Advocates for a clean energy revolution


We no longer use whale oil to light our homes because Thomas Edison came along, developed the light bulb, and it was a better product, remarks James Redford, producer and narrator of a film to be shown in Brown Hall at East Tennessee State University on Oct. 3 at 6 p.m.

One hundred years later, though, we still largely rely on the electric system Edison invented, with fossil fuels driving it. But a new way to produce electric power is taking hold, and the nation’s young people are urging it on – the clean energy revolution.

Jessie Ackerman, about whom an exhibit is currently shown at the ETSU Reece Museum, was a Thomas Edison of her time. Although not directed at technological developments, her extraordinary work and engagement, over a 90-plus-year lifetime, addressed the pressing issues of her time.

An ambassador for peace, in 1904 she took a petition of the Universal Peace Union to the Czar of Russia, urging arbitration and “no use of deadly force in international difficulties [and] the reduction of armaments among all nations.”

On the International Day of Peace this month, the world could celebrate the adoption, last year, of the United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition Nuclear Weapons. Of all military weapons, these inflict the most humanitarian and environmental harm.”

Ackerman planted trees wherever she went and among prized gifts from the countries she visited are a hard shelled, coconut-size seed with carvings of people dancing amid flowers and trees, and a Buddhist prayer book, its holy text inscribed on dried palm leaves.

She visited every inhabited continent, circling the globe eight times. The American flag going with her, floating “from 208 ships and sailing most of the waters of the earth.” In books and many articles from her travels she urged openness to and appreciation of other peoples’ culture and way of life.

She advocated for advancement on the issues of universal suffrage and education for all, among others, and improvement of conditions for the working class. One of her books, “What women have done with the vote,” then documented the swift progress that can result if such problems are earnestly addressed. In Australia, gaining the right to vote in the 1890s, women had moved to full political citizenship in less than a generation.

A revolution might happen sometimes, though, and be needed to hasten desired social change.

The film, titled “Happening: A clean energy revolution” shows such a revolution, in our time and country. It documents different, new methods of commercial power production and transfer, through renewable sources. Perhaps a giant solar-thermal plant whose mirrors capture infrared light, in the California desert, to a structure the size of a shed on a small, farm-irrigation canal – a micro-hydro facility in Oregon owned by the Apple company, and many others.

Like Jessie Ackerman on the “wave of women’s liberties” after suffrage, the great momentum now of renewable energy – in deployment, scale, cost, and public opinion – can give a sense of hope about solving our time’s urgent, climate change problem.

The film showing is free and the public is invited.

The Endangered Species Act needs no Trumpian ‘Reform’


Perhaps it was with maintaining the precious heritage of wild nature and its creatures in mind that E.B. White located his children’s classic, The Trumpet of the Swan, in Montana. There, in 1935, the Congress had set aside the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge to preserve the last trumpeter swans, their numbers down to 73.

The story is about serious matters – a swan (Louis) overcoming a major handicap, people (the boy Sam) helping a non-human species to survive, and the need for creatures to mate if their life-form is to continue.

It doesn’t seem pure coincidence, either, that our state now has two official wildflowers. Under Governor Haslam in 2012, it adopted the Tennessee Coneflower as second wildflower, Passionflower being the first. Echinacea tennesseensis, uniquely our state’s heritage because it is found nowhere else, had just been de-listed from the Endangered Species Act protection the year before.

The plant delights with rose-purple petals turned upward, tracking the sun, and gives sustenance to butterflies and myriad other pollinating insects, songbirds dining on its seeds. Thought to be extinct, the state’s Heritage office and federal Fish and Wildlife Service had worked 32 years to bring it back to secure status, through listing under the ESA.

When Congress passed the ESA, unanimously in 1973, it noted that many species of fish, wildlife and plants had already been rendered extinct – some 500 since the 1500s – “through economic growth and development untempered by concern and conservation.” It found many more species to be threatened with disappearance, even though of great aesthetic, recreational, scientific and other values to the nation and its people.

The law pledged to conserve species, whether endangered and imminently at risk of vanishing or if threatened to become endangered in the foreseeable future.

The Congress stipulated that the listing of a species, in either category, be based on the best scientific data, independent of economic considerations and associated political influence. The need-for-listing decision would depend solely on a species’ remaining numbers and the threats to its survival.

The Trump administration is now proposing a rule to which it seeks public input. The proposal would strip key provisions of the current ESA law. It would abolish protection of threatened species, except under special, additional review by the agency, for all future listings. It would end the fundamental principle that basic science only – not alleged cost – determine ESA protection. It would no longer require federal agencies to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service on at-risk species’ presence, and incorporate some ameliorative measures if needed, before issuing permits for various projects.

In 2012, Americans paid just $5.40 per person for implementation of the ESA as designed by the Congress. Through this law, we can still appreciate Noshi and Shima and other bald eagles, the trumpeter swan and the Tennessee Coneflower. It has saved from extinction 99 percent of the wildlife and plant species under its care.

Input to the rule-making must be received by September 24. Electronically go to, entering docket number FWS-HQ-ES-2018-0007 in the search box. Comments may also be submitted via hard copy.

BrightRidge and the national trend in clean-energy transitioning


Alternative, clean energy sources are rapidly expanding in cities, businesses and utilities across the country, and the establishment of a solar farm by BrightRidge is part of the national trend.

The Huffington Post reported in June that the number of U.S. cities pledging to go 100-percent renewable energy doubled last year, to at least 70, amid President Trump’s rollback of federal climate policies and regulations.

An additional 201 cities, representing more than 24 million people and 6.5 percent of the national electricity have endorsed the 100-percent clean energy goal, their policies to be developed in the months to come. That figure, too, the paper stated, doubled since last year.

The announcement of the new commitments was made at the 2018 Conference of Mayors, held earlier in June, in Boston.

As many sources, and officials at the deployment of the BrightRidge solar farm have noted, market forces are the principal drivers in these clean-energy investments. Rapid cost declines have made renewables the cheapest available source of new energy. They are good for industries’ bottom line, enhance (our) state’s economic development, and create high quality jobs. On that aspect, U.S. Department of Labor statistics show solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine technicians to be the fastest growing among well-paying jobs in 2016.

Not that climate-change awareness, and dire need for action on it, isn’t among the motivating factors, for both the corporate world and the American public. A special issue of Scientific American this year reports on the Mars Company, its Snickers chocolate bars popular still, since 1911, but now a global business with 140 factories around the world. The company established a wind farm in Texas which generates 100 percent of the electricity demand for all its U.S. operations.

It also operates wind farms in Scotland and Mexico, plans to deploy such in China, India, and Australia, and installed a “solar garden” in Nevada which produces all electricity needed at its site there, on sunny days.

“Climate change, water scarcity and deforestation are serious threats to society,” states the company’s sustainability director, “and it is imperative that global businesses do their part to face down those threats.” After all, he says, “reducing our carbon footprint is good not only for the planet but also for our bottom line.”

More than 80 percent of 153 major corporations are reported to be actively pursuing or planning to purchase renewable energy over the next 2 to 10 years. Price may be the leading factor in their decision, and that of cities and other entities to transition to clean energy sources, but so is the desire to create a healthier planet in which to be successful in the future. It coincides with what a Forbes article indicates as one of the underlying drivers of this trend, “the broadening public awareness and support for renewables as an actionable solution to combat climate change, leading to increased … renewable energy demand from electricity suppliers.”

The Tennessee Valley Authority has a long way to go to catch up with this national trend, but the BrightRidge action is a highly positive development.

We need this holiday to celebrate a freedom from fear


After a visit to Japan, the film producer and science writer, Ann Dryan, remarked on “a plaque that soothes.” At ground zero in Hiroshima, the plaque is inscribed: “Rest in Peace for It Shall Not Happen again.”

The monument, she suggested, reflects an understandable need for victimized people to salvage some meaning from such a cataclysm. Yet within the reality of the global political situation today, she held that “this reassurance seems the emptiest of promises.”

In near-term years ahead, though, we might expect an international holiday, on July 7, in observance of the now legal prohibition – and leading to total elimination – of nuclear weapons. On that day last year, a jubilant Elayne Whyte Gomez, Ambassador from Costa Rica who presided over the United Nations negotiations on a nuclear-weapons ban treaty, announced its adoption by 122 states. Ratification by 50 countries – our southern neighbor (Mexico) and more than a dozen other states having done so already – will bring the treaty into force.

What brought this landmark global agreement about, more than seven decades after the Aug. 6, 1945, “Little-Boy” atomic bomb blast killed over 90,000, mostly civilian, residents of Hiroshima?

Emphasizing the extraordinary perils to humanity from these weapons of mass destruction, a group of the very scientists involved in their development in the Manhattan Project created the Doomsday Clock in 1947. Using the symbol of midnight as apocalyptic threat to the planet and its people, that year they judged the Clock to be 7 minutes away from midnight.

In 1953, after the US and Russia developed thermonuclear weapons, or the hydrogen bomb – with more than thousand times the Little Boy bomb’s killing power, the scientists advanced the Clock’s hand to 2 minutes to midnight. They did so, again, this year.

In 1955, in a manifesto to a national Conference on Science and World Affairs, Albert Einstein stated this warning: Not for “members of this or that nation, continent or creed” alone but for humanity itself and the natural world they irradiate with lethal dust or rain – through use of H-bombs in any war “the continued existence of mankind is threatened.”

An appeal and warning by the Red Cross that meaningful medical response was impossible following any nuclear detonation brought a mandate for negotiations on the weapons-ban treaty, by the United Nations in December 2016, the treaty being concluded and sealed seven months later.

Ann Dryan feared that deployment of nuclear weapons, with their now omnicidal consequences, could happen again. Yet through more political engagement by “life-giving women” in the troubled modern world, she hoped that “we will redeem the promise made at ground zero.”

In outlawing further development, use or threat of use, as Ambassador Gomez noted when the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted, the United Nations “are responding to the hopes and dreams of present and future generations.”

More than one hundred non-governmental organizations, working together in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), were awarded the Nobel Peace Price for their groundbreaking efforts.

Stabilize the climate: Fish, people, economies benefit


In an article in The Guardian in May, a state park police officer is seen walking across the cracked, dry bed of O C Fisher Lake. This reservoir in Texas, though historically subject to large water fluctuations, has seen its water storage extremely low since the mid 1990s, at less than 10 percent full.

Its storage at around 80 thousand acre-feet in 1960s, as shown on a park website graphic, heat and droughts under the warming climate have decimated it to 20 or less, and empty several years, since the turn of the century.

The headline of the article, “Global warming will depress economic growth” reflects the damage to once thriving sports fishing and tourism activities associated with the lake, in that region. On a larger scale, a working paper published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond this year found seasonal temperatures to have large and systemic effects on the economy, with result that “global warming could significantly hamper U.S. economic growth.”

In searing heat, shop owners in Jonesborough may find their income low as few folks are visiting. The southern states, which have the hottest summertime temperatures, are expected to see these rise significantly if the global warming trend is not halted.

In the American Economic Journal in 2012 and other publications since then, a number of researchers have documented a strong relationship between temperature and Gross Domestic Product, and the negative effect on GDP as temperatures rise.

One recent study found that limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial level temperatures would likely save the global economy more than $20 trillion by the year 2100, as compared to 2°C warming. At cost of $300 billion, the benefits of thus limiting global climate change would exceed the costs by about 70-to-1.

In their historic agreement in Paris, 195 nations committed to limit the increase in global average temperature to “well below 2°C,” and preferably to 1.5°. Many sobering indications of what continued inertia on effective climate policy means – the hurricanes last year and scorching, deadly heat waves in many parts of the world recently – urge action. Thus, and as many studies now show, achieving the lower-increase goal (1.5°) of the Paris agreement and curbing the greenhouse gases in the most efficient manner will be hugely advantageous, even from an economic perspective alone.

The Climate Leadership Council, composed of major business leaders and Republican elder statesmen from earlier administrations, is calling for a carbon tax as most effective, fastest solution to climate change, as does the Citizens’ Climate Lobby organization. Both the Council’s and CCL’s policy plans, which would return all revenue to American households, would grow the economy. In the Citizens’ Climate Lobby plan, a net GDP increase of $1.3 trillion is expected, over 20 years.

For the sunfish, bass and other aquatic life in dwindling freshwater lakes, and for local and national economies worldwide, one hopes that the US Congress, with help from Representative Phil Roe, will pass an effective, carbon-pricing climate policy soon.

Alaska takes action on climate change


In a poem in “Echoes from a Peaceable Kingdom,” John Bennett has a polar bear looking for a “cleanly coldness,” such as used to be its experience in Arctic weathers.

As the animal plods towards too-warm water, he complains, shaking his heavy head “against an arrogance of the sun” and grunting that, surely, “cold cannot be dead.”

The bear isn’t alone in feeling threatened by this newly “arrogant sun” seemingly spawning greater heat, water warming and other ill effects. In the Arctic region over the recent decades, temperature have risen at twice the rate of the rest of the country. Walruses and seals also see the ice cover dwindle upon which their survival depends.

Caribou mothers now often find little fodder during late-pregnancy months, the warming being the cause of plants’ blooming earlier in the year. Fewer healthy calves result and fewer of these reach adulthood. And caribou have little defense against mosquito swarms which now can reach “hundreds of thousands to millions of insects,” according to National Geographic, as the warming climate gives them a 50 percent greater breeding success.

Sea level rise and land erosion, through fierce storms over now open coastal waters, are forcing the native people of Alaska to relocate some of their ancestral villages. Local governments and tribes “throughout Alaska,” as a climate assessment report indicates, must consider or are actively moving farther inland and away from rivers, and building extensive shore-protection structures. Many buildings, roads and other infrastructure have to be shored up or given up as permafrost thawing causes the land to subside, making them unstable.

And tree-killing insect pests survive in the warmer climate, causing huge forest fires earlier and longer than ever before.

The State of Alaska, acknowledging change “so real and so widespread that it’s become impossible to ignore” is taking strong action to fight climate change, as the New York Times reported in May. By administrative order in October, Governor Bill Walker established a task force to lay out a Climate Action Plan.

Wind turbines dot the Alaskan landscape on the governor’s website and a draft plan released in April aims to have half of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources – up from 33 percent in 2016 – by 2025. It will have the state cut its greenhouse gas emissions one-third below 2005 levels by that year, in line with (and exceeding slightly) what the nation had committed to in the Paris Climate Agreement.

The plan considers putting a Carbon Fee and Dividend program in place to speed the change to climate-benign energy.

The polar bear cannot know that humans’ fossil-fuel burning since the industrial revolution, rather than a more luminous sun, is to blame for its loss of ice.

It is heartening to see energy-transitioning efforts such as this are in progress and planned in Alaska, and by other states and many sub-state entities. One must hope that they reach such mass, and achieve success, before global warming becomes so extreme that “cold (will be) dead” and the planet becomes inhospitable to human and other life.

Library friends underline library importance

An Open Letter to the Washington County Tennessee Commissioners:

I would like to declare my support for the 2018-2019 budget request of the Washington County-Jonesborough Library (Washington County Public Library, Jonesborough & Gray, TN) as presented by the Library Board of Trustees. 

The library is a vital resource that functions as a community center, educational support system, and an ad hoc social service that helps local people become more familiar with the complexities of the online world. 

Failure to properly fund our library will result in a reduction in services, including popular ones such as children’s STEM programs, genealogy assistance, and one-on-one computer instruction.

How important are our library services?   

Ask the mother of a struggling reader whose grades improved after working with one of our Tail Waggin’ tutors. 

Ask the sixty-year-old gentleman who is using a computer for the first time to file for unemployment. 

Ask the young woman who learns that she can now register to vote from her own phone using the library’s Wi-Fi connection. 

Ask the homeschool parents that use our vast consortium collection to help educate the next generation of Washington County leaders. 

Ask the hundreds of tourists that use our Genealogy and Archives collection every year to find answers to their family histories. 

The Washington County-Jonesborough Library (and Gray Library) adds more value to the community than it uses in funds; it adds $4.96 in value for every dollar it uses. 

Our library does more than check out books—it provides a place for civil discourse, it serves as a great equalizer in the information age, it transforms the lives of many of its users, and it deserves to be adequately funded.

Washington County is the lowest funded library of any other county in our region.  I would hope that the new County Commission coming in would have the foresight to look to the future of our libraries as something more than just a building that requires maintenance.  We need all the dollars we can get.

– Dona Lewis (President of the Friends of the Library)

Latest BMA appointment is, in our view, a perfect fit

At the April 9 Jonesborough Board of Mayor & Alderman meeting, the board unanimously voted to appoint former longtime town employee Virginia Causey to fill the vacant alderman position. We here at the Herald & Tribune could not be more pleased.

This newpaper’s relationship with Virginia has already proven to be a  long and fruitful one. Whenever we needed to track down an important fact, gather details about an upcoming event or obtain guidance on how best to locate a town official, she was always on hand to point us in the right direction.

Before she retired, we used to joke that she was our 9-1-1.

We understand that many in the community felt the same.

Better yet, in all these dealings — whether chasing down a phone number or preparing a board packet — Virginia’s dedication to her hometown was always apparent.

She knew Jonesborough was special — not because of its historic buildings and small-town character — but because of the people she grew up with, worked with and lived along side.

In her 30-plus years as a Jonesborough employee, she remained this town’s biggest cheerleader and its best support.

It has been said, “Behind every great man there stands a great woman.”

In Jonesborough, behind every great man (or woman), there stood Virginia.

Now, Virginia has moved out of her supportive role and into the limelight as the BMA’s newest alderman.

Her purpose, she has said, has remained essentially the same; to care for and support the people of Jonesborough — both its residents and its employees.

But her power, one of the four voting members of the board, has increased.

And as the lone woman on a board that has been said to value diversity, we believe she will add a much needed voice to the BMA as she continues to serve.

Jonesborough marker honors immigrant trail

Are you aware that there will soon be a marker in Jonesborough honoring immigrants?

The marker will be placed on the facade of a stone boulder located on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Main Street.  The marker was originally placed at this same location.  It was recently restored by Gavin Chaffing who was recognized this year for his excellent work in historic preservation by the State of Franklin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).  A rededication ceremony will be held this year.

The Immigrant Trail Marker is important in reminding us of the role immigration has played in the history of the United States.  This early migration route now travels through the Tennessee towns of Jonesborough, Greeneville and Morristown following the path of U.S. Route 11 E for a distance of about 125 miles. It is often referred to as the Knoxville Road, a segment of the western fork of the Great Valley Road that began near Roanoke, Virginia and extended to Bristol.  At Knoxville, the road connected with Avery’s Trace to Nashville.

Placement of the restored marker is timely during a period when the subject of immigration has become a political issue.  Jonesborough’s Immigrant Trail Marker was originally dedicated in or shortly after 1933.  Collections for the marker started in 1930.  Repair and replacement of the marker in Tennessee’s oldest town began as a DAR project in September 2014.  The repair of the metal plate began as a Science Hill High School class project in September 2017.

The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants, settlement patterns, impact on social mobility, crime and voting behavior.

Immigration today in Washington County, Tennessee is more than historical recollection.  As of July 1, 2017 the United State Census Bureau says there are 127,806 people in the county of whom 3.5 per cent were foreign born.  This percentage equals 4,473 people. There are likely more than that figure not counted in the census for one reason or another, including those individuals who are undocumented.

If you are interested in your own family history, genealogical research facilities and societies are in existence in the county that provide answers to the question “where did I come from?”  The Jonesborough Genealogical Society and the Watauga Association of Genealogists, Northeast Tennessee offer assistance to members and persons seeking to trace their roots.  The Washington County / Jonesborough Library and Johnson City Public Library have genealogy sections containing helpful volumes of family history and research aids.  The  Washington County Archives now located in its own   building offers records dating to a time before Tennessee was a state.

In addition there are web sites and companies offering DNA testing results. Many people are excited when they discover the available accumulation of family histories and their DNA map revealing evidence of their own family’s  immigrant past. 

In absolute numbers, the United State has a larger immigrant population than any other country in the world.

Immigration has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history of the United States.

There were 47 million immigrants in the United States in 2015 according to the United Nations Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  This represents 19.1 per cent of the 244 million international migrant population worldwide and 14.4 per cent of the U.S. population.  The nation does not lead the world in per percentage of immigrants.  Many other countries have higher percentages, for example, Switzerland with a population of 24.9 percent immigrants.

No one editorial can pose all the questions or answers concerning the status of the nation’s immigrant policies.  Research suggests that immigration to the United States is beneficial to the nation’s economy.  With few exceptions, the evidence suggests that immigration on average has positive effects on the current non-immigrant U.S. population.  In one segment of the population, the results are mixed.  This debate centers around the issue of how numbers of low-skilled immigrants affect their non-immigrant U.S. counterparts.

Studies also indicate that immigration either has no impact on the crime rate or that it reduces the crime rate in the United States according to a February 1917 article from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy titled “Are immigrants more likely to commit crimes?”

Research further indicates that the United States excels at assimilating first and second generation immigrants relative to many other Western countries.

In a time of intense interest in the subject of immigration, a look at the Immigration Trail Marker in Jonesborough after its rededication should help people decide their views on allowing people to continue to arrive in the nation seeking permanent resident status and citizenship.

Overturning regulatory protections for ground and surface waters


The “Specimen 6” painting in last year’s Fletcher Exhibit at the Reece Museum showed a Virginia artist’s conception about animals – crayfish and mussels, snails, turtles, darters, salamanders and myriad others – which suffer ongoing pollution in our water bodies and can get killed in vast numbers when catastrophic spill events occur. The frog she portrayed, suffocating in gray sludge, was among the river creatures killed when tons of coal ash from a power plant poured into the Dan River in North Carolina, in 2014.

The nation’s worst such spill, at the Tennessee Valley Authority Kingston plant in 2007, demonstrates the coal ash hazard for humans, especially if directly exposed. Resulting from cleanup of that site, there now are “180 new cases of dead or dying coal ash spill workers,” the USA Today Network reported on March 28.

Typically stored in wet ponds of which close to half have no liners, hazardous chemicals and carcinogenic substances in the ash can seep into groundwater, threatening drinking-water safety. Nationwide, cancer risk is high for people living near one of more than thousand ash impoundments, and children particularly face danger of developing asthma, learning disabilities, cancer or other serious problems.

In 2012, a government study estimated that the damage to fish and wildlife, at just 21 ash-disposal sites, came at a cost of more than $2.3 billion.

All-too-many media reports – some samples below – should alert us to the lurking public-health and environmental threats from hundreds of poorly maintained coal-waste sites:

“Near many of Indiana’s coal fired power plants, the ground water is a toxic mix of arsenic, boron, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, radium and thallium” – IndyStar, March 28 – coal ash contaminants there being at levels 40 times above safe drinking water standards. “Coal ash pollution threatens groundwater at western Kentucky power plant” – National Public Radio, April 10, 207 – arsenic levels “nearly 1,000 times the federal standard” being found there. “Toxic coal ash (is) seeping into Illinois’ only national scenic river” – Chicago Tribune, April 10.

Late under the Obama administration, following more than a decade of rising concern about inadequate safety in storage and disposal, the Environmental Protection Agency issued two coal-ash rules strengthening the federal standards. With the Trump administration seemingly intent on propping up coal, however, the utility industry promptly called for rollbacks to the “burdensome, inflexible, and often impracticable” rules and Administrator Pruitt, equally promptly, granted its petition to have these deferred and re-reviewed.

In a proposed “Overhaul” on which the EPA is seeking public input, a “spate of changes” to the 2015 Coal Ash Rule would gut groundwater protection and monitoring requirements.

Various other “flexibility” options for states, or industry operators themselves, to determine need or type of “alternate” cleanup, ash-pond closure, contamination-control or other measures promise savings to the industry of “between $32 million and $100 million per year.”

Water is the source of life. For the artist portraying threatened aquatic wildlife, for citizens fearing the safety of water supplies being compromised, the proposed overturning of regulatory coal-waste protections is an ominous and unwelcome development in Washington.

Get out and vote!

In today’s Herald & Tribune, we have included a handy Election Guide to assist this year’s voters. This guide should provide you lots of information, including some of those things you may want to know, but are afraid you will sound too foolish if you ask.

What does a county mayor do? What roles do a trustee and register of deeds play? The answers to these questions and more should help narrow your choice as you choose the best man or woman for the job at hand.

You will also find a list of polling places, important dates and, of course, many messages from those courting your vote.

Read up and then get ready to head to the polls. If you have any questions, please give us a call. We’ll do all we can to provide you with the information you seek. And remember to pick up a Herald & Tribune each and every week as we continue to cover the 2018 election year.

Now go out there and exercise the right that continues to set us apart -— the right to have a say in our own destiny through the power of the vote.

Oil dependence is a burden on the U.S. military


They have barrels of oil air-dropped to them in some desert or other area in the countries where American service members are engaged in war-fighting or war support operations. They then must ferry the oil, in tanker trucks, to and around battle fields and bases out of which they operate.

In Afghanistan and Iraq during 2002 to 2008, the Military used nearly two billion gallons of fuel, service members say in a documentary film soon to be shown at East Tennessee State University.

At only 5 miles to the gallon, the tanker trucks’ fuel efficiency is extremely low and armored personnel carriers’ lower yet. As 50 percent of all convey loads involve fuel transport and their dangerous routes are preferred targets of improvised-explosive-device attacks, many soldiers have lost life or limb this way. The film’s title aptly points to the high “Burden” in servicemen lost when base- and warfare operations are thus chained to oil.

In it, Greg Ballard, a marine Gulf war veteran and now Mayor of Indianapolis, states this insistence that “our sons and daughters and friends no longer should have to die guarding oil. We had to fight to defend it 20 or 30 years ago, but American innovation has allowed us to move away from it now.”

His innovation? Cars in the Indianapolis motor race brandish a “sugarcane ethanol” fuel logo, and all city vehicles running on oil-based fuels are to be be phased out a few years hence.

Military leaders are applying and promoting energy innovation to make their operations safer and more cost effective. The navy pioneers in bio-fuels production to power its carriers; combat outposts are being made more effective through highly energy-efficient operations; bases are solarized to have their computers, radios, lights, and generators run without need for oil trucked in; the Air Force Academy aims to obtain all its electricity from renewable sources, soon.

The transitioning to home-grown and non-carbon based energy draws this remark from the Navy Secretary: “It helps address a military vulnerability from oil, it’s helping our farmers, entrepreneurs and our industrial base — but to make us better at war fighting is the main reason we are doing it.”

Through lessening its oil dependency, the military endeavors to protect troop operations and effectiveness in the field, as well as make the naval and other bases more secure and resilient from climate change effects. It often lacks understanding and support from the Congress, though, given that now only few — 19 percent — veterans serve in that body, versus 65 percent in 1973.

The Congress should — enthusiastically, not grudgingly — support the military leaders’ vision and efforts in these matters, to lighten the problems from oil dependence on the lives and performance of our service men, the national economy, and the climate.

Sponsored by the ETSU Department of Sustainability and the Northeast Tennessee chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, there will be a free showing of “The Burden” documentary, in Brown Hall Auditorium on April 18, at 7 PM, with post-film discussion by retired Air Force Major General Devereaux.

The public is invited.

Today is the day to remember Ernest

Today is an important day in Jonesborough, not only as a way to honor a great man in our history, but also as a way to protect his — and  this town’s  legacy.

Dr. Ernest McKinney was a educator, ground breaker and activist, but most remember him as a good man who never hesitated to do his part in whatever needed to be done.

As a part of  “I Remember Ernest McKinney Day,” residents and businesses will be busy putting up signs and flooding social media to honor him.

More importantly, however, the McKinney Center will be hosting a story gathering session from 1 to 6 p.m. today at the center to capture — and preserve — many of those memories.

Anyone willing to share an Ernest McKinney story is encouraged to stop by. As Jules Corriere from the McKinney Center said in today’s front page article, “We have digital recorders and these stories will become part of our archives.”

We here at the Herald & Tribune encourage everyone out there today to heed her call. We do not want to lose a trace of McKinney’s legacy, nor let one precious story fade as time marches on.

It is, we believe, the best way to say thank you for all he was able to do.

Leadership, lessons learned remain key to future success



It seems appropriate in an edition titled Progress 2018 that the Herald & Tribune would take a moment to look back to past actions that brought us to where we are today — and to say goodbye to a mayor who we believe made so much of it possible.

As most everyone is aware by now, Mayor Kelly Wolfe recently announced his immediate surprise resignation to a packed boardroom at the March 11 meeting of the Jonesborough Board of Mayor & Aldermen.

There were a lot of tears, and more than a few requests that he maintain his mayoral role — with good reason, in our opinion. Since the moment Wolfe stepped into the mayor’s seat more than nine years ago, his impact was immediate and apparent.

Wolfe’s background was and remains deeply entrenched  in construction. When he stepped onto the board in 2008, he was already well-versed in managing tight schedules and meeting specific budget constraints while still arriving with results in which he could be proud.

This is a background that would serve Wolfe and his town well in his nine years at the helm.

Wolfe’s tenure could easily be described as: spot a problem, arrive at a solution and then get it done. He believed as a town that you get what you pay for – and set out to make Jonesborough’s staff pay scale more equitable. He understood that a inferior infrastructure would always stall Jonesborough’s growth, no matter how grand the idea, and helped orchestrate better water lines and a more efficient waste water treatment structure.

In less than a decade — the time Wolfe has been mayor — the town has witnessed downtown revitalization, the building of a new Senior Center that is the envy of surrounding communities, the restoration of the Booker T. Washington School into a local school for the arts, the reconstruction of the Chuckey Depot, and the growth and near completion of the town’s linear trail.

As for the future, thanks in part to a sizable donation from Wolfe and his wife, Jennifer, Jonesborough is looking forward to the day when the Jackson Theatre will open, bringing more opportunities to Tennessee’s oldest town.

Those contributions have been tremendous — yet we believe Mayor Wolfe’s greatest gift to Jonesborough may be something even more.  Over and over again, as conversation has turned to the mayor’s surprise resignation, one picture has re-emerged.

For 9 1/2 years, Mayor Wolfe has truly been the face of Jonesborough, as well as its greatest cheerleader. At every event in Jonesborough, in its stores or on its streets, the mayor has clearly shown his love for his small town. He has talked freely with visitors, neighbors and friends about its wonders. He has made sure that the movers-and-shakers in Nashville knew our name.

And while Kelly Wolfe was making sure everyone who didn’t live here understood the value of this town, he was also reminding those of us who do live here that we truly inhabit a little slice of heaven. And if we would just join together, we could make it even better still.

That, my friends, may be the greatest gift from our former mayor to the town of Jonesborough. If we can but remember that our future continues to be bright as long as we join together, his work will be done, but his vision will continue.

Evening of unity with BMA

Letter to the Editor

From M.T. Hawley

Last week I read Ed Wolff’s Letter to The Editor.  I was completely confused for it sounded as though Mr. Wolff and I were not in attendance at the same BMA meeting.  After talking with Ed, I was surprised to learn he did not attend the meeting and his letter was based on second-hand information.  It is unfortunate Mr. Wolff was unable to attend the meeting for had he been there perhaps he would have witnessed an evening of unity, not division.

There were two reasons most in the audience were there. The Ernest McKinney family was being recognized with a Proclamation for the outstanding contributions they have made to Jonesborough and Washington County.  Also, we were there to show our support for Adam Dickson to be appointed to the BMA to fill Jerome Fitzgerald’s vacated seat.

Mr. Wolff implies the room was divided by race.  This is not so.  I arrived just as the meeting was starting and was lucky to find a spot on the right side of the room right behind Mrs. McKinney and several other African- Americans.  The room was packed and one just sat where they could squeeze in.

If anything, had Mr. Wolff been at the meeting I think he would have seen a room filled with friends and concerned citizens.  Friends and citizens, African- Americans, and European-Americans (Mr. Wolff’s term), joining in unity to support and honor friends.

For the love of history

Letter to the Editor

From Carol Redmond, NSDAR

What a wonderful article.  We are looking forward to the “rest of the story.”

One thing our townspeople should know is that although Mr. Barnes resides in Johnson City, it was Jonesborough he came to hoping to find someone to take care of his Grandmother’s papers.

Jonesborough did her best.

Amber Crumley at the Visitors Center directed him to State of Franklin Chapter.

Teresa James of that chapter digitalized the records supplying copies to the paper and to the other chapters involved.  Then, after determining the correct repository would be the John Sevier- Sarah Hawkins Chapter NSDAR in Johnson City, those records were presented to them.

Mr. Barnes had assured us he did not want the originals back but wanted them to be in the correct archive.

We are excited about the future articles — no one tells a story like The Judge.

If anyone has records, Bible pages or photographs please do not destroy them. We would love to catalogue them and preserve them for study.

Elephant in room needs a name

Letter to the Editor

By Edward Wolff (Jonesborough)

Last Monday, the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) met to select a replacement for Jerome Fitzgerald. Mayor Wolfe nominated Adam Dickson, noting that there had been an African-American on the BMA for numerous years. The “word” went out that the Mayor’s action might be challenged. A host of people attended the meeting to support Mr. Dickson.

Interestingly, where did the people sit to support Mr. Dickson? The African-Americans sat on one side of the room. European-Americans sat on the other side. When Mayor Wolfe spoke of his resignation, he spoke before the European-Americans, but not in the center of the room. Dr. Kennedy spoke for Mr. Dickson. He is not a member of the African-American community.

First of all, I want to state that I believe none of the dynamics were intentional. None of the actions, from anyone, was racially motivated. I’m not sure many people thought about it. This, unfortunately for me, is what usually happens. Racism is subtle.

Some months back, two of us visited the town administrator about jobs for people of color. He assured us that everything was being done to make that happen. I don’t challenge him. I also went before the Washington County Commission, citing that there are no formal data to evaluate diversity in the employment area.

Why do I mention this?

I do not have many answers. I do know we have to continue to name the elephant in the room.

Thank you for a job well done

Letter to the Editor

By Jack Van Zandt (Jonesborough)

As with many in Jonesborough, I was shocked to hear that Mayor Kelly Wolfe is resigning. He has been a force for good in our town. His innovative spirit, his organizational excellence, his background in business and development, his respect and appreciation of our town employees and volunteers, and his love of Jonesborough all came together and resulted in one giant leap forward for our town of Jonesborough. He set a great example of leadership.  And you could never miss his laugh as he interacted with constituents, whom he referred to as friends.

I have lived in many towns throughout my seven decades and have never seen a more effective leader and none who have done as much for their town as Mayor Wolfe. So while his departure causes me some concern, the person who should really be concerned is the person who has to follow in his footsteps.

God’s Word tells us that God appoints leaders, and they are appointed for a season and a reason. So, having been blessed over the last 8 years with a man who had the skills, abilities, and foresight necessary to move us through many difficult challenges, I look forward to what God will be doing in our town in the future.

Thank you, Kelly. A job well done.

Business and science leaders align on doomsday threat


Who identifies “extreme weather events” and “natural disasters” as among events posing the greatest risk to prosperous economies around the world, in 2018 and the coming years?

You could be forgiven if the Sierra Club came to mind, other national environmental groups, or citizens harmed by last year’s horrific hurricanes.

But you would be wrong. These and other indicators of a planet under severe stress were among 10 items compiled in a “Global Risks Report,” by the World Economic Forum, in advance of global business leaders January meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

As Fortune magazine reported on Jan. 17, the weather disasters, global water and food crises and other indicators of a planet under stress “will constitute the likeliest risks to businesses” and have severe impacts on them.

Another risk, cited both as highly likely and having high-risk impacts, is “Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

In a different category of man made catastrophic events, nuclear war, or “weapons of mass destruction” heads the list of risk factors with the most severe consequences for business.

Could this be the first time in modern history that leaders in business and the natural sciences are this closely aligned in perception of hope for – or risk to – a prosperous future for man and the other inhabitants of the planet?

Also in January, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced that the scientists had moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight. Using the midnight imagery of apocalypse and the countdown to zero idiom of nuclear explosions, they seek to convey the urgency of threats to humanity and the planet. As MIT Professor Noam Chomsky termed their assessment of the threats, “midnight means termination for the species.”

Underlying their close-to-doomsday judgment this year, the scientists stated that “world leaders have failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change.”

President Trump, attending the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, spoke to the world leaders as representing “the interests of the American People.” Prominent among these, he cited the stock market “smashing one record after another,” the corporate tax rate being lowered “all the way down to 21 percent” and “burdensome ‘anti-business’ regulations (being eliminated) at a record pace.”

His speech failed to mention any of the grave environmental threats which the Forum’s Risks Report had identified as humanity’s most urgent current challenges.

One might suggest that “the interests of ALL the American People” were not represented. Not of those Americans, in any event, who consider themselves as holding a share in the well being of the planet, for themselves and their children and their children.

On one of two overriding issues for which the Doomsday Clock was moved close to midnight – climate change, another American leader said this: “Climate change is real, it is caused by human activities, and it is already causing devastating harm here in the United States and all around the globe.

It is absolutely imperative that we boldly transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. The future of the planet is at stake.”

I hold with Bernie Sanders.

We should cease nuclear threats


In a 1956 essay in “The Points of My Compass,” author E. B. White pondered Man’s contamination of the planet. This included discharging chemical and industrial poisons into the air and rivers and – worst among the pollutants for causing genetic damage and disease – adding radioactive elements, like strontium, to the soil and the human body, through fallout from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.

As for these, test detonations in the air was terminated by the major nuclear powers in 1963, following a treaty. The tests moving underground – to Nevada in the U.S. – the administration of Bush the Elder agreed to end weapons testing in 1992, part of the Comprehensive Weapons Ban treaty, which was formally adopted by the United Nations in 1996.

White didn’t live to see that treaty, but the American Public Health Associated praised it for cessation of nuclear testing, “whether conducted in the atmosphere or underground.” It urged total abolition of nuclear weapons, and disarmament, “as the world’s only option.”

As to their meaning for national security, White held nuclear weapons to be an effective deterrent to war but in practice unusable, since they “would leave the world uninhabitable.”

Could the trillions we and other nations spend on weapons which cannot be used be put to better effect?

In an essay titled “Hope and Survival,” pediatrician Dr. Helen Caldicott states many benign and needful applications if economies were converted to peaceful uses, as America did after World War II, instead of continuing the arms race.

For one, the world urgently needs adequate production and equitable distribution of food, Caldicott notes, and of medicines and effective vaccines for infectious diseases. Greater distribution of birth control techniques could help prevent further increases in world population – of many additional mouths which climate challenged lands cannot feed. Reforesting many areas of the world needs to be given high priority, as trees recycle carbon and help fight climate change. Millions of people still have to be delivered from situations of illiteracy and poverty. The world’s natural resources must be shared and used for the benefit of all the family of man, not wasted on production of weapons.

When White wrote about the horrors of nuclear war, only the “little, A-bomb brother” of the bombs in today’s nuclear arsenals had been used, killing about a hundred thousand people in Hiroshima and leaving many more to die of cancers later.

He saw hope in the fact that the modern, far deadlier hydrogen bombs, through universal fear of them were uniting people in a “common drive for salvation.” Aware of their grave risk in potentially bringing “millenniums of oblivion” to earth’s biological life, he saw people beginning to “face it with united action” for disarmament and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

“The correct amount of strontium to impregnate the soil is no strontium,” White demanded. Similarly and rightly, the “correct” way to solve international tensions is through ardent and polite diplomacy, not war nor threatening it, nor “usable” bombs in our and the world’s deadly nuclear arsenals.