Winners announced for Jonesborough Juried Art Show

The art show’s winners pose with Judge Arnaldo Ugarte and Director Theresa Hammons.


The Town of Jonesborough recently announced the winners of the Jonesborough Open Juried Art Show of 2018.

Out of 125 submitted pieces, a total of 75 were chosen, making the exhibition quite competitive.

The art exhibition consists of paintings, ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, mosaics, photography, glass, and mixed media giving the show a well-rounded array of artwork. 

For the first year, the exhibit had two artists from outside the immediate region making the show more than a regional representation of artists.

Arnaldo Ugarte, a Honduran born artist, sculptor, and sculpture conservationist living in Brooklyn, New York and working at the Rockefeller Estate was this year’s judge.

Ugarte received all 125 digital submissions and curated the show to the final 75 pieces. He then chose the final awards by viewing the pieces in person the day before the Awards Ceremony and Opening Reception. 

Ugarte provided a lecture regarding a select number of the artwork and themes he observed in the show at the International Storytelling Center.

After the lecture, the awards ceremony and opening reception for the exhibit took place at the McKinney Center at 7 p.m.

Awards of $2,000 were given away to the top three artists. 

Best in Show prize of $1,000 awarded to Steven Reeves for his painting, LOOK AT ME, followed by second place, which went to Bill & Tina Collison for their wooden bowl, El Caldera, receiving $600 in award money. 

Third place was given to Charles Jones for his painting, Dancers with Zebras, which was accompanied by $400. 

Certificates of Merit were given to Renee Pitts for her fiber art, Hats Off to Maggie, Vera Tracy for her sculpture, Just One Gun. Nathan Gorman for his glass sculpture, Amber Crystal Sphere, Joan Bauer for her fiber art, Appalachian Sunset, and Joel Yarger for his drawing, Planar Rose.

The show was organized by the Town of Jonesborough’s McKinney Center staff. Various volunteers provided refreshments and floral arrangements including, Toast Wine & Spirits, and Broyles Florist. Music was provided by pianist and vocalist Patti Quarles.

The exhibit will be on display at the McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School in Jonesborough, located at 103 Franklin Avenue now through May 5.

The exhibit is open to the public free of charge, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Most of the artwork is for sale.

A portion of the proceeds will support Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts Scholarship Program.

For more information, contact the McKinney Center at (423) 753-0562.

Depot Street changes brewmasters, adds pizza

Devin Rutledge gets his brew on.


Staff Writer

If you ever get a hankering for good, locally brewed beer and wood-fired pizza, there’s a joint two minutes from downtown Jonesborough that might ease your craving.

Devin Rutledge, who recently purchased Depot Street Brewing, has spent many years honing his craft and he and his wife decided to purchase the business to become fully invested.

“It wasn’t like an off-the-wall decision; pretty much my entire adult career has been brewing beer,” Rutledge said.

Depot Street is ready to brew up good times in Jonesborough.

As “Brewmaster of the Universe”, according to his business card, he takes craft beer to heart.

“We do it in the authentic German fashion. Everything is kind of hands-on,” he said. “We definitely do the craft, we take that seriously.”

Rutledge believes the process of brewing is very much an art. While some beers take a few weeks, some take a few months.

“It depends on the beer. From grain to glass anywhere from two weeks to two months,” he said. “We do it the traditional way.”

According to Rutledge, the process for brewing different beers is key. For instance, the ingredients of a lager and a pale ale are the same, but the process is different. Some may take longer, and some may have slightly different ingredients.

While the beer is definitely worth the visit, Depot Street  also offers authentic wood-fired pizza.

Shawn and Jennifer Stanley previously ran the Fire in the Hole Pizza food truck, but they are now permanently located at Depot Street.

“They do a wood-fired pizza that is, and I’m not just saying this, it’s the best pizza I’ve had around here …  I’ve been to Chicago and New York and I’d put that up there,” Rutledge said.

“He’s really meticulous, he uses really good ingredients. He does the same thing as our beer and that’s kind of why he set up here. We have similar philosophies when it comes to ingredients and quality.”

Now that spring is here, Rutledge said the outdoor seating area has recently become more popular and the bocce ball court they built themselves will certainly be a busy place.

And if bocce isn’t your thing, the homemade shuffleboard table is available upstairs.

So as the weather begins to warm up, there is a place close by that offers locally made food and drink for you to enjoy.

The Depot Street Taproom is open Wednesday and Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 2 to 9 p.m. and is located at 904 Depot Street.

Ridgeview students make East Tennessee School Band & Orchestra Association

Kayleb Ellis and Riley Keene made the Upper Area All East Band selection in Tennessee for middle schoolers.


Ridgeview School eighth graders, Kayleb Ellis and Riley Keene, gave an outstanding performance in a try-out session on Saturday, Jan. 20, at John Sevier Middle School in Kingsport against eighth-grade students from Jefferson City to Johnson County for a chair in the Upper Area All East Band.

Their culminating performance was at Robinson Middle School, Kingsport, on Feb. 10, under the direction of Dr. Brent Palmer.

Riley and Kayleb also achieved this prestigious honor last year as seventh graders. East Tennessee School Band & Orchestra Association sponsors and hosts these events.

Teacher event honors educators


Above, David Crockett High School teacher Sharon Clark accepts her award from Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton along with school board chairman Jack Leonard (left) and the event’s host, Kasey Marler. Right, Washington County educators were given a night to sit back, relax and celebrate their night.


Staff Writer

On Friday night, the Washington County Department of Education took a moment to honor the folks who play a key role in the school district — the teachers of Washington County.

It was all about county educators at the WCDE Teacher of the Year event, which was held at Grace Meadow Farms in Jonesborough for the second annual awards banquet.

Educators were the guests of honor at the second annual Teacher of the Year banquet.

One teacher from each Washington County School, and from each grade, was determined by a vote from the schools’ teachers.

Fall Branch Elementary’s Kristie Payne, Jonesborough Middle School’s Rebekah Bradley and David Crockett High School’s Sharon Clark were given the highest honors of the night as the three system-level teachers of the year while 19 other Washington County teachers were also recognized as building-level teachers of the year.

But the event wasn’t just about handing out a glass apple award to each recipient; for those in attendance, including the county officials who joined in to honor county educators, the event was created to honor those who work directly with what Washington County Board of Education Chairman Jack Leonard considers the county’s most prized possession.

“When I taught Geography, we talked a lot about oil and minerals and how valuable they were,” Leonard said. “But you can’t put a value on a child. They’re the most important thing that we have — and to guide and to grow and to teach.”

“We just thank you so much for your service, for what you do for us, the county and for what you do for our children. I personally, and in representing the board, want to thank you so much.”

Meanwhile, Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge reminded the crowd that Washington County was ranked first among the other eight county school systems in Northeast Tennessee in areas such as average ACT composite scores and TNReady English and Language Arts and math scores, a reflection of the work of county educators.

But the mayor didn’t just provide statistics and the event space at his own farm; he also explained why he says he is so passionate about education in Washington County.

Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge spoke at the event held at his farm.

“Do you know why I’m so passionate about education? Because education will determine the future prosperity of this region,” Eldridge said. “I expect that you all already knew this, but you’re shaping our future.

“My kids are grown. They’re not in school now, but I’ve got a grandchild,” Eldridge said. “She’s eight months old. That’s what I’m thinking about now. In 20 years from now, my granddaughter is going to be grown. The foundation she is going to have is going to be the result of what she gets in the Washington County School System. So I’m passionate about making it better. And I’m thankful to you for being just as passionate if not more so.”

For one school board member, Clarence Mabe, who is also a former coach and teacher, he said his perspective on teaching and the school system hadn’t changed much, but that his appreciation has only kept growing.

“In 1965, I got a job at Fall Branch. I was a physical education teacher and a coach,” Mabe said. “I thought that I was the luckiest person in the world. I thought I was working with the greatest people in the world. I’m 72 years old and I haven’t changed my mind. I’m still the luckiest man in the world.”

“Some of you light flames of interest in their young minds that will carry them forward to be successful adults. Some of you were their mental therapists helping them through these times in their lives. Some of you simply showed them that you truly care about the welfare and offer them encouragement. You have chosen the mother of all professions and we’re so glad you selected Washington County in which you practice your trait.”

But before each honoree took the stage to accept his or her award at the event’s closing, Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton shared her thoughts on what comes to mind when one considers the work of a teacher.

“I think about the many times that each and every one of you have done your fair share of bus duty when its’ storming, it’s thundering and the rain is pouring down, or it’s frigid cold outside. I think about the times that someone forgot their field trip money or they forgot their field trip permission form,” Halliburton said. “I think about those little girls and those little boys and those big boys and those big girls that feel embarrassed in class because they just don’t know what the others know, but they know they don’t know. For them, it’s difficult. And I think about the safe haven that you create for students like that every day.”

And that work, she said, offers light in a world that can be a little tougher on some kids today.

“You are many of our children’s best hope,” Halliburton said. “We have so many kids who go home to loving families that we forget to talk about that. They’re nurtured and they’re cared for. But for those kids who don’t have that, you’re their advocate. You’re the person that wipes the snotty nose. You’re the ones that tolerate those disrespectful high school students because you know where that’s coming from. There’s really just not enough words for me to say thank you to a teacher.

“But we want you to know that in this community, you are loved and you are adored and you are cherished for the work that you do every day.”

Chuckey Depot offers birthday events

The Chuckey Depot Museum now doubles as an event space for train-themed birthday parties.


The Chuckey Depot Train Museum in Jonesborough opened its doors in October of 2017 and can now be rented outside of the regular business hours.

The Chuckey Depot Museum at Jonesborough is a reconstructed, historic facility that houses historic railroad artifacts and is an ideal location for small business meetings, birthday parties, seminars and receptions. The facility sits within WC Rowe Park just off Second Avenue in downtown Jonesborough.

The Chuckey Depot Museum space inside the museum for is available as a rental space year-round, as well as a one-room caboose. These spaces are open to the public and are used by various town entities for educational purposes. All rental requests are subject to special consideration due to programming, performances, events and exhibits. Rental fees for the Depot start at $25 per hour. The Museum can be rented outside of the regular business hours.

An exclusive Birthday party package is available in addition to cost of rental of Depot and/or Caboose. The package includes Thomas the Train-themed party hats, dinner plates, cake plates, napkins, cups, plastic cutlery for 24 plus eight Thomas the Train-themed tablecloths. Quantities can be adjusted depending on party size.

For more information about renting the Chuckey Depot Train Museum in Jonesborough contact Rachel Conger at or call her at (423)791-3869.

Grandview School hosts ‘Lunch with Someone Grand’

A Grandview student shows her “grand” guest the items on her wish list at the book fair. Not only was the event an opportunity for students to show their guests around their school, but it also allowed for a day full for excitement in literacy.


On Friday, March 23, Grandview Elementary School students were encouraged to invite “someone grand” to have lunch with them and shop the Paws for Books Book Fair for Grandview’s first annual “Lunch with Someone Grand” family involvement event.

The school considered it a success with over 200 family members in attendance from pre-K through eighth grade. While the lines were long, the smiles were big. Students eagerly welcomed their “grand” guests to enjoy lunch in the school’s cafeteria then to shop the book fair.

Clifford the Big Red Dog was also present to greet and interact with students and their families.

Due to the excitement surrounding this year’s event has Grandview administration is already planning for next year.

Grandview Elementary is located at 2891 Highway 11E, Telford.

Juried Art Show returns for 6th season

All types and styles of art will be displayed in the annual Juried Art Show at the McKinney Center.


Featuring dozens of artists from around the region, Jonesborough’s Open Juried Art Show is one of the area’s premier exhibitions. With works ranging from ceramics, acrylics, watercolors, photography, encaustic, metal work, mixed media, and more, art lovers will have the opportunity to see the best in the region as this annual event opens in April.

This exclusive event is set apart from other art exhibitions in Northeast Tennessee. Theresa Hammons, director of the McKinney Center, explains, “First, you get to see credible artists who have been through a submission process. The work that has been chosen to be in the show has been judged by someone with notable art experience.”  She continues by adding that the event is important for artists and patrons alike. “Artists in the show build their visibility, and the general audience also gets the opportunity to view artwork from local artists and meet them. This in-turn builds community and relationships.”

Hammons impresses upon the important role an exhibition like this plays in the community. “For artists, entering a juried show also helps them keep their artwork and portfolio current which is critical in any occupation.  But, for the general audience, by attending art exhibitions we get the experience of seeing ideas and themes expressed in new and different ways, which can be very powerful intellectually as well as emotionally. Art helps translate the world for us, and allows us to understand and process ideas that are sometimes too big for words.”

One of the most exciting aspects of Jonesborough’s Open Juried Art show is the reputation of the jurors that have been brought to town, and their fascinating lectures on the juried works that is given on opening night. In the past, the jurors have provided insight into the works of art, as well as talking points to engage with and think about. This year’s juror is Arnaldo Ugarte, a Honduran born artist who for two decades, has worked as a sculpture conservation technician under the direction of the curator at Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate in New York. Ugarte studied sculpture as well as industrial design at The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn New York from the years 1985 to 1990.  He acquired his experience over the years by working in various foundries and other institutions, including the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Park at Pepsi-Co. In addition, Ugarte has assisted many well-known artists in their personal studios and foundries, such as Frank Stella, Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Erick Fischl, as well as numerous others. Over his professional career, Mr. Ugarte has served in an assortment of local juried art shows and has participated as a consultant in assistance to other art curators. Mr. Ugarte strives to continually engage his creativity and knowledge by visiting museum conservation laboratories and often travels to attend major art exhibitions around the country to expand his experiences in and of the art world. In his work at the Rockefeller estate, his practice as a sculpture conservation technician includes maintaining the outdoor sculpture collection as well as other objects at the estate. As an artist, Arnaldo Ugarte strongly believes that everything has the protentional of being regarded as a work of art and therefore everyone should seek to observe all aspects of visual language. He holds strong to the notion that oneself has the personal and social responsibility to constantly give their best in each and every aspect of one’s life.

Ugarte will be present on April 13 to provide a lecture at the International Storytelling Center at 6 p.m.,and will assist with the presentation of awards at the opening reception at 7 p.m. at the McKinney Center. The lecture, reception, and the exhibit is free and open to the public. Most artists will be present at the opening night reception, providing an opportunity for attendees to meet them. In addition, most of the artwork will be for sale.

The exhibit runs through May 5, Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information contact the McKinney Center, (423)753-0562.

Director hopes to offer leg up in literacy, teacher resources

Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton showcases the guided reading sets organized in Boones Creek Elementary School’s book room. Each K-8 school in the district is currently working towards adding supplies to its own book room.


Staff Writer

Washington County Schools might have upped their number of technological devices throughout its K-8 schools, but the district still believes there’s a lot to be said about good old-fashioned books — and they’re proving it through the district’s book rooms.

A book room is found throughout each Washington County K-8 school and houses books and book sets on content areas such as math, science and social studies while keeping each student’s reading level in mind.

“The old fashioned way of educating kids was one size fits all, here’s your basal reader, open to this page and we’re all going to read this story,” Washington County Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton said.

“These guided reading levels help us be more prescriptive in that we do ongoing assessments, so these groups are fluid — meaning students can learn at their own pace.”

While book rooms were designed to keep students learning about specific content such as the solar system, the weather cycle or fractions, all on a student’s reading level, it is also intended to challenge students.

“It’s a way to really challenge those kids who are sitting in a third grade classroom but are performing at an eighth grade level,” Halliburton said.

“They don’t have to sit and wait for the rest of the class to catch up. They can keep on progressing.”

This progress through reading is something that is also being implemented at all other K-8 schools in the county, but students aren’t the only ones the district is looking to support.

Really, Halliburton said, the rooms are designed to offer resources to teachers in order to better educate students.

“District wide, my goal is this: teaching is pretty tough. And I think it’s my job and the board’s job to make sure we’re supporting teachers in the county as much as possible,” Halliburton said. “Support looks like also making sure they have the necessary resources to be successful.”

That doesn’t mean the funding for these resource rooms has been easy to come by. The book rooms started when one-time funding from the state was planned to make its way to Washington County for the projects, but the funding failed to come through.

Now, with plans to add it to the next budget, schools like Boones Creek Elementary are trying to add materials to their book room whenever they can.

Boones Creek Elementary Principal JW McKinney said his book room, with oval work tables and crates of guided reading kits throughout the room, has progressed thanks to a grant earned by the school’s instructional coach, fundraisers put on by the school and a fund pool from the school’s basic education program funding — which was put towards the project after the teachers voted to do so.

“We tried to pull from any funds to make it happen because we see the need,” McKinney said. “The teachers see the need so they agreed to set aside that pool fund for this.”

The book room isn’t just a room full of books for students, however; it’s also a way to provide resources for teachers who, oftentimes, McKinney said, spend their own money buying materials for their classrooms. McKinney said he would guess that each teacher spends around $500 a year out of their own pocket on educational supplies at his school.

“All of this is for the teachers. Of course it’s student focused, but a book room really is for teachers to come shop, checkout and put it back when they don’t need it so someone else can utilize it,” Halliburton said.

“It really is a more economical way to share resources because you don’t have all these things in individual teachers’ closets. Teachers can still choose to do that and buy their own resources, but we don’t want them to have to do that.”

The book room at Boones Creek Elementary School is on it’s way to being complete.

The Boones Creek Elementary principal said he’s already seen results he feels can be attributed to the book room; McKinney said his fourth grade students went from about 40 percent on grade level to around 60 percent on grade level, according to the schools’ mid-year benchmarks.

“Boones Creek had a pretty low score in reading. And in owning that, our goal has been to really put forth some effort to try to raise that,” McKinney said.

“I’m super proud of our fourth grade. So we hope that carries through to our TNReady tests.”

But not each school in the district has a book room with as many materials as Boones Creek Elementary.

In dreaming of the perfect book room, both McKinney and Halliburton both said if funding were no issue, they would immediately add big books that are ideal for shared reading among a group or class and can enhance young readers especially.

“We’ve got kindergarteners who come to us and can read a whole book. And we’ve also got kindergarteners who don’t know their letters,” Halliburton said. “When students start, the playing field is not level many times in terms of ability. This is really helpful for kids who haven’t been read to a whole lot at home.”

But the room doesn’t just add to a student’s education.

McKinney said he felt book rooms were a way to teach more content without adding more time to the school day.

“Cross curricular is super important because we can’t make any more time. There are no more minutes in the day,”McKinney said.

“The more we’re reading in content, we’re getting double bang for our buck. They’re getting literacy pieces they need to read, plus they’re getting the content pieces for science and social studies.”

Book rooms are also a way to keep education individualized for students rather than a one-size-fits-all system.

The Boones Creek Elementary School principal also said he hopes to implement more individualized education.

“We want to basically get to a point where we are individualizing instruction for every student,” McKinney said, “based on their reading needs.”

In all, the book rooms are designed as an avenue to improve reading and other content scores while providing resources for teachers to progress student achievement.

“We expect our teachers to get excellent results. We keep pushing the envelope for more and more students to keep scoring proficient or advanced,” Halliburton said.

“With that, I think it’s unrealistic to have all these expectations on teachers, when we’re not giving them the resources necessary to be successful. That’s what a book room does, that’s what all the technology we’re using actually does. It assists the teacher in having more resources at their disposal to be successful so that our students are successful.”

Do you want to become a Master Local Historian?


The East Tennessee History Center, American Association for State and Local History, and Humanities Tennessee offer a new three-part pilot program to become a Master Local Historian

The East Tennessee History Center, in collaboration with the American Association for State and Local History and Humanities Tennessee, invites you to participate in a new pilot program called MASTER LOCAL HISTORIANS. If you enjoy learning, thinking, discussing, reading, and writing about history then this program is for you!

Master Local Historians provides an opportunity to learn about the craft of the historian. What is historical thinking, and why does it matter? What sources are available to help advance your research? How do you care for artifacts and photographs in your own personal collection? With guidance from history professionals, Master Local Historians teaches how historians approach questions about the past and provides the tools to pursue a personally meaningful history project, such as community, buildings, church, or family history.

The East Tennessee Historical Society is the first in the nation to pilot the Master Local Historians program. Individuals who register for the course will participate in three, 3-hour sessions beginning April 9, 2018. Each session will take on a different topic with the goal of preparing you to begin your investigation of local history:

5:30-8:30 p.m., Monday, April 9: “The Power of Historical Thinking”

Understand historical thinking

Understand the relevance of good local history

Learn how to evaluate interpretive products of local history

Grasp the vocabulary, skills, and process of structuring a local history project

Share information about local history projects on which you already may be working

5:30-8:30 p.m., Monday, April 16: “Source and Resources”

Learn about the research assets at online and brick-and-mortar libraries and archives, and meet key staff at each

Learn how to search for secondary and primary sources at those sites

Learn how to get started with genealogy and family history research

Match a research strategy to a research question

Differentiate secondary from primary sources

Identify evidence in sources

Evaluate conflicts among evidence, in primary resources

5:30-8:30 p.m., Monday, April 23: “Collections: Their Care and Meaning”

Understand a public, curated collection

Identify personal collections

Gain an introductory understanding of collections care

Understand that artifacts, costumes, correspondence, books, etc., are primary sources with meaning

Sessions are interactive and discussion-based and provide a chance to not only learn from experts but float ideas, grapple with tricky questions, and learn the historian’s craft by doing.

If you are interested in participating in the Master Local Historians pilot, please contact the East Tennessee Historical Society. The pilot program is free, but registration is required by calling (865) 215-8825 or emailing Participation limited to 30 individuals. Participants may bring their own dinner/snacks or order a boxed dinner (for a fee) when registering. For more information on the Master Local Historian Program visit our website.

Master Local Historians is a new program from the American Association for State and Local History, supported by grant funding from Humanities Tennessee and operated in partnership with the East Tennessee Historical Society and the Knox County Public Library.

Local leaders take on ‘Principal for a Day’

From left to right, principal for a day, Pastor Dennis Flaugher and Gray Elementary School Principal Erika Patterson look over kindergarten student Lilly Mosley’s latest work.


Staff Writer

What do a couple of pastors, a mayor and several local business leaders all have in common? On Friday, they were all “principal for a day” at one of Washington County’s 14 schools.

The district’s second annual Principal for a Day event kicked off throughout the school system as local community leaders took to hallways and classrooms to get a real-life look at what it takes to be a school’s head principal.

“This day really is to highlight (principals) and to also allow our community leaders to really see what it is a principal does all day,” Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton said. “You have to be able to solve conflicts.

Keith Bennett of Eastman Chemical Company acts as the head principal of Grandview Elementary School as he greets a student at the start of the day.

“Rarely does a parent come in and say, ‘Can I just have a few minutes of your time to tell you what an awesome job you’re doing?’ It’s a thankless job that our principals do everyday.”

Each principal chose a community member to take on the role of principal for a day at his or her school. And for some stand-in principals, they felt it was not a lackadaisical job.

“When I got there it was kind of crazy. Eighth grade was going on a field trip and one of the buses was late,” said Eddie Taylor, the Principal for a Day at Boones Creek Middle School. “Everyone was waiting on that so they were all running around.”

Taylor, who is the manager of Ingles, joined Jordan Hughes throughout typical duties such as attending meetings with various teachers and students. Though he got a very realistic look at all the tasks a principal must complete in a day, Taylor said he got a different view of this younger generation as well.

Pastor Dennis Flaugher takes time as the Gray Elementary Principal to talk to students Chelsea Bagley and Xzavier Shaw.

“I always thought kids these days were all about computers. But they were looking at these books and talking about which ones they wanted,” Taylor said. “It was different from what I thought. I see kids and how they act in our store. These kids though were a whole lot sweeter than what I thought.”

At the luncheon that concluded the Principal for a Day event, many stand-in principals said they came to realize a principal’s job doesn’t involve just one role; instead, they insisted, it’s a job that revolves around multitasking.

Gray Elementary’s Principal For a Day, Dennis Flaugher, who is the pastor at Gray United Methodist Church, said after taking on Head Principal Erika Patterson’s job, he saw Patterson as a woman who assumes a multitude of tasks in her school.

Pastor Greg Doebler of Crosspoint Church in Jonesborough takes advantage of the walkie-talkie as the guest principal at Jonesborough Middle School.

“When she’s not with students, she’s with teachers. If she’s not with teachers, there are parents,” Flaugher said.  “When she’s not with students, teachers or parents, there is the business lady who controls the finances. There are meetings that can go two to three hours concerning budgets. Then there’s conversations with the assistant principal — it’s constant. It’s always changing.”

Apart from taking in all those roles, some stand-in principals also got a real sense of the importance of a school’s community.

For West View Elementary School Head Principal Patton Gamble, it was his guest principal, Town of Jonesborough Director of Public Safety Craig Ford, who revealed to him what the event was really about.

“There are some things I learned from him. He kind of put this day in perspective better than I could have,” Gamble said. “It was about building community. I thought this was about bringing someone in so they could see our school. But no, it’s about building relationships because that’s what we do in school every day.”

For Ford, seeing the school nurse at West View put food in some kids’ lockers reminded him of the impact those who work with students can have on a kid’s life. And that experience brought the whole meaning of the event full-circle.

Jonesborough Director of Public Safety Craig Ford serves as the Principal for a day at West View Elementary School as he looks over students’ work.

At the luncheon, Ford retold a story from a friend of his who spoke to him after Ford’s mother-in-law, who used to be the head of the cafeteria at Lamar School, passed away.

“He said, ‘When we grew up, we had nothing,” Ford said, retelling his friend’s story. “A lot of times, the only time we ate through the day was what we got at school.’ He said, ‘I want you to know that your mother-in-law always managed to put a little extra on the plates of the kids at school that she knew didn’t have much to eat.’ At the time, he didn’t know what was going on, but now that he’s older he said he looks back and knows exactly what she was doing for them. So that was neat to see them putting food in those kids’ lockers.”

That significance lingered in the minds of the stand-in principals as they shared their experiences from the day, but they also noted the emphasis principals put on building relationships on a day-to-day basis.

“The love that these kids displayed for this gentleman and their teachers was awesome,” said Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe, who spent the day with Jonesborough Elementary School’s Head Principal Matt Combs. “You got to see it firsthand.

“Those little hearts and minds and eyes and ears all perk up when Mr. Combs comes in. (Combs) explained to me that his job is to build relationships with these kids and their parents and their teachers. That will benefit these kids for the rest of their lives.”

Gray Elementary Principal Erika Patterson talks over her typical day with her guest.

The selected community leaders might have seen what doing paperwork and meeting with parents and teachers is like for a principal, but more than that, they saw the passion and commitment that goes into a “thankless” job.

And for some, like Patterson — who proudly displays a letter in her office from a former student after he had moved schools — that passion comes from the kids who fill those classrooms.

“Honestly, my favorite part is probably what we’ve done this morning, walking around, talking with the teachers,” Patterson said, “and seeing the teachers make a difference in the lives of those kids. That’s the most important thing I do all day.

“At first you don’t see that direct impact you have on those kids like you do when you’re in a classroom, but once you get in and work with those teachers and have an impact on them, you see ultimately, the impact you have on the kids. It’s a whole different kind of success.”

Jonesborough Middle to host STEAM night


Jonesborough Middle School will host its annual Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math night on Tuesday, March 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Community members and parents are invited to an evening of STEAM activities appropriate for all ages. Students will also have STEAM-driven artwork and Science Fair projects on display during this time.

Gala to celebrate 20 years of song

A fundraiser will be held of March 23 for the Music on the Square concert series.


Staff Writer

“Who knew 20 years ago that this is what it would become?”

It’s a question that Steve Cook, the semi-retired past owner of the Jonesborough Art Glass Gallery pondered recently.

As the organizer of Jonesborough’s Music on the Square, he is in a good position to know. On Friday, March 23, from 6 to 10 p.m., the McKinney Center will host a gala fundraiser for the spring and summer live music events. 

Cook said the gala will feature music from the Myrtle Beach-based band Sol Driven Train, heavy hors d’oeuvres from Noli Food Truck and drinks from either Tennessee Hills or Depot Street Brewery.  Anyone purchasing tickets to the event will also receive two drink tickets.

According to Cook, there will also be a live auction with offerings including a hot air balloon ride, a stay at the Historic Eureka Inn and a zip-line tour of Linville Gorge,  as well as numerous art pieces.

The proceeds from the event will support this year’s Music on the Square events, all of which are free and are held every Friday night from May through September.

While there are many similar events throughout the region, Cook believes the Jonesborough events are unique.

“(The event) is the most attentive audience that many bands ever play for,” Cook said. “They’re not drinking, not smoking, and you don’t have to play over the crowd. It really is a great family-oriented setting. 

“We wanted to bring some people to town after 5 p.m.” 

As organizer of one of the first live music events in the area, Cook has witnessed many changes over the 20 years the event has been held.

“What’s changed over 20 years is how many other places have music and the different venues, (and) every club has a stage,” Cook said. “I had a friend from Kingsport who said, ‘Yours is the best. We go to Kingsport for the party and we go to Jonesborough for the music.’  There are so many performers that are so good that you’ll never hear of because there are so many of them.  I always say I’ve got too many bands and not enough Fridays.”

During the concerts some of the downtown businesses keep their doors open, and while there are no food or beer trucks, Cook said the music is reason enough to be there.

“You’ll hear heartbreak, you’ll hear joy and stress, you’ll hear relaxing music. I’ve had performers from Australia, from the UK, from Africa. I’ve had Native American hoop dancers. Entertainment is the key word.”

The gala fundraiser will be the first event of the year and according to Cook, “It’s an opportunity for people to have a nice evening out and support a good cause.”

Tickets are available for $40 while a table for eight is $280.  Tickets are available at or call (423) 753-1010.

Chester Inn kicks off History Happy Hour

The Chester Inn on Main Street is ready for the 2018 season of History Happy Hour.


History Happy Hour is set to return with the launch of its 2018 schedule.

The first program this year features Dollie Boyd from Tusculum College and the Doak House Museum. Dollie will be speaking about 19th century optical illusion toys and their fascinating role in 1800s recreation. The program will be on Thursday, March 15 at 6:30 p.m., and it will be held at the Chester Inn Museum in Jonesborough. It is free and open to the public.

History Happy Hour was launched by the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum last year as an effort to bring people together from different institutions and provide a space for the community to engage in free, history-driven discussions. The 2018 schedule is lined up and features a mix of subjects including biographies, regional and local history, and national events like World War II.

For more information on the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum, History Happy Hour, or the Heritage Alliance, please call our office at 423.753.9580, or the Chester Inn Museum at 423.753.4580.  You can also contact the organization via email at  Additional information about the Heritage Alliance and its mission can be found online at

Artists to exhibit work at McKinney

Calvin Bennett and Fredda Roberts’ art will be featured at the McKinney Center from March 9 through April 20.


Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts at the McKinney Center is pleased to announce their first exhibition of the year featuring Calvin Bennett and Fredda Roberts.  The exhibition will be open and free to the public starting with the Opening Reception on Friday, March 9, 6 p.m.  It will run through April 20. You can view the exhibit at the McKinney Center Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Director of the McKinney Center, Theresa Hammons, states, “Calvin and Fredda both have natural elements in their work.  Calvin’s environmental subjects in his photographs are beautiful and endearing.  It is amazing how he captures the essence of the natural world through his camera lens and also in his framing.  Calvin uses acid free, archival, photography paper to print his images and also hand builds all his frames.  Calvin puts his whole being into a photograph.  It is truly inspiring.”

Calvin Bennett is an American photographer from Jonesborough TN, known for his nature photography in the Great Smokey Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway.Calvin worked as a professional crane technician and OSHA crane inspector for over 30 years.  Bennett later changed careers and focused on his life long passion of photography when he purchased his first camera from a pawn shop in the mid 70’s.

Bennett has achieved various awards for fine art photography at art fairs and shows for several years.  He is currently photographing the East coast lighthouses from Florida to Maine.  He is very hands-on in his studio where printing on archival photo paper, canvas, and matting are top of the line.

“Photography requires sacrifice,” Bennett says, “rolling out of bed a 3 o’clock in the morning to be on some mountain top before sunrise, or getting in late at night after a sunset, it’s just a part of the job, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Fredda Roberts discovered the art of jewelry making in 2008 and states that, “it was as though a fog had lifted and I was able to clearly see a way of connecting and incorporating my passion for fiber arts and clay work with a lifelong interest in natural gems and antiques.”  As a young girl Roberts would go rock hunting her mother in the North Carolina mountains and learned to see the beauty hidden in the rough stones.  That skill has carried through to today when she sits at her work bench looking at a spool of wire, a broken dish or a lump of metal clay.  Roberts says, “I am blessed with creative optimism; the faith that I will discover what is to come.  I find myself drawn to objects with a past life whether it is a silver spoon, a river rock or a piece of scrap copper.  The need to reform them into something unique and wearable, something new and reborn is almost unstoppable.”

Roberts has explored a variety of styles and techniques; loving that there is not end to what she can learn.  Her work continues to evolve and she creates wearable works of art, each with a history of its own.  All of her pieces are created with joy and enthusiasm in her home studio in Jonesborough.  Although on a pretty day she is more likely found under a shade tree weaving and hammering while watching her children play.

For more information, email Theresa Hammons at or call (423) 753-0562.

Jonesborough plans blow-out St. Patrick’s Day weekend fun

The Jonesborough Historic Courthouse will be glowing green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day throughout the holiday event on March 16 and 17.


Come celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Jonesborough style Friday and Saturday, March 16 and 17, in Tennessee’s Oldest Town. Participant’s will get the chance to join in on the weekend-long fun with a scavenger hunt, fun run, leprechaun search, live music, brews and more.

Main Street will be full of green and roaming “leprechauns” throughout the event celebration.

Participate in the Jonesborough Gold Hunt, a mobile-friendly QR code scavenger hunt, taking place throughout downtown all weekend long. The hunt will include almost 20 locations incorporating Jonesborough’s unique history and architecture. You can find more information about the hunt and get started at

While exploring downtown Jonesborough, keep your eyes peeled for Paddy the Leprechaun. Clues on where to find Paddy will be announced on Main Street Jonesborough’s Instagram page. When you find Paddy, he may have a special treat to share with you and be sure to get your picture made with him and hashtag #OnlyInJonesborough #FindPaddy to be entered to win a giveaway each day.

Friday evening, Jonesborough will host Paddy’s Dash: Brew Fun Run starting at 7 p.m. at the Storytelling Center. The 2-mile walk/jog/run will loop through town with an option to stop by Depot Street Brewery for a free 5 oz. beer and end back at the Storytelling Plaza with a Beer Garden. After the run, stick around for the Lighting of the Clocktower as it shines green for the weekend!

Then on Saturday, join us for Shamrockin’ on the Plaza in front of the Storytelling Center from 4-7 p.m. Enjoy Celtic music, beers from Depot Street Brewery and a special menu of Irish foods from Boone Street Market. The Historic Jonesborough Dance Society will also offer a Saint Patrick’s Day Contra Dance from 7:30-10:30 p.m. at the Visitors Center. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children and students or $15 for families.

Downtown merchants will be offering promotions and special menu items throughout the weekend in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Also enjoy St. Paddy’s inspired arts with the McKinney Center at the corner of Fox Street on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m.

For more information, go to Main Street Jonesborough’s Facebook page or call (423) 753-1010.

Bridging the gap: School district kicks off Chromebook launch

From left to right, Kambria Silvers, Porter Benton, Liana Frizzell, Conner Heaton and Taylor Street get ready to enjoy their new Chromebooks at Ridgeview Elementary.


Staff Writer

It’s only February, but for Ridgeview Elementary students and teachers, it sure felt like Christmas morning when Principal Kelley Harrell rolled a cart full of brand new Chromebooks into the school’s classrooms.

Lindsay Carpenter’s class was surprised and thrilled with the new Chromebooks.

Ridgeview first grade teacher Lindsay Carpenter was, along with other K-8 teachers throughout the Washington County School District, taken by surprise by the new technological additions to her classroom.

“I’m thrilled,” Carpenter said, smiling. “This is exciting because I love having students on the Chromebooks and using them. They’re so motivated by the things they can do. And for each one of them to have one is so exciting for me and for them.”

Washington County K-8 schools received a total of 1,325 Chromebooks along with 53 mobile Chromebook carts on Monday. The total cost of the technology rollout was $640,000 which was approved by the Washington County Commission. But it didn’t just add to the number of Chromebooks at the K-8 schools — it also cut the student-to-device ratio from 33-to-1 at some schools to 3-to-1 and 2-to-1 at some schools in the district.

One of the 53 Chromebook carts was delivered to Lindsay Carpenter’s class at Ridgeview.

“This gets us much closer to having all of our K-8s being a one-to-one device school, meaning every student will eventually have a Chromebook,” Washington County Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton said. “So if the schools continue to use their PTO dollars strategically, in addition to the generosity of the county commission, and with the approval of the school board, we could potentially, this time next year, be a 1-to-1 device school system.”

And with this added technology comes nearly unlimited online-program opportunities.

For one Ridgeview teacher, Alana Street, who is a proponent for classroom technology, programs such as IXL and EarPods allow students to learn through working at their own pace.

“It opens up a whole new world to the students because they have access to different websites where they can work at their own pace. They can submit their answers to my device, they get immediate feedback and we can share the work with the students and discuss it,” Street said. “They love it because they can actually see the lesson on their Chromebook and they can use the drawing tools and see other students’ work.”

The K-8 schools aren’t the only ones in the district that are soon to see a decrease in student-to-device ratios; Halliburton said the school system is also currently working towards providing each junior at David Crockett and Daniel Boone High Schools with a Chromebook.

“What that will entail is we’re going to add Chromebooks to every junior class each year,” Halliburton said. “So these juniors next year will be seniors and will take their Chromebook with them. So the new juniors will receive a Chromebook next year. And when the existing juniors graduate, they’ll pass that down to the sophomore class.”

As for Carpenter, who’s class of first graders jumped for joy at the sight of the Chromebook-surprise on Monday, her appreciation for technology in classrooms was something she had thought on well before the mobile cart’s arrival in her classroom; Carpenter submitted a grant in December in hopes of obtaining technology for her class — so the sight of brand new Chromebooks being shuttled into her classroom was more than a pleasant surprise.

“I wanted to take that step because technology is such a growing thing in our world today,” Carpenter said. “Our county is heading towards technology and the earlier we can expose them and get them headed in the right direction, the easier it’s going to be in second grade, third grade, fourth grade and so on. It’s nothing but a positive thing for them and nothing but a positive thing for our county.”


Volunteers provide free tax return assistance

Ramesh Munjal and Pamela Holcombe stand ready to help.


Staff Writer

Tax season can often bring out a feeling of dread in folks every year.  However the AARP Foundation’s “Tax-Aide Volunteer” program may help alleviate that feeling. 

AARP volunteers are available to help prepare your tax returns every Monday and Saturday at the Jonesborough Library through April 17.

The program is free and open to all taxpayers, according to AARP Tax-Aide State Coordinator Pamela Holcombe, “We do returns for people from age 17 to 90 plus, and we have no income restrictions, either.” 

“Our clients and customers are so happy . . .  they don’t have to pay anybody to do it professionally . . .  they are just happy to see us,” Holcombe said.

AARP Tax-Aide District Six Coordinator Ramesh Munjal said that their volunteers prepared roughly 1,800 returns last year throughout the district. According to Munjal, there are six sites in the district offering the service; the Jonesborough library, Gray library, Blountville library, Johnson City senior center, Kingsport senior center and the Church Hill senior center. 

Due to the program’s popularity, Munjal recommended scheduling an appointment by calling the site.

“We try to accommodate as much as we can,” he said, “but an appointment is the best way to do it.” 

Holcombe added, “A lot of times we’ll tell people if you want to come by . . . if we can work you in we will, but we can’t make any promises.”

The IRS comes to train volunteers every October, Munjal said, to make certain they are all qualified and certified.

“You don’t have to be a tax expert because we have all the software programs that will calculate everything, but you still have to have some kind of idea when it comes to dependents, when it comes to filing status, you have to know the forms we have to plug in . . . you need to know all the regulations.”

Holcombe and Munjal both stressed the importance of bringing all the relevant paperwork and information. A checklist of all the documents needed is available on the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide website.

When all the information is gathered, Holcombe said, “we have a certified preparer . . . who puts it together and then the quality reviewer reviews the entire return to make sure no numbers were transposed, (that) no forms were missed, all the tax law was properly applied or that a credit wasn’t missed that they were entitled to … we have a 100 percent quality review process, so essentially your return is done twice.

“It doesn’t take as long as it sounds. We can do a simple return in about a half hour and that’s soup to nuts —  get the return in, get the quality review and get the taxpayer out the door.  (But) sometimes it takes longer.”

While taxpayers get their taxes done for no charge, Holcombe and Munjal said they both get a tremendous sense of satisfaction from their interactions with the clients. 

Holcombe said, “It’s the satisfaction of being able to help people.  This is a huge service to the community and the community recognizes it. 

“Most of our sites have repeat customers, people we have seen for years . . . so you get to know them personally, which is nice. But the taxpayers we deal with are very appreciative of what we do. It takes a load off their mind.”

According to Holcombe, the biggest challenge for today’s  volunteers is finding new volunteers to help with the program,

“What we find is that a lot of people are intimidated about the idea of doing other people’s taxes. People sign up early in the year and we don’t start working with them and training them until fall, so sometimes they fall out of the bucket because they lose interest. Other times people get into and decide it’s not their cup of tea.”

But for Holcombe, the payoff is well worth it. “This is the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done. I get more pleasure and more satisfaction out of doing this than anything I’ve ever done.”

Information can be found on the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide website and appointments may be made by contacting the hosting sites.

Dr. Seuss celebration slated

The Jonesborough Library will hold a Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

Celebration on Friday, March 2, between 10 a.m. and and

noon at the library. The event will feature a special storytime,

lots of activities, a photo booth, crafts, and prizes.

Snacks and drinks will be provided. This program is free

and open to the public. For more information, call the Jonesborough

Library at 753-1800.

Genealogy Day set for February

The Jonesborough Genealogical Society will host its February

Genealogy Day on Saturday, Feb. 24 beginning at 9:30


This Genealogy Day will be a research day in the Washington

County-Jonesborough Library’s Genealogy and History

Center. Members and community members are welcome to

come conduct research, work on society projects, or seek

help on your own genealogy.

Chocolate fest brings smiles despite rain

From left to right, Gerry Duffy, Teresa Duffy, Skye Myers, Allison Myers and Richard Myers brave the rainy weather at Downtown Jonesborough’s Chocolate Fest. Like this group, folks brought their umbrellas but also brought their sweet tooth for the third annual event. Over 12,000 tickets were sold for the event that featured all sorts of chocolate — just in time for Valentine’s Day.


Staff Writer

Over 2,300 people braved the elements and sampled the wide array of sweets at the third annual Chocolate Fest last Saturday, according to Jonesborough Area Merchants and Services Association board member Jeff Gurley.

While the forecast may have scared off some folks planning to buy tickets the day of the event, Gurley said more than 12,600 tickets were sold.

A rainy Main Street in Downtown Jonesborough was the scene at this year’s Chocolate Fest.

Jonesborough residents Gerry and Teresa Duffy, along with Richard, Allison and Skye Myers, were at their second Chocolate Fest.  “My favorite (treat) was probably the one down at the (Visitor’s Center), the chocolate covered Oreo … and then the chocolate covered strawberries,” Skye Myers said.

Those weren’t the only delectables available at the festival.

The event coordinator for Farm Fresh Grocery, Ashley Cavender, said, “People have been really happy to see the effort put into the different tastings that the merchants have offered … we tried to be a little bit diverse in what we made so people with gluten allergies were able to get the gluten-free cake or maybe people with nut allergies could do the shortbread cookie.”

Also available at the Farm Fresh Grocery was a Chocolate Caramel Walnut Bark with raspberry drizzle.  “This is my third year of being a part of Chocolate Fest and each year they’ve gotten better,” Cavender said.

Although the weather forecast was grim, the attendees helped improve the financial forecasts for downtown businesses.

“(Chocolate Fest) is a good idea to bring people into the stores,” Richard Myers said.

“It’s been phenomenal,” Cavender said, “Our sales have been really good for the day. We did $1,500 … a good Saturday for us is $1,000,”  she added, “Overall we consider it good exposure even if people didn’t come in and buy … it was a really successful day.”

Gurley, who also owns The Lollipop Shop, said, “I know I got 500 or 600 people in my store.”

According to Gurley, the Visitor’s Center on a normal Saturday and Sunday in February will receive 20 to 40 visitors. This past Saturday alone 685 people passed through its doors.

Along with eating chocolate all afternoon and helping local businesses, Gurley said that events such as Chocolate Fest instill a sense of community pride.

“At some point in time comes more community goodwill … you take pride in living where you live.”