Ninth Annual Fine Art in the Park set for Saturday

Art of all sorts will be on display for art enthusiasts to enjoy.


The ninth annual Fine Art in the Park will be held on the International Storytelling Center grounds on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 22 from noon until 5 p.m.

The goal of this show is to highlight the fine art produced in our region. 

Featuring nearly 50 artists located inside the International Storytelling Center and the surrounding Storytelling Park, the juried and judged event accepts unique fine arts and crafts from around the region.

In keeping this a fine art event, the attempt is to offer a venue for professional artists to showcase their artwork.

Another popular aspect of Fine Art in the Park includes the tasting area where folks can sample before they buy.

This year will include beverage samples from Tennessee Hills, mouthwatering treats by Chocolate Elegance, and olive oil and vinegar samples from Olive Oil Divine, complete with the area’s own marketplace

The ever popular Best of Show honor will be given amongst the regional artists that includes $1,000, second place will be awarded $500 and third place $300.

Two Honorable Mention certificates will be awarded and one Best of Tasting certificate.

There is also space available in the Best of Tasting area for new culinary artists. 

Interested vendors should contact Director, Theresa Hammons. or (423) 753-0562.

ISC president to be honored as peace champion


Staff Writer

The annual storytelling festival is coming back to Jonesborough this weekend, but there’s another event coming up for International Storytelling Center President Kiran Singh Sirah to look forward to.

Sirah has been named one of six honorees who will be recognized as a “Champion of Peace” at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland on Nov. 11.

“For me, this award honors both my father, my mother, all my teachers,” Sirah said. “There are a lot of people who helped me personally get where I am today. If it wasn’t for Jimmy Neil Smith, we wouldn’t have this storytelling festival. It honors Jimmy Neil, my friend. It honors the community, all the education I’ve learned, the wisdom that I’ve had. For me, I feel that I can take this and be representative to those who have helped me become who I am.”

Champion of Peace award winners are chosen for their commitment to finding innovative approaches to conflict-resolution, poverty, inequality, and education. Sirah was nominated by Rotary District 1020 in Scotland where he spent more than 10 years in museum and charity management. He also worked with the Scottish Refuge Council and developed folk and faith-based programs at National Museums Scotland.

Through his work, which has also included working with gang members, refugees and various marginalized groups, Sirah said storytelling has been a tool he believes can better the world and the lives of others.

“Storytelling is the world’s oldest art form and the oldest form of communication. In every one of us there are thousands upon thousands of stories. We live our lives through story; we dream in stories. We don’t talk in facts; we talk in stories,” Sirah said. “That’s what connects us on a human level.”

Sirah hasn’t only dedicated his life to using storytelling as a force for good; he’s also dedicated himself to working for peace, which is a lifelong mission he says started long before he came to the United States.

“It goes back to something that happened to me when I was 16 years old. I grew up as a minority kid in South England as part of an immigrant family. It was also a really proud, hardworking family. Something bad happened to me when I was 16 years old and I got into trouble. I started to get really angry and my dad turned around to me and he said, ‘You’ve got two options: one, you allow your anger to fester, or two, you get yourself an education.’ He said, ‘If you get yourself an education, you could be the first person in our family to get a degree. And when you do, you don’t just do it for yourself, you do it for all of us.’

“When he said ‘all of us,’ he didn’t just mean his immediate family. He meant anyone who felt the feelings of marginalization or oppression because whenever you work, you can consider ‘how can you serve people in the best way possible?’”

Not only did Sirah make the conscious decision to pursue education (he now has a master’s degree in folklore and peace and conflict resolution from the University of North Carolina as well as a master’s degree in museum cultural heritage studies from University of Newcastle upon Tyne), but he also dedicated himself to serving others as a young child as well.

“My mother turned to me when I was 8 years old — we have a tradition that when we walk into a Sikh temple, we all take our shoes off. But this day she told me to clean everybody’s shoes,” Sirah recalled. “I thought I was being punished. There were hundreds of shoes.

“Afterwards she goes, ‘What I’m doing is teaching you a very powerful Sikh practice that we call ‘sevar.’ It’s the application of what we do in our everyday lives through action that can help to serve humanity. We say it’s the highest form of prayer and its the idea that whatever you do in life — if you become a business leader, an artist, a non profit manager, a shopkeeper — what can you do everyday that constitutes someway to making the world a better place.”

“This is the beginning for me, in a sense,” Sirah explained. “There’s a lot of work to do to get towards peace. We have to be smarter. We have to be cleverer. We have to come together. We have to think strategically. So I’m going to use this award to leverage our work even further to promote the sense that storytelling is a peace-building tool. I want to continue to promote that idea whether it’s here in Jonesborough, in D.C., or in Geneva or back in Scotland. Wherever we are. We need to keep promoting that idea.”

Part of promoting the idea and human connection attached to storytelling also contains a sort of responsibility that, for Sirah, won’t sit idle on a shelf with his UN award.

“There’s a responsibility in it. It’s not something you put on your shelf and leave and don’t do anything the rest of your life,” he said. “The more the world seems like a dire place and a dangerous place, the more peace-builders have to work harder. We’re in it for the long run. We’re not in it to win one award. We’re committed to building more peaceful communities. It’s more than just a job to us. It’s a passion. This is our life.”

Students dive into water study

Sulphur Springs English and language arts teacher Tim Anderson studies the creek behind Sulphur Springs Baptist Church along with his class.


Staff Writer

The creek behind Sulphur Springs Baptist Church isn’t always full of water, but lately, it’s been filled with Sulphur Springs Elementary School students.

Seventh and eighth grade students made their way to the body of water for a project-based learning opportunity on Thursday, Sept. 28. Sulphur Springs science teacher Diana O’Neal brought the kids to explore the creek and to experience a hands-on project that also revolved around the students’ theme for the year.

Diana O’Neal talks through the students’ findings from the nearby creek.

“Our project is focused on water,” O’Neal said. “We’re trying to see how healthy this creek is and we’re taking other measurements: they’re getting a profile of the creek, they’re looking at the micro invertebrates. Some of this is about the water, but it’s also connecting to what we do throughout the year.”

Project-based learning is a teaching method that allows students to learn through investigative, engaging and challenging learning opportunities. After learning more about project-based learning from the school system’s professional development sessions over the summer, the “creek team” of teachers decided to bring their lesson plans to life by trekking down to the water for an in-depth field trip.

“We actually did this as teachers this summer. This is the first time we implemented it into our curriculum,” Sulphur Springs English and Language Arts teacher Tim Anderson said. “It actually has increased student engagement tremendously from last year to this year. And it all comes together for them to learn about water.”

While O’Neal included science stations to investigate the sorts of organisms found in the water, the math portion included measurements within the creek while Anderson’s English-focused station involved listening and looking through the water, allowing students to work on descriptions and imagery.

“It all comes together for them to learn about water,” Anderson explained. “In ELA, I’ve based my novel studies and informational articles on water. In science they’re studying pH levels of water and turbidity of water. In math they’ve been studying velocity to be able to measure how fast the water is moving; it gives them a chance to combine everything they’re learning into one central goal.”

The students weren’t just there to take an educational opportunity from the creek, however; the students also studied the health of the creek while a team from ETSU will also be putting together pamphlets on how to keep the creek clean. After a vote is casted, the group with the top-voted pamphlets will be printed and distributed throughout the community.

Parts of the creek study will even continue throughout the rest of the year for the students.

“They’re doing even some leaf rubbings because the eighth grade will be doing tree identification. So they’ll have that to take back and look at when we study that later,” O’Neal explained. “Meanwhile, seventh grade is getting sediments out of the bottom so they can actually talk about rocks and minerals later on as the year progresses.”


Jonesborough Library book sale stacks up annual event


The Friends of the Library’s largest book sale fundraiser of the year will take place on Thursday, Sept. 28 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Books, CDs, VHS tapes, DVDs and magazines will be available at lowered prices.

The library typically sees over a thousand people at the annual tent sale. All sales, donations and memberships help fund the Jonesborough Library programming.

For more information call the Jonesborough Library at 753-1800. The FOL Book Sale at the Jonesborough Library Parking Lot.

Doll show returns to Jonesborough

Dolls old and new will be on display at the Fall Doll and Bear Show.


The Fall Doll & Bear Show has returned to Jonesborough and is to be held on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

After a brief hiatus, the show, which had been held in Jonesborough, twice a year, for over 20 years, is back.

Featured at the show will be antique, vintage, modern and art dolls which will be available for purchase.

The show will also include bears and other doll related items, such as clothing and accessories which will also be available to purchase.

Admission to the show is free, but voluntary donations will be accepted for St. Jude Research Hospital. Collectors and enthusiasts are welcome. Vendors will be on-site to talk about their trade and visitors are also welcome to just take a walk down memory lane.

The show will be held at the Jonesborough Visitors’ Center located at 117 Boones Street, Jonesborough. For further information contact Ellen at 423-753-0022 or Mary at 423-247-1639.

Auditions set for play based senior memories


The Jonesborough Senior Center will host auditions for a new original play based on the stories collected from members of the Jonesborough Senior Center. The play, Not All I That Carry, produced through support from the Town of Jonesborough and Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts, features dozens of true-life stories about the extraordinary people from this community. The play is written by the McKinney Center’s outreach program director, Jules Corriere, who, six years ago, while with Community Performance, International, wrote the play I Am Home for Jonesborough.

The auditions will take place Sept. 11, from 2-5 p.m. at the Jonesborough Senior Center. Roles are being sought for actors and actresses, especially seniors, who are able to participate in rehearsals that take place in the afternoons on Tuesdays and Thursdays, during the regular operating hours of the Senior Center. There are some roles for children and young people, providing an ideal opportunity for home schooled children to participate in a theatrical production.

The stories in the play include a young medic who served during the Battle of the Bulge, and comes home and becomes a medical doctor; an Irish woman who travels to London during WWII in order to work, and finds a job as well as a dashing American GI, whom she marries before his squadron leaves. She makes her way to America nearly a year after the war, and finally reunites with him. There is also the story of a secret elopement that is now seventy-three years strong, a GI who served with Elvis in Germany, a cowboy who saw the world change from horse and buggy to the space age, and many more.

The play will open at the Jonesborough Senior Center at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 14 for members, and perform an evening show, which is open to the public, on Nov.16 at 6 p.m.

To sign up to audition or find out more information, contact Mary Sanger at the Jonesborough Senior Center at 753-1084. The Jonesborough Senior Center is located at 307 East Main Street in Jonesborough.

Chuckey Depot ribbon cutting set for October

The ribbon cutting for the Chuckey Depot is set for Oct. 2 in Jonesborough.


The Town of Jonesborough will be holding a ribbon cutting for WC Rowe Park and the Chuckey Depot Museum on Monday, Oct. 2, at 11a.m. at 110 South Second Avenue.

WC Rowe Park is named in honor of WC Rowe, a life-long resident of Jonesborough and the area, who made great contributions to the Town of Jonesborough. He constantly worked on a positive partnership between the Town of Jonesborough and Washington County, spending countless hours improving the quality of life in Jonesborough and the County.

The Chuckey Depot’s original home was just down the road in Chuckey, and now sits within WC Rowe Park in Jonesborough.

Sitting on the railroad’s right of way in Chuckey, the depot was threatened with demolition. Due to railroad policy, the building could not stay in its original location.  The depot was privately owned by the Babb family who requested to relocate the building to Jonesborough, and Jonesborough was eager to have the structure. Jonesborough discussed the possibility of creating a railroad museum because of the Town being instrumental in bringing the railroad into East Tennessee. The Chuckey Depot created a perfect venue for such a museum.

The job of moving the Depot from Chuckey to Jonesborough was a meticulous task undertaken by the Town of Jonesborough and the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, beginning in August 2011.

The Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society also partnered in the project, providing the restoration of a red caboose which sits adjacent to the Depot in addition to numerous artifacts and photos. Watauga Valley, the town, and the Heritage Alliance are overseeing the process of developing the museum to interpret the use of the Depot when it was in Chuckey, as well as the history of the railroad in Jonesborough.

The ribbon cutting will celebrate the contributions of WC Rowe to Jonesborough as well as the opening of the Chuckey Depot Museum. Monday, Oct. 2 at 11 a.m.

For more information call 423-791-3869.

Yarn Exchange celebrates friendship


It’s 1862, and you live in a duplex on Main street, Jonesborough. Your best friend shares the same duplex, and you even share the same attic space. Your children and her children have grown up together. But tensions are mounting at this address as the war escalates. Both husbands are fighting, but neither are on the same side. How can this friendship possibly endure?

It’s May 22, 1906, and a story about you is printed in the Washington Post, describing you as the “notorious dwarf moonshiner”, who was being arraigned in Federal Court for shooting and killing a man. The man you shot took joy in picking you up and throwing you, because as a little person of only forty-six inches tall and weighing sixty pounds, you were seen as a novelty, and not a person. You had endured this treatment until the man decided to throw you into a fire. IN shooting him, you were saving your own life. After the trial, you are befriended by a City Marshall in Jonesboro, a large man of stature, who gainfully employs you to help him campaign- with the difference in your sizes drawing attention from crowds. The employment leads to a friendship between two unlikely partners- a known moonshiner, and a man of the law.

It’s 1980, and you’re a sixth grader, when part way through the year, a new student arrives. She is taller than most in the class, even the boys, and comes from somewhere else. She doesn’t speak English well, but you remember being stationed in another country where you didn’t speak the language well, either. You also know what it is like to not fit in. Her name is Hoang Duong. But she tells you that you say her last name like Wong. It is getting close to Christmas, and you want to include Hoang in the gift exchange with your friends. She has not had a lot of luck making friends, yet. You ask your mother to take you to the PX to get one more present with your babysitting money. “A present for who?” Mother asks. “My new friend, Hoang.” You reply. “Oh, where is she from?” your mother prods on, while your father sits silently working on his crossword puzzle. You don’t answer immediately, then stumble out the words, “I can’t say.” Your mother asks why, and you whisper, “Is Vietnam still a bad word?”

It’s 2016, and your kidneys have stopped functioning. So far, family and friends have not proven to be a good match. People are willing to help, but their chemistry just doesn’t mix with yours. The doctor’s prognosis is bleak, when a familiar name appears as a match. You have not heard from him in years, and he now lives in Texas, but he took a test to see if he could be a match, and it came back positive. An old friend from middle school is willing to sacrifice one of his own kidneys for you. In doing so, he becomes more than an old friend, but a permanent part of you for the rest of your days.

Friendship. A state of mutual love and affection, outside of family relations. This month’s Yarn Exchange Radio Show, performed live at the International Storytelling Center, is filled with stories of incredible- and even unlikely- friendships throughout the ages of Jonesborough’s founding. Some fraught with struggle, even touching on being illegal, but all filled with love, and a hope for a brighter future. These stories and many more will be performed Sept. 25 at 7 p.m..

Tickets to this live performance, based on real stories from Jonesborough and the region, are $5 and available online at or by calling the Historic Visitors Center at (423)753-1010. Seating is limited, and reservations are highly suggested. For more information, contact director Jules Corriere at or call (423)794-6320.

Hurricane relief group proves power in a community united

Hurricane Irma slammed the southern United States, but locals were ready to help evacuees as they fled from the storm.


The news was covered with images of flooded homes, destroyed buildings and a storm that’s still making it’s way through southern America.

That’s when two Jonesborough residents decided to do something about it.

“We were just saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be good if we could open up our homes?’ But we also said, ‘Wouldn’t it be good to know who was willing to open up their homes to house the evacuees?’” International Storytelling Center President and Jonesborough resident Kiran Sirah said. “So we decided to set up this page. Then we got contacted by folks in Asheville, Southwest Virginia, Bristol, Kingsport, and it turned into something that was much bigger than expected.”

Sirah and Jonesborough resident Ren Allen now have a group of over 800 people offering room in their homes, space for pets and any items an evacuee might need in the region.

Sirah said the group also helped to get people in touch with others who could help them. One family drove up from Florida and was so exhausted, they were sleeping in their car when the group got them in contact with people near them in the Nashville area who could assist them with a place to stay. Meanwhile, local information was also passed to out-of-towners looking for services while in the area.

“One person needed to find pet services that was opened on Sundays because his dog needed help,” Sirah explained. “So people posted information related so he could get his dog looked at. Even a local vet offered discounts for evacuees who had pets with them.”

Apart from the previous work Sirah has done with the Red Cross and the Scottish Refugee Council, he also comes from a family who once had to evacuate their home. In turn, this inspired the Jonesborough resident to encourage others to help any way they can.

“One of the things that I learned from my family having to flee persecution in 1972 from Uganda was that in the rush of having to evacuate a place, you sometimes forget to take all the things that you might need,” Sirah said. “These can sometimes include family photographs, documents, passports. In that process you might not think of everything you need to take.”

For those helping and those receiving help, it also served as a reminder for group members of the ability to unite.

“It strengthened the message of our Appalachian region. We are one region and we are binded by these mountains. We are a welcoming community. There’s so much talk about division in our nation, but here’s one example. When it comes down to it, we work together. I’m pleased to say that every single person who posted on that group, they came from so many political backgrounds and there was no political argument. We rolled up our sleeves and we got down to work.  And we worked together.”

For Sirah, this ultimately showed the power a group of community members can have during a time of need.

“It just shows that there’s so much an emergency service can do, but then there’s a lot that a local community can do.”

Fall registration extended at McKinney


The McKinney Center and Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts is extending the registration deadline for specific classes that will be starting later in the fall.

If drawing is an interest to you, check out Charcoal Portraits or the Basics of Drawing class.  Charcoal Portraits, for grades 9 through adult, taught by Janet Browning, meets on Thursdays, 6-7:30pm starting Sept. 14.  The cost of the class is $125 plus materials.  You must register by Sept. 6. 

The Basics of Drawing class, taught by Sharon Squibb is for grades 9th – adult and meets on Mondays, 5:30 to 7 p.m., for six weeks starting Oct. 16. You must register by Sept. 22.

The Young Potters class is for grades second through sixth.  It is a Saturday class, 10 to 11:30 a.m., starting October 14 for only 4 weeks.  The cost is $135 which includes all the clay, glazes, and firing.  Registration is due by Sept. 22.

Jess Parks is teaching Hand-Building with Clay and a Level II Potters Wheel Class.  The Hand-Building class is for adults and meets on Tuesdays, 6 to 8 p.m., for six weeks, starting Oct. 17. 

The Wheel class is geared toward grades seventh through adult and meets on Wednesdays, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., for six weeks starting October 18.  Both classes are $165 which includes all the clay, glazes and firing.  Registration for these classes ends on Sept. 22.

Artist Beverly Jenkins will be teaching Jewelry Basics and Mosaic Pet Portraits.  Both classes are for grades 9 to adult.  The Jewelry Basics class will meet on Thursdays, 6-8 pm for two weeks, November 2 and 9.  The class is only $80.  Mosaic Pet Portraits is a five-week course held on Mondays, 9 a.m. to noon starting Sept.11.  Registration for both classes will end on Sept. 22.

For additional classes still open for more information  on this fall’s program, contact McKinney Center Director, Theresa Hammons at or call 753-0562.

The McKinney Center is located at  103 Franklin Ave, Jonesborough.

Community mourns loss of Pat Littleton


Staff Writer

There’s an empty spot in the parking lot of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department where Chief Deputy Patrick Littleton, who passed away after a brief illness on Saturday Aug. 26, used to park. And now, Littleton’s friend and lifetime colleague, Sheriff Ed Graybeal, says there will be a gap in the heart of the community his friend so loved.

“It’s almost hard to explain what a wonderful person Pat Littleton was. You can say words, but words can’t really explain it,” Graybeal said. “And I’ve known him, well, since he started. I turned his application in as a matter of fact. But he was just one of those people who was always a part of everybody’s life.”

Littleton was a Marine before he joined the sheriff’s department in the ‘80s. From then on, the deputy continued to work hard, move up and serve the citizens of the place he called home.

“When I got to be sheriff in 2003, I asked him to be my chief deputy and of course we’ve been together since,” Graybeal recalled. “We were kind of in each other’s pockets, but he was in everybody’s pockets around here. He was talking to everybody every day and smiling at everybody. He always wanted to see if there was anything they needed or anything.

“You could not get anybody who could work any harder than Pat Littleton. He just loved everybody and was a community person.”

Littleton was from Sulphur Springs and graduated from Daniel Boone High School. Whether he was off duty or in uniform—which Graybeal said Littleton always kept perfectly pressed and shined — Littleton’s close friend said that anyone who knew him knew his heart and soul belonged to Washington County — and it showed.

“He used to show me the hayfields he worked as a kid. He put up tobacco on the farm and churned butter like I used to on my grandmother’s farm. He was just a community person for sure,” Graybeal said. “He knew everybody and he worked for just about all the farmers out there when he was growing up. His family, they’re the salt of the earth, so everybody knew Pat. He was just that kind of person that was concerned about his community, was concerned about Washington County and he was somebody who would get a call and would talk to them and try to make their day the best he could. He was just an outstanding individual.”

After working with the sheriff’s department for over 30 years, one of Littleton’s favorite events year in and year out was the Appalachian Fair. Every August the deputy prepared to assist the event and do what he did best: be around others.

“He always worked traffic down at the end of the road coming out near the fire hall,” Graybeal said, “and he had his own personal gator out there to drive people around and stuff. He loved the fair and I think the reason he loved it was for two reasons: He got to work with everybody in the department and he got to see everybody in the community. That was just Pat. He enjoyed it. He’d start working on the fair probably a month before it ever got here.”

Now, the sheriff said the department is working with Littleton’s father and two sons to rightfully honor the deputy. Since his passing, the sheriff’s department has honored his memory with his marked parking spot, the department and courthouse flags at half-mast as well as an honor guard at the crowded procession to celebrate Littleton’s life.

There was a huge escort from the funeral home to the church,” Graybeal said. “My honor guard, to me, is one of the best anywhere and those boys were the pallbearers at the request of the family. It was just a service that Pat would have been proud of because it was all for Patrick Littleton.”

The deputy was many things to many people — a father, a son, a marine, an officer and a community member — but to everyone, Graybeal said, Littleton was a friend.

“He was a friend to everybody. He tried to help everybody. He loved Washington County and everybody in it,” Graybeal said. “He grew up here went to high school here went to all the schools. He loved the community a whole lot and everybody just loved the old boy. Everybody loved Pat Littleton. Anybody that ever met him loved him.”

DBHS JROTC receives Marine Corps award

Daniel Boone High School’s Marine Corps JROTC has a lot to be proud of this year.


The Daniel Boone High School Marine Corps JROTC has been selected as the recipient of the Marine Corps Reserve Association Award for the Region comprising fourteen states in the Midwest and Mid-South.

The MCRA Award distinguishes Daniel Boone High School as one of the top five MCJROTC programs in the nation.

Some of the JROTC students gather around with Major Steven Sessis.

Criteria for selection are based on a unit’s record of competitive activities, commitment of the cadets to school and community service, and results of an annual inspection by the program’s national headquarters. 

This is the Daniel Boone MCJROTC Program’s fifth MCRA award since 2010 and the 19th consecutive year as a Naval Honor School, designating the program as one of the top 10 percent of all programs nationwide.

Crowd comes looking for eclipse glasses

The line for eclipse glasses at the Jonesborough Visitors Center went past the building and onto College Street.


Staff Writer

The Town of Jonesborough’s Solar Eclipse block party wasn’t until Monday, but that didn’t stop more than two thousand people from flocking to the Jonesborough Visitor Center to get their hands on solar eclipse glasses on Wednesday Aug. 16.

A crowd forms in front of the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center to get eclipse glasses.

“We knew they were really hard to come by and people are having a hard time finding them, but then when they went so quick, we realized it was a much bigger deal than we thought it was,” Visitor Center Manger Amber Crumley said. “Up until probably Monday or Tuesday, we had no idea that on Wednesday it was going to be as big as it was for us. Word just spread and everyone started sharing it and tagging their friends on Facebook and Instagram. It was wild.”

On Wednesday, the visitor center started the day with 2,000 glasses to sell for $3 each. Each person was limited to four glasses, but even after standing in line for hours (some since 6:30 that morning), patrons were determined to try their luck until the visitor center sold their last pair.

“Our police chief went out to tell people when we had sold out. He actually made about four trips to periodically tell people, ‘If everyone buys four, the line will stop here. This is where we run out of glasses.’ Every time he did that, people said, ‘We’re staying. We stood in line this long, we’re going to stay just in case.’

“The last I heard it was still back to the library that there were probably around 120 people in line who did not get glasses,” Crumley said. “And the phone has been ringing off the hook since Wednesday with people wanting to know if we have them.”

So many celestial event-goers came to the visitors center that town police, who were also taken aback by the amount of people in line for glasses, were asked to help manage the crowd. Jonesborough Police Chief Ron Street said traffic was an issue for at least part of the day on Wednesday.

“This size of a crowd was not anticipated, no. We thought it would be a gradual thing all day long,” Street said. “They came in so fast, they’re parked everywhere. Everything is crowded. We’re just trying to keep it orderly.”

NASA predicted that more than 300 million people will be able to see the solar eclipse. The space agency suggested using special-purpose solar filters, as used in official solar eclipse glasses, to view the celestial event. Because places such as Lowe’s sold out of the glasses before the event, the race to find them before the solar eclipse on Monday created a frenzy. For people like Joyce Jones, who was with her family at the visitors center in hopes of buying a pair of glasses, eye safety was of upmost importance.

“Eye protection is why we’re here. All my grandkids will be in school so they will have them through the school. I probably won’t get any — I’ll just use a welder’s helmet,” Joyce said, laughing.

After the information overflow about the danger of viewing the eclipse without proper eyewear, lots of folks like Jones were concerned about safety before the event.

But Crumley said the rarity of the solar eclipse is also something each sun-watcher likely considered before they hopped in line — or called the visitors center well into Monday morning.

“If you stay in one place and you’re not going and seeking out where the eclipse is going to be going over, you can go your whole lifetime and never see a total eclipse,” Crumley said. “And we’re pretty close to 100 percent (totality). So I think that’s why it’s been so big here and so important for people who are in that area to get the glasses and participate. It’s a once in a lifetime thing.”

Memorial fundraiser to honor Justin Rose

Justin Rose was an avid believer in the farm life and will be honored at the Round Up for the Roses event on Sept. 2.


Staff Writer

Cattle shows, the Appalachian Fairground and putting a smile on other’s faces were just a few of the things Justin Rose enjoyed throughout his life. And now, his family and friends are bringing all that together for a fundraiser event on Saturday, Sept. 2, in Justin’s honor.

Round Up For The Roses was created as an inaugural event to raise money for Justin’s family and to bring the community together to remember the Daniel Boone High School student.

Justin Rose

“It started from a friend of the family saying, ‘What can we do to help them financially?’ It really started out with us thinking we could maybe do a cattle show because that was Justin’s passion,” event committee member Jennie Good said. “We’ve kept it kind of themed to him — his passion was farming and showing cattle.”

Justin was involved in FFA and grew up showing cattle throughout the area and the Appalachian Fairground. For the Rose family and friends, the place and the event’s activities, which include a cattle show, farm olympics, live music and even a greased pig competition speak to Justin’s personality and love for the county life.

“Several years ago, he was in the Herald & Tribune on the front cover. He was about three feet tall with his cowboy hat on hugging his heifer,” Justin’s father, Duane Rose said. “He grew up showing here. This is home.”

The “Hold My Heifer” cattle show is another part of the labor day weekend event that will help raise money and will also remind others of Justin’s personality — and his knack for volunteering any bystanders at a cattle show.

“If he was going in the ring to show one, his dad was waiting at the door for him to bring one cow out and bring another in. If his dad wasn’t standing there and he knew he had another one to take in, he’d just grab people randomly and say, ‘here, hold my heifer,’” committee member Betsy Hartman said, smiling at the memory. “If he knew you or not, he’d ask you to hold his heifer. He was a sweetheart.”

Justin didn’t just put a smile on others’ faces; Justin’s friends and family all spoke about the affect he had on the community. And for Good, who is also Justin’s cousin, the event was planned a few months after his passing in order to serve as another reminder that he’s not forgotten.

“I think we saw, when Justin passed, how he had touched so many people, his family and his friends. His smile was infectious,” Good said.

“This was just something that everyone wanted to do. And we wanted to schedule it later so that his family could know that ‘Hey, it’s not forgotten. He’s not forgotten.’ That is another comfort for the family. This is really a time that we felt the family needed.”

The event will include various crafts and vendors along with t-shirts, decals and other items all donning Justin’s brand.

There will also be activities for kids, barbecue and the Unicoi County FFA bluegrass band.

When it came to honoring Justin, his friends also wanted to get involved by creating a diesel truck coal-rolling event and, of course, the cattle show that will include many of his friends such as Hannah Hartman, who has known Justin since the two started kindergarten.

“Being his friend for so long, I just wanted to help out,” Hannah said, “to give the help that I could to carry on his legacy.”

Though the proceeds from the event will help his family with medical bills, the group is hoping to make the event an annual event that would provide a scholarship for a local student.

Justin and his father Duane Rose loved showing cattle at the Appalachian Fairgrounds each year.

“I was touched. I was happy (hearing others wanted to create the event),” Duane Rose said. “He touched a lot of people. It makes me realize just how many people he did touch.”

Those folks were not few and far between; the committee said sponsors were very willing to help and that some even called the group ready to volunteer their assistance.

But for his family and friends alike, Justin’s light is what they hope to instill in others during the event.

“Justin was just 16, but we consider him a legacy,” Betsy Hartman said. The things he accomplished, from the awards to the cattle shows, I hope it just shows other kids that they can make an example to others.

“And hopefully Justin’s legacy will continue on.”

The Round Up For The Roses will be held at the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray on Saturday, Sept. 2. Gates open at 9 a.m. all registration forms are available at For more information, email or visit

Wetlands Water Park slides into 2017 season wrap up


H&T Correspondent

The Wetlands Water Park is nearing the end of its summer season, and it’s been a busy one. With two weekends remaining, the park has already seen over 38,000 visits this year.

“We will finish ahead of last year by a decent margin,” said Matt Townsend, the director of Wetlands Water Park.

The park increased its season pass sales by roughly 10 percent for this season, Townsend said, distributing about 470 season passes.

Townsend contributes the increase in park attendance this summer partially to the weather.

A hot July and August brought a lot of people into the park, Townsend said.

He also contributes the increase to a new marketing campaign the park devised two years ago.

The park used zip code capture to find out what areas visitors were coming from to better focus their advertising efforts, Townsend said.

“We ended up advertising more in outlying areas,” Townsend said.

The hope was to bring in more visitors from Greeneville and other small towns instead of focusing just on bigger places, like Johnson City, he said.

The marketing campaign seems to be working well, Townsend said.

“We’re definitely making strides toward just increasing per year,” he said.

In addition, the park increased promotions this season, adding more “special swim nights” to their schedule.

For example, on Saturday, Aug. 5, the park had Back to School Night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission was only $3 per person and tube rentals were free.

“This year we added more of those dates,” Townsend said. “They’re great because families can come and take advantage of the discounted prices, and the hours, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., fit some people’s schedule better than daytime hours.”

Since Aug. 6, Wetlands Water Park has been open on weekends only. You can visit the park on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. On Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4, the park is currently scheduled to be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The park will close for the season after Labor Day and will re-open in May of 2018.

The Wetlands Water Park is located at 1523 Persimmon Ridge Road in Jonesborough. For more information, call 423-753-1553 or visit their website:

Honor system egg stand hatches in community


Staff Writer

In tall, black letters on the side of a small shed on Highland Church Road, a cooler offers cartons of farm fresh eggs ready to be sold — on the honor system.

The concept is simple; pick up a carton of eggs or two, and drop the money in the tiny wooden box for hen owner and farm operator Tony Hester, and his farm-working kids, to collect later in the day. For Hester, the egg stand started as a way to earn a few dollars from owning a piece of land and turned into a full-on, roadside operation.

“I was having a talk with a buddy of mine who made the offhand comment that he thought if you owned land, it ought to be able to help pay for itself,” Hester said. “That got me thinking what kind of agricultural endeavor could we pursue over there on Highland Church Road that could help pay for the land. That led eventually to plusing up our chicken flock.”

Now it’s not just Hester’s project; his high school-aged son and daughter clean, collect and package each egg from the flock of 450 chickens on the Hester property. But by now, they have it down to a science.

“We have spent a great deal of effort trying to do egg-laying smarter not harder,” Hester explained, laughing. “My son and daughter built those nest boxes. I set up the foundation, but I told them how to do it and they built 96 nest boxes on a single Saturday.

“The chickens lay the eggs, the eggs roll down that padded carpet into the collection gutter and that’s when the kids do a sanitizing dip and rinse and place them in a drying rack. They can do 25 to 30 dozen eggs in the same amount of time it used to take them to do about 12 dozen eggs last year.”

As for sanitation, that’s something the Hester family takes into consideration before setting up shop at the bottom of their driveway.

“We’re awfully tempted to not even do the sanitizing dip but we do that because it keeps momma happy (laughs). But they do come out very, very clean,” Hester said. “In Europe, if you want to get Grade-A eggs, you cannot wash them and you cannot refrigerate them. That way the consumer knows they are getting very clean, well-taken-care-of eggs as well as very fresh by not being refrigerated.

“Granted, FDA has different standards in the U.S., but we like to think that if we were in Europe, we’d have Grade-A European eggs.”

One might worry about the integrity of any old customer lacking the good will to pay their due, but Hester said the stand has been well-respected with little to no problems.

“It is on the honor system, but we’ve been very fortunate that a vast majority of the people do indeed leave money,” he said. “It does work very well, but it does help that we’re on a busy road and it’s highly visible.”

The stand’s not just been a side-job for the Hester kids who get to make a little money in the process; it’s also been a spectacle for passers by — and the farming family — on Highland Church Road.

“It is a lot of fun to be sitting up on the porch at the house talking to my wife or chatting on the phone with a friend and I’ll see a couple of cars pull in and get eggs in the course of the phone conversation. It’s just a lot of fun. Not typically (do they watch), but it is very fun to see that unfold.”

The stand even has a Facebook page called “Hester’s Happy Hens honor system egg stand”. And out in the community, it’s been a fun topic of conversation and somewhat of a landmark.

“We don’t know most of our customers,” Hester said. “On so many occasions in the course of conversation, the egg stand comes up. And they’ll say, ‘man we’ve been buying your eggs for two years! They’re fantastic!’It’s so fun to meet people who have been coming to our place in the past couple of years and we’ve never met them. It’s very Mayberry. It’s very gratifying.

“The stand’s only been there about three years, but it’s become a local landmark for friends—they use the egg stand to give directions to their house,” Hester said. “They’ll say, ‘if you go down Highland Church Road you’ll pass an egg stand and on we’re the next right-hand turn and the fourth house down.’ You know you’ve arrived when you become a land mark.”

But it’s not just about the eggs for Hester; he wanted to instill an appreciation for hard work and the value of a dollar in his children.

Now that the egg stand helps to pay for things such as his daughter’s phone, the stand has worked just as he hoped it would.

“Her friends said, ‘Do you pay for your phone?’ And she said, ‘No, I paid for it.’ And her friends said, ‘You must get a big allowance then.’ She said, “No. I don’t get an allowance.’ ‘Well how do you pay for your phone?’ She said, ‘I sell a lot of eggs,’” Hester said, laughing.

“She was very proud to be able to come back and tell me that story. It has just given them a big boost of confidence. I hear from all their teachers that my kids have such tremendous work ethic. And that’s very pleasing to a father.”

Jonesborough plans Aug. 21 Eclipse Party


In celebration of the “Great American Solar Eclipse,” the Town of Jonesborough will be hosting an Eclipse Block Party and Celestial Festival on Monday, Aug. 21, from 1 to 4 p.m.

ETSU’s Rico Ignace will be at the Jonesborough event.

The event will be filled with everything celestial-themed from food, crafts and live music. Educational talks provided by Rico Ignace, astrophysicist professor at ETSU, will be held in the theatre at the International Storytelling Center. There will be a live feed of the eclipse crossing over America provided by NASA streaming in the lobby of the Storytelling Center.

The town is ready to get their glasses on to watch the solar eclipse.

Adding to the fun, the Heritage Alliance and the McKinney Center will be leading eclipse-themed crafts in Jimmy Neil Smith Park along with celestial face painting.

Enjoy a special setlist from the Ozone Rangers who will be playing live on the plaza of the Storytelling Center from 12:30 to  2 p.m. Then, join Dr. Rico on the Plaza as the eclipse coverage reaches its maximum and have an opportunity to view the sun through his telescope and UV filter.

Several merchants and restaurants will offer eclipse specials and fun treats. Artists will also be dotted along Main Street selling celestial-themed crafts and more.

There will be an extremely limited number of viewing glasses available the day of. In addition, there will be limited Jonesborough Solar Eclipse souvenirs to commemorate the once in a lifetime event.

For more information call the Jonesborough Visitor Center at 423-753-1010 or visit the event website

Two church-related road names could see change


It takes 19 minutes to get from Brethern Church Road to Brethren Church Drive in Washington County but it only takes the difference of one word to spark confusion between the two—which might soon lead to a name change for one of these roads.

Brethern Chruch Road in Gray meets Shadden Road and Pleasant Valley Road.

Though the topic was just in the preliminary stages when discussed at the Washington County Commission’s Public Works meeting at the Highway Department in Jonesborough on Aug. 3, Washington County 911 Department’s Lesley Music said a change could be coming — and will probably include more than just a simple, one-word switch.

“It keeps coming back to us,” Music said. “We need to change one or the other, totally.”

Brethren Church Drive sets between Greenwood Drive and Old Embreeville Road.

Brethern Church Road is located between Shadden Road and Pleasant Valley Road in Gray. Meanwhile, Brethren Church Drive is located between Old Embreeville Road and Greenwood Drive in Jonesborough.

When it comes to a possible change for the roads, it’s not just white letters on a green metal road sign that will be affected. At the meeting, Commissioner Bryan Davenport considered the residents on both of those roads and what it would mean for them.

“If you’re changing the name, it doesn’t matter how small the change is,” Davenport said. “You have to notify everyone that sends you a bill or anything.”

If changed, 58 addresses would be effected on Brethern Church Road in Gray while 43 would be effected on Brethren Church Drive in Jonesborough. Both roads are also home to similarly named churches; Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren was built around 1898 in Gray while Pleasant View Church of the Brethren was built in 1878 in Jonesborough.

Pleasant View Chrch of the Brethren still sets on Brethren Church Drive in Jonesborough as it has for over 100 years.

Numerous roads throughout the county are named after people, but in this case, Music suggested that might not be the best route for the sake of those who might not be fond of the individual so honored.

It was also suggested that the name of one of the churches’ founders be used for one of the road names. A process to rename either of the roads has not been started, but it was also mentioned that a community meeting like what was conducted with the naming of Austin Springs could take place.

Dance teacher works to make world better place

Kevin Glasper


“The first song that spoke to me was ‘Man in the Mirror’ by Michael Jackson. I knew Michael Jackson, his songs were the first ones I was dancing to, but that song had a message. I may not have fully known it at the time it came out, I was young, but I knew how I felt about it. It made me want to go after it. Once I knew the words, it made me want to stop dancing just like him, and start dancing just like me.”

Kevin Glasper is a local dancer with a national reputation. While dance festivals take him across the country to California, his love for this region keeps him rooted here, where he teaches movement and dance, and is hired regularly as a choreographer. His repertoire includes jazz, ballet and hip hop, and it is his hip hop moves that he has built his reputation on.

“I bring hip hop with me where ever I go. What I mean by that, is that hip hop is about more than just the moves There’s five parts to it, part of it is the moves, it is also the history, the DJing, the MCing, and the graffiti art.”

He points to one of his tattoos. “My tattoos are art that I have drawn — that is the graffiti. Everywhere I go, I share the history, and learn more. And I’m always dancing.”

Glasper’s life is built around dance, which started when he was a child. He counts as his early mentors the Steppers for Christ in his church.

City Youth Ballet, and especially Susan Pace White and Tom Blessing, helped develop his classical skills and techniques. He also recounts Eva Taylor, who was over Johnson City Recyclables and Urban Art Throw Down, which helped connect him to the Umoja Festival and Little Chicago.

“I studied hard with all of those groups. I practiced, I listened, I learned. Because dance wasn’t just something fun for me to do. It’s who I am. You can go to school to be anything or learn something else, but if you don’t have a passion, you can grow tired of it. Dance is something I want to keep learning, not just movement, but history, and turn it into a lifelong pursuit.”

Part of this lifelong pursuit is the dance group Universally Complicated Freestylers, which he co-founded with Mark Flowers in 2009.

He takes his work as a dancer seriously. More than a hobby, he says, dance can bring people together, that it is a universal language.

“People can speak to each other without saying a word. Dancing to music, whether you feel like you know how to dance or not, you are moving because the music makes you feel something. Slow, fast, salsa, jazz, funk, classical, lyrical, it makes you move some way. My joy is helping people connect those moves to their own spirit.”

He said he didn’t always know he would become a teacher of dance and movement. But the more he became skilled in his craft, the more he wanted to share it with others.

“So many times, a kid is told they are doing something wrong, doing it the wrong way. Dance is so free. Once you learn the basics, you can take it, and make it your own, and express yourself freely, and it isn’t wrong. It’s empowering.”

Glasper also points out there is much more to learning dance than just the moves. There are life skills being taught that will help them grow and mature.

In dance and choreography, there is a process of active listening, always big in communication. There is listening and repeating back.

He immediately knows if his students are listening when they repeat back the moves he teachers — or not.

Critical thinking skills are combined with learning basic movement. Students learn a pattern, take it, then think about how to make it better and make it their own. Behavioral skills are in play, as students discover when it is the best time to add or take away a movement, the right time to ask questions, and when to defer to another dancer.

“This is what I want to teach. Give them the basics, and then foster their growth as individuals.”

He references the song again.

“As I got older, I began to understand what the song said, not just how it made me feel. It was that message of wanting to make the world a better place by being the person I am. Behind the dancing man is a man who cares about the world and the people in it, and the next smile, the next advancement you can make.”

He then laughs his unmistakable laugh that fills the room.

“We all have a chance to make the world a better place. Or not. And we each have a special skill to do that. I believe mine is dance. And that’s what I am doing every time I teach it.”

Kevin Glasper returns this fall to the McKinney Center in Jonesborough to teach hip hop levels one and two.

For information about the hip hop class or other classes at the McKinney Center, contact McKinney Center Director Theresa Hammons at or by calling (423) 753-0562.

To see all classes, download the online catalog at this link:

Robo camp builds education

David Crockett student Austyn Shelton readies the next robot at the robo camp.


Staff Writer

The Historic Jonesborough Visitor’s Center had a few extra guests Thursday and Friday, July 13 and 14, as the FIRST Robotics Team held a “Robo Camp” for middle school students — a camp designed to give would-be scientists a chance to build robots with the help of David Crockett High School’s robotics students.

But Crockett’s drafting teacher, Guy McAmis said he wasn’t just hoping to see his students assist future Crockett Pioneers at this year’s camp; he was hoping it would pull in students from all across Washington County.

“The reason we’re doing it at the Visitor’s Center is the robotics team is made up of Daniel Boone and also David Crockett High School kids. So we wanted to include both sides of the county,” McAmis said. “I had one that was from the other side of the county. I’m trying to work on that. I want those students over here with us. That’s the reason we’re here instead of doing it at Crockett. That way it’s a neutral place.”

The camp not only serves as an educational event for students in the summertime, but it also serves as a fundraiser for the FIRST Robotics team. Each spot in the camp costs $15 which includes a lunch for both days of the camp and goes towards the robotics team’s fund.

“We want to make this at least an annual thing. We want to use it as a fundraiser,” McAmis explained. “We’re just feeling our way through to see how we want to improve and do it during the school year itself.

“We got to looking at our budget from last year and these kids raised a little over $25,000 to do two events. We’re trying to do these things as fundraisers. (Robo Camp) is successful on a small scale, but we would like to make it a bigger scale.”

The kids worked as a team, building robots out of Legos to compete against the other robo teams in a competition at the end of Thursday and Friday’s sessions. But the middle schoolers aren’t the only ones learning something here; McAmis specifically wanted to involve his high school students in the camp as a learning tool for them as well.

“This is my philosophy; if they teach, they learn. As they’re teaching these kids to program these robots and put them together, they’re learning themselves,” McAmis said. “They’ve got to deal with different personalities to be able to do this. I’ve got a couple in here that are a little on the rambunctious side. And then I’ve got some that their parents wanted them to have something to do. We’ve just had a good time. And they’ve had a good time.”

Apart from learning more about robotics, McAmis is also hoping the camp will spark an interest in some of these middle schoolers. And if these middle schoolers become interested in robotics, they can also join their middle school’s robotics team.

“We want to get these middle schoolers involved early,” he said. “I know there’s one lady whose daughter is here. She said the one daughter’s into sports and the other one’s not. She likes to program things. She’s been here two days and she’s very enthusiastic.

“If I can just get one or two kids who are on fire for this—this is not for everyone, I know that—but if I can get just a couple that really enjoy this, it makes it all worth wild.”