Niswonger Foundation fuels Greeneville revival

September 16, 2007

The progressive Niswonger Foundation, founded by East Tennessean Scott Niswonger, who made his money with a trucking company called Landair and Forward Air, Inc., is pouring money into making Greeneville a better place to live. The Foundation built a $7 million Performing Arts Center and now has set its sights on making Greeneville “a unique, pedestrian- oriented community where people can live, work and play within walking distance of a vibrant downtown.”

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(Illustration from Rediscover Greeneville Tennessee)

A new website lays out the plans, which make sense for a lot of other Tennessee towns as well. The most interesting part to me is the strategy page, which contains some very good goals. Here are some of those goals and my comments on them:

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NAACP state convention this week in Jonesborough

September 16, 2007

As related by this article in the Johnson City Press, the Tennessee state convention of the NAACP will take place this week in Jonesborough. The oldest town in Tennessee at first seems an unlikely choice; relatively few black folks live in upper East Tennessee compared to Nashville or Memphis. The organization, however, rotates its annual conventions among the three Grand Divisions of the state, and locals made a strong case that their active chapter deserved to host everyone else.

Jonesborough has more than its share of African-American history. The article quotes Tour promoter Linda Poland, who says. “I’m sure they’re coming here due to our history, beginning in 1820 with the Elihu Embree anti-slavery newspapers like the Emancipator, carrying through the cholera epidemic of 1873, when Dr. Hezikiah Balch’s work really turned the tide on the epidemic and through the Warner Academy to educate the children of former slaves. We’ve never had a plantation economy and we were progressive before our time,” Poland said.

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UT officials fly university jet to NASCAR race

September 16, 2007

President John Petersen and several other UT officials flew in the University’s jet to Tri-Cities Airport to attend a NASCAR race at the Bristol Speedway. Following all manner of negative publicity, a UT VP, Hank Dye, wrote a personal check to cover half of the flight and, one suspects, his gluteus maximus.

UT spokeswoman Karen Collins says Dye is covering part of the expense “out of an abundance of caution and accountability to the taxpayers.” Uh, yeah.

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