Letters: Prioritize school safety

Johnson City Press • Jun 1, 2018 at 6:00 AM

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Prioritize school safety

The school shooting at Columbine occurred on 4/20/1999. Since that tragedy, school safety has been at the forefront of public discussion (and rightly so). According to the article on 5/22, the City Commission is now in what I view as "panic mode" to address this most important issue. We have had over 19 years to figure this out and we are talking about deadlines and a voter referendum.

If I understand correctly, the commission agreed to fund the $240K request from the JCBoE for the upcoming school year. The question then becomes funding after that based on an upcoming report. Don't mix accessing all of the sales tax monies with funding school safety.

Don't let the current commission put you, the citizens, on a guilt trip for "voting against the safety of our children." Don't give them an easy way out. We have wasted enough money on a golf course, helping fund a performing arts center and funding an additional assistant city manager among other things.

The children of Johnson City are looking for some leaders, not commissioners who are looking for the least painful political way out. Everybody knows the local politician's greatest fear is a property tax increase. You aren't fooling anybody. A sales tax increase is a "political dodge." Just instruct the city manager to come up with proposed cuts necessary to fund the plan and bring to the commission. If you don't have the courage to do that, then plug in a property tax increase to cover the costs and explain to the taxpayers and let's move on. We have wasted enough time. Maybe you lose your re-election, maybe not. In the end, Johnson City will survive. I think most citizens will respect that approach.

Johnson City

Polk should be buried at home

After reading your April 27 editorial on President Polk’s tomb, I respectfully urge you to re-evaluate the historical importance of the Polk Home in Columbia. James K. Polk opened his law office and launched his political career while living in the house with his parents. He was co-owner of the home during his mother’s widowhood. Following his presidency, he returned there for 11 days to formally conclude his career in Columbia. Because of the house’s significance, the state of Tennessee and the James K. Polk Memorial Association (founded by first lady Sarah Polk’s great-great-niece) selected it to be the main repository for Polk artifacts in 1929. In 1961, the house was designated a Registered National Historic Landmark.

James K. Polk wanted his permanent memorial and burial spot to be his Nashville retirement home, Polk Place. That became impossible after his and Sarah’s tomb was moved to the State Capitol grounds in 1893 and the home was demolished in 1901. Family members saw the Columbia house as a place to fulfill Polk’s wishes in a different setting. That is why the Polk Home has received over 150 items from Polk Place, including the tomb’s fence and urns. That is also why proponents of moving Polk’s tomb have favored the Polk Home. When I arrived here in 1984, the relocation of the tomb was already a long-standing proposal.

You seem confident that Polk’s plan to be buried in Nashville outweighs his wish to be buried at his home and memorial. The Polk Association interprets his writings and actions differently. Although we disagree with you on that point, we do not doubt the sincerity of your opinion or your desire to honor President Polk appropriately. We hope that you will eventually extend that same courtesy to us.

JOHN HOLTZAPPLE, President James K. Polk Home and Museum Director,

Columbia, Tennessee

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