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2016 BRINGS TRAGEDY TO TENNESSEE WITH WILDFIRES AND FATAL SCHOOL BUS CRASH

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2016 was a year of great tragedy in Tennessee, but it also signified a time of working together for the greater good. In late November, wildfires, seemingly set by two juvenile boys, got out-of-control and burned through the area in and around Sevier County. Thousands of acres were destroyed in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park resulting in 14 deaths, over 200 injuries and over 1400 structures either being burned to the ground or damaged. In a great show of compassion, Dolly Parton created a special “My People” fund and hosted a telethon in order to help assist those in the area that lost everything in the devastation. In late November, six children lost their lives in a horrendous school bus crash in Chattanooga. Several other students onboard the bus were also injured after the driver of the bus, Johnthony Walker, allegedly crashed the bus because of speeding. He is charged with six counts of vehicular homicide. 2016 was an election year and Tennesseans voted to see change in the country by backing Republican Donald Trump for president. The University of Tennessee’s Coach Emeritus Pat Summit lost her battle with Alzheimer’s disease, while the university also reached a $2.5 million settlement with eight women who claimed the school promoted a “hostile sexual environment.” And in Nashville, legislation proposing to make The Bible the state’s official book, and allowing transgender bathrooms in schools failed, while approval was given for counselors to turn down patients because of religious reasons or sexual preference.

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