(c)2013 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL
Angie Rolen, at left, and Rhonda Evans, who is co-owner of the Jewelry
Connection, have been best friends since childhood. Rhonda was
celebrating Angie's good fortune in the return of her late mother's
|Published: 6:47 PM, 03/08/2013
Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
The March Lion has completely dominated the early month's
weather in our hometown that was under another winter storm warning mid-week
after winter dumped about six inches of snow in the mountains last weekend and
more on Wednesday. Spring is just about 11 days away.
Let me tell you about a few people I met last week. At
the courthouse a fellow said "Hi," but it took more than a few
minutes and I had to be reminded of Jerry Hall's name. I've thought about him
over the past year because I recalled his back problems considering mine. We
had a chat, which I will share soon. When I saw a commotion outside our office,
there was an older man trying to get a newspaper out of our rack. Apologizing
to John Wodalski for thinking he was dead, when he is very much active at age
86, my next question was: "When are the hummingbirds returning?"
John, who feeds hundreds every summer, quickly answered it will be April 14 or
15th. Keep reading and I will tell you how this happened.
Yes, my land tax payment was almost late, that's where
Jerry was on March 4, too. Later in the week during another visit is when a
most interesting fellow was walking my way. Donald Jenkins is not one of the
local Jenkins family members and comes from Maryville but got tired of big city
life. He has worked in the nuclear industry at Oak Ridge for 39 years and for
many recent years has lived at Carson Springs. And how did he end up in Cocke
County? After half a dozen questions, I learned this connection. He still
drives about 140 miles roundtrip to work and loves working in utilities for Oak
Ridge Y-12 and is approaching retirement age. He and Darlene live across from
Edgemont School, and she is the former Darlene Williamson, of Newport.
Firing range is not combat
We have been talking about the way you can train and
qualify to get a state-issued handgun carry permit whether you take a private
class or one offered by the Cocke County Sheriff's Department. After classroom
training at the Newport Community Center we went to the firing range, which I
believe is operated by Detective Kevin Benton at Grassy Fork. Each participant
had to fire many rounds in hopes of eventually hitting the target. I shot some
sort of a mini Glock .40 caliber pistol provided by the sheriff's dept. From an
estimated 20 feet away, my bullets barely stayed on the target and within the
black silhouette. While I used to own and shoot a .45 Colt and .357 Colt
Trooper that was 30 years ago, when Bryan Murr was a road deputy and ammunition
was cheap and available. Law officers will tell you it takes constant training
to stay sharp with a gun. As Sheriff Armando Fontes often says, you need
regular training until gun handling is natural and safe. He believes in
education, training, and awareness for citizens so "they are not crime
victims or feel like victims."
We talked a little about types of guns best for people
but there seems to be no rule. Revolvers are easiest to use because once you
load the cartridges and snap the cylinder shut you just pull the trigger. A
semi-automatic takes more training, holds more ammunition, and is the choice of
law officers. If it jams or has a misfire, you better know what you are doing.
It is handguns that cause the most deaths and not assault weapons. Sheriff
Fontes shared this statistic from 2011: Of about 33,000 gunshot deaths only
11,000 were from one person shooting another. The majority of deaths were
self-inflicted. Of the killings more than 90 percent were by handgun. I am sure
there are accidental shootings as we have reported a few over the years.
Several I recall happened because someone dropped a semi-automatic weapon that
discharged wounding or killing himself or herself or another person.
So, proper gun handling and shooting instruction is
important and to help with this are sheriff's dept. firearms instructors David
Crum, Richard Caldwell, Derrick Woods, and John Carrell. All these men have
received additional weapons training and certification and use their expertise
to help citizens.
Teach children to be careful
Once you are trained, also teach your children, says the
sheriff. He has several children and he often teaches them the dangers of guns.
One way he gets this message across is to take them to a shooting range where
they use boards and jugs of water for targets. The children can see the impact
of the bullet on objects and then know what would happen if someone were to get
shot. "I teach them that a gun is always loaded. I treat every weapon as
if it is loaded." And never become complacent around a gun. He told me of
a fellow who was demonstrating chambering bullets in his weapon and did not
realize the gun barrel pointed to the side was directly aimed at a person.
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