- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 28, 2017

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:


June 26

The Daily Times on FEMA disaster aid funding:

Tornadoes, hurricanes and blizzards strike fear when weather tops the news. Every spring and summer, particularly in the South, fierce thunderstorms also prove their destructive power.

Blount Countians were reminded of that over the Memorial Day weekend as severe storms swept across Tennessee from the Mississippi to the Smokies.

The damage was serious enough to warrant Gov. Bill Haslam requesting a disaster declaration that was authorized by President Donald Trump and announced on Friday.

The 12 counties covered by the declaration include Blount, Cumberland, Fayette, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, Putnam, Rhea, Roane, Sevier, Shelby and Smith.

High winds and heavy rains that tore through Blount left county and city workers along with residents and businesses with major cleanup and repair work to be done.

Alcoa Electric was particularly hard hit. The storm left more than 10,000 customers without power as dozens of trees were uprooted or snapped, taking out electric lines for miles on the Saturday night of May 27.

The utility reported every substation suffered major outages. Fourteen breakers were knocked out. Even water and sewer service was disrupted as the roots of blown-down trees tore through underground lines while ripping up sidewalks.

The city of Maryville reported that at one point 4,000 of its utility customers were without electricity. The county highway superintendent said the department had workers with 15 years on the job who’d never seen anything like the damage caused by the fast-moving storm.

Equipment at McGhee Tyson Airport recorded straight-line winds of 56 mph. There were reports of 70 mph gusts in other parts of the region.

The federal declaration makes government entities in the designated counties as well as certain private nonprofits eligible to apply for reimbursement of specific expenses resulting from the emergency. That includes costs associated with debris removal, emergency response and the repair of damaged public facilities.

Blount County wasn’t able to get federal assistance for individual citizens affected by the storm damage, but residents and businesses can still apply for disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

A temporary Disaster Loan Outreach Center will remain open at the Blount County Operations Center, 1221 McArthur Road, Maryville, until Thursday. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, but will close at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Needless to say, any aid offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is appreciated. FEMA’s local government reimbursements will cover no less than 75 percent of the cleanup, repair and response costs. Tennessee Emergency Management Agency will contribute another 12½ cents on every dollar spent on the storm response.

Local officials and government employees are to be commended for their prompt and professional reactions that minimized the hazards and disruptions caused by the storm. They did their jobs and did them well.

Beyond that, many people pitched in to help their neighbors. Volunteers provided places to stay and food to eat, along with muscle and sweat and tools for cleanup and repairs.

They proved once again that of all the natural resources with which the county is blessed - from the mountains to the rivers - the most valuable and reliable resource of all remains the spirit of its people.

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


June 24

The Greeneville Sun on local teamwork’s example for government at all levels:

Greeneville and Tusculum officials deserve a pat on the back.

On Wednesday, the Tusculum Planning Commission gave what should be the final governmental approval for a project the public has been clamoring for: the construction of an Aldi discount supermarket on the Andrew Johnson Highway.

The project has been in limbo for weeks. But Greeneville and Tusculum officials did the right thing by meeting, discussing and finalizing a creative way to get around the potential impasse.

When Johnson City developer John Speropulos brought the plans for the store to Tusculum officials earlier this spring, a problem quickly became apparent. With part of the parcel falling in Greeneville’s city limits and the 20-year-old sewer moratorium that Greeneville and the Greeneville Water Commission had in place, questions arose about sewer service for the establishment.

We don’t know for sure that the project was ever completely in jeopardy, but it certainly leaves a bad taste in property developers’ mouths when two neighboring municipalities can’t figure out a way to work together in order welcome a retail establishment wishing to locate here.

And even though Greeneville already seems to have more grocery stores per capita than some major metropolitan areas, the public outcry on social media and in chit-chat around town made it clear that consumers here wanted the Aldi project to work out.

So, Tusculum Mayor Alan Corley and Greeneville Town Administrator Todd Smith got together and worked out a deal to swap two residential properties from Tusculum to Greeneville in exchange for shifting the boundaries to make the Aldi site completely fall within Tusculum’s city limits.

The end result - months after the project first came to light - is the green light that Tusculum’s planners gave to Aldi’s site plans Wednesday night. Barring some other problem, local shoppers will have one more place to buy groceries in a few of months.

The issue could have easily turned into a nasty back-and-forth between the Tusculum and Greeneville governments, which have had spats in the past. But instead of making things more complicated for a developer trying to deliver a product that the general public wanted, Smith, Corley and the respective boards for each municipality did the sensible thing and made sure that the project would progress.

Good for them, and good for Greene County.

Even as places like the Greeneville Commons lose tenants, other projects - such as Aldi, the recently opened Publix store and the newly announced Aubrey’s restaurant coming to Towne Crossing development - seem to be popping up.

As has been said in this space before, we think politicians at state and national levels could learn a thing or two about compromise and effective policy-making from local levels of government. The Aldi project’s progression is one such example.

Maybe folks in Washington will take note. Of course at this rate, we’ll have 10 more grocery stores in town before gridlock ceases in Washington.

Online: https://www.greenevillesun.com/


June 28

Johnson City Press on protecting Tennessee’s natural beauty:

Now that summer is here, we encourage Tennesseans to take time to enjoy the wildflowers. In fact, we urge everyone to sample the abundance of natural beauty this state has to offer.

We also caution nature lovers to take care not to spoil these scenic views with thoughtless behavior. That means properly disposing of all water bottles, food containers and other trash that you might have in hand.

And mind your cigarette butts. They are not biodegradable, and no one wants to see them littering the grass or pavement.

We all must be careful not to trample or pollute the very nature we wish to enjoy. Take for example the congestion caused by traffic to a very popular scenic area of East Tennessee. The Cades Cove district in Townsend is one of the most visited areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

More than two million visitors jam the Cades Cove Loop Road annually to enjoy the foliage and wildlife. Unfortunately, the exhaust from all these cars is not healthy for the environment.

Thankfully, the Cades Cove Loop Road is closed to vehicle traffic every Wednesday and Saturday until 10 a.m. from early May to late September, as well as every Saturday in December until noon. During this time, visitors are encouraged to walk or bike the roadway without worrying about cars blocking their way.

Park officials should consider more options that would allow visitors to enter the district without their cars. Some have suggested a rail or bus system to take visitors on an 11-mile tour of Cades Cove. Another idea would be to develop trails specifically for those who wish to bike or hike the district.

Regardless of the option, park officials must take steps to reduce the auto traffic into Cades Cove while making it possible for visitors to continue to enjoy the area.

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

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