Pioneer Parents serve up tasty fundraiser

Pioneer Parents and Partners, an organization supporting the activities and students of David Crockett High School, teamed up with State Rep. Dale Ford (R-Jonesborough) for a fundraiser Spaghetti supper at David Crockett High School on Saturday. Ford cooked his special spaghetti recipe for community members, who enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs, salad, bread, and homemade desserts.
Taylor “TC” Cochran and The High Road Band provided music for the festivity. Cochran is a senior at David Crockett High School while his band features fellow classmates and friends.
Proceeds from the event went to support Pioneer Parents and Partners, an organization that promotes school pride and community spirit and shines a spotlight on positive activities and accomplishments by students and faculty.
To see more photographs from the event, visit the Photo Gallery at

Going Green at West View

West View School’s Green Team, in conjunction with the school’s seventh grade language arts department, held a Going Green and Science/Language Arts Fair last week.
Area businesses and organizations involved in the “Going Green” movement joined West View’s Green Team members in sharing knowledge and products with families and staff that were in attendance.
The Washington County Soil Conservation District’s “Sammy Soil” and “Ruby Raindrop” and the Alliance to Save Energy’s “Energy Hog” were all on hand to visit with children in attendance and pass out coloring books and stickers.
“If you don’t go green, you’ll find me in your home,” warned Energy Hog while Sammy Soil encouraged people to stop polluting and Ruby Raindrop focused on water conservation.
The seventh grade students showed off their research and writing skills on display boards.
All seventh grade students in Tennessee are required to write a research paper in a content area. West View students were asked to choose a famous scientist and his/her contribution to society or a science invention and its impact on society to research.
The display boards served as springboard to the actual writing of their research paper.
Several booths were on display, including displays by the Appalachian Girl Scout Council, Washington County 4-H, Johnson City Home Depot, local environmentalist Frances Lamberts and the Johnson City Power Board.

Young at heart: With the help of a free program, area seniors are putting a focus on fitness

Big band music from the 1940s pours out of a nearby stereo as nearly two dozen seniors file into the Jonesborough senior center on a cold, blustery Wednesday morning.
The seniors each grab a chair and form a half circle around Robin Beals, a fitness instructor who will spend the next hour leading an exercise class tailor-made for older folks.
“The class focuses on exercises that will help them with their daily living activities,” explains Brenda Hussey, an account manager for the SilverSneakers Fitness Program. “A lot of it is done while they are sitting in a chair, like building muscular strength and bone mass, working on range of movement and hand-eye coordination.”
Using resistance bands and exercise balls, the class allows seniors to participate at their own comfort level.
“I come to the class to keep my joints operating so I can get around,” says Jean Soergel, a resident of Washington County who has been taking the class for about four years. “I had a very bad ankle injury and it wasn’t until I got back into this exercise class that I saw a difference. Now, I’m walking without a cane.”
The SilverSneakers Fitness Program has been offering senior exercise classes since the early 1990s. Today, more than 10,000 sites for the program exist across the United States and Puerto Rico, including 70 in Tennessee.
“It’s not always in a gym, either,” Hussey says. “Sometimes we’re in churches. Sometimes we’re in senior centers. We want them to feel comfortable and be able to get to the class.”
Paid for through Medicare programs, the SilverSneakers Fitness class is free to seniors in the area.
“Most seniors are on a pretty tight budget,” Hussey said. “When they’ve already got to decided between medication and food some months, they’re certainly not going to be able to afford a gym membership.”
Hussey says she has seen some amazing results in seniors who stick with the fitness regimen.
“I saw one woman who did the class and no longer needed a walker,” she says. “You also see people who are able to come off their medications sometimes, too, because of the class.”
For 92-year-old Gwendolyn Moorehouse, the class has been a real life saver.
“I’ve been doing it for balance because I was falling a lot,” explains Moorehouse, who lives in the historic district of Jonesborough and started taking the class 10 months ago. “Now I don’t ever fall, really. And it’s all because of taking this class.”
In addition to the physical benefits, Hussey says the program also provides seniors with other
“It’s not just exercise,” she says. “It’s an opportunity for them to get out of the house and socialize. They get to be good friends and really, why they want to come is to see their friends.”
Seniors interested in taking the SilverSneakers fitness class at the Jonesborough Senior Center can attend on Mondays or Wednesdays at 9 a.m. For more information about the program, contact the senior center at 753-1075.

Soil Conservation Office recognized for outreach

The Washington County Soil Conservation District Office and the Natural Resources Conservation Service Jonesborough Field Office were awarded the Area IV Outstanding Office of the Year for 2009 at a meeting in Knoxville. The office received the award for their efforts in providing outstanding technical service to the landowners and farmers of Washington County, for their community outreach and for their promotion of conservation education.
The Jonesborough Field Office obligated over $200,000 in federal and state funds to landowners for installing various conservation practices on their farms. An annual Conservation Field Day for fourth graders is sponsored by the District and schools are visited doing conservation presentations using the enviroscape, Sammy Soil or Ruby Raindrop.
Pictured at left are John Rissler, NRCS, Nashville; Brandon Hite, District Technician, Washington County, Greg Quillen, District Conservationist, Jonesborough Field Office; Anna Moore, District Secretary, Washington County and Terrance Rudolph, Area Conservationist, Knoxville.

Local restaurant hosts a contest that’s ‘To Pie For’

Three years ago, Nancy Colburn and Jo Storie, owners of the Cranberry Thistle in downtown Jonesborough, learned of a unique holiday and cooked up a fun contest for local bakers to celebrate.
Celebrated annually on Jan. 23, National Pie Day was first created to celebrate the love of pie as an important part of the country’s heritage and to keep the tradition of pie-making alive in America.
The ladies of the Cranberry Thistle were inspired by the holiday and began sponsoring a pie contest, that, on Saturday, saw a dozen delicious pies come through the door.
Well-known locals Marcy Hawley, Heidi Ehle and Neil Boger judged the pies entered in four categories: fruit, cream, nut and miscellaneous.
“The good thing is we get to eat these pies afterwards,” said emcee Emily Edy after introducing the judges to the crowd. “And it’s free!”
The room was crowded with anxious pie bakers and their families, all waiting for the judges to make their decisions.
The bakers, who included both men and women, discussed the fine art of baking pies, compared recipes and shared tales of kitchen disasters as they waited.
Suzanne Chatelaine, mother of four-month-old Ethan and a Jonesborough resident for just six months, was there with her mother-in-law. They walk in downtown several days a week and when they saw a sign advertising the pie contest, Chatelaine’s mother-in-law encouraged her to enter one of her specialty pies.
“I like to bake and I’ve been doing more of it lately,” Chatelaine said, “so I decided to enter one of my pies.”
Chatelaine’s Bananas Foster pie earned an honorable mention in the contest.
Meanwhile, Lois Kyker’s Japanese Fruit Pie won over the judges in the miscellaneous division while her Butterscotch Cream Pie took first in the cream category.
“I’ve made pies for a long time,” Kyker said. “I love contests and I especially love cooking contests. I won first place in a Spam contest at the fair one time.”
Tracy Clark won second place in the Miscellaneous category with her pie called, Tracy’s Tasty Pie.
A Chocolate Pecan Pie took first place in the nut category while Dean Chestnut’s Apple Cranberry Pie won the fruit division. Billy Ferguson’s Munchkin Fruit Pie earned him a second place finish in the fruit division.
Other noteworthy pies that earned honorable mentions were Catherine Hulse’s French Coconut Custard Pie and Harold Kite’s Coconut Cream Pie.

West View students spend an hour in Japan

Without ever leaving the comfort of their own classroom, some sixth graders at West View School took a trip to Japan last week. Courtesy of a special 4-H program, the hour-long lesson about all things Japanese had kids cooking a delicious stir fry meal, writing the name of their school in another language and learning about cultural diversity.
Connie Goff Sharp, UT Extension Director for Washington County, passed around rice paper, origami paper, Japanese fans and other items she had received from a Japanese student she hosted during a previous summer.
Sharp shared stories about Japanese traditions, explaining that the color red is used in most Japanese artwork as well as its flag because it means “happiness” and “love.”
She explained that Japanese school children rarely do house work because they focus so strictly on their studies and even talked of a popular snack in Japan.
“They eat seaweed like we eat potato chips,” she told the children. “It tastes like fish and it has a lot of protein and fiber in it.”
During Wednesday’s lesson, three of the students learned to cook a special recipe that Sharp’s Japanese exchange student taught her. All the children then sampled the Ramen Noodle Stir Fry, which featured noodles, lettuce and a small amount of ham.
“Usually it is served with some type of fruit and tofu for extra protein,” Sharp said, explaining that meat is not a major part of the Japanese diet due to limited land space to raise such farm animals.
“They eat a lot of fish because they are surrounded by water,” she said.
Sharp, along with 4-H program assistants Juanita Miles and Barbara Nuckols, will travel to other middle schools throughout the county to teach more students about Japan. Each year, the program focuses on a different country. Last year, students learned about Germany.
At the elementary level, the program focuses on table etiquette and proper food portions.

‘Dinosaur Revolution’ headed to Gray Fossil Site

Dinosaurs are roaming the region thanks to a traveling exhibit that opened at the East Tennessee State University and General Shale Brick Natural History Museum at the Gray Fossil Site on Saturday.
Created by Minotaur Mazes, Dinosaur Revolution includes fossils, informational displays, and a number of interactive activities, including the Mesozoic Missions that span 150 million years; a Climb Through Time on a wall of mysteries; the Make Tracks in the Triassic exercise that allows visitors to experience what it is like to crush the earth with gigantic feet; and a glide through the Jurassic.
Guests are invited to become “junior paleontologists” as they travel back through time to gather evidence, debunk popular myths, and learn why dinosaurs are one of the most successful survivors in earth’s history.
In addition to the exhibits, the center will also host Dinosaur Discovery School on Saturdays, Feb. 13 and March 20, from 2-4 p.m. for children in grades kindergarten through third grade, and on March 6 and April 17, from 2-4 p.m., for students in grades four, five, and six.
“This is a great opportunity for kids to learn about dinosaur existence in a fun, interactive setting,” said education coordinator Sarah Mullersman. Space is limited, so early registration is encouraged. Walk-ins will be accepted only if space permits.
The Dinosaur Revolution exhibit will be at the Gray Fossil Site through May 16. All-access passes to the museum are $7 for children ages five through 12, $9 for seniors 65 and older, and $10 for adults. Museum hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. For more information, call toll-free (866) 202-6223 or visit

Open House: There’s No Place Like (the Dosser) Home

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth installment of Open House, a special H&T series
focusing on historical homes and structures in and around Jonesborough.

Quirky old houses demand a lot of the people who love and live in them — let your attention drift for a moment and the poltergeists will be taking all that specialized work apart at the seams. Carolyn Moore, owner of the Dosser House on Depot Street, knows all about that.
“We have been trying to keep the leaks out of the roof,” Moore said of the mansard roof atop her stately mansion. “The people working up there now are the Steels, and John Steel’s son George pretty much holds the house together.”
A majority of the masonry work at the home was done by the late master craftsman, Joe Grindstaff.
“When we first bought the house and 28 acres from Doll Walker, it was not that different from what it is now, but it hadn’t been restored,” said Moore, whose family has lived in the house since 1964. “I said to Doll, who was living in the house at the time, ‘How can you see your house sold off?’ She answered, ‘I’ve been drinking a lot of black coffee and eating aspirin.’”
When they bought the house, which is surrounded by wonderful old trees, a portion of it had been converted into three apartments that had to be removed for restoration and the ceiling was missing in the kitchen.
A friend, Jasper Calloway, commented to Moore’s husband Rick [a professor at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.] that the house could be “torn down and built back for less than what we paid for it,” but the Moores chose restoration and all it entailed, saying it was the right thing to do by the house.
Until the work could be done in the kitchen, Moore suspended a silk parachute in the ceiling, which while not exactly conforming to 1877 standards, did contain the room in a certain style until the restoration work was completed.
“It takes time to figure out what you are doing with a house,” Moore said. “You must listen to what the house is trying to say to you. There were shadows of past color, particularly the green that we were looking for. George Steel, who lives in Knoxville now, did pretty much all of the painting, and he is a master with color.”
Moore’s home, known historically as the Dosser House, was built in 1877 by James H. Dosser for his son Charles. It is a close relation to the Reeves House, also built by Dosser.
The home is classic Italianate, and while it is imposing from the exterior with its towering rich red brick, and white and dark green trim, elongated, arched windows and bracketed eaves, inside it is warmed by rubbed wood surfaces, countless details down to stamped door hinges, luscious paint colors, fascinating artwork and an awareness of the outside brought in by those same windows.
“Someone once asked how many chimneys there were and I said, ‘I don’t know. Let’s go outside and count,’” recalled Moore.
The fireplace mantles and surrounds are particularly noteworthy, especially the one in the front room with its fine attention to detail and a painting of a peacock behind the screen.
“We used to have peacocks running around all over the place, at least four or five,” Moore said. “We loved them, but we never could convince the peacocks that Saturday we didn’t have to get up,” she added with a chuckle. “One time I got a call from somebody over across Main street, saying ‘we have a peacock over here and we think it’s yours,’ and I said, I suggest you tell him to come home . . . you don’t just go over and pick up a peacock!”
The second floor landing provides a particularly inviting nook in which to daydream, watch birds, write or possibly nap. High among the trees, one can almost imagine the peacocks that used to roam the grounds and hear that loud call only they can make. It’s a place for the mind to fly high on the wings of imagination with the kites that are suspended near the windows.

Dosser House inspires flights of fancy in a lot of people, not the least the storytellers who have been a part of Jonesborough’s history since the early 1970’s.

To use or not to use: this does refer directly and historically to her involvement in ST
“National storytellers Connie Reagan-Blake and Barbara Freeman always stayed with me from the very beginning,” said Moore, “first at my daughter’s home, Blue Iris, and then here.

“But during storytelling, I would occasionally come downstairs to find people asleep on the floor in this room where we are sitting (the kitchen, which is a light-filled interior room with arched transom windows.) It could get a little bit irksome at times; you’re stepping over people you don’t know and wondering, ‘where did you come from?

“It’s just the way it was,” she continued, “particularly at storytelling — suddenly, you’d have three friends that you didn’t know were friends and they all said they were coming to visit during the festival, and it’s very hard to say, ‘no, you’re not coming either;’ I can say this a little better than I used to and get away with it.”

A sign out back states firmly that the mansion is haunted, but the ghosts do not seem to be disruptive a presence.

“We have an agreement with ghosts in this house,” said Moore. “They can live here as long as they don’t reveal themselves too much. I am convinced some of them rode the rails and came back in time for the festival. Every year, at storytelling time, I would come downstairs in the morning and pictures would be on the floor with glass intact and other things would be dislodged or rearranged.

People always ask me if I believe in the Holy Ghost, and I say of course I do, I spend every Sunday at the Presbyterian Church, [chuckle] how can you say such things and not have such things happen.

Daughters — Cassandra, Diana and Susan — no sons, but you will find daughters will swap around and you get them that way.