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From the Publisher's Desk – Santa, please bridge the gap (Dec. 3, 2014 issue)

Twas the day of the parade,
when all through the town,
streets started filling up
for Santa coming around.
He boarded the float
with mock sleigh and reindeer,
to ride down Main Avenue
where all kids would cheer.
When out of the blue
there arose such a matter,
a rough patch of pavement
would make his teeth chatter.
It’s our overpass promised
and streets all dug up.
Please help us dear Santa,
make this smooth as a rug.
We’ve been in construction
for many years now.
We’re just about ready
to throw in the towel.
We realize your travels
are mostly by air,
but we’re grasping at straws
by hoping you’ll care.
I got to participate in the annual Christmas parade again this year. Andrew Harris, of Bank of Tennessee, and I were asked to carry a banner welcoming all to the parade on behalf of the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce. We didn’t realize we would be placed behind Town of Erwin Chief of Police Regan Tilson’s squad car and in front of the local fire trucks. We discovered there would be multiple siren outbursts from each as we traveled along the route. I am still experiencing ringing noises but I have learned not to panic at this point. It is all in my head and not the result of being pulled over for speeding.
Being so near the front of the parade and holding onto a pole with one hand an steadying the banner with the other was about all the multi-tasking I could do. Having a place for candy and being able to toss it would have been as difficult as – let’s say – building a railroad overpass. My hands were full.
Still, that did not stop the questioning. “Where’s the candy,” we would hear being yelled from the sidelines. “We want candy,” they yelled. “It’s coming up behind us,” I would respond. Obviously a friendly smile and the warm welcome on our banner were not enough.
Luckily the pace was slow and the weather just right. Heaven help me if I had dropped over in the street from exertion and held up the parade progress. The road in front of Jobe Cemetery gave me some concern. Watch the dips. Watch the bumps. Don’t turn your ankle.
Let’s face it, the railroad overpass is moving about as slow as a locomotive entering the Erwin train yard – start, stop, start, stop, maybe this year, maybe not. With the forecasted winter ahead, maybe it is best it’s not open.
As many of you have noticed, there is a considerable decline on the arc of the overpass approaching Main Avenue. I imagine that could be a fun approach to oncoming traffic as we plummet out of control down the icy slope. Maybe we can sell tickets and call it an Olympic event. I give the Japanese, red hatchback, a 10 for originality and a 4 on grace and style. That puts Japan in the lead, just ahead of the German entries.
Oh my, look, there is a pile up between two American contenders. More than likely some of their equipment came from overseas and not compatible.
Let’s just hope that the Main Avenue pipe project is complete by the time the winter games start. This could certainly throw some challenge in the obstacle course of dodging workmen. As long as that project is taking to complete, it is obvious these guys are not quick movers. Have you ever seen it take as long to dig a ditch down one block of Main Street and then go down the other side?
In comparison, Summers-Taylor dug up an entire block, plus side streets, did underground drainage, lighting, sidewalks and repaved in less time during Downtown Revitalization. This project seems to require more time and more men. I assume it is called “Near Town Stare While Gazing.”
Each time I pass, there are about a dozen men working on the project. There is one man at each end, managing the “Slow” and “Stop” signs. One or two men are operating heavy equipment. The other eight or so are standing around in a huddle with their hands in their pockets, staring down in the ditch. I am tempted to park my car and go look down in that trench. I am assuming they have discovered the bones of our famous elephant, Mary.
Will the overpass be finished in my lifetime? Will Mary’s bones be raised as a tribute to her legacy from the Main Avenue project? Stay tuned as we all anxiously await the answers to these mind boggling questions.
So, as we enter the most happiest time of the year, let’s stay positive. I am positive the overpass won’t be done this year, but will you join me in adding it to your Christmas list to present to Santa? We’ve got enough lumps of coal already. It’s being hauled through on railroad cars.