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Columns

  • GLIMPSES: Community effort saved courthouse

    By MARK BANKER

    The old Roane County Courthouse recently lost one of its most colorful and influential champions.

    Rachel Parker’s passing rekindled my desire to share in this space the bold effort that saved that beloved historic structure.

    When I left Kingston for college in 1969, it was THE Roane County Courthouse and one of only a few antebellum Greek Revival courthouses actively operating in Tennessee.

  • GLIMPSES: We pay for the past, and the future

    By Mark Banker

    In the Feb. 13 issue of this paper, Roane County Executive Ron Woody observed, “Nobody wants to increase the tax, but everyone wants the service.”

    Our state legislature is still debating the target of Mr. Woody’s concern, Gov. Haslam’s proposed 7-cents-per-gallon increase in gas taxes. But our Executive’s candor is less debatable.

    “Everyone,” he continued, “wants better roads.” The big question, he clearly implied, is who pays for them?

  • From the EDITOR’S Desk: State eyes open government legislation

    Last year the state legislature looked at several bills related to open records and open government.

    This year the legislature is again considering several bills related to transparency in government.

    Several of these bill were referred to committee to be reviewed. One bill that could be up for a vote this session involved the release of records pertaining to investigations of police shootings conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

  • GLIMPSES: What will history say about 2017?

    By Mark Banker

    “History never looks much like history when you are living through it. It always looks confusing and messy, and it always feels uncomfortable.” John W. Gardner

    What will history say about our own “confusing…messy…uncomfortable” times?

    Assuming the deep-seated American penchant for conflict does not soon disappear, we can expect observers will continue to disagree into the foreseeable future about the issues we find so debatable.

  • A VIEW FROM LICK SKILLET: Conservatives? Today’s Republicans aren’t

    Gentle reader; For some time now we have heard and read with increasing disquietude the claims of various Republican candidates for various offices to be “the Conservative Candidate”.

    But, upon considering these candidates’ platforms when running, and voting records when elected, we have become convinced that none of them are in fact true conservatives.

  • INSIDE the First AMENDMENT: Admit it: We need First Amendment

    You may think you love the First Amendment. You may get misty-eyed just thinking about it.

    It calls to mind Woodward and Bernstein unraveling the Watergate scandal, Dr. King leading the March on Washington, Voltaire proclaiming, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” (Voltaire didn’t actually say that, but he probably wouldn’t mind that you think he did.)

    But sooner or later, you will come across something that will make you wonder just what’s so great about freedom of speech.

  • From the EDITOR’S Desk: All we are saying is give Trump a chance

    I was proud to see that Tennessee residents turned out with great enthusiasm to greet our 45th president Donald Trump during his visit to Nashville this week.

    I also thought it was fitting that the president spoke at the Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson, a figure just as controversial in his time as Trump seems to be today.

    There have been a lot of comparisons of the personalities of Trump and Jackson, some of which have been discussed in depth by historian and Roane County News columnist Mark Banker.

  • A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: Erin Go Braugh — Another Saint of Ireland

    Gentle reader: It being St. Patrick’s Day, we want to talk a bit about him, but also to tell you of another of Ireland’s (and Scotland’s) saints about whom you probably haven’t heard.

    But first we must correct a mistake from the column of 3 March kindly called to our attention by our neighbor, Don Matthews, in which we intended to write billions but instead wrote millions, as shown here:

  • OFF the CUFF: Practicing patience for April’s arrival

    If patience is indeed a virtue, I’m not terribly virtuous.

    I want what I want when I want it. It’s why I order light ice in my coffee at drive-thrus. I don’t want to wait for it to cool; I want to drink it now.

    The latest obstacle in my path to instant gratification comes in the form of Mother Nature and a giraffe gravid with calf.

  • A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: The sick usually aren’t to blame for being sick!

    As long-time readers know, the old curmudgeon is well and truly fixed in the status of octogenarianism, and as such he has had ample opportunity to observe the various vagaries of human nature, much of which he has come to understand and appreciate, but there is one aspect which not only puzzles him, but angers him, and that is the attitude so many of our fellows have toward sickness, those afflicted with illness or disability.