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Southeast continues to see tight gasoline supply after pipeline shutdown

NASHVILLE — Gasoline remains in short supply at some stations after last week’s shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, though prices in many areas are stabilizing.

Tennessee’s average gas price jumped 18 cents last week to $2.90, with prices in the Tri-Cities among the highest in the state. The national average is the most expensive in six years at $3.04, AAA reported.

“The Southeast will continue to experience tight supply this week as terminals and gas stations are refueled,” said Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson, in a press release. “Over the weekend, gas prices started to stabilize, but are expected to fluctuate in the lead up to Memorial Day weekend.”

Most expensive TENNESSEEE gas prices

  • Johnson City ($2.95)
  • Nashville ($2.94)
  • Kingsport-Bristol ($2.93)

Least expensive TENNESSEE gas prices

  • Chattanooga ($2.82)
  • Cleveland ($2.85)
  • Jackson ($2.86)

What about oil?

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session, West Texas Intermediate crude increased by $1.55 to settle at $65.37, AAA reported. Market optimism that crude demand will recover, despite an uptick in coronavirus infection rates in some countries, helped to lift prices last week.

Prices increased after the Energy Information Administration’s latest weekly report revealed that total domestic crude oil inventory decreased by 400,000 barrels to 484.7 million barrels. If EIA’s next report shows another decrease in total domestic crude supply, crude prices could increase further.

Memorial Day travel

AAA forecasts 34 million Americans to take a road trip 50 miles or more from home from May 27 to May 31 to celebrate the unofficial kickoff to summer. That is a 52% increase compared to last summer, but nearly 9% below pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Regardless, motorists will be met with the most expensive gas prices since 2014.

“This is going to be an expensive summer for motorists,” McGee said. “However, we do not expect it to deter travelers from hitting the road. AAA finds that despite the higher pump prices, Americans still take their road trips but just may not travel as far as originally planned, or go to their planned destination and spend a little less.”

Five questions with Ballad Health nurse Marsha Rodgers

Johnson City Medical Center’s Family Birth Center Manager Marsha Rodgers has always loved working in obstetrics — after all, she’s spent her entire 40-year career as an obstetric nurse.

Rodgers, who’s managed JCMC’s Family Birth Center for the last 20 years, graduated from East Tennessee State University for the first time in 1981 with a B.S. in nursing before graduating with her master’s in 2012. Rodgers is also a mother of two, and will celebrate her 40th wedding anniversary this October.

Recently, the Press spoke with Rodgers about her career, the pandemic and the things she wants people to know about being a nurse.

What made you want to become a nurse?

I do not know that any one thing made me choose my career. I know that, from childhood, I was always enamored by watching the medical community in action when I visited hospitals and doctors offices. When I was 9 years old, my father had his leg amputated in a traumatic farming accident and was hospitalized for months at the time. The actions of the healthcare team built on that desire to become a nurse in my heart. I believe this was God’s way of preparing me for my career, as I truly believe that being a nurse is a calling and not just a job.

I also believe my experiences and sharing them with my family impacted my sister and daughter to become nurses, as well as my son becoming a paramedic.

What’s your favorite part of being a nurse?

As a staff nurse, my favorite part of my job was caring for patients and making that time of becoming a family or adding children to a family very special. To this day, I still sometimes cry at the birth of a child, because it is such a miracle and such a special time for parents.

As an obstetric nurse, we also support mothers who lose their babies and do not take them home. The compassion shown to these patients is sometimes beyond comprehension. What is even more rewarding is seeing that mother return later in life and celebrate the birth of a child who gets to go home with her.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job? As a staff nurse, it was always making the difference for each patient and meeting their individual needs. As a manager of the Family Birth Center team, the most-rewarding part is helping grow nurses clinically and professionally. Nothing pleases me more than to round on patients and have them express their appreciation for the excellent care provided by the team. I enjoy seeing new graduate nurses build confidence in their skills and eventually become leaders on their team.

What has the last year been like for you?

To say the last year has been anything but chaotic would be wrong. I had been on vacation last year the first week of March — right before the pandemic was significant in our area. Concerns for our community escalated the week I was gone and were in full-swing when I returned. Every day, we received direction and instruction from the administrative team on how to care for and handle patients admitted with COVID-19.

For obstetrics, that was a bit more challenging, as we had to plan for care of the mother and baby. In addition, care for the laboring patient was intense and required one-on-one care by the nurses. The anticipation ended when we received a call that we were admitting the first COVID-positive patient to the Johnson City Medical Center, and she was an obstetric patient. The entire team learned so much, and each of them have experienced added stress due to the pandemic, but they have persevered, and they continue to give excellent care.

What do you want people to know about your profession?

I want people to understand nursing is a calling that requires care, commitment, compassion, flexibility and professionalism. Balancing these characteristics is becoming more difficult, as health is becoming more difficult. The shortage of nurses is complicating the ability of nurses to provide the care they want to give.

Regardless of the difficulty we face, this is the most rewarding profession anyone could have.

In this June 29, 2020 file photo, the Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Science Hill senior speaker Preston Trent: It's important to take risks

When senior Preston Trent heard that auditions to speak at Science Hill High School’s graduation were coming up, he instantly knew he had to sign up.

“There are so many things that the senior class looked forward to this year that had to be changed or canceled due to the pandemic,” Trent said. “The graduation ceremony is something I used to take for granted, but now appreciate so much more. I knew that I wanted to be part of it.

“I have one chance in life to do something like this.”

Trent will be one of roughly 460 students graduating during the school’s ceremony on Friday, May 28, and during his speech, he plans to applaud the perseverance of the Class of 2021.

The Johnson City Press recently asked him about his plans after graduation, his advice for middle schoolers entering high school and the most important lesson he’s learned during his time at Science Hill.

As senior speaker, what message are you hoping to deliver to your fellow graduates?

As senior speaker, I am hoping to deliver a message to my fellow graduates that says, “This is our story.” I am hoping they leave the ceremony that night remembering what all they have lived through and how they have overcome it. With the pandemic, my classmates and I shared a unique experience that made us closer.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your high school career?

The most important lesson in high school that I have learned is to take risks. Put yourself out there and try new things. If you are not willing to take on any challenges, then how are you improving yourself? I was fortunate to have many opportunities for growth as drum captain for the Science Hill High School marching band. I would like to thank the percussion instructor, Dan McGuire, for his leadership and for being my mentor in music as well as life.

What advice do you have for middle schoolers getting ready to enter high school?

My advice for those moving up from middle school is to get out of your comfort zone. Be open to getting the full high school experience. You need to push yourself to do things you think you can’t do … but you really can do it. Take classes that you have to struggle to earn an “A” or maybe even a “B.” I encourage everyone to take an honors or an AP class. Join some clubs and after-school activities or try out for sports. Do more than just show up. It sounds scary but you will be surprised what you can do.

What are your hobbies outside school?

Outside of school, I enjoy playing basketball with my friends and working out. I have a great job at Belk. I love to cook thanks to the amazing Sasha Johnson, my culinary instructor at Science Hill. Drumming is also a passion of mine. Something about making obnoxiously loud noises for hours on end is really fun.

What are you planning to do after you graduate?

After high school, I plan to attend ETSU and major in business management. I have taken dual enrollment classes throughout the past year, so I already have some of my required classes out of the way. My long term goal is to get obtain my MBA and start my own business.

Travis Whitson

One ACRE Cafe to reopen its dining room to patrons

West Walnut Street café will continue to offer take-out meals as well

One ACRE Café, 603 W. Walnut St., will reopen its dining room to the public on June 1.

Officials with the community eatery, which has offered curbside service since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of its dining room on March 18, 2020, say they are excited to welcome patrons back into their dining room.

“We are absolutely ecstatic to have people back under our roof to share a meal and fellowship,” Ashley Cavender, the volunteer and development coordinator at One ACRE Café, said Monday.

Cavender said the staff will be wearing face masks inside the building and the restaurant is “respectfully requesting” that patrons do the same out of courtesy for their fellow diners.

She said the café will still have social distancing and sanitizing protocols in place and asks that the community “be patient as we transition to dining room seating.” As a result, One ACRE is not taking booked parties or large groups at this time.

Cavender also said take-out meals will still be an option.

The café opened in 2013 to address hunger and food insecurity in the community. It uses a model created by the One World Everybody Eats Foundation.

The restaurant’s menu includes suggested donation amounts for those who can pay or pay it forward. It also relies on donations and volunteer support from area churches and civic clubs.

Since closing its dining room last year, One ACRE has provided free curbside meals in the restaurant’s parking lot. On June 1, it will resume dine-in services weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a limited menu.

One ACRE will bring back the portion sizes of small, medium and large at suggested donations of $5, $7 or $9 dollars. For customers who are unable to pay for their lunch, One ACRE provides them with the option to volunteer at the café to cover the cost of their meal.

Children will continue to be able to eat for free.

Cavender said volunteers continue to be an essential part of One ACRE’s day-to-day operations. She hopes many of the volunteers who have helped the café during the pandemic will continue to do so as it transitions back to dining room service.

Additional volunteers will be phased in as the transition to dine-in service progresses. For more information about volunteering, contact Cavender at volunteer@oneacrecafe.org or call 483-0517.