Will you step into the booth?


A resident steps into his local precinct to cast his vote on the candidateof his choice during a recent election. The Johnson County, TN election is now scheduled for August 2018. Photo by Tamas Mondovics.

By Tamas Mondovics

What is an election? For many, to describe what an election is may be simple, while for others perhaps just as difficult.Perhaps the simple answer is that an election is a process of voting to decide the leadership that guides legislation and enforcement of regulations.

Serious candidates work tirelessly to persuade people to support them in hopes of making such decisions as easy as possible and ultimately to win an election.Such efforts include the identifying policies, explaining what they would or would not do if they were elected. Each political party spends great efforts to prepare a list of policies that they are promising to carry out if they are elected. This is called a platform.
The rest comes down to citizens making their choice in secret by marking a ballot.

As passionate, opinionated or concerned many are, the right to vote is often said to be taken for granted.
One of the reasons for such view has a lot to do with the fact that elsewhere in the world many people have no say concerning their political leaders, which prompts the emphasis and importance of participating in the election process whenever the opportunity is afforded to do so.As to who will eventually step into the voting booth boils down to a variety of reasons and if the last general election is any indication, things can get ugly quite easily.

Interestingly, during the 2016 election NPR asked its listeners who felt angry, and others who explained why they felt excited, disappointed or hopeful.Some of the sobering responses as it was reported by the news organization included such expressions as “Don’t have control,” “Anxious,” “Working hard is no guarantee,” Exciting,’’ “Saddened,’’ “Hate” and “Hopeful” topped the chart.

Of course, that was then, and this is now. Time has passed. What has changed? Are things good, bad or ugly?Deciding whom to vote for requires more than just siding with a particular political party.
Reading as much as possible on the candidates’ beliefs, concerns and voter history will help make the best decision possible before one steps into the voting booth. And, that is what election really is.

Is snoring killing your love life?

If you have been banished to the guest room because when you snore your neighbors think there is a 747 landing in the cul de sac, you might want to see the dentist.The sleep disorder most associated with loud snoring is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Studies have found that it is associated with an increased risk of stroke, cancer and death. But why go to the dentist? Because dental care impacts the entire body, says dentist Dr. Steven Freeman, author of the book Why Your Teeth Might Be Killing You.

“People have a tendency to think that the dentist is only about filling cavities and creating a beautiful smile,” Dr. Freeman says. “But your oral health can impact your physical well being of your entire body. Sleeping disorders are frequently diagnosed and treated by dentists.”’

OSA wasn’t diagnosed as a condition until the 1960’s. Every year the number of sleep apnea cases increases due to increased awareness and the condition’s connection to obesity. Since populations are getting more obese, more people suffer from sleep apnea.

For years, people who had sleep apnea had only one choice – the “CPAP” which stands for “continuous positive airway pressure.” It looks like something a jet pilot would use at high altitude, and only 20% of people who are prescribed for it actually use it because it is so uncomfortable. However, there are other devices that are now available, including something called an “oral appliance therapy” that is more like a mouthpiece than a gas mask. It is recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, an organization that includes dentists.

Dr. Stevens says causes of sleep apnea include:

Excess weight/diabetes.
The cheapest way for some people to cure sleep apnea is to lose weight.
Smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to develop sleep apnea than non-smokers.

OSA episodes produce surges in systolic and diastolic pressure that keep mean blood pressure levels elevated at night. In many patients, blood pressure remains elevated during the daytime, when breathing is normal.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway closes during sleep, which causes the reduction of airflow and oxygen to the lungs. This may lead to increased inflammation in the body, including the lungs.

Family history.
Hereditary factors such as body fat distribution, face and skull structure and nerve control of upper airway muscles may be found in the DNA of individuals with OSA. One study discovered that relatives of non-obese OSA patients had an increased frequency of abnormal breathing during sleep.

“The need for a full night’s sleep cannot be overstated,” Dr. Stevens said. “Curing or remediating OSA can save someone from years of battling many health issues.”

Controlling multiflora rose weed in pastures

Article courtesy of the UT Extension Office
Article Source: Dwight D. Lingenfelter, Assistant Ext.Agronomist, and William S. Curran, Professor of Weed Science, Penn State University Extension

The weed multiflora rose is an increasing problem in pastures and noncropland.  It thrives on idle land, fencerows, and minimally maintained, hilly pastures.  Originally introduced from Asia and promoted as a “living fence” to control erosion and provide food and cover for wildlife, multiflora rose quickly spread and is considered a noxious weed.

Once multiflora rose is introduced, its aggressive growth can rapidly overtake desirable land, forming a dense, thorny thicket within a few years.  Although the weed spreads mainly through seed dispersal by birds and other animals, it also spreads by layering.  Layering occurs when the tip of the cane, or woody stem, touches the ground, forms a shallow root system, and generates a new shoot.

Multiflora rose blooms during late May or June, producing up to several hundred white or pinkish flowers in clusters throughout the bush.  Each flower yields a small, round fruit (hip) that changes from green to bright red upon maturity and contains seeds that can remain viable in soil for 10 to 20 years.

Although it is nearly impossible to keep birds and other animals from dispersing rose seeds into pastures and noncropland, it is possible to prevent multiflora rose from becoming a major problem if infestations are controlled in their early stages.  The following cultural or preventive practices will help keep multiflora rose from becoming established, while optimizing pasture production.

• Follow soil test recommendations for lime and fertilizer.

•Plant pasture species adapted to climate, soil, field conditions, and grazing system.

•Prevent overgrazing.

•Scout pastures regularly for weeds, insects, and diseases and control them when necessary.

•Mow annually to prevent establishment of multifulora rose; however, once established it is relatively tolerant of infrequent mowings.

•Spot treat young weeds with an effective herbicide before they become well established and set seed.

•When using equipment around older rose bushes, remove rose hips and seed from equipment to avoid introducing seeds into noninfested areas.

Several herbicides are available for controlling multiflora rose in grass pastures.  The one I recommend most often is Crossbow.  It is less expensive than some of the other herbicides and does a good job on multiflora rose and brambles (blackberry briars).

Crossbow is a mixture of 2 growth regulators (2,4-D and triclopyr).  For spot treatments, use 2.5 to 4 Tablespoons per gallon of water or 1 to 1.5 gallons per 100 gallons of spray mixture.  The ideal time to spray is in early- to mid-June, during full leaf-out and also when the plant is in bloom.  Follow-up foliar or basal treatments may be necessary to achieve total plant kill.

Are parents to blame for their child’s obesity?

Most parents don’t let their children blame others if the child is doing something that is the child’s fault. They tell their children to own up to their mistakes and find a way to fix them.

When it comes to the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States, parents should take some of their own advice and realize that they need to fix the mistakes they are making in guiding their children’s nutrition, says Dr. Joseph Galati (www.drjoegalati.com) author of Eating Yourself Sick: How to Stop Obesity, Fatty Liver, and Diabetes from Killing You and Your Family.

He understands that parents want the best for their children in all aspects of their lives but he says too many parents do not take nutrition seriously when they allow their children to make poor food choices.

“Obesity – with all its tremendous complications – will directly decrease the very opportunities they are working so hard to provide for their children,“ he says. The root causes of obesity are poor food choices, excessive snacking and large food portions. “Parents who serve their children fast food and don’t prepare home-cooked meals are fostering bad health that can last a lifetime.”

Through a combination of poor eating habits and little exercise, Galati says today’s parents are setting up their children to live their lives as unfit, obese and unhealthy. As a result, today’s generation will probably have a shorter lifespan than their parents. The problems start early, he says. A child who is obese at age 2 has a 50 percent chance of being obese as an adult.

But Dr. Galati says all is not lost. He offers several tips for parents who want to stop the trend of both adult and childhood obesity.

Reinstitute the family dinner.
Several studies have show that regular family dinners at least a few times a week have many benefits for children, including improving their eating habits, grades, family relationships and overall health, Galati says. Children who eat with their families also display fewer risky behaviors and have a lower risk of obesity.

Fight for home economics classes in high school.
The high school home economics class taught the basics of food nutrition and cooking. Galati says the elimination of these classes across the country is likely one of the reasons many children don’t know where their food comes from. “We have raised an entire generation that is disconnected from the kitchen,” he says.

Don’t underrate obesity’s impact on health.
Obesity is the root cause for 13 different cancers, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver and cirrhosis, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, erectile dysfunction and many more. Obesity has more than doubled worldwide since 1980. “It should be taken more seriously,” Galati says.

Improve your health IQ.
Galati says too many Americans simply don’t understand how their bodies work and don’t know they are making poor food and lifestyle choices. He said if people knew a few basic facts about their bodies it would help them make better food and lifestyle choices, and enable them to communicate better with their physicians.

“It’s time parents start educating themselves and their children about food and start making better choices,” Galati says. “Otherwise the consequences will be a lot more dire than what most parents probably realize.”

About Dr. Joseph Galati
Dr. Joseph Galati is a hepatologist who specializes in caring for patients with liver diseases, obesity and nutrition-related disorders. He attended medical school at St. George’s University of Medicine, and received further training in Internal Medicine at SUNY-Health Science Center-Brooklyn/Kings County Hospital Center. He obtained further expertise in Liver Disease and Transplant Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He has been involved in clinical research in liver disease for more than 30 years. Since 2003, Dr. Galati has hosted “Your Health First,” a one-hour radio program each weekend on iHeart Radio’s 740 am KTRH, and streamed globally on the iHeart app.

How to reduce damage to eyes resulting from prolonged screen time

eye strain

According to a 2015 report published in the Daily Mail, many people spend more time on their devices than they do sleeping. A recent Nielsen Company audience report also found that adults in the United States devote about 10 hours and 40 minutes each day to consuming media on their personal computers, tablets, multimedia devices, TVs, and more. Researchers continue to study the effects of screen time on personal health, but there is reason to believe that screen time may be especially harmful to vision. Devices force the eyes to focus at near range, and over time that can have an adverse effect on vision.

Prevent Blindness America says that eye fatigue, dryness and blurred vision are some of the common effects of prolonged screen use, but these are not the only concerns. Digital devices also expose the eyes to blue light. While research as to how blue light impacts vision is ongoing, there is concern over the long-term effects of screen exposure since these screens are in close proximity to the eyes and use is often prolonged. Prevent Blindness America says that studies suggest continued exposure to blue light over time can lead to difficulty focusing, premature aging of the eyes and even damage to retinal cells.

A recent study by the National Eye Institute found the frequency of myopia, also known as near-sightedness, has increased exponentially in the last few years. Reasons include a spike in time spent looking at things close-up and a lack of outdoor activities that require focusing elsewhere. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that a separate study recently found that excessive screen time usage in adolescents was associated with development of acute onset esotropia, or crossing of the eyes, and that limiting usage of gadgets decreased the degree of eye crossing in these patients.

Eyes, just like any other muscle, require a varied workout to remain healthy. Many vision experts recommend the 20-20-20 rule. According to this rule, for every 20 minutes of looking at a screen, a person should look away at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds or more. This will help eye muscles to relax. The group All About Vision says to use proper lighting, such as ambient lighting. Position a computer monitor so that windows or lights are to the sides instead of in front or behind it. Be sure indoor light isn’t too bright, as bright light can contribute to glare and fatigue.

Antireflective lenses on eyeglasses or filters for screens also can help absorb some of the blue light and limit how much reaches the retina and accesses the central nerve of the eye. This may alleviate digital eye strain as well. Screen users may want to adjust the display of their devices so they feature a cool, gray tone, which produces less glare. Eyes can be adversely affected by screen time unless strategies are implemented to limit strain and to rest muscles.

How to manage heat stress in beef cattle this season

Livestock Heat Hazard Guide

Provided by the UT Extension Office
Article source: North Dakota State University Ext.

Being proactive is the best approach for dealing with heat stress in cattle.  Once cattle are in a severe state of heat stress, you may be too late to help them.  Having a solid management plan in place to address heat stress could pay big dividends in the form of maintained animal performance during periods of heat and in avoiding death losses in severe cases.  Dr. C.R. Dahlen and Dr. C.L. Stoltenow with North Dakota State University Extension have developed a 3 step plan to help manage heat stress in beef cattle.

Step one:  Identify animals that are most susceptible to heat stress.  Animals that are overweight, very young and very old also are the most at risk.  Animals with dark hides are at a higher risk of suffering heat stress and dying.  Deaths of black-hided cattle on pasture without shade and limited supplies of water have been recorded.  Know where the animals most susceptible to heat stress are before the danger of heat stress is present.  Be prepared to have these animals as a priority in your prevention/intervention plan.

Step two:  Develop an action plan for heat stress.  The action plan is the essential actions you will take to protect the animals most susceptible to heat stress.  The action plan should include the following:
• Animals in heat stress need to drink water.  Make sure they have a plentiful supply of clean drinking water.
• Move the animals’ feeding time to late afternoon or evening.  This will allow rumen fermentation to take place during the cooler night temperatures, and it will increase lung capacity for the cattle during the hotter daytime temperatures.  Normal digestive processes create heat in cattle.
• Air movement is an additional factor that promotes animal cooling.  A breeze or wind moving over the hide of cattle promotes evaporative cooling.  Blocking or hampering the movement of air impedes evaporative cooling.• Provide shade.  Solar radiation from sunny, clear skies contributes to body temperature in cattle.  Providing shade stops solar radiation from increasing body temperature.
• Control flies as much as possible because hot cattle tend to bunch together and flies only will add to the stress of hot days.
•  Maybe the most important, do not work cattle during temperature extremes.  If working cattle is absolutely necessary, keep working time as short as possible, use calm animal-handling techniques to minimize stress related to handling, and consider running smaller groups through the facility or into holding pens.  Provide sufficient water in holding pens.  Get started as early in the morning as daylight will allow.  Do not work in the evening after a heat-stress day; cattle need this time to recover.  Reconsider the necessity of working cattle during these periods; some working events need to be postponed or canceled.

• Pay attention to long- and short-term weather forecasts and have a copy of the temperature humidity index chart readily available.  Livestock weather index charts with temperature and humidity ranges can be found on the internet.  Determine the potential risk threshold and be prepared, even if the risk is several index units away.

Step three:  Know when to intervene.  Heat stress is driven by a combination of factors.  Temperature and humidity are two of the most frequently cited issues.  Understanding that heat stress in cattle is cumulative is important.  If the evening temperatures do not cool low enough, cattle cannot fully recover physiologically before the next onset of heat. Heat in summertime is not avoidable.  However, you can take preventive measures when designing facilities and before temperatures reach dangerous levels to minimize impacts of heat stress on cattle.

Now, what was it I wanted to remember to tell you?

As we grow older most of us forget more often than we once did. Although memory loss is a natural part of the aging process, experts say it usually isn’t problematic for most people until after age 70.This doesn’t mean that you might not be forgetful, even though 70 still may be a ways off. We all have memory lapses, regardless of our age. Even as teenagers we forgot things (cleaning our rooms! that English assignment!), but as we get older we notice more the frustrations that forgetting can bring.
Fortunately, if you find your memory really does seem weaker and more troublesome, there are steps you can take to combat the problem.

A health check is your starting point. Talk with your physician about all drugs you are taking (over the counter and prescription), and have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked. These things, as well as some diseases, have been linked to memory problems.

Researchers report smoking and heavy alcohol use can also affect memory. Harvard Medical School studies found that smokers perform much worse than non-smokers in memory and thinking skills tests.

Staying physically and mentally active can also combat memory loss. When you exercise regularly you’re increasing blood flow for better brain health and function. Studies have found that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, like walking or jogging five times a week, may even reverse some memory issues.

There’s also some evidence that an active brain performs better. A full social life, interacting with family and friends, is one way. Anything  that challenges your brain, from puzzles to playing games to reading and writing, also appears to stimulate brain cells and their connections.

A healthy diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, but low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may also benefit brain health. And yes, fish really may be brain food, especially when it’s fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and tuna .

Occasional forgetfulness isn’t a reason to worry. Simply writing down things you want to remember can reduce memory frustration, but do pay attention if your memory issues are more severe.  If you forget things much more frequently, have difficulty learning new tasks, repeat phrases or stories in the same conversation, or forget how to do things you’ve done many times before, there may be a more serious problem. Talk with your doctor or professional counselor for an evaluation.

Counseling Corner” is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions
to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA
website at www.counseling.org.

Bullies are a product of immaturity

By Dr. William F. Holland, Jr.

As children, we only think about life on a surface level. Having fun, our toys, food and security are usually at the top of our priority list. I’m reminded of the scripture found in I Corinthians chapter 13 and verse 11 that talks about how it’s alright to think like a kid for a while, but there will come a day when we put away our toys and become accountable for our thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, bullies are usually never forgotten whether in our childhood or as an adult.

I remember when I was around ten years old, there was a girl at school a couple years older than me that was constantly being made fun of and treated harshly. She was a stocky girl with tangled jet-black hair and her clothes were often wrinkled, but what really caused the negative attention was her constant runny nose.
There are many reasons why children are mean, but as a shy child, I’m ashamed to admit I was a part of the crowd of spectators that quietly witnessed the daily harassment of this poor young lady. How I wish I would have had the courage to stop them.

After months of mean and rude comments, the entire school eventually learned who she was and also made sure they stayed far away from her. Not only was everyone afraid of catching her “cooties” whatever that was, but they did not want to be associated with her and risk being included as another target. I just so happened to ride the same bus as she did and one afternoon I observed an act of cruelty that was even more disturbing than normal. I was being squeezed against the window, hugging my books because it was so crowded and kept thinking what a relief it will be when I get home.

The bullies began their daily routine of taking turns hitting this girl on the head with their heavy books and you could tell it hurt. Of course, she started crying and telling them to stop but this just made things worse. I now see myself as no better than a spectator at a Roman coliseum when they would throw the Christians to the lions.

Anyway, everyone was cheering and mocking when all the sudden, one of the boys grabbed the bag out of her hands and started tossing everything out the window. I looked back and could see her books, notebooks, personal items and papers blowing down the road and across the lawns. I was in shock because I realized the importance of these things and wondered how anyone could be so vicious.

I can still hear the crowd screaming and going into a frenzy because evidently, they thought this was the ultimate humiliation. The bus driver was hollering for everyone to keep the noise down but as far as I know nothing was ever done about it. Aggressive behavior may be traced back to how children are raised, but there is no excuse and no place in this world for a bully. For those who have been victims, (statistics show that one in three kids are bullied), these painful recollections are commonly kept secret within the depths of our soul. However, as hurtful as these wounds may be, we can turn to God and ask Him to help us with forgiveness as a way to receive emotional healing and spiritual peace.

How to successfully prune flowering shrubs this season

Article source: Penn State Ext Horticulture Department

The correct time to prune your flowering shrubs depends on when they flower. A rough rule of thumb is to prune spring-blooming shrubs soon after they finish flowering because most bloom on old wood, while those that bloom in summer and fall usually bloom on new wood and can be pruned in late winter or very early spring. Like many spring-blooming shrubs, azaleas bloom on old wood, which means they set next year’s flower buds shortly after they finish blooming this year. If you wait too long to prune them, you will remove many of next year’s blooms when you prune, especially if you shear your azaleas. Other shrubs that fall into this category include forsythia, Virginia sweetspire, mock orange, ninebark, quince, rhododendrons, including azaleas, spring-flowering roses, spring-blooming spirea, lilacs and viburnums.

Conversely, shrubs that bloom later in summer and fall tend to bloom on new wood, which means they set flower buds on the current season’s growth. These shrubs should be pruned in late winter or very early spring, before they leaf out. Shrubs that fall into this category include butterfly bush, sweetshrub, beautyberry, trumpet vine, summersweet, buttonbush, bush honeysuckle, smooth hydrangea, peegee hydrangea, repeat-blooming roses, summer-blooming spirea and chaste-tree.
Pruning is an important cultural practice to maintain the health and appearance of flowering shrubs.
· Removal of dead, damaged or diseased wood reduces insect and disease problems while allowing the pruner to catch problems before they get out of hand.
· Keeping the center of the shrub open to sunlight and air circulation improves the growth habit of the shrub while allowing interior leaves to dry quickly after rain or heavy dew which can reduce the incidence of disease problems.
· Removing crossing stems eliminates potential bark damage, reducing the chance of insect or disease problems taking advantage of that damage.
· Pruning also forces new growth, which in most cases produces the most colorful stems and new flowering wood for future years.

Controlling plant size is low on the list of reasons for pruning, because pruning is not a substitute for proper plant selection. Most plants have perfectly lovely natural shapes that can be enhanced and somewhat controlled through proper pruning practices; very few adapt well to shearing. Most plants stay healthy and attractive longer if allowed to grow naturally, so reserve the hedge shears for formal hedges.

The process of removing stems at their point of origin is known as thinning, while shortening a stem from the top is known as heading. Technically, shearing is just making a lot of heading cuts. Thinning cuts are preferable because they open the shrub up to sunlight and air circulation. Heading cuts result in a profusion of growth below the cut that creates a wall of growth on the outside of the shrub that blocks sun from the interior of the shrub and impedes air circulation. Even formally sheared hedges should be opened periodically to encourage new growth from inside the plants.

Shrubs with a suckering growth habit such as forsythia and lilac should have the oldest, biggest stems removed at ground level periodically. Rejuvenate badly overgrown specimens by removing the biggest oldest stems at ground level. This can be done all at once if the shrub is healthy and vigorous, or it can be spread out over a three-year period if it is not by removing one-third of the overgrown stems each year.

Keep the sturdiest, well-placed younger stems and remove those that are damaged, spindly or too close to one another. New suckers will sprout from the roots that will have to be similarly thinned later in summer. Hard pruning should always be done in early spring, before the shrub leafs out. It is less stressful for the plant, and you can clearly see the stems when they are leafless.

Five fun ways to get fit and stick with it

Working out with a friend is more enjoyable and makes you more likely to continue.

Exercise benefits both the mind and body. Study after study indicates how physical activity can reduce the propensity for illness, boost mood, lower stress levels, and much more. Still, certain people find it difficult to muster the motivation to get up and move.

In 2013, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from more than 450,000 American adults ages 18 and older who were randomly polled across the 50 states. Participants were asked about aerobic physical activity outside of their jobs. The findings were eye-opening. Estimates indicated nearly 80 percent of American adults do not get the recommended amounts of exercise each week. People most likely to exercise, according to the CDC study, were between the ages of 18 and 24.

Lack of time and inspiration may be to blame for disinterest in exercise. Boredom with routine and being unaware of alternative fitness regimens also may be contributing factors. Increasing the fun associated with workouts could lead to greater success in or outside of the gym.

1. Do what you enjoy.
Wasting time on activities that you don’t enjoy may cause you to throw in the towel prematurely. Don’t base fitness choices around what worked for others; find things that work for you. Exercise physiologists at John Hopkins Weight Management Center say to start with an activity that you already enjoy, even if it’s aligned with the trend of the moment. Chances are you can find a class or make up a routine that works for you.

2. Tweak your playlist.

Music can improve performance during a workout and may actually take your mind off of strenuous or repetitive activity. Tunes also can be coordinated to the workout. Songs that feature lyrics such as run, punch, push, or groove can reinforce movements in the routine, offers the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Also, tailor songs to coordinate to the beats per minute of different activities. Strength activities and endurance activities can feature songs with higher BPMs.

3. Exercise with friends or a group.
Having other people around can make workouts more enjoyable, and that interaction may spur competition that can make you more inclined to stay the course. People who were in the competitive groups in a study of 800 graduate and professional students at the University of Pennsylvania went to 90 percent more classes than those who exercised independently or were not competitive. The results were published in the journal Preventative Medicine Reports. Competition can be a driving factor in efforts to exercise.

4. Head outdoors.
You may be more inclined to workout if you do so outside. Activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, swimming, and cycling on natural courses can be inspiring and burn calories.

5. Try sports or another activity.
Exercise regimens do not have to include running on a treadmill or lifting weights. All types of activities can work, and some may be more enjoyable to you than traditional exercises. Everything from martial arts to dance classes to volleyball can offer cardiovascular and muscle-building benefits in a fun atmosphere. Making exercise fun motivates many people to embrace fitness and stick with their workout regimens

Parents, coaches urged to protect youth athletes from heat

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Have your fun in the sun, but take steps to protect yourself and your family against heat-related illness. The Tennessee Department of Health is encouraging parents and youth sports leagues to prevent heat-related injuries this summer as part of the observance of National Heat Awareness Day May 25.

“Both heat and humidity play a role in the body’s ability to regulate its internal temperature and should be taken into consideration when planning outdoor activities,” said TDH Assistant Commissioner for Family Health and Wellness Morgan McDonald, MD. “High body temperatures can lead to serious damage to the brain and other organs, so it’s important to pay attention to your body’s signals.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 9,000 cases of heat-related illness among high school athletes in the U.S. every year. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is unable to cool down due to prolonged exposure to extreme heat or increased physical activity.

Signs of heat exhaustion include:

• Heavy sweating
• Cold, pale and clammy skin
• Fast, weak pulse
• Nausea or vomiting
• Muscle cramps
• Tiredness or weakness
• Dizziness
• Headache
• Fainting (passing out)

Sports teams can do their part in preventing heat-related injuries by including heat policies in their emergency action plans. Some simple policies to adopt are:

• Changing games and practice times to avoid the hottest times of day

• Taking off pads and other equipment

• Providing more breaks on hot days

• Maintaining proper hydration

• Becoming acclimatized to heat

•Monitoring the heat index every 30 minutes and stopping all practice or play when it reaches 104 degrees (Heat index is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with actual air temperature.)

Community sports leagues can earn recognition for their work to prevent heat-related illness and other injuries by participating in the Safe Stars Initiative. Safe Stars is a free rating system recognizing youth sports leagues throughout Tennessee for providing the highest level of safety for their young athletes. Safe Stars consists of three levels: gold, silver and bronze, and involves implementation of life-saving policies around many injury prevention topics including weather safety.

Learn more about the Safe Stars Initiative and apply today at www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/fhw/vipp/safe-stars-initiative.html.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.

Doctor’s orders: A walk in the park “National ParkRX Day”

Gates Mondovics of Mountain City Tennessee takes a break while walking a trail in nearby park. Tennessee Department of Health is promoting the outdoors to help improve the health of Tennesseans. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

By Tamas Mondovics

Healthy Parks Healthy Person Tennessee, an initiative of Tennessee State Parks with support from the Tennessee Department of Health, works with healthcare providers to promote the outdoors as a means of improving the health of Tennesseans. All are invited to celebrate National ParkRx Day on Sunday, April 29.

“Our Tennessee State Parks are some of the best in the country and wonderful places to be mindful of ourselves, our loved ones and the creation that surrounds us,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Turning off or ignoring our electronic devices and being outdoors to tune into the conversations of nature all around us can greatly improve our well-being, so get out and have some nature!”

The Parks Prescription program, a component of Healthy Parks Healthy Person Tennessee, is a way for nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to assess physical activity of their patients, counsel patients on the importance of physical activity and prescribe outdoor activity as part of their health or treatment plans. The park prescriptions come as a tear-off pad, just like regular prescriptions, and patients can use the web-based phone application to log outdoor experiences to earn rewards at Tennessee State Parks.

National ParkRx Day is celebrated across the United States to promote the growing movement of prescribing time spent in parks and nature to improve health. National ParkRx Day encourages everyone to start seeing visits to parks and public lands as significant parts of their health. In 2015, the U.S. Surgeon General released a call to action to promote walking. National ParkRx Day builds on this call to action.

Tennesseans are encouraged to:
· Go to a local park, greenway or Tennessee State Park
· Work in the yard
· Take their children to a neighborhood playground
· Go boating or fishing
For more information about Healthy Parks Healthy Person Tennessee, go to healthyparkstn.com.

Ways parents can help their college graduate’s job hunt

It’s college commencement season across the nation as graduates prepare to transition into the working world. Employers plan to hire 4 percent more graduates from the class of 2018 than they did from the class of 2017, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2018 survey. While that continues a positive trend for recent graduates, the competition remains fierce and large numbers of new graduates could face a long wait for that first career-type job.

The job-seeking process can be filled with anxiety, and parents can help relieve the pressure by offering prudent guidance. That can be a delicate balancing act, employers and career advisors say, between not providing enough support and doing far too much.

“Supporting them too much financially for a long interim period is certainly not the answer; it defeats much of the purpose of going to college in the first place,” says Matt Stewart, co-founder of College Works Painting (www.collegeworks.com), which provides business experience for thousands of college students each year.

“You want them to be independent. But this can be a tough time for the new graduate. Their hopes are on hold, and they’re about to learn all about persistence and resilience. It can be a long bridge to that first big job, but the parents’ job is help them across that bridge without holding their hand.”

Stewart offers five tips for parents who want to help, but not hinder, their graduate in the job pursuit:Don’t helicopter in to your kid’s interview or job fair. There really are parents who walk their recent graduate to the lobby at the job interview or hover by the line at the job fair. ”Would you want to hire someone who can’t stand on their own two feet, or hasn’t been allowed to?” Stewart says. “A kid has to learn to face his or her own nerves and be comfortable around people.”

Don’t call the company after your child was rejected. “This is almost like asking the Little League coach to put your kid in the game, but worse,” Stewart says. “It won’t work, it will embarrass your graduate, hurt their confidence, and you burn a bridge with a hiring manager.”

Study your child’s field. Some of the best work a parent can do is share some of the homework on their child’s chosen career. “Here, two heads are better than one,” Stewart says. “Parents should help with in-depth internet searches on the field, its future prospects, employment boards.”
Encourage part-time work and don’t let them be too picky. “It’s a must you have them get a part-time job while they’re pursuing the full-time career job,” Stewart says. “Getting on with learning the fundamental skills of work is huge. By working and job hunting at the same time, they’re getting a leg up on time management. A parent can help a bit financially, but too much is disempowering.”

Set up informational interviews. Parents’ friends and work associates can provide helpful input by sharing information from their jobs and their job interview experiences. “This can be great practice for future job interviews,” Stewart says. “Plus, the graduate needs to hear different voices besides their parents.“

“Finding that first job after college can be a volatile time of transition for the graduate,” Stewart says. “Parents can help in more ways than they may realize.”

Preparing for Fly Season

Provided by the UT Extension Office

Are flies just pests? Every cattle farm has flies and they are considered a nuisance. However, fly infestation reduces performance and certain flies are responsible for spreading diseases such as pink eye and potentially anaplasmosis. To decrease disease risk to your livestock, it is important to understand where flies live and breed and the strategic control methods available.

Adult flies prefer to lay their eggs in wet organic matter, such as fresh manure and spilled feed. Moisture is needed for the fly eggs, larvae and pupae to develop. Therefore, controlling moisture is an important step in the reduction of fly numbers on your farm.

Out with the waste! Manure piles are fly breeding heaven, so waste management is critical in creating a fly management program. An average 1,250 lb. beef cow generates 75 lbs. of manure a day, so manure management is a full time job!

For some species of flies, the life cycle can be as short as 2 weeks. In order to break the fly life cycle, you need to remove or spread fly breeding materials (manure, wet grain, spilled silage, moist hay, etc.) on a regular basis. Start by removing manure from livestock areas as frequently as possible. Take this manure and spread it thinly on fields or other large outdoor areas to facilitate drying. Also, drag your fields to more evenly distribute manure. Flies cannot develop in dry environments, so spreading manure thinly is the first step in trying to break the fly life cycle.

Pay special attention to areas where your herd congregates, such as water troughs, shady areas and gates. These areas should be cleaned weekly at a minimum to diminish fly breeding and control parasites. Remember, it’s easier and more cost effective to prevent fly breeding than to control adult flies. So the quicker we can remove their habitat, the less likely we are to see these pests.
Keep them off! Feed and mineral mixtures with larvicide in it passes through the cow and the product kills the larvae in the manure so that adults cannot emerge. They are very effective at killing developing flies but must be incorporated at least 3 weeks prior to fly season. Blocks with insect growth regulators (IGR) help to reduce the population of flies and can be used early in the fly season to delay use of ear tags. Remember, IGR’s do not keep flies off of the animal. They only work to reduce the population of the flies.

Dusters or dust bags that contain insecticide work well for pastured cattle if the animals are forced to pass through them to get to feed, water, or mineral. Monitor the dusters for use; cattle should use them every 2-3 days to be effective. To ensure insecticide is applied to their face, they should be placed low enough so cattle have to drop their heads to go through them. There should be 2 dust bags for every 50-60 animals to ensure every animal has access. With the smaller stature of calves, dusters must be hung at a level that is appropriate.

Back rubbers or oilers are similar to dusters; they rely on contact with the insecticide but use an oil solution (diesel fuel #2) instead of dust. There should be 20 feet of contact space for every 50-60 cows to ensure every animal has access. Add insecticide every 2-4 weeks to maintain effectiveness.

Pour-ons or sprays are absorbed by the animal and act to repel flies that feed on blood (as well as lice and grubs). They are directly applied to animals and have to be re-applied every 3 weeks in the case of horn flies. Pour-ons are more labor intensive than some other options listed here.
Impregnated ear tags can provide many weeks of protection against flies. Fly tags generally provide coverage for 12-15 weeks. The most appropriate time to begin using fly tags is when fly numbers reach greater than 50 flies per animal.

Spring will be a good time to initiate fly control in cows and calves. In most years in Tennessee this occurs in May. An integrated approach that includes feed through IGR blocks, back rubs, dust bags, spray and pour-ons and ear tags is often the most effective when used in this order.

Current research suggests using only one class of insecticide (pyrethroid or organophosphate) in all of the products used during a single season. Rotating classes of insecticides every 1-2 years prolongs the effect of each and reduces the risk of developing resistance in the fly population. Also, be sure to remove fly tags at the end of the fly season.

Other classes of active ingredients are now available to help with resistance in flies. Spinosyn, and avermectin impregnated ear tags are available to use if pyrethroid or organophosphate tags are ineffective. Work with your veterinarian to make an informed decision on which should work best in your area.

*Source: Dr. Lew Strickland, UT Extension Veterinarian

Gender wage gap costs Tennessee women nearly $16 Billion annually

A state-by-state analysis released for Equal Pay Day Tomorrow, reveals that a woman employed full time, year-round in Tennessee is typically paid just 82 cents for every dollar paid to a man – a yearly pay difference of $7,745. That means Tennessee women lose a combined total of nearly $16 billion every year to the gender wage gap.

If it were closed, on average, a woman working full time in Tennessee would be able to afford 60 more weeks of food for her family, more than six additional months of mortgage and utilities payments, nearly one additional year of tuition and fees for a four-year public university, nearly the full cost of tuition and fees for a two-year community college, more than 9.5 additional months of rent or nearly 13 more months of child care each year.

This new analysis, conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, finds that Tennessee has the 13th smallest cents-on-the-dollar gap in the nation. It also finds that there is a gender-based wage gap in every single state and the District of Columbia. The cents-on-the-dollar gap is largest in Louisiana and Utah, followed closely by West Virginia and Montana – and smallest in New York, California and Florida. The study also analyzed the wage gap in each of Tennessee’s congressional districts, as well as for Black women in Tennessee and other states.

Working women in Tennessee are not alone in suffering the effects of the gender wage gap. It has detrimental effects on women’s spending power in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The wage gap contributes greatly to our country’s high rates of poverty and income inequality and is especially punishing for women of color. Nationally, white non-Hispanic women are typically paid 79 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, Black women 63 cents and Latinas 54 cents. Asian women are paid 87 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, although some ethnic subgroups of Asian women fare much worse. The wage gap for mothers is 71 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.

“Equal Pay Day is a disturbing reminder that women overall have had to work more than three months into 2018 just to catch up with what men were paid in 2017, and Black women and Latinas must work considerably further into the year,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “The wage gap cannot be explained by women’s choices. It’s clear that discrimination contributes to it – and equally clear that it’s causing grave harm to women, families and the country.

Lawmakers have not done nearly enough to end wage discrimination based on gender and race; to end sexual harassment, which impedes women’s job advancement; to stop discrimination against pregnant women; to advance paid family and medical leave and paid sick days; and to increase access to high-quality, affordable reproductive health care. If our country is to thrive, we must root out bias in wages, reject outdated stereotypes and stop penalizing women for having children and caring for their families.”

To address this pervasive problem, the National Partnership is urging Congress to pass:
The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help break harmful patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women;The Fair Pay Act, which would diminish wage disparities that result from gender-based occupational segregation; The Healthy Families Act, which would guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days; The Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a comprehensive paid family and medical leave program; The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which would update and strengthen protections against discrimination against pregnant workers; The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act, which would restore abortion coverage to women who receive health care or insurance through the federal government and prohibit political interference with health insurance companies that offer coverage for abortion care; and
Measures that would increase the minimum wage, eliminate the tipped minimum wage and strengthen protections against sexual harassment in the workplace.

“The gender-based wage gap results in staggering losses that make it harder for women, in Tennessee and across the country, to pay for food and shelter, child care, college tuition, birth control and other health care,” added National Partnership Vice President for Workplace Policies and Strategies Vicki Shabo. “We urgently need public policies that improve women’s access to decent-paying jobs, provide the supports women need to stay in the workforce and advance in their jobs, and ensure fair and nondiscriminatory treatment wherever women work and whatever jobs they hold. We need the Trump administration to help solve this problem rather than exacerbating it. We ask the administration to immediately stop blocking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from implementing an equal pay initiative aimed at identifying and helping root out pay discrimination.”

In addition, Ness noted that state lawmakers can help address the wage gap by passing laws that prohibit employers from asking about salary history and protect employees from retaliation if they discuss pay. The private sector plays a role as well, and companies can help level the playing field by increasing pay transparency, limiting the use of salary history and using standardized pay ranges in hiring and promotions.

Findings for each state from the National Partnership’s new wage gap analysis are available at NationalPartnership.org/Gap, as are analyses of the wage gap at the national level, in the 25 states with the largest numbers of Black women and Latinas who work full time, and in all 435 congressional districts. More information is available at NationalPartnership.org.

Submitted by The National Partnership for Women & Families a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family.

TBI marks 25th anniversary of ‘top 10 most wanted’ program

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will mark the 25th anniversary of its successful ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ program.Launched on May 5, 1993, the program harnesses the TBI’s relationship with the media and the public to bring attention to dangerous fugitives believed to be in Tennessee, while offering cash rewards for information leading to successful captures.

Since the start of the program, the TBI’s Top 10 program has contributed to the capture of more than 400 dangerous fugitives, including several high-profile cases:

· Terry Lee Charlton: The first individual added to the Top 10 Most Wanted, Charlton was wanted to face multiple counts of Aggravated Burglary. He was arrested 18 months later, after a lengthy investigation led by Special Agent Mark Gwyn, who would later become the agency’s Director.

· Margo Freshwater: The first woman added to the TBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted (in May of 2003), Freshwater escaped the Tennessee Prison for Women in 1970, while serving a life sentence for murdering a store clerk in Memphis in 1969. She was captured in Columbus, Ohio in 2002.

· Adam Mayes: Added to the Top 10 in May 2012, Mayes was involved in the murder of a woman in Whiteville, along with the kidnapping of the woman’s two younger daughters. After a five-day search, a tip from the public led authorities to a heavily-wooded area in Mississippi, where Mayes took his life and the girls were rescued unharmed.

“The Top 10 program has been an invaluable partnership between the TBI and the public. When we share information about dangerous fugitives, the public pays attention, stays vigilant, and offers tips, which can make the difference in getting these individuals in custody,” said TBI Director Mark Gwyn. “We look forward to that continued partnership well into the future.”

Currently, only one of the original individuals added to the Top 10 in May 1993 – Robert Houston – remains on the list, and efforts to locate him remain ongoing.

The public can access the full ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list on the TBI’s website:www.tn.gov/tbi.

Wild food foraging class to be taught at Farmers Market


Kyle Cifaldo and Anna Timmerman pose behind their booth at the Johnson County Farmers Market. Photo by Jana Jones.

By Jana Jones

The first class in a series of “How to” classes will be held at the Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) this Saturday, May 12 at the tent of Kyle Cifaldo and Anna Timmerman. Cifaldo and Timmerman are new vendors to the market specializing in wild food foraging products. They will highlight the medicinal benefits, traditional uses, and location of certain herbs and mushrooms. Cifaldo is knowledgeable on wild edible mushrooms and will feature the chaga mushroom. Timmerman loves to forage for herbs and edible wild plants in our Appalachian mountains known for being rich in over 100 medicinal plants and herbs. Timmerman will highlight yarrow during the Saturday class beginning at 11:30.Each month from May through October, the JCFM will host a class at various vendors’ tents to educate and empower individuals who have always wanted to know “how to make it your self”. Watch for the announcement of these classes on our Facebook page.

And since we are talking about edible foods found in our very own backyards, I will leave you with a recipe for Greek Horta Vrasta Radikia. Translation: cooked dandelion greens. That’s right! Looking to get rid of those pesky “weeds”? Choose the lushest dandelion greens that are growing in an area away from the road or any herbicides. According to Mother Earth News, fresh dandelion greens have four times the vitamin C, seven times the vitamin A, and two times the potassium of romaine lettuce. The German government has approved the leaves for use as a diuretic and digestive tonic to treat bloating, indigestion, and poor appetite.

Gather about 3 lbs of greens. This seems like a lot but they will cook down to a fraction of the fresh volume.

Simply cut the root off the plant and wash very well. Fill a large pot about halfway full of water and bring to a boil. Place the washed greens into the boiling water and boil for about 20 minutes. Drain in a colander and place in a bowl. Dress with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt or more to taste. Serve warm. Enjoy knowing you are eating Mother Nature’s tonic for liver support and cleansing, eye health, lowering triglycerides, and aiding in weight loss (source: Draxe.com/dandelion-root/).

Selecting healthy plants for your garden

Submitted by Rick Thomason, UT/TSU-Johnson County Extension Director

The best way to get high quality, healthy, and true-to-variety vegetable transplants is to grow your own. If, however, you choose to buy transplants from a nursery or garden center, here are some suggestions for selecting and caring for transplants.
Choose transplants that have a dark green, healthy appearance. Generally, shorter, thicker transplants are much better than taller, skinny plants. Vegetable plants should not have flowers, as this will add to the stress of transplant shock. Carefully remove the plants from the container and examine the roots. Healthy plants will have white roots. If the plant roots are discolored or have a brownish appearance, this is a good indication that they are not healthy. Also, make sure that the plants are free of any insect infestations or obvious disease problems. If you don’t transplant your new seedlings immediately, be sure that the roots are kept moist, but be careful not to over water the plants.

When we are past the danger of frost, you can transplant the plants into your garden. In Johnson County, I estimate our spring frost date to be around May 15th. Of course every year is different, but during most years you are safe to move the transplants outside to your garden around mid-May. Just keep check on the extended weather forecast before transplanting.

At transplanting, be careful not to disturb the roots any more than necessary. The tiny root hairs are very fragile and are very important in supplying water and nutrients to the plant. The exception would be if you could only purchase transplants that are “root bound” with a thick bundle of roots winding around the root ball. In that case, carefully unbundle the root mass, without tearing the roots, if possible.

Most transplants can be planted to a depth equal to the depth of the roots in the container; however, tomato and pepper transplants will almost always perform better if planted deeper. These transplants can be planted up to their first true leaves. The stems will generate additional roots very quickly. Deeper planted tomatoes and peppers will soon surpass shallow planted transplants, and will develop better root systems and be much healthier all season long. This also helps to make them more drought resistant in the hot part of the summer.

Newly transplanted vegetable plants should be watered thoroughly for several days to help the roots develop more quickly and get established in the garden. A diluted starter fertilizer high in phosphorous can also help with root development. Be careful not to over feed the new transplants as tender seedlings can easily be “burnt” by over-fertilizing the plants. In addition, excessive fertilization early in the season will often cause more foliage development and may actually suppress flower and fruit development.If you have hungry wildlife in the area (rabbits, deer, groundhogs, etc.), you may want to shield your new transplants with small wire cages or fencing to deter their feeding activity.

At planting is a good time to identify your plants, especially if you’re growing several varieties and you want to compare results throughout the season. Use a waterproof marker to make plant labels or paint the plant name on a smooth rock that can be placed near the plant for identification. The small plant labels that usually come with transplants will soon be lost, so make big plant identification markers now if you want to know what’s what later in the season. By keeping good notes on the performance of your vegetable transplants this year, you will have some good information to help you have an even better garden next year.

7 Childhood dental milestones that parents need to know

Just because most newborns don’t have teeth yet, it’s never too early for new parents to start a dental regimen for their baby.

“Parents shouldn’t wait until teething starts to think about their baby’s dental health,” says Dr. Jamie Reynolds, an orthodontist, national and international lecturer and author of “World Class Smiles Made in Detroit” (www.AskDrReynolds.com).

Reynolds says it is important for parents to give children a proper start if they are to enjoy a lifetime of good dental health. He offers these milestones for parents to keep in mind:

During the pregnancy

A child’s dental care really starts before the child is born, Reynolds says. Baby teeth begin to form before birth, so pregnant women should make sure to eat a balanced, nutritious diet and should get an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals, he says. They should have a complete dental exam and have any cavities or gum disease treated.

After birth, but before teeth arrive

Before the baby’s teeth have even erupted, keep the baby’s mouth clean by wiping down the gums twice a day with gauze or a moist washcloth after the baby’s last feeding.

At about six months, teeth begin to come in

Parents should start brushing their children’s baby’s teeth as soon as they come in, Reynolds says. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice on a child-sized toothbrush twice a day.

At age 3, a full set of baby teeth have probably arrived
By age 3, most children have a full set of baby teeth – 20 of them – at which point the ADA recommends upping the amount of toothpaste from the size of a grain of rice to the size of a pea.

Around age 6, most children should be able to brush on their own.

At this point, children can start using an adult-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when they brush, Reynolds says. Children should have their teeth flossed as soon as two teeth are touching. Children typically can floss on their own starting at about 7 years old.

The first dental visit

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends an initial visit to the dentist when the first tooth erupts, or no later than baby’s first birthday. From then on, parents should make twice yearly visits.

When children should see an orthodontist

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children see an orthodontist by the age of 7. Even though it may sound early, some issues can be addressed more quickly when caught early, such as issues with the growth of the jaw bone, remaining baby teeth, impacted teeth, the number of teeth growing in, and more, Reynolds says. Fortunately, he says, the majority of children this age will not need treatment.

One of the most important things parents can do is model good oral health behavior so children can see how seriously their parents take care of their oral hygiene,” Reynolds says. “It’s important that children see their parents brush and floss, avoid sugary snacks, and make regular visits to the dentist.”

Cellphones in school zones

Cellphones in school zones

A motorist uses a cell phone, before a new state law went into effect, making the operating a mobile device in a school zone illegal, punishable by a $50 fine for those 18 and older. Photo submitted by Jill Penley


By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

It is now illegal to talk on a cell phone or mobile device while driving through an active school zone. The new state law, which took effect Jan. 1, makes handheld calls in operating school zones illegal, punishable by a $50 fine for those 18 and older. Tennessee law already bars texting while driving for everyone, and drivers with a learner’s permit or intermediate license may not use cellphones at all while driving, even with hands-free technology.

“Staying focused while behind the wheel is important at all times, but especially in school zones,” said Director of Schools Dr. Mischelle Simcox in a recent statement.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the overall number of deaths linked to distracted driving decreased by 2.2 percent last. Last year in Tennessee at least 18,122 crashes have been linked to distracted driving. The state Department of Safety reported that at least 80 facilities resulted from these crashes.
In 2016, more than 24,700 crashes within the state were linked to distracted driving.

“A person may not knowingly operate a motor vehicle and talk on a hand-held mobile telephone while the vehicle is in motion unless it is being used in hands-free mode,” said Everquote, an online insurance marketplace, which published an extensive report last year based on local driving habits.

Information was gathered during 2.7 million car trips over 230 million miles by users of its EverDrive app, for customers who want to gauge and improve their safety habits. The app uses smartphone components to detect speeding, as well as signs of distraction such as phone use and sudden stops, turns and acceleration. According to the EverDrive Safe Driving Report, Tennessee ranked a dismal 32nd place in best drivers in the country. When it came to phone use behind the wheel, that ranking dropped the state to 48th, with only Florida and Louisiana fairing worse. According to the published report, 44 percent of the drives in Tennessee contained at least one distracted driving event. Greg Tramel, public information officer for the Tennessee Highway Patrol, describes an “active school zone” as “any marked school zone in this state when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation.” The active times for school zones vary but can range between the times of 7:15-8: 15 a.m. and 3:15-4:15 p.m.