McMinnville officials seemed more than willing to consider naming Beersheba Street Bridge for fallen soldier Jeremy Brown after listening to a heartfelt plea from a local resident Tuesday night.
However, the decision doesn’t start or stop there. TDOT spokesperson Jennifer Flynn says naming the bridge and the placement of plaques must go through the state.
“Your state legislators would need to sponsor a bill requesting the bridge be named after Jeremy Brown,” Flynn said. “Upon passage of the bill, the appropriate signs would be fabricated.”
Flynn says a bill was submitted over a year ago and has been making its way through state channels.
Tennessee House Bill 2118 requests “TDOT to identify an appropriate bridge or section of highway in Warren County to be designated as the Jeremy Brown Memorial Bridge or the Jeremy Brown Memorial Highway as appropriate.”
Local resident Angela Cunningham said yesterday she obtained over 1,000 signatures on a petition which called specifically for the new Beersheba Street Bridge to be named after Brown. She presented most of the signatures to the full board Tuesday night.
“I feel this is something we should do,” Cunningham said. “Please consider this.”
Mayor Norman Rone voiced his support.
“I’m sympathetic when it comes to this and I feel the same way,” Rone said. “I don’t get the final say, however. I will get the ball rolling on this.”
After the meeting, other board members expressed their support.
“I would like to see this done,” said Alderman Junior Medley. “I think everyone on the board is in support of it. I don’t think you will find anyone who isn’t.”
This is the second time since bridge construction began the idea has been under consideration, says Medley.
“When we first discussed this, I had a few members of the community comment that it shouldn’t be just Jeremy. Maybe Jeremy Brown/Veterans Bridge, and that we should place a plaque where names of other fallen soldiers could be added. I like that idea. I spoke with Jeremy’s parents at that time and they were in support of it.”
The measure was also shown support from Alderman Billy Wood and Vice Mayor Everett Brock.
“I think this is a way of showing respect to the Brown family and showing respect to a fallen hero,” said Wood. “I think we should definitely do this. I also think a plaque would be a good idea.”
Brock voiced hesitation about naming it “Veterans Bridge.”
“I’m for naming it after Brown,” he said. “Someone suggested to me we name it Veterans Bridge to honor all veterans, but we already have a Veterans Bridge. It’s beside the VFW. I’m all for it being Jeremy Brown Bridge with a plaque placed for other names.”
Alderman Clair Cochran and Jimmy Haley echoing the sentiments of Wood and Brock. Alderman Rick Barnes could not be reached for comment.
Rone says he will have staff work on a resolution that will request the new bridge be named after Brown. If the resolution is accepted by the board, he will have it sent to state officials.
“I want them to know we are in support of the bridge being named after Brown,” Rone said. “With that in hand, they usually name it what we want to name it. We may be too late for this year. It might be next year before we know.”
Once the proper procedure has been followed, TDOT will make, place and cover the signs until state and local officials can hold a dedication ceremony for the unveiling. The current bill did not include the placement of a plaque.