English: ‘It is exciting’ to start school year

By Keeli Parkey

The Unicoi County School System is ready to welcome students back to class.

“It is exciting to have students return,” Director of Schools John English told The Erwin Record. “Our work in the summer is all geared towards things for our students. Obviously, they bring a lot of energy back to the school system. I think it is always exciting to get kids back in classrooms.

“We are in the business of students, so when they are not around it’s not quite the same. We are glad to be getting them back.”

The first day of school will be Monday, Aug. 14. Students will dismiss early on that day with middle school and high school students going from 7:45-11:45 a.m. and elementary school students going from 8 a.m. to noon. Breakfast and lunch will be served on Aug. 14.

“The first full day of school will be Tuesday, Aug. 15,” English said.

Teachers returned to work on Monday, Aug. 7.


New this school year is how parents and guardians will be asked to fill out and submit their students’ beginning of year information packets, according to English. In previous years, these were filled out by hand; however, in order to make filling out the packets more convenient, parents and guardians must now fill out and submit them online.

“The biggest thing parents need to look out for is our transition to online students’ beginning-of-year packets,” English said. “This will make it easier for our families, especially those with multiple students. Those packets were pretty cumbersome. We are trying to make that more efficient for our families and for us.”

English said login information for Skyward, the website parents use to access the packet and other student information, was to be sent to parents’ email on file on Aug. 7.

For more information about the packets, parents and guardians should call their child’s school.

Also new this year is an updated website, according to English.

“We have a new website that we feel like is much easier to navigate,” he added. “On the website is a systemwide calendar of events. So, for families with students at multiple schools they can go to one location to find out what is going on at each school.

“Every school still has its own website within the system website that will also have its respective calendar of events. But, we thought it would be better for communities or families to have one location and see what is going on throughout the system.”


English also reminds families that due to the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, the school system will dismiss early on that day. Middle and high school students will dismiss at 11:30 a.m.; elementary schools will dismiss at 11:45 a.m. Lunch will be served.

“We had received a few calls from families who were planning to take their students out of school that day and traveling toward middle Tennessee where the eclipse is going to be more prominent,” English said. “With that being a once-in-a-lifetime event, we decided to dismiss early on that day to allow families to spend time with their children and make special plans.”


Open houses were held at the middle school and high school on Tuesday, Aug. 8.

Elementary schools students and their families are invited to open house events at their respective schools on Thursday, Aug. 10, from 5-7 p.m.

“The open houses allow the students to get their schedules and meet their teachers before school begins,” English previously said. “We believe it is advantageous to our students and their families to get to know their teachers before the first day of school.”

Classes begin Aug. 14, families invited to open house events

By Keeli Parkey

Summer fun is about to come to an end for Unicoi County students.

Director of Schools John English has announced that students will return to class on Monday, Aug. 14.

“We are looking forward to the start of another school year,” English recently told The Erwin Record.

Students will dismiss early on Aug. 14 with middle school and high school students going from 7:45-11:45 a.m. and elementary school students going from 8 a.m. to noon. Breakfast and lunch will be served on that day.

“The first full day of school will be Tuesday, Aug. 15,” English added.

Teachers will return to work on Monday, Aug. 7.

• • •

Before the new school year begins students and their families are invited to attend open house events at their respective schools. English said elementary open houses will be held on Thursday, Aug. 10, from 5-7 p.m. Middle school and high school students are invited to the open houses on Tuesday, Aug. 8, from 5-7 p.m.

“The open houses will allow the students to get their schedules and meet their teachers before school begins,” English said. “We believe it is advantageous to our students and their families to get to know their teachers before the first day of school.”

The open house events will also give parents and guardians an opportunity to fill out their students’ beginning of year packet information in the schools’ computer labs.

“We are putting the packets online this year,” English said. “So, for example, if you have five students in the system, you can fill out some information once and it will apply to each student. We sent home letters at the end of the last school year letting parents know the packets will be online and the information will need to be filled out online.

“During the open house events we are going to open our computer labs and have staff on hand so families can come and get help with their online packets. Since this is the first time we have asked parents to fill out the packets online we wanted to make assistance available for them. We also understand that some families don’t have computers at home, so the open houses will provide an opportunity for them to use the computers at the child’s school to fill out the packets.”

English said login information for Skyward, the website parents use to access the packet and other student information, will be emailed to their website on file on Aug. 7.

For more information about the packets, parents and guardians should call their child’s school.

Resurfacing project begins in Erwin

From Staff Reports

According to Erwin City Recorder Glenn Rosenoff, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has begun a resurfacing project in the Town of Erwin.

Rosenoff said the project will take place on Second Street from Exit 37 to North Main Avenue and on North Main Avenue to the railroad overpass. Work began on Monday, July 10, and will take approximately two weeks and will including replacing, milling and restriping.

Drivers are asked to use caution in the area.

Summer train excursion planned

From Staff Reports

If you’re experiencing the summer doldrums, we have the cure for you – getting out of the house and taking a great train ride. Escape the dog days of summer with a cool, refreshing and scenic train trip through the mountains of the Southern Appalachian region.

On Saturday, Aug. 12, the Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society & Museum will sponsor its “Summer 2017 Excursion” – a train ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad through the majestic Smoky Mountains and the beautiful countryside of Western North Carolina. The train follows the route of the former Southern Railway’s Murphy Branch line, established in 1891, with its five percent grade, many bridges and the beautiful whitewater Nantahala Gorge.

Much of the route hugs the banks of the Little Tennessee and Nantahala Rivers and crosses Fontana Lake Trestle, standing 100 feet above the lake and spanning 780 feet. After crossing the lake, the train will enter the breathtaking Nantahala Gorge – a natural wonder.

Passengers can choose to ride in comfort in Coach Class, Crown Class or First Class. Ticket prices for adult Coach Class seats are $83 and $69 for children (2 to 12 years). Adult Crown Class seats are $96 and $79 for children (2 to 12 years). First Class seats $152 for adults over 21.

The trip will begin in the parking lot of the Liberty Bell Middle School in Johnson City where passengers will board a motorcoach departing 9:15 a.m.  Passengers will also be picked up in the Asheville area at the Weaverville, N.C., Wal Mart Super Center, 25 Northridge Commons Parkway, Weaverville, at Exit 19 off of Interstate 26 at 10 a.m. Upon arriving Bryson City, N.C., passengers will have time to shop, snack, and visit the Smoky Mountain Train Museum before boarding the excursion train at 1:45 p.m. for the 4.5-hour roundtrip to the Nantahala Gorge and return. There will be a layover at the Gorge for sightseeing. Expected arrival back in Weaverville at 7:30 p.m  and to Johnson City at 8:30 p.m.

To order tickets (and lunch for Coach and Crown Classes, if desired), send your check or money order along with the number of tickets, the class of car you choose and lunch choices to Summer 2017 Excursions, Watauga Valley RHS&M, P. O. Box 432, Johnson City, TN, 37605-0432. A printable ticket/lunch order form is available on the website www.wataugavalleynrhs.org and clicking on the “Excursions” link. Please specify if you will accept an alternate class of service if your choice is sold out; you will be refunded the difference. Money will be refunded if you do not wish an alternate service.

Passengers will have several options for lunch:

• Bring your lunch (small coolers only).

• Box lunch meals will be available for purchase at $11 per meal and must be pre-ordered with your train ticket. The options are turkey and cheese on croissant or baked chicken breast on croissant.  Included with the box lunch are chips, cookies and a choice of drink (unlimited coffee, tea or soft drink) in a disposable cup. Box lunches can be picked up in the oncession car once boarded.

• Dining in historic dining cars. A truly unique, onboard dining experience in the grand tradition. A choice of meal will be available for selection. Note all dining car meals must be pre-purchased when ordering train ticket. These dinners include a choice of drink (unlimited coffee, tea or soft drink) and a special dessert. The cost is $15 per person.

• Purchase food from the concession car.

For questions about the trip, visit our web site at www.wataugavalleynrhs.org; phone 753-5797; email wataugavalley@embarqmail.com; or write to Watauga Valley RHS&M, P. O. Box 432, Johnson City, TN 37605-0432.

Rock Creek Park site of next RISE & Shine event

By Brad Hicks

This Saturday’s installment of the RISE & Shine series of summer events will feature a little rock and stroll.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. on July 1 at the pool at Rock Creek Park. East TN Rocks will have a tent set up near the pool, and attendees will have the opportunity to show off their artistic touches by painting rocks provided by East TN Rocks.

Members of the East TN Rocks group decorate rocks with ornate designs and bright colors, then place the rocks in different spots throughout the community for citizens to find. Those finding one of the rocks are then supposed to hide the stone in a different location for others to find.

Kristin Anders with RISE Erwin said there are similar rock painting groups throughout the country.

“It is a national phenomenon,” she said. “…It’s just something fun for families to do. It’s geocaching on a much simpler level. Without clues or anything, you’re just always on the lookout for painted rocks.”

Anders said participants in this Saturday’s evening will not be required to bring their own rocks or paint, as supplies will be provided by East TN Rocks.

“All they have to do is show up to paint,” Anders said.

Anders added the East TN Rocks tent set up during the Erwin Great Outdoors Festival was a popular spot for both young and old.

“We had them in the Kids’ Zone, but there were as many adults there painting rocks as kids,” Anders said. “They encourage all ages to come out and paint them.”

Attendees of this Saturday’s RISE & Shine event will also have the chance to participate in a family guided tour starting at the Rock Creek pool at 10 a.m. Anders said attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic and explore all the things to do at Rock Creek Park.

The RISE & Shine events, which are free to attend, kicked off Saturday, June 10, with a free YMCA day at the Unicoi County Family YMCA, which was followed the next Saturday by a volunteer day at Rocky Fork State Park. This past Saturday’s event featured a free bicycle safety check and bicycle safety training conducted by the Erwin Police Department.

Other RISE & Shine events planned for the month of July include a “Touch a Truck” event on July 8 at the Unicoi County Courthouse that will allow attendees to get an up-close look at vehicles used by the military, emergency responders and in agriculture. Other July events will include a book exchange at the Unicoi County Public Library and skating demonstrations at the adjacent skate park, a volunteer day at the Unicoi County Animal Shelter and a fishing day at Erwin’s Fishery Park.

Summertime adventure series set to begin

By Brad Hicks

The RISE Erwin group is gearing up to kickoff what its members have described as a “summertime adventure series” of free events designed to offer fun and education for the whole family.

The first of the group’s RISE & Shine family events will be held this Saturday, June 10, beginning at 10 a.m. Different events, which are the result of partnerships with local organizations and agencies, will be held each Saturday beginning at that same time throughout the summer.

“Part of our initiative at RISE is to support our community, and one thing that we have realized is there’s not a lot of events within our community during the summer months of June and July, and we have so much locally to offer. There’s just no organized activities,” Kristin Anders with RISE Erwin said. “So that’s how the RISE & Shine summer series came to be.”

This Saturday’s activity will be held at the Unicoi County Family YMCA. Anders said RISE Erwin has partnered with the YMCA to offer a free YCMA day. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., attendees will have free access to the facility and classes offered there. Those taking part in the free YMCA day may also participate in outdoor field games, which will begin at 10 a.m. and include cornhole hopscotch and four square, to be held on the grounds of the facility.

The June 17 RISE & Shine event, which will be held at Rocky Fork State Park, will be Rocky Fork volunteer day and will include a guided hike. Anders said participants will aid the efforts at Rocky Fork State Park by helping to clean creeks and trails within the park to keep them accessible and safe. Staff with Rocky Fork State Park will also be on hand to lead attendees on a leisure hike through the park following the cleanup.

June 24’s RISE & Shine activity will feature bicycle safety training led by the Erwin Police Department. Anders said this activity, which will be held in the parking lot adjacent to the Unicoi County Courthouse, ties in with the organized community bike rides that will be a part of this season’s Downtown Erwin Farmers Market, which began its second season on Tuesday. The Downtown Erwin Farmers Market will continue each Tuesday from 5-8 p.m. through September.

“A lot of children, and even adults, just need to be reminded of traffic signals and safety when riding through town, so we’re going to go over that and then they’re going to do a little half-course, and then everyone is welcome to ride through town together,” Anders said of the June 24 activity.

Anders said RISE & Shine events slated for July include a “Touch a Truck” activity to be held in the parking lot next to the Unicoi County Courthouse. This activity will allow participants to get an up-close, hands-on look at vehicles used by local police and fire departments, the U.S. Army, and those used in agriculture. July’s slate is also set to include a support day for the Unicoi County Animal Shelter in which participants will help the shelter by walking animals along the Erwin Linear Trail and assisting with cleanup and landscaping around the facility.

Several of the RISE & Shine events will be “multifaceted” in that they will offer a fun activity for families while giving back to the community by helping organizations such as Rocky Fork State Park and the Unicoi County Animal Shelter.

More information on RISE & Shine events to be held in July are slated to be released in mid-June and additional information on each upcoming event will be disseminated weekly.

For more information on the RISE & Shine events, find RISE Erwin on Facebook or contact the group at riseerwin@gmail.com.

Summer festival set for June 17 with crafts, food, entertainment

From Staff Reports

The members of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Mission have announced that they are planning their second Summer Festival. “Our first Summer Fest last year was so successful that we have decided to do it again and hopefully make it bigger and better,” said Fr. Tom Charters, pastor.  “We are trying to raise enough money to build a multi-purpose building and it is a big task.”

The Summer Fest will be Saturday, June 17th, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., on the church property at 657 N. Mohawk Drive in Erwin and everyone is invited. Look for the yard signs sponsored by Impact Plastics and follow them to the event.

There will be several food booths, featuring both Mexican and American fare. There will be homemade tamales and more traditional Mexican cuisine. The American booth will be flipping all sorts of burgers with all the fixin’s and grilling hot dogs.  There will be funnel cakes, which were a huge hit last year, and a bake sale booth with all home baked treats.

There are already many crafters and vendors signed up. There will be a silent auction and games for kids with prizes and lots of music.  “We will also have the dunk tank supplied by our Volunteer Fire Department, so Fr. Tom…be ready,” the press release read.  The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are supposed to be there with displays and information from all services.

They are still taking application for vendors and crafters. There are about 12 acres, so space is big enough to hold lots of booths and parking is close by. For more vendor and/or crafter information, call Mary Ann at 257-5096.

Men and volunteers from the Knights of the Columbus have been on the property mowing and getting things prepared for the Summer Fest.

If anyone would like to come and hay it before we cut it all down, call Gary at 257-5096 or 315-730-5096.  Someone will make arrangements to meet you there to cut and bale the property.

The congregation is praying for good weather and hope to see all neighbors and friends at the Summer Fest on June 17th to enjoy some good food and wonderful fellowship.

Di Fabio to present webinar for Australian cyber security organization

From Staff Reports

Andrea Di Fabio, chief information security officer and associate CIO at East Tennessee State University, has been selected by the Australian Information Security Association (AISA) to present a webinar highlighting how radio signals are being forgotten in security today.

“Hidden Among Us” will be broadcast online Wednesday, June 14, at 9 p.m. eastern standard time and is open to the public.

“Hidden among us are radio signals carrying sensitive information, supporting our national infrastructure, and connecting IoT (internet of things) devices,” Di Fabio said. “This presentation provides a quick overview and awareness of this threat landscape, while demonstrating some basic vulnerabilities and associated risks.”

AISA is a non-profit organization that champions the development of a robust information security sector by advancing cyber security and safety in Australia.

To register for Di Fabio’s webinar, click here. No AISA member ID is required to register.


ETSU to host 10th anniversary meeting of Southeastern Association of Vertebrate Paleontology

From Staff Reports

East Tennessee State University’s Don Sundquist Center of Excellence in Paleontology will host the 10th anniversary meeting of the Southeastern Association of Vertebrate Paleontology (SeAVP) from June 14-17 at the Gray Fossil Site and Museum.

SeAVP was started by ETSU paleontologists in 2008.  The annual meeting gathers together students, researchers, staff, volunteers and the public to advance paleontology in the Southeast.  While the meeting is always hosted by a southeastern institution, the conference encourages presentations on projects from around the world.

The meeting will begin Wednesday, June 14, with registration and a reception at 5 p.m.

On Thursday, June 15, the morning will begin with presentations by scientists from around the world, and the day will include behind-the-scenes tours of the Gray Fossil Site and Museum.  The meeting will continue on Friday, June 16, with more presentations and a poster session.

Friday will also feature a barbecue banquet at 6 p.m., with music provided by an old-time band from Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies in ETSU’s Department of Appalachian Studies.  Individuals expected to be in attendance include former Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist, ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland, ETSU President Emeritus Dr. Paul E. Stanton Jr. and other university representatives.

The meeting’s keynote address will be given during the banquet by Dr. Jim Mead, retired professor and former chair of the ETSU Department of Geosciences.  Mead is now chief scientist and site director at The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

On Saturday, June 17, an optional field trip is planned to visit the Ice Age fossil site in Saltville, Virginia, where ETSU paleontologists are spending part of the summer conducting excavations.  The Saltville site, which has been known for its paleontological significance since at least the time of Thomas Jefferson, is marking its centennial of scientific research this year.

Registration for the SeAVP 10th anniversary meeting is $55.  An additional fee will apply for the optional Saltville field trip.

For registration or more information, call the ETSU Office of Professional Development at 800-222-3878 or visit www.etsu.edu/professionaldevelopment and click on the Gray Fossil Site and Museum picture.   For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.

Barter Theatre recalls its history with ‘Barter Day’

From Staff Reports

Barter Theatre is once more returning to its namesake by offering patrons the chance to barter for tickets to a show with its annual “Barter Days” event.

“Barter Days” allows patrons to barter for their admission to three performances by donating non-perishable food items for tickets to the show.

This year’s “Barter Days” will include: “The Cottage” on Tuesday, June 13, at 7:30 p.m.; “The Savannah Sipping Society” on Thursday, June 15, at 7:30 p.m.; and “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel” on Saturday, June 17 at 10 a.m.

The concept of bartering for tickets started when Robert Porterfield founded Barter Theatre during the Great Depression to offer local farmers the chance to gain admission to plays by trading some of their crops for tickets. This allowed patrons who otherwise couldn’t afford admission to enjoy the theatre and helped provide food for the actors at the time. By the end of the first season the Barter Company cleared $4.35 in cash, two barrels of jelly and a collective weight gain of more than 300 pounds.

No advance reservations can be made for any tickets that will be purchased with goods during “Barter Days”, and only a limited amount of barter tickets will be available for each of the three performances. Tickets are distributed on a first come first serve basis. Anyone interested is reminded that these events are usually very popular, so it is recommended to arrive early.

Barter requests, when possible, that those interested bring an amount of food equivalent to the cost of a ticket. Barter staff will begin collecting food one hour prior to the show times listed, and all collections will be donated to a local food bank to help those in need in our area.

Barter Theatre to hold auditions for young actors

From Staff Reports

Barter Theatre is pleased to announce auditions for young actors for this fall’s production of “The Music Man.” The theatre will be seeking actor/singers for the roles of Winthrop, Amaryllis and young people of the town.

For these roles, show organizers are seeking actors between 5 years old and 16 years old who are no more than five feet tall and are able to sing. Anyone who fits these requirements is encouraged to audition.

The audition will take place on Barter Theatre’s Gilliam Stage on Wednesday, June 14, from 10 a.m. noon. Show organizers ask that you arrive at 9:45 a.m. with a parent or guardian to fill out paperwork providing contact information and any conflicts you may have between July 11 and Nov. 11.

For the audition organizers would like to hear one song. You must bring sheet music with you or you will not be allowed to audition.  An accompanist will be provided. Some auditionees will be asked to stay to read sides from the play and dance. There is no need to prepare a monologue for this audition.

Rehearsals for the play begin on July 11, and the show opens on Sept. 15 and runs through Nov. 11. The date and time of each performance is on the website at www.bartertheatre.com. Each role will be double cast or swung, meaning you won’t be called to every performance. Come be a part of this exciting production at Barter Theatre.

RSVP to Katy Brown at barterplayers@bartertheatre.com.

Be sure to get your tickets to upcoming Barter Theatre productions, with tickets for every show starting at $20. Call the Barter Theatre Box Office at 276-628-3991 for more information.

Volunteers needed to help dig up a mastodon (and accomplish other assorted tasks)

From Staff Reports

Paleontology enthusiasts are invited to volunteer with excavation and lab crews at the East Tennessee State University Gray Fossil Site and Museum.

A volunteer orientation session for prospective “paleontological assistants” is scheduled for Saturday, June 10, from 10 a.m.-noon at the museum.

Many volunteer positions are currently available, primarily assisting in the field, because of the recent discovery of a nearly complete mastodon skeleton, among several other individuals.  Gray Fossil Site paleontologists are seeking dedicated people to help recover this and other specimens.

Volunteers will work side-by-side with the crew, excavating the massive bones and wet-screening the sediment produced during the dig.

“These skeletons illustrate the ridiculous size of our mastodons, ranking among the largest terrestrial mammals ever found,” said Dr. Chris Widga, the new head curator at the museum and an expert on Proboscideans (elephants and their closest relatives). “This new semi-articulated skeleton appears to be a male that was roughly four meters tall and nearly 16 metric tons.”

Dr. Steven Wallace, director of field operations at the Gray Fossil Site, joked, “We will need a small army to dig this guy out!”

By joining the museum team, volunteers become part of a unique group of dedicated individuals who can be found in nearly every area of the site. Whether digging in the pits, screening sediment, picking concentrate, greeting visitors, guiding groups or working alongside museum curators, there are many important ways in which volunteers contribute.

The museum regularly offers volunteer training and orientation in the spring and fall, but the June 10 session has been scheduled as an “extra push” because of the new mastodon skeleton.

Training and orientation is required, and the museum cannot accept new volunteers outside of the orientation dates.  Volunteers must be 15 or older.

Regular hours at the Gray Fossil Site and Museum, located 1.8 miles off Exit 13 on Interstate 26, are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

For more information, email Shawn Haugrud, laboratory and field manager, at haugrud@etsu.edu or call 439-3661 and leave a voice message.

Mountain States Hospice seeks volunteers in Unicoi County, training set for May 24

From Staff Reports

Mountain States Hospice is holding a one-day volunteer training workshop on May 24 at the Clinchfield Senior Center, 220 Union St., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hospice care focuses on patients in the last phases of life and provides loving support and care for them and their families. Volunteers may work directly and/or indirectly with hospice patients and their loved ones. They may perform a variety of vital tasks, including administrative duties, spending time with patients, and providing breaks for patient family members.

Volunteers range in age from 14 up to retirees, although they must be at least 18 to sit with patients. Volunteers will be required to have a tuberculosis (TB) test and a background check, which will be paid for by Mountain States Health Alliance.

Mountain States currently has a critical need for volunteers in Unicoi County, Erwin and the town of Unicoi.

The training gives volunteers the tools they need to interact with patients, care for the caregivers, identify areas where they might be useful, and work with hospice nurses, chaplains and social workers. Through discussion and video, volunteers will learn about HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and privacy requirements, and what is appropriate to say and do around hospice patients and their families. No clinical training is involved.

As part of a special community of givers, many Mountain States Hospice volunteers find their work to be very gratifying. They are also recognized and celebrated during National Volunteer Week and at Mountain States’ annual volunteer appreciation dinner.

“Being a volunteer for Mountain States Hospice is very rewarding,” said Frieda Pickett, a veteran volunteer. “Many of the clients I care for are in great need of someone to just come and sit with them, help them in small ways and provide conversation and friendship. They’re very appreciative, and they tell me so. I’m grateful I have the time to do this valuable work.”

Please RSVP by May 23 by calling 423-431-7621. Lunch and light refreshments will be served.

TSBDC at ETSU to offer ‘Advanced Facebook Techniques’ class

From Staff Reports

The Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) at East Tennessee State University will offer an “Advanced Facebook Techniques” class for entrepreneurs on Thursday, May 11, from noon to 1 p.m. at the ETSU Innovation Laboratory, 2109 W. Market St.

This workshop, designed for Facebook users with business pages, will focus on Facebook’s Power Editor. This advertising tool allows users to create targeted audiences to potentially amplify the reach of their posts. Advanced options include targeting audiences through their behaviors, demographics, interests, locations and other factors.

The workshop will be taught by Valentina Escobar-Gonzalez, founder of Beyond Engagement – Social Media Solutions. She assists small businesses in growing their engagement levels with customers online through social media marketing.

Escobar-Gonzalez, recognized as one of the region’s “Forty Under 40” by The Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia, has been featured in a national Marketing Smarts podcast, “Big Heart, Small Budget: Social Media for Nonprofits and Small Businesses.” She has also been a finalist for the KOSBE Awards in Innovation and Marketing.

The fee for the workshop is $25.

For registration or more information, contact Teresa Shipley of the TSBDC at 439-8505 or shipleyth@etsu.edu. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 439-8346.

Scott’s strawberries now available at select Food City locations

From Staff Reports

Back by popular demand, Scott’s Farms strawberries are now available for sale at select Food City locations. These ripe, ready-to-eat strawberries are locally grown by Scott Farms, located in Unicoi County, and delivered directly to surrounding Food City locations daily, while supplies last.  

“We pride ourselves in selecting the best possible products for our customers and we feel that Scott Farms shares in that goal,” stated Steve Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer.  

The banks of the beautiful Nolichucky River provide an ideal growing ground for Scott Farm’s famous strawberries.  

“We are proud to be the exclusive retail outlet to offer Scott’s Strawberries,” said Bucky Slagle, director of produce operations for Food City. “It’s a great partnership and of course our customers love the added convenience.”

Food City purchases produce for a number of local farms, including those in Grainger, Blount, Hawkins, Unicoi, Jefferson and Sullivan counties in Tennessee; Scott and Carroll counties and through Appalachian Harvest co-op in Abingdon, Virginia and is the exclusive outlet for a number of them. Buying locally provides Food City customers with the freshest produce possible, while lending additional support to the local economies.

Look for great tasting Scott’s Strawberries at Food City locations in Johnson City, Jonesborough, Gray, Church Hill, Kingsport, Greeneville, Bristol, Elizabethton, Blountville, Piney Flats, Rogersville, Morristown, Newport, Dandridge, Jefferson City and White Pine in Tennessee and Bristol, Abingdon, Damascus, Marion and Chilhowie, Virginia.

Special adoption set for May 12-14 at PetSmart

From Staff Reports

May is National Pet Adoption Month and the Unicoi County Animal Shelter will hold a special adoption event on May 12, 13 and 14 at PetSmart in Johnson City.

The shelter will have both cats and dogs available for adoption, with the adoption fee for cats reduced to $50. All animals will be spay/neutered, vaccinated, micro-chipped and have current rabies vaccinations.  With each adoption Pet Smart will provide a free bag of pet food, pet supplies and coupons for other pet supplies.

Check out the shelter website at unicoicountyanimalshelter.com, for further information or call the shelter at 743-3071.

Don’t forget the shelter can always use donations of cleaning supplies and food. Special needs this month are clumping and non-clumping cat litter, Fabuloso and canned cat food.

ETSU to recognize academic excellence on April 18

From Staff Reports

The Honors College at East Tennessee State University will recognize students for superior achievement during the annual Academic Excellence Convocation on Tuesday, April 18, at 6:30 p.m. in the D.P. Culp University Center’s Martha Street Culp Auditorium.

A total of 126 students graduating from special programs — University Honors Scholars, Midway Honors Scholars, Fine and Performing Arts Honors Scholars, Honors-in-Discipline Scholars, and Roan Leadership Scholars—will be recognized and awarded stoles from their respective programs. Fifty-three students will receive the Faculty Award as the most outstanding graduates in their respective degree programs. Faculty Awards are determined by vote of the faculty in each program, and recipients receive specially engraved medallions. Other graduating students achieving a 3.5 to 4.0 grade point average, denoting cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude academic standing, will be recognized and honored as well.

The speaker for the event is ETSU Honors College graduate James Cronin. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in philosophy and speech at ETSU in 2004, Cronin completed a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Louisville in 2007, where he received the Warren Oates Award for outstanding contributions to the theatre program and for the promise of making significant contributions to the artistic community.

In 2008 Cronin moved to New York City where he regularly worked on stages in the city as well as around the country. In New York, he met the executive director at Audible Studios, who led him into a career as an audiobook narrator. Cronin has now narrated over 300 books, including many listed by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. This year he won an Earphones Award for his narration of a social sciences book, and he has been nominated for an Audie Award, the industry’s top honor, for his work on a thriller titled “The Short Drop.”

The 2017 ETSU Academic Excellence Convocation is free and open to the public. Family and friends of the students being recognized are encouraged to attend. A special reception, sponsored by the East Tennessee State University Foundation, will be held for students, families and attending faculty after the ceremony in the Culp Center Alumni Gallery and foyer. Entertainment will be provided by one of the ETSU bluegrass bands.

For more information or for special assistance for those with disabilities, call the Honors College office at 439-6076.

TWRA boating class begins April 18

From Staff Reports

Due to popular demand, the Johnson City Sail and Power Squadron has announced it will be offering TWRA’s Tennessee Safe Boating Course on Tuesday, April 18, and Thursday, April 20, at the Northeast State Community College Library, Room L226. This class will be taught over two nights from 5:30-8 p.m. The TWRA exam will be given at the conclusion of the class on Thursday. Individuals who pass the test will be issued TWRA’s Boating Safety Education Certificate which is required by the State of Tennessee of all boat and personal watercraft operators born after Jan 1, 1989. 

The class is free to the public. However, in order to take the exam and get your TN Boat Operator Permit, you must purchase ahead of time, and bring with you, TWRA’s Type 600 Boating Safety Exam Permit. These can be purchased for $10 at any TWRA hunting/fishing license vendor.  

The Tennessee Safe Boating Course covers: Your Boat, Getting Underway, Operating Your Boat Safely, Legal Requirements of Boating, Boating Emergencies – What To Do, Enjoying Water Sports With Your Boat. Contents are approved by TWRA, NASBLA and recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard. Test Review will precede administration of test.

For more information, call Clarke Lucas at  538-4643

The Johnson City Sail & Power Squadron is the premier Tri-Cities boating organization promoting boating education and safety, community service, and fellowship. For further information, visit tricitiesboating.org.

Reception, lecture planned in conjunction with Dali ‘Purgatory’ exhibit

From Staff Reports

“Salvador Dali and the Divine Comedy, Part II: Purgatory,” currently on display at the Reece Museum at East Tennessee State University, is the second installment in a three-year celebration of Dali’s series based on Dante Alighieri’s poetic masterpiece.

A reception will be held Saturday, April 15, from 3-5 p.m. at the museum, featuring guest of honor Dr. Frank Barham, an ETSU alumnus and donor of the Dali prints.

In addition, a lecture titled “From Flesh to Spirit: Dali’s Visual Transmutation of Dante’s ‘Purgatorio’” will be presented Tuesday, April 18, from 4-5 p.m. by Dr. Josh Reid, an assistant professor in the ETSU Department of Literature and Language.

“Purgatory,” the second section (or canticle) of Dante’s 14th century poem, is an allegorical telling of the climb Dante makes up Mount Purgatory.

The mountain has seven terraces, corresponding to the “seven deadly sins.” As “Purgatory” begins, Dante is still guided by the Roman poet Virgil until Beatrice replaces him for the last four subsections, or cantos.

Within the 33 cantos, Dante discusses the nature of human sin along with moral and political issues of the Catholic Church.  As in the first and third sections – “Inferno” and “Paradise” – Dali illustrates the “Purgatory” section in his surrealistic style, blending the sensual and sinister to frightening effect.

Barham donated 95 of the 100 prints of Dali’s “Divine Comedy” series to ETSU in 2014, and has since donated an additional print to complete the “Purgatory” section.

Barham graduated from ETSU before earning his medical degree from the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee in Memphis.  After practicing medicine for some time, he earned a master’s degree in health services administration from St. Francis University and worked as a hospital administrator.  Later, he earned another master’s degree in medical humanities, majoring in bioethics, at Drew University, where he also studied for a doctor of letters degree in ethics.

In addition, Barham has published two books, “Saving the World One Dog at a Time” and “The Religious Right is Wrong: The Ethics of Religion.” He also expanded his interests to sculpture, and he found representation at 14 commercial galleries.  His sculptures are also part of the collections of the Fine Arts Museum of Long Island and the New Orleans Museum of Fine Art.

Barham, who now lives in the Center City district of Philadelphia, sought a permanent home for his Dali works when the time came to downsize his collection.  He decided ETSU’s Reece Museum seemed like the perfect place because of his personal ties to the university and the region.

The exhibit, reception and lecture are free and open to the public. For more information, call the museum at 439-4392. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 439-8346.

Milligan to host its 4th Annual RISE Above Conference

From Staff Reports

Milligan College will host its 4th Annual RISE Above Conference on Thursday, April 20, from 2 to 8 p.m. in Derthick Hall. This event is free and open to the public.

At 7 p.m. in  Wilson Auditorium, Dr. Shauna Nefos Webb, a Milligan counseling and psychology professor, will deliver a lecture titled “I Got Here as a Student First,” highlighting the narratives of African American athletes at an NCAA Division I STEM Institution, which she says “run counter to the negative and largely inaccurate portrayal of black college athletes that the media tends to perpetuate.”

Milligan’s RISE Above conference is an opportunity for both undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines and majors to present their mentored research. It is also a chance for faculty members, other students and interested individuals from the community to hear about various research topics.

“RISE Above offers students an opportunity to practice their communication skills related to sharing research,” said Dr. Joy Drinnon, director of undergraduate research and professor of psychology at Milligan. “It also is a chance to encourage other students to engage themselves in a research project through our special call for papers for the 2018 conference.”

Among the students presenting their research will be junior Amanda Largent and senior Lucy Gaudiano. Largent conducted a research on the influence of political bumper stickers on people’s perceptions of others.

“I found out that people assume a lot about someone’s personality and likability just based on who they vote for,” said Largent.

Gaudiano did her research on unaccompanied alien minors from the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala). She studied their journey from the border to the courtrooms and how the U.S. can galvanize long-term policies to address and protect the dignity and life of a child.

“I am excited to present my research because I am eager to share the stories of these children and give them a voice,” said Gaudiano, who will give her presentation in Spanish.

This year also will include presentations from Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan students.

For more information about the RISE Above Conference, visit www.milligan.edu/riseabove.