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Our View: Bristol, Tenn. is giving aid, why not Va.?

Our View: Bristol, Tenn. is giving aid, why not Va.?

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It’s good news that the city of Bristol Tennessee is working with the United Way of Bristol to provide air filters to low- and moderate-income households affected by the stench from the Bristol, Virginia landfill.

But where is the help from the city that actually operates the landfill that is causing all these issues? Apparently, Bristol, Virginia is still more concerned with the city’s legal standing than the health and welfare of its citizens.

Bristol, Virginia, has been asked by citizens to declare a local emergency about the landfill situation, but has resisted taking that step saying they have been advised by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management that the issue does not rise to the level of a local emergency. While this may not be an emergency to city leaders, it is an emergency to those suffering from the stench of odorous gases invading their residences on a daily basis.

And while Bristol, Virginia has, and will, spend millions to try and remedy this horrible situation, they have not given a dime of aid to the citizens suffering from the effects of the city’s poor decisions of the past.

The affected citizens stand in front of the Bristol, Virginia City Hall holding signs, protesting the conditions that have been forced upon them. These are not typical activists who protest at the drop of a hat. They are not protesting climate change, asking to defund the police or demanding better working conditions. They want what most people in America can take for granted — fresh air. Many of the residents who were on the street last week came from their jobs, and took time away from their families, hoping to bring attention to their plight.

They pour their hearts out at city council meetings begging Bristol, Virginia’s leader to take some action that will make their situation more sufferable, yet all they are told is to wait. They have been waiting for almost a year now.

The stories they tell on Facebook of how they cram wet towels under doorways, put plastic over windows and doors while running multiple air purifiers all to try to keep the stench out of their homes are heartbreaking. This is far from normal. These people are in a battle with a foe they cannot see and cannot defeat and yet the city leaders of Bristol, Virginia only provide lip service to their suffering.

Not a HEPA filter, not an air purifier, not a hotel voucher has been given by the city of Bristol Virginia.

The contrast between the actions of Bristol, Tennessee’s leaders and Bristol, Virginia’s leaders on this issue has been striking. Members of the Bristol, Tennessee City Council attended the recent community meeting at the train station. They were also at the Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Train Station a couple weeks ago asking some good questions about Bristol, Virginia’s plans for how to get the smelly landfill situation under control. They have their own testing company working to see what gases and chemicals are rising out of the bowels of Bristol, Virginia’s landfill.

Bristol, Virginia leaders talk about having compassion. Bristol, Tennessee leaders are showing what compassion truly looks like.

It’s time for Bristol, Virginia to put its money where its mouth is and give its citizens some temporary aid while working to fix this issue.

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