Letter: Shares Heitman story, encourages support for loved ones

To the Editor:

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website, 41,149 lives were taken in 2013 from suicide. According to the website of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, people who kill themselves exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do. The more warning signs, the greater the risk!

Talk

If a person talks about:

  • Killing themselves
  • Having no reason to live
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Unbearable pain

Behavior

A person’s suicide risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased, especially if it’s related to a painful event, loss, or change:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to kill one’s self, such as searching online for materials or means
  • Acting recklessly
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression

Mood

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Loss of interest
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation
  • Anxiety

These are shocking. I should know. I was married to a man, who was smart, driven, and someone who, on the outside, had a very laid-back demeanor, and was extremely confident. I had known this man for 13 years. I was married to him for three before he ended his own life. You might be very familiar with this man. There have been some who have taken to the Internet to blog about him and his situation, and there has been some press about him over the last 3.5 years since his passing. Sadly, there have been a number of half-truths and pointing of fingers, and that process has defamed the characters of some citizens and a respectable city.

I am not writing to point fingers, or to publicly humiliate anyone. I want to raise awareness in hopes it helps someone else—awareness about Alex Heitman and what he experienced. I will also add that the information that I am providing is not new information and has been shared with all parties involved at one point or another since Alex’s passing. [Read more…]

Letter: Community Mediation appreciates support at Big Ed’s Memorial Golf Tournament

To the Editor:

Community Mediation Services of Anderson County deeply appreciates the support and enthusiasm of golfers, sponsors, volunteers, and the Oak Ridge Country Club at the 14th Annual Big Ed’s Memorial Golf Tournament. Thanks to you, at-risk youth and families in Anderson County continue to have a way to peacefully resolve difficult issues with solutions they themselves determine.

The golf tournament also honors Big Ed Neusel and David Neusel and their legacy of giving much to others while seeking recognition from none.

We look forward to seeing you in 2016 on the last Friday in April at the 15th Annual Big Ed’s Memorial Golf Tournament. [Read more…]

Letter: Encourages students, parents to attend discussion on student loans

To the Editor:

High school seniors should have applied for their financial packages within the last several months, and colleges push the loans, along with grants, scholarships, and job offers.

They and their parents need to understand what they are getting themselves into when they have to start paying the money back in the July after they leave college with or without a degree or good-paying job.

I personally know a young lady who was dropped in January by a university after seven semesters because her gradepoint was 0.3 point below the required gradepoint for her field, and she had to get a job. She cannot return to finish for one year, but she has to start paying on her college loans of $20,000, July 1, 2015. [Read more…]

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Letter: Lunch 4 Literacy thanks 2015 sponsors

To the Editor:

Each year in March a special group of generous company sponsors pool their resources and, along with individuals from our community, support the annual literacy program of the Altrusa International Club of Oak Ridge and Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club. The Lunch 4 Literacy event raises between $15,000 and $20,000 routinely, which allows our community to support exceptional projects that promote literacy and ensure attention is given to the literacy needs that, without the generosity of our sponsors and individual contributors, could go unmet.

The lack of literacy skills is a serious problem within our communities. The reality is that often simple but effective programs can have a profound impact on individuals that enable them to realize their full potential in life. Without these very effective efforts made possible by grants from Lunch 4 Literacy, people in our communities, limited by a lack of basic skills, continue to fail in areas many of us take for granted. Until you have personally encountered illiteracy and its awful adverse impact, it is hard to fully appreciate the value of simply reading and understanding what is read. Through the continuing supportive efforts of our sponsoring companies we are making a difference in our communities! [Read more…]

Letter: Citizens Police Academy increased respect, appreciation for ORPD

To the Editor:

We graduated from the third Oak Ridge Citizens Police Academy on March 30. It was such an honor to be a part of this group. Both of us already had deep respect and appreciation for the men and women of the Oak Ridge Police Department, but what we learned in the Academy increased our respect and appreciation for them exponentially.

A few things we learned about the officers and their jobs were:

The many tools they use in their job: [Read more…]

Guest column: 2015 OREA salary, benefits proposal

Note: This is a copy of comments by Oak Ridge Education Association Co-President Steve Reddick during a March 30 meeting of the Oak Ridge Board of Education, when teachers and principals requested a 4 percent salary increase in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

2015 OREA Salary and Benefits Proposal

Good evening,

On behalf of the certified teaching staff of the Oak Ridge Schools, OREA is honored to present to you our FY ’16 salary and benefits proposal.

As in years past, we make this proposal with eyes wide open and without illusions: [Read more…]

Guest column: Increasing personalized learning in Oak Ridge Schools

By Oak Ridge Schools

We have all heard the phrase “going one-to-one,” but what is one-to-one all about? And why are Oak Ridge Schools interested in one-to-one?

The overall idea behind one-to-one is not about having specific devices; rather, it’s about providing personalized learning experiences to students aligned to the Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness in which students can collaborate, learn, reflect, and solve problems in ways that engage and motivate them. Highly effective teachers are essential in the development of personalized learning; they facilitate learning experiences both within their content area and spanning beyond the classroom and into the community. With personalized learning under the direction of highly effective teachers, student engagement increases, discipline problems decrease, attendance increases, and students become even more prepared for college and careers.

Most importantly, students who may not have access to technology due to financial or other considerations will have equal opportunities as their peers. [Read more…]

Guest column: Imperial religion has no place in the Kingdom of God

Preparing for the greatest day of the year, Easter, was a bit harder this year than last. On Thursday, the night we remember how Jesus was betrayed and handed over to both the religious and political empires of his day, I happened to read of the new bill that seeks to designate the Bible as the state book of Tennessee.

There are a ton of ways to scream “no” to this legislation, starting with the both the Tennessee Constitution and the United States Constitution. There is also the objection that the bill places the transcendental and eternal qualities of the Bible on the same footing as the lily (our state flower) or the raccoon (our state animal). Of course, then there’s just downright common sense: The laws I use to influence my neighbor’s religion (or lack of) can easily be the same laws by which my neighbor one day attempts to subjugate me.

Those are fine ways to oppose this bill, but they are of lesser concern to me as a Christian pastor of 25 years. I am most deeply concerned at the way in which an action like this stands in stark opposition to the actions and words of the Bible itself, most especially as revealed in the person of Jesus. [Read more…]

Letter: Now is our chance to help MMC Hospitality Houses

Dear friends and fans,

Are you in it to win it? You know I am! And this time, I’m not talking about a football game. I’m talking about the game of life.

Right here in Oak Ridge, we have a place that’s helping people in need win in the game of life—the Hospitality Houses of Methodist Medical Center. When patients are traveling long distances for medical care or when families from far away need to be close to hospitalized loved ones, the Hospitality Houses are there, free of charge. [Read more…]

2014 in Review: Accomplishments, continued improvement, but big challenges ahead 

Chris Phillips and Terry Frank

Chris Phillips, left, director of Anderson County Accounts and Budgets, and County Mayor Terry Frank are pictured above. (Submitted photo)

 

 

By Chris Phillips, director of Anderson County Accounts and Budgets, and County Mayor Terry Frank

We recently finished our Popular Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, and we wanted to share a snapshot of Anderson County’s financial health. While there are many factors that go into evaluating our county’s overall ability to promote prosperity for the people of our county, our financial health as a county government has a direct impact on the lives of families who live here and the business and industry that operates here.

Noteworthy accomplishments from 2014: [Read more…]

Guest column: The last insult

By Joan Berry and District Attorney General Dave Clark

The law in Tennessee has recently changed in a way that insults the memory of murder victims. Not a single photo of a victim prior to their murder is allowed to be shown during their killer’s trial. This problem needs to be solved, and voters can help.

Sadly, the gruesome photos of a corpse are the only presence homicide victims are granted during a trial. The defendant is allowed to be present and to be “cleaned up” and “dressed up” for the jury; but no picture of the victim can be presented.

For decades, it was a common practice for prosecutors to introduce into evidence a reasonable likeness of the victim prior to their murder in addition to crime scene photos. However, due to recent high-court rulings, trial judges now do not allow the practice for fear of having a verdict overturned. [Read more…]

Letter: What is a volunteer firefighter?

To the Editor:

Question: What is a volunteer firefighter?

Answer: A volunteer firefighter is no different then those who get paid to do this job. In fact, when you think about those who work in the paid fire services, they too are technically a “volunteer” because nobody held a gun to their head and told them they have to do that job.

Every firefighter must remember that the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards do not differentiate between paid firefighters and volunteer firefighters in relation to who has to comply with what standards. Every firefighter is expected to do the job safely, quickly, and efficiently so that lives can be saved, property can be salvaged, and our communities are protected. [Read more…]