What the coming year brings in the form of news happenings for our Cleveland and Bradley County community is anybody’s guess.Those were probably our words this time last year as we were rebounding …
What the coming year brings in the form of news happenings for our Cleveland and Bradley County community is anybody’s guess.
Those were probably our words this time last year as we were rebounding — or recovering — from a busy, busy year in 2017. Likely, they will be our words in early 2020 as we rebound — or recover — from a year that will be just as busy in 2019.
But before we close the books on 2018 altogether, we’d like to offer a humble “thank you” to Cleveland Daily Banner readers — and occasional readers — who contacted us to offer their own perspectives on the top news happenings of the recently completed year.
From Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, when we published an introduction story, to Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, with the printing of a comprehensive “Honorable Mention” list, we took readers along a trip down Memory Lane. In the detailed series, our staff writers and editors — whose votes determined the selections and who wrote the year-end overviews — recounted the good and the bad of another newsy year, and shared some insight on community impact.
Since our newspaper launched the “Top 10 Newsmakers” series years ago, readers have consistently shared their own views. As we have written before, news is like beauty: It is in the eyes of the beholder. What is significant to one person is little more than casual happenstance to another.
For any who might have missed any of the recent series, here’s a final look at what our newsroom staffers felt were the big hitters of Calendar Year 2018:
• No. 1: Federal funding for The Bradley County Tennessee State Veterans Home;
• No. 2 (TIE): The retirement of Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland after 28 years of service at the City Hall helm.
• No. 2 (TIE): A full year of three emotional, and sometimes volatile, elections that included Bradley County Primaries in May, Bradley County Generals and State Primaries in August, and State Generals in November.
• No. 3: The denial of certificates of need by the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency board for freestanding emergency rooms for a Bradley County hospital (Tennova-Cleveland) and a Chattanooga hospital (Erlanger).
• No. 4: Battling the opioid crisis, a news development that wasn’t anchored by one story but by a year-long string of events and activities targeting the growing epidemic of opioid abuse.
• No. 5: The visit to Cleveland by Vice President Mike Pence who spoke to a crowded venue in Pangle Hall on the Lee University campus as part of President Donald Trump’s “America First Policies.”
• No. 6: A referendum calling for a Cleveland vote on package stores inside the municipal limits, and the later election. Once the dust had settled, Cleveland voters approved the allowance of liquor retailers inside the city.
• No. 7: A historic announcement by Mars Wrigley Confectionery for a $142 million investment in the company’s Peerless Road plant. News coverage included not only Mars Wrigley Confectionery's initial disclosure of its plans, but groundbreaking ceremonies for a new facility that included Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe.
• No. 8: Another historic event, the visit to Chattanooga by President Trump who spoke to a packed crowd at McKenzie Arena to promote his conservative agenda while also stumping for Republican candidates in the coming November elections. Although the event occurred outside Bradley County, our newspaper still provided extensive coverage because of its local interest.
• No. 9 (TIE): In the aftermath of an explosion that rocked the Wacker Polysilicon North America plant on Sept. 7, 2017, the year of 2018 witnessed citations and penalties that were leveled against the local manufacturer. Actions taken by the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration occurred in March 2018, thereby placing the developing story on the Top 10 Newsmakers list for a second straight year.
• No. 9 (TIE): As school districts across America continued to fall victim to deranged gunmen, campus safety took on an all-new meaning. Locally, Bradley County Sheriff Steve Lawson announced his department’s strategy for how to keep students, teachers, administrators and staff safe.
• No. 10: Although the company’s intent to do so had previously been announced in late 2016, the Duracell packaging plant's closure was made final in 2018. The shutdown, which required about 1 1/2 years to complete, directly or indirectly impacted about 145 workers, some of whom had been Duracell employees for decades.
The era of 2018 is now the year that was. And 2019 takes its place as the year that will be.
As always, we hope for the best while understanding the mandate in preparing for the worst.
As a community, let us pray for the former.
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