An upcoming lecture series by E.G. Fisher Public Library will encompass two upcoming commemorations.
The library will present the sixth annual Professor W.E. Nash & Principal E. Harper Johnson Lecture Series beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 12 p.m.
Along with February being Black History Month, this year is the 100th annual celebration of the passage of the 19th Amendment and, as a result, some of the lecture series will include discussion of women and women’s suffrage.
“We are taking a focus toward African-American women and their contribution toward the right to vote,” said E.G. Fisher Library Director Katie Brady.
The lecture series will begin with “African American Historiography: A Look at the History of African American History,” a presentation led by Brady, on Feb. 4 in the community room in E.G. Fisher Library at noon.
“It’s a great way to celebrate local black heroes,” said Brady. “The Books and Beans Book Club is dedicated toward African women’s right to vote. It had extra layers and is fascinating to me.”
Local community advocate Wayne Williams, who is an organizer in the series, credits Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote — “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” — as to why this series is so important.
“Once a week there will be a program provided to give insight to the African-American community lifestyle and culture,” Williams said. “It’s good for the whole community. Over the years we have had series about our African American church worship, folk songs and African-American food.”
The lecture series is open to everyone in the community and completely free to the public.
“It gives the opportunity for both communities to come together and have the chance to be educated to be able to understand the African American culture,” noted Williams.
“It’s important that we continue to keep knowing each other and knowing the value the history brings to the present and future generations.”
The library will also be host to two exhibits throughout the month.
The full lecture series will include the following programs:
• “African American Historiography: A look at the History of African American History” on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at noon.
Library Director Katie Brady explores the origins and development of the study of African-American history over time.
• City-wide Black History Month fact find on Monday, Feb. 14 available between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. where participants can explore local African-American history with a city-wide fact find. Fact find questions and guide map can be picked up at the library. Suggested for ages 5 and up.
• Noon Book Discussion on Tuesday, Feb.18 at noon
Participants can join Janice Hardaway for a discussion of “African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote 1850-1920” by Rosalyn Terborg-Penn. Book is available for checkout at the library.
• Votes for Women: The African American Experience with University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s Dr. Michelle Deardorff on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m.
This talk will be a retelling of collective history with its deep implications for the present, presented by Deardorff.
• Books and Beans Club located at The Beanery Uncorked on Saturday, Feb. 29 at 3 p.m.
Enjoy a coffee and a discussion of African American Women and the Vote 1837 to 1965 with discussion led by Anita Scruggs and Marla Cobb.
The 74th annual Athens Area Chamber of Commerce Meeting will be held at the Barn at Faith Farms this year, on Feb. 6 at 6:30 p.m.
Awards that will be given out at the event include Man of the Year, Mother of the Year, Young Man of the Year, Business-Professional Woman of the Year, Farmer of the Year and Teacher of the Year.
“It’s real special and the whole community comes together,” Chamber President Rob Preston said.
Tickets can be purchased for $40 at the Chamber of Commerce by anyone interested in attending.
The reservation deadline is Jan. 30
“My favorite part has to be that our members get to donate centerpieces. They are a real highlight and works of art,” Chamber Program Coordinator Julie Simbeck said.
“It’s a celebration of the community that celebrates everyone,” said Preston.
The event includes a silent auction prior to the banquet that includes items donated by people and businesses in the community.
The Athens City Middle School Alumni Singers and the Tim Hughes Quartet will be also be performing this year at the banquet.
The presentation of the awards is a memorable moment, noted Preston.
“They don’t have a speech prepared. What they say is truly just straight from the heart,” he said.
Awardees are not told ahead of time that they have won, leading to genuine expressions when the winner is revealed.
“The surprise and seeing the reaction is so special and seeing their faces when they receive the award on stage,” said Preston.
If anyone is not able to to purchase a ticket at the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, tickets are also available for the banquet online on eventbrite.com
The Athens Police Department’s annual report came with a note of caution for this community.
Athens Police Chief Cliff Couch delivered his monthly report for December at Tuesday’s Athens City Council meeting. The report encompassed the year-end numbers for his department.
“We came out looking pretty good this year,” said Couch. “There’s a few small exceptions; some things that I’ll certainly go and check out, but all in all, most of the types of crimes were either reasonably steady or actually went down.”
Couch noted that total drug arrests had risen from 415 in 2018 to 471 in 2019. He referenced the ongoing drug epidemic that continues to plague the country as a whole.
In recent years, Couch has observed some of these drug problems becoming more prevalent in nearby communities such as Cleveland.
“My analogy has been that it’s at the door,” he said. “We’re past that point. It’s here; it’s in the living room.”
Couch said he has recently seen more anecdotal incidents involving Fentanyl — an extremely potent synthetic opioid pain reliever.
“If you even touch it, sometimes it can absorb through your skin or can be inhaled. It’s a very dangerous thing,” he said. “We’re seeing it now and that didn’t just happen. That means that it’s in our community. That means we’ve got batches that are being dealt out by these drug dealers. As far as I’m concerned, we’re actually losing ground in the fight.”
Couch shared that he had spent time at the hospital with one of his officers just two nights prior to the Council meeting.
“(This officer) was searching a car. He was doing everything right — wore his protective equipment — and somehow … he got exposed to something in that car that was potent enough that he had to go to the hospital,” explained Couch. “They had to throw him in the back of a patrol car and (run) the lights and sirens and get him up to the ER where they could take care of him. He had to deal with this for the rest of the night while his three-week-old child was at home.
“I don’t want to sound doomsday, but we need to be cognizant of the reality of this situation and make sure we’re doing everything we can to stomp this out and to run them out of town,” Couch continued. “We can’t let this become status quo that this is something that people are going to have to raise their kids next to. It’s simply unacceptable from where I stand.”
Workforce development has been a major issue in the area recently and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tennessee) said he is happy to see the achievements that have been made in it.
In a recent interview with The Daily Post-Athenian, Fleischmann said workforce development is an issue he has sought to promote since around the beginning of his third term in office.
“I sat around with my leadership team and we said what issue could we pick up and run with and we said workforce development,” Fleischmann said. “We chose McMinn County first to kick it off.”
Fleischmann said he has enjoyed working with both Republicans and Democrats as well as members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate on the issue.
“We need more of that in America,” he said.
Fleischmann said his efforts have centered around helping people understand what it means to work in a trade field.
“What I try to do is remove the stigma,” he said. “What we need to do is raise the level of respect and affinity in schools and overall for people with that skill set.”
Fleischmann said money is being allocated for workforce development and he is in favor of letting the local decision makers use the money.
“I want those dollars to come back to our local and state leaders so that they can decide how best to spend them,” he said. “We need to get these federal dollars into local hands.”
He said he’s been impressed with the development of the manufacturing field in the local area for some time.
“Look at where McMinn County is — it’s got tremendous industry, it’s got manufacturing, it’s got people who are coming here and expanding,” he said. “We need a trained work force. I want to go into a local McMinn County facility and say, ‘what are you looking for in workers.’”
During the interview, Fleischmann also discussed the anniversary of the 19th Amendment and Niota native Harry T. Burn’s role in getting the U.S. Constitution changed.
“I think it is wonderful that Tennessee can occupy that very special place in American history,” he said. “It was still very late coming. I wish at the founding of our republic more people — women and others — had the wonderful right to vote.”
Fleischmann said ensuring that ability to vote is meaningful is important to him.
“I think it’s something we can all celebrate locally and nationally,” he said. “We need to make sure that everyone who is able to vote has that right to vote and make sure people who are not should not be engaging in that process.”
Fleischmann, who is a member of the appropriations committee in the House, also spoke about matters involving the debt and deficit and how legislation might be affected this year with the impeachment process of President Donald Trump ongoing and the upcoming presidential election.
His comments on those matters will appear in an upcoming edition of The DPA.