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80 Years Ago

Archives 2005


Corridor J project creates 4-lane highway to Celina
Square project receives $50,000 grant
Blues singer helps museum preserve history



Corridor J project creates 4-lane highway to Celina

Heather Barnes/OCN staff
Governer Phil Bredeson announces plans for TDOT's Corridor J project at a news conference held at Standing Stone State Park.

Governor Phil Bredesen and Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) officials, along with state and local dignitaries, held a news conference at Standing Stone State Park on Wednesday, Sept. 21 to announce plans for going forward with the Corridor J project.

This project, along with others, was put on hold for awhile by the governor and TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely to reevaluate the purpose and needs of the projects.

Gov. Bredeson said, "Three years ago, as I was campaigning for this job as governor, one of the common themes that I heard, Hermitage to Crossville, and I heard it right here in Overton County from citizens and community leaders, the people were unsatisfied, sometimes angry, about the process of highway planning.

"So, one of the things I promised and intend to do as governor is to make changing the culture of TDOT one of my top priorities.

"It has a lot of wonderful people working in it, but sometimes they get isolated. The people in the community has an enormous stake and knowledge of what needs to be done.

"As part of that process, I asked the commissioner to put on hold about 15 of the most controversial projects, which included Corridor J. We can take a step back and examine the original purpose of these projects."

Once it was decided to move forward with Corridor J once again, a citizens resource team was formed. The resource team is made up of volunteers who reviewed the project and made recommendations on what the priorities of the Corridor J project should be.

Commissioner Nicely and Gov. Bredeson applauded the amount of time and quality of work that was donated by this committee.

After reviewing the committee's recommendations, Commissioner Nicely made the decision that Corridor J would follow Highway 111 from Algood to Highway 52 in Livingston and Highway 52 from Livingston to Highway 53 in Celina.

Commissioner Nicely explained, "State Route 111 is already a 4-lane and therefore requires no improvement; 9.7 miles of the improvement from Highway 136 in Livingston to State Route 53 in Clay County is already designed and is ready for the right-of-way phase, which will begin immediately."

The right-of-way phase is the fine-tuned plans that will enable the state to start buying personal property before construction.

Commissioner Nicely added, "With the right-of-way acquisition, construction will be finalized. Construction for the route could begin in as early as 2 years."

A TDOT project manager explained after the conference that the Livingston bypass will probably have a center turning lane added, and Highway 52 will become either a 4 or 5-lane road. Because most of this project is using existing roads, the money will be stretched farther and the effects on the environment and the natural beauty of the area will be minimized.

Once the project is finished, Clay County will be tied to Interstate 40 by 4-lane roads, making Celina part of the Interstate Connection Program, which began 25 years ago by Governor Ned McWhorter.

The positive aspects of the project for the Overton-Clay County area was mentioned several times by the Commissioner and the state dignitaries.

Gov. Bredeson said of rural areas in Tennessee, "One of the things that weighs very heavily on me is that I know that these are wonderful places to live, but if you don't have jobs here your young people are going to have to pack up and go someplace else to earn a living.

"The way for these jobs to be here is to make this kind of investment in infrastructure."

State Senator Charlotte Burks added, "This project will aid in job development, tourism, and add many business opportunities."

To read about other TDOT projects involving citizen's resource teams and Context Sensitive Solutions visit the TDOT website at www.tdot.state.tn.us/css/.

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Square project receives $50,000 grant

Heather Barnes/OCN staff
State Senator Charlotte Burks, left, and TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely, left center, present a ceremonial check of $50,100 to Overton County Mayor Kenneth Copeland, right center, and Livingston Mayor Frank Martin.

The Town of Livingston will receive an enhancement grant in the amount of $50,100 to assist with Phase II of the Public Square Improvement Project.

The grant was announced by Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) Commissioner Gerald Nicely at a news conference held at Standing Stone State Park on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

This grant is part of the T21 enhancement program, which funds activities designed to strengthen the cultural, aesthetic, and environmental aspects of the nation's transportation system.

Commissioner Nicely said of the grant's purpose, "Such grant funded activities include historic transportation facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping, and many other nontraditional transportation projects."

Since 1991, local governments have been able to apply for this grant.

Nicely said, "There is a lot of competition. A lot of grant support is needed from legislative delegation. There is certainly a lot of support from Senator Burks and Representative Windle."

Phase II of the Public Square Improvement Project includes brick stamped into asphalt pavement at each corner of the public square to create pedestrian crosswalks.

Commissioner Nicely added, "The Town of Livingston has demonstrated a huge commitment to this project since its conception, with citizens donating some of the items."

County Mayor Kenneth Copeland said of the grant, "As many of you know, next, year Overton County celebrates its 200th anniversary, and this grant is really going to help our court square.

"We are going to work on the courthouse, spiffing it up, and the grant will help us make that place really look good for our celebration."

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Blues singer helps museum preserve history

Beth Underwood/OCN staff
Blues singer Roy Roberts, left, and his cousin Scottie Roberts, right, will be in town this weekend for "Gospel Explosion 2005" a concert to benefit Overton County Heritage Museum. The men plan to continue their fundraising efforts, and have also formed Roberts and Roberts Entertainment to promote entertainment and music across the globe.

Overton County native and blues singer Roy Roberts was 2 years-old when he and his family moved from Livingston to Kentucky.

For the past 45 years, he's made a name for himself in the music world, releasing numerous CDs, and performing his music throughout the world. But a return to his home town renewed his interest in the county and its history.

Roberts and his cousin, Scottie Roberts, paid a visit to Overton County Heritage Museum during his recent trip to Livingston, and both Roberts men were amazed at what they saw.

"You've got Paula Stover, all these women, trying to get so much together," he said.

In addition to setting up museum exhibits and promoting the museum, the women had organized fundraisers, but only on a fairly small scale.

"I said to Paula, 'I do a lot of things to help raise money with entertainment. I think I can help.'"

In April, Roberts did just that, performing in the first benefit concert for the museum. But he didn't stop there. Roberts has organized another fundraiser scheduled for this weekend: “Gospel Explosion 2005”. All proceeds will again go to Overton County Heritage Museum.

Groups performing include Palmetto Gospel Singers, Committed, The Silver Stars, and Richard Gooding.

Pastor Willie Brown will be the master of ceremonies for the event.

Roberts said, "We have a family reunion on October 1, so it seemed like the prime time to do this. I'd like to see the place packed."

Another thing he'd like to see is more involvement from the black community where the museum is concerned.

"There aren't any blacks who've been involved in the museum that I know of, except one of my cousins, Mabel Springs," said Roberts, whose grandfather used to own a service station on the square. "I want to see all the families pitch in."

Roberts plans to continue organizing concerts and performing to raise money, which could eventually turn into a yearly celebration of sorts.

"I'm trying to give something back to the town," he said. "All the money is going for a good cause, and it's something that's gonna give back to the community.

"The word I want to get out to everybody is that they should come on in and be a part of it, because it's part of their history."

Gospel Explosion 2005 will be held Saturday, Oct. 1 at Livingston Academy Mini Theatre. Doors will open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30. Ticket donation is $20. For more information call (931) 403-0909.

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