Friday, June 06, 2014

VA Turns Down $1/year Lease Offer! Why?

About two years ago I posted this about a possible VA Hospital in Harriman, TN.  That proposal was declined.

I'm bringing it up again because of the recent scandal involving the Veterans Administration.  It seems they can't handle the number of veterans needing their assistance at VA Hospitals across the country.

True, they have certain internal policies and staffing issues that need to be addressed in the very near future, but it seems to me a few more hospitals would ease the burden. 

That's why it aggravates me to no end to know that there is a perfectly good hospital building, recently vacated, sitting in Harriman, Tennessee that the city has offered to the VA for $1 a year!  

Harriman's Roane Medical Center closed last year and moved operations to a brand new facility in Midtown (about 5.3 miles away), which centralizes their services to Roane, Morgan, Rhea, and other areas in East Tennessee.  There is nothing wrong with the old facility, and would make a great hospital for VA services.  

City Officials offered the facility to the VA and they came and toured, but declined the one dollar a year lease offer.

Frankly, especially after the recent scandal, the area is shocked!  Why is this perfectly fine facility not being used, when there clearly is a dire need for doctors, beds, and services?  It is estimated that this Roane County facility could serve up to 100,000 veterans in Anderson, Blount, Cumberland, Knox, Loudon, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Rhea, Roane and Scott counties, and save them hours of driving and fuel costs driving to get help.

And, it's true, Harriman needs the help in bringing money and commerce into the area, but when there is a clear need for this VA facility, it's a win, win, for everyone.

If you read this, please try and get the word out to congressmen, both city, state, and nationally about this issue.  It seems this is one way to stand up for our servicemen!

Here are a few places to start getting attention to this problem:

Don't forget Facebook and other social media pages.  Spread the word far and wide!

Monday, May 26, 2014

"The Three Soldiers" Replica Dedicated In Memorial Day Ceremony

As a follow up to my previous post, Roane County Veterans, and their supporters, came together Monday (Memorial Day) to honor all veterans, and especially the fallen, by dedicating a replica of the statues that compliment the "The Wall" in Washington, DC, "The Three Soldiers".

The Three Soldiers (also known as The Three Servicemen) is a bronze statue on the Washington, DC National Mall commemorating the Vietnam War.  It was created and designed to complement the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, by adding a more traditional component to the Memorial.

That replica, sculpted by Greg Horak of Harriman, now stands in Riverfront Park in Harriman, Tennessee.  It is believed to be the largest replica of the memorial in the state, if not anywhere outside DC.

Roane County now has a place to go and remember those veterans that gave some, and those that gave all.

The effort to get the memorial financed and installed was a join project for American Legion Post 232 and the Newman-Davis American Legion Post 53, both of Harriman, TN.  At the ceremony Monday, both organizations participated in the formalities.

On hand were Post Commanders Bill Copeland (53) and Greg Love (232), Adjutants Cliff Cole (53) and Bronce Cleveland making sure Legionnaires knew their ceremonial duties.  Second District Commander Dennis E. Moldenhauer came to represent the American Legion Department of Tennessee.  
The event was kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance, and a moving rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" by Pastor Alvin Douglass, also a member of Post 232.
The memorial was unveiled and formally dedicated by speeches from Gary Todd, Finance Officer of Post 53, Greg Love, Commander of Post 232, Janice Black, representing the Avery Trace Daughters of the American Revolution, and Cliff Cole, Adjutant of Post 53.

A wreath was posted in honor of the fallen of Roane County, and members of the Cunningham and Cleveland families were escorted to and from the presentation.
Various members read the names of Roane County fallen, each name followed by a ring of the American Legion bell.  Following this reading, which, by the way, was surprising long, was "TAPS" played by Perry Hawn.  

We seldom stop long enough to realize how many Roane County lives have been sacrificed for American freedom.  However, the American Legion knows every name and just how special that sacrifice was/is.
After all was said and done, the two Legion groups did a fantastic job, and the members stay a long time mingling and getting to know their Legion brothers, and other Veteran brothers.  It's good to see progress in the community.
All Veterans came together before of the "The Three Soldiers" memorial for a shoulder-to-shoulder photo to remember the great thing they had witnessed.
Also, on hand were members of the Vietnam Vet/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club, Chapter H of Tennessee.  

Next up?  There are plans for a Korean, a WWII, and a "War On Terror" memorial that will join this memorial around the fountain in Riverfront Park.  It's good to be remembered for a job well done! 

It took 6 long years to raise enough money for the Vietnam memorial, so it is hoped the public will see fit to donate more toward the future plans.  We don't need to wait 6 more years...Veterans are dying every day, and memorials give them some bit of healing from the scares inflicted by war.  They sacrificed for us, so let's sacrifice for them...NOW! 

Give to the local American Legion for the memorial fund.
Here are various other photographs made during the ceremony.  Hopefully, you are among those attending!
Sculptor Greg Horak gets a round of applause!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

"The Three Soldiers" Replica To Be Dedicated Monday At Riverfront Park

The Three Soldiers (also known as The Three Servicemen) is a bronze statue on the Washington, DC National Mall commemorating the Vietnam War.  It was created and designed to complement the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, by adding a more traditional component to the Memorial.
The grand plan has long been to erect a full size replica of “The Three Soldiers” memorial in the “David Webb Riverfront Park”, as a tribute to Roane County Vietnam veterans.

The memorial, believed to be the only “full size” replica in the state, if not anywhere outside Washington D.C., will be placed in the park’s war memorial area near the present fountain.  Long term plans are to place other memorials from America’s other wars in this area as money and support comes along.

At long last the pieces to the statues came in and were inspected and pre-assembled earlier this week by Cliff Cole, Gary Todd, and other members of the Legion.

The memorial was unloaded and positioned for concrete today at the park.  A formal dedication ceremony will be held at 11AM on Monday (Memorial Day).  The replica is not a full bronze cast, as the one in Washington, but it is what the local budget would allow.  The primary purpose of the memorial is to honor all of the Roane County veterans that served, and especially those that sacrificed all, in the Vietnam War.

This well-known sculpture by Frederick Hart portrays three young uniformed American soldiers.  While the military attire is meant to be symbolic and general in nature, the combat equipment displayed represents the figures as serving in either the U.S. Army, or U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.

Of the three men, the lead figure (in the middle) represents a Marine, as he wears a Type M-1955 body armor vest, which was worn exclusively by Marines in Vietnam. He is armed only with a Colt M1911A1 .45 caliber automatic pistol, which is carried in a Government Issue (GI) M-1916 leather pistol holster, positioned on the right hip.  The M-1916 holster is attached to an M-1956 GI pistol belt, and a small GI .45 pistol magazine pouch is carried on the belt's left front. The Marine wears a body-armor vest (but no shirt), along with Tropical Combat trousers and boots; he wears no headgear. Like his comrades, he carries a pair of plastic GI 1-quart canteens, carried in two M-1956 canteen covers that are attached to his pistol belt, and situated at the rear center hip.

The man on the right wears combat equipment consistent with a U.S. Army Soldier, and specifically, a Type M69 body armor vest, which was the primary armor vest used mainly by U.S. Army personnel in Vietnam, from about 1967 on.  His M69 armor vest is unsecured, and worn fully open at the front, which was a typical fashion of troops in Vietnam, as a measure in which to promote ventilation (in spite of reducing the vest's overall protective levels).  Draped around the collar of his M69 vest and hanging on his chest front, this Soldier carries a GI towel, which served to absorb sweat and cushioned heavy loads, and was a common practice of many Soldiers in Vietnam. In his left hand he carries an M16A1 rifle, the main battle rifle for both Soldiers and Marines, from about 1967 on.  His uniform consists of the Tropical Combat Uniform (jacket and trousers) and "jungle" boots.  As was typically done by U.S. combat personnel fighting in the oppressive tropical environment of Vietnam, the uniform jacket's sleeves are rolled up.  In his right hand, this Soldier holds an M1 steel helmet covered with a camouflage cover, that is secured over the helmet with an elastic headband (which itself retains a small bottle of GI insect repellent on the right side).  He also wears an M-1956 GI pistol belt over the waist of his uniform jacket, and it retains a GI 1-quart canteen and M-1956 canteen cover, situated at the left rear hip. Lastly, on a GI neck chain set, he wears a pair of GI Identification Tags (i.e. "Dog Tags"), which are visible on his bare chest, seen through the open front of his uniform jacket and armor vest.

The man on the left is slightly less specific in the service representation of his gear and uniform, but he appears to be a U.S. Army Soldier, as he wears a Tropical ("Boonie") Hat, which was widely worn by Army combat personnel in Vietnam (particularly towards the latter part of the war), and to a much lesser extent by Marines.  His uniform consists of the Tropical Combat Jacket and Trousers, and "jungle" boots. Like his comrade on his far left, his uniform jacket's sleeves are rolled up.  This man wears no body armor, and is armed only with an M60 machine gun, and he carries two separate belts of 7.62mm machine gun ammunition draped and criss-crossed over his torso.  He is also wearing an M17 Protective (Gas) Mask carrier on his left thigh, although U.S. troops infrequently wore or used gas masks in Vietnam. (They were used primarily when tear gas (CS gas) was employed in combat, such as by tunnel rats, and by troops engaged in urban/city combat, such as the Marines in Hue City in January and February, 1968). Under his uniform jacket, he also wears a GI M-1956 pistol belt, with two M-1956 canteen covers that are attached, each carrying a GI 1-quart canteens, and situated at the right rear hip. In order to portray the major ethnic groups that were represented in the ranks of U.S. combat personnel that served in Vietnam, the statue's three men are purposely identifiable as Caucasian (the lead man), African American (man on right), and Hispanic (man on left).  

These three figures were based on six actual young men models, of which two (the Caucasian, and the African-American) were active-duty Marines at the time that the sculpture was commissioned.  The Caucasian figure was modeled after James E. Connell, III, then a Corporal in the Marines; the African-American figure was modeled after three men, Marine Corporal Terrance Green, Rodney Sherrill and Scotty Dillingham; the Hispanic figure was modeled after Guillermo Smith De Perez DeLeon. 

It is hoped that if you are a VET, from any theater of war, you will come to the ceremony Monday and remember those that served and those that have gone on before us.

My thanks to the hard working Harriman American Legionnaires, and David Webb, for bringing this memorial to Riverfront Park.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The TAMS Play The Princess For Second Time!

The last time I posted about The TAMS, back in July of 2013, I told you that they "rock'n rolled'em up and down the aisles"!  Well, they did it again Friday night!
Yes, I have proof.  They stood, they danced, and they "conga lined" it around the theater.  To the dismay of some, everyone up front seemed to stand through the entire show, and you couldn't blame them!  The TAMS put on another great show with their legendary hits.

Little Redd (Albert) Cottle bounced up and down, and "spanked it" to the beat of the great The 14 Karat Gold Band!  Right in step were fellow singers Reginald Preston, Robert Arnold, and Elton Richardson.

Behind the energetic group were Rodney Bruce, on keyboards, and who sang several old and familiar tunes until show time, Bernard Jordan on drums, and James “Tootie” Hogan, who did an outstanding job on lead guitar!

The newly formed Roane County Schools Education Foundation, brought a great event to the Princess Theatre, and those responding to their need for funds, to buy security cameras for our county schools, seemed to be pleased with the program.  

There was food and drink, and music in the "Annex" building, and tents were set up along the sidewalk to keep goers dry from the occasional showers.  
Prior to the show, Bernard Jordan gave Princess stage hand Keaton VanJones a turn at his drum set.  Keaton was responsible for the "key" light during the show, and hopes to be an accomplished drummer one day.  Who knows, he may head line at the Princess one day.  With the ambition the young man displays today, anything is possible!

The TAMS have been entertaining and thrilling audiences for over 50 years! Known for such hits as "Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy", "What Kind of Fool", "I've Been Hurt" and "Untie Me", The Tams have had 2 Gold Records, and 1 Platinum Single.  "Hey Girl Don't Bother Me" hit #1 in the UK in 1971. 
It was a great night, and I have to say I was entertained...again!  I like what the Princess has become to our community, and I can't wait for everyone to get on board.

Here are some of the photos I was able to get at the concert.  Maybe you are in one of them!

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Kentucky Headhunters Play The Princess

As I sit here in my Kentucky Headhunter t-shirt, I'm reminded of the great time I had Saturday.  Not only was the concert great, but getting to meet the members of the band made it even more special.

I got the shirt with just the Headhunter logo on it, after asking the band's vendor in lobby which one he'd get.  His answer was "The one without their pictures on it.  I have to look at those faces every day!"  That sealed the deal for me.

The show's opener was a group called "Stone, Jess and the Rest" from Oakdale!  They were 7th and 8th graders who are starting out young; reaching for their dream.  They've formed a band of musicians, singers, and cloggers, and they started the night off right, singing "Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine".  In the wings stood the Headhunters and members of the Cathouse Prophets smiling and watching them perform; perhaps remembering back when they first start reaching for their dream.

Having kids on the stage is what Gary and Muse dreamed of back when they set their sights on the goal of restoring the Princess.  Everyone involved in the Princess should have "The Dream" prominently displayed on their office wall.  It's the ultimate goal of the Foundation, and we hope you help us in that endeavor.
The house had a few tickets left over, but you could hardly tell it.  There was even a big crowd up in the balcony!  The place looked packed to me, and with everyone backstage, and the volunteers working the lobby and aisles there was at least 500 people there.  All were anxious for a great show and to make a little money for the Princess Foundation.
As it turned out, a little money was made, so now the Foundation group will make an assessment, and just maybe a screen can be purchased to match up with the projector recently donated by Regal.

The band is: Scott Maddux (electric guitar, wearing his signature Fedora), Steve "Bird-dog" Burgess (drums), Mike McGill (lead vocals/guitar), Justin Nix (bass), David Glover (percussion), and Roger “The Glue” Schmidt (Hammond B3 and Keys).

So finally it came time for our friend Scott Maddux, and his band "Cathouse Prophets" to hit the stage.  And hit it they did, kicking off the evening with a blend of Southern rock sounding much like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Charlie Daniels!  The audience seemed pleased with what they heard and erupted in applause after each song!

Scott, wearing his signature Fedora, and Mike McGill's vocals lead the group through nearly a dozen tunes, setting the tone for what was to follow: The Kentucky Headhunters!
I must mention here that without Darrell Cole's cymbals there would have been no concert!  The band left theirs in Kentucky, but Darrell saved the day!

When the "coonskin hat" comes off, Fred is just getting warmed up!
Fred Young hit the stage first, taking his position behind his vintage Ludwigs, and a couple of old bass drums from his marching band days at Metcalfe County High in Edmonton, KY!  Fred never left his post until the final beat.  He even remained on stage for a great solo, using mostly his hands, while the rest of the band took a short break.  I asked Doug Phelps if Fred ever got tired.  He thought for a second and said, "You know, I don't believe he does!"

The rest of the band followed, with their "rock'n roll" hair barely dry from showers.  However, it was soon wet again from an exhaustive performance that ran the long way through their 46-year repertoire!  The audience got everything they came for and more.  From "Dumas Walker", "Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine", to the Beatles "Don't Let Me Down"!
No one enjoyed the show more than the band.  You could tell it in their eyes and from their smiles...they love performing.  You can bet that most of the time spent in the "Practice House" back home is just sitting around playing music together.
The Kentucky Headhunters are Greg Martin (L), Richard Young (C), Doug Phelps (R), and Fred Young on drums.
It was awesome!  The group brought in a crowd; only revivaled by the grand opening night with Marshall Tucker.  The only complaint from a few was that they were a little loud, but hey, it was Southern rock!  If you attend a Princess Foundation concert, bring some ear plugs!  The acoustics in the Princess make it a little tough on sound guys, and even Fred Young was wearing plugs!  However, it was not unbearable, it was just plain ol' enjoyable!

I certainly hope, after seeing how the Princess crowd welcomes and reacts to performers, the Headhunters and Prophets will want to come back to our stage soon.  We would welcome them back anytime!  They were a great bunch of guys, and I'm glad I got to meet them.

If you want to see more photos from this concert, CLICK HERE!