emulating flies,

“That though they never equal stars in size,

“(And they were never really stars at heart)

“Achieve at times a very star-like start.

“Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.”

Frost was a “firefly” man, as the title attests to. But it really doesn’t matter about the name, after all.

Firefly, lightning bug, lightning fly, fire bug, whatever.

Oh, wait!

Cut that last one, there’s been more than enough of that activity in these Smoky Mountains in the past few months to last us forever. Take your pick - firefly or lightning bug - and leave it at that.

Online: https://www.thedailytimes.com/

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April 26

The Johnson City Press on driving on flooded roads:

Never, we repeat, never drive over a road or bridge that is covered by flood waters. Seems like a no-brainer, right? But law enforcement officials say you’d be surprised at how many drivers find themselves trapped in their cars (or worse) during heavy rains like those we’ve seen in the past few days.

Such was the case Monday morning when Hawkins County authorities charged a Church Hill woman with two counts of reckless endangerment after they say she drove her van into rising waters near the North Fork of the Holston River. The driver and two occupants of the van - an adult male and a 15-year-old juvenile - were rescued by swift water specialists when the water became “tail-light deep” on the van and it started floating towards the river.

More Americans are killed annually from flooding than from any other weather-related disaster, which is why emergency officials say motorists should never drive through flooded areas.

Weather officials say most flood deaths occur at night and when people become trapped in automobiles that stall on flooded roads. Flash floods are the deadliest because they can happen in a short period of time - generally less than six hours.

Areas of the Northeast Tennessee are most susceptible to flash flooding because of mountain streams and rivers. If the National Weather Service issues a flood watch, residents living in the affected area should check flood action plans, keep informed and be ready to evacuate if a warning is issued or flooding is observed.

We also advise area residents to review their home insurance policies before the next storm hits. Most homeowners in our area don’t carry flood insurance, and they often regret that lapse following a heavy rainfall.

Standard residential insurance policies cover damage from wind or rain (water that comes from above), but they don’t include water that comes from below. Local insurance officials say now is a good time for homeowners to consider buying flood insurance.

Online: https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/

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