By Sabrina Bates
It has become a tradition for The Press to reflect on the previous year as a chapter begins to close and another awaits to be written with the coming of the new year. In searching the archives of headlines from the last 12 months, the theme of community is one of the most prevalent.
The prior 103 editions are filled with that theme. Although some stories were tragic; Weakley County proved its sense of togetherness through each of those jarring headlines. Community members used 2019 as an opportunity to turn tragedies into triumphs. They provided strength for each other and gave hope to those who live in Northwest Tennessee.
Looking back on one of the most evident stories of togetherness, the return of a Union City native to his hometown after he went missing 51 years ago during the Vietnam War defined the sense of community for the region.
Lt. Richard Clive “Tito” Lannom was a Navy pilot declared MIA when his A6A went down over North Vietnam. His remains were discovered and identified in 2018. Lannom received a memorial service at Discovery Park of America in Union City in March, with a burial that followed in East View Cemetery in his hometown. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee declared a statewide “Tito” Lannom Day March 2. Hundreds of visitors flooded DPA and the cemetery to pay their last respects. Community organizations from Weakley County, along with members of the Martin Fire Department, were all hands on deck during the day’s events in Obion County.
The common theme of working together was also evident as members of the community rolled up their sleeves to raise money for a 21st Century public library for downtown Martin. The multi-level development features spaces for the young to the young at heart. In March it was announced the Martin Public Library Foundation had raised $1 million toward the project.
Local children even created lemonade stands in the summer with funds going to the project. By the end of the year, the Foundation had raised $1.5 million and community members gathered to break ground on the project in November. Construction is under way.
An historical subject revolving around lynchings and slavery is one that is deemed tragic. A group of community members are turning that history into a conversation about matters of race. The Weakley County Reconciliation Project is a group of citizens from different walks of life who have joined together to talk about Weakley County’s painful history to look forward to a brighter future.
The group meets regularly and welcomes others who are seeking an open forum to talk about uncomfortable subjects.
The group can be found on Facebook. There are plans for other WCRP community events in the coming months.
The citizens of Martin received an extra layer of protection with the implementation of a city-wide ambulance service through the Martin Fire Department in August. The EMS service has taken some pressure off of the county-wide ambulance service, according to its director, Jeff Washburn.
Gleason community members showed out when they rallied for a Dog Park Grant offered by the Boyd Foundation. Plans are in the making after the city received the grant.
The City of Sharon has a monumental piece of art on a grain bin facing the four-lane highway after Robinson and Belew Grain Co. was chosen for the “Everywhere You Look — UT” statewide mural project.
Greenfield is looking to create an industrial site pending TVA studies.
Dresden is currently working to connect its citizens and businesses fiber optically as the cable-laying project is ongoing throughout the city.
Editor’s note: In Thursday’s edition of The Press, we’ll look ahead at stories that are developing into the coming year, including updates and future plans for stories we’ve been following in 2019.