- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:


Dec. 9

The Johnson City Press on community building:

A true sense of community was on display this weekend in downtown Johnson City. Hundreds came out for the ceremonial tree lighting Friday night in King Commons, and thousands lined West Walnut, Buffalo and East Main streets for the annual Christmas Parade on Saturday.

Having the Budweiser Clydesdales at both events didn’t hurt, of course, but the huge turnout reminded us of the crowds shown in historic photos of parades from downtown’s glory days.

Downtown’s revitalization has been the driver in what we believe is a renewed spirit and sense of ownership for people who call this place home. Johnson City pride is back. Events in Jonesborough, Unicoi, Erwin and Elizabethton lead us to a similar conclusion.

One way we can make that sense of community felt for more of us is to support those less fortunate. The holiday season can be particularly difficult for families in such circumstances to meet their needs, but there are several ways you can help this week. As Good Neighbor columnist Sue Guinn Legg has reported:

- Coalition for Kids needs help with its Shopping 4 Others outing. The special night of shopping allows each of up to 200 children to buy a coat, shoes, an outfit of clothing and a toy for themselves, and one additional gift for someone they love. Visit coalitionforkids.org or contact the Coalition’s community center at 2423 Susannah St., (423) 434-2031.

- Johnson City’s Seasons of Hope needs help with Christmas turkeys and hams for low-income working families on its Secret Santa list. Secret Santa families are available for adoption at www.seasonsofhopetn.org. To learn more about how to make a contribution or to adopt a family, contact Katy at seasonsofhopetn@gmail.com.

- Good Samaritan Ministries’ Be a Light Christmas Marketplace hopes to provide clothing and gifts for 1,000 children and teens. An individual sponsorship of $150 will complete a package of Christmas clothing and gifts for one child or teen. Monetary donations of any amount may be made online at goodsamjc.org or mailed to P.O. Box 2441. Gift items may be dropped off Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m.-noon and 1-3:30 p.m. at Good Samaritan’s offices at 100 N. Roan St. or the marketplace location at 207 Princeton Road. Volunteers also are needed. Call 423-928-1958 for more information.

- The Johnson City Press Christmas Box continues to accept donations for our annual program that serves more than 1,000 local families and several hundred area seniors. A $35 donation provides a large box with all the makings of a holiday dinner, a ham, 10 pounds of potatoes, 3 pounds of onions and more than 40 canned and packaged food items for a family of three or more people, or a $35 Food City gift certificate for a senior or small household of one or two people. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online at jcpchristmasbox.comor by mail to P.O. Box 1387, Johnson City, TN, 37605.

Any number of other organizations and churches also are in need of support this holiday season. Whether it’s by financial contribution or volunteering, you can spread the spirit of community with just a little kindness.

Please give.

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


Dec. 8

The Bristol Herald Courier on the federal animal-cruelty law:

With the signing of a bill on Nov. 25, President Donald Trump put into law the first major, widespread federal ban on animal cruelty - a bipartisan effort known as the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act.

This new law, which had support of Democrats and Republicans alike in both the House and Senate, makes certain acts of cruelty to animals felony offenses punishable by fines and prison sentences of up to seven years.

Actions that are outlawed include deliberate crushing, burning, drowning, suffocation, impalement or other violence that causes “serious bodily injury” to animals.

The PACT Act, as it’s known, allows for prosecution of animal cruelty violations across state lines, and complements federal laws that already ban such practices as animal fighting as a “sport.”

It also takes aim at a relatively recent disgusting development made more prevalent through the use of smartphone video cameras - videos that depict sick behaviors toward helpless animals, and which are then shared on social media. Animal rights activists say that “animal crushing” videos are among the most “popular” of these disgusting depictions.

Virginia, Tennessee and other states do have their own laws against animal cruelty, although they vary in scope and severity of punishment. But the PACT Act is the first uniform set of rules that apply across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

There are some exceptions under the act, though, and these should be addressed at the state level. They include “exemptions for humane euthanasia; slaughter for food; recreational activities such as hunting, trapping and fishing; medical and scientific research; ‘normal veterinary, agricultural husbandry, or other animal management practice’; and actions that are necessary ‘to protect the life or property of a person,’” according to a Washington Post report on the new law.

That brings us to a problem the Bristol Herald Courier addressed this week in a story titled, “‘Hounded’ & homeless: Hunting season brings uptick in injured, abused hound dogs needing homes, legal protection.”

Appalachian songwriter, poet laureate and performer Billy Edd Wheeler mentioned hunting dogs in his noteworthy early 1960s tribute to the backyard privy, “Ode to the Little Brown Shack Out Back,” in which he sang:

“It was not so long ago that I went tripping through the snow, out to that house behind my old hound dog, where I’d sit me down to rest, like a snowbird on her nest, and read the Sears and Roebuck catalog.”

That hound dog Wheeler referred to was one of what we still see frequently in Appalachia - working dogs, used for hunting, who are kept in pens out in the back yard and generally taken out only when it’s time to go hunting.

Now, we’re not about to criticize this age-old practice of keeping and using hound dogs for hunting. We’d just like for those who have these working dogs to keep them safe and well cared for.

The newspaper’s story, however, told a disturbing tale of abuse of these beautiful creatures that occur (we hope) in only a small minority of their population.

According to the story, Animal Shelter of Sullivan County Executive Director Cindy Holmes “is seeing an uptick in injured hound dogs being brought to the shelter now that hunting season is underway, and programs to help community animals are in full swing.”

Hounds running at large are being found by residents and animal control, Holmes told the newspaper. She advocated for better treatment of “working dogs” in a recent interview with the Bristol Herald Courier, adding that some of these dogs are suffering because of “utter neglect.”

“There should be laws that protect working animals - that they have rules that you can’t hunt them when they’re injured to the point that they need surgery,” Holmes said. “These animals are being bred and used in a working capacity, and there’s no oversight or regulation.”

She also told the newspaper that these dogs that end up at the shelter often have torn-up faces, ear and skin infections, scarring and long toenails.

“I’m not anti-hunting by any stretch of the imagination,” she told the newspaper. “I’m not anti-working dog breeds, but there does need to be a call for humane treatment of these animals, and when you do have a working animal, you need to make sure that they’re getting the utmost care.”

We agree, and even though there’s an exception in the new federal anti-cruelty law for such working dogs, that doesn’t excuse abusive behavior toward these animals.

If you’re among those who enjoy keeping dogs for hunting - or for any other working activities - please make sure these animals are properly housed out of the harsh elements, that they are fed properly, and that they’re given the medical care they need.

It’s the humane thing to do.

Online: https://www.heraldcourier.com/


Dec. 7

The (Cookeville) Herald-Citizen on the Christmas spirit:

It’s Christmas parade season, that time of year when almost everyone in town - and pretty much every town - lines a main street to await the coming of Christmas.

Clowns on tiny tricycles. Girl Scouts. Boy Scouts. Church groups. Theatre troupes. Big, shiny fire trucks. Horses. Marching bands (not in that order; they try to put the marching bands in front of the horses because of, well, let’s call it exhaust).

And don’t forget the grand marshals: Folks parade organizers honor for their service to the community.

Putnam County has already enjoyed two parades, this weekend: Baxter Friday and Monterey Saturday. There’s two more next weekend. Algood is Friday featuring six students with special needs who will lead the parade. Saturday, Cookeville is up and longtime Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber CEO George Halford will be honored as the grand marshal.

And if those four aren’t enough, most of the small towns around the Upper Cumberland area have parades of their own. And many of these are in the next week, including Doyle, Livingston, Sparta/White County and Historic Granville’s 1960s Country Christmas all on Dec. 14.

This year, we’re having surprisingly good weather. We hope everyone takes the opportunity to visit one of these parades. And when you do, dress appropriately for the weather and bring something to hold some candy. Folks on floats are tossing lots of treats this year.

There are a lot of heroes in parades, and most of them are not the folks on the floats and convertibles. The heroes we speak of here are the ones who spend countless hours organizing the entries, working with city and county governments to get the proper permits, coordinating volunteers, working with law enforcement agencies to ensure crowd control and securing judges for the parades.

We applaud those folks. All of them. It takes everyone to pull off something as big and as memorable as a parade.

Oh, and remember to wait until the very end of the parade. The Jolly Elf himself, Santa Claus always finishes the parade with a flourish.

Merry Christmas!

Online: http://herald-citizen.com/

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