Make a Wish

Strapped cities solicit gifts

The recession has been tough on the small eastern Tennessee city of Athens (pop. 13,000). Industry is struggling, and unemployment has hit 14%. Local tax revenues have not kept pace with inflation, and city government has had to cut back. At the same time, though, new trees have been planted in city parks, and an exercise trail has been blazed through one of them. Six new WELCOME TO ATHENS signs, adorned with shrubbery, have been erected. Total cost: $11,300.

This may seem extravagant for a financially strapped town. However, all but a fraction was donated by local citizens and...

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