Feature Articles

Sesquicentennial committee hosts “A Day with Tweetsie Trains” events

Johnson City will begin its yearlong celebration of the 150th anniversary of its founding by focusing on its railroad history, specifically the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina (ET&WNC) Railroad, popularly known as the “Tweetsie” due to the sound of its steam whistles in the region’s gorges.

Citizens will have two chances to enjoy “A Day with Tweetsie Trains” through both a museum exhibit and film presentation on Jan. 12 and 19.

Train-lovers will have the opportunity to glimpse the colorful past of the Tweetsie rail line, beginning with a tour of the Tweetsie model train exhibit room at the George L. Carter Railroad Museum at East Tennessee State University, Room 108, Campus Center Building. The museum is open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. There is no admission charge, but donations are welcome.

At 1 p.m., historic films about the Tweetsie from the early half of the 20th century will be presented at Memorial Park Community Center, 510 Bert St. These films, narrated by local railroad historian Ken Riddle, feature footage along the narrow-gauge rail line from Tennessee through North Carolina. This is also a free event.

“We’re excited to host these film showings in conjunction with the exhibit at the George L. Carter Museum,” said Chuck Mohler, chairman of the History and Railroad Committee. “This is a great way for train enthusiasts to learn more about our rich heritage with the Tweetsie and to share that with others. We hope parents and grandparents will bring younger generations to join us for either of these weekends.”

Volunteers from the Mountain Empire Model Railroader club operate the George L. Carter Railroad Museum’s model railroads. These volunteers also provide information about local historic railroads and knowledgeable tips on the basics of model railroading. Also affiliated with the museum are two railroad historical societies: the George L. Carter Chapter National Railway Historical Society and the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad Historical Society.

For more information about the yearlong sesquicentennial celebration, visit www.jctn150.com or follow @jctn150 (Johnson City 150 — Sesquicentennial Celebration) on Facebook. Cancelations due to inclement weather will be posted on these sites.

City officials issue warnings about bus stop, pedestrian safety
(Stop on Red - Children Ahead)

The recent uptick in the number of vehicle-pedestrian accidents at school bus stops across the country has prompted local officials to issue warnings reminding drivers to pay attention behind the wheel. While it is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that has stopped to load or unload children, bus drivers see it happen on a daily basis.

“Whenever possible we develop bus routes that allow the door to open up directly to the bus stop so that children do not have to cross the road to board the bus,” said Johnson City Transit Director Eldonna Janutolo. “In fact, on more heavily traveled roads we have two separate bus routes, one going in each direction to avoid road crossings.” Janutolo said motorists need to take a more active role in the safety of students by being more attentive when driving and abiding by the law. She said school bus drivers regularly report sightings of drivers on cell phones, speeding and passing stopped buses. The illegal activity is reported to the Transit Department as well as the Police Department.

“When we receive reports of an issue we will send a unit to look into it,” said Johnson City Police Department Lt. Becky West. “Another area of concern is the pedestrians who walk to and from school. Not everyone rides a school bus.” Since the start of the school year, the Johnson City Police Department has issued 800 traffic charges in school zones. Those charges include speeding (617), using a handheld mobile phone in an active school zone (28), and texting while driving (2). The remaining 153 include warnings as well as citations for equipment or driver license violations. Both Janutolo and West encourage drivers to slow down and stay off mobile devices while being cognizant of the bus schedule in their area. Once the school year has started Janutolo said buses travel the same roads, at the same times, and stop in the same places each school day. In addition to altering their own schedules to avoid bus routes, drivers can take other precautions to keep children safe.

The National Safety Council recommends:
• Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you're on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children.
• If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop.
• Don't block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic.
• In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
• Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
• Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
• Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.

Watch this quick video clip for tips on how to stay safe and share the road responsibly and within the law.

New traffic signal in operation at intersection of North Roan and Mountainview

A new traffic signal at the intersection of North Roan Street and Mountainview Road began normal operation today, Friday, Dec. 7. The new signal will has a left-turn arrow in both directions on North Roan Street that includes a flashing yellow arrow. Vehicles turning left with the flashing yellow arrow must yield to oncoming traffic. The oncoming traffic has the right of way.

The State of Tennessee installed the new traffic signal as a safety project at the request of the City of Johnson City in an effort to make the intersection easier to navigate. The new traffic signal replaces flashing yellow lights on North Roan Street and flashing red lights on Mountainview Road.

For more information, call 423-975-2733.


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