Storyteller to bring the comedy

Storyteller and comedian Don White will bring his talents to Jonesborough.


People don’t always think of folk music and stand-up comedy as two forms that go hand-in-hand. “Folkies” tend to be on the earnest side, where comedians are a little more, well, sarcastic.

But a deeper look reveals that the songs and the jokes share the same subversive roots—and, of course, both art forms are connected by story.

Perhaps that explains the feeling that storyteller, songwriter, and stand-up comedian Don White had the first time he attended the National Storytelling Festival, where he felt at home right away. The event tied together his different identities as a performer in a totally new way.

“I’m fairly accomplished in the music world, but I’ve never had a weekend like I had down there in Jonesborough,” White says.

“I felt like I found my tribe—that I had found a community who loves storytelling as much as I do. I can’t believe I didn’t know it was there.”

White, who’s played guitar since he was eight years old, has long been a recognizable name in the music industry, having played with the likes of blues legend Taj Mahal. He’s newer to the world of storytelling, but it has familiar echoes. White’s a dedicated fan of folk musician Arlo Guthrie (who he’s opened for in concert), whose recordings frequently featured stories as often as the songs.

“He would talk for the whole side of an album, and he made it seem so easy and normal that I thought everybody could do it,” White says. “Later, after I got to know him and work with him a little bit, I realized that he was the only one doing it. I was just too stupid to know that.”

White will bring his blend of storytelling, music, and comedy to Jonesborough as the next performer for the Storytelling Live! series. Curated by the International Storytelling Center, Storytelling Live! brings a different world-class storyteller to town each week through the end of October.

White’s residency will run Tuesday to Saturday, July 24 – 28, with daily shows at 2 p.m. All performances are in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall.

Tickets for all matinee shows are $12 for adults, and $11 for seniors, students, and anyone under 18. All ticketholders can present their ticket stubs for a 10 percent discount on same-day dining at Main Street Café (lunch only); Medley Vegan Vegetarian; Olde Towne Pancake House; and The Corner Cup. Boone Street Market is offering 10 percent off prepared meals and 5 percent off any other purchase.

Information about all performers, as well as a detailed schedule (including after-dark concerts and one-time workshops) for the 2018 season, is available at

The premier sponsor of Storytelling Live! is Ballad Health. Additional program funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Niswonger Foundation, Eastman Credit Union, and Food City. Media sponsors include News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune, and Cumulus Media.

The International Storytelling Center is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call (800) 952-8392 ext. 222 or (423) 913-1276.

Splish Splash: Wetlands continues to cool in record numbers

When the weather gets hot, Jonesborough families head to Wetlands.


Staff Writer

If the blazing temperatures the region has experienced recently are too hot to handle, a visit to Wetlands Water Park at Persimmon Ridge will most certainly ease the suffering.

While temperatures have been in the 90s over the past few weeks, business at the park has been booming.

“Our first Saturday in June we set a record here,” Wetlands Water Park Director Matt Townsend said recently. “The following weekend we set a three-day record.

“We beat our June month this year (over) last year, and that’s even with those four days of rain we’ve had.”

Wetlands Water Park has offered summer fun for over 20 years and is still cooling off Washington County citizens.

Wetlands, which will soon be 25 years old, saw just under 1,400 visitors on that record-setting Saturday. And while the crowds have descended on the park over the past month, this year has been rain-soaked.

“We’ve had a lot of rain. I want to say we’ve seen rain at least 12 days. It’s been a battle with the weather this year. But the good thing is that the good weather has been fantastic. It’s been 90 (degrees). Just crazy.”

Townsend recommends getting to the park early if you plan on coming, as the chairs tend to get snagged quickly. He also recommends bringing sunscreen and floaties for the little ones.

Wetlands offers swimming lessons for those interested, with one session left this summer.

The final session is from Monday, July 16, to Thursday, July 19. There are a limited number of slots available. Those who are interested should contact Wetlands Water Park at (423) 753-1553. The cost is $60 per session.

Season passes are an option along with daily passes, and private parties at the facility are available.

“We do after hours parties from 6 to 8 p.m., after we close down,” Townsend said.

“They bring a bunch of their own things, they bring their people in. They can bring in food. All we do is supply the pool and the aquatic staff.

“We (could) keep the café open for them but it tends to be cheaper for them if they just bring their own stuff in.”

One such special event was “Praise by the Pool”.

“It’s a $3 night. And that’s geared towards vacation Bible schools,” the director said.

The event, was held on Sunday, July 8.

Another July special event is “Fun for all Friday” on July 27. The pool will extend its hours from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. and a movie will play at 8:45 p.m. at Persimmon Ridge Ballfield.

Wetlands Water Park will be open with regular hours until Washington County schools begin. Beginning Aug. 5, the park will be open only on weekends. The park closes Sept. 3.

Other services offered by the park are a full service café, lockers for rent, shower/restroom facilities and tube rentals. Some of the water-park related rides include a lazy river, a rain tree and 80 foot, 100 foot and 200 foot fiberglass slides.

While there are plenty of features to keep your attention, there are fully trained lifeguards that keep their attention on the patrons.

“They’re American Red Cross Certified Lifeguards, which is a five day course they have to go through. Anyone that works on our slides, they’re all CPR and first aid supervisors,” Townsend said.

“So everyone out on the pool has some kind of first aid training in case anyone needs anything.”

He added that the average of “saves” per day is just under three, but that there have been no major safety incidents.

“We have a lot of smaller kids that come here. It’s usually just inexperienced swimmers. They get out in the deep end and they lose track of where they are and they panic.”

Townsend, who is in his seventh full year as director of the water park, is also the Assistant Parks and Rec Director for the Town of Jonesborough. He helps out with activities downtown as well as Little League and youth soccer.

Asked what his one wish is for the park, he responded,

”A retractable dome. That way if it rained, we would stay open and everyone would be happy.”

Normal business hours for Wetlands Water Park are Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Half-priced tickets go on sale at 3 p.m.  Information is available at (423) 753-1553.

History Happy Hour to take a look at woodworking

Woodworker Curtis Buchanan is famous for his beautifully designed furniture.


“It takes ten generations to learn something, and one generation to forget it.”

This quote is applicable to many things, but chairmaker Curtis Buchanan applies it specifically to woodworking tools and techniques. Buchanan will be speaking about 18th and 19th century woodworking tools and techniques and the utilitarian items they produced at History Happy Hour’s program on Thursday, July 19, at 6:30 p.m. The program is usually held at the Chester Inn Museum, but this program will be held next door at the Christopher Taylor House, weather permitting.

The program is free and open to the public.

Buchanan is a world renowned chairmaker with a shop in Jonesborough. For more than 30 years Buchanan has produced chairs that have been displayed in the Chester Inn, the Tennessee State Museum, the Tennessee Governor’s Mansion, and Monticello, among other places. He also offers classes, instructional videos, and has made numerous contributions to the field of chairmaking. More info about Buchanan and his workshop can be found on his website at

History Happy Hour is a collaborative program that features speakers and researchers from various local organizations, museums, and schools. Presenters for 2018 include independent researchers, National Park Service rangers, professors, and museum professionals from across the region. The programs are on the 3rd Thursday each month at 6:30 p.m. 

For more information on the Chester Inn 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 Be sure to follow the Chester Inn and Heritage Alliance Facebook pages for updates about events at the Chester Inn and other Heritage Alliance programs.

Veterinarian gives back with K-9 Unit protection

Veterinarian Catrina Herd with Sgt. Stocky and Deputy Kenneth Harless.


Staff Writer

Jonesborough native Catrina Herd returned to her hometown Friday for many reasons — but her favorite reason is a furry, four-legged member of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit who goes by the name of “Sgt. Stocky.”

Stocky tries on his new bulletproof vest.

Herd donated and delivered a bulletproof vest to Stocky at the WCSO to protect the German shepherd while he’s on duty with his handler, Deputy Kenneth Harless. But the donation wasn’t at random; Herd — a veterinarian who now owns her own practice, Animal House Veterinary Clinic, in Nashville — met Stocky and Harless prior to the donation. She said she knew then that she wanted to donate a vest to her new canine friend.

“They were so helpful and just kind and I got to meet the dog,” Herd said. “When I found out they had a new dog that needed a vest, I just thought it’s a no-brainer because I have the means to buy a vest and protect a dog. And I think that’s a pretty good thing to be able to do.”

Stocky is one of six dogs in the WCSO K-9 Unit. The unit had five bullet proof vests before the donation, leaving one dog unprotected.

Now, thanks to Herd’s generosity, each of the unit’s furry friends are protected and ready to hit the streets.

For Harless, however, the donation doesn’t just mean another member of the WCSO family is protected — now his best friend and partner in crime is safe while on duty, along with the rest of the unit.

Harless and his K-9 partner are now ready to hit the streets.

“It means a lot,” Harless said. “Not only has she protected my partner if something happens, but I’m giving his old vest to the new guy so now his partner is protected. Now every dog at the sheriff’s office is protected so if we have any situation, we can take care of it.”

And the WCSO K-9 Unit “takes care of” a lot; Stocky is certified in obedience, tracking, narcotic detection, article search, area search, building search and handler protection.

But for Herd, donating the vest wasn’t just about equipping Stocky with protection and giving back; she also said one of the areas in which Stocky is trained is one that is of most importance to her. And it’s an issue she hopes improves in her hometown.

“I’ve lost a lot of family members to drug addiction,” Herd said.

“So drugs on the street, that problem is really close to my heart. And of course I love animals, so what better could I do than to protect him so he can get more drugs off the street and protect our kids.”

Harless said Stocky is trained to pick up scents from marijuana, heroin, cocaine and meth. He also said there have been numerous instances when Stocky has discovered those drugs and he’s also been helpful in capturing escaped felons.

His training isn’t just a one-time thing; by state law, Stocky and Harless must complete 16 hours of training each month.

Stocky however, received his second certification in Meridian, Mississippi where he and Harless placed in the top five of the 21 canines competing in drug and narcotic tracking.

“So he’s good on his tracking,” Harless said.

Herd said she specifically wanted to donate the vest to her new friend, Stocky.

For her generosity, WCSO presented Herd with each of the WCSO K-9’s baseball trading cards, complete with their handler’s names, certifications and background information, assembled in a shadow box as a token of gratitude.

The shadow box now serves as a reminder of the good work done in her hometown and the good work waiting ahead to be done in the lives of animals and their owners.

“(Having a dog) changes your life,” Herd said. “I just love helping these animal because I can help them, but it helps people too. That’s why I love what I do.”

New event kicks off with family fun, country artists

Soldiers enjoy the show in honor of their service.


The first Hometown Heroes event took place on Saturday, June 30, at the Johnson City Mall. Hundreds of people attended to honor veterans, first responders and military personnel. The Johnson City Mall collaborated with 96.9 WXBQ, U.S Army, and East Tennessee State University Office of Veterans Affairs to produce this event.

Kelly Roberts, marketing director of the Johnson City Mall, told the Herald and Tribune that the event was “family friendly” and was a “day full of all kinds of things.” Many businesses and vendors attended such as Johnson City Brewing Co., Niswonger Children’s Hospital, Hometrust Bank, Baxtor Real Estate Co., Caribbean Grill and more. There were also inflatables for the children.

Michael Ray entertains.

Stage presentations throughout the day included the Forever 21 Red, White and Blue Fashion Show, Olson’s Martial Arts, and crowd favorites Michael Tyler and Michael Ray. Tyler is a new country songwriter and artist. He told the Herald and Tribune he grew up “hunting, fishing, and riding four-wheelers” in a small town of about 2,000 people. He said if he could have one thing for fans to remember about him it would be “how good they felt at one of my shows.”

Michael Tyler sings his thanks to the crowd.

He also shared a special message for local Hometown Heroes. “There is nothing we can say or do to make up for what they done” Tyler said. “I just want to say thank you all so much.”

Michael Ray is a well-known country artist. His songs can frequently be heard on 96.9 WXBQ. He too  grew up in a small town, he said,  and “played at a lot of festivals around town with my grandfather.” Ray said his “middle class hardworking” family was very supportive and “kept a guitar in my hand when I was a kid.” Ray said he would like to thank our Hometown Heroes “for putting all on the line and doing it for people you don’t even know.”

“We all have the same opportunities because of the men and women that fight  for us to have that,” he said.

Kids Craft show will teach youngsters business skills


Youngsters will get the chance to show off their crafting skills at this year’s “I Made It Market” at Jonesborough Days.


The 48th annual Jonesborough Days will offer an event that will teach some special lessons to kids along with a chance to capitalize on their creativity and hard work.

The McKinney Center will provide a tent and the tables necessary for kids age 8 to 14 to sell their home-made crafts to festival patrons.

The event, “I Made It Market”, will take place at Discovery Park, behind the International Storytelling Center, on Saturday, June 30 from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Main Street Director Melinda Copp said, “We are excited to learn about some of the younger members of the community and what they make and teach them some entrepreneurial skills and see what they have to offer.”

Copp said the idea initially was picked up from other communities.

“(We’ve) been trying to figure out the right time to do it and the right way to do it. So we thought ‘This is a great opportunity’ and the McKinney Center is the one that’s really made the effort to kick it off.”

According to McKinney Center Director Theresa Hammons, “We do a lot of children’s art here, of course it’s what we do. Our mission is art education and so it seemed to be a good fit.

“We’ve put out a call for young makers ages 8 to 14 and we are flexible with those ages. We do have a couple of four and five-year olds that are participating. Right now, we have three to four signed up – with their parents, of course. We are looking for more.”

Hammons added that each young vendor will be required to have a guardian accompany them. Volunteers at the event will simply oversee the show. A large tent and tables will be provided, but the kids, along with their parent or guardian, will need to provide a description as well as the anticipated quantity of their product. Vendors will also be responsible for their setup, clean up and money handling.

“A parent needs to be there to oversee them and to do the money management. We won’t be doing that for them. They need to do all of that on their own,” Hammons said. “Our goal is to make well-rounded individuals and a part of that – in any profession – is to be able to understand supply and demand and how much does it cost to make your product and then how much do you need to sell it for to recover your expenses.”

So far some of the items that will be available include bath bombs, soap and small wooden signs. Items such as friendship bracelets, necklaces, slime, paintings or drawings and many other hand-crafted goods are encouraged. No food items will be allowed, however.

All earnings from the sale will go to the vendors.

While Hammons already has some volunteers for the event, she said that more volunteers would be helpful and that she could always use more volunteers. Background checks are required of all volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Skye McFarland, the Community Programs Specialist for the McKinney Center at 423-753-0562 or

Any young entrepreneur interested in selling some of their home-made crafts should call the McKinney Center at 423-753-0562 or email

School system shows gratitude for school officers

Washington County’s school resource officers were celebrated at the school system’s annual SRO Appreciation Lunch.


Staff Writer

Usually when a school resource officer is in a room full of school principals, it’s following an intense situation at a school. But on Friday, June 15, each of the county schools’ principals gathered for the district’s annual SRO appreciation lunch to celebrate the officers and to show gratitude for the men and women who serve and protect Washington County’s schools.

SROs were honored with kind words from school principals and a home-cooked meal.

Apart from offering a home-cooked meal to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department SROs, Washington County Interim Director of Schools Bill Flanary said he hoped the event expressed the system’s deep appreciation for all the officers do throughout the year — from protecting schools from intruders to building relationships with students throughout the system.

“It is our meager expression of thanks for what they do,” Flanary said. “It’s easy to say, ‘Look at all of these horrible things that are happening around the nation.’ But they are that thin blue line but it’s more than that.

When a 7-year-old girl or an 11-year-old boy can look at these officers in the hallway everyday at school and form relationships with them — for the rest of their life, they look at officers as more than just a badge and a uniform. To protect and to serve becomes something meaningful, not just writing on the side of a police car. I think it literally changes the way young people think about police officers.”

The director wasn’t the only one to notice an SROs impact; each principal took time to talk about the officer placed at their school and the difference those men and women in uniform have made within their hallways. Though the introductions of each officer included kind comments and humorous memories, a clear emphasis was placed on the seriousness of an SRO’s role in a school.

For Fall Branch Elementary School Principal Mark Merriman, the seriousness of that job was forever marked in his mind when Officer Emily Phillips’s quick reaction offered protection for everyone in the building during a lockdown situation.

“Locking down the building at Fall Branch is basically the end of the world because it’s Fall Branch and we’re in a nice quiet end of the county,” Merriman said. “Next thing I know she’s at one door and I’m at the other door. It’s just the SRO and the principal in the hall and there are six or seven sheriffs cars flying by on Highway 93.

“It’s that time that you get goosebumps and you realize it’s you and your SRO. It’s so powerful what you all do for our community. It’s times like that when the power of the principal is gone and we need that outside support.”

It was also made evident that each officer has been challenged to jump into action, which numerous principals said proved the ability and training of each officer in these schools.

“There’s not a weakness,” Daniel Boone High School Principal Tim Campbell said. “Usually in a big group, there’s a weaker one, but there’s not a weakness sitting at this table. It’s just amazing. Each time someone (threatening) shows up, like the other principals said, you all have it covered.”

The discussion also led to a call for more SROs; a few schools throughout the county share an SRO, which is something many local officials have cited as a concern.

Captain Greg Matherly addresses the call for more SROs in the school system.

WCSO Captain Greg Matherly, who is also a member of the Washington County Commission, addressed the concern at the luncheon. He said he felt that the department was close to their goal of placing an officer at each school.

“It’s very hard to share SROs,” Matherly said. “These principals right here will get in the same line I’m in and say ‘We need an SRO in every school.’ We are committed to placing SROs in each school. The most highly trained, the most dedicated and the most qualified. I know what I expect of them and I know what you expect of me and those are the only ones I’ll send.”

He also cited the time required to adequately train an SRO as something his department must consider in hiring an officer to place at a local school.

“It’s a whole different thing (being an patrol officer as compared to being a SRO). We do things differently with educators than what we do on that hot call. I have more field training officers than any other division. People say, ‘How is that?’ — it’s because I get all the good ones.”

Until the goal is met, school system and county officials all agreed that when it came to school safety, there was nothing more valuable than the protection of a dedication, well-trained officer behind the door of each school.

“We’ve had a lot of changes in our county. One of them was security.” Phillip Patrick, the school district’s maintenance supervisor, said. “And we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on securing our buildings. We’ve put fences in, cameras, locks, alarm systems, all these things, but none of those are more valuable than you people sitting there. I think I speak for everyone when I say we’d give up all our stuff to keep you all.”

Local library offers more than books

Nine-year-old Jonesborough resident Polly Braswell gets to know Simon the kitten at the library’s Cat Adoption Day.


Staff Writer

The next time you visit the Jonesborough branch of the Washington County Library, you may be able to come home with someone to read the book to.

The Humane Society of Washington County recently held “Cat Adoption Day” in the conference room of the library.

“We’re always looking for different venues to be able to come showcase our friends,” Humane Society Program Assistant Makani Timlick said. “Sometimes we’ll have dogs, if they ask for them. This one was just a cat adoption event.”

According to Timlick, the organization hosts events at Petsmart in Johnson City every other weekend and roughly once every six months at the Jonesborough Library. The Humane Society is also a foster-based program, which relies on volunteers who open their homes to take in animals in order to prepare the animal for adoption.

“(The volunteers) take the animals to their homes and give them love and attention, and that helps us to keep them out of cages, which can be very stressful,” Timlick said. “It also helps to get to know their personality and their character. Each animal is very different so when we have potential adopters looking for something specific, having them in foster homes and seeing how they do in a home environment around other people, around children, then we get to really tell them a lot more in depth as to how they are.”

Because the Humane Society is a foster-based program, there are very few animals in the actual building. Timlick believes that while there may be four critters on their site, there are many more dogs and cats in the program.

The organization also routinely seeks volunteers willing to become foster “parents” and also volunteers to assist with building maintenance, events, clerical work and even dog walking. Those who wish to help can fill out the application on the website, call the Humane Society or just drop by.

Another goal for the organization is making sure that pets are spayed or neutered in order to limit the number of stray animals. All animals from the Humane Society are already “fixed” and they offer low-cost vouchers to help reduce the price of getting a pet spayed or neutered.

“It usually costs around $300 for dogs … with our program it ranges between $70 to $85,” Timlick said. “That’s our No. 1 goal in this area, especially because it’s just such a huge problem, and that’s one of the reasons why the animal shelter is getting in as many animals as they are. People don’t understand that a female cat can get pregnant at four months old and every year they can have two to three litters of two to three live, healthy cats that will go on to reproduce.”

While all potential pets have already been fixed, they have also been micro-chipped, are up to date on all shots and have become accustomed to living in someone’s home.

“Every animal deserves a home. And adopting from us, you’re ensured that they’ve already been in a home environment where they’ve been loved and cared for,” Timlick stated. “You’re getting a cat or dog that’s been worked with, where they can tell you their different quirks and personalities so you’re not going in blind-sided.”

Joining Timlick at the library and up for adoption were three adult cats; Bruno, Drucilla and Reese; as well as three kittens; Alvin, Simon and Theodore. According to Timlick, the event was the first for the three adult cats. “Reese came in and she was an outdoor cat and had kittens. So we got all of her kittens fixed and she’s fixed now and she’s just looking for a home. Bruno and Drucilla, they were adopted from us before but you know, things happen. Their owners have to move and unfortunately their new housing doesn’t accept pets.”

But at least one of the potential pets had caught the eye of 9-year-old Polly Braswell of Jonesborough. She seemed to enjoy the cuddling ability of Simon the kitten, while he definitely enjoyed the petting skills of Miss Braswell.

For more information, call the Washington County Humane Society at  (423)926-8533, located at 2101 W Walnut Street, Johnson City.

All aboard: Senior Center celebrates with sea theme

The Caribbean Cowboys band play at the cruise ship-themed event.

By Allen Rau

Staff Writer

A large crowd gathered last Friday at the Jonesborough Senior Center to celebrate the “U.S.S. Jonesborough Volunteer Appreciation Captain’s Luncheon” in honor of all the volunteers who serve at the center as well as the Washington County community.

“This is to recognize them and show appreciation for what they do for the community and our center,” Senior Center Director Mary Sanger said.

“These are people that serve anywhere from delivering Meals on Wheels to working at our reception desk, being a volunteer driver or working at our hospital.”

Senior center directors Crystal Hirschy, Mary Sanger and Kathy Crawford are decked out in leis and captains hats to celebrate at the event.

While the attendees were decked out in leis and sailor hats, the Asheville, North Carolina based band “The Caribbean Cowboys” serenaded the crowd throughout the event.

In addition to live music and the nautical theme, the “Captain’s Luncheon” also featured door prizes, a banana split station and a photographer to document the occasion.

According to Sanger, the Senior Center itself has between 50 and 60 volunteers; while the Meals on Wheels program relies on 40 to 50 volunteers who deliver close to 14,000 meals per year. Washington County has almost 300 total volunteers.

“They’re in the hospitals, they volunteer in the food pantry, Salvation Army, the VA (Veteran’s Affairs), they’re everywhere,” the director said.

“When people join (the senior center) we let them know that we have a volunteer program here so if they’re interested in volunteering they can sign up at membership.

“A lot of people have been volunteers for a long time, but then, of course, as new members come we let them know about our volunteer program.”

As the members, employees and volunteers enjoyed their lunches, Sanger expressed her appreciation for all those who volunteer to help others: “We’re glad that you’re here. We so appreciate everything that you all do for our center throughout the year, and over the years so many of you have been our volunteers for many years.

“We could not do what we’re accomplishing here without you. So a big heartfelt thanks to everyone in this room and all the hours and all the effort that you put into making this such a special place.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer call contact Lydia Porter at (423)753-1080.

Students honor veterans with car design

From left to right, Shane Peterson, Dylan Graham, Robert Crain, Destiny Dunbar, Zack Adams, Marcus Scalf were all part of the David Crockett class that worked on the DC Patriot.


Staff Writer

David Crockett High School’s colors are brown and gold, but lately, students in Rick Freeman’s auto body class have been more concerned about the red, white and blue.

The students repaired and repainted a car, dubbed the “DC Patriot”, which will be featured in the Jonesborough 4th of July parade through downtown this summer.

The car has been dubbed the “DC Patriot”.

“It’s been working out good,’ Freeman said of the students’ work. “They came up with the color scheme and drew it out on paper and colored it. Everything starts on paper.”

The car, in all it’s patriotic glory, was obtained by the school due to the amount of hail damage to the top of the car. But after students fixed the damage, they drafted an American-themed design, complete with a fresh coat of red, white and blue paint.

But auto body work such as repairing cars and applying a fresh coat of paint is anything but foreign to the students.

As featured in the Nov. 29, 2017 edition of the Herald & Tribune, real-life skills such as repairing dents, sanding bumpers and applying paint just as technicians do in actual body shops are all part of the class’s work and education throughout the year.

“My kids like my class because we’re always doing something. We’re always working on a project and it’s all hands-on,” Freeman said. “This is very hands-on. We’re not sitting in the classroom all the time. We’re working on cars and doing a lot of real world projects.”

Freeman also said projects such as the parade car not only give students another applicable skill to be used in the real world; the auto body teacher also believes the work his students do in his class helps his students stay focused in their other courses.

“It helps with all the other classes,” Freeman said. “When you’ve got your usual curriculum classes, it’s nice to be able to grab a drink and some chips and come over here to this building and work on a car.”

But the class didn’t spend hours fixing and retouching the parade car for themselves; Freeman’s class kept the nation’s armed forces in mind as they worked on the red, white and blue-themed car.

Freeman said his students came up with the theme for the car their own good. Freeman said his students chose the theme, which honors our nation’s veterans. He also said he is currently hoping to find a veteran or two to ride with him in the DC Patriot through the parade this summer.

“When people are running out of the building, they’re the ones running in,” he said. “They risk their lives. If someone breaks into your house, they’re the ones that are there. We just wanted to say thanks to our service men and women for all they do.”

The students who worked on the parade car include: Dylan Graham, Brandon Mathes, Shane Peterson, Destiny Dunbar, Jonithan Barekman, Cheyanne Turbyfill, Takota Turbyfill, Zack Adams, Robert Crain, Jacob Barnett and Marcus Greggory.

Yarn Exchange to hold special Memorial Day performance

The U.S.S. Forrestral.


On July 29, 1967, a fire broke out on the U.S.S. Forrestral, an aircraft carrier stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin, and engaged in combat in Vietnam.

A Zuni rocket discharged on deck, setting off a chain reaction of explosions, happening so fast there was no time to clear all of the aircraft from the deck. Incoming pilot, the future Senator John McCain, was able to fly his aircraft off the deck. But 134 service members lost their lives in the tragedy, and another 161 were wounded.

This story is recalled by Preston Hurlburt, who was in the radio room at the time of the first explosions and unaware of the carnage above, but in looming danger as the vessel became engulfed in flames.

This Memorial Day, May 28, the Jonesborough Yarn Exchange Radio Show will perform stories that honor the men and women who served in our armed forces and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Stories will also be shared from their family members and those they served with–people who were left behind to carry on their memories.

Joining the cast this month will be fan-favorites Freddie Vanderford and Brandon Turner from Buffalo, South Carolina, bringing their famous Piedmont Blues. Vanderford, who was inducted in the South Carolina Folk Life Hall of Fame for his contribution to Piedmont Blues Harmonica, has become a frequent music guest of the Yarn Exchange Radio Show, electrifying audiences with his unique talent he learned as an apprentice with Blues harpist Peg-Leg Sam Jackson.

Tickets for this event are $5 and on sale now at the Historic Visitors Center by calling 423-753-1010. Tickets are also available online at This production is sponsored by Ballad Health and the Tennessee Arts Commission through Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts at the McKinney Center.

Boones Creek Elementary class publishes book

Boones Creek Elementary student Rylee Nelms presents her work to the class with teacher Jennifer Johnson’s help.


Staff Writer

Jennifer Johnson’s second grade class at Boones Creek Elementary is made up of students who have a knack for writing — and now, they’re officially published authors.

The class’s book, “The Faces of our Nation” was presented by the students last week during a book launch celebration where each writer read their work for there classmates and guests.

Though Johnson had heard of similar projects done with other classes, she knew this class in particular would excel with the book project.

“This group of kids really took to writing for the most part,” Johnson said. “My daughter is a writer herself and when she recently got published, she was really excited. Because of that, I wanted to kind of build that excitement within my classroom as well. And I think this project really drives their desire to do even more and even better.”

Each student chose a historical figure who either helped form the United States or helped to bring about change throughout the course of history. From there, the students researched their chosen figure, drew a portrait of that person and wrote a summary — in their own handwriting — describing that person’s influence on American history.

The book was then put together by student publishing company Studentreasures, who then mailed the final product back to the school.

Each student was also able to purchase a copy of the class’s book to take home.

“I’ve already gotten positive feedback. I’ve had parents tell me already that they’re glad we did this,” Johnson said, “because it’s definitely a keepsake for them.”

But the students and their families aren’t the only ones who can take a look at the book; “Faces of our Nation” is now a part of the library’s collection at Boones Creek Elementary School where students can check out the book, read through the student work and learn a bit about the “Faces of our Nation.”

“(The students) have checked out other children’s books they have made in the library and I think they’re going to be excited to know that other kids now can check out their work,” Johnson said.

“I honestly think that the first week of school when students start checking out books, that book will get checked out by one of my students so they can show next year’s class and tell them, ‘Look what I did.’”

Local garden spaces look to grow community

Garden space at the Garden of Hope in Jonesborough (pictured) is still available.


Staff Writer

The sun is out in full force, summer’s around the corner and now, you can flex your green thumb at a local community garden.

Even if you aren’t talented in growing your own fruits or vegetables, the folks at the Garden of Hope and the Jonesborough Community Garden can help with that.

The Garden of Hope first launched two years ago and is a grow-your-own community garden put on by West Hill Baptist Church in Jonesborough. When Pastor Daniel Shrader of West Hill Baptist and the members of the church saw the untouched back yard of their church, they saw the opportunity to grow fruits and vegetables, but mostly, they also saw the opportunity to grow a community.

Gardening time at West Hills Baptist is community time, as Pastor Daniel Schrader plays with his son, Hosea.

“When I first came to the church two and a half years ago, we were talking about, ‘How do we become a blessing to our community? How do we simply look outside our walls and be good neighbors and bless our neighbors?’ So we were looking at what we had and we have a beautiful piece of property in a great location,” Shrader said. “A huge chunk of it wasn’t in use. It was just a field back there. So we reclaimed that and we as a church decided to put in a community garden.

“In particular, we wanted to put in a ‘grown-your-own’ community garden. People have an investment of their own time, their own energy and they’re learning. They have the opportunity to grow what they want with help and guidance so that they succeed.”

Now, after garnering the help of those at the church as well as some outside help through local businesses, the Garden of Hope houses 90 raised beds for the community and has grown from seven to 12 families, who are allowed up to four plots, depending on gardening experience.

“Each family gets between two and four raised beds depending on their need and skill level,” Shrader said. “Four is too many if you’re a brand newbie, but one of the ladies is a master gardener and can handle four.

“We are growing in a communal way in the sense that we’re all sharing space, but we all have our individual plots. As a church sponsor, I in particular supply the knowledge they need to help people through the season. So they’re not on their own.”

But this year, they’re ready to reach out even more; Shrader said the Garden of Hope is now offering a high school program over the summer where students can sign up and grow their fruits and vegetables right here in Jonesborough.

“We are launching a program for high school kids,” Shrader said. “That will start the week after school ends and is called The Giving Garden, where high school students will have their own plots. There’s plenty of room for high school students to sign up and grow their own as well. That way, if mom and dad aren’t particularly interested, (the students) can do this.”

Shrader also said there is plenty of room for anyone interested. There is no cost involved with the Garden of Hope — all it takes is a little time and interest. To join the Garden of Hope, Shrader said those interested should email or call (252)916-6813.

And though the group is dedicated to assisting with planting, Shrader said growing a sense of community is at the heart of the project.

“Growing food, growing faith and growing community are kind of our three anchors. So when people are out there rubbing elbows and talking, they’re building friendships, building relationships that go way beyond the garden,” Shrader said. “And we live in a seemingly busy life and society, and a garden gives us a place to slow down and it gives us an area of common interests. It also creates opportunity for conversation. And ultimately, conversation is the heart of community.”

The community gardens in Jonesborough don’t stop at West Hills; Tennessee’s oldest town also offers the Jonesborough Community Garden, located at 511 Hillrise Drive in Jonesborough.

The Jonesborough Community Garden has also been in operation for the past two years and offers a way for those within town to experience a little dirt in their hands or grow something for the good of the local food pantry.

“A lot of times community gardens, traditionally, are for people who don’t have access to green space to grow their own vegetables,” Parks and Recreation Director Rachel Conger said. “What we were looking at along with that is fulfilling needs for our food pantry here in Jonesborough.

“What we’ve done is we’ve got beds available for people to grow their own vegetables, but then, if they are just looking to do a little community service and fill the needs of the food pantry, then we also have beds available for them for that as well.”

The Jonesborough Community Garden also offers help provided by a local gardening club who meets every Tuesday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. each week. Though summer is nearly upon us, Conger said there is still plenty of space and time for anyone interested in growing their own fruits and vegetables. Conger said that those who are interested are welcome to stop by during those above times or call (423)791-3869.

Conger added that though the garden serves as a space to plant and to volunteer time to a local effort, it’s also an opportunity to learn, enjoy the outdoors and get back to community giving.

“It’s a recreation for a lot of people,” Conger said. “It’s a stress relief, it’s a great way to get exercise. We’ve also had people who are interested in teaching their children or their grandchildren how to garden so this is another cool way to do it. Not only to show them how to start something from a little plant and reap the rewards of the rewards of it, but also the aspect of giving that to the community and giving things to the food pantry as well.”

Crockett senior wins Taco Bell Scholarship

Joshua Bruni, center, celebrates his $10,000 scholarship with family, friends.


Staff Writer

When David Crockett High School senior Josh Bruni walked into Taco Bell for his shift on Monday, he had no idea his family, friends, coworkers, a celebratory cake and a giant check for $10,000 would be waiting on him.

Bruni was awarded the money through Taco Bell’s Live Más Scholarship, which offers anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 worth of scholarship money to 50 of the restaurants’ employees who applied for the program.

“I didn’t know this was happening at all. I was super shocked,” Bruni said. “I’m super thankful for the opportunity to work for them and to get the scholarship. I’m grateful for Taco Bell and what they stand for, ‘live más’, live more out of every day with a passion and with a twist.”

To enter, Bruni had to create a two-minute video detailing his passion. And now, the scholarship money will go towards Bruni’s dream of studying marine science; Bruni plans to attend Costal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina where he will enter the marine science program, which has been a long-time passion for the high school senior.

Josh Bruni discovered his love for aquatic life growing up in East Tennessee.

“They have the best marine science studies in the eastern United States,” Bruni said. “It’s only a few minutes away from the beach, first of all, but they have the best equipment, you can take a shark trip to the Bahamas every year, they have their own island called Waties island, and 90 percent of the research and studying in the classroom is all hands-on. And that’s what it takes for me to learn. They have every thing I need, everything I want to do and every thing that’s on my bucket list.”

Though Bruni will be spending much of his time studying marine life in and out of the water at Coastal Carolina, the soon-to-be Crockett graduate also hopes to eventually land a internship at the nearby Ripley’s Aquarium. He’s also hoping to continue taking photos at a local newspaper in South Carolina as he did for this hometown newspaper, the Herald & Tribune.

However, Bruni also plans to continue working for the organization who recently chipped in to help him reach his college dreams.

“I absolutely do (plan on working at Taco Bell through college). I’ve already talked to a Taco Bell down there in Myrtle Beach. My manager’s going to try to get me a job there,” Bruni said. “They always hire the nicest, most energizing people in the world. Every time I go here, I always have energy even after a tiring morning or a tiring day, when I get to Taco Bell, I immediately have energy. It’s just the people here. I love it.”

Though the connection to marine science and Taco Bell might not be obvious to most, Bruni feels he shares the restaurant’s motto, “live mas,” in his own life.

“I also love what Taco Bell stands for. ‘Living mas’ can apply to anyone’s life. I try to live more out of every day,” Bruni said. “After a long day of just working at Taco Bell, I love to go hiking in the mountains or out to the river to fish. I absolutely love it. So Taco Bell is live more, live mas and that’s what I stand for.”

For Bruni, he finds more to life in the mountains of East Tennessee. He also said that after attending the National Envirothon in Canada in 2016, he found that aquatic ecology could be tied into his love for nature, thus leading him to marine science.

Bruni is ready to head to Coastal Carolina where he will study marine science.

“I’ve always had a connection to nature. I’ve had problems, especially in high school, and I figured out to get the stress off my back, I’d go to nature,” Bruni said, “whether that be hiking or writing articles for the Herald & Tribune or taking photos of nature while fishing or hiking.

“I just kind of have that connection also to aquatic ecology. Ever since (Envirothon), I kind of really just fell in love with it so I kind of put those two together and marine science was perfect.”

And now, partially through striving to get out into nature and working hard behind the counter at a local Taco Bell, Bruni will soon get to call his aquatic dreams a reality.

“Through academic common market, it’s in-state (tuition), but the college can’t offer any grants or scholarships to help with that. That was a huge financial problem,” Bruni said. “But this will help me a lot. This almost makes the final decision for me to go Costal Carolina University.”

Heritage Alliance wins awards

Joe Spiker poses with the awards for History Happy Hour.


The Heritage Alliance and the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum received two Awards of Distinction from the East Tennessee Historical Society at their Annual Meeting on May 1 in Knoxville. 

The East Tennessee Historical Society’s Awards of Excellence program annually recognizes individuals and organizations for significant contributions to the preservation, promotion, and interpretation of the region’s history.

The Heritage Alliance won a 2018 Award of Dis

The Award of Distinction is the second accolade that the Chester Inn Museum has received for History Happy Hour. The program also won an Award of Excellence from the Tennessee Association of Museums at their annual conference in March.  Programs like History Happy Hour and Legs In a Barrel share local history in unique ways and connect us to our past. 

According to Executive Director Deborah Montanti,  “We are extremely fortunate to have creative and talented staff.  Anne G’Fellers Mason, who researched and wrote Legs In a Barrel, and Joe Spiker, who created and manages History Happy Hour, work hard to make our history more accessible and keep it relevant. We congratulate them both on these honors.”

The Heritage Alliance is always working on new and exciting programs. Interested public can stay up to date on Heritage Alliance programs by visiting our website ( and liking us on Facebook!

The Heritage Alliance is dedicated to the preservation of the architectural, historical, and cultural heritage of our region and to providing educational experiences related to history and heritage for a wide range of audiences.  The Chester Inn Museum is a State Owned Historic Site operated by the Heritage Alliance. The operation of the Chester Inn is partially funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Historical Commission. For more information, please call our office at (423) 753-9580, or contact the organization via email at  Additional information can also be found online at

Tractor show offers education, antique entertainment

Tractors of all sorts and colors, like this Farmall Tractor, add some color to the Appalachian Fairgrounds.


Staff Writer

Last week, a steady trail of tractors could be seen rolling through the gates at the Appalachian Fairgrounds.

Tractors of all sorts were on display at the show.

Local tractor enthusiasts once again fired up their engines for the annual tractor show, hosted by the Tri-State Antique Power Association. The non-profit organization has been holding the tractor show for 25 years. And it’s all been in the name of agricultural heritage.

“We want people to know what our farming heritage is and how the old machinery works,” Melissa Milner, the public relations contact for the Tri-State Antique Power Association, said. “We want to let people know what tractors used to do and what farm equipment was used for.

“Kids nowadays, a lot of them have never seen a piece of machinery work that was from the turn of the century. So we try to educate people and have a good time at the tractor show too.”

To give the tractor show-goers a taste of what the machinery was used for, the group included more than just John Deere and Farmall tractors; the show also involved antique machinery such as horse-drawn farm equipment, a threshing machine, a corn grinder and a rock crusher.

But the event wasn’t designed just to educate kids and adults on yesteryear’s farm equipment; the tractor show, of course, displayed tractors of old and new throughout the fairgrounds.

Milner said there’s a different theme for each year’s tractor show. This year was all about Allis-Chalmers Tractors.

“We’re hosting the national Allis-Chalmers show; It’s called the ‘Gathering of the Orange,’” Milner said.

“We have people from all over attending this show because it’s the ‘Gathering of the Orange.’”

Allis-Chalmers Tractors roll through the gates for the “Gathering of the Orange” themed section of the tractor show.

In addition to the “Gathering of the Orange,” the tractor show also included over 90 vendors who offered everything from arts and crafts to tractor and machine parts. The event also offered a quilt barn and a lawn and garden section for participants to display their lawn mowers and other lawn equipment.

The tractor show also hosted a special guest on Saturday; Brian Baxter, the producer and host of Classic Tractor Fever, which is tractor themed television show, was on site to capture some of the action, which will appear on the RFD-TV network.

All in all, Milner said, the tractor show was aimed to offer a little something to a whole lot of people.

“You can just bring your tractors in. We’ve got people who show you where to park your tractor if you’re a feature tractor or a non-feature tractor,” Milner said.

“Everybody gets to see the tractors and we have almost 100 vendors.

“We have just a wide variety that would appeal to the ladies as well as the gentlemen. So we have a little something for everybody.”

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.”