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A writer’s calendar in review

 

packing-chute

The past several months have provided a wealth of images and topics to be covered. Local and regional interests have drawn my attention, eye and words to their descriptive influences.

I thought it a fitting action to showcase the ninety or more days of news coverage to give you, our readers, a glimpse at just how much effort goes into bringing you information and news of your world. Not every image presented here will have been previously included in a published news story. Some of these images are background material and some are just for visual impression. Often we see things which are inspirational, if not exactly newsworthy or pertinent to the immediate story. They have to wait for special coverage like this to have their day.

Starting with the volunteer parachute packer above, who gave his time and service to the Thank You Foundation’s courtesy parachute jumps at Outlaw Field as a way to honor wounded soldiers, many opportune moments of singular deference to others abound through out our community.

Clarksville Tourism Ctr flying the flag in the dark

American Flag in the dark

While some show deference, there are those instances where an apparent indifference is on display. This writer has more than once commented about how businesses and governmental entities are dishonoring our nation’s flag by flaying it at night without proper illumination. City government functions share an unseemly portion of this shame. From city hall to the police department to fire stations, the nation’s flag flies 24 hours a day. At night it is not properly illuminated.

Fun times are to be had as a writer covering community events. One such example is the bedlam that is the APSU Mud Bowl. This year was my first occasion to witness this descent into seemingly mindless abandon.

Otherwise perfectly sane college students willingly climb into an arena of mud for a three-minute round of volley ball, with no other incentive than to be able to say, “We did it!” In the process, the mud bowl conquers all who dare enter. And the students gleefully rejoice in this. It beats goldfish, at least.

New to the city’s landscape this year is Strawberry Alley. This new downtown gathering area was christened by an equally new  city-sponsored bi-monthly event dubbed, “Jammin’ in the Alley!”

The inaugural opening honors was bestowed upon “The Beagles,” who gave a rollicking good show that saw dancing in the street and yes, that was Kevin Kennedy joining in to do ‘The Electric Slide!’

The Franklin Street merchants took full advantage of this crowd attraction to accent their businesses with Benne’s Steakhouse and Piano Bar, The Front Page Deli and Brunnie’s all setting out bistro tables for the more than willing patrons.

A favorite annual event is the Native Cultural Circle Inter-Tribal Powwow. Staged out at the campground in Port Royal adjacent to the Port Royal Historic State Park. The park has seen distinction added to its crown with the National Park Service designating it an official Trail of Tears historic park. This year, in recognition that the park encompasses that last unobstructed section of the original trail in Tennessee, a Commemoration Trail of Tears March Walk was conducted on that hallowed ground.

Following the Park System ceremony, the walk continued on to the Powwow grounds where Head Lady Loretta Howard and Head Man Michael Veal led the opening traditional dance. A new community group debuted at this year’s powwow. The Hawaiian Civic Group performed several native Pacific Islander dances. Fun dances included the ‘Children’s Candy Dance,’ and the ‘Ugly Man’ dance.

National politics had an impact here this year. The presidential election saw a marked increased in voter registration and turn-out. Voter rallies and forums were held all over the area. Candidates knocked on doors and held town hall meetings to introduce themselves to their constituencies. Articles on voter registration requirements and voting practices appeared in the local mainstream media. Negative campaigning saw new heights on both the local and national stages. Unprecedented election politics were played out and locally a write-in campaign by a major political player stirred up the public’s appetite for drama. Although the August primaries saw an abysmal voter turnout, the November General Elections saw a resounding repudiation of that voter apathy with a strong seventy-percent voter turn-out.

Also during this time, the APSU Woodward Library held another session of its Athenaeum presentation series. Kasey Hendricks gave an impressive and stirring talk on his study: “Defending Affirmative Action- E’race’ing Inequality.” The lecture/discussion was well attended and the following discussion proved quite enlightening as information about discrimination in a little known realm was revealed.

Autumn continues its advance in Middle Tennessee and Montgomery County shares in the seasonal changes in nature. Trees change color, shed leaves and all other signs of time’s passage are manifested. At Dunbar Cave Park, the advance of seasons is well on display. The waterfowl make their noises and the landscape yields to changes in light. One of the most colorful examples of this is the beautiful berry clusters found along the stairway from the park’s information center towards the cave itself. This colorful display belongs to the American Beauty Bush.

Dunbar Cave also shifts gears as it gears up for the annual October nighttime tour event known as, “The Haunted History Tour.” These guided tours take visitors inside the cavernous depths of the cave, the seventieth long in the entire U.S., and informs them of the cave’s development and history. Held over the course of two days, usually the weekend prior to Halloween, the tours are a family fun way to explore the cave. This year saw well over 500 visitors take the tour.

Scenic waterside view on rural Paris back road

Now viewing the changing season is not restricted to Montgomery County. There was also the opportunity to travel to a business expo in Paris. No, not that one across the Atlantic. this one is much closer. We don’t have a budget that would allow the Trans-Atlantic expense and I don’t know anyone in France, although Strasborough is really nice. The backroads between Montgomery County and Henry County afford one the opportunity to see Mother Nature’s paint brush busily at work. The many scenic vistas of bodies of water marking landfall are nicely contrasted with the changing colors of the wooded foliage that dominates the abundant landscape of the area. And of course, when in Paris, how can you leave without visiting The Eifel Tower? Expect to see a posting about that expo soon on ‘Discover Paris!’

As autumn’s march continues, the window for early voting for the general election was closing. This year had seen a abysmal voter turnout for the August primary. Not even ten percent of the county’s voters felt compelled to cast their votes and decide how their government would take shape. However the general election was a horse of a different  color indeed. Montgomery County got energized and really stepped up to the ballot box in record numbers.

Early voting saw fully forty percent of registered voters had gone to the Election Commission in Veterans Plaza and cast their votes. Also during this time, Austin Peay State University held its annual homecoming activities. This year, the celebrations extended to the city’s newest gathering spot with the Homecoming ‘Street Dance in the Alley.’ The Mike Robinson Band was the music choice and gave a lively set for the evening’s participants.

The presidential debate scene came to Tennessee as Belmont University played host to the second 2008 Presidential Debate. While Clarksville was not a central player in this dramatic event, its proximity did draw elements of our community into its sphere of influence. The Montgomery County Democratic Party held a Debate Watch Party at its Madison Street headquarters. There was an alternative debate and other debate day activities that gave special emphasis to the event.

On our local political scene, after the nastiness of the August primary and the bad vibes that followed the special tri-county convention to select the Democratic Party candidate for District 22, voters turned out to resoundingly favor Attorney Tim Barnes as their state senator. Congrats to him for running a clean, above board campaign all the way thru. He’s got some really great people working with him- DJ, Adam and Adam, and a very supportive partner in wife Linda and their children. If you haven’t already done so, please do check out the exclusive interview Tim gave Clarksville Online. I think you’ll find it a good read.

The Youth Victory Garden celebrated its first harvest and held a community fair to mark the occasion. Various civic and social consciousness and service groups participated in celebrating the young people’s efforts and making the community aware of their presence. The Brandon Hill Community Heritage Youth Victory Garden was under the guardianship of The Mount Olive Historical Preservation Society. The youth came from the Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools System. They cleared the land and planted all the crops, tended to them during the growing season, even during school breaks and over the summer.

Additionally the APSU Music Department’s Percussion Ensemble held its annual Halloween Concert with all performers in some form of holiday costume. The musical selections were a lively mix that were well adapted to the occasion. The APSU University Choir lent their voices to marvelous effect in producing a musical presentation that left no one unimpressed. Barvo!

Also happening within this timeframe was the 24th Annual Ohio Valley History Conference, held this year at Austin Peay State University. The two-day event proved an exciting and informative affair. Presenters came from across the country and even Canada. The History Honor Society, Phi Alpha Theta, recognized new members. Dr. Richard Gildrie celebrated his retirement after a 38-year career in history academia. The APSU Graphic Arts Dept. showcased its Goldsmith Press and Rare Type Collection, printing conference posters and gift bags. John Seigenthaler Sr. was the keynote for the conference banquet dinner. In all, over one hundred-twenty papers were presented and discussed. I wish I could have cloned myself about fifteen times, and that still would not have been enough to cover the sessions that drew my interest.

Not even a full two weeks following the OVHC, the Arts and Heritage Development Council held it Lifetime Achievement Awards celebration at the Pace Alumni Center at Emerald Hill. A warm and lively gathering of celebrants and well-wishers filled the center’s hallways and rooms. A wide cross-selection of the community was on hand to fete Dr. George Mabry, his equally talented wife, Dr. Sharon Mabry and Secretary of State Riley Darnell. Then there was last week’s surprising city council meeting, where the cost of the marina project shot from $20 million dollars to $32 million dollars. I think there’s more on that to come. Of course, most of you will be aware of the mayor’s signing a contract with Rediflex for installation and operation of red-light cameras in our community. Instead of the original six, we will now get twenty of these devices. The University of Tennessee released a study on the effectiveness of these types of so-called safety measures back in September that may provide you, our readers, with some somber thought-provoking information.

Gee, but it’s hard to believe all this happened within the sixty to seventy-five days. How did I ever cover it all. I must acknowledge my colleagues here at Clarksville Online. The team effort is all important and central to our operation and success. The holidays are fast coming upon and Clarksville Online will seek to provide ever relevant coverage of news and public interest events. Still to come are updates on TEPPCO’s processed fuels storage facility two miles from the city’s water-intake point on the Cumberland River and the unveiling of the city’s newest fountain on Strawberry Alley; the USDOJ/HUD Public Fact Gathering Meeting on the city’s Redevelopment Plan, and of course the corresponding lawsuit against the citizens group filed by a council member and a real estate developer connected to the plan; the swearing-in of new city council members and the closing of Fairgrounds Park to make way for the marina dredging and development.


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One Response to “A writer’s calendar in review”

  1. Blayne Clements Says:
    December 13th, 2008 at 11:18 am
    Blayne Clements

    It was nice talking to you last night at the Christmas Party.

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