CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Conservationists have built an artificial bat cave deep in the Tennessee woods to see if it can be a blueprint for saving bats who are dying by the millions from a fungus spreading across North America.
The $300,000 project by The Nature Conservancy is believed to be the first manmade hibernating structure for bats in the wild. Unlike natural caves, it will be cleaned annually to keep the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome from reaching lethal levels.
“We talked with other people, waiting for one of them to call us crazy and no one did,” said Gina Hancock, director of the Tennessee chapter of the conservancy.
Two of the three candidates opposing state Rep. David Hawk in this summer’s Republican primary acknowledge they had no plans to enter the contest until the incumbent was charged with domestic assault on his wife.
But now that the race for House District 5 is underway, all the candidates say that’s not really an appropriate topic for campaign discourse. Hawk says his attorney has advised him not to talk about the pending case. His challengers say, more or less, that they don’t need to bring it up.
Greeneville businessman Hawk, 44, has spent 10 years as a lawmaker and says the experience and relationship gained over that period warrant reelection to another term. In a speech to announce his candidacy, he declared “I’m the same person now that I was when you re-elected me four times.”
Hawk was charged in March with assaulting his wife, Crystal Goan Hawk, an attorney who is also president of Greene County Republican Women. According to the Greeneville Sun, Crystal Hawk has declared the organization will fully support the Aug. 2 GOP primary winner in the general election.
Hawk’s primary opponents are:
-Duncan Cave, 34, an attorney who works in a law firm with his father and two brothers. “My basic policy stand is deregulation for the government,” he said, adding this could include easing or eliminating state licensing for some professions and turning more decision-making over to city and county governments, perhaps even on matters such as gun control.
-Ted Hensley, 59, a county commissioner and real estate broker who characterizes himself as a “constitutional conservative” who feels political parties “are keeping us divided, stoking the fire to keep us divided” in situations where “working together” would better serve the public interest. Hensley also said he felt “compelled” to run, believing the nation is “under attack, not just from outside but from within.”
-Bradley Mercer, 30, an attorney who served as a legislative intern and worked two years with a Nashville lobbying firm before going to law school. That background gives him the needed experience for legislating, he said, and he entered the race because of a concern that Hawk, if the Republican nominee, could lose in the general election.