You folks that have visited my site in the past know my position on the AMA but this is an exception.
I have been following this story for awhile and it is just another injustice done to the biking
community. I would strongly urge each and everyone of you to contribute to this fund. If you are
not an AMA member drop a note to them with your contribution and let them know you support this
even though you are not a member.
The following is taken from the AMA's 'American Motorcyclist' magazine, November 1999.
An Outpouring of Support
AMA members give generously in memory of Terry Barnard
A couple of months ago, the AMA went out on a limb in Tennessee. We wanted to
take action in response to the state's decision to name a highway after a deceased
senator who was involved in a hit-and-run accident in which AMA member Terry
Barnard was killed.
We thought it was insensitive and just plain wrong for the state to name a highway,
of all things, after a convicted hit-and-run driver.
So when we learned that a couple of billboards were available along U.S. Route
321 in Blount County, Tennessee, the very road where Barnard lost his life in
October 1996, the AMA quickly wrote a check to rent both of them in his memory.
We figured that if a nearby stretch of Interstate 140 south of Knoxville was
being designated the "Sen. Carl 0. Koella Jr. Memorial Highway," in memory of the
state's hit-and-run senator, it was up to us to remember his victim. Since August, our
two billboards have declared U.S. 321 the "Terry Barnard Memorial Highway."
The opportunity was there, and we took it. Then we asked if you'd be willing to
send a donation to help cover the cost of the billboards.
There was a certain amount of risk involved, since billboards in prime locations
aren't cheap. But we counted on your support.
The response has surpassed even our expectations. The first check arrived at
the AMA office on August 10. As this story was being written in mid-September,
total donations for this cause already had exceeded $10,000.
Donations have ranged from $2 to $500. They've come from individuals,
families, riding clubs and motorcycle businesses. They've come from motorcyclists
all over the United States and a few foreign countries.
"It's extremely gratifying," says Greg Harrison, vice president of communications
for the AMA. "The stories we'd run on this issue had gotten a tremendous
response, but we couldn't be sure what would happen when we put money on the
line. As always, AMA members came through."
It's clear from the letters we've received that you share our outrage over this situation.
Right from the beginning, it was like something out of a nightmare. Barnard
was traveling down Route 321 on a fall-color tour through the Smoky Mountains
when Koella turned left in front of him. Barnard's bike hit Koella's van, then caromed
into a car stopped behind it. Witnesses said that while Barnard lay
dying by the side of the road, Koella stopped, got out of his van, looked
around, then drove off.
By pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene of a
fatal accident, Koella avoided a more serious felony charge, and he ended up being
sentenced to pay a $2,500 fine and perform community service.
It seemed grossly unfair that Terry's family should lose a husband and brother,
while the man responsible got off with a slap on the wrist. But then Tennessee
officials found a way to make that worse.
After Koella himself died of complications following heart surgery, his
successor, Sen. Bill Clabough, pushed a bill through the Tennessee General
Assembly to honor him with his own memorial highway.
"At first," wrote J. R. Crockett Jr. of Las Vegas, one of the hundreds of
contributors to the billboard fund, "I thought it was someone's idea oi very dark,
Crockett's own father-in-law was killed in an accident involving a well-connected
individual, so he well understood the pain experienced by the Barnard family.
"I am amazed that the great state of Tennessee could even consider the
possibility of giving Koella's name a place of honor on this highway."
Sally and Bob Reinhardt of Scoot-Tours, a national association of scooter
riders, sent in a check from money raised at the group's national rally.
"This slap in the face to Terry Barnard and all motorcyclists cannot be allowed to
stand," they noted in a letter accompanying their generous donation.
Bob Ladd, president of Shenandoah Harley-Davidson ofWaynesboro,
Virginia, sent a check and a letter stating that he, like many other motorcyclists,
is looking for places other than Blount County, Tennessee, for his upcoming rides.
Because of their donations, and many others, the AMA is stepping up its
campaign in Tennessee. We've committed to renewing the two billboards on U.S.
321 when the current rental period expires. And we're adding a third
billboard on Alcoa Highway near Interstate 140, the road the state has
dedicated to Koella.
At this stage, the Koella highway signs haven't gone up. So for right now, our sign
near Interstate 140 urges drivers to "Watch for Motorcycles" in memory of Terry
Barnard. That message could change, however, if and when the Koella signs are
All three billboards include the AMA's website address --www.ama-cycle.org--
so that passing motorists and voters can find out more about this issue.
"Our goal is to keep the Koella highway signs from ever being erected," says
Harrison, "With the money we've received so far, we can commit to keep up the
pressure for months to come. But we're hoping to keep it going even longer."
If you'd like to add your contribution to that effort, send your donation to:
AMA Billboard Fund, 13515 Yarmouth Drive, Pickerington, OH 43147.
And if what you've read here leads you to think that a gross injustice is under way
in Tennessee, we'd urge you to set down your civil thoughts on the issue and send
Sen. Bill Clabough, 309 War Memorial Bidg., Nashville, TN 37243-0001
Gov. Don Sundquist, State Capitol, Nashville, TN 37243-0001