Road sign dedicated in memory of Rachel Clawson

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff

Tears of remembrance trickled down the cheeks of family and friends of the late Rachel M. Clawson Thursday while state and local officials dedicated a road in her name beside Hampton High School.
   "We have been working for a few months in the state legislature to have a street named on her behalf," said County Mayor Dale Fair.
   Clawson was killed in June 2002 when Michael L. Burrow struck her with the truck he was driving. Summers-Taylor hired Clawson as a flagger during construction of U.S. Highway 91 while she was home from college on summer break. Burrows' vehicle swerved off the shoulder of the road and hit her. Though she was transported by Wings Air Rescue to Johnson City Medical Center, Clawson died from her injuries.
   "It is only fitting to remember a lady who was taken so early in her life from us. I live up on Highway 91, and I never went past Rachel when she didn't wave and have that smile. From now on folks that come to this facility and that go to school here will know the name of Rachel Clawson after today, because they will see this sign," said Fair.
   Rep. Jerome Cochran and Sen. Rusty Crowe attended the unveiling of the sign. Cochran said he was pleased to be involved in the project, his first piece of legislature naming a road.
   Crowe commented, "Rarely does the death of someone effect a county like it has Carter County. We got calls and letters in Nashville from so many people wanting us to remember Rachel and all the things that she had accomplished in her life."
   "It is so nice when our young people move on to work in jobs where in they're helping build their county. She was out there helping to build our county. Roads mean jobs and she was helping with that infrastructure out there," said Crowe. "I am very, very proud of what Rachel accomplished in her life and so sad that she is not with us any longer."
   The state House and Senate passed a resolution which states, "Whereas, the members of this General Assembly were saddened by the untimely death on June 19, 2002 of Rachel Clawson of the Hampton community of Carter County, Rachel, the 20-year-old daughter of Michael and Sherry Clawson of Hampton, was a 2000 graduate of Hampton High School where she was a four-year veteran of the Lady Bulldogs basketball team."
   The resolution also states, "Rachel was a beloved daughter, granddaughter and sister whose life of promise was cut short in the full flower of her youth and vitality. It is appropriate that some concrete measure be undertaken in the memory of the life of this outstanding young citizen of Carter County."
   Michael Clawson unveiled the road sign that reads Rachel M. Clawson Ave. The road connects First Avenue and Springs Street beside the high school football field.
   Crowe said following the unveiling that he is researching legislation in Tennessee and other states relating to accidents that involve work crews. "This was one of those fatalities that effected the whole county. People were calling us saying, 'Rusty you guys really need to remember Rachel'."
   He suggested that if the state is successful in making a tougher law he will push for it to be called "The Rachel Clawson Law."
   Fair said, "It is a tragedy. At least she won't be forgotten. People who come along in ten years at the high school might ask but they will find out who Rachel Clawson is, because this is a tragedy. She is doing her job and the next thing she knows she is not here anymore. I know it is some kind of finality for the family."
   Sherry Clawson said, "We thank everybody a lot for remembering Rachel. She was a big part of her school. She loved this school, so nothing can be more fitting than for it to be located here."
   Approximately 30 people gathered to watch the unveiling, including members of the Hampton Lady Bulldogs basketball team dressed in uniform.