Taking Notes: Homecoming brings week of themed events to UCHS

UCHS is looking forward to one of the most exciting events in high school. We are getting ready for Homecoming. The actual night will be Friday, Oct. 12th, beginning at 7:30 p.m., when our Blue Devils take on the Sullivan East Patriots.
But the festivities will start much sooner. Our wonderful planners, the Senior class officers and sponsors, have a full slate of activities that will kick off on Monday when we return to school following Fall Break.
We have already started with door decorating. The theme for homecoming this year is “Fairytales” and the entryways to our classrooms are taking shape.
The door of the art room sports a frog on a lily pad. An unfinished doorway of a different classroom is very mysteriously done completely in black with a red slash down the center. Who knows what that might become? We can only wait and see.
One of our most popular activities during Homecoming is dress-up. Students and teachers alike enjoy becoming someone else for a day.
Monday is Character Day. Students are encouraged to dress as their favorite character from movies, books, athletics or anywhere else.
Tuesday is the ever popular Decade Day. Fashions from the 50s and 60s are usually the most popular, but the 20s may also make an appearance. Wonder if Mr. Joey Lewis will be a hippie once again?
Superhero Day is on Wednesday. Superman? Wonder Woman? The Green Lantern? Only the Phantom knows!
Thursday should be a highlight as it is Royalty Day. I already have plans to wear my tiara. Then, of course, Friday is Blue and White Day in support of our Blue Devil team.
As much fun as all of this is, our Homecoming Pageant is always a big part of our celebration. Come out to the auditorium Thursday night to meet our lovely ladies and their handsome escorts. Cost is $5 for adults and $3 for students.
Thursday morning, the student body will have the opportunity to attend an encore performance of the pageant before returning to homeroom to vote. The queen and her court will be announced at the game Friday evening.
All of this makes for a very full week, but we have even more. There will be a sock hop on Tuesday afternoon during school and tailgate party Tuesday night. And it wouldn’t be Homecoming without a parade. The parade will leave the Food Lion parking lot at 5:45 p.m., so make sure you get into town and nail your spot down so you can catch all the candy thrown by our homecoming queen candidates.
Then we’ll see you at Gentry Stadium to help us cheer on our Blue Devils and crown our queen. It should be an exciting evening. Go Blue!

By Vicky Livesay

Teach children before it’s too ‘late’

Our first bell at UCHS rings at 7:30 a.m. For students who are present, this allows plenty of time to go to lockers so they can grab that first period textbook, stop by the restroom, say hello to the variety of friends they pass in the hall and still make it to class before the 7:45 late bell.
And yet, each morning as I stand in the hallway I see 20 or more students walking through our doors at 7:50, 7:55 and 8. Many times they arrive with friends. It’s not unusual to see them carrying a fast food drink cup and a biscuit. When I tell them they’re late and to hurry to class, they’ll often grin and tell me they need to stop at a locker then the bathroom first which makes them even later.
A student who is 10 minutes late every day will miss approximately 30 hours of instruction during the year. Thirty hours. That’s twenty class periods, which is equal to a full week of school. Yes, students who are late or absent can copy notes or make up assignments but they cannot recover the class discussions, teacher explanations or group activities that make learning more meaningful.
Research shows there is a direct correlation between attendance and achievement. Every minute a student is not in class affects how well they do in school.
This doesn’t just mean at the beginning of the day either. We have four classes each day. Students are expected to be on time for each of their classes. No one class is less important than any other class. Tardiness is not acceptable at any time of the day and affects the learning that goes on in that class.
“It’s okay, I’m only missing biology and I have a good grade in there,” is not an excuse. If it’s a good grade now, it could be even better if that student was in their seat from the beginning.
One of the traits employers list as being most valuable to their organizations is good attendance and punctuality. Students may tell us that if this were a job they would do better, but the evidence doesn’t support that claim.
It seems that the traits we establish when we’re young follow us into adulthood. Late teens tend to be late adults. Students with attendance problems in school grow up to be adults who have attendance problems at work. And as we know, adults who have these problems find it difficult to keep a job.
Do you know what time your student gets to school? We often have parents tell us, “But they left the house at 7!” That may be. But it takes time to pick up two friends and then stop for breakfast. Or did you know that our 7:45 bell is actually our late bell? That’s the time we start class, so anyone arriving after 7:45 is considered tardy.
If your student is leaving home at 7:30, they may need an earlier start. Has your student brought home a discipline slip for being tardy to class? Take it seriously. Have the talk.
Good attendance and punctuality are personal traits that will benefit students for a lifetime and it starts now. Help your student have the skills they will need to be a good employee.
Teach them what is necessary to become an adult who can keep a job and provide for their family. Good attendance and punctuality are not an option. They are essential skills for life.

I’m ‘booked’ for remainder of year

Reading has always been important to me. After all, you can’t be in the newspaper business and not be informed. But, where did I miss the story about the young boy who was visiting his grandmother, decided to go fishing and found a raft?
I don’t know the outcome yet, but hopefully I will over the next few weeks. I’m counting on a fourth grader at Unicoi County Intermediate School to help me find the answer.
As if I didn’t have enough on my plate, I recently volunteered for the Erwin Kiwanis Club’s school reading program. Until recently, I didn’t realize such a great opportunity existed. The program allows Kiwanians to spend about 30 minutes per week with a student to help improve their reading skills. The students read to the adults from a preselected book.
I showed up at the office to await the arrival of my student. Would we connect? Would I know the words he was stumped on? It seems that students are advancing so much these days, that elementary school is learning what I did in high school.
He eased my doubts right away with a big smile on his face. Then he began talking and showing me the cap he had found to a small acorn. We talked of squirrels and their love of acorns. My mind was racing to the small squirrel I ran over the day before. It still sends chills over me. Those who know me will attest to the fact that I sometimes have a hard time making decisions. I, however, am a speedy decision maker compared to a squirrel. Will he go right? Will he go left? Right, left, stay, right, left, stay – splat. I made the decision for him.
After a brief acorn discussion, we walked to our small office destination, picked a chair and got on with the reading. My young student had read the book before and knew the plot, but he kept the details hidden as he began sharing the words with me. With his small finger, he followed each word. At times I helped him sound them out. Sometimes I had to explain the meaning of the word so he would get a better understanding. I even read to him at one point when he got tired.
We discussed what was taking place and he related his own real-life adventures that were similar. I could sense his pride in what we were accomplishing and the joy he felt by being able to share the story with me.
I’m not sure who benefited the most from the experience. It was a nice break to just get away from the office for a moment and it was nice to spend some time with my new friend. For a moment we were both transported to the fantasy setting of the book. It is amazing how words can be so descriptive that they paint a visual portrait for the brain.
After approximately 30 minutes we found a stopping point and came back to reality. I would part back to work and he would go back to the classroom until next week. I am anxious to see the outcome of the story and see my new reading partner again. We’ve got many more sessions left until the end of the year. I am not sure which one of us will learn the most. I can help with the words but the life lessons are so great for each of us. Who knows, maybe he will have my job someday and be providing you with the news or a personal column about an old guy that came and helped him with the big words many years ago.
As soon as we came out of the small office, I saw many other fellow Kiwanis members waiting for a space to share with their young readers. My good friend Chris Gilbert was there. He has one of the best personalities of anyone I know. He takes good-hearted teasing at nearly every Tuesday’s Kiwanis Club meeting.
As I started to leave, I saw Chris being introduced to his young, male student. “I was hoping for a girl to help me,” he said while looking up at Chris. I gave Chris a quick glance and he said, “I get no respect from any age.”

Pie offers double dose of pecans

I found this delicious pie recipe by Stephanie Tittle Stover in “Seviers Old and New Family Favorites,” a collection of recipes by Seviers United Methodist Church, Jonesborough.

APPLE PECAN PIE
One 9-inch pie crust, unbaked
1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional
6 cups apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Sprinkle pecans in bottom of pie crust. Combine apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into pie crust and spread pecan topping on top of apple mixture. Bake at 425 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes.

TOPPING:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup pecans chopped
Mix butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon until completely blended. Stir in pecans. Add to top of pie.

Until next week, here’s some Food for thought: Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 1:12

Can I have a word with you?

From the Publisher's Desk
By: Keith Whitson

Have you ever had an aha moment? It is one of those times when something dawns on you as if the light switch has been turned on and suddenly it is so obvious.
I am sure there have been aha moments since the beginning of time. In fact, Adam must have looked at Eve after they ate the forbidden fruit and said “Oh, now I understand why we weren’t supposed to eat that.”
Even though there have always been such moments, it wasn’t until this year that we could actually define it as “aha.” This year “aha moment” got included in the new 2012 edition of “Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.”
It amazes me that as long as time has been going on, we continue to have the need for new words to describe our lifestyles and our latest technology. I haven’t even gotten through the Webster’s edition from my college days and I imagine several hundred words have been added since then.
The new words are a far cry from the terms first included in the original 1806 “A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language,” compiled by Noah Webster.
After Webster died in 1843, two brothers, Charles and George Merriam purchased rights to the dictionary and began revising the edition. Multiple changes and words have been added in more than a century and some have even resulted in debate.
I work with words all the time and somewhat take them for granted. It is amazing that letters form words, that form sentences, that paint a picture for someone else to become involved with our written thoughts.
Somewhere, every word must have a birth. Someone was the first to express a sound that they called a word and defined its meaning. From that, many people have to hear it and recognize its usage before it ever is a candidate for inclusion in Webster’s.
Following are some of the other lucky winners to make history in this year’s dictionary.
• underwater – lying, growing, worn, performed, or operating below the surface of the water
I don’t know about you, but I think that word must have missed the boat many times. Ever since we have had water, someone has been under it from time to time.
• systemic risk – the risk that the failure of one financial institution (as a bank) could cause other interconnected institutions to fail and harm the economy as a whole
I am going to remember this one and try to throw it around in conversation. I am bound to look like a financial guru by using it.
• bucket list – a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying
I am going to need a mighty big bucket for my list. In fact, one of the things I better put in my bucket is to live long enough to complete my list. Is this what they mean by “kicking the bucket?” I saw where this word actually originated in 2006.
• sexting – the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone
Well I can see why this didn’t make the original dictionary in 1806. It used to be TV was the downfall of the family. Now I think it is cell phones. Usually they aren’t even used for talking but rather texting and sometimes explicit photos attached. There is very little left to the imagination anymore.
I saw a mother fussing at her son in Walmart last week when finishing his text was obviously more important than answering her question. As they passed on, another shopper looked at me and shook his head. We both agreed she would probably stand a better chance of getting a response if she sent it in text form.
• copernicium – a short-lived artificially produced radioactive element that has 112 protons
Well that could very well be in Unicoi County. However, anything with the term radioactive will not die out in debate.
• energy drink – a usually carbonated beverage that typically contains caffeine and other ingredients (as taurine and ginseng) intended to increase the drinker’s energy
I wish I could be lucky enough to look at the obvious and make money from it. Who would ever have thought we would pay the high price we do for bottled water? Now someone adds caffeine to flavored water and sells it for energy.
• gassed – slang: drunk
I guess I better think twice before saying “I went ahead and gassed up before coming to work.”
• man cave – a room or space (as in a basement) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities
I imagine that the early cavemen understood the need for such a retreat. They obviously did some serious thinking and communicating through wall drawings. It didn’t take them a dictionary filled with thousands of words to know the importance of having a man cave.
Of course, every man cave of today needs a large screen TV so we can watch Vanna turn the letters. “Pat, I would like to buy a vowel. I believe I will solve the puzzle now.”

Someone will be with you shortly

From the publisher's desk
By: Keith Whitson
As a child I often heard the expression “Getting too big for your britches.” I still occasionally hear that today but it has an entirely different meaning. I am getting to big for my britches due to less time for exercise and a love for snack foods.
However, the original expression had to do with someone that had taken on more than they were able to do. They were promising more than they could deliver.
I thought of this expression recently when dealing with a well known company that offers telephone, internet and TV services in the area. Not that I have “come casting” a bad name on their services, but I could take a much needed vacation out of the time I have spent on the phone trying to get their internet portion to work.
I could have had a minor surgery and recovered in that time frame. I could have driven to the person I needed to e-mail and given them the message directly. I could have…well, you get the point.
The original installation representative showed up right on time. He got everything going but told me I would need a router to be able to use the computer. I know very little about technical jargon, but I knew that I had a router at another location.
He assured me that all I had to do was plug the cord from his modem into my router and, presto, I would be searching the Web. Of course, it didn’t work that way. That only works in their impressive commercials, so I had to call for help.
It is amazing how the subscription end of their company evidently has the most employees working and can take your information down the quickest. I was impressed that these folks were fast on the telephone, after all, their commercials sure boast of that. I should know, I have heard them numerous times now while waiting on hold for the technical support group.
“Please hold on the line,” the recording said. “A customer representative will be with you shortly.” A definition of shortly is “in the near future.” Again, the phrase “slow as Christmas” comes to mind.
The automatic voice tried to direct me to the best department for help. I punched in my phone number. I pressed “1” that I was an existing customer. I pressed “2” that I needed help with the internet aspect. After a few more questions and button pushing, I was directed to the internet department, where I had to once again go through the entire protocol of button pushing.
I think it was all just a stalling technique to discourage some and to keep the rest of us occupied and assured that we were getting somewhere. I was now on hold for the next available representative. Eventually, I would have to answer all of the original questions again.
The company representative told me that my router wouldn’t work and she would send me another one. I was also to receive a box to return the old one. A few days later, I got an empty box at my door. Did the new router fall out before it got there? Was this the box to send the old one back? I waited. No new router showed up.
I called again and finally reached a human voice, who sent me to another department, and yet another department, and yet another and then, I got disconnected. I called back and begged the lady who answered to please not put me on hold or transfer me. I was not up for more rejection.
My stress level was high at this point. Each person I had talked to was saying I needed something different and was sending me to a different department. I didn’t know who to believe.
She made some adjustment on her end and told me my device should work now and asked me to try it. I told her that I wasn’t at home at the moment. She more or less told me that I shouldn’t have called if I wasn’t home and there was nothing she could do.
Last week, I gave it one more attempt on my lunch break. I know the pattern of numbers by heart. I could recite their hold commercials by memory. I am expecting to even start to recognize some of the staff by voice.
I got a new lady this time. She suggested I have them send me a modem that doesn’t require a router and I can go anywhere in the house with the computer. “How much more will this cost?,” I asked. “The same as you are currently paying,” she said. “Well why didn’t they just give me one of those to begin with?,” I asked. “They don’t tell everyone they have them,” she replied.
In a few days, I got another empty box at my door. This time I decided they must be holding my new device ransom until they get the old one. I took the old modem out and had to force it into the undersized carton they sent me. I taped it well and placed the return label on.
Later, when I tried to use the telephone, it didn’t work. I used my cell phone to call the company once more.
“No, you can’t use the telephone without the modem hooked up,” she said. “They should have already sent you a new one. Well, I don’t see it in the system.”
She continued to assure me that she could over-night what I needed. There was a charge of $29.99 for shipping but she could credit that back. “Well, it won’t let me credit it right now,” she said. I will have to get my supervisor to do it later.
The device didn’t show up the next day. I found out that the carrier doesn’t make Saturday deliveries. But, it is supposedly on the way. The box indicates a weight of six pounds, so at least it’s not another empty container. I expect it will be outdated at this point and I may be starting all over.

Common sense approach can save money

Taking Notes
By: Vicky Livesay
With the struggling economy, a lot of people worry about their finances. Getting loans for cars or homes has become more difficult and the title loan business has increased despite the riskiness. Saving money has never been more important – or more difficult.
Many adults and teens are coming to the realization that learning about money and how to manage it can save a lot of heartache. The State of Tennessee agrees and so do we. A one semester class in Personal Finance is now required for graduation and it may be one of the most beneficial classes we offer.
In a 2011 survey by the investment corporation Charles Schwab, 86 percent of 16-18 year-olds said they would rather learn about money management in school than make financial mistakes in the real world. Motivation is more than half the battle.
Those who are invested in learning about a topic are more likely to take the message to heart. Of those students surveyed, 93 percent also said they have seen the recession impact their own families. That is huge motivation.
So what do teens need to learn from a personal finance class? The number one thing may be the importance of saving for a big reward. Need a car? Save your money. Want an IPad? Save your money.
Having money in your pocket is tempting, so open a savings account, draw some interest on the account and – you got it – save your money. That car or IPad will still be there when there is enough money to make a purchase.
The second lesson is to avoid debt and making “accidental” purchases. Cell phones can be a danger here, depending on the plan. Running up $200 worth of text messages is not all that uncommon in this world and the excuse “but I didn’t know” doesn’t work on cell phone providers. Knowing these dangers are lurking in the real world can help prevent them.
It may seem important to have the coolest car, the nicest clothes, or the most popular shoes since “everyone else” does, but this leads to lesson number three. It’s just not that important to “keep up with the Joneses”. Teens shouldn’t let jealousy drive their purchases.
Jealousy makes it easy to break rule number two (avoid debt) and when in doubt they should always refer back to rules number one (save your money).
The final rule is that parents do know some things. Even though teens may not be clamoring for advice from parents, parents should share anyway. Believe it or not, sometimes it sinks in even when they don’t appear to be listening.
Share your advice. Share your mistakes. Let them see where the family’s money goes. Lights don’t magically come on when you flip a switch. Water doesn’t automatically pour from the faucet. Every family has bills to pay and teens need to know that.
And besides, imparting good money advice may benefit the family as well as the teen. Parents need to save money for their own retirement. Bailing teens and young adults out of financial messes puts that in jeopardy.
Mr. Joey Lewis and Mr. Doyle Phipps are working to educate your teen, but they can always use your help. Talk about money. Discuss the difference between “what you want” and “what you need”. Show them how to save money.
Having a more financially secure teen leads to being a more financially secure adult. That makes life happier for everyone.

Research rolls out results on tissue

By: Pettus Read

Each month I’m amazed at the new inventions that are introduced by news releases that come across my desk on a daily basis. Many are great ideas concerning the latest, new products that deal with things that could affect us all and some are just an old idea improved upon.
Of course, with yours truly being employed in the field of agriculture, the majority of the product pitches I receive are items that are used around the farmstead to help make farming tasks either more profitable or less labor intensive. Anything that saves chore time is always a positive in my book.
While going through a few releases the other day, my attention was drawn to one entitled, “Americans Are Wrapped Up In Their Toilet Paper.” Lately, the news from the farming community has been pretty tough and when I saw a release that didn’t deal with dead fields and lost profits it seemed to say to me, “It’s time to change your focus for a while.”
I knew America was “wrapped up” in a lot of things these days, but I never figured toilet paper was one of them. I never give a whole lot of thought to toilet paper and certainly don’t see it as one of America’s major concerns with everything else happening in this country.
Right now we are electing a president, debating healthcare, looking for jobs and watching our summer turn into a climate change junkie’s greatest wish. I’ve never considered myself wrapped up in toilet paper issues. Oh, maybe when it is too late and you notice you have nothing but an empty cardboard tube hanging on the wall, but never as having our country wrapped up.
When sales go up for this necessity room item, it does help tree farmers, so I guess farming is “wrapped” in the roll somewhere. I read in an answer page on Google that every American in the U.S. today uses at the very least 49 rolls of toilet paper a year. It said it takes 48 full-grown trees to make roughly 500 rolls and I guess the rough rolls are the cheap kind.
When you use the math, that means we use 5 trees a person a year to supply our toilet paper. Who would have ever thought that farmers are important even in the bathroom!
The release was spreading the news about a Consumer Reports study on the top 25 brands of toilet paper. They were saying one brand had beaten its closest competition by 10 to 50 points and had scored a 91 out of a possible 100. The thing that caught my attention was that the scoring was “subjected to specially trained sensory panelists.”
I have looked through numerous classified ads in my life and have seen all kinds of jobs, but I have never seen one where they train you to be a specially trained sensory panelist. I’m just glad there is someone who has the job.
I guess once you meet those qualifications you are somewhat limited, but I bet it makes interesting reading on a resume and it is one job where you finally make the cut in the end.
It seems Consumers Reports had put a lot of study into finding the winning brand. They had surveyed America and found out that 72 percent of us hang our toilet paper with the first sheet going over the roll with 28 percent hanging it with the first sheet under the roll. I just look to see if there is a roll.
They also found that 40 percent of us are folders, 40 percent are wadders and 20 percent are wrappers, with men being mostly folders. We at least do something half way neat.
The part in the survey that sort of took me back was when Americans were asked if they were stranded on a deserted island, what would they consider to be the number one necessity they would need. For the number one necessity, they listed toilet paper.
The citizens of this country put toilet paper above food and water as a necessity during a time of life and death. That may be true during survey times, but I would think when times got tough on a deserted island, food and water just might rank a little higher on the final tally.
I would like to have seen that same survey taken about 60-plus years ago when more folks had the little building out back. A certain catalog would probably have scored higher in parts of this state than the number one tissue today. I’m sure food and water would have done better.
However, the times are changing and people’s attitudes about what is a necessity have changed as well. We now find whatever we want on the grocery store shelf and have grown to expect it to be there. What once was an extra has become a necessity.
When the power went off recently in the northeast, people there found out what it was like to do without air conditioning, TV, phones and running water. Their ideas of necessities changed real fast. That’s just it, tough times can usually bring us to our senses and get us in the end.

Fresh peaches? Try this American Profile recipe …

Here’s another fresh peach pie recipe from
“American Profile Hometown Recipes,” submitted by Shelley Stoltenberg, Spearfish, S.D.
Country Kitchen
By: Brenda Sparks

SOUR CREAM
PEACH PIE
Pie Filling:
2 1/2 cups fresh peaches, sliced
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel and slice peaches.
Mix peaches, egg, salt, vanilla, sour cream, sugar and flour together. Pour into an unbaked 9 – inch pie shell. Bake for about 30 minutes, until pie is slightly brown.
While this bakes, prepare the topping.
Topping:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon with a pastry cutter, until pieces are the size of small peas.
Sprinkle topping evenly over pie, and bake an additional 15 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
Serves 8.
Tip: Pie sets up best when refrigerated. Use chilled butter to ensure the crumb topping is the right consistency.
Until next week, here’s some Food for thought: Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
James 1:19,20

Cast your vote and not a stone

From the publisher's desk
By: Keith Whitson

What has been the talk of the town for months is quickly winding down. I am talking about the election and, specifically, the sheriff’s race.
For me, like most of you, it couldn’t come soon enough. I can’t recall a race like it in my years of voting. Maybe it is just because I am more closely connected at this point due to my position with the newspaper.
I do take the freedom of voting seriously and I do feel fortunate to live in a country where individuals can run for office. But, I am sure we are all ready for this to end and move on.
During the election I have heard at times that this newspaper was biased toward Hensley and then that we were biased toward Lengel. Let me assure you, I have tried to be as fair as I possibly could.
There have been letters to the editor that I have denied completely in regards to both candidates. There have also been letters I have toned down for the sake of being liable. I don’t want to be caught in the middle and make this newspaper part of a legal battle for critical words written concerning either candidate.
It seems much of the campaign has centered around the past office and has become more or less a debate over differences there. Some still hold loyalty to former Sheriff Kent Harris while others are seeking something completely different.
I think we all can agree that we would like to have law and order in our county. We all want to feel safe and feel like our families are protected. We would like to see drugs eliminated and peace in our communities.
It is sometimes a fine line between running a good, challenging campaign with promises or focusing on the faults and weaknesses of the opponent.
I recall recently seeing a news clip of an outbreak at a Little League game in Georgia. It started over a dad playing music between innings. Another father didn’t like it and soon they were slugging it out. The video was shown far and near. It is one like many that I have seen over the years.
It is sad that too often the bad things get more spotlight than the good. It is also sad that often these are the examples left for children.
I am reminded of the many youngsters that are fulfilling their family’s wishes or personal dreams. Whether it is playing piano or playing a sport, many times the children are doing it to please the parents. It is also the parents that are taking the fun out of it by turning it into such a competitive nature. It brings a lot of pressure to the child who tries not to disappoint.
I thought of that Little League game several times recently as I watched adults verbally fight over their candidates. It seemed that the candidates themselves were more or less caught in the middle of something much greater.
I don’t know if there have been any physical fights over the election but I have heard at times that it has split the county. I hope that’s not true. I also hope that however the election turns out, we can support the winner and give him a chance.
Personally, it is not a job that I would want. Whoever is in that position puts their life on the line for each of us. It is a tiring task of being on call around the clock for whatever the situation.
Many have held that office over the years. Some have been better than others. For some reason we hear of people abusing the office all across the land. But yet, there are many who still do an amazing job.
I know of one that did in my mind, and maybe I am a bit biased after all. My dad, Bob Whitson, held that office for two terms. He was the kind of guy you just didn’t want to mess with. I think that in itself gained him a lot of respect and brought fear to those who would have crossed the line.
I feel like most of us have already made up our minds at this point who we plan to vote for. I know I have. Don’t forget to exercise that right. Let’s show support for our candidate and let’s show support for the winner when this is all over.
Give him a chance to help us have a safer and better community to live in. My gut feeling is that we will be in good hands. If you think you can do any better, just wait for the next election and turn in your papers. That’s the beauty of this country we live in.

Getting prepared helps school start smoother

Taking Notes
By: Vicky Livesay

The countdown has begun! The beginning of school is around the corner so it’s time to think about getting ready. We have several new families in our area which means new students who need to register. We also have a lot of current students who have not picked up schedules. Don’t wait until the last minute! Be prepared!
On the mornings of July 24th and 25th, we will be having a Registration Blitz! On these two mornings, we will have several people available to assist with the registration of new students. Families new to the area are strongly encouraged to take advantage of these times.
By registering before the first day, we are able to request transcripts and cut down on the time it can take to actually get a schedule and start class. Remember, we can’t generate a schedule without a transcript showing what classes have already been completed!
Students new to Unicoi County should bring proof of physical residency (electric bill, etc.), social security number, birth certificate, custody papers (if applicable), and immunization form if coming from out of state. It is also helpful to have a withdrawal form from the previous school. At this point, a request for a transcript from the previous school is sent. Please be patient while we wait for this information.
Current students who have not picked up their schedule need to do so right away. When receiving their schedule, students need to take time to look over it to make sure it is correct. If any changes need to be made, ask to see someone before leaving the school. We would love to have as many schedule changes made as possible before day one. There is a limited time for schedule changes once school has started so it is important to take care of this right away.
The first day of school will be Tuesday, August 7th. It is a shortened day with the high school dismissing at 11 a.m.. Wednesday, August 8th, is a full day of school for all students. On Tuesday, high school students will begin the day in the auditorium. We will dismiss to homerooms so students can receive important beginning-of-the-year information.
Incoming freshman will be given special instructions. Freshmen and new students are encouraged to ask questions at any point during the day as needed. Staff members will be available in the hallways to assist.
So even though the days are still hot and the sun goes down late, fall is upon us. Starting a new school year is always exciting for us as well as students. Things will go even smoother for those who start the year prepared. The time has come! Stop by and see us to register, pick up schedules or change schedules. We’ll be glad to see you.

Meteor to light up sky

In The Stars
By: Damaris Higgins

“The long-awaited astral visitors, 
Space-travelling fireflies, lost in the deep ocean of the cosmos…natural firework display, mysterious, mystic meteors, 
flashes, almost only in the imagination, an infinitesimal airforce
firing silent tracer-bullets across the wide, infinite abyss of night” – C Richard Miles
Over the next few weeks we will have the opportunity to view two meteor showers. The Delta Aquarids happen in July and the Perseids in August.
The Delta Aquarids are usually a steadily rambling meteor shower without a very definite peak from July 18 to Aug. 18. During the nights of July 28th and 29th however, the waxing gibbous moon will set after midnight leaving the hours between moonset and dawn optimal for viewing the meteor shower.
During these nights there can be up to 20 meteors produced per hour. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius. For a free printable map of the current night sky you can visit www.skymaps.com/downloads.html
The second meteor shower coming up within the next month is the more well known Perseid meteor shower with viewing dates ranging from July 23 – Aug. 22. This shower is reliable, and rich with meteors that fall in many colors. The perseids will peak on the mornings (not the evenings) of Aug. 12 and 13.
The Perseids radiate from the constellation Perseus. The Perseids often peak at 50 or more meteors per hour in a dark sky. The Perseid meteor shower is considered by many people to be the year’s best shower.
The next time we will have the opportunity to observe a 50 plus per hour meteor shower will be in December during the Geminids shower.
I encourage you to take advantage of the warm summer nights and make an event out of it! Gather up friends, family, the dog, a tent, find a spot to camp away from city lights and make some memories with someone you love, enjoying the show provided on the tapestry of the sky.

Take note of warnings on label

From the publisher's desk
By Keith Whitson

“Handle With Care.”
We see those words on so many boxes today. Even though we have been prewarned, lots of times it makes us want to shake the contents to see if what’s inside is still intact or really as fragile as the wording claims.
Often we don’t even take the wording as seriously as we should because we have seen it so often. I am afraid this is sometimes the case with life.
Last week I went to Nashville for the state press awards. Going down on Thursday, it rained nearly the entire trip. Often times, the windshield wipers could not adequately perform the task before them.
Eventually, traffic came to a complete stop on the interstate between Knoxville and Nashville. For over an hour, cars were parked on what had been a speedy connection from city to city.
It was a reminder to me of how fast things can also stop us in our tracks of life. We go at such a high rate of speed through this life, racing to get from point to point, where we anticipate things to get better. If we aren’t racing to get somewhere, we are racing to get back. But, for over an hour, I had nowhere I could go and could barely see my immediate surroundings through the heavy downpour of rain on the windshield.
Luckily for me, the awards event was not until the next day at noon. I am sure many people were delayed for things much more pressing and some may have even missed their purpose for travel altogether.
As I tried to wait patiently, I was reminded of my bigger journey in this life. Sometimes I have lost my direction. Sometimes I have taken wrong turns and caused my self much grief trying to get back on track.
There have been times that I too have been stranded, waiting for the view to become visible again and the way to clear for me to proceed ahead.
I have traveled too hurriedly through some of the most beautiful moments of my life because I thought I had to get somewhere else and did not realize the best was already around me.
Sometimes delays have been for my best, even though I couldn’t realize it at the time.
As the traffic began to slowly crawl, it seemed as if the mishap ahead had gotten some better and would soon be revealed. Sometimes in life we see what stopped us and yet other times we just have to accept that whatever it was, it was for the best.
This turned out to be a tractor and trailer wreck. The guard rail had failed to catch the large truck, leaving fate to the trees beyond. Still, the truck was hanging over the side as three large tow trucks attempted to pull it back up. As I drove past, I wondered about the driver.
The traffic congestion started to spread out again but the rain continued coming down as heavily as ever. Looking to the left, I could see another truck on its side over on the East-bound lanes.
This truck had overturned in the median, landing on the driver’s side. As I passed miles of backed up traffic, I wondered as well about the driver of that vehicle.
It was soon after, that I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed the vehicle behind me had begun to lose control. It shot across the interstate, missing traffic, heading straight for the trees along the side. With no ability to turn around, I was relieved to see that cars behind me were stopping. I continued on.
All I could do was pray for that driver, the ones before and those of us still attempting to get to our destinations. We were all at risk that day while traveling on a highway that we often take for granted. I am sure none of those drivers expected something to happen when they left home.
Last week my friend and co-worker Brenda Sparks sat with her sweet mom at the hospital after she had a heart attack. Please pray for Rosa Corn.
My cousin, Travis Chandler, had an issue where his heart had to be shocked back to life. He is in the hospital on a ventilator.
Friends at church shared prayer requests of illnesses and upcoming surgeries.
As I worked around the house Saturday, I heard a thud and looked to see a small bird on the ground from accidentally flying into the glass door.
I was once more reminded how fragile this journey is and how we shouldn’t take any part of it for granted, whether it is the beauty or the danger. Let’s remember to “Handle With Care.”

Cell phones have place in school and at work

Taking Notes
By Vicky Livesay

I have to admit, I do understand addiction to cell phones. When boredom strikes, my Tiny Tower and my Pocket Planes beg for attention.
I love to check-in on Yelp and see what restaurants have high ratings from other diners. My workout is on my phone. All I have to do is click start and it tells me when to walk and when to run.
But as much as I understand, I do also recognize there is a time and place for everything. My phone doesn’t go into church, period. At work, it sits to the side of my desk to be used only if necessary. I can step away.
We have students who can’t step away. Maybe it’s because they have friends and family members who don’t set that example or maybe they are simply addicted to the constant engagement and feedback a cell phone gives. Whatever the reason, school is a place with boundaries and consequences and we do have both for cell phone use.
There are times cell phones, and other portable electronics, are acceptable. The best times are before school, after school, and during lunch. They are also okay between classes as long as they don’t contribute to being tardy or cause other distractions walking to class. A student’s cell phone is not acceptable during class unless approved by the teacher.
There are some special times cell phones should not be used. One of those is during drills and emergency situations. In the event of a true emergency, cell phone use could cause school telephone lines to become tied up by anxious family members at a time when lines need to be kept clear. It could also cause family members to rush to the school which could cause problems getting the appropriate emergency personnel to the campus.
We know there have been times during school emergencies when the cell phones of staff members and students have been an asset. If the time came when cell phone usage could be of benefit, the teacher would be clear to allow it. The first priority, though, would be everyone’s safety.
Cell phones with cameras and recording devices on them present a special problem. Use of these components are not allowed at any time when a student could reasonably expect privacy. Photographing or recording altercations is also not allowed.
So what is the consequence for violating the cell phone policy? It’s very simple. A student phone is confiscated for a period of time. Is it worth that? Most students who have had this happen would agree it’s not.
And most students don’t lose their phone more than once. For those who do lose their cell phones multiple times, there are also additional consequences.
Once again, this is a step into the adult world. In the workplace, there are times when cell phones are and are not appropriate. Electronic devices of any kind can be valuable tools or unnecessary distractions. It is important to know the difference.
At school, you might lose your phone but in the workplace you could lose your job. For those who learn that lesson as teens, adulthood will be much easier.

Circle the table for this ‘Coffee Ring’

Country Kitchen
By Brenda Sparks

Here is another old recipe that I found in the 1956 edition of The Erwin Record.
It’s called a “Make it Yourself” breakfast ring.

COCONUT FILBERT COFFEE RING
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup chopped filbert meats
1/2 cup tender-thin flaked coconut
2 cups sifted flour
2 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup tender-thin flaked coconut, toasted
Combine brown sugar, nuts, and 1/2 cup coconut; mix thoroughly.
Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder, salt and granulated sugar, and sift again. Cut in shortening. Combine egg and milk. Add to flour mixture and stir until soft dough is formed. Turn out on lightly floured board and knead 30 seconds. Roll in 18 – by – 9-inch rectangle. Brush with some of the melted butter, reserving a small amount. Spread with coconut mixture and roll as for jelly roll, wetting edges to seal. Bring ends together to form ring and place on ungreased baking sheet. With scissors, cut 1-inch slices almost through ring, turning each slice cut-side up and pointing outer edges. Brush with remaining melted butter.
Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) 20 to 25 minutes. Remove to cake rack and while hot, dribble with glaze made by combining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon hot water, Sprinkle with the toasted coconut. Makes 8 servings.
Until next week, here’s some Food for thought: Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1Peter 5: 6,7

Join me and let's whistle along

From the publisher's desk
By: Keith Whitson

Can you whistle? If the answer is “Yes” and you fall into a certain age bracket, chances are you have whistled along to the theme of The Andy Griffith Show at some point. It’s addictive. You just can’t help yourself.
I am sure most of you know that Andy Griffith died last week at the age of 86. He was one of the few cast members left from the show and an icon for warm heartedness.
As a child, I can recall watching that show with fascination. As I grew older, I would often catch the reruns and be just as enchanted by them. Not only did the show bring me back to my childhood but it was always an escape to a magical place.
So many shows of that time were wholesome and simplistic. They consisted of a “do good” mentality, with lessons learned and neighborly folks all around. It seems to be a place we all would like to be transported to.
Watching the show compares to reaching for a good book, calling an old friend or wrapping up in a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day. All of these things are comforting.
I often think I would love to have lived in Mayberry and strolled down the streets past Floyd’s Barber Shop to step through the door of the diner and grab a bite to eat.
I don’t recall the jail ever being overcrowded. It saw very little action except for Otis, who turned himself in when needed. They didn’t argue over liquor by the drink because they had moonshine by the jug. Drugs were never mentioned, not even for prescription sake. Meth labs were unheard of and crime was very little even in the neighboring city of Raleigh.
Front porches were used for visiting and Sundays were respected. Grass wasn’t mowed on the Sabbath nor was it smoked in secret.
Barney’s date with Thelma Lou consisted of a movie and dinner, followed by a refreshing stroll. Sex wasn’t mentioned and certainly not thought of before marriage.
Gas was much cheaper and speed limits were much slower. Fast food wasn’t thought of but home cooked meals were to die for. The home was the gathering place for meals and that didn’t mean in front of the TV.
Phone calls were fewer and gossip was less. After all Sarah was listening on the line as she transferred the call. Cell phones and texting were not consuming our hours and computers were not claiming what little remains.
Life was much simpler and a balance could be found between work and play. When is the last time you went fishing or skipped a rock across the creek?
The entire Mayberry police force consisted of two and that was plenty. Sometimes they had to swear in a few extras but nothing really got out of hand. In fact one bullet for Barney could last an entire season unless it accidentally went off.
Elections usually consisted of a clean debate with the best man winning. Andy once convinced Barney to run for the office of sheriff because he had another job offer elsewhere. But when the job fell through, Andy returned, he expected his old pal Barn’ to drop out of the electoral race.
Instead, the two former chums became political enemies, culminating in a “great debate.” Rest assured, however, that all turned out well by the final commercial break.
Compared to most places, Erwin is still a bit like Mayberry. We hold true to values, families and the code of honor that crime doesn’t pay.
Mayberry didn’t take to kindly to outsiders at first but they always welcomed them in the end. James Lengel can relate to that.
Andy could play straight by the law and he also played a mean guitar with The Darlings. Mike Hensley fits right in with both.
Hopefully when the upcoming election is all said and done, Unicoi County will have the best man as sheriff. We are almost at the commercial break and down to the final few minutes.
No matter how bad things seemed in Mayberry each week, they always turned out for the best in the end. Join me now and let’s start whistling the theme song as the final credits roll.

Many responsibilities come through driving

Taking Notes
By Vicky Livesay

Getting that driver’s license is a rite of passage into teenhood. Most of us remember getting our license and learning to drive. For parents, watching our teens learn to drive is a mixed feeling.
It’s a relief our days of taxi service are ending but never-ending terror every time our teen pulls out of the driveway knowing the dangers that are lurking.
At the high school, we are right there with you. We are always excited for them when they show off their new license to us. But when we hear one of our students has had an accident, everyone in the building asks the same question – “Are they alright?”
Many people don’t realize that getting and keeping a license requires a great deal of responsibility from students. Before going to the DMV for that learner’s permit, students must pick up a certificate from the office saying both attendance and academic progress are satisfactory.
In other words, students should not only have good attendance but also be passing at least half of their classes. The school can refuse to issue that certificate if these requirements are not met which means – no learner’s permit.
There are also requirements for keeping that license. Tennessee Code Annotated, which details the laws of Tennessee, says students must continue to meet the above requirement.
At the end of each semester, we check through grades and attendance to see who is eligible to keep their license and who must have their license revoked. Unfortunately, there is always a list of students who will lose their license based on their attendance, grades, or both attendance and grades.
Many of our students drive to school. There are regulations for this privilege, also. First, all student vehicles must be registered with the school. There is a $15 registration fee and the registration tag must be displayed in the car at all times.
Students are assigned a parking space and must park in that space. When arriving at school, students are expected to exit their vehicle and not return to it during the course of the day unless they have received permission from a principal.
Students are not allowed to leave campus once they arrive unless checked out through the office. And no, they can’t check themselves out just because they drive. This still requires a parent to either come to school or speak with a principal.
In addition to the above rules, students are also expected to drive in a safe manner on school grounds and on the roads around the school – just as we would hope they drive no matter where they are.
If students violate any of these regulations, they may forfeit the privilege of driving to school. Students should also keep in mind vehicles are subject to search under any reasonable suspicion they contains drugs, weapons, or stolen goods.
Wow. It’s a lot to remember. But, it’s also a good introduction to the adult world. The opportunity to drive is a step into the world of adults and it carries the both the joys and consequences adult drivers live with every day. So, encourage your teen to be a safe and responsible driver AND student since these things are linked. As long as they can demonstrate responsibility, they should be driving for years to come.

Honorees make us all winners

From the publisher's desk
by: Keith Whitson
One thing I enjoy about living in a small community is being able to see the good that people do, which might otherwise go unnoticed in a big city. Of course, there are always those who only concentrate on the bad. Some even let their focus on finding fault rule and control their lives to the point of making them miserable.
But, I prefer to look for the good. That is why I enjoy being part of this newspaper’s Record of Service Awards. This was my second year to continue the tradition and honor a few of the many remarkable people in our county.
Each year, our readers submit entries for the categories of Business, Education, Emergency Services, Health Care, Service to the Community and Public Service. I am sure that all entries are worthy, but the fact that readers care enough to acknowledge someone is an honor in itself. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could stand out as a worthy individual in the eyes of someone?
As the submissions start to pour in, I am reminded of those that I know and how deserving they are. But I am also introduced to some local heroes that have slipped under the radar of recognition. I am reminded of how many wonderful people we are blessed to live around that give so much.
This year our Business winner was one of those. Kevin Horton, of Liberty Lumber, was in my graduating class from high school. Kevin learned the responsibilities of running a business long before I did. Kevin also understands the struggles of making a business profitable in a small community.
What you might not know about Kevin is that he has a very generous heart. He has helped with many school and community projects with no recognition. In fact, he avoids any spotlight on himself. It is rare in today’s society that you get many to help like Kevin, but it is even rarer that they will do it for no honor.
This year’s award for Education went to Evangeline Hurter. Evangeline is the new UCHS band director. She is new to Unicoi County, coming in at a difficult time in the music department and making a difference.
It would have been easy for her to turn her back on the task she found ahead, but she knew she could make a difference. She has certainly done that with the lives of many students and with honors received.
Jimmy Erwin received the award in Emergency Services. Jimmy has been involved in so many worthwhile causes for the county. In fact, one recommendation letter read “He has dedicated himself to the community he serves, especially the children of Unicoi County.”
You may know him best for the local D.A.R.E. program but I dare you to find someone who has given as much so freely.
Dr. James Goss received the honor for Health Care. He is currently a partner with Appalachian Orthopedic Associates.
Although I have never needed his services, I was very impressed by his credentials and desire to share them with our county. No doubt he could have plenty of patients in a larger city, but chose to devote himself to the needs here, including being on the side lines of sporting events and offering physicals for middle school, high school and ROTC students.
There aren’t many people in the county who haven’t heard of Helen Edwards. That is why she received recognition for Service to the Community.
If there is anything that needs to be done, you can count on Helen to volunteer. I don’t know where she gets her energy but it seems she gets renewed energy from just volunteering. She cooks for many events, drives people to where they need to go, she cooks, helps with the Ramp Festival, she cooks, visits the sick, she cooks delicious dishes and helped the Salvation Army. Did I mention that she is a good cook?
The next honoree is also well known in the county. Sarah Bailey received the honor for Public Service. We all know Sarah for her role as administrator of elections. She makes sure the office is run accurately and all of the state and government stipulations are followed exactly. It is no easy job and certainly not one that just anybody could step into without much training.
But, her community dedication doesn’t stop there. Sarah has been very active in the Erwin Kiwanis Club, including president. She is a member of the YMCA Board of Directors, a volunteer for Relay For Life and very active in her church.
There was still one other honor bestowed at last Thursday’s dinner and it was upon me. I had the honor of standing over such an amazing crowd and describing each of these recipients. I had a vantage point that no one else did as I watched the surprise and humbleness of each recipient. You see, none of them recognize themselves as incredible and to me that makes them even more deserving.

Big Apple doesn't offer personal taste

Taking Notes
by Vicky Livesay

To celebrate our 25th anniversary, my husband and I recently took a trip to New York City. It was a different world there and we were amazed at everything the Big Apple had to offer.
We could step outside our hotel and find 50 different choices of restaurants – everything from Burger King and Italian to things as surprising as Brazilian and Korean food. A car was unnecessary as we walked everywhere we needed to go.
Had we needed transportation, the subway and bus were nearby. And, of course, there were museums and theatres everywhere.
But on our walks through the different neighborhoods of NYC, I always noticed the schools. They were imposing looking buildings with large gates to, I guess, keep the world out. There were paved areas with basketball goals, but I saw no grassy areas.
I wondered what it was like inside. Were the hallways decorated with colorful bulletin boards? Were notices posted about upcoming PTO meetings or student assemblies? I can only imagine there were lockers with abandoned notebooks left over from the just completed school year. I hope on the inside, it was more school-like than the outside.
I discovered the New York City school system is the largest in the United States with 1.1 million students throughout its 1700 schools. They employ more than 75,000 teachers. Even though their schools have names, more often they are referred to by numbers such as P.S. 53 or P.S. 11 – P.S. meaning public school.
How different from our schools. We are proud to be from Unicoi County High School or Temple Hill Elementary. Our schools are beautiful and inviting.
We have security measures in place, but we don’t have tall fences around our schools to keep students safe. And I love that at graduation time, I can applaud students who I watched grow up as they take their walk across the stage.
And we know our parents. We run into them at Wal-Mart and Food Lion. We stop and chat, not only about school but also about our lives in general. In a city of 1.1 million students, I can’t imagine that happens very often – and I would miss that connection with parents, students and the community.
So even though a big city has a lot to offer, I have to wonder – at what price? I feel certain our students go through school with teachers who know them and care about them in a way that just wouldn’t happen in a large city.
And I think parents and students feel secure that school is a safe place – even without enormous fences. We offer a more personal education. And I think we all do better for people who we know care about us.
Don’t let anyone tell you bigger is better. In small towns, we have connections with each other that just can’t be duplicated in the big city. You’ve heard it before – “There’s no place like home.”

From the Publisher's desk: My plate is full from local bounty

by Keith Whitson
[email protected]
It is time to pick, dig, grill and eat. I am talking about all of the great happenings right here in
our county that are taking place or getting ready to. I attended the viewing of “Ramps & Ruritans: Tales of the Revered and Reeking Leek of Flag Pond, Tennessee” last week. This is a video of the famous ramp festival held each year in Flag Pond and the fame the small plant has brought to that community. The video, made by East Tennessee State University public relations staff members, Fred Sauceman and Larry Smith, was shown to a crowd of about 30 people at the old Flag Pond School. Although I truly enjoyed the film, I enjoyed even more the fellowship with some of Flag Pond’s finest. I was quickly reminded of how genuine, caring and neighborly those wonderful folks are. They had plenty to eat for the video preview and insisted that I join right in. It didn't take a lot of arm twisting. I do think I am going to have to do some belt loosening before it is all over.

I plan on attending the Ramp Festival scheduled for Saturday, May 12, to get another taste of their amazing cooking and an extra helping of their wonderful hospitality. In spite of the rain this past weekend, the Unicoi County Chamber’s first Nolichucky 5K River Run event drew a large crowd of participants. The Chamber staff worked hard to produce this new event mingled with great food and entertainment from the band Spank.

Runners came from far and near to compete and enjoy our beautiful scenery here in the county.
Sunday’s rain didn’t slow down the attendance for the Chillin’ & Grillin’ event held at Farmhouse Gallery in Unicoi. The event raises money for the Children’s Advocacy Center.

I was fortunate to receive tickets from a dear friend Linda Bailey. Although the event brought folks from throughout the area, I knew many faces from our county who came out to support the wonderful cause.

It was so good to see Linda and her husband Roland Bailey, who both insisted that I have plenty to eat. With a wide variety from pizza to barbecue to steak, I was able to once again walk away stuffed. I see a pattern developing here and I think it is one made from a larger size in pants. I guess it just comes along with the job. After all, I need to attend these functions on behalf of our loyal readership. But the goodness doesn't stop there.

As many of you have noticed, those juicy, ripe strawberries are coming in from Scott’s Farms. I look every time I pass their trailers to see if the sides are open and filled with boxes of berries. You just can’t get enough of them before the season is over. With this year’s early spring, we are experiencing an earlier crop of the delicious fruit. The crop will be at its peak soon when Unicoi welcomes in another Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival. This is also an event you don’t want to miss. Filled with plenty of crafts, games and entertainment, the festival offers a wide variety for everyone. Spotlighting the event and many of the dishes will be the famous Scott’s Strawberries, bursting with flavor. It is great to live in such a wonderful county that is honored for its amazing crops produced by some of the greatest neighbors around.

I am proud that we can highlight our best and share it with outsiders who know a good thing when they see it. With some cold weather recently, we are all holding our breath to see if the apple crop pulls through. But, in spite of the abundance produced, Unicoi Countians will fi nd plenty to celebrate come October at the Annual Apple Festival. This past weekend’s rains were a sure indication that folks around here don’t let a little messy weather keep them from celebrating the abundance of our land and the opportunity to get together for a good time or a good cause. I might as well forget that diet I was planning on starting. It is festival season.

Besides that, I got an invitation from my dear friend Daphne Linville to attend the Hospital Auxiliary’s luncheon next week. I think I told you about that last year in a column. Those women are just amazing cooks. I am getting excited just thinking about it. I will see you at the events. I will be the one in the oversized sweat pants.