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Columns

  • A blueprint for building a better Congress

    By LEE H. HAMILTON
    A few weeks ago, the survey firm Public Policy Polling made headlines when it released a poll comparing Congress’s standing to a variety of unloved things.
    Respondents did prefer our national legislature to the ebola virus, but otherwise the news was grim: Americans, the survey suggested, have a lower opinion of Congress than of head lice, Genghis Khan, used-car salesmen and root canals.
    I’ll admit it: I chuckled, though I don’t really agree.
    Having experienced both, I put Congress well ahead of root canals.

  • Looseleaf Laureate: Still seeking your winter storm survival stories

    By the time you read this, you’ll know whether predictions for a big ice storm Friday were accurate or a bust.
    I’d be just fine if those forecasts were nothing more than false alarms, but I do feel a little excitement all the same.
    I don’t want to be in the cold with lines down and power out.
    Still, there’s beauty even in the deadliness of an ice-glazed landscape.
    My sister lives in Lexington, Ky., where damage from an ice storm a few years ago is still apparant in trees that were ripped apart under the weight of the ice.

  • County chief apologizes to Blair community

    By RON WOODY
    Roane County Executive
    The closing of the Blair Convenience Center noted at the Roane County Commission meeting in January showed my lack of political experience and knowledge of politics.

    Prior to the Blair Convenience Center’s closing, our office reviewed reports, evaluated service, studied the financial impacts and discussed the closure of the Blair Convenience Center for more than a year with our commission.

    No maliciousness was intended to any individuals or groups in the Blair community.

  • A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: More on Second Amendment background

    From reports we have heard, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton is soon going to appear before one or more congressional committees to testify about the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. employees were killed, or murdered.

  • Looseleaf laureate: Want to share your Blizzard of ’93 memories?

    January’s winter mood swings have been extreme this year.

    We’ve gone from comfortable shirt-sleeve weather to heavy rain and floods, then winter storm warnings and, so forecasters say, bright sunshine.

    I remember one January that was pretty monochromatic — read that as snowy white and bitterly cold.

    In January 1978, I managed to make my way through a winter storm back to campus at Western Kentucky University.

  • Former congressman laments divisions

    Ordinarily, the start of a new Congress is a time for optimism.

    Fresh faces and a purposeful spirit combine to get Congress off to a hope-filled start.

    Yet Capitol Hill right now is far from optimistic. That’s because last year’s session, with its distressing end by the edge of the fiscal cliff, left the new Congress confronting head on all the challenges that should have been resolved but weren’t: getting spending and the deficit under control, spurring economic growth, and reforming the tax code.

  • A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: Which do you serve, America or Israel?

    Gentle reader, public discourse in this great republic may be approaching a crisis point, and if not, a boiling point.

    This state of affairs arises from the President’s action in attempting to fill certain cabinet vacancies, especially the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency.

    He has named long-time C.I.A. operative John Brennan to head that agency, and former Republican Senator from Nebraska, Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense.

  • A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: Lick Skillet: Why we have a Second Amendment

    Well, gentle reader, we return to the barricades after our short hiatus. We trust that you and yours had pleasant holidays.

    As this is written, we are right in the middle of the “fiscal cliff,” so we will await some more definitive outcome of this bizarre exercise in statecraft before writing further about it, but there are a couple of things that we wish to go into.

    First is the subject of guns, and the Newtown massacre.

  • Director Aytes reports on state of schools

    The State Report Card was released last month, so now is a good time to update our citizens on the status of Roane County Schools.  

    The report card shows academic improvement — and also shows many areas for growth.

    Our greatest improvement was in math, where we received an A in value-added scores and a B in achievement.  

    Our goal this year will be to maintain the A and improve our achievement score.  

    Our other achievement scores were an A in social studies with B’s in reading and science.  

  • LOOSELEAF LAUREATE: Get out of your comfort zone

    If you are reading this and the world hasn’t come to a fiery end (as per Mayan calendar hoopla), then I can safely say 2012 has been a great year.


    I have been touched by the many people who have told me they enjoy reading this column, and who “travel” with me on my adventures.