A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: We are thankful for the blessings of friendship

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Inasmuch as the elections are over, we feel free to look to other matters besides politics for a time, brief though it may be.

One thing we have meant to write about for some time is the matter of the Harriman Hospital being converted to a V.A. hospital.

We are highly favourable to this idea, and, despite the recent rejection, we think that it just might work, if the proponents of the idea will try to look at it from the viewpoint of the government officials who must ultimately make the final decision.

First of all, any competent official conscious of his or her obligation to safeguard the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money must first be convinced that this building is actually suited for a veterans’ hospital.

At first glance that would seem to be a questionable proposition. After all, a large private, for-profit health care corporation has decided that it is no longer suited for general hospital purposes and is accordingly being abandoned.

If it is not suited for hospital purposes for the company, it would at first glance appear not to be suited for hospital purposes for the government.

We have not seen the proposal submitted by the proponents, but, if that proposal does not exhaustively explain why this initial conclusion is not valid, then the proponents need to work up a new proposal which fully explains and negates this conclusion.

Second, any further proceedings on this project must be suspended for a period of time, not because of any problems with this particular project, but because any and every new government project must be held in abeyance unless national security is at risk because of the uncertainties caused by the “financial cliff legislation.”

As it stands now, come 1 January, every department of government except the few specifically exempted, must cut its budget by a fixed percentage.

Thus, no government agency can possibly undertake new expenditures, such as the cost of opening and operating a new Veterans Administration hospital, when they are scheduled to cut back on the expenditures required to operate the current hospitals.

It is quite likely that in the not too distant future provisions will be made to free up the V.A. budget and allow for new undertakings, but until that occurs, the V.A. officials have no choice, however much they might favour a new project, but to reject such new undertakings out of hand.

To do otherwise would be to mislead the public and build false hopes where no hope exists.

So, we would humbly suggest that the forces favouring the Harriman Hospital conversion, continue to work to build a more positive and more forceful application, “keep their powder dry”, and be prepared to be first in line with a new, unimpeachably persuasive application to be presented just as soon as there is the first glimmer of hope that it can be funded.

It might also be profitable to consider recruitment of further allies in various parts of the nation who might be in a position to help us, if we can help them. In this regard, it must always be remembered that our friends in Oak Ridge are always ready to try to maximize the federal funds channeled in their direction, even if it means blocking funds from going to their neighbors.

Our brief tenure as county executive, coupled with our experience during the Japanese uranium taxation dispute made this abundantly clear.

Although we are speaking about experience from some years back, the continuing struggle over Roane State shows that nothing has really changed in this regard.

In short, do not despair, but redouble your efforts, and work like the devil to bring this good project to a successful conclusion.
As we celebrate the national day of Thanksgiving, we feel it particularly appropriate to mention one thing that is all too often overlooked in our cataloging the gifts for which we are most thankful: We have in mind that priceless gift which we so often take for granted, namely the gift of friendship.

It has been our good fortune in our seventy-seven years to have been blessed with the gift of friendship of an almost endless list of friends, some by kinship, some by virtue association, such as neighbors, schoolmates, or business acquaintances, some personal, some political, some professional, and some just accidental, fortuitous, inexplicable, or serendipitous.

But, however the relationship originated, these friendships are things we treasure, and for which we are truly thankful.

As we grow older, we find that many of those friendships which we have most treasured have been with people who have died, but death does not terminate the feeling of friendship to those who have been true friends. Their deaths seem only to sharpen the feelings we have had for them, and make us miss them more, even while strengthening our memories of them.

As an example of this, we have but to look to the passing of our friend Hal Jones a few days ago.

Short of some strong attack of dementia, we think nothing will erase, or even lessen our feeling toward Hal. And we know that there are hundreds of others who have the same feelings. Though he may be dead, he is far from forgotten, and as future days dawn, pleasant recollections will continue to keep his memory evergreen in the minds of so many of us.

And, of course, one of the strongest reminders of Hal will be encountering his beloved wife, Margaret, who we count as another treasured friend.

It scarcely merits thinking about what Hal would have been had he not had the good sense to marry Margaret, for together they made a marriage that gives the married relationship a good name.
Another of our dear friends who is, thank God, still with us is Frances E. Roberts, widow of Bill Roberts.

Bill and Frances were another of those couples that seemed to exceed the expectations that we mere mortals have any claim to.

Theirs was a relationship that showed how deep and how loving can be the melding of two individuals into a single unit.

But, Frances has always had a talent for attracting people, and if she ever displayed an unpleasant face or unpleasant attitude it was never witnessed by us, nor reported to us.

She has just always been a joy to be around, and we only regret that we now so seldom see each other, but we know that she is, and always will be one of the nicest people that the Good Lord has seen fit to put on this planet.

We feel privileged to know Frances and to be able to look back on the many years that we have enjoyed that privilege, beginning in the old court house when she helped Bill run the trustee’s office. She should have been named one of Roane County’s Treasures long ago.