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October 3, 2006

Plentiful sunshine fell on the group celebrating National Public Lands Day and the opening of Riverwoods State Natural Area on September 29, 2006. Participating in the ceremonial grand vinecutting were (l-r) Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy, Memphis Garden Club Environmental Chairwoman Jeanne Arthur, Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke, Memphis Garden Club President Joy Doggett and Garden Clubs of America President Nancy Godshall who had traveled from her home in Houston, Texas to be part of this event.
September offered great opportunities to see a variety of department activities in the field. I traveled with Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely and new Personnel Commissioner Deborah Story to Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville and Jackson as we met jointly with TDEC and TDOT staff from those regions. These trips provided the chance for commissioners to hear directly from employees while sharing updates on key priorities within each department. It was also helpful for me as I was able to spend quality time with Commissioner Story. Deb was named Personnel Commissioner earlier this year, and I am delighted she has joined Governor Bredesen’s Cabinet. She is already hard at work getting to know the people and issues of state government. I look forward to building an even stronger working relationship with the Department of Personnel in the months ahead.

I traveled to every region of the state in September. Along with the TDEC-TDOT meetings, I made the journey to David Crockett State Park in Lawrenceburg to join local business leaders and friends as we discussed the new deluxe cabins that will be built there in the near future. I also made a trip westward to visit with park staff at Chickasaw in Henderson and T.O. Fuller staff in Memphis. Whether it’s Park Manager Ronnie Douglas’ successful Turtle Patrol and Rescue program or PGA Golf Professional John Willoughby’s popular golf events, I always enjoy getting down to T.O. Fuller State Park. This past weekend I was also in Shelby County to celebrate National Public Lands Day by opening Riverwoods State Natural Area with the City of Germantown, the Memphis Garden Club and the Wolf River Conservancy.

Head Golf Professional John Willoughby and Commissioner Fyke at the Annual T.O. Fuller State Park Golf Course Volunteer Tournament. These volunteers have worked with the Friends of T.O. Fuller State Park to add meaningful additions to the park and golf course, including scoreboard, tee markers, golf course entrance sign and main park entrance sign. “This tournament is a great way for T.O. Fuller and myself to say thanks to our many volunteers,” said Willoughby. “We would not have such a popular and successful golf course and park without them.”

I didn’t need to leave Nashville for one of September’s most interesting events. The Middle Tennessee Regional Environmental Forum partnered with others to host world-renowned architect and thinker, William McDonough, at Vanderbilt University on September 26. I truly enjoyed hearing McDonough share his experience and vision for a more sustainable world. I hope our community will build on the enthusiasm that was demonstrated by the overflow crowd that came to hear about the numerous benefits arising from more thoughtful, environmentally sensitive design.

Speaking of positive energy, I want to note that October is Energy Awareness Month. More specifically, October 4 is “Change a Light” Day across the nation. I am joining Governor Bredesen and other state leaders in encouraging Tennesseans to participate in the Energy Star “Change a Light, Change the World” campaign. Governor Bredesen is asking all Tennesseans to join him by taking the Change a Light Pledge to replace at least one incandescent bulb with an Energy Star qualified light bulb. Energy Star qualified light bulbs use at least two-thirds less energy than standard bulbs and last up to ten times longer.

Switching to energy-efficient lighting is a simple step we can each take to make a difference for our energy resources and our environment, all while saving money on energy bills today. To find out more about the Change a Light pledge, visit to complete the online form and join other inspired individuals across the nation committed to saving energy.

I appreciate the various ways department staff support education and outreach on topics like energy efficiency and natural resource conservation throughout the year. Helping people understand how their daily choices impact our shared environment is critical to creating the kind of sustainable world we want for today and for future generations.