In Jonesborough, making miniature works of art is a BIG DEAL

Their final products might be small, but for those working diligently to create miniature scenes, the hobby is huge. Just ask the group of minaturists that meets monthly, and has for the last 20 years, at the Jonesborough Pizza Parlor to create their tiny works of art.
“My mother started me off with miniatures,” said Judy Lewis, an emergency room nurse in Kingsport, whose mom also attends the miniature meetings. “She bought me a doll house kit when I was still in school, and I haven’t stopped since.”
At this particular meeting, Lewis is working on her Blue Moon Bakery, a mini pastry shop filled with tiny treats no bigger than a finger tip. Despite their smallness, the morsels look realistic and delectable enough to eat.
Nearby, Lewis’ mom, Carol Jaynes, works on a project she is creating based on the book, The Secret Garden. Everything about the piece is exquisitely detailed down to the hollyhocks on one corner, the fountain and the door hidden in ivy.
“The ivy is made out of paper glued to fine wire,” Jaynes said. “You have no idea how long it takes to make that much ivy.”
The miniature replicas of real-life scenes typically are created in one-inch, half-inch or 1.444-inch scales. Miniaturists who meet each month in Jonesborough come from as far away Pigeon Forge, Bristol, Kingsport, Elizabethton, Stoney Creek and Glade Springs, Va., to talk shop. In addition to each other, group members turn to glossy magazines, websites, national conferences and even ‘miniature’ cruises to get expert advice and new ideas about their beloved hobby.
“Some people say they couldn’t do this because it would be so stressful, but it’s really not. It’s a great stress reliever,” Lewis said. “Besides, it gives mom and me a chance to do something we love together, and to travel to the conferences together.”
When the group meets, members adopt a project and everyone starts with the same essential elements. But what each person does with those elements varies greatly.
“When everybody gets their project, they do it their own way,” Jaynes said, noting her own tendency to create beach scenes. “We’ll do a little house and I will do a little beach house; we’ll do a little shop and I will do a beach shop. If we do a little restaurant, I will do the ‘Crusty Crab.’”
When Lewis finishes a project, she proudly displays it at her house.
“I have projects that both my mother and I have done on my shelves and in showcases,” she said. “I am proud of them.”

‘Johnny B’ set to perform April 16-17

Johnny Bellar, a virtuoso performer on resophonic and lap steel guitars, will be in Historic Jonesborough for two shows this weekend.
The Cranberry Thistle will welcome Bellar on April 16 and 17 at 6 p.m. both nights. Cost is $5 or free to dinner customers.
Born in Springfield, Johnny grew up with the sounds of the traditional country music that his father, an accomplished harmonica player, loves so well. Tuning other musicians’ instruments while still in grade school, he began to teach himself the guitar at 14 years old.
At 15, Johnny began to concentrate on the instrument that would become his greatest love — the resophonic guitar. Listening for hours to Josh Graves and Brother Oswald, Johnny developed his own style of playing.
Within a year of his 1973 graduation from high school, Johnny entered and won the dobro competition at a contest in Murfreesboro. Watching his performance was a friend of the legendary Stoneman Family, and within two weeks Johnny was performing with the group.
For 10 years Johnny toured and recorded with The Stonemans and began composing his own music. In 1984, Johnny became an original member of The New Tradition, a popular bluegrass group.
After three years of touring with the group, Johnny left to pursue a solo career and continue with his composing
In 2005, Johnny B. won the 2005 National Resonator Guitar Championship. Boxcar Willie and Tommy Cash are among the artists Johnny has recorded with on albums spanning a musical spectrum from children’s music to bluegrass, traditional country, classical and gospel. He currently has 10 solo albums of original music.

Free childhood vaccinations offered this week

Local health department clinics are working to help parents in their communities by offering required childhood immunizations at no cost in celebration of National Public Health Week, which runs April 5-11.
Types of vaccines being offered by the Washington County Health Department to children and youth under the age of 19 at no charge are Tdap (Tetanus, Diptheria & Pertussis), H1N1, and Varicella (Chicken Pox) vaccines.
Clinics will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, April 6, 7, and 9 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. and on Thursday, April 8 from 2:30 to 6 p.m. No appointment is necessary.
For the first time in a decade, Tennessee has introduced new immunization requirements for children who attend childcare, pre-school and school, as well as a new Official Tennessee Certificate of Immunization required for children starting pre-school, kindergarten and seventh grade this fall.
For more information, visit or call your county health department.

Recycle for Relay program cashing in on scrap metal

When money is tight, it can be hard to find ways to still offer financial support to good causes.
With that in mind, the American Cancer Society of Washington County has a new way to help you make a difference in finding a cure for cancer — one that won’t require you to reach for your checkbook.
“I have some friends who own the recycling company, Metal Recycling Inc.,” said Ronda Forrester, captain of the SunTrust Bank Relay For Life team named Team Strength. “I called and asked them, ‘If I started a Recycle for Relay program, could we have drop sites for unwanted scrap metal with the money from it going toward Relay For Life?’”
“They thought it was a wonderful idea.”
Recently, employees of SunTrust Bank in Johnson City kicked off the Recycle for Relay program by cleaning out the bank’s basement and pitching all of the scrap metal into the designated Dumpster at one of the drop sites.
“I knew we had a lot of unused items in the lower level of the bank and with the help of our area manager and bank manager, we made arrangements for those items to be donated to the cause,” Forrester said. “I hope that in these struggling times, when people are not going to be able to give as much in cash donations, that everybody has junk lying around their house they can give away.”
Now, anyone with scrap metal to discard can help fight cancer by bringing it to the Recycle for Relay drop sites located at 1213 Militia Court, Elizabethton and 639 Woodlyn Road, Johnson City.
The monetary value of the scrap metal will be donated directly to the ACS Relay For Life event, set for June 11 at Indian Trail Middle School in Johnson City.
For more information, contact the ACS office at (423) 926-2921.

A Proud History

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a part of an ongoing series focusing on historic homes
and buildings throughout Jonesborough and the surrounding area.

The front room of the Rhea-McKinley House is a study in color.
Deep yellow and coral from the color palette of the Federal period complement the yellow tile on the fireplace surround, blending together in a golden glow as the setting sun streams through the deep windows.
Paintings and photographs of horses adorn the walls. Round tables await their crisp white linen cloths and the six-course gourmet dinner prepared by Chef James Taylor to be served later in the evening.
Located less than a mile from downtown Jonesborough at 920 Old Boones Creek Road, the Rhea-McKinley House, known today as Proud Annie Mystery Theatre and Bed & Breakfast, is a solid, comfortable looking Federal-style home in a country setting.
Braden McKinley, owner of the house, is a retired law enforcement officer and a veteran actor with 20 years on stage to his credit.
Prior to moving to Jonesborough from Santa Barbara, Calif., the Pennsylvania native starred in his own television series, which is now in syndication.
“For five years, I did a children’s show called ‘Critter Gitters’ and it’s still in re-runs,” said McKinley, who is also an animal rights activist. “It’s about a group of kids who come together at a veterinarian’s office, and that’s their club, the ‘Critter Gitters.’ They are on a mission to rescue abused and neglected animals, and to save endangered species. I played the veterinarian, the ‘wisdom’ of the show.”
The mystery theater is named for McKinley’s horses, Proud, and Annie. Proud was the horse he rode on the TV series. When McKinley moved to Tennessee, Proud came with him. Annie arrived later as a rescue and is now Proud’s companion. The two horses face one another on the sign out front, and are seldom spotted apart in the pasture adjacent to the house.
“I was looking for a house and looked in several states before choosing Tennessee,” McKinley said. “I wanted to have a place where I could have my horses with me, and not have to board them. I was wanting something where I could have a dude ranch and ride horses, and have a dinner theater and a place for a barn dance. Then I found this house, and it had a good energy about it.”
Built in 1857 of varying shades of red brick that were manufactured in a kiln still standing on nearby property, the old house sits on a limestone foundation. The home boasts five fireplaces, each with the fireboxes configured to burn coal.
Situated close to the road, the home served both as a clinic and family residence for the first three owners, all of whom were physicians.
The builder and first owners of the house were Dr. Joseph S. Rhea and his wife, Lady Kirkpatrick, who emigrated from Ireland. According to McKinley, the Rhea family lived in a neighboring log cabin while the brick house was under construction.
The front rooms on either side of the foyer were the doctor’s waiting room and the examining room. The downstairs bedroom, which is now the present day ‘Green Room,’ for actors of the mystery theatre was where the Rheas slept. It is thought the two upstairs rooms belonged to the children.
Shortly after the beginning of the war, Rhea was conscripted into the Confederate Army and served as a battlefield surgeon until the end of the war, while Lady Kirkpatrick was left behind to tend their five children and the 180-acre estate.
According to some local old-timers, ‘ruts,’ were dug under the house to hide the boys; there is no record of their having been taken to fight in the war. After the war ended and Lincoln was assassinated, the Rhea family sold the house to another physician, Dr. Henry Hoss, and re-settled in Kentucky where they had investments in coal.
Hoss reportedly turned the home into a hospital and makeshift morgue during the cholera epidemic that carried away numerous residents of the community in 1873.
The house stood empty for three years before McKinley purchased it from the third owner, Dr. Frank P. Haws.
“You can just imagine what it was like when I moved in,” McKinley said. “Until 1982, this was open-faced brick, but it was plastered at some point after that, and wallpaper was hanging from the walls when I bought it.
“It had to be re-wired, central air and heat installed, and totally cleaned, painted and wallpapered before I could open it to the public.”

Crockett HOSA students at State competition in Nashville

With visions of moving on to the national competition dancing in their heads, nearly two dozen student members of the David Crockett High School Health Occupation Student Association are spending the beginning part of this week in Nashville.
The students are hoping to come away victorious at the state competition in order to move on to the nationals, which will be held in Orlando later this year.
“We have 22 kids that placed regionally and now are competing at state,” said Lori Grabner, HOSA advisor. “These individuals have already won different competitions in healthcare at the regional level.”
There are 36 competition categories including health education, CPR and first aid, biomedical debate, medical reading and extemporaneous health poster design, to name a few. Crockett students competed in 18 of those categories at regionals.
Senior Dustin Shelton earned first place at regionals in extemporaneous health poster design, where he was given a health topic and three hours to complete a poster dealing with the issue.
Nikki Saults and Stephanie Nichols, both seniors, also took first place in regionals in the nursing assistant competition and physical therapy, respectively.
“These HOSA kids are the future of the healthcare industry,” Grabner said. “If it wasn’t for them, we’d have nothing to look forward to. We could have the next Louis Pasteur or Florence Nightingale right here.”
Sophomore Logan Noah is among four Crockett kids competing at the state level in biomedical debate. Her team placed third at the regional level, debating the pros and cons of mandatory drug testing of high school students.
“We had to argue the con side both times in regionals,” said Noah, who wants to be a nurse practitioner. “I have always wanted to be in the health field. HOSA has showed me that I can make a difference.”
Crockett’s HOSA president, Candice Smallman, said HOSA has helped her, too.
“A lot of what we do is teamwork so it helps you learn to work will with other people,” said Smallman, a certified nursing assistant who hopes to attend college to become a nurse practitioner. “I just want to keep working in the healthcare field because it’s what I love.”
Crockett’s HOSA was one of the first to charger with the state HOSA in 1978.
HOSA alumni from Crockett have gone on to work in the healthcare field throughout the state and nation.
“I’ve got some in nursing, some technicians, one is in med school right now, one is in veterinary science. I’ve even got one now that’s a mortician in Nashville,” Grabner said. “You never know where they’re going to go. They can be anything. I have no doubt that I’ll be working for one of them one day.”

Meet the Sisters of Speed

If your memory of go-karts is one of a lawn-mower engine strapped onto a wooden frame, a steering wheel bartered from the junkyard and wheels from your old red wagon, think again.
Jonesborough’s own Alexcia Ray, 11, has been driving go-karts for four years, and her vehicle looks nothing like the go-karts of yesteryear.
The nifty little go-kart Alexcia drives comes complete with roll bars, state-of-the-art tires and a paint job professional drivers might covet. Her vehicle can even approach speeds of 85 miles per hour, although she only drives it up to 45 miles per hour.
“I like it a lot” said Alexcia, who has every intention of becoming a professional race driver, and is already rated as one of the 100 upcoming drivers in the World Karting Association. “I have made new friends and it’s really fast and fun.
“I like when I spin out,” she added with a mischievous giggle.
Petite with long, dark hair, it’s hard to believe Alexcia has such a passion for go-kart racing. She got started with the sport in the most innocent of ways — her dad, Robbie Ray, bought a couple of go-karts at a yard sale, built a little track in back of the family’s house and drove one himself. Then he gave Alexcia the go-ahead, and she took to the track like a duck to water.
Before long, Ray and his father, Smoky, who drove racecars years ago, realized they had a highly-motivated potential champion on their hands. They began to encourage Alexcia to perfect her driving abilities, and that she has.
Alexcia won the Lickcreek Speedway local series in 2007, finished in second place at the Beechnut series in 2008, then went on to win the Spring Shootout at the Dumplin’ Valley Speedway before finishing in third place in the Tri-State Maxxis Series in 2009.
“We’re carrying on a family tradition,” Smoky said. “I raced in Johnson City when I was younger, and their mother’s granddad raced with us, too. Their daddy raced cars, too.”
Meanwhile, Kaylee, Alexcia’s six-year-old sister saw her having all the fun and asked to drive, too. Kaylee drives a ‘Kiddie Kart’ and this will be her first year racing on the motorsport track. Like her big sister, Kaylee also wants to one day be a professional racer.
“I like racing because it feels good,” Kaylee said.
The sisters’ racing isn’t just fun and games though. The girls are also racing to raise awareness about breast cancer. In honor of their cause, the girls’ karts have been painted bright pink.
For more about the Ray sisters and their racing visit

Grandview kids get the scoop on reading

An estimated 150 students at Grandview School got to build their own ice cream sundaes last week as a result of meeting their Accelerated Reader goals.
The Accelerated Reader Program is an incentive-based program to inspire kids to become lifelong readers and to reward their efforts.
Earlier this month, the school surpassed its goal of earning 16,000 points and celebrated by watching fifth-grade teacher Craig Hawley kiss a pig.
Also in attendance at the sundae event were mployees and the armadillo mascot from Texas Roadhouse, which provided the students with their sundae ingredients.


On Saturday, 10 contestants competed for the title of Miss David Crockett High School 2010 in the school’s theater. Contestants were judged on an interview portion, a talent portion and an evening gown portion. Charity Bond, a senior at Crockett, earned the title of Miss DCHS 2010 and was crowned by Miss DCHS 2009 Rachel Matheson. The crowning, pictured at left, was the culmination of an event that also included plenty of entertainment, including a country dance performed by the young cowgirls of Lesa School of Dance, pictured at right.

The Embree House: Still Standing Strong

Staff Writer
[email protected]
If you have any doubts about the place of Washington County in American history, the story of the Embree House, which continues to stand strong to this day, should put them to rest.
In 1791, Thomas Embree [1755 – 1833] a descendant of French Huguenot immigrants who came to America in the 1600s, engaged architect and builder Seth Smith to construct a ‘rock house,’ just a mile west of Telford on Little Limestone Creek.
The resulting two-story home, one of at least five houses built by Smith in the area, was constructed of gray limestone quarried on the property. At its base, the walls are 36 inches wide, but they narrow to 18 inches at the top floor.
A compatible addition to what is now the rear of the house is hidden by clever construction of the drive and landscaping.
The overall affect of the home is one of endurance, and deep secrets held close within those thick rock walls.
After hundreds of years of occupation, the Embree House stood empty for two years before John Nash purchased it in 1985. Nash began the work of restoration during his stewardship of the house, and also wrote Elihu Embree – a Forerunner, which was published in The Beacon in 1995.
The old house is said to have been part of the Underground Railroad, which stands to reason since the Embree family was made up of Quakers. The eldest son of Thomas, Elihu, was an ardent abolitionist who in 1819 published the influential Manumission Intelligencer, which became the Emancipator the following year.
Dr. Patrick Stern and his wife Patricia bought the house in 1999, continuing the restoration begun by Nash that is now largely complete.
When the Sterns moved to East Tennessee, Patricia went on a ramble, looking for a house. She loves old stone houses but when she saw the Embree House, it wasn’t for sale. Later, they picked up a real estate sales magazine in Asheville, saw a stone house for sale and going by, discovered it to be the one she had seen earlier. The next day, the couple purchased the home.
The work of restoring an historic property “has to be a love-labor to do it, sort of like raising kids,” said Patrick Stern. “There’s a joy to it and an occasional mystery.”
The artful craftsmanship of stonemason Seth Smith is evident from the cellar up to the second floor bedrooms now that most of the modern ‘improvements’ have been removed. Following closely the original work and techniques of the late 1700s, the Sterns made period-appropriate replacements when necessary, and removed a bathroom inserted into an alcove next to one of the three fireplaces on the ground floor.
All three fireplaces are constructed of stone; two on one side of the room and one on the other, and prior to John Nash’s ownership, these were completely walled over. Although the room is not large, there was a wall added at some point and then removed, and the Sterns have chosen to honor the original intent of the room’s dimensions and have left the room open.
With the contemporary drywall removed in the front room, the stonework and hewn wood is exposed, allowing the interested eye to revel in Smith’s craftsmanship and the materials he had to work with. Upstairs, the added wall divisions remain, but it is to floors the eye is drawn – their sturdy wide planks are unfinished with the square nail heads still visible.
Prior to the present addition with its wide stairs, the only way up to the second story or down to the cellar/basement, was a closely drawn stairway of a winding sort built into a corner of the house, much like those found in medieval castles. Narrow with a low ceiling, one prays no former residents cracked their heads trying to hurry up or down those stairs.
Down that narrow winding staircase one enters the basement cellar where slaves once lived and others passed through to freedom, and it is here that one finds unexplained mysteries. There is no pretense of refinement here, but the work is strong and largely undiminished by the ravages of time. Just to the left of the low entry is a depression that the Sterns excavated with the greatest care.
Pat Stern read a history of the Underground Railway tunnel, which alluded to a connection with the Embree House in a newspaper article written in the 1930’s, and he determined to search for it, beginning with a depression just to the left of the entry to the cellar.
“The only soft dirt down there was in that area (of the depression,) and I thought I had found the tunnel, and started going down into it,” said Stern of his excavation effort. “The soft dirt ended with a hole that was 3 x 3 x 6. It looks like a grave, due in part to its dimensions.”
There has been some speculation that this may have been the temporary grave of General John Sevier’s (who later became governor,) first wife, Sarah Hawkins. According to the Sterns, she was David Crockett’s aunt, and she lived with the Embree family for some time. It is documented that she died in Washington County, and she is said to be buried on the property.
What Stern did find was the detritus of a family – perhaps 500 to a thousand artifacts which have been carefully preserved for further research.
“There was no other soft dirt in the stone floor of the cellar,” said Stern of the site, “and it wouldn’t surprise me that they might have dug the site to protect her body (or some other,) and later used the depression for other reasons. I found a coin from a presidential election, old shoes, bottles, bricks, dishes, and cow-sized or human bones which haven’t been evaluated yet. Those things were purposefully put there – each scoop of dirt revealed more artifacts. The dig revealed other stories that began to be told, rather than a tunnel.”
Embree House undoubtedly still has secrets to tell – secrets in those stone walls, secrets of why there are so many fireplaces on the ground floor, secrets from the Underground Railway . . . and is that 3 x 3 x 6 depression a grave? And if so, whose body did it protect?

Head & Shoulders above the rest

Tennessee children’s author Michael Shoulders visited Boones Creek Elementary School on Friday where he offered lively presentations to children in kindergarten through fourth grade. Twelve lucky students who entered poems in a drawing even got to eat lunch with the author.
Shoulders’ presentations show students how much fun writing and learning can be. He discusses the writing process, how books are created and goal setting.
“An author visit imparts the love of reading and writing to students,” Shoulders said. “For me, a school visit is exciting because I get to meet the teachers, boys and girls who read my books.”

WackY at Ridgeview

Last week, students at Ridgeview Elementary School celebrated the work of beloved children’s book author, Dr. Theodor (“Ted”) Seuss Geisel. Themed events were held each day to honor Dr. Suess, including Wacky Wednesday, where students and teachers dressed and acted wacky (pictured above) all day long. Other days included Many Colored Monday, Top Hat Tuesday, Pajama Thursday and Fox in Socks Friday. For more photos from Wacky Wednesday, visit the Photo Gallery at

Grandview students show they have heart

Students at Grandview School in Telford spent last month making the world a brighter place through a trio of healthy team events that displayed both their creativity and generosity.
Kids in kindergarten through third grade colored Valentines for residents at the nearby Four Oaks Nursing Home, who then judged the pictures and chose their top three. Third-grader Kaitlyn Goulds, 8, won first place; 9-year-old Sierra Clifford, also in third grade, earned second place; and second-grader Catlin Hoilman, 8, won third place.
The winners were awarded cash prizes from Four Oaks.
“I spent most of mine already,” said Goulds, who earned $50 for her first-place artwork. “I bought clothes and a (video) game.”
A school-wide poster contest was held in February as well to promote heart health. Students created posters of all sizes that recognized various ways to keep heart healthy. Winners were: Mackenzie Baldwin, first grade; Morgan Barkely, second grade; Caitlyn France, fourth grade; Paige France, sixth grade; Austin Brown, seventh grade; and Cheyane Fagan, eighth grade.
The entire school also took part in a fundraiser to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House last month. Students sold hearts for $1, raising a grand total of $849. Sandra Fox’s third grade class earned top honors for their fundraising efforts, bringing in the most money as a class — $156.

Jonesborough seniors get a lesson in the ‘Joy of Painting’

Several members of the Jonesborough Senior Center took part in a Bob Ross Landscapes and Seascapes Workshop at the facility last week. Seniors experienced the joy of painting and were able to take home their finished painting by the end of the session. Bob Ross was an American painter and art instructor, who for years hosted a television program called The Joy of Painting on PBS. He died in 1995 at the age of 52.

Where there’s smoke…There’s a hot guitar?

Travis Woodall makes guitars out of cigar boxes. That’s right, he creates musical instruments out of real, wooden cigar boxes — and the music he makes with them is as sweet to the ear as some cigars are to the mouth.
Woodall says he got interested in building guitars from cigar boxes because he hates to see useful things thrown away.
“Some time last year, I got interested in Appalachian, old time music,” says Woodall, who is originally from Virginia. “Then I stumbled across cigar box guitars on the Internet, and discovered they have a rich history, most recently from the ‘30s, that most people don’t know about, and some of that musical history was right here in Jonesborough. The music that was made here was influenced by the homemade instrument concept.”
Woodall calls the concept an “underground movement,” but says it is growing in popularity.
“That’s partly because of the economic situation we are in,” he says. “Music is something we, as a culture, have always used to get through bad times.”
Woodall, who markets his guitars under the name ‘Slapjack Guitars,’ went on to talk about other homemade instruments, all of which are easy to play for even the most musically challenged among us. The terms used to describe some of them are charming, such as the can-jo or canned strum stick, which is really just a flat stick with frets and strings inserted into a metal can, and the diddlebow which was a favorite in the mountains, made out of a flat stick with one string and sometimes a can opened at both ends to resonate sound when a slide is run over the string.
“This music has a soul a lot of people don’t even realize,” he said. “It tells a story; somebody lived and wrote that song, and the instruments they played when they sang were often made from old boxes, even cardboard boxes and two by fours and some string – whatever they had.”
Today’s modern guitar boxes still bear a strong resemblance to the earliest instruments. Using found objects to construct and embellish the guitars, there is a deep element of personal involvement with the craft. Each one is unique, and depending on the elements of construction and the size of the box, the sound will also vary widely. Woodall’s cigar box guitars are amplified for today’s tastes, but he still uses odd and interesting things on them such as the metal kitchen drain for the sound hole he used on one, and the smooth neck of a wine bottle he slides on the strings.
Woodall plays to his own creativity when he’s making his instruments, but he also builds them to custom. He gets his boxes from a number of places, one being cigar shops. Some are brightly colored and embellished in typical cigar box fashion while others are plain wood with engraved company names on them. He leaves nail holes, chips and other things that tell of the history of the box instead of polishing everything away, but the wood he uses for the neck of the guitar can be anything from poplar to red oak from a piece of flooring someone tossed out, saying, “It just adds character to the finished product.”
To hear Travis Woodall play his cigar box guitars, go to his blog at

On the Menu: hot pies…and hot gossip

Staff Writer
[email protected]
No matter what your vision of today’s Appalachian woman may be, you can bet on one thing: If there’s a good book to read, or better, an opportunity to write one, an Appalachian woman is likely to be either reading it, or writing it. Lisa Hall should know – she is one.
A resident of Fall Branch, Hall is a writer in the new genre of Appalachian Chic-Lit. Not to be confused with main stream Chic-lit, which touts stiletto heels and bright red lipstick. The Appalachian woman takes herself a bit more seriously, but with a strong dose of humor. “My characters are contemporary Appalachian woman, not historical figures,” Hall said of the heroines in her books. “While they could go anywhere they wanted to on the planet, they are more likely to stay right here in Appalachia. They face all of the things modern women experience, but it’s what they do with it that counts.”
The traditional sense of appreciation of home and what it means to be an Appalachian woman is definitely a focus of this series, but the books are light, humorous, gossipy and fun to read. Hall spoke of her characters with a grin: “These women come from a small town in Southwestern Virginia that is sort of Mayberry mixed up with Desperate Housewives.”
Hall said none of her characters are based on any one person, but when she puts them together, distinct personalities emerge. Topics of interest in the books are about resolving issues, relationships, the potential for failure and the sweet joy of success.
At present, three novels have come out in the series, which is published by Mountain Girl Press: Secrets, Lies, and Pies; Cheaters, Pies, and Lullabies; and Playdates, Pies and Sad Goodbyes. Hall has another book in the pipeline but she isn’t sharing the title just yet.
“I try to write at least one novel a year,” said Hall, whose work appeared in several anthologies prior to publication of the Cutie Pie Chronicles. “They all revolve around the pie shop belonging to the central character where ‘pies and hot gossip are always on the menu.’”
She encourages woman who want to write to believe in themselves and face the possibility of rejection head-on.
“You have to be committed to writing, committed to the story and to your characters,” she said. “Stick with it and don’t be discouraged. There aren’t very many overnight successes in this business.”
But the publishing and writing world is one that Hall knew she wanted to be a part of.
“When I published my first short story, I knew I wanted to be a part of that world,” she said. “It was very satisfying to me. After that first story, I wrote the first novel and that led to the series, and I knew I had tapped into something I loved.”

A little piece of heaven

Beverly Thomas Jenkins engages in the fine art of mosaic from her studio overlooking the parks behind Jonesborough Presbyterian Church and the International Storytelling Center. It’s a great way to watch nature at work and the perfect place to fit tiny pieces of colored glass and tile into delightful compositions.
Currently, Jenkins’ work bench holds her newest piece of art in progress, a mosaic inspired by roses in luscious shades of pink. The flowers are springing up in front of a turquoise gate that mimicks teh one Jenkins saw on a visit to France.
Like a jigsaw puzzle, the image takes form beneath Jenkins hands with the addition each piece of colorful cut glass she puts into place.
“The piece itself tells me what it wants to be,” said Jenkins, who is a founding-owner, with her husband W. Herman Jenkins, of Main Street Café and Catering. “The type of glass also determines how it can be used in a mosaic. Some things I want to be clean cut, like the gate, but others will be free-form and natural like the pink roses.”
Jenkins’ studio is filled with vibrant color. Next to a big stone fireplace, richly colored slabs of glass stand at attention awaiting the diamond cutter’s edge. Tiny tiles in many colors, baskets filled with cracked and broken china, and “found” objects dripping with potential pack the shelves her brother built for her.
“I haven’t experimented with the found objects very much,” she said. “But as you can see, I’ve got lots of things I’m thinking about using. I did that one [pointing to a piece made from soft blended shades of cream and green,] using a real pocket watch that works.”
In the center of the room is an oblong table covered in cobalt blue tile with an elongated star at its center. The beautiful craftmanship is not that of her own — Jenkins’ parents made the table in the late 1950s.
“My father is an artist, and I grew up around art,” she said. “That table is what got me started. I needed to find my own art form, and it was mosaic that did it for me.”
It took Jenkins a while to find the art medium that gave her the perfect outlet to express herself.
“You know: are you a painter, do you work with wood, do you sketch? What is the thing that makes you happy when you do it? I found mine, and it fills me,” she explained. “In the beginning, it was, ‘How do you do this?’ But now it’s growing into an artistic form of personal expression.”
Next door to the studio, sits Jenkins’ gallery. Painted in European style of rich glazed shades of warm red clay, the walls form a perfect backdrop for Jenkins’ colorful works of art that includes anything from an aquarium and a rich spray of flowers on a faceted background of cut white glass, to a stylized big red heart. Light glancing off the cut edges gives the artwork a multi-dimensional sense of movement.
“It’s so fun. You work with your heart, your mind and how you feel,” Jenkins said. “It just comes out from there. If I can inspire someone, that’s great, but I just do it because I like to do it. My work is hectic; this calms me down and I have a product to show for it.”

Members of Crockett FCCLA working to raise funds for various causes

By Destiny Crews and Olivia Taylor
David Crockett Student Correspondents
Despite the snow and cold weather, the David Crockett High School Family, Career and Community Leaders of America has been hard at work helping others this winter season.
Crockett students, Olivia Taylor, Destiny Crews, and Jessica Slagle have taken on the project of making a queen-sized quilt to be auctioned by local radio station WTFM. The proceeds from the auction will be donated to fund breast cancer research.
When the quilt is completed, a photo of it will be posted on the WTFM web site where interested individuals can then start the bidding. The quilt will also be on display at Wal-mart stores within the radio station’s listening area.
Meanwhile, Crockett FCCLA students Veronica Thompson and Rebecca Shanks worked in the concession stand during the school day for a wrestling match this season. There, 15 gallons of sweet tea were donated and the David Crockett High School Culinary classes made cookies to be sold. The money raised from concession stand sales allowed students from David Crockett to go on a shopping trip.
Students Miranda Case and Angel Fenner recently worked with the school’s culinary classes to make star-shaped cookies to sell for the Children’s Miracle Network.
Each cookie sold for one dollar and a star was signed with the buyer’s name to place on a snow mural in front of the school. These students are now involved with helping other FCCLA members sell Valentines for the Children’s Miracle Network. Their goal is to raise $500.
The students will present these projects at the 2010 District 9 STAR Events Competition at East Tennessee State University on Friday, Feb. 26. Winners of the competition will compete at the FCCLA state meeting on April 6 at Opryland Hotel in Nashville.

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.

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