Press Releases

State Gives TN Cities $115,000 in ‘Green’ Innovation Grants

State of Tennessee Press Release, Oct. 19, 2010:

Main Street/Green Street Innovation Grants Awarded to 21 Communities; Certified Tennessee Main Street Communities Initiate “Green” and Sustainable Projects

NASHVILLE – Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber announced today that 21 Main Street/Green Street Innovation Grants have been awarded to “green” and sustainable projects in downtown communities across the state. A complete list of communities and project descriptions follows.

“These innovative ‘green’ projects showcase our Tennessee downtown communities’ commitment to environmental and downtown revitalization efforts and allow them to lead by example,” said Commissioner Kisber. “The Main Street/Green Street proposed projects will not only enhance and improve individual downtown communities, but they also support the state’s efforts to advance sustainability and economic development across Tennessee.”

Certified Tennessee Main Street Programs were eligible to apply for a reimbursable $5,000 grant from ECD’s Main Street Green/Street Innovation Grant program to develop or continue innovative projects within their community’s downtown that illustrate tangible results through “green” and sustainable activities. Projects are required to utilize Main Street principles and follow the “Main Street Four-Point Approach to Downtown Revitalizationtm.”

Communities submitted proposals in one of the following three categories:

  • Sustainable design for downtown – Streetscape and property upgrades that encourage “green” design.
  • Marketing and technology – Marketing and technology that encourages “green initiatives.”
  • Local business – Tangible projects that encourage local enterprise.

“Each of the selected projects presented concrete plans to establish or improve conservation efforts in their downtown community while utilizing the Main Street principals,” said Rick Meredith, assistant commissioner for Community Development at ECD. “We are eager to see the projects be put to action and the benefits they will bring to downtown and central business districts across the state.”

Ten certified Tennessee Main Street Programs were awarded an additional $1,000 in grant monies for participating in the Tennessee Main Street Mentor Program. The Main Street Mentors will share best practices, offer advice and provide assistance to communities participating in ECD’s Tennessee Downtowns, a program focused on helping communities fully understand what it takes to embark on a comprehensive downtown revitalization effort.

The following Certified Tennessee Main Street Programs and projects were selected for the Main Street/Green Street Innovation Grant program:

  • Believe in Bristol, Bristol: $5,000 Recycling signage and promotion, cans and supplies.
  • Main Street Cleveland*, Cleveland: $6,000 The addition of trees and shrubs, trash receptacles, bike racks and website redesign for downtown.
  • Main Street Collierville*: Collierville, $6,000 Design, installation and marketing of website for downtown; bike racks.
  • Columbia Main Street, Columbia: $5,000 Main Street heritage walking trail brochures, bronze medallions and promotional pedometers.
  • CityScape/Cookeville, Cookeville $5,000 Alleyway improvement for a pocket park or for green space development. Services would include new piping, rock backfill and asphalt.
  • Dandridge Community – A Main Street Program*, Dandridge $6,000 Shop Local brochures, refurbish benches and rain barrels for revolutionary era graveyard garden.
  • Main Street Dayton, Dayton: $5,000 Billboard, posters and advertisement for downtown buy-local shopping campaign.
  • Fayetteville Main Street, Fayetteville: $5,000 The addition of recycle containers; buy-local business website.
  • Main Street Dyersburg, Dyersburg: $5,000 Advertisements with billboards and posters to promote downtown businesses.
  • Downtown Franklin Association*, Franklin: $6,000 Interactive website and bike racks for downtown.
  • Greater Gallatin*, Gallatin: $6,000 Renovate Palace Theater marquee with new wiring, sockets, rotating device and neon lettering.
  • Main Street Greeneville*, Greeneville: $6,000 Promote walkability, add links to website encouraging local enterprise and promote buy-local campaigns.
  • Jackson Downtown Development Co., Jackson: $5,000 Landscaping, painting and pouring concrete to support local green initiative. Prepare area to be used as outdoor picnic and stage area.
  • Johnson City Development Authority*, Johnson City: $6,000 Development of architectural stabilization plans, energy efficiency and restoration of CC&O Depot.
  • Downtown Kingsport Association, Kingsport: $5,000 Energy efficient heating and cooling unit to be installed in downtown building.
  • Crossroads Partnership/Morristown*, Morristown: $6,000 Bike racks, recycling containers, crosswalk markers and message center.
  • Main Street: Murfreesboro/Rutherford County, Inc., Murfreesboro: $5,000 Signage, promotional materials, tents and other needs for the weekly farmers’ market.
  • Rogersville Main Street*, Rogersville: $6,000 Shop local campaign, print materials to promote downtown and local businesses; installation of an energy efficient sprinkler system to maintain town square’s trees and flowers.
  • Savannah Main Street, Savannah: $5,000 Website to promote Green Street downtown projects, promotions and events.
  • Tiptonville Main Street, Tiptonville: $5,000 Repair windows to encourage “green” design; custom canvas awnings for downtown building energy efficiency.
  • Main Street Union City*, Union City: $6,000 Installation of an irrigation system and landscaping for four islands in downtown.

*Denotes a Main Street Mentor to the Tennessee Downtowns communities.

About the Tennessee Main Street Program

Main Street revitalization is a comprehensive, incremental, self-help economic strategy that also focuses on developing public-private partnerships to enhance community livability and job creation, while maintaining the historic character of the district. For more information about Tennessee’s Main Street program, visit

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Voters to Decide if ‘Personal Right’ to Hunt & Fish is Reasonable

The term “reasonable” doesn’t appear in the U.S. or Tennessee Constitutions, except for proscriptions against the government carrying out “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

But the Tennessee Wildlife Federation — with the endorsement of all but three members of the state Legislature — wants to add that word, and 59 or so others, in the form of a constitutional amendment that would place hunting and fishing on the list of legally protected rights enjoyed by Tennesseans.

The amendment, which if passed would be added to the section of the Tennessee Constitution that grants state government the authority “to enact laws for the protection and preservation of game and fish,” reads as follows:

“The citizens of this state shall have the personal right to hunt and fish, subject to reasonable regulations and restrictions prescribed by law. The recognition of this right does not abrogate any private or public property rights, nor does it limit the state’s power to regulate commercial activity. Traditional manners and means may be used to take non-threatened species.”

The process of getting the measure before voters has been years in the making. Conceived in 2004, the language has twice been approved by the General Assembly — most recently, this past legislative session — and must now attract “yes” votes from a majority of voters participating in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

Critics of the amendment suggest that a change to the Constitution is unnecessary and excessive.

Argues the state’s largest metropolitan newspaper, “a simple resolution would have sufficed to send the message that hunting and fishing is here to stay.” Furthermore, the use of the word “reasonable” is “vague and open to interpretation.” It could, for example, embolden litigious malcontents to challenge licensing and fee requirements placed upon sportsmen by the Tennessee Department of Fish and Wildlife and thus jeopardize “a crucial revenue source,” the Tennessean editorial board worries.

Those concerns, however, don’t appear to be shared by state government wildlife managers.

Nat Johnson, TWRA assistant executive director of staff operations, said the term “reasonable” sounds reasonable enough to officials and attorneys with the department, although he noted that the agency cannot by law take a formal stance of support or opposition on the measure.

Officials do, however, offer that they in no way see the language of the amendment as hindering “the responsibilities of the agency to set manner and means” for taking fish and wildlife, said Johnson, who also serves as TWRA’s legislative liaison to the Tennessee General Assembly.

“Legal staff has looked at this, and they have not seen it become an issue in any other states,” he said. “They haven’t seen that it provided any avenues for people to challenge a state’s ability to regulate and set reasonable rules and regulations.”

More than a dozen other states have guarantees of hunters’ rights written into their constitutions, and others are considering measures.

Tennessee Wildlife Federation CEO Michael Butler told TNReport his group consulted closely with state wildlife officials, constitutional attorneys and the chief legislative sponsors of the amendment, Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, and Rep. Joe McCord, R-Maryville, to ensure that the amendment language enumerates the desired right without undermining state government fish and wildlife management authority.

“Most people already think they have a right to hunt and fish. So for most people, this amendment is just confirming what they already thought,” Butler said. “They can’t really imagine not being able to do it.”

However, the whole point of the amendment, he said, is to add a layer of legal defense against political activists and pressure groups that believe hunting and fishing not only aren’t “rights,” but probably shouldn’t even be tolerated by government.

Constitutionally speaking, “all it would take now to get rid of a hunting or fishing season is a vote by the Legislature,” Butler said.

Johnson confirmed that the department advised the wildlife federation on the amendment “almost since its inception.”

“We worked to achieve a comfort level that we thought everybody could live with,” he said.

Vanderbilt constitutional law professor James Blumstein noted that although the term “reasonable” isn’t one you’ll find in constitutional language, it “permeates our law.”

While a subjective interpretation might at times be “fairly debatable,” Blumstein said, judges generally approach it from the standpoint of asking if government has “a rational basis for doing something, and that it meets a reasonableness test.”

“There will be some deference to the regulation, but the regulations have to be reasonable,” he said. In situations where hunting rights conflict with public safety, private property or species management goals, Blumstein said he believes the amendment leaves the government “ample authority to regulate.”

“But what the government cannot do is to simply say we’re against hunting, on the grounds of policy, or that we think that is immoral or that it’s inappropriate in some way, and just have a flat-out ban,” Blumstein said. “Most rights in the Constitution are not absolute rights, and this is recognizing that the right to hunt may exist, but it is not absolute.”