Editorial: Three cheers

Sep. 13, 2013 @ 11:04 PM

Swift response extinguishes blaze

It only took emergency service workers around an hour to get a large fire under control Wednesday at the county landfill.

The first call for help came in around 4:30 p.m. that afternoon, and first responders — led by Pigeon Forge Fire Department and assisted by Gatlinburg Fire Department, Sevierville Fire Department, Wears Valley Volunteer Fire Department, Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department and the Sevier County Volunteer Fire Department — had the blaze controlled by 5:26.

The site's director, Tom Leonard, was unsure what caused the fire, which flared up after the landfill had already closed for the day. It's likely something dumped either cause the fire or was already smoldering when brought to the facility.

In any case, it was a quick response from local fire department workers that kept the the blaze from raging out of control.

A career of service coming to a close

After 36 years of public service, Dale Ditmanson, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park superintendent, is retiring in January.

Ditmanson's been here for the last decade or so of his career, and he's often been awarded for exemplary service in that time, including the 2009 Southeast Region’s Superintendent of the Year and the 2013 Association of Public Lands’ Agency Partner of the Year.

Ditmanson helped guide the park through its 75th annivsary celebration in 2009, and saw many infrastructural improvement in the park in his tenure.

"(He) provided the vision and leadership, working closely with a tremendous management team and park partners, leading to the construction of facilities that will serve the public well into the future," the state said. 

"His impact is profound and positive across the NPS," Southeast Regional Director Stan Austin said.

A thoughtful donation

Judge Rex Henry Ogle and his wife, Norma, donated a tree with historic roots to the city of Sevierville this week.

The tree, which comes from cuttings or seedlings of the stately magnolia tree on the South Lawn of the White House, will be planted in November near the new city gazebo beside the Bruce Street parking lot.

According to lore, Jackson brought the magnolia from the south to D.C. after his wife, Rachel — an avid gardener, died prior to his inauguration.

The Ogles were given the young tree by John Rice Irwin, who'd obtained the line from Howard Baker, who's received it from Ronald Reagan while the president was in office.

The Ogles could have kept the tree to themselves, but knew that it would serve a greater good and be enjoyed by countlessly more citizens if shared with the public.