Pam's Points: Honoring a soldier, using city clout and tallying more shootings

Pam's Points: Honoring a soldier, using city clout and tallying more shootings

July 6th, 2013 in Opinion Times

Workers and volunteers with Steps2Hope work on landscaping for Army Spc. Andrew Smith and his wife, Tori.

Photo by Staff Photo by C.B. Schmelter

A heartwarming gift

Kudos to Mark Wilson and 1,100 volunteers working with Wilson's nonprofit Steps2Hope for their amazing one-week build of a new home for Andrew and Tori Smith.

A specialist in the U.S. Army, Smith lost both his legs below the knee in March 2012 after stepping on an improvised explosive device during his first foot patrol in Afghanistan. On Independence Day, the Smiths got the keys to their new 3,000-square-foot Apison home.

Wilson, a local businessman and Smith family friend, launched Steps2Hope and took on the Smith home as its first project.

Good work, Mayor

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke has really stepped up for residents of Patten Towers who spent a month in hotel rooms after an electrical fire in the basement of the historic former Patten Hotel. The fire put a spotlight on troubles at the now Section 8 apartment house that serves mainly disabled and elderly residents.

Tower repairs at last have passed muster with city code inspectors and the fire department, but they aren't enough for Berke, who has told lieutenants that the building's residents deserve a better life.

Berke is reportedly pleased that the dirt and rodent feces were removed from the Patten Towers' air ducts, that the building's structural integrity wasn't compromised by the 1,600-degree blaze, and that the emergency exit lights are fixed and working again.

But he wants California real estate magnate Greg Perlman, who owns and manages Patten Towers through various entities, to do a lot more.

"That means living without the constant disruption of fire and police calls. It also means having access to resources that address their social service needs, and living in units that are maintained at an acceptable standard," according to a Berke spokesman.

A plan submitted to the mayor's office by PK Management, which is owned by Perlman, pledges to build a wellness center, upgrade smoke detectors, begin housekeeping inspections, hire a new service coordinator and "explore partnerships" to bring computer classes, laughter therapy, spiritual journaling, glucose testing and sobriety support to Patten Towers, according to the revitalization plan.

Well done, Mayor. Hold them to it.

More shootings

While City Council clucks about chickens, more young people are dying and being shot in youth violence around the city.

In the wee hours of Friday as July Fourth came to an end, a young man died after two were shot outside a Chattanooga event hall.

The victims were standing in the parking lot of "DA Building" at 1622 Dodds Ave. when the shooting happened around 4:50 a.m., according to a news release from the Chattanooga Police Department.

The second victim's injuries were not life-threatening. Police say the suspect fled.

The count so far this year? About 70 shootings with 87 victims, including 10 who died.

This time last year the count was 48 shootings and 56 victims.

Again we ask: When is the shooting going to stop?