Eggstravaganza: Children gather for town-wide Easter fun

2017 Easter Eggstravaganza JBO - Photo by Whitney S. Williams (32)

Photo by Whitney S. Williams


H&T Correspondent

On April 8, a perfect spring Saturday, families wandered the sidewalks of downtown Jonesborough, loitered in the plaza of the International Storytelling Center, and congregated under purple blooms on the walkways and grassy areas of Jimmy Neil Smith Park during the Annual Easter Eggstravaganza.

“We came for the egg hunt,” Carlene Long, a first-time attendee of the event, said from her seat on a park bench in front of the International Storytelling Center at about 2 p.m. “We didn’t realize it didn’t start until later.”

2017 Easter Eggstravaganza JBO - Photo by Whitney S. Williams (17)

Photo by Whitney S. Williams

The Easter Eggstravaganza, organized by Main Street Jonesborough and Jonesborough Parks & Recreation, kicked off at 11 a.m. with an Easter Market — local vendors set up shop on the plaza of the Storytelling Center, offering Easter and spring-themed wares and gifts — but the main events took place from 1 to 3 p.m. and were scattered throughout the downtown area.

Allison Long, Carlene’s granddaughter, sat on the bench beside her with an empty white basket hooked on the crook of her arm, waiting to be filled with eggs. She showed off a stick only half-colored with fluffy blue cotton candy. The other half had been eaten away.

“I got to touch the [fire] truck and get cotton candy,” 7-year-old Allison said, grinning widely. “I’m going to get my face painted soon.”

The young visitor to Jonesborough traveled all the way from Lenoir City (near Knoxville) to attend the event and to visit her grandmother. Asked if she would attend the Easter Extravaganza again, Allison answered with blue-dye-tinged lips, “Yeah!”

In addition to cotton candy, face painting, and access to a fire truck (which many parents took advantage of, taking memorable photos of their children behind the wheel), there were also games to play, a petting zoo, free popcorn, children’s crafts, and photo opportunities with princesses and the Easter bunny. Law enforcement was also on hand with a police dog, which kids and adults alike flocked to meet.

“We were very pleased with the turnout,” Melinda Copp, director of Main Street Jonesborough said. “There were a lot of people in town.”

Many sponsors were involved with the Eggstravaganza, she said, providing the popcorn and cotton candy and other assistance.

“I would like to say thank you to everyone who helped out,” Copp said. “We had a lot of people and organizations involved, and without them it wouldn’t have been possible.”

The event, which has been held downtown for the past four years, has had some small changes over time, Copp said, but the heart of it has stayed the same. It brings people downtown and gets them involved with organizations and people on Main Street and in the Jonesborough community.

“My friend’s mother told me about this event,” said Rebecca Barlow, another first-time attendee and a resident of Unicoi. In her arms, she held 7-month-old Grant Barlow. Faith Addison Barlow, almost 3-years-old, tagged along at her side.

“(Faith) wanted to see the Easter bunny,” Barlow laughed. She gestured at the family vehicle, parked nearby. “We got here late and we were able to just pull up and park right next to the Easter bunny, so that was nice. The Easter egg hunt is a surprise.”

The hunt, limited to children 12 and under, took place in Jimmy Neil Smith Park. Children dressed in bright colors sporting Easter baskets patrolled the park grounds throughout the afternoon, anticipating the hunt. The park had been split into four parts, each one dedicated to an age group, and in advance of the hunt, children raced up and down the paths, looking for the area meant for their age group, scoping out the best egg hiding spots.

But Faith had more urgent things on her mind. She tugged at Barlow’s shirt, her eyes alight.

“The Easter’s bunny’s over there!” she pointed to a line of people in front of the courthouse  a line that led to the Easter bunny — before running off to wait her turn.

Barlow followed with a smile, joining the crowd.

On the courthouse steps behind them, a little girl in a pink dress hugged a princess, posing for a photograph. A family walked past carrying fresh popcorn, their faces painted, meandering toward their car. A man and woman with a small dog in tow strolled down the row of open shops on Main Street, peering in the windows, and shouts and laughter from the direction of the park heralded the beginning of the egg hunt.

It was another idyllic day in Jonesborough, and another successful Main Street event.

For information on upcoming events in downtown Jonesborough or to see photographs of the Easter Eggstravaganza, visit the Main Street Jonesborough Facebook page. You can also call the Historic Jonesborough Visitor Center at 423-753-1010.

‘Sister Act’ shares message of friendship



Staff Writer

Lead character Delores Van Cartier—as played by Eureka Inn innkeeper Katelyn Yarbrough in the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre’s presentation of “Sister Act”—stood in a black and white ensemble in front of her jiving squad of nuns. The club-singer-turned-nun said her newfound band of nuns were going to put the “‘sis’ back in Genesis.”

And that’s exactly what the JRT cast and crew accomplished with their comedic yet surprisingly sentimental rendition of the Whoopi Goldberg classic for family and friends night on Thursday evening.

Most know the premise of the story thanks to the 1994 hit movie about a singer who witnesses a murder by her lover and club-owner. The outspoken lead character then has to attempt to blend in amongst the group of nuns with which she is hiding in a sort of witness protection program. The story—full of booty-shaking nuns, odd-ball gangsters and one wildcard disco queen nun—stands on it’s own. But it was the cast that truly made the story come to life in Tennessee’s oldest town.

Yarbrough’s rendition of the lead character was stellar; from solid vocals on various musical numbers to first-class acting, it’s easy to forget she’s a community member and not the character she portrays. Meanwhile, the head nun, Mother Superior (played by Dawn Gentry), added a stark contrast to Yarbrough’s character and enough sass to last till the very end. And of course the wacky cast of nuns with some serious vocal abilities blended the perfect combination of comedy and talent.

“I’m just amazed that here in Jonesborough, a fairly small town, that we attract—and they don’t just come from Jonesborough—but we attract this quality of singers and dancers and actors,” Jonesborough resident and storyteller Pamela Miller said. “And it is a real asset to the community. And I just can’t say enough good about the leaders.”

It was also the cast’s use of the stage that further impressed folks like Miller who found themselves wrapped up in the story playing out in the small theatre.

“I’m amazed at how creative and how good they do with so little on the stage,” Miller said. “Because they really help the audience to use their imagination. And it’s like tonight, the audience just gets swept up in it.”

Ester Perisin, who used to be a Jonesborough resident and now resides in Chicago with her husband Gregory Perisin, enjoyed a stay at the nearby Eureka Inn. They were also dazzled by the small theatre’s ability to captivate the audience.

“I have see a community theatre before. I’ve been here at the repertory and I’ve seen the community theatre in Johnson City. So I know there is a lot of quality here,” Perisin said. “My husband is here for the first time and he was a little bit skeptical and I said there’s a lot talent in such a small town. And I think he now knows that.”

From roaring laughter at random disco-themed solos featuring characters like the club-owner’s henchmen and a love-struck policeman to the crowd’s inability to refrain from clapping on beat to a funky nun performance, the audience seemed to find themselves caught up in the show.

But it wasn’t all just laughs; Among the entertainment that stayed true to the classic story while also adding a few new dynamics, “Sister Act” also provided a lesson on friendship and sisterhood by the show’s end, bringing the story full-circle.

“I really liked the dimensions that they added and how they made the emphasis on the sisters and the relationships,” Miller said just a few feet from the cast who lined both sides of the sidewalk at the alley’s stage door. “That was the thing that carried it for me. It was their love and their willingness to stand with and for her.

“And to me, that’s part of the message of love.”

“Sister Act” will run from March 31 to April 23 at 125.5 West Main Street in Jonesborough. General admission tickets are $16, students and seniors are $14 and group rates are $12 for groups of 15 or more. Call 423-753-1010 for more information.

Aromatherapist blends oils, education



Staff Writer

From joint pain to the inability to sleep at night, Ann Boynton, the owner of Aroma-Sense Essential Oils on Fox Street in Jonesborough, has an oil for that.

“People have gotten away from this. And this isn’t new. It’s not new age,” Boynton said in her shop, surrounded by tiny glass bottles of her own brand of essential oils. “This was medicine before the pharmaceutical people took it away in the ‘90s. You would go to a doctor and he would have a long prescription and he would go to the pharmacist and it might be a week before you could pick up different things that they’d mix up. This is where it started.”

For Boynton, it all started in Boca, Florida where she first smelt the aromatic allure of essential oils at a lady’s booth at the mall. From there, she took classes to learn more about the essential oils, their medicinal properties and how they can aid numerous ailments. But It was the medical side of the oils that sent her to work with dermatologistsDSC_4957 and plastic surgeons to develop a love for skin care. And it was her interest in essential oils that sent her to England and France to study under aromatherapy expert Robert Tesserand and medical herbalist Martin Watt. And now she even has her own essential oil brand made from flowers and plants cultivated on farms in places like Canada and Texas.

But simply owning a shop full of scents, scrubs, skincare and permanent makeup isn’t her passion—it’s the oils and sharing her extensive education.

“I was retired twice. I decided to come back to life,” Boynton said, laughing. “I couldn’t stay because when I saw these oils out in shops and they’re adulterated and they’ve got different things that they put in it that makes it not a pure oil. I’m like, ‘People need to know.’”

These essential oils, which seem to have become increasingly popular, are used for their fragrances, but they’re also used for medicinal properties. Things like headaches and acne issues are treated with oils like peppermint and tea tree oil, but for the essential oil shop owner, it’s all about understanding symptoms and treating them naturally.

“In Europe all acupuncturists, they treat the symptoms before it becomes a disease, America, we wait until it gets to be a disease and then when it’s so far down the hill, it’s hard to catch up with it,” Boynton said. “Look at what they’ve done to some of the medicines that someone really really needs—they put it up 300 percent. In Asia, if you go to an acupuncturist, you pay him when you’re sick. You don’t pay him when you’re well.

“All these oils, all these flowers, everything has medicinal properties. From putting your feet in a footpath to smelling them on a pillow.” 

Boynton has books, folders and certifications throughout her shop to back up her education and knowledge. But it’s phone calls like the one from a customer whose pain had been relieved thanks to some peppermint oil from Boynton’s shop that solidifies the store owner’s belief in these oils.

DSC_4970“I can’t prescribe because I’m not a doctor, so forgive me for that,” Boynton said with a laugh. “But I can tell you, tell me something that’s wrong and I can tell you something that you can mix as a massage oil, to smell, to put it in bath water.

“I stand behind it. I stand behind all of it. The thing about it is, it works. And I’ve had thirty years. And I have a lot of formulas and I have a lot of books. This is something that has been my passion.”

Boynton also wants to educate people on the natural chemical balance she says essential oils can offer. From help in getting to sleep to finding an oil to help relax, Boynton is dedicated to all levels of oils and the people she comes across.

From customers like the one who called for advice on another ailment during Boynton’s talk with the Herald & Tribune to any interested customer that happens to wander into her shop, Boynton is ready to educate the world on the role these age-old oils can have in one’s life.

“I have a reasonable market. It’s not much because I’m selling the knowledge of the oil for mankind to get away from all this stuff and we’ve hurt the planet so badly,” Boynton said. “It takes just a little bit.”

“I don’t know how much longer I have on this earth, but I’m gonna try. I wanna try and do as much good as I can.”

Aroma-Sense Essential Oils is located at 105 Fox Street in Jonesborough. The store’s hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 8 to 5 p.m. Boynton will also hold free Sunday classes and the next session will be on Sunday, April 30 from 2 to 3 p.m.

African children drum up education opportunities

DSC_4743 Full frame


Staff Writer

The stained glass windows in Jonesborough United Methodist Church typically pour light into the sanctuary, but this past Sunday, nothing beamed as brightly as the smiles on the faces of the singers, dancers and drummers of the African Children’s Choir.

The choir made a stop in Jonesborough as part of their American tour filled with contemporary Christian songs as well as traditional African songs.

DSC_4755The group doesn’t just travel throughout the world to entertain and fill up every church pew in a small Tennessee town’s church though; the ACC is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to help pay for education through the donations accepted on tour for children in African countries.

“They know from their experiences in Uganda that not everyone gets schooled,” ACC volunteer, Kyle Serquinia, said. “I mean, that’s evident every day of life. They understand how valuable school is and they are very serious. They love the opportunity they have to go to school. And they do understand that by going on tour they are helping to raise more money for other kids to go to school as well.”

Not only do these dancers and musicians help better their education when they return to their home country, but the kids also get to experience America.


ACC volunteer Kyle Serquinia is traveling the country with the choir.

“These kids before coming on tour had never been outside of Uganda. And for many of them had never been outside of a 20-mile radius,” Serquinia explained. “On tour they see new things, new experiences every single day. It just kind of blows us away that it’s normal for us. Having hot showers, that was a big thing to them—having lights everywhere that you just turn on and off with a switch. One of the very first things they recognized when we were driving through America was how clean the roads were. It’s fun to just experience America through their eyes.”

Their experiences don’t just affect their lives today or even just when they get back to Uganda; Serquinia said that before he became a volunteer with the organization, he saw first-hand what ACC had afforded these children, and also, their futures.

“I got to meet a lot of young adults, men and women in their 20s and 30s who got to tour as a child and are now adults, professional teachers, doctors, nurses and lawyers and business men.” Sequin recalled. “All of them said to me, ‘We would not be where we are today without the help of this organization.’ I just got blown away by the organization, the work they do and how it changes children’s lives to where in 15 or 20 years, they’ll be doctors, teachers, lawyers and other professionals and will help them not only provide for themselves, but also change their community.”


It was standing room only at the Jonesborough United Methodist Church on Main Street on the night of the choir’s performance.

“This education will not only help themselves, it will help their family and their whole community,” Serquinia said. “When they go back to Uganda they’ll have their education paid for from now all the way through the university level. That education will give them the opportunity to do great things and to build up their communities and help themselves and help other people.”

Turning a page: Town Hall ‘mama’ gets ready for a new chapter




Tears are flowing freely at Town Hall this week as administrators, staff and the community prepare to say farewell to a longtime fixture at 123 Boone Street.

“You’re the linchpin,” Mayor Kelly Wolfe told Virginia Causey before an audience at Monday night’s Board of Mayor & Aldermen meeting when Wolfe declared Friday, March 17 — Causey’s last day as a town employee — as Virginia Causey Day in her honor.

“We love you, Virginia. You’re heart is as big as this room if not bigger. And I can’t help but think that the culture of this town has been profoundly influenced by (you).”XVirginiaCraig

Causey will retire after almost 40 years with the town, getting her start many years ago in the two-room old town hall now occupied by Jonesborough’s Corner Cup.

That was back in 1971, she said, and little did she realize the adventure and the strong relationships that waited ahead.

“At that time, I was the only female that worked for the town,” Causey recalled. Everything was done by hand and Causey not only took care of town business, she also fielded fire and police calls — sort of a one-woman operation. When Causey and her husband, Bud, adopted their son, Frankie, she quit to spend more time with her family.

But the lure of Town Hall couldn’t be denied and Causey returned in 1983, dedicated to the well-being of staff and community every since.

She loves this town, she said, which has been her home for her entire life. And she tries to hold tight to her belief that she must treat everyone she encounters with love, patience and kindness.

In that pursuit, Causey has become “mom” to more staff members than she can list, and they have become her family, she admits. “Since I’ve been working here, I’ve lost so many family members,” she said. “My mom. My dad. My brother. My sister. It’s so different here,  how everyone just engulfs you.”

That, Causey said, is why it has taken her so long to finally retire. She had been talking about it since turning 65. Causey turns 69 today.

“Bud and I have been married for over 50 years,” she said. “We’ve known each other all our lives because he lived beside me growing up.”

Still she hesitated, until this past September, as she and her husband were talking. “Bud said to me ‘You will never set a day. You’re going to work until one off us dies.’” Causey recalled. “After he went to bed that night I went in there and started to write my letter of retirement. It’s just time.”

XVirginia3But that doesn’t mean it’s easy — this decision that Causey calls one of the hardest of her life.

“I love all these employees,” she said simply. “I’ve worked with so many of them. I’ve nurtured them. I’ve been with them through divorce. I’ve been with them through sickness. I’ve been with them through births.”

And these employees have loved her back.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done for me,” Town Operations Manager Craig Ford wrote earlier this week. “Your guidance and encouragement have helped me so many times. May God bless you in your retirement as you have blessed me.”

Other comments were just as inspiring.

“Virginia is like your best friend, mother, guardian angel and Number 1 supporter all rolled into one,” said Town Administrator Bob Browning.

“I have worked with Virginia for over 27 years,” wrote Lorena Cradduck. “During this time she has demonstrated over and over that she truly cares for all employees for the town and our citizens regardless of the situation. Her little shoes will be hard to fill.”

As for Causey’s sidekick and work “sister” Donna Freeman, her message have summed it up best.

“Thanks for all the memories and fun times,” she wrote. “Love ya!”

JRT brings new life to classic romantic comedy


Love, family, and acceptance are the themes that linger at the center of the romantic comedy, “You Can’t Take It With You”. This classic and funny show will run Thursdays through Sundays, March 2-12, at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre located at 125½ E Main Street, Jonesborough.

Meet Alice Sycamore (Catherine Squibb) and her strange, wacky, and sometimes embarrassing family. Meet Tony Kirby (Austin Wingate) along with his wealthy, elegant and stuffy relations. Throw in a little romance between Alice and Tony and it’s time for the two families to meet. However, when the carefully orchestrated introduction does not go according to plan, the reality of their plight becomes evident to the young couple.

“I think Alice and I are at very similar places in our lives,” Catherine (Alice) said. “We both have the same unwavering love for our family, even though we may sometimes be frustrated with them. I definitely understand her uncertainty and reluctance to introduce her new beau to her family.” And, as we find out, Alice is hesitant and embarrassed for good reason.

“This family’s weird,” Austin (Tony) said of the Sycamore family. “But it’s the best kind of weird.” In the show, Tony is forced to face the differences between his and his fiancée’s families. “He has to make a decision: should he stick with what’s familiar and comfortable or risk that security to pursue something that’s more true to himself?”

The questions and choices Tony and Alice face will be relatable to everyone who sees the show. We all need to ask ourselves where our loyalties lie? What makes us the most happy and content? What’s most important in life? Director Karen Elb gave her answer: “Life and the joy to be found in it spring from the bonds of love and family.”

IMG_1402Richard Lura, who plays Martin Vanderhof (Alice’s grandpa), narrowed down the story in a nutshell: “It’s about a family that truly loves and accepts each other.” And that’s what is most important.

Come along for the wild ride as we see what difficulties these young lovers encounter in order to make family the most important thing of all. Kari Tuthill (Penny Sycamore) said, “This is a funny, charming, quirky, heart-warming, laugh-out-loud, fun show! You don’t want to miss it!”

Rounding out this talented cast are Summer Boothe, Andy Cobble, Brent Edwards, Matt Elb, Shawn Hale, Adam Honeycutt, Lindy Ley, Paul McQuaid, Ron Peters, Dominic Peterson, Sean Read, Danielle Smith, Michelle Weintre, and Tara White

“You Can’t Take It With You” is written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman.

Shows will run on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m, and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423.753.1010 or go online to

Gentle giant loves to give back

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Upon arriving at Rhonnie Miller’s farmhouse set on the rolling pastureland of Keefauver Road, guests are met with a gorgeous southern-style, wrap-around porch—and the world’s tallest breed of dog peering through the screen door.

“We were eating at Main Street back in the fall and it was nice out. And you know how close the seating is to the road?” Miller said, watching Henry, her 1-year-old Irish wolfhound sprawl out on the painted porch floor. “They got a fire call and the fire engine comes down Main Street, full sirens, lights, everything on. And he was laid out like this and literally picked his head up, said, ‘Okay,’ and put it back down.

“They’re gonna have to get a bigger bowl at Main Street,” Miller added, still watching Henry, who has his own Instagram account under the name “Wolfhound Henry”, during the wolfhound’s Herald & Tribune photoshoot. “He just kind of looks at it.”

The story is a testament to Henry’s laid-back nature as he stretches his lengthy legs out in front of the photographer who is aiming to capture Henry’s true height in a photo. This easy-going attitude was just part of what made Miller choose her long-legged best friend, a decision the potter and Jonesborough resident didn’t take lightly.DSC_3924

She carefully decided she wanted to house another wolfhound after owning two when her teenage sons were much younger and toddling around with two wolfhound puppies at their sides. She had lost one of the dogs to osteosarcoma, a cancer that is found in the cells that form bones and is common in Irish wolfhounds and the other to a freak accident with a pig’s ear—which she now advises every pet owner to steer clear of offering to his or her dog. Years later, she decided to hunt down her perfect wolfhound. But little did she know how much healing he would do in other’s lives as well as her own.

“We were planning to go back to get him when he was 10 weeks old and I got pneumonia and mono. I got put in the hospital for four days,” Miller recalled. “The breeder actually kept him an extra week. Then my husband went up and got him for me and brought him back. Truly, he helped me get better.

“On his AKC papers, he’s Henry the Healer instead of some fancy froufrou name. So I then knew I wanted to kind of give back with him.”

Now Henry is 7 feet long and his love for people is even bigger than he is. Henry is known for enjoying a stroll in downtoDSC_3928wn Jonesborough alongside his family, but now he is an officially licensed therapy dog ready to make folks in nursing homes and hospitals smile on even their darkest days.

“He’s not just meant to stay in the house,” Miller said. “It’s amazing to see the people, especially the ones at Brookdale at the memory care side. Instead of laying there, they light up when he goes.”

Henry may have a new job, but he still has an affinity for frolicking through cow pastures, trips to the beach, strolling along cobblestone streets, and galloping alongside farm trucks like the one that came crunching through the Miller’s gravel path leading up to their cattle behind their house.

Aside from living up to a wolfhound’s unofficial title of a gentle giant and serving as a therapy dog, Miller said that Henry can read people. He’s also been known to read how Miller herself is feeling. Miller said he can gauge the way in which he should behave, depending on who he’s around.

“We were at the beach this summer and he was rompin’ and playing and running like wild early one morning and there wasn’t hardly anyone on the beach,” Miller explained while watching Henry gallop through her spacious yard. “He and I had gone down to watch the sunrise and this couple brings out a set of twins just in their diapers. They’re probably 18 months old, just trying to run, barely walking good. They come waddling up to him and he immediately went from, ‘I’m having fun’ and just laid down. He lays down and those two toddlers climbed all over him. They were sticking their fingers in his eyes, his mouth, his nose. The parents were taking pictures and were amazed.

“That’s just one example. He just knows. He changes when we get to the nursing home and we’re around older people like my grandmother and then he’ll turn around and rough house with people he knows he can and be a total goofball. And he is goofy as all get out. And a klutz.”

Miller has always been a dog-lover and already owned what she thought was her favorite dog. But Henry not only helped her get better and has served as her four-legged best friend—he’s also been the dog that’s taken up the most room in her house and her heart.

“You know how you say you get the one dog in your life? I thought I already had that dog,” Miller explained. “She was a great rescue dog from a shelter when I was 16. Fabulous dog. I had to put her to sleep when she was like 17. And I thought I’d had my dog. But he’s got Kate topped.”

However, Wolfhound Henry isn’t just a well-known, beloved family dog who is the perfect companion for a spring-like Thursday afternoon on the farm. Miller believes her gentle giant is meant to make her smile, but to also be a light for the people with which he comes in contact.

“I’ve had other dogs in my life. I’ve had every animal from lizards to horses. And he was just different,” Miller said. “And I thought, not to sound crazy, but this is the dog’s purpose. He’s here to do something. So if I can help other people and he can, then that’s what it’s all about.”

— Marina Waters

Artist creates beauty in glass



The rhythmic ping of a shard of glass ever so delicately placed on a swirl of green and blue that will soon be fired anywhere between 1,099 °F to 1,501 °F ending with a result of a fluted vase, a 4-piece plate, or a coaster is sure to complement any coffee table. This is how Karen Hitchcock, a seasoned glass fusion artist and McKinney Center teacher, spends many of her days.

As Hitchcock lays a sheet of glass beneath a blade to begin the glass fusion process, she tells how her life as an artist and instructor unraveled. Hitchcock comes from a long line of artists, she grew up in New York with parents who worked at the Corning Glass Center and a sister who was an accomplished potter. A young Hitchcock reminisces on visiting the Corning Glass Center for school trips, recalling that as the instant when her love for art first blossomed.

As her eyes are fixed on the minuscule glass piece in-between the tweezers she is carefully holding, she points with her other hand to a small kiln in the corner of her studio. “I’ve had that one since the beginning” Hitchcock says, alluding to a story waiting to be told through a simple object. Hitchcock once owned her own business as a custom picture framer until her husband bought her that small kiln, she then sold her business and got into glass.


When Hitchcock is asked to dot the moment in the time line of her life when she decided glass fusion was her true passion she would say, “When I began teaching at Rochester Arc and Flame.” Those students and experiences provided her with life-lasting inspiration that delivers her daily motivation.

One of the things that drew Hitchcock to Tennessee would be the lower cost of living and one of the cleanest lake in the world, Watauga Lake. However, one of the things that keeps her in Tennessee is the McKinney Center in Jonesborough.

Hitchcock’s first experience with the McKinney Center demonstrates the friendly and welcoming nature that is typical of Jonesborough. Hitchcock happened upon the Art Glass gallery on Main Street, amidst searching for a piece for her kiln. There she met Steve Cook who pointed her in the direction of the McKinney Center, but not without displaying true southern hospitality. Cook first took her to Earth and Sky so she could experience their delightful chocolate masterpieces.

When Hitchcock walked into the McKinney Center she ran into Pam Daniels, Special Programs Coordinator. Hitchcock explained what she was searching for and Daniels knew just where to get it.

Daniels offered to pick up the piece for Hitchcock, considering she was heading to the kiln parts store, but in the meantime Daniels offered to take that piece off of her kiln for Hitchcock to use until she could get the new one. Hitchcock was blown away by the kindness from Daniels, “I was like Wow! I’m not used to that. Up in New York it’s not really like that.”

That simple encounter snowballed into Hitchcock being part of Fine Art in the Park, a fine art show the McKinney Center holds annually, and then becoming one of their art teachers.

You can find Hitchcock at the McKinney Center working with glass while sharing that passion with her students.

Be a part of Karen Hitchcock’s story by joining in on one of the Glass Fusion Workshops she will be teaching at the McKinney Center Feb. 17, March 6 and April 4. For more information contact Theresa Hammons, McKinney center Director, at or call 423-753-0562.

Market begins new lecture series



H&T Correspondent

Last Thursday at the Boone Street Market, Jonesborough Locally Grown held its first lectures in a series on the importance of locally sourced foods.

“What we’re doing here is developing an appreciation of our locally sourced foods,” said Karen Childress, the executive director of Jonesborough Locally Grown.

What Jonesborough Locally Grown is about is “connecting our farmers with the local community,” explained Erin Gibner, a 29-year-old AmeriCorps Volunteer.

Gibner, one of the primary organizers of the Jonesborough Locally Grown lectures, noted that she proposed the night’s first lecturer for his “charismatic and captivating personality.”

That lecturer was Bill Chapman, a Jonesborough resident and coffee connoisseur, who came down to the market to talk about the science-intensive process of roasting coffee beans.

Although he has dabbled in roasting coffee for roughly 25 years, Chapman said that he only began seriously roasting coffee when he retired in 2012.

“One can only play so much golf,” he joked — so  Chapman’s wife bought him an “electric-coil heated Alpine roaster” for his next birthday.

“When we lived in Massachusetts, I started roasting in our basement and the smoke would make its way up the air ducts and set off the fire alarms so I was banished to the garage,” Chapman said.

Despite his banishment, Chapman was not deterred from roasting coffee. “A few years later,” Chapman noted, “I purchased a North brand coffee roaster,” which featured four propane burners and could roast up to 14 pounds of coffee beans at a time.

After purchasing his second roaster, Chapman noted that he became deeply interested in the more technical aspects of roasting coffee.

“The outermost layer of the unroasted coffee bean is ‘chaff,’ which must be removed before the coffee can be roasted,” Chapman said. A coffee bean chaff is the “silver-colored skin that covers the unroasted bean.”

Once the chaff is removed from a batch of coffee beans, “the process of roasting coffee beans is designed according to four features of a batch — the beans’ density, the altitude at which the beans were grown, the moisture content of the beans and the level of roast desired.”

Next, Chapman gave specific roasting times and temperatures for each degree of coffee roast: light roast, medium roast, and finally dark roast. For each roast, Chapman and Childress distributed samples of roasted beans and coffee made from those roasts.

What this show-and-tell of coffee was intended to display is that “you can tell when a roast is achieved based on how the coffee smells and tastes,” Chapman said.

“You should be able to taste notes of cherry and vanilla extract in the lighter roasts,” he said.

Chapman closed his presentation by discussing the logistical and political aspects of the coffee industry. “In this inaugural lecture series, it’s important to know that certain small coffee farmers may not be able to afford the cost of having their product certified as fair-trade or organic,” he said.

Chapman noted that he keeps this fact in mind when choosing beans for his product, for he wants to produce the best locally sourced product for the best price.

“The things that I sell here (at the Boone Street Market) will arrive on the shelves within two days of being roasted,” he said.

The night’s second lecture was led by Nathan Brand, a 29-year-old chef, and his wife, Diana Brand, a 28-year-old psychologist, on the use of heirloom crops in local cuisines.

The couple began the lecture with Diana Brand’s reading of Todd Blair’s “Moonshine and Mountaintops: A Living History of Northeast Tennessee” — a selection she believed articulates the connection that traditional Appalachian cooks had to what they cooked, which “is a sort of nostalgic comfort if you’ve grown up in the area,” she said.

Nathan Brand talked about his extensive culinary training that led him to an appreciation of  “locally grown.”

He trained in several Nordic countries, he said, yet during his training, he soon realized that he “wasn’t cooking anything locally sourced,” which disregards an important culinary concept: terroir.

Not cooking with locally sourced ingredients, according to Nathan Brand, deprives you of being aware of your food’s terroir, a French term that refers to both a crop’s chemical characteristics and the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop’s chemical makeup.

This culinary feature is why he believes “everyone is seeking heirloom varieties now.”

“You can buy well-formed black-eyed peas at a Kroger,” Nathan Brand said. “But they are hybrid seeds that haven’t been adapted to specific environments. They’re solely meant to be prolific and ship-well.”

Whereas, “an heirloom crop is a variety of a crop that tastes better than its more common analog,” he said.

He quickly pointed out, however, that it is important to distinguish between “heirloom” foods and “niche” foods.

“There are a lot of ‘niche’ foods in today’s markets and anything niche has an undertone of elite,” he said.“There should be no elitism in the kitchen.”

“I’ve been broke and down-and-out, but I ate something great and that great thing wasn’t boutique or expensive.”

If you’re interested in attending one of Jonesborough Locally Grown’s future events, check out their website at

From robots to waterfowl


Front Row (left to right): Laila Thompson and Stephanie Mathes. Back row: (left to right) Noah Painter, Blake Riddle, Ben Foster, Mattie Miller, and Joey Hopkins.


Staff Writer

It’s a tradition; you go to a pond and feed a group of ducks white bread. But it can also be a pastime that is harmful for waterfowl—and the South Central robotics team is determined to put an end to it.

The team adopted Angel Wing Syndrome as their main project for the year. The syndrome can occur when any sort of waterfowl ingests an excessive amount of protein found in foods such as white bread, popcorn and even chips.

This can cause the bird’s wings to twist upward and impair its ability to fly. It’s this effect that interested South Central’s robotics team in learning more about the syndrome.

For robotics team member Laila Thompson, the idea to study Angel Wing Syndrome was also important because of the relevance to this area.

“We were trying to find something that we could really try and help with,” Thompson said. “We know they’re around here, a lot and people have always fed them white bread. So it really would affect people around here and animals that live around here.”

Not only did these South Central students learn all they could about the disease, but they also decided to go public with their findings. The team has contacted parks such as Warrior’s Path and Sycamore Shoals in order to warn them of this disease. They have also started an initiative to educate the public by creating pamphlets and signs designed by David Crockett High School to post at area bodies of water to keep patrons from feeding waterfowl any harmful foods.

“We made that mistake last year (not publicizing their work); We had a good project, but we didn’t really tell that many people,” robotics team member Joey Hopkins said. “We just kept it inside the school. This year we want to tell more and more, just be able to get it out there. Not only in this area, but the nation.”

The robotics team has worked to publicize their findings on the syndrome, but they’ve also created a low-calorie bread to substitute for other high-protein foods that can harm the birds. Robotics team member Noah Painter played a large role in creating the one-of-a-kind recipe.

“We were trying to figure out what could be done. There’s not really a good bread to use,” Painter said. “It has fewer calories but costs about the same price. It’s just better for them.”

The animal-friendly project isn’t South Central students’ only focus though. The team competed in the regional competition at East Tennessee State University in December where they won first place in robot design and second in robot performance against 24 other area teams.

They’ve also been gearing up for a science bowl at the Eastman Auditorium in Kingsport on Jan. 26, but their eyes are set on their trip to the state competition in Cookeville, Tennessee on Feb. 11.

At the competition, the team must come up with attachments for their robot in order to complete their assigned mission. But after gaining some experience during previous competitions, the team has worked on their strategy before heading to the state competition at Tennessee Tech.

“When we went to regionals, we had all types of attachments we could use, but we knew that state would be harder,” robotics team member Mattie Miller explained. “So we’re going to try to do one that way it takes less time taken to put them on. That way it’s just one go-around. We’re trying to do the mission in one round.”

These projects and adjustments take time and dedication—which is something South Central science and social studies teacher and robotics team mentor Ginger McAmis said these students certainly have.

“Our days that our teachers come and they can stay home—our in-service days—they come up here and work on it,” McAims said. “They’re very dedicated. They do it themselves. And they work well together.”

But for these South Central students, they have a goal apart from science bowl trophies and functioning robotic structures—it’s all about reaching out.

“The point isn’t really to win,” Miller said, “it’s about discovering new things and helping other people discover new things.”

Taxi! Local driver continues to hit the road in style



H&T Correspondent

Watch out, Uber: Dick Conger is ferrying natives and tourists alike through downtown Jonesborough in his “Old Time Taxi,” educating folks on local history, all for free.

Conger downplays his service as “not really a taxi as such; just a fun ride, in an old car, with some historical trivia about Jonesborough.”

The current taxi is “a personally remodeled 1919 Model T Ford depot-hack,” Conger said.

The term “depot-hack” comes from the car’s original purpose as a taxi between the end of a train depot and a traveler’s ultimate destination.

“Nineteenth century technological change transitioned from the original, Model T Ford depot-hack [which Conger owns] to the current station wagon, which is the direct descendent of the depot-hack. The idea was to move people around efficiently, even after their train had stopped,” Conger said.

At first, however, Conger and his wife, the late Jane B. Conger, maintained Ford Model T “depot-hack” taxi as well as a 1931 Model A bus.

In the 1970s Conger and his wife owned and operated a Venetian blind installation facility in St. Petersburg, Florida.

According to Conger, the couple owned a Model T Ford depot-hack taxi as well as a 1931 Ford Model A bus, but had no place to store either of the vehicles.

Thus, in 1981 the Congers moved to the Jonesborough area and promptly purchased Jonesborough’s old town hall building.

“We bought the old town hall because it had depot bays, proper places to store and maintain our model T- Ford and our Model A bus,” he said. Conger immediately began giving tours in the area; all the while his wife, Jane, founded Jonesborough Accommodations, the first bed & breakfast in Jonesborough.

In 1982, the Congers renovated sections of their old town hall which they “turned into several shops that, subsequently, became the Old Town Hall Marketplace” and an incubate for roughly 30 local businesses, Conger said.

Conger also noted that, in that same year, he and his wife founded Print Distribution Services because “we felt like we could do a lot by promoting Jonesborough tourism through our brochures.”

Jonesborough’s mayor and aldermen “were extremely helpful in the process of establishing a business within the framework of local laws,” and even asked Conger to “make and distribute brochures” for Jonesborough’s abounding attractions, he said.

When asked why he felt motivated to start these several projects, all within a window of three years, Conger jovially added that he “could not let [his] degree in marketing and merchandising go to waste.”

During this period of activity, Conger would still drive his Model A depot-hack even “when things began to get very busy with the brochure business,” said Conger.

Eventually, Conger noted, he stopped giving local tours altogether.

Although he is now retired, Conger said he has started to give “Old Time Taxi” tours again and manages “300 to 400 short tours in his current Model T Taxi, every week.”

Given that his taxi can only muster a 35 mph top speed, his tours are restricted to “taking back roads through the country and little tours around downtown Jonesborough,” Conger said.

He admitted, however, that these restrictions may not be a problem for those who enjoy being immersed in Jonesborough’s flora, especially when warmer weather returns to Northeast Tennessee.

Conger is also active in the East Tennessee & West North Carolina Railroad Convention as well as the Model T Ford International group. The latter group meets bi-annually and is comprised of over two-hundred American chapters.

Artists to share skills in drawing, painting classes



Drawing and Print Making classes will begin Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, February 1, respectively, and will be taught by Sharon Squibb. Squibb received her BFA from the University of Tennessee, her MFA from the University of Cincinnati, and her MAT from East Tennessee State University. She lived in New York City, working as a non-fiction and art book editor for Random House, among other publishing houses. A woman of many talents, while in New York, Sharon performed several one-woman shows, as well as “Don’t Tell Mama” on 44th Street. She also performed in several shows in the West Village. After a successful decade in New York City, she relocated to Jonesborough, where she has shown her fine art work in Jonesborough’s Juried Art Shows, The Women’s Fund Art Shows and more. In her personal art making, she has worked extensively with drawing, printmaking, and painting media, and particularly enjoys exploring the figure as subject matter. Ms. Squibb is also involved at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre as an artist. She has been teaching art at University High School in Johnson City since 2000, and has been a faculty member of Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts at the McKinney Center since the center opened its doors.

Studio Art, with a focus on oil painting, and with an introduction to drawing, watercolor, and acrylic, begins Monday, Jan. 30, and will be taught by Bill Bledsoe. Bledsoe is a working artist, and is known for his work in creating the paintings and posters for the National Storytelling Festival for more than 23 years. While in the military, Bledsoe was an official artist for the United States Air Force, for which he received the Achievement Medal and the Award of Excellence for his artistic contributions upholding the moral of his fellow airman and commanding officers.

Bledsoe has worked for the Walt Disney Company as an assistant to Emmy-award winning director of the television mini-series Roots, Charles Bennett. Bledsoe has illustrated numerous children’s books, including “Everyone Has a Story to Tell” by Rebecca Isbell and Marilyn Buchanan. He has designed public murals including those in the pavilion on Boone Street in Jonesborough, and has been commissioned to paint the portraits of dignitaries from across the United States. He received his MFA in Studio Art and Graphic Design from East Tennessee State University, and serves as head of the secondary studio arts program at Providence Academy.

Charcoal Portraits from Photograph begins Thursday, Feb. 2, and is taught by Janet Browning. Browning taught art in public schools for seven years, before founding ArtSmart Inc., an after school art enrichment program that later became KidSmart. This program operated in eight states and employed over one hundred teaching artists. Browning has also worked as a portrait artist in resort areas, on cruise ships, and in malls. After twenty years of this work, Browning began focusing on buying art from all over the world, with a particular passion for traditional arts of the indigenous tribes in the Amazon area. Browning makes several visits each year to deep jungle locations along the Amazon, along with a guide, and participates in fair trade with these indigenous artists. She has also recently been visiting other places, such as Nepal, where she has started discovering fabric artists. She owns Hands Around the World, a shop on Main Street selling handmade art items from these locations and others around the globe. She received her degree in Art and Education from East Tennessee State University.

Rounding out the painting and drawing classes is the Watercolors course, beginning Tuesday, Jan. 31, taught by Ginny Wall. Wall spent most of her life in the far north of Minnesota, where her appreciation for nature began. Her artwork largely depicts her interpretations of natural things that inspire her.

While most of her work centers on realism, she also has a focus on more experimental, impressionistic work involving mixed medium, collage, print-making and calligraphy. She has been featured in numerous art shows and exhibits over the last ten years, and has won several awards for her work. She has been published, and has a huge following on Pinterest, where hundreds of her watercolors are featured.

Registration for these classes and others continues through Jan. 21. Registration forms are available at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough on 103 Franklin Avenue, and can be found online, along with the full catalog of classes on the Town of Jonesborough website at:

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

At the McKinney Center: Teacher restores magic in young art



“The librarian said it wasn’t art,” Chasidy Hathorn read as she pointed to the words painted on the mixed medium piece hanging on the wall of her historic home.

Hathorn, a former school teacher and now an art teacher at the McKinney Center, said “I had to retire from public school teaching because it got to the point that I couldn’t help those kids anymore. There were so many rules and so much red tape. When I got home I felt like I was crushing children’s dreams, and I wasn’t going to do that anymore. That is why I do what I do, and this painting is a reminder of that.”

As Hathorn continued up the stairs, her fingers traced the woodgrain of each picture frame surrounding the unique pieces on her wall. “When I began my journey at the McKinney Center, I found that the kids were so brilliant and fun!” she said. “It revived in me a child-like view of art.”

The McKinney Center continues to grow as an arts and humanities mecca where creativity and expression come to life.

Now in 2017, the McKinney Center will continue to incorporate classes of all kinds including the one Hathorn will teach.

From brilliantly bright, acrylic-gold speckling works of her own to creatively crafted canvas pieces by students filling her collection, it’s evident the inspiration each brings to her heart.

“Sometimes we get so caught up in details of a still life or trying to make our paintings into photographs, but these kids were just having fun and they loved it,” Hathorn said.

“I want to help them to continue that and not lose it. Let’s not take that away from them. Let them be creative, color outside those lines.”

Every time Hathorn passed a piece on her wall she smiled with each glance. These pieces of art, she believes, are sharing their story.

“And who are we to say what kids do. We are going to have a curriculum and a guide but at the same time I want them to have fun, paint their emotions, paint what they see, not what we see.”

A Mississippian at heart and a well-known artist in the region, Hathorn found a home at the McKinney Center back in 2014.

“When we first moved here I was trying to find my way,” she said. “I was almost afraid to get involved, to get settled. I finally began to explore, and I found the McKinney Center. They made me feel like home.”

While Hathorn worked on a piece inspired by her grandfather, she gently glided her brush over the words “empty chair” while she described days of the past spent with him.

She routinely took a step back while looking at the canvas, then leaned over to dip her brush into the gold paint sitting on the antique British table in the middle of her studio.

In the spring, Hathorn’s journey at the Mckinney will continue, with her teaching children’s fine arts, fine art construction and homeschool art classes. It will entail everything from mixed media collage to clay hand building, knife pallet painting, upcycling and even a bit about historic artists.

“I want them to leave confident with their talent and to know that each child is unique and special.” Hathorn said, “I don’t want them to look at each other’s works and say, ‘my work isn’t as good as so and so’s.’

“I want them to see all of their works as a masterpiece.

“I want them to leave feeling like true artists, like they are creative. I want them to make friends and I want them to leave with a sense of appreciation for art.

“Because every single one will leave as little Picassos.”

If you are interested in taking Chasidy’s class or another class at the McKinney Center email McKinney Center Director, Theresa Hammons at: or call 423-753-0562.

Keeping watch over the sheep

Jonesborough is famous for its yarns — the town’s storytellers are world-renowned — but Deborah Burger, owner of The Yarn Asylum, doesn’t trade in stories. Her yarns are spun from sheep. And her latest project, handmade ornaments created with mixed media, come in the shape of sheep as well.

Painter, ceramicist weave ‘thread of life’ into works


For centuries, artists have found mysteries, answers and inspiration in the natural world around them. Aristotle said, “Art takes nature as its model.” The result of this symbiosis can take many forms.

When Charles Jones looks out from his front porch at the pastoral landscape surrounding Sweetwater Farm, between Jonesborough and Johnson City, onto his painter’s canvas flow blindfolded giraffes, blazing zebras and birdlike and mythical creatures of all shapes, sizes and juxtapositions.

Jim Oxandale steps onto his deck, high above Highway 81 and the state’s oldest town, to gaze on layers of mountains and a bevy of birds at feeders. He walks inside to his pottery wheel, and from his fingertips fly luna moths and carpenter ants and honeybees. Colorful catfish, frogs and koi slowly begin to swim ’round his clay bowls.

Jones’ acrylic paintings and Oxandale’s art pottery will be on exhibit Friday, Dec. 9, through Jan. 27 at Jonesborough’s McKinney Center, 103 Franklin Ave., as part of the Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts 2016 Artist Exhibition Series. The opening reception is also Friday, Dec. 9, from 6-8 p.m., and all are free and open to the public.

“When I put together this artist exhibition series I knew that Jim and Charles would be a natural match,” says Director of the McKinney Center Theresa Hammons. “Although their mediums are completely different their color palette, themes and inspiration are extremely similar. Their art is moving, beautiful and masterful.”

Despite their differing choices of media, that natural thread connects the two artists, their contemporaries and many who have gone before them.

“I think all life has a beautiful thread running through it that’s connected, and that’s what you’re looking for as an artist,” says Jones, who was painting portraits of his brothers by age 7 and holds degrees in sculpture and painting.

“Mother Nature is the best artist we have,” says Oxandale, who started in watercolor, turning to pottery as a young professional. “She comes up with some of the most interesting and beautiful creatures, and transferring them to a pot is kind of fun and challenging. It’s actually very challenging.”

One of the reasons Oxandale and his wife, Karen, moved about a year ago after 38 years in Topeka, Kansas, was the natural beauty of the East Tennessee mountains and its inspiration for the pottery he wanted to make a full-time endeavor.  He drove through Tennessee several times “and just immediately knew Jonesborough was where we wanted to live.”

A native North Carolinian, Jones is also a happy Jonesborough transplant – after a stint in New York City and 35 years as a fine-art framer in Seattle with his musician wife, Heidi. In 2003, the couple brought their collection of guitars, banjos, flutes and love of creatures and sunshine to five acres off West Walnut Street.

Jones’ training in painting began in college in North Carolina and was honed while in the military, where he worked out of a footlocker, and in New York City where his studio was a table and oils were forsaken for washable acrylic. “In the Army, because of the restrictions, you can’t have oil paint getting on your uniforms,” Jones says. “God forbid.”

After numerous three-dimensional forays, Jones kept coming back to acrylic painting, and despite his enjoyment of viewing others’ landscapes and portraits, his subjects kept returning to animals. “I’ve tried to paint landscapes,” he says. “I just start putting creatures in.”

On a trip to St. Croix, where Heidi grew up, the pelicans inspired him to explore the marvels of feathered creatures. “I’ve used birds as a kind of metaphor, I guess,” Jones says. “On the evolutionary chart, they come from dinosaurs, but they fly sort of like angels. So there’s kind of the high and the low combined in a bird, which is kind of the human condition, in a way.”

Oxandale’s artistic journey began with art classes in school and watercolor painting while he was pursuing a career in toy marketing that took him around the world. In Topeka, after his children were teens, Oxandale took a class in pottery, and as he says, “clay got a foothold.”

He started with pinch pots then found he had a knack for the potter’s wheel, so he started piecing together his own studio. Living in the Midwest, Native American pottery was a big early influence and he sold his ceramics in galleries, home shows and open houses. Then, after 25 years as a marketing pro, he decided to make and market his own work full time – and do that from East Tennessee.

He now creates heirloom kitchen crockery and art pottery and makes each piece unique. “No production work,” Oxandale says, although he does make sets upon request.

It’s not just the visual aspects of their media that fascinate these two artists. There’s also the, well, “gooeyness” factor.

“I love paint,” says Jones, “the look of it, the feel of it, the very material presence of it … I love the goopy physicality of it, and truthfully, that might be the biggest reason why I make paintings.”

Oxandale finds the malleable aspect of his ceramic work to be equally satisfying. “Part of my foothold in clay is that I love gardening, too, and I love working in the dirt,” Oxandale says, “so it kind of was a natural progression from there. I see the beauty in nature everywhere and try to make my own interesting, beautiful things.”

Jones will have about 30 pieces, and Oxandale close to 20, in the McKinney Center exhibition. Jones’ paintings, he says, will range from as large as 72 inches by 54 inches to 10-by-10 inches. As a longtime fine-art framer, Jones will bring that artistry, as well, to the show, crafting and framing all his paintings himself with various handmade finishes.

Oxandale’s work will include art pottery and what he calls functional pieces, including platters, bowls, cups and vases, as well as “showy” pieces.

His techniques include wax resist and handcrafting patterns in the design to add texture and dimension, as well as hand-shaping and painting special handles.

“Sometimes I envy other artists,” says Oxandale, who has two kilns in his home studio where he fires away, “because, with painting, you put your paint on the canvas and you can see instantly what it looks like and what it’s going to look like when you’re done.

But ceramics is less predictable. The glazes interact with each other, and every fire is different and there are so many variables. But when a piece turns out the way you wanted it to turn out, it’s real satisfying.”

Having been exhibited at The Collective and other galleries in Kansas, Oxandale’s ceramics can now be found locally at Art Curious and Piece by Piece, as well as online at

Jones has shown his work extensively, including locally at Reece Museum and with Kimsey-Miller Gallery in Seattle, and his work hangs now in Mr. K’s Books in Johnson City, Knoxville and Charleston, S.C.

“Hopefully art – that I make and the art that I look at – can be transformational,” Jones says. “It gives you something even if you’re not sure what …” Jones says. “It should be powerful, but I’m enough of a visual person to want it to be just good to look at … I want it to be somehow just physically beautiful. I strive for that.”

There will be plenty of beauty to behold at the Dec. 9-Jan. 27 joint exhibition. “I think it’s going to be a good show,” Jones says.

Plus, Oxandale says, there’s the “fun” quotient. “I love looking at other people’s work,” he says. “Everybody has something to say with their art and artists are so subjective. I just love stumbling upon an artist that I’ve never seen before and collecting their work.”

Some of Oxandale and Jones’ work will be on sale at the exhibition. For more information, contact Theresa Hammons, McKinney Center director, at 423-753-0562.

Giving back: Students unite to provide backpacks for the needy

Lauren Wrigley joins her fellow Daniel Boone students in packing up supplies for area homeless and families in need.

Lauren Wrigley joins her fellow Daniel Boone students in packing up supplies for area homeless and families in need.

Staff Writer
A group of Daniel Boone High School Students led by faculty members Connie Noel and Josh Elliot spent their Wednesday afternoon packing more than 160 bags with winter essentials and hygiene products to deliver to the Johnson City Downtown Center for the less fortunate.
It was the first year that the group took the time to pack the bags, but it won’t be the last, according to Daniel Boone Principal Tim Campbell.
“We hope to continue to grow this year after year,” he said.
This year’s event sort of snuck up on a few faculty members, which made them go the extra mile and gather more things to donate.
“To be honest, one of us had some bags and we were looking for a place to go,” Noel said. “So we decided to that with the students, teachers and staffs’ help, that we could collect these items and pack them.”
The student body was asked to collect bags, backpacks and clothes, while the organizations and groups were given the job of collecting the toiletries and hygiene products. The group was able to surpass the initial goal of 100 bags.
“I was excited to see the participation and the excitement from the kids,” Noel said. “They kids have gone the extra mile that they didn’t have to go.”
One of the many students that was on hand to help was Connor McClelland, who serves as the President of the Student Council and Senior Class Vice President.
He said that he wasn’t surprised to see the outpouring of support from the student body to help others.
“I’m not surprised because they care here,” McClelland said. “And I’m not surprised because the FCA did a great job of advertising it and getting everyone involved. The students here are willing to help other people.”
Also in the bags were necklaces made out of purple string with a wooden cross at the end which had Kaylee and the #3 inscribed on them. Attached to that was a note wishing each recipient a Merry Christmas and a few words.
“In this backpack we have a couple of presents for you, the most important being a cross necklace,” the letter read. “On this necklace is the name of a student that we lost earlier this year in an automobile accident. She lives on through her love of people and her love of Christ. Take the necklace and put it around your neck, so every time that life feels too hard and you don’t know if you can keep going, you can look at that necklace and know that you’re not alone.”
The bags stuffed with winter clothing and other essentials were delivered on Wednesday.

TAKE A WALK THROUGH EGYPT: Grandview students go on chariot ride into history



General Manager & Editor

The pyramids of Giza rose tall and daunting last week as Grandview students took a trip down the Nile – all without ever leaving their classroom.

But for these 6th grade students, under the director of Grandview 5th and 6th grade teacher Kandi Fox, this lesson was about more than uncovering an ancient culture. It was also about exploring each student’s special interests, all within the framework of the time of great pharaohs, breathtaking monuments and mystifying mummies.

“Our teacher told us we could choose what project we wanted to do,” explained Zoe Sanders, detailing the class’ “Take a Walk Through Egypt” lesson that called for students to immerse themselves into a culture that brought the world everything from hieroglyphs to the Sphinx.

For a girl who loves sports of all kind, the lure of chariot races was too strong to resist. “I thought, ‘Hey, a large chariot sounds good,’” Zoe said.

She and her father, Pete Sanders, set to work, and soon the Grandview classroom was graced with an almost life-sized replica of a authentic Egyptian chariot.

For Caroline Argueta, the ancient call came from another source.

“When I was little, I wanted to be a detective, and I always wanted to be in fashion,” Caroline said with an impish grin. “So I decided to be a fashionable detective.”

Her curiosity was piqued by the idea of what ancient Egyptians wore and why they wore it. So she proceeded to create a storyboard illustrating the various fashions from pharaohs to artisans to the working class. She was fascinated, she said, by the fact that status dictated the type of clothing someone was allowed to wear.

According to their teacher, Zoe and Caroline were just two examples of how her students went beyond class requirements to create something really amazing.

“This was the first year I’ve done this with the 6th graders,” Fox said. “They just went over the top. And they loved it.”

The students’ enthusiasm also helped make the time travel more realistic, with intriguing details uncovered along the way .

Daisy Dowling used her love of language to crack the hieroglyphic code for fellow students.

“I’ll be honest, I like to use words that other people don’t know,” Daisy said with a smile, holding the Egyptian dictionary she had created. She was especially fascinated to find Egyptian words, like “joggled,” that are still used today.

Ronnie Bangham was lured by the idea of an Egyptian boat, and was determined to create one.

“I like flying and swimming,” he said matter-of-factly, explaining his choice. Once immersed in the project, he was delighted to find out more about the culture.

Ronnie learned that, “Egyptians would sometimes have blueprints to help them build a boat for the afterlife,” he said.

For Lynn Kilgore, however, chariots and boats had little appeal, and fashion and words did not entice. But this animal lover’s imagination was caught and held by the idea of ancient Egypt’s ceremonial masks – creating for herself and her class an image of Anubis,  Egyptian god of mummification and the afterlife.

While Anubis is represented by a jackal or wild dog-like figure, and Lynn only has a cat, she still felt a connection. Cat and jackal just seemed to fit.

“She is a trouble maker,” Lynn said of her cat, as she held up her Anubis mask.