August 30, 2009
West Tennessee Lawmakers Rebut Wamp Remark
Senator Lowe Finney and Represenative Craig Fitzhugh, of Districts 27 and 82 in their respective houses of the Legislature, co-wrote a guest editorial in today's Jackson Sun that takes U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp to task for a recent comment he made about Stanton, Tennessee's TVA "megasite":
[W]e are extremely disappointed in the uninformed and potentially damaging comments recently made by East Tennessee congressman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp that the West Tennessee site is "isolated."
Consider this: In 1990, the population of Spring Hill, which is about 35 miles south of Nashville, was only about 1,500 when the Saturn Corp. located there. Today, Spring Hill is bursting at the seams with more than 23,000 residents.
In February, Wacker Chemical announced plans to build a $1 billion facility bringing hundreds of new jobs to Charleston, about 41 miles northeast of Chattanooga. This East Tennessee town's population was 630 in 2000.
By comparison, Stanton, the site of the megasite, is roughly 50 miles from downtown Memphis and had approximately 600 residents according to the last census. Charleston and Stanton are each almost exactly 5 miles from the nearest interstate, as is the General Motors plant in Spring Hill.
The longer I live in Tennessee (and I recently celebrated my 20th anniversary here, discounting very brief sojourns elsewhere), the more I become aware of the territorial undercurrents that exist among our constitutionally ordered Grand Divisions. (Come to think of it, we're a little like Iraq; and coincidentally, one of the Divisions boasts a significant Kurdish population. Hmm.)
Such would require a governor to possess exceptional diplomatic skills, I would think. Candidates for the job would do well to avoid fanning the embers. Regionalism may be great when one, say, sits on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee; but it loses its importance quickly in light of administering the entire state.