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From the Publisher's Desk – Passover is much appreciated (May 27, 2015 issue)

Dear state of Tennessee, thank you for the overpass. I shamefully must admit that I went through years of doubting your empty promises. Even after work began I sometimes drove by roadwork on Main Street and wondered if those workers would ever get done. Most of the time they seemed to dig holes in the pavement and look aimlessly confused as to what they were looking for.
I have spent many hours of my life, all totaled, in either anger, prayer or meditation while waiting for trains to clear the tracks. I don’t know what I will do with my free time now.
My sister, Shannon Blevins, posted on Facebook about her son, my nephew, Carson. “Carsonism of the day: I told my teachers that my daddy said the Passover was finished and the nice bus driver drove us over it during our field trip. ( I think the Passover is finished and you mean the overpass son! )”
Well, I guess in some ways it allows us to pass over the train and a roadblock. I can see the logic in that. Maybe he shares my unique way of looking at the world.
I was going back to work from lunch Friday and the railroad bar dropped at the lower track and the red lights started flashing. This was going to be my chance to outwit the train. I could now take the overpass and win the battle over the wait. Even though it would send me farther back up Main to have to come back into town, at least I wouldn’t be stuck.
As I made my turn onto the new overpass, I looked to the side and my smile turned to frown. It turned out is was only one locomotive, with no cars. That engine quickly passed by and the bars went up to signal clear for traffic. Somehow I felt defeated. The train had outsmarted me again.
The view from the peak at the top is breathtaking of the beautiful downtown, framed with mountains behind. It truly reminds me of our claim as “The Valley Beautiful.”
Dear Tennessee, now that you have that project over, could you take a look at our interstates? I feel like I am playing a live arcade game or riding a new attraction at Dollywood while driving on them. Miss that pothole, hit this bump, now ride the ripples and dips until your insides are all shook up. Is it my car? Do I have a flat? No, driving around here is just like that.
Could it be the money went to other sources? I just saw in the news that Tennessee paid an agency $46,000 to develop a new state logo. Instead of a logo that shows a symbol of three stars, the new logo is the letters “TN” in white on a red background with some blue and white.
I have worked with art and design most of my life. I would have gladly taken on this simple state logo task for much less cost.
Many Tennesseeans are unhappy with the money paid out and the logo change itself. After the announcement was made, many took to social media to voice their complaints and even began a petition to strike down the new logo. Twitter received a lot of users puttting the hashtag #savethetristar.
A Knoxville resident has started a Change.org petition in the hopes Governor Bill Haslam will not change the Tennessee state logo. I heard that the petition has now received over 12,000 names.
Of course the cost doesn’t stop with the expense of the logo design. If it goes through, there will be new road signs, letterhead, envelopes, brochures and any other printed items that will have to be changed from the current look to the new look. I must say that could all add up to a sizeable amount.
I recently saw some of the top governmental wastes as reported by the Business Insider. Some of them follow.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the University of New Hampshire $700,000 this year to study methane gas emissions from dairy cows.
Almost unbelievably, the National Institutes of Health was given $800,000 in “stimulus funds” to study the impact of a “genital-washing program” on men in South Africa.
The Conservation Commission of Monkton, Vermont got $150,000 from the federal government to construct a “critter crossing”. Thanks to U.S. government money, the lives of “thousands” of migrating salamanders are now being saved.
A total of $3 million has been granted to researchers at the University of California at Irvine so that they can play video games such as World of Warcraft. The goal of this “video game research” is reportedly to study how “emerging forms of communication, including multiplayer computer games and online virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft and Second Life can help organizations collaborate and compete more effectively in the global marketplace.”
There was $615,000 given to the University of California at Santa Cruz to digitize photos, T-shirts and concert tickets belonging to the Grateful Dead.
Maybe I better give up on hopes the interstate will get repaved. Obviously, it’s not the “sign” of the times. We will just get passed over when money is passed out.