County officials express opposition to student voucher bill

By Richard Rourk

A controversial bill recently passed in both the Tennessee House of Representatives and the Tennessee State Senate that would allow for student vouchers to be used in Davidson and Shelby Counties.

A school voucher, also called an education voucher in a voucher system, is a certificate of government funding for a student to attend school chosen by the student or the student’s parents. Current Tennessee House Bill 939 (HB939) and Tennessee Senate Bill 795 (SB795) propose that education funds be allocated to a voucher system.

There have been more than 50 school systems, including Unicoi County, and organizations oppose these bills. During the April Unicoi County School Board Meeting, the board voted unanimously to oppose HB939/SB795.

“I’ll tell you tonight that this bill has legs if we don’t speak out against it, and it is nothing more than an attack on public schools,” Board of Education member Steve Willis said during the April meeting.

Unicoi County Director of Schools John English recently spoke with The Erwin Record about his disappointment in the bill.

“I absolutely and wholeheartedly oppose any and all bills that divert any public tax dollars away from public education. Period,” English said. “I would say reach out to legislators and let them know how you feel about this, but having said that, many reps have said openly they were overwhelmed with emails, calls, and texts opposing these bills but voted for it anyway. So, I am not sure that makes a difference, but we have to do all we can do and that’s our avenue.”

According to English, this bill takes away from an already underfunded public school system. “Public education in Tennessee, which is presently underfunded by approximately $500 million will be even more so with this bill,” English said. “Tennessee ranks 45th in the US in public education funding, but this bill takes public dollars and invests it in private institutions, which  doesn’t have the same accountability as public education.”

English took offense to the lack of concern the representatives showed for educators.

“This is yet another example of a decision made by those not in the (teaching) profession, and most have never been, who ignored their constituents,” English said. “The gap they say they are trying to close will only be widened even further, and the lack of trust legislators have shown in administrators and public educators is very frustrating.”

English also took offense to the representatives that voted in favor of the bill, as long as it didn’t affect their districts.

“It says a lot that most who voted yes openly said they did so after assurances were made it wouldn’t impact their districts, and it says plenty about the bill,” English said. “If it’s a good thing why would people not want it in their areas? The answer is pretty clear to me.”

Board of Education Chairman Tyler Engle released the following statement to oppose the bills:

“I am writing to express my firmest opposition to the Education Savings Account plan passed by the Tennessee General Assembly’s House and Senate. As you know, the bills will now be reconciled in a conference committee. What I believe is most telling is that only a handful of the legislators representing Shelby and Davidson Counties – the only counties affected – voted in favor of this legislation.

“I have always stood for full funding of our public school system in Unicoi County and across Tennessee. The public schools do so much more than just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic today. Now, we support children in their social development, teach crucial coping skills which are often not found in the home, and create a loving, supportive atmosphere for every boy and girl, regardless of his or her starting place. It is my sincere hope that those lawmakers who voted in favor of this reckless bill will reconsider their stance.

“As students are disenrolled from the public schools, counties must make up for lost revenues. Unfortunately, this will lead to a cycle of worse performance in public schools and higher and higher taxes. Too, the household income limit of $66,000 means that the poorest Tennesseans – the very people this program was designed to assist – may become disadvantaged by it as more people become eligible.

“Further, the present bill does not require ESA (Education Savings Accounts) recipients to take the same number of tests per year as their public school peers, immediately putting public school children at a disadvantage.

Unicoi County will eventually feel the effects of this bill as public dollars (to the tune of $25 million each year) begin to flow out of the state’s general fund into the Education Savings Account system. Whether it’s through decreased grant opportunities or through increased taxes, we all know that you can’t spend more money without more income.

“The Unicoi County Board of Education took a hard-line stance on this issue at its April 16 regular session meeting. The school board passed a resolution opposing Education Savings Accounts and vouchers for private schools. The public-at-large can get involved by calling or e-mailing their elected representatives in Nashville and telling them to vote ‘no’ on any upcoming legislation related to Education Savings Accounts. If we truly wish to see Tennessee succeed, we need to fund the public school system we’ve worked so hard to build, not tear it down.

Unicoi County Commissioners passed a resolution in opposition of the bill as well during their April meeting.

“The Commission passed a resolution in opposition and I totally agree with that position,” Unicoi County Mayor Garland “Bubba” Evely, who previously served on the Unicoi County Board of Education, said. “As I understand the current bills they only pertain to the four largest systems, but that will only expand in future years. I believe that the problems in those systems should be fixed instead of taking funding from public schools.”

Unicoi County Commission Chairman Loren Thomas agreed with Evely.

“I don’t think this bill will immediately impact Unicoi County schools, but it does open the door to negatively affect funding for our school system in the future, and it was disappointing to see some of our local representatives and senators vote in favor of this bill, knowing that the school boards and county officials they represent were opposed to it,” Thomas said. “In the future, if this deal is expanded into all other Tennessee counties, it will pull a significant amount of funding away from public school systems, which will affect teacher’s pay, sports programs, and possibly increase taxes.”

Unicoi County Commissioner John Mosley also argues that the bill takes away from the funding of public school systems.

“I think it hurts public schools, and I am not for it,” Mosley said. “It takes away from the public school system, which is the heartbeat of the nation.”

One county commissioner that sees how the bill affects all aspects of public schools is Unicoi County Commissioner and high school educator Glenn White.

“Vouchers are still public money, and education is not a business. In this arena children are involved,” White said. “In my opinion, let the local school boards decide what educational initiatives should be implemented.”

White took offense to the political influence that affects public schools today.

“The influence of the lobbying machine for the testing industry has persuaded the general assembly that this is the only way of accountability, which is ridiculous,” White said. “All students in high school should not be required to take the ACT test, this test is primarily for those students who plan on a four-year college education, whereas, a young man who plans on being a welder, should not be tested in this area.

“There should be two exit tests, one the ACT, then the other a CTE (career technical educational) exam that exemplifies what the student has learned,” White continued. 

Unicoi County is represented in the Tennessee General Assembly by State Senator Rusty Crowe and State Representative John Holsclaw.

A Denney for Your Thoughts – Her name, like the town

By Connie Denney

We all need something to look forward to, and May should provide some pretty good possibilities, right? As I write in late April, it’s not all sun and flowers outside.

Take heart! The month of May will be made merrier by the reopening of the Unicoi County Heritage and Clinchfield Railroad Museums, located on the grounds of Erwin National Fish Hatchery, Saturday, May 19. This annual event gets the ball rolling for the season, which extends through October, 1-5 p.m. daily.

Curator Martha Erwin works to ensure there are reasons to visit the site, even if you have been there regularly over the years. This year Saturday, June 2, is a big day. Excitement is in the air as Martha talks about plans for the publisher and editor of “The Jitterbug,” quarterly publication of the Carolina Clinchfield Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society of Bostic, N.C., to be the special guest for the Clinchfield Pride Celebration. Ray Poteat also sings with the Royal Quartet from Forest City, N.C., so there will be music, along with yarn-spinning by railroad men. The Jim Goforth Hall of Fame Award will be presented during the 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. event. A hot dog, chips and drink will be available for $5. 

Martha’s current project is a shed being built to shelter a reproduction of the grill from Clinchfield No. 1, which will then be on display and available for community events. An antique road show and silent auction is on tap for July. It will be a fundraiser, more details to come.

Always looking toward the future, Martha has been involved with the Heritage Museum from its establishment in 1982, first as a volunteer, then as assistant curator before she was named curator. Expansion and improvement have been the theme all along the way, including the Clinchfield Railroad Museum opened in 2011.

Her memories of the place, though, go back to childhood. Church or school picnics were at the Fish Hatchery. She remembers “a few round ponds” built by CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) workers. At one time a pond held goldfish and one fish was given to each child. With her signature laugh, Martha said she went home with two goldfish, after explaining that she had a brother who couldn’t come.

“Many times during my childhood my eyes would focus on the superintendent’s residence known as Quarters No. 1. The Victorian house had a wrap-around porch that was surrounded by lots of maple trees. Back then it would have been beyond my comprehension to visualize that someday that very house would become our first countywide museum.”

Martha’s devotion to the museums is evidenced in many ways. Her interest in and knowledge of local history is a constant. Certainly, I’ve been known to refer a questioner to her, explaining her name’s Erwin, like the town. It doesn’t have to be a railroad question. That, however, is a topic close to her heart. Understandably so, as her grandfather, father and husband all worked for the railroad.

She’s also known for actually getting things done. Her passion fuels her success. It’s been said of Martha, if she asks you to do something, just go ahead and say “yes.”

Mary Ruth Edwards

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. Proverbs 31:10

August 7, 1938 – April 14, 2018

In memory of Mary Ruth Edwards, my loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother. Mama went to meet her Heavenly Father and her loved ones waiting on her. Mama was the daughter of the late Reverend Willie Ray and Kemmie Shook Ray. Also, she was preceded in death by her husband of fifty-nine years, Albert Edwards on April 30, 2017; daughter, Joy Diane Edwards and one son, Ricky Dean Edwards; Special “Son” as she always said, and her favorite, Darius Willis on June 24, 2016. She loved him with all her heart and he was a son to her in all respects. Also, waiting on her was one brother, Howard Ray; two sisters: Paris Cantrell and Zelda English; several nieces, nephews and many friends.

Mama worked for Morrill Motors for over forty years. Mama and daddy loved to travel and stayed on the road constantly as long as they were able. You could always find them at McDonald’s every morning with friends.

Mama was a member of Higgins Chapel Baptist Church and Order of Eastern Star #173.

Left to mourn her passing, but celebrating her new life, daughter, Linda Willis; granddaughter, Tosha Willis Erwin and husband, Jimmy; grandson, Matthew Willis and wife, Kristin; great grandchildren: Logan Edwards, Sabrina Edwards, Jefferson Erwin, Gabe Willis, Hudson Willis and arriving in October, Baby Willis; great great grandchild, Mason Ingram.

We wish to thank Erwin Health Care for all the love and spoiling her. Special thanks to Melissa, Vennie, Carla Duncan and all her nurses and CNA’s, God Bless You.

Fly high mama and mamaw, you have your wings!

The family will receive friends from 5:00-7:00 P.M. on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at the Robert Ledford Funeral Home Chapel. Reverend Kevin Laws will officiate at the 7:00 P.M. funeral service. Music will be provided by Kevin Laws and Inez Chandler. Committal service will be held at 1:00 P.M. on Thursday in the Higgins Chapel Cemetery, Flag Pond. Reverend Edward Hoyle will officiate. Pallbearers will be Jimmy Erwin, Jefferson Erwin, Logan Edwards, Matthew Willis, Gabe Willis and Lee Edwards. Everyone is asked to meet at the funeral home by 12:30 go in procession to the cemetery.

Online condolences, photos and memories may be shared with the Edwards family through our complimentary, interactive Book of Memories at

Robert Ledford Funeral Home, 720 Ohio Avenue, Erwin, is privileged to serve the Edwards family. (423) 743-1380.

Movie Night – ’12 Strong’ tells recently declassified story of soldiers

By Bradley Griffith

There have been many films, TV shows, and books about special forces, especially since September 11, 2001. Some, like “American Assassin” and “Lone Survivor,” were based on true stories. “12 Strong” is based on the true and recently declassified story of the horse soldiers who were the first American soldiers to go into battle after 9/11. “12 Strong” is now out in theaters.

Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) is a captain in the United States Army Green Berets. Just before September 11, 2001 Captain Nelson requested a desk job so he could spend more time with his family. Nelson’s second in command, Chief Warrant Officer Hal Spencer (Michael Shannon), had already turned in his retirement papers, but he quickly ripped them to shreds.

Nelson, Spencer, and the rest of the unit wanted to go to battle. It’s what they had trained for and it was their duty. They were one of several special forces units that were flown to Pakistan in the days after 9/11. Their team was selected to be the first soldiers to fight back after the cowardly terrorist attacks. Their mission, however, was incredibly difficult.

The group of twelve soldiers was dropped into the remote reaches of northern Afghanistan among mountain peaks over 10,000 feet high. Their initial mission was to meet up with an embedded CIA asset who would lead them to a remote encampment. They then met with General Abdul Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban). General Dostum was one of the many warlords that made up the Northern Alliance, who despised the Taliban and their barbaric ways.

General Dostum’s job was to get the U.S. soldiers close enough to direct U.S. bombers flying overhead to drop bombs on the Taliban forces in northern Afghanistan. The ultimate goal of the mission was to seize control of Mazari Sharif, a city that was controlled by the Taliban and occupied a critical strategic position. 

Of all the stories that have been told about countless daring missions and acts of bravery after 9/11, the mission depicted in “12 Strong” was among the most difficult. Twelve men were dropped into one of the most rugged and isolated regions on Earth. Their only assistance on the ground was provided by a ragtag group of soldiers who mostly spoke other languages.  The first part of the mission was convincing General Dostum and his troops to trust them, and to determine if they could trust General Dostum.

They were 12 men along with a few hundred Northern Alliance fighters and their mission was to direct bombers to kill many thousands of men and hundreds of tanks, rocket launchers, etc.  They were dropped in the middle of nowhere in hostile territory and told to find a way to make it work. And they did. The most amazing part of the entire movie is that it was all based on a true story. It’s incredible what only twelve soldiers accomplished in just three short weeks.

More than many other movies and TV shows of the genre, “12 Strong” felt authentic. I’m certain that parts of the story were dramatized for entertainment purposes, but the movie made you feel more like you were watching real soldiers engaged in a real battle to the death rather than watching actors portray soldiers for money. The movie quickly pulled you out of the theater and into their world.

Of course, it is a war movie. There are plenty of gunfights, explosions, rockets being launched, helicopters flying in and out, and many people dying. If you like war movies, you will enjoy “12 Strong.” It includes all the elements a war movie needs to succeed.

Just before the credits roll a photograph of the real men who fought this battle is shown. That photograph really drove home the point that this really happened, that these men really risked everything to battle evil and that they deserve our praise and our thanks.

• • •

Grade: A-

Rated R for violence and language throughout.

Hood’s Winks – ‘Govmint’ changes are often hardest

By Ralph Hood

As the great Will Rogers used to say—“Well, all I know is what I read in the papers.”

In the last week I read a newspaper story that just amazed me—or would have amazed me if I hadn’t seen our govmint in action heretofore. It seems that a law was enacted last year that prohibited Erwin’s NFS from using force to protect the company from evil folk. Hey, folks, we’re not talking about a coffee shop here; we’re talking about NFS, the company that provides nuclear fuel to our govmint. Surely NFS should have a right to protect that product from the bad guys.

Then, lo and behold, after they enacted that rule, they discovered the blunder. NFS was supposed to have the right to use such force. Somebody goofed!

Now remember, this was last year. I don’t know exactly when last year, but sometime last year. That’s a long time to ignore such a critical error.

Well, I thought, I bet they jumped on that goof up and changed it quickly!

Wrong! At the time I read the story last week, our esteemed govmint still hadn’t corrected the mistake!

Can you believe it? I can, because this is not the first such error. How many of you remember the public fussing loudly about the income tax “marriage penalty”? As I remember it, two married people paid more income tax than two single people who had the same income. We were thus penalizing married people and rewarding people who don’t marry.

People fussed and moaned and the govmint dithered and dawdled. I guess they finally fixed that problem, but I don’t remember when. Seems to me that we fussed about it for years.

OTOH, the govmint sometimes passes a law, then leaves it in force too long. For one example, in the U.S.A. we started using catalytic converters, by mandate, in 1975. We’re still using them today to lower the danger from exhaust systems.

Even if it was a good law in 1975, we have to wonder if that mandate is still the best way to clean up exhausts after all these years.

Maybe. Maybe not.

Just imagine that a brilliant auto engineer discovers a way to replace the catalytic converter with a new gadget that is cheaper and more efficient. Would his boss remind him that the law mandates the catalytic converter? Or would his boss decide to fight the legal battle for years, at great expense, in order to replace the catalytic converter with the new device?

The same story is true whenever we mandate a solution, instead of mandating results and leaving the solutions up to the competitive marketplace. The same is true when the govmint mandates anything that allows only one way to—as we used to say—skin a cat.

Maxine Masters

MastersOn the last day of January 2017, we lost our beloved mother, Maxine Masters. She had 83 year s in this world. She was born September 6, 1933. She lived most of her life in Erwin. She passed away in the loving home of her daughter, Leslie. We would say that she lost her battle with cancer. She would say that she has arrived in her eternal home surrounded by the glory of God.

Mom was a person of beauty and strength. Mom had a contagious smile that would light up any room. Mom was devoted to her family. Mom tirelessly cared for all of us. A woman of faith and that faith never faltered. Mom loved Jesus and people, opening her heart and home and always greeted them with a hug. Mom always found the good in everyone. Mom loved flowers. My sister, Leslie tells me her favorite was daisies, but I hope she also loved the roses that I planted in her back yard.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Michael R. Masters, whom she adored. Also her mother Wilsie Guinn who was an inspiration herself. And her brother Edwin Guinn who had only but a short time in this world.

She is survived by her five daughters who are heartbroken: Mary Lynne May and husband, Mike of Erwin, Donna Hudgens and husband, David of Abingdon, VA, Joy Tipton of Erwin, Leslie Stevens and husband, Craig of Kingsport, Christen Wilson of Erwin; I hope her grandchildren: Shelley Edens, Mary Anna Peterson, Shawn Simons, Porsche Rice, Brandon Bradley, Taylor Ramsey, Shiann Stevens, Averi Stevens, Jude Stevens, Heath Wilson, Dustin Edwards and Trinity Wilson; great grandchildren: Sydney Edens, Gracie Edens, Linnie Edens, Alexandra Peterson, Ryan Peterson, Ethan Peterson, K. J. Koester, Lexus Keever and Gabbie Bradley and great-great grandchild, Ki Koester, will know how much she loved them.

It’s hard to say goodbye to her. We can’t imagine life without her. We thank God that she was our mother and for every minute we had with her. She truly gave much more than she took. We will be lost without her grace to help us find our own. She will be forever in our hearts.

The family will receive friends from 6:00 P. M. until the hour of service on Friday, February 3, 2017 at the Robert Ledford Funeral Home Chapel. Family and friends will celebrate her life at the 8:00 P. M. funeral service. Music will be provided by Inez Chandler. Family and friends will serve as pallbearers. Committal service will be held at 11:00 A. M. on Saturday, February 4, 2017 in the Evergreen Cemetery. Those wishing to attend are asked to meet at the Robert Ledford Funeral Home by 10:30 A. M. Saturday to go in procession to the cemetery.

Flowers will be accepted, those wishing may make memorial contributions in memory of Maxine Masters to the following: Lamplight Theater, 140 Broad Street, Kingsport, TN 37660; St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memorial Dept., 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105; Autism Society of East TN, 123 Center Park Drive, Suite 211, Knoxville, TN 37922;;

“Do not let your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-6

Online condolences, photos and memories may be shared with the Masters family through our complimentary, interactive Book of Memories at

Robert Ledford Funeral Home, 720 Ohio Avenue, Erwin, is privileged to serve the Masters family. (423) 743-1380.

Gladys Pate Adkins

gladys-adkinsGladys Pate Adkins, age 88, of Erwin, passed away on Sunday, December 25, 2016 at Home, surrounded by her loving family. Born on August 25, 1928, Gladys was a Daughter of the late Zeb and Carrie Tipton Pate. She was a member of the Erwin Church of God. She worked for 10 years at the former Industrial garment. She loved to raise a garden and she loved her flowers. She also loved to read, spending time with her family and visiting and talking to everyone who visited with her.

In addition to her parents, Gladys Pate Adkins is preceded in death by her husband, Dewey Adkins, Sister, Kathleen Kenney, Brothers, Sam, Jerry and John Pate, half-brother, Zeb “Butch” Pate.


Gladys Pate Adkins has left behind to cherish her memories:

Sons:   Richard Adkins, Terry Adkins and Willard Adkins and his wife Pat, all of Erwin;

Daughters:       Kathy Hardin and her husband Howard of Erwin, and Joann Patton and her husband Bobby of Phoenix, AZ;

Brothers:         Henry Ford Pate of Unicoi, J. M. Pate and his wife Carolyn of Erwin;

Half-sisters:     Helen Staub, Jessie Klunk, and Nadine Naugle, all of PA;

Half-brother:   Jake Pate of NC;

Granddaughters:          Myranda, Jennifer and Chelsy;

Several Nieces and Nephews.

The family would like to offer special thanks to JCMC ICU nurse Anna and to JCMC Hospice for their loving care.


A visitation period to share memories and offer support to the family of Gladys Pate Adkins will be held on Wednesday, December 28, 2016 beginning at 5:00 PM and will continue until service time at Valley Funeral Home. A funeral service to offer tribute and remember the life of Gladys will be held at 7:00 PM on Wednesday in the Chapel of Valley Funeral Home with Bishop John Edwards officiating. A committal service will be held at 11:00AM Thursday, December 29, 2016 at Evergreen Cemetery. Those attending the graveside service will meet at the cemetery by 10:50AM on Thursday. Pallbearers will be notified.


Condolences and memories may be shared with the family and viewed at These arrangements were made especially for the family and friends of Gladys Pate Adkins through Valley Funeral Home, 1085 N. Main Ave, Erwin, 423-743-9187.




Movie Night – ‘Allied’ appeals to many in multiple genres

By Bradley Griffith

It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of Brad Pitt, “Allied” is a movie that should be seen by fans of many genres. It doesn’t appeal to fans of only one type of movie, but is broad enough to combine several genres into one compelling tale.

The year is 1942 and World War II is raging across the globe.  A Canadian intelligence operative (spy) working with the British government named Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) parachutes into the desert in North Africa.  He makes his way to Casablanca, changes into a suit and tie delivered to him by a local contact, and goes in search of a woman he has never met, his wife.  At least, for the purpose of his mission, Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), will play the role of his wife.

Marianne is a French intelligence operative.  She’s been in Casablanca for months building their cover as a husband and wife from Paris.  Marianne has managed to secure a job at the German consulate.  Their mission is to assassinate the German ambassador to Morocco at a party held in his honor.  They spend ten days in Casablanca planning and preparing, and falling in love.

When the job is finished and they both make it out alive Max asks Marianne to come back to England with him and become his wife.  After undergoing a thorough background check by British intelligence, Marianne arrives in London.  The couple get married and have a baby.  Max continues with his work in British intelligence while German planes continually bombard London on seemingly every night.  A year later Max, Marianne, and their baby are settled into their home in London as a family.  They are as happy as anyone can be during the war, until Max receives a call one weekend from his superior officer.

Max is summoned to his office where he is informed that British intelligence believe that Marianne is a German spy.  They believe her to be a double agent who is sending information she gleans from Max about his intelligence work to other German spies.  Max is told that they will have confirmation of whether she is a spy in seventy-two hours.  Max takes that proclamation as a mission to prove that the love of his life in not a double agent in only seventy-two hours.

“Allied” crosses so many genres that it’s impossible to pigeonhole it into only one.  It’s part war story, love story, spy story, and mystery combined into one interesting and tension packed movie.  Max will stop at nothing to prove that Marianne is not a spy.  How could she be when together they assassinated a German ambassador?

While the movie does begin somewhat slowly with Max and Marianne getting to know each other in Casablanca while pretending that they are already husband and wife, the pace picks up considerably during the assassination of the German ambassador.  From that point forward the drama builds until the end.  Still, it’s important to know that “Allied” is not an action movie.  There are a few of scenes of action, but don’t expect a lot of gun fights or battles because it is set during the war.

There’s something about World War II that lends itself to great stories.  Maybe it’s because of the sacrifices an entire generation across the world had to make to rid the world of such evil, or maybe it’s because of the many heroic actions of soldiers and civilians alike during the war.  Whatever the reason, “Allied” capitalizes on the tension of World War II London and the suspicions of everyone that gripped the city.  The seventy-two hours that Max uses to prove Marianne is innocent is steeped in suspense and mystery that doesn’t let up until the story’s climax.

While the acting in the movie is good, it’s not a movie that lives or dies on the acting performances.  Pitt and Cotillard perform well.  But “Allied” is all about the story.  A tale of intrigue during the war to end all wars.  Thankfully for the viewer, this story is excellent.

Grade: A-

Rated R for violence, some sexuality/nudity, language, and brief drug use.

Alert regarding former contracted advertising representative

An outside contracted representative, doing ad sales for The Erwin Record, is no longer associated with this newspaper. If anyone is contacted by her in representation of this newspaper or any other newspaper affiliated with the NET group, please call the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department and The Erwin Record immediately. Do not give her information or cash in regards to advertising. For your advertising needs, contact Damaris Higgins at 743-4112.

Movie Night – ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ felt boring

By Bradley Griffith

Against my better judgment, I took my daughter to see “Kubo and the Two Strings.” My first impression of the trailer for the movie was that it looked awful.  Subsequent trailers made me think I may have rushed to judgment, that it might be decent.  I should have trusted my first instinct.

Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson) is a young Japanese boy living in a cave on a mountaintop near the sea with his mother (Charlize Theron).  A small Japanese village is nearby and Kubo visits the village every day after sunrise.  Kubo is a natural-born storyteller.  He plays a magical shamisen, a three-stringed Japanese musical instrument. The shamisen transforms ordinary pieces of paper into life-like and moving origami characters to illustrate Kubo’s stories.

Kubo must return to his mother, who never leaves the cave, every day before sundown. Kubo’s mother insists on Kubo being in the cave after dark.  She has told Kubo the story of his life many times.  She met his father while doing the bidding of Kubo’s grandfather, the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes).  She and her two sisters (Rooney Mara) were sent to kill Kubo’s father before he could find the three pieces of a set of magical armor.  Instead, Kubo’s mother fell in love with his father and made enemies of her sisters and father.

One night Kubo stays out after dark and by the light of the moon the sisters find Kubo after searching for many years.  Kubo’s mother uses the last of her magic to send Kubo far away from her sisters.  Kubo’s grandfather had already stolen Kubo’s left eye, and the sisters want his other eye.  Kubo’s mother tells him that he must collect all three pieces of the magical armor to be able to defeat his grandfather.

Kubo’s mother provides Kubo with a talking monkey to assist Kubo in his quest to collect the armor and defeat his grandfather.  Along the way Kubo and Monkey happen across Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), a man who had been turned into a giant beetle.  Beetle had lost most of his memory, but believes that he once fought as a soldier for Kubo’s father, so he joins Kubo and Monkey on their quest.

“Kubo” is a stop-motion animated film.  This means that the animation is not fluid and seamless, but is sometimes halting and jerky. As an example of this animation style, one of the most recent movies filmed this way was “Boxtrolls.”  While this type of animation is costly and time consuming, it doesn’t make for good cinema.

The basic standard for quality of a movie geared toward kids is the level of humor. If there are many laughs a movie of this type will be deemed a success no matter if everything else about the movie is sub-par.  Using that standard, “Kubo” falls flat on its face.  It’s not funny. Sure, there are a few clever moments that may elicit a grin, but there’s nothing truly funny in the entire movie.

The basic story behind the animation is decent: a young boy goes on a quest to vanquish his enemies.  One thing that makes the story unusual is that Kubo is being chased by his only living family.  They don’t want to kill him, but to take his remaining eye. The story falls flat near the end when the reason the grandfather wants Kubo’s eye is less than fulfilling.

Perhaps the biggest problem with “Kubo” is that the movie was not entertaining at all.  Many times I found myself checking the time on my watch in a dark theater.  Other times my mind kept drifting to anything other than the movie. “Kubo” doesn’t hold your attention.

In short, “Kubo and the Two Strings” is boring, uninspiring animation that doesn’t appeal to people of any age.  Save your money.

Grade: D

Rated PG for thematic elements, scary images, action, and peril.

King University to host open house June 28 for Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

From Staff Reports

King University’s is hosting an Open House event for master’s-level nurses interested in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. The event will take place on King’s main campus in Bristol, Tenn., on June 28 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in room 109 of Nicewonder Hall.

“The DNP is the terminal degree in nursing practice,” says Dr. Rhonda Morgan, associate dean for Graduate Studies for King University’s School of Nursing. “The preparation and knowledge gained in the DNP position nurse leaders to affect change in outcomes by translating research into practice and bringing new knowledge to the arena – whether it is at the bedside or the boardroom.”

King’s DNP program is a practice-focused platform, which contributes to the expansion of knowledge underlying advanced professional nursing practice. This program places emphasis on essential knowledge development in areas including translation of research into practice, evaluation of interdisciplinary teamwork for performance excellence, and dissemination of new knowledge for outcomes improvement. The program was designed using the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice specified by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

The DNP program is an online degree program which includes participation in three face-to-face colloquia at King’s Hardin Valley campus in Knoxville, Tenn. The program consists of 36 prescribed semester credit hours, 1,000 documented post-baccalaureate clinical hours, a culminating translational research project, and demonstration of identified final degree competencies. Some of the courses include Applied Statistics for Evidence-based Practice, Nursing Informatics, Leadership of Complex Systems and Organizations, and Ethical Issues in Advanced Nursing Practice.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at King University is open to qualified applicants who hold a master’s degree in Nursing from an accredited school and a current unencumbered license as a registered nurse, including practitioners, educators, nurse specialists, generalists, and administrators.

In May of this year, King University received full accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for the DNP program.

For more information, email King’s Office of Admissions at or visit

Blanche Casey Sams

Blanche Casey Sams 04 27 2016Blanche Casey Sams, age 93, Erwin, passed away Monday, April 25, 2016 in the Lakebridge Health Care Center. She was a lifelong resident of Unicoi C ounty and a daughter of the late Charles and Bessie Lee Casey. Mrs. Sams was a member of the Canah Chapel Freewill Baptist Church. She loved to make beautiful quilts and enjoyed working in her day lilies. Other than her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband Ray B. Sams on December 7, 1989; three brothers, Roscoe, Pat and Roy Casey; four sisters, Bertha Mashburn, Myrtle Richardson, Mabel Wilson and Rosa Hicks.

Mrs. Sams leaves behind to cherish her memories: two sons, David Sams and wife, Rita, Jonesborough and Travis Sams of Johnson City; two daughters, Freida Flores and husband, Fernando of Charlotte, NC and Phyllis Warrick of Erwin; eight grandchildren; four great grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews also survive.

The family will receive friends from 5:30 P. M. to 7:30 P. M, Thursday, April 28, 2016, at the Canah Chapel Freewill Baptist Church and at Mrs. Sams’ residence, 1122 South Walnut Drive, Erwin, on Friday from 12:00 Noon to 2:00 P. M. Reverend James Cambron will officiate at the 7:30 P. M. funeral service. Friends will serve as pallbearers. The Committal Service will be held at 10:30 A. M. Friday in the Roselawn Memory Gardens, Johnson City. Those wishing to attend are asked to meet at the Robert Ledford Funeral by 10:00 A.M. to go in procession to the cemetery.

Online condolences, photos and memories may be shared with the family through our complimentary, interactive Book of Memories at

Robert Ledford Funeral Home, 720 Ohio Avenue, Erwin, is privileged to serve the Sams family. (423) 743-1380.


Zelta Hensley Bagby

Zelta Bagby 04062016

Zelta Hensley Bagby, age 85, Spivey Mountain Community, Erwin passed away on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at the Center on Aging and Health. She was a li felong resident of Unicoi County. Mrs. Bagby was a daughter of the late Joe Roscoe & Lucy Tolley Hensley. She retired from Industrial Garment where she was employed as a seamstress for over twenty-five years. Mrs. Bagby was a member of Mountain Dale Freewill Baptist Church. Other than her parents she was preceded in death by her husband, Lynnwood Elbert Bagby on November 14, 1985 and one sister, Irene Tipton.

She leaves behind to cherish her memories, two sons: Lynnwood “L. J.” Bagby and wife, Kim, Carroll Reed Bagby and wife, Marsha, all of Erwin; three brothers: Kyle Hensley and wife, Carolyn, Arnold Hensley and wife, Marsha, all of Erwin, George Hensley and wife, Sharel of Green Mountain, NC; two sisters: Glasie Peterson and husband, R. L., Kathleen Cooper and husband, Wayne, all of Erwin; four grandchildren: Joe Bagby, Jill Montgomery, Melissa Edwards, Jared Bagby; three great grandchildren: Dalton Edwards, Carissa Edwards and Josie Arnold; one step-grandson, Andy Nelson. Several nieces and nephews also survive.

The family will receive friends from 5:00 P.M. until the hour of service on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at the Robert Ledford Funeral Home Chapel. Reverend Gordon Lewis and Reverend Kevin Laws will officiate at the 7:00 P.M. service. Music will be provided by David and Damaris Higgins. Pallbearers will be Joe Bagby, Jared Bagby, Andy Nelson, David Edwards, Ray Chandler and Everett Hughes. Committal service will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Friday in the Hensley Family Cemetery, Kelly Drive, Spivey Mountain Community, Erwin. Family, ministers, pallbearers and friends are asked to meet at the cemetery by 10:45 A.M. on Friday.

Online condolences, photos and memories may be shared with the family through our complimentary, interactive Book of Memories at

Robert Ledford Funeral Home, 720 Ohio Avenue, Erwin, is privileged to serve the Bagby family. (423) 743-1380.