Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It was suggest to me (by Sandy Lusk) to put on my doctor hat and comment on the current flu situation. First of all, the term "flu" is used to describe a lot of viruses. Influenza or "true flu" is an upper respiratory illness characterized by nasal congestion, cough, high fever and aching all over. So called "stomach flu" is not influenza and has nothing to do with this. The current illness is being called swine flu, but you do not get it from pork and it is not food-borne.

The current flu of concern is an Influenza A virus (technical term is H1N1). The biggest issue is that it is a new variation of the flu virus and most, if not all folks will have no resistance. Unfortunately, if you got your flu vaccine last fall, it will not protect you from this strain and, since it takes several months to prepare a vaccine, don't expect one any time soon.

For the vast majority of people, flu is annoying but not serious. Most people will get a fever, chills and cold symptoms for 7-10 days, then be over it. The big concern is primarily for those with other medical problems, especially the very old and very young. Flu can lead to pneumonia and more serious complications in these populations, so these patients should be especially cautious.

If you get the flu (or symptoms that make you think it might be flu), it would probably be wise to see your physician. While the vast majority of people will get better without treatment and there is no real "cure", medications are available which shorten the course and mitigate the symptoms. Also, it is important to confirm that it really is flu before treating since the medications won't work for other viruses. Finally, it is important to start the medications in first 24-72 hours and the longer you wait the less effective. Flu classically starts very rapidly, patients can go from totally healthy to feeling very sick within minutes to an hour or so. It does not gradually come on over several days.

Finally, prevention is the best cure. Wash your hands, cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, stay home from work or school if you have a fever and, as in all emergencies DON'T PANIC. While this has potential to effect a lot of people, the vast majority will be fine. There have been no reports of the virus in Tennessee (yet), though it will probably be here. Check the CDC website ( for further, more detailed information. As always, if you have specific questions related to your own particularly health, contact your physician.

I hope this is helpful. The Council has an agenda meeting this Friday, so should be back to Signal Mountain politics soon. Look for a new town website soon, too!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Well, we're back after a wonderful trip to London. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to chaperone 20 Notre Dame HS theatre students last week. We arrived on Easter Sunday. The Catholic students went to mass at Westminster Cathedral and the rest of us went to services at Westminster Abbey, the almost 1000 year old church where the Kings and Queens of England are crowned. Needless to say it was an amazing experience.

The next week was a whirlwind of tours, amazing theatre and a little shopping. I was gratified at the high quality of the youth I was with. They were all truly great kids and we had no significant problems whatsoever. Their instructor, John Lennon is truly an inspiration. His love and respect for his students is palpable and reciprocated by those students.

While I was gone, life obviously went on. I missed my first council meeting. There was a recent unfortunate incident at SMHS. I want to applaud our SM Police Department and especially our SRO, Greg Hill for their prompt and appropriate response to this incident. Considering that our police arrived just as several allegedly intoxicated students were driving away, it is likely that greater tragedy was avoided. Last year we had talked with the candidates for sheriff and with the County Commission about assigning another SRO specifically for the High School. We received the strong message that it was not going to happen. While this area is not technically in Officer Hill's area of responsibility, the fact that the Middle and High Schools are in the same building means he is frequently doing extra duty. Greg is not the kind to turn down a chance to help kids. As to why the Council decided to renew this request at this time, I can't say since I wasn't there. I think an extra officer dedicated to the High School would be ideal, but it seems clear that it is not in the budget. However, I want to emphasize that our police and SRO responded very well to this particular incident and, while I wasn't there I feel I can go out on a limb and speak for the Council in saying that I have never heard a negative word from them about our police department.

The major upcoming news will be the budget. We have a budget hearing on May 12 which I would encourage citizens to attend. This year promises to be very tight. I honestly don't yet know exactly how it will turn out. The big unknown is the Hall Income Tax. We won't have this figure until July. Expect things to be very tight next year.

The annexation case continues to wind its way through the courts. Initial proceedings have been favorable to the town. It is still primarily a lawyer battle at this point.

Most of you probably know that the School Board has accepted Tom Poteet's proposal for the old SMMS site. The town will now have to consider any potential rezoning request. We have worked hard to prepare the town for this change and, while I don't want to pre-judge anything, I am optimistic for a positive outcome for our town.

Well, that's the update for now. I look forward to hearing any responses, opinions, questions, etc. I would strongly prefer that any replies not be anonymous, but will try to reply to all.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Just a quick update to let everyone know that I won't be at the next Council meeting this Monday, April 13. I have been fortunate enough to be asked to be a chaperone for a high school theatre trip that Nathaniel is taking with Notre Dame to London, so will be gone for a week. I hope everyone has a Happy Easter and a great week.