Meteor to light up sky

In The Stars
By: Damaris Higgins

“The long-awaited astral visitors, 
Space-travelling fireflies, lost in the deep ocean of the cosmos…natural firework display, mysterious, mystic meteors, 
flashes, almost only in the imagination, an infinitesimal airforce
firing silent tracer-bullets across the wide, infinite abyss of night” – C Richard Miles
Over the next few weeks we will have the opportunity to view two meteor showers. The Delta Aquarids happen in July and the Perseids in August.
The Delta Aquarids are usually a steadily rambling meteor shower without a very definite peak from July 18 to Aug. 18. During the nights of July 28th and 29th however, the waxing gibbous moon will set after midnight leaving the hours between moonset and dawn optimal for viewing the meteor shower.
During these nights there can be up to 20 meteors produced per hour. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius. For a free printable map of the current night sky you can visit
The second meteor shower coming up within the next month is the more well known Perseid meteor shower with viewing dates ranging from July 23 – Aug. 22. This shower is reliable, and rich with meteors that fall in many colors. The perseids will peak on the mornings (not the evenings) of Aug. 12 and 13.
The Perseids radiate from the constellation Perseus. The Perseids often peak at 50 or more meteors per hour in a dark sky. The Perseid meteor shower is considered by many people to be the year’s best shower.
The next time we will have the opportunity to observe a 50 plus per hour meteor shower will be in December during the Geminids shower.
I encourage you to take advantage of the warm summer nights and make an event out of it! Gather up friends, family, the dog, a tent, find a spot to camp away from city lights and make some memories with someone you love, enjoying the show provided on the tapestry of the sky.

Research rolls out results on tissue

By: Pettus Read

Each month I’m amazed at the new inventions that are introduced by news releases that come across my desk on a daily basis. Many are great ideas concerning the latest, new products that deal with things that could affect us all and some are just an old idea improved upon.
Of course, with yours truly being employed in the field of agriculture, the majority of the product pitches I receive are items that are used around the farmstead to help make farming tasks either more profitable or less labor intensive. Anything that saves chore time is always a positive in my book.
While going through a few releases the other day, my attention was drawn to one entitled, “Americans Are Wrapped Up In Their Toilet Paper.” Lately, the news from the farming community has been pretty tough and when I saw a release that didn’t deal with dead fields and lost profits it seemed to say to me, “It’s time to change your focus for a while.”
I knew America was “wrapped up” in a lot of things these days, but I never figured toilet paper was one of them. I never give a whole lot of thought to toilet paper and certainly don’t see it as one of America’s major concerns with everything else happening in this country.
Right now we are electing a president, debating healthcare, looking for jobs and watching our summer turn into a climate change junkie’s greatest wish. I’ve never considered myself wrapped up in toilet paper issues. Oh, maybe when it is too late and you notice you have nothing but an empty cardboard tube hanging on the wall, but never as having our country wrapped up.
When sales go up for this necessity room item, it does help tree farmers, so I guess farming is “wrapped” in the roll somewhere. I read in an answer page on Google that every American in the U.S. today uses at the very least 49 rolls of toilet paper a year. It said it takes 48 full-grown trees to make roughly 500 rolls and I guess the rough rolls are the cheap kind.
When you use the math, that means we use 5 trees a person a year to supply our toilet paper. Who would have ever thought that farmers are important even in the bathroom!
The release was spreading the news about a Consumer Reports study on the top 25 brands of toilet paper. They were saying one brand had beaten its closest competition by 10 to 50 points and had scored a 91 out of a possible 100. The thing that caught my attention was that the scoring was “subjected to specially trained sensory panelists.”
I have looked through numerous classified ads in my life and have seen all kinds of jobs, but I have never seen one where they train you to be a specially trained sensory panelist. I’m just glad there is someone who has the job.
I guess once you meet those qualifications you are somewhat limited, but I bet it makes interesting reading on a resume and it is one job where you finally make the cut in the end.
It seems Consumers Reports had put a lot of study into finding the winning brand. They had surveyed America and found out that 72 percent of us hang our toilet paper with the first sheet going over the roll with 28 percent hanging it with the first sheet under the roll. I just look to see if there is a roll.
They also found that 40 percent of us are folders, 40 percent are wadders and 20 percent are wrappers, with men being mostly folders. We at least do something half way neat.
The part in the survey that sort of took me back was when Americans were asked if they were stranded on a deserted island, what would they consider to be the number one necessity they would need. For the number one necessity, they listed toilet paper.
The citizens of this country put toilet paper above food and water as a necessity during a time of life and death. That may be true during survey times, but I would think when times got tough on a deserted island, food and water just might rank a little higher on the final tally.
I would like to have seen that same survey taken about 60-plus years ago when more folks had the little building out back. A certain catalog would probably have scored higher in parts of this state than the number one tissue today. I’m sure food and water would have done better.
However, the times are changing and people’s attitudes about what is a necessity have changed as well. We now find whatever we want on the grocery store shelf and have grown to expect it to be there. What once was an extra has become a necessity.
When the power went off recently in the northeast, people there found out what it was like to do without air conditioning, TV, phones and running water. Their ideas of necessities changed real fast. That’s just it, tough times can usually bring us to our senses and get us in the end.

Fresh peaches? Try this American Profile recipe …

Here’s another fresh peach pie recipe from
“American Profile Hometown Recipes,” submitted by Shelley Stoltenberg, Spearfish, S.D.
Country Kitchen
By: Brenda Sparks

Pie Filling:
2 1/2 cups fresh peaches, sliced
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel and slice peaches.
Mix peaches, egg, salt, vanilla, sour cream, sugar and flour together. Pour into an unbaked 9 – inch pie shell. Bake for about 30 minutes, until pie is slightly brown.
While this bakes, prepare the topping.
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon with a pastry cutter, until pieces are the size of small peas.
Sprinkle topping evenly over pie, and bake an additional 15 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
Serves 8.
Tip: Pie sets up best when refrigerated. Use chilled butter to ensure the crumb topping is the right consistency.
Until next week, here’s some Food for thought: Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
James 1:19,20

Take note of warnings on label

From the publisher's desk
By Keith Whitson

“Handle With Care.”
We see those words on so many boxes today. Even though we have been prewarned, lots of times it makes us want to shake the contents to see if what’s inside is still intact or really as fragile as the wording claims.
Often we don’t even take the wording as seriously as we should because we have seen it so often. I am afraid this is sometimes the case with life.
Last week I went to Nashville for the state press awards. Going down on Thursday, it rained nearly the entire trip. Often times, the windshield wipers could not adequately perform the task before them.
Eventually, traffic came to a complete stop on the interstate between Knoxville and Nashville. For over an hour, cars were parked on what had been a speedy connection from city to city.
It was a reminder to me of how fast things can also stop us in our tracks of life. We go at such a high rate of speed through this life, racing to get from point to point, where we anticipate things to get better. If we aren’t racing to get somewhere, we are racing to get back. But, for over an hour, I had nowhere I could go and could barely see my immediate surroundings through the heavy downpour of rain on the windshield.
Luckily for me, the awards event was not until the next day at noon. I am sure many people were delayed for things much more pressing and some may have even missed their purpose for travel altogether.
As I tried to wait patiently, I was reminded of my bigger journey in this life. Sometimes I have lost my direction. Sometimes I have taken wrong turns and caused my self much grief trying to get back on track.
There have been times that I too have been stranded, waiting for the view to become visible again and the way to clear for me to proceed ahead.
I have traveled too hurriedly through some of the most beautiful moments of my life because I thought I had to get somewhere else and did not realize the best was already around me.
Sometimes delays have been for my best, even though I couldn’t realize it at the time.
As the traffic began to slowly crawl, it seemed as if the mishap ahead had gotten some better and would soon be revealed. Sometimes in life we see what stopped us and yet other times we just have to accept that whatever it was, it was for the best.
This turned out to be a tractor and trailer wreck. The guard rail had failed to catch the large truck, leaving fate to the trees beyond. Still, the truck was hanging over the side as three large tow trucks attempted to pull it back up. As I drove past, I wondered about the driver.
The traffic congestion started to spread out again but the rain continued coming down as heavily as ever. Looking to the left, I could see another truck on its side over on the East-bound lanes.
This truck had overturned in the median, landing on the driver’s side. As I passed miles of backed up traffic, I wondered as well about the driver of that vehicle.
It was soon after, that I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed the vehicle behind me had begun to lose control. It shot across the interstate, missing traffic, heading straight for the trees along the side. With no ability to turn around, I was relieved to see that cars behind me were stopping. I continued on.
All I could do was pray for that driver, the ones before and those of us still attempting to get to our destinations. We were all at risk that day while traveling on a highway that we often take for granted. I am sure none of those drivers expected something to happen when they left home.
Last week my friend and co-worker Brenda Sparks sat with her sweet mom at the hospital after she had a heart attack. Please pray for Rosa Corn.
My cousin, Travis Chandler, had an issue where his heart had to be shocked back to life. He is in the hospital on a ventilator.
Friends at church shared prayer requests of illnesses and upcoming surgeries.
As I worked around the house Saturday, I heard a thud and looked to see a small bird on the ground from accidentally flying into the glass door.
I was once more reminded how fragile this journey is and how we shouldn’t take any part of it for granted, whether it is the beauty or the danger. Let’s remember to “Handle With Care.”

Cell phones have place in school and at work

Taking Notes
By Vicky Livesay

I have to admit, I do understand addiction to cell phones. When boredom strikes, my Tiny Tower and my Pocket Planes beg for attention.
I love to check-in on Yelp and see what restaurants have high ratings from other diners. My workout is on my phone. All I have to do is click start and it tells me when to walk and when to run.
But as much as I understand, I do also recognize there is a time and place for everything. My phone doesn’t go into church, period. At work, it sits to the side of my desk to be used only if necessary. I can step away.
We have students who can’t step away. Maybe it’s because they have friends and family members who don’t set that example or maybe they are simply addicted to the constant engagement and feedback a cell phone gives. Whatever the reason, school is a place with boundaries and consequences and we do have both for cell phone use.
There are times cell phones, and other portable electronics, are acceptable. The best times are before school, after school, and during lunch. They are also okay between classes as long as they don’t contribute to being tardy or cause other distractions walking to class. A student’s cell phone is not acceptable during class unless approved by the teacher.
There are some special times cell phones should not be used. One of those is during drills and emergency situations. In the event of a true emergency, cell phone use could cause school telephone lines to become tied up by anxious family members at a time when lines need to be kept clear. It could also cause family members to rush to the school which could cause problems getting the appropriate emergency personnel to the campus.
We know there have been times during school emergencies when the cell phones of staff members and students have been an asset. If the time came when cell phone usage could be of benefit, the teacher would be clear to allow it. The first priority, though, would be everyone’s safety.
Cell phones with cameras and recording devices on them present a special problem. Use of these components are not allowed at any time when a student could reasonably expect privacy. Photographing or recording altercations is also not allowed.
So what is the consequence for violating the cell phone policy? It’s very simple. A student phone is confiscated for a period of time. Is it worth that? Most students who have had this happen would agree it’s not.
And most students don’t lose their phone more than once. For those who do lose their cell phones multiple times, there are also additional consequences.
Once again, this is a step into the adult world. In the workplace, there are times when cell phones are and are not appropriate. Electronic devices of any kind can be valuable tools or unnecessary distractions. It is important to know the difference.
At school, you might lose your phone but in the workplace you could lose your job. For those who learn that lesson as teens, adulthood will be much easier.

Circle the table for this ‘Coffee Ring’

Country Kitchen
By Brenda Sparks

Here is another old recipe that I found in the 1956 edition of The Erwin Record.
It’s called a “Make it Yourself” breakfast ring.

1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup chopped filbert meats
1/2 cup tender-thin flaked coconut
2 cups sifted flour
2 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup tender-thin flaked coconut, toasted
Combine brown sugar, nuts, and 1/2 cup coconut; mix thoroughly.
Sift flour once, measure, add baking powder, salt and granulated sugar, and sift again. Cut in shortening. Combine egg and milk. Add to flour mixture and stir until soft dough is formed. Turn out on lightly floured board and knead 30 seconds. Roll in 18 – by – 9-inch rectangle. Brush with some of the melted butter, reserving a small amount. Spread with coconut mixture and roll as for jelly roll, wetting edges to seal. Bring ends together to form ring and place on ungreased baking sheet. With scissors, cut 1-inch slices almost through ring, turning each slice cut-side up and pointing outer edges. Brush with remaining melted butter.
Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) 20 to 25 minutes. Remove to cake rack and while hot, dribble with glaze made by combining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon hot water, Sprinkle with the toasted coconut. Makes 8 servings.
Until next week, here’s some Food for thought: Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1Peter 5: 6,7

Join me and let's whistle along

From the publisher's desk
By: Keith Whitson

Can you whistle? If the answer is “Yes” and you fall into a certain age bracket, chances are you have whistled along to the theme of The Andy Griffith Show at some point. It’s addictive. You just can’t help yourself.
I am sure most of you know that Andy Griffith died last week at the age of 86. He was one of the few cast members left from the show and an icon for warm heartedness.
As a child, I can recall watching that show with fascination. As I grew older, I would often catch the reruns and be just as enchanted by them. Not only did the show bring me back to my childhood but it was always an escape to a magical place.
So many shows of that time were wholesome and simplistic. They consisted of a “do good” mentality, with lessons learned and neighborly folks all around. It seems to be a place we all would like to be transported to.
Watching the show compares to reaching for a good book, calling an old friend or wrapping up in a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day. All of these things are comforting.
I often think I would love to have lived in Mayberry and strolled down the streets past Floyd’s Barber Shop to step through the door of the diner and grab a bite to eat.
I don’t recall the jail ever being overcrowded. It saw very little action except for Otis, who turned himself in when needed. They didn’t argue over liquor by the drink because they had moonshine by the jug. Drugs were never mentioned, not even for prescription sake. Meth labs were unheard of and crime was very little even in the neighboring city of Raleigh.
Front porches were used for visiting and Sundays were respected. Grass wasn’t mowed on the Sabbath nor was it smoked in secret.
Barney’s date with Thelma Lou consisted of a movie and dinner, followed by a refreshing stroll. Sex wasn’t mentioned and certainly not thought of before marriage.
Gas was much cheaper and speed limits were much slower. Fast food wasn’t thought of but home cooked meals were to die for. The home was the gathering place for meals and that didn’t mean in front of the TV.
Phone calls were fewer and gossip was less. After all Sarah was listening on the line as she transferred the call. Cell phones and texting were not consuming our hours and computers were not claiming what little remains.
Life was much simpler and a balance could be found between work and play. When is the last time you went fishing or skipped a rock across the creek?
The entire Mayberry police force consisted of two and that was plenty. Sometimes they had to swear in a few extras but nothing really got out of hand. In fact one bullet for Barney could last an entire season unless it accidentally went off.
Elections usually consisted of a clean debate with the best man winning. Andy once convinced Barney to run for the office of sheriff because he had another job offer elsewhere. But when the job fell through, Andy returned, he expected his old pal Barn’ to drop out of the electoral race.
Instead, the two former chums became political enemies, culminating in a “great debate.” Rest assured, however, that all turned out well by the final commercial break.
Compared to most places, Erwin is still a bit like Mayberry. We hold true to values, families and the code of honor that crime doesn’t pay.
Mayberry didn’t take to kindly to outsiders at first but they always welcomed them in the end. James Lengel can relate to that.
Andy could play straight by the law and he also played a mean guitar with The Darlings. Mike Hensley fits right in with both.
Hopefully when the upcoming election is all said and done, Unicoi County will have the best man as sheriff. We are almost at the commercial break and down to the final few minutes.
No matter how bad things seemed in Mayberry each week, they always turned out for the best in the end. Join me now and let’s start whistling the theme song as the final credits roll.

Many responsibilities come through driving

Taking Notes
By Vicky Livesay

Getting that driver’s license is a rite of passage into teenhood. Most of us remember getting our license and learning to drive. For parents, watching our teens learn to drive is a mixed feeling.
It’s a relief our days of taxi service are ending but never-ending terror every time our teen pulls out of the driveway knowing the dangers that are lurking.
At the high school, we are right there with you. We are always excited for them when they show off their new license to us. But when we hear one of our students has had an accident, everyone in the building asks the same question – “Are they alright?”
Many people don’t realize that getting and keeping a license requires a great deal of responsibility from students. Before going to the DMV for that learner’s permit, students must pick up a certificate from the office saying both attendance and academic progress are satisfactory.
In other words, students should not only have good attendance but also be passing at least half of their classes. The school can refuse to issue that certificate if these requirements are not met which means – no learner’s permit.
There are also requirements for keeping that license. Tennessee Code Annotated, which details the laws of Tennessee, says students must continue to meet the above requirement.
At the end of each semester, we check through grades and attendance to see who is eligible to keep their license and who must have their license revoked. Unfortunately, there is always a list of students who will lose their license based on their attendance, grades, or both attendance and grades.
Many of our students drive to school. There are regulations for this privilege, also. First, all student vehicles must be registered with the school. There is a $15 registration fee and the registration tag must be displayed in the car at all times.
Students are assigned a parking space and must park in that space. When arriving at school, students are expected to exit their vehicle and not return to it during the course of the day unless they have received permission from a principal.
Students are not allowed to leave campus once they arrive unless checked out through the office. And no, they can’t check themselves out just because they drive. This still requires a parent to either come to school or speak with a principal.
In addition to the above rules, students are also expected to drive in a safe manner on school grounds and on the roads around the school – just as we would hope they drive no matter where they are.
If students violate any of these regulations, they may forfeit the privilege of driving to school. Students should also keep in mind vehicles are subject to search under any reasonable suspicion they contains drugs, weapons, or stolen goods.
Wow. It’s a lot to remember. But, it’s also a good introduction to the adult world. The opportunity to drive is a step into the world of adults and it carries the both the joys and consequences adult drivers live with every day. So, encourage your teen to be a safe and responsible driver AND student since these things are linked. As long as they can demonstrate responsibility, they should be driving for years to come.

Honorees make us all winners

From the publisher's desk
by: Keith Whitson
One thing I enjoy about living in a small community is being able to see the good that people do, which might otherwise go unnoticed in a big city. Of course, there are always those who only concentrate on the bad. Some even let their focus on finding fault rule and control their lives to the point of making them miserable.
But, I prefer to look for the good. That is why I enjoy being part of this newspaper’s Record of Service Awards. This was my second year to continue the tradition and honor a few of the many remarkable people in our county.
Each year, our readers submit entries for the categories of Business, Education, Emergency Services, Health Care, Service to the Community and Public Service. I am sure that all entries are worthy, but the fact that readers care enough to acknowledge someone is an honor in itself. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could stand out as a worthy individual in the eyes of someone?
As the submissions start to pour in, I am reminded of those that I know and how deserving they are. But I am also introduced to some local heroes that have slipped under the radar of recognition. I am reminded of how many wonderful people we are blessed to live around that give so much.
This year our Business winner was one of those. Kevin Horton, of Liberty Lumber, was in my graduating class from high school. Kevin learned the responsibilities of running a business long before I did. Kevin also understands the struggles of making a business profitable in a small community.
What you might not know about Kevin is that he has a very generous heart. He has helped with many school and community projects with no recognition. In fact, he avoids any spotlight on himself. It is rare in today’s society that you get many to help like Kevin, but it is even rarer that they will do it for no honor.
This year’s award for Education went to Evangeline Hurter. Evangeline is the new UCHS band director. She is new to Unicoi County, coming in at a difficult time in the music department and making a difference.
It would have been easy for her to turn her back on the task she found ahead, but she knew she could make a difference. She has certainly done that with the lives of many students and with honors received.
Jimmy Erwin received the award in Emergency Services. Jimmy has been involved in so many worthwhile causes for the county. In fact, one recommendation letter read “He has dedicated himself to the community he serves, especially the children of Unicoi County.”
You may know him best for the local D.A.R.E. program but I dare you to find someone who has given as much so freely.
Dr. James Goss received the honor for Health Care. He is currently a partner with Appalachian Orthopedic Associates.
Although I have never needed his services, I was very impressed by his credentials and desire to share them with our county. No doubt he could have plenty of patients in a larger city, but chose to devote himself to the needs here, including being on the side lines of sporting events and offering physicals for middle school, high school and ROTC students.
There aren’t many people in the county who haven’t heard of Helen Edwards. That is why she received recognition for Service to the Community.
If there is anything that needs to be done, you can count on Helen to volunteer. I don’t know where she gets her energy but it seems she gets renewed energy from just volunteering. She cooks for many events, drives people to where they need to go, she cooks, helps with the Ramp Festival, she cooks, visits the sick, she cooks delicious dishes and helped the Salvation Army. Did I mention that she is a good cook?
The next honoree is also well known in the county. Sarah Bailey received the honor for Public Service. We all know Sarah for her role as administrator of elections. She makes sure the office is run accurately and all of the state and government stipulations are followed exactly. It is no easy job and certainly not one that just anybody could step into without much training.
But, her community dedication doesn’t stop there. Sarah has been very active in the Erwin Kiwanis Club, including president. She is a member of the YMCA Board of Directors, a volunteer for Relay For Life and very active in her church.
There was still one other honor bestowed at last Thursday’s dinner and it was upon me. I had the honor of standing over such an amazing crowd and describing each of these recipients. I had a vantage point that no one else did as I watched the surprise and humbleness of each recipient. You see, none of them recognize themselves as incredible and to me that makes them even more deserving.

Big Apple doesn't offer personal taste

Taking Notes
by Vicky Livesay

To celebrate our 25th anniversary, my husband and I recently took a trip to New York City. It was a different world there and we were amazed at everything the Big Apple had to offer.
We could step outside our hotel and find 50 different choices of restaurants – everything from Burger King and Italian to things as surprising as Brazilian and Korean food. A car was unnecessary as we walked everywhere we needed to go.
Had we needed transportation, the subway and bus were nearby. And, of course, there were museums and theatres everywhere.
But on our walks through the different neighborhoods of NYC, I always noticed the schools. They were imposing looking buildings with large gates to, I guess, keep the world out. There were paved areas with basketball goals, but I saw no grassy areas.
I wondered what it was like inside. Were the hallways decorated with colorful bulletin boards? Were notices posted about upcoming PTO meetings or student assemblies? I can only imagine there were lockers with abandoned notebooks left over from the just completed school year. I hope on the inside, it was more school-like than the outside.
I discovered the New York City school system is the largest in the United States with 1.1 million students throughout its 1700 schools. They employ more than 75,000 teachers. Even though their schools have names, more often they are referred to by numbers such as P.S. 53 or P.S. 11 – P.S. meaning public school.
How different from our schools. We are proud to be from Unicoi County High School or Temple Hill Elementary. Our schools are beautiful and inviting.
We have security measures in place, but we don’t have tall fences around our schools to keep students safe. And I love that at graduation time, I can applaud students who I watched grow up as they take their walk across the stage.
And we know our parents. We run into them at Wal-Mart and Food Lion. We stop and chat, not only about school but also about our lives in general. In a city of 1.1 million students, I can’t imagine that happens very often – and I would miss that connection with parents, students and the community.
So even though a big city has a lot to offer, I have to wonder – at what price? I feel certain our students go through school with teachers who know them and care about them in a way that just wouldn’t happen in a large city.
And I think parents and students feel secure that school is a safe place – even without enormous fences. We offer a more personal education. And I think we all do better for people who we know care about us.
Don’t let anyone tell you bigger is better. In small towns, we have connections with each other that just can’t be duplicated in the big city. You’ve heard it before – “There’s no place like home.”

From the Publisher's desk: My plate is full from local bounty

by Keith Whitson
[email protected]
It is time to pick, dig, grill and eat. I am talking about all of the great happenings right here in
our county that are taking place or getting ready to. I attended the viewing of “Ramps & Ruritans: Tales of the Revered and Reeking Leek of Flag Pond, Tennessee” last week. This is a video of the famous ramp festival held each year in Flag Pond and the fame the small plant has brought to that community. The video, made by East Tennessee State University public relations staff members, Fred Sauceman and Larry Smith, was shown to a crowd of about 30 people at the old Flag Pond School. Although I truly enjoyed the film, I enjoyed even more the fellowship with some of Flag Pond’s finest. I was quickly reminded of how genuine, caring and neighborly those wonderful folks are. They had plenty to eat for the video preview and insisted that I join right in. It didn't take a lot of arm twisting. I do think I am going to have to do some belt loosening before it is all over.

I plan on attending the Ramp Festival scheduled for Saturday, May 12, to get another taste of their amazing cooking and an extra helping of their wonderful hospitality. In spite of the rain this past weekend, the Unicoi County Chamber’s first Nolichucky 5K River Run event drew a large crowd of participants. The Chamber staff worked hard to produce this new event mingled with great food and entertainment from the band Spank.

Runners came from far and near to compete and enjoy our beautiful scenery here in the county.
Sunday’s rain didn’t slow down the attendance for the Chillin’ & Grillin’ event held at Farmhouse Gallery in Unicoi. The event raises money for the Children’s Advocacy Center.

I was fortunate to receive tickets from a dear friend Linda Bailey. Although the event brought folks from throughout the area, I knew many faces from our county who came out to support the wonderful cause.

It was so good to see Linda and her husband Roland Bailey, who both insisted that I have plenty to eat. With a wide variety from pizza to barbecue to steak, I was able to once again walk away stuffed. I see a pattern developing here and I think it is one made from a larger size in pants. I guess it just comes along with the job. After all, I need to attend these functions on behalf of our loyal readership. But the goodness doesn't stop there.

As many of you have noticed, those juicy, ripe strawberries are coming in from Scott’s Farms. I look every time I pass their trailers to see if the sides are open and filled with boxes of berries. You just can’t get enough of them before the season is over. With this year’s early spring, we are experiencing an earlier crop of the delicious fruit. The crop will be at its peak soon when Unicoi welcomes in another Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival. This is also an event you don’t want to miss. Filled with plenty of crafts, games and entertainment, the festival offers a wide variety for everyone. Spotlighting the event and many of the dishes will be the famous Scott’s Strawberries, bursting with flavor. It is great to live in such a wonderful county that is honored for its amazing crops produced by some of the greatest neighbors around.

I am proud that we can highlight our best and share it with outsiders who know a good thing when they see it. With some cold weather recently, we are all holding our breath to see if the apple crop pulls through. But, in spite of the abundance produced, Unicoi Countians will fi nd plenty to celebrate come October at the Annual Apple Festival. This past weekend’s rains were a sure indication that folks around here don’t let a little messy weather keep them from celebrating the abundance of our land and the opportunity to get together for a good time or a good cause. I might as well forget that diet I was planning on starting. It is festival season.

Besides that, I got an invitation from my dear friend Daphne Linville to attend the Hospital Auxiliary’s luncheon next week. I think I told you about that last year in a column. Those women are just amazing cooks. I am getting excited just thinking about it. I will see you at the events. I will be the one in the oversized sweat pants.

Taking Notes: Special Olympics bring inspiration to all who participate and witness

by Vicky Livesay
(Editor’s Note: Vicky Livesay is the assistant principal at Unicoi County High School)

The athletes stretch their arms and legs, jog in place and take deep breaths. They are warming
up for an important competition. They are focused and ready. You often hear about UCHS sports – baseball, football, softball, basketball, tennis, track – but these are not the only athletes at Unicoi County High School. We are also very proud of our special athletes – the ones currently preparing for Special Olympics. They are throwing, running and jumping. They are dreaming of their chance to step on the podium and receive their medal.

In the early 1960s, Eunice Kennedy Shriver became upset over the way she saw people with disabilities being treated. Her vision was a focus on sports these children were capable of participating in without dwelling on what they couldn’t do. Her vision became the Special Olympics that we know today. The U.S. Olympic Committee has even given its approval to use the word “Olympics” as a part of the name.

For the remainder of this article please pick up the April 24, 2012 edition of The Erwin Record.

In the stars: Greeks named much of night sky

by Damaris Higgins
[email protected]

Have you ever looked up at the night sky and spotted a constellation? Have you ever wondered how many constellations there are and where they originated from? I know I have. I thought that maybe this week we could spend some time learning about constellations and get to know some of them better over the upcoming weeks.

A constellation is a group of stars that, when we view them from Earth, form a pattern. Currently there are 88 official constellations. Constellations were originally named by ancient farmers. These ancient civilizations noticed that certain groupings of stars looked like familiar objects and would come and go with the seasons. Naming these groupings of stars and noting their places helped in the planting and harvesting of their crops with the changing seasons. The majority of the constellations that we still have records of were named by the Greeks and the names come mostly from Greek mythology. Today the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the officially recognized naming organization of celestial bodies, including constellations. The names of constellations have been fi xed since the 1930s and no more can be named.

The Big Dipper – which is one of the most recognized constellations is actually not a constellation at all. It is officially known as an asterism: a familiar shape of stars in the night sky that humans
have traditionally used to orient themselves.

Since the meteor shower last week involved the constellation Lyra, I thought I would share some information about that particular constellation. Lyra is in the northern hemisphere and was introduced by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the second century. The constellation is associated with the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus, the great musician killed by the Bacchantes. Orpheus carried with him the first lyre ever made, invented by Hermes and given to him by the god Apollo. After Orpheus’ death, Zeus dispatched an eagle to fetch the lyre from the river where it had fallen and then turned both into constellations in the sky. The lyre became the constellation Lyra and the eagle became Aquila.

Did you know??? Pluto is no longer classified as an official planet in our solar system? Pluto is now known as a dwarf planet. The reason for the change is the term ‘planet’ finally having an official definition. According to this definition, a planet is an object that orbits the sun and is large enough to have become round due to the force of its own gravity. In addition, a planet has to dominate the neighborhood around its orbit. Pluto has been demoted because it does not dominate its neighborhood.

A student asked about Pluto this week while I was at Rock Creek Elementary School. So John, I hope this answers your question, and congrats on being right about Pluto now being called a dwarf planet!

Shouldn't Fridays always be good?

From the Publisher's Desk
Keith Whitson

I decided to take my chances, live on the edge and not look back. It’s true. A black cat crossed the road in front of me this weekend and I didn’t reach up to put an “X” on my windshield. Honestly, it was because I had just had it cleaned by Harrell’s Auto Detail and I didn’t want to mess it up. So, I thought I would live a bit dangerously. After all, the black cat had its nerve when it ran in front of me.
Even though I don’t really believe in such superstitions, it is still hard to dismiss them. I grew up hearing these expressions and watching my mom remove cat curses time after time with the magical “X” on the windshield.
We just came through another Friday the 13th. Well, I suppose you made it if you are reading this column. Maybe we are some of the lucky ones. I am sure if we looked carefully there would be someone that had a bad day, had an accident and even died. I doubt that we could blame it on the misfortune of the day. It seems a bit ironic that we went from Good Friday one week to Friday the 13th the next. Maybe that is where the phrase comes from “Things just went from good to bad.”
But, if you still believe in the Friday the 13th superstition, you should know that this year has three of them. There was one in January, one in April and, soon to be, July. The strange thing is that this year they are exactly 13 weeks apart. Apparently this hasn’t happened since 1984. I managed to live through that year. I have hopes for this one too.
If you have a fear of Friday the 13th, you have what is known as paraskavedekatriaphobia. (I can’t believe I just typed this and spell check didn’t even question it.) Evidently there are many who have the fear and it does show up in society.
Many times hotels and hospitals will skip assigning a 13th floor. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is said to have avoided travel on the 13th day of any month. The stock market is said to show less activity on a Friday the 13th due to reservation in trading.
Alfred Hitchcock was even born on the 13th. His 100th birthday would have been on Friday, Aug. 13, 1999.
It is estimated that hundreds of millions of dollars are lost due to people’s fear of flying and doing business as usual on Friday the 13th.
Even if we make it past the omens of these supposedly unlucky days, we still have the other superstitions to encounter. Many of you are familiar with not walking under a ladder, the bad luck of breaking a mirror, knocking on wood, picking up a penny for good luck, carrying a rabbit’s foot for good luck and crossing your fingers.
Obviously I goofed a few years back by trying to rid myself of the first few gray hairs. Now I learn that pulling one out will cause 10 to come back in its place.

For the remainder of this article please pick up the April 17, 2012 edition of The Erwin Record

Awe of solar systems opens window toward entire galaxy of questions

In The Stars
Damaris Higgins

“The stars are the jewels of the night, and perchance surpass anything which day has to show.” – Henry David Thoreau
By definition astronomy is the study of objects and matter outside the earth’s atmosphere. But to me, it means so much more. I don’t believe there is anywhere more serene or stunning than being outdoors under a starry night sky.
Looking up at the heavens filled with the stars, constellations and planets evokes an indescribable emotion for me. I feel the stars are comforting – we can always call on the familiarity of their companionship. For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated and captivated by the night sky and its belongings.
At one time I believed that my love (more of an obsession) of the night sky was something only I felt. Until one evening at twilight when my beloved friend, Kimberly, somewhat awestruck by the beauty of the sky that evening, asked me what a certain bright star was. At the time I was just beginning my quest for a deeper knowledge of the stars and constellations, and much to my (and her) dismay, my answer was a very disappointed “I don’t know.”
I used a sky map application on my phone to identify this bright star. We were beyond thrilled to know what star it was shining so brilliantly and felt maybe a little bit smarter to boot! Today, knowing what I have learned in the time since then, I fear we may have mis-identified that star – given the time of year and position in the sky, it is most likely not a star at all, but the planet Venus. At least we know now.
Her question led to increased curiosity and much discovery about our shining night companions. I was also delighted to now have a partner in star gazing.
This month as I looked at the calendar of celestial events it occurred to me that perhaps there are some of you who are also intrigued and amazed by the nighttime tapestry of light. With that thought in mind, I wanted to share the upcoming events with you. I hope you enjoy them!
Please note: I am by no means an astronomy professional. I have no formal education or training on this subject, I merely have an unquenchable desire to learn as much as I can about the night sky which gives me the encouragement to dream. I hope this column will inspire you and perhaps we can all learn something together.
April 16-25: Lyrids Meteor Shower – Typically an average shower, usually produces approximately 20 meteors per hour at its peak. These meteors can sometimes produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds.
The shower is predicted to peak on April 21 and 22, although there is still a chance to observe some meteors from April 16-25. Since the New Moon will not be visible, this really should be a good show. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation of Lyra after midnight.
The best location to view a meteor shower is far from city lights. The light pollution tends to diminish the show.
April 28 – Astronomy Day Part 1 – an annual event intended to provide a means of interaction between the general public, various astronomy enthusiasts, and professionals.

For the remainder of this article please pick up the April 17, 2012 edition of The Erwin Record.

From the publisher's desk 3/27/12

I'm feeling a bit foolish right now
by Keith Whitson

Did you hear about the latest plans for Erwin’s railroad overpass project? Apparently the state is looking at digging a tunnel for cars to go under the tracks instead of over. Now before you go and spread that news, let me just follow it up with the words “April Fool.” No, I haven’t heard plans of a tunnel but we may hear statements like that and much more this Sunday as we welcome the month of April and the observance of April Fool’s Day on the first. It seems the origin of the day is uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it
stems from the adoption of a new calendar. Ancient cultures, including those of the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year’s Day on or around April 1. In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. That year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year’s day to Jan. 1. According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on “fool’s errands” or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe. Over the years I have fallen prey to many pranks myself. Being the gullible one, I always wanted to believe everyone was truthful. Often times in elementary school I would repeatedly fall for the line of “Your shoe is untied” or “You have something crawling on your back.” How many times in one day could I fall for the same line over and over? Suppose one of those times it was the truth? I didn’t want to ignore a spider on my back.

If you follow my column every week you may recognize a bit of humor from time to time. Although
I am a serious person, I love nothing better than humor and wit. I think it is a mental exercise for the
mind and the soul.

Over the years I have had a few friends that I could click with on that level. We seemed to be competing with each other on coming up with quick one-liners. It was a good challenge of alertness.
In the newspaper business, we have to be careful of what we print. You trust us to be accurate
and bring you the facts. However, over the years many newspapers have taken advantage of pranking their readers. One newspaper announced that i-Pads had been released to gorillas. The gorillas were amazed by the devices and quickly learned to operate them. They were reported as treating them like babies.

For the remainder of this column please pick up the March 27th edition of The Erwin Record.

Has one year passed by already?

From the publisher's desk: Keith Whitson
I am up to 52 and counting. Even though that does happen to be my age, it has also been 52 weeks that I have been writing this column. Yes, it was March 8th of last year that I assumed the position
of publisher. It was March 15th when I wrote my first column for this spot in the newspaper. I questioned at the time whether I wanted to start such a task of writing a weekly column. I already had plenty of new responsibilities to take on without this extra duty. I was told by several that once I started, there was no turning back. If you’ve followed my column, you certainly know more about me at this point. In person I have a quiet nature, but there is a comedy show going on in my brain. Sometimes it just comes out here. Well, I will admit that a few times over the past year I have
questioned what I was going to write about. I hope you have found, and still find, this column interesting. Maybe I should switch it up and get some mystery writers.

I ran into Ray and Ernestine Castle recently at Hawg-n-Dawg. Ernestine is always so pleasant. Her personality never changes and it appears she never ages as well. She told me how much she enjoys these columns. Ray, however, asked me who I get to write them. I asked him if I could get him to do a few and give me a break. I am still waiting on his response. Although I wear many hats
at the newspaper, from graphic design areas to paper delivery to management, I am often only associated with my written words found here. It is usually all that has my name attached to it. At some point, I slow down from the fast pace of the week to reflect and collect some thoughts for this space. At times I have shared emotions from the heart. I have let you in on my embarrassing and sometimes funny experiences. I have written about many of my heroes and remarkable acquaintances met throughout the county. I truly enjoy seeing readers out and about in Unicoi County, from the stores to the restaurants to the civic clubs to church. I enjoy interacting and hearing
what you like in the paper and what you would like to see. This space is our weekly visit. It turns ink and newsprint into a personal relationship between you and me. That relationship and the community aspect of this job are the things I enjoy the most. I have tried to use this space to heal and uplift the community. There are so many wonderful people and wonderful stories to share.

For the remainder of this article please pick up the March 13th edition of The Erwin Record.

I'm as confused as the seasons

Written by Keith Whitson
Erwin Record Publisher

How many more days do we have left of “Sprinter?” I am referring to spring and winter mix, which seems to be what our weather patterns are lately. When I was a boy –– gee, have I actually arrived at the age I can use those words? Well anyway, when I was a boy, winter was winter. It would no more than look like a snow was leaving, before the next one was arriving. Inch-after inch of accumulation would pile up, often reaching porch level. This gave the deceiving appearance that the porch magically extended beyond what it did. I have seen that technique on TV with swimming pools. This, so called infinity pool, gives the impression that you could fl oat off the side of the cliff if you get too close. Well I could have dropped into knee deep snow had I gotten to close to the edge of that porch. When I was young, (gee, I’ve got to stop using that) we got snowed in. You didn’t see a truck loaded with salt, parked by the side of the road, waiting for the first flake to fall.

There was no pre-snow liquid drizzled all over the highways that would magically melt Frosty-the-Snowman’s potential family. Although we are now more equipped to handle winter now, it seems the highway workers get less practice at their job due to the weather patterns. I suppose that is why they salt at the first mention of heavy frost and repeat the process until they have created a version of snow in itself. Don’t get me wrong, when it is bad out I welcome the sight of those guys. They are amazing to do what they do, in all weather conditions and at all times of the day and night. They even scrape and salt the side road that I live on. That, along with four-wheel drive, leaves me little excuse for missing work. Those highway workers do an amazing job. (Did I smooth that over well enough? I don’t want to get left out by angry road crew members the next time it snows.)

“Sprinter” months tend to confuse nature. Flowers are blooming. Birds are singing. Trees are budding. A few years back I got carried away with landscaping. Two water gardens and several hundred shrubs later, I realized I had created a monster. This delightful hobby turned into a full time jungle. It owned me. Just when I thought I had everything trimmed and groomed….

For the remainder of this viewpoint story please pick up the Feb 28th edition of The Erwin Record.

Some outshine in service to others

I considered myself a winner for just getting to share an evening with a room full of distinguished guests and friends.
The Erwin Record held the fifth annual Record of Service Awards last Thursday night at Unicoi United Methodist Church Family Life Center. Although I have helped with the event each year, this was my first time of hosting it.
Much work had gone into the planning stages and the entire day of the event was one of running and assembling. I had read through my notes on each winner a few times earlier but, as the time got closer, I was starting to feel the butterflies of nervousness.
After the tables were readied, the candles lit and the aroma of food starting to fill the facility, I knew my time on stage was quickly approaching. Oddly, as the guests arrived I started feeling calmer. The warm smiles and eagerness of the night ahead brought with it a peacefulness.
These were friends, some almost family, slowing down from the fast pace of life to visit, enjoy a delicious meal prepared by the Carrabba’s staff and honor some of those that have made a difference in the lives of us all in some way. I had the honor of announcing them from the vantage point of the podium and seeing the expressions of surprise, humbleness and delight.
The first award went to Bill Gaines, former tax assessor for the county, in the public service category. He not only did a tremendous work while in that office, but has made such a difference throughout the county with his volunteer work and generosity. Bill has been such a friend and encouragement to me over the years.
His daughter, Kristen, was able to get him there without knowing he was being honored. As I read the list of his involvement with the community, I felt small in my acts of service.
Toni Buchanan received the honor for health care. Although I was familiar with Toni, I was not aware of her tremendous acts of giving and compassion that go way beyond the daily duties of her job. She has helped so many on a personal level.
Rebecca Love received the award in the education field. I have known Becky and her family most of my life. Growing up with a mother as a teacher, I realize the hard work the education field is during the day as well as the many hours required after school.
Becky is such an example, showing her support through every Unicoi County High School event she can possibly attend during and after hours. In fact, I know she was torn last Thursday night over missing the homecoming queen pageant or attending the Record of Service ceremony.
Hazel Berry received the honor for service to the community. I didn’t know Hazel until this event, but I feel better for having met her. Most of us would be put to shame compared to her life of unselfish giving. She taught herself to drive years ago and has been visiting and looking out for the needs of others ever since.
Her tenderness and caring heart was evident as she approached the stage with humbleness to accept her award. She is the type person you just want to put your arm around and soak up her sweet spirit.
The business award went to WEMB radio team. Jim Crawford and Chuck Ray were on hand to accept the award. I felt so small to be standing among them with my nervous voice knowing the strength in theirs and the strength they bring to this community.
They have done so much for the athletes in our county as well as helping promote community events. In fact, their contribution to the Kiwanis K-Day event stands in a class of its own. It is so wonderful to be in a small community where you can work together with other media as friends.
Erwin Utilities won the honor for emergency services. The crews in the electrical and water departments are always on call, in all conditions. We, as citizens, are often forgetful of those bringing us the comforts we are so used to.
No matter what the weather, these employees are out in risky situations to restore comfort to the rest of us.
The Record of Service was a joy for me, but certainly not one I could deliver on my own. My staff at the newspaper had

worked for weeks to ensure that everything would go as smoothly as it did. After the event was over, each pitched in as well to accomplish the massive effort of putting everything away and cleaning up.
This process would not have been near as smooth without the efforts of the Erwin Rotary Club, co-sponsors of the event. With the diligence members show in all their projects, including apple butter making, they wholeheartedly did anything that needed to be done. Many club members showed up with their spouses, who helped as well.
In a brief time, all was back to its original state. All that is but our hearts, and they had been forever touched by some of the most giving people in our county who we had just honored.

Record of Service Awards slated for Sept. 22

The Erwin Record will host the 5th annual Record of Service Awards on Sept. 22 and is currently seeking nominations for Unicoi County residents devoted to serving the people and interests of The Valley Beautiful.

Nominations will be accepted until Sept. 1 for the following categories: Health Care, Business, Education, Emergency Services, Public Service and Service to the Community.

When making nominations, please use the following guidelines.

In the Health Care category, please nominate an individual who has demonstrated exemplary service for local health care agencies, such as hospitals, nursing homes, medical clinics, health departments and other similar agencies. Nominees in this category will be considered for their work ethic and/or volunteerism.

In the Business Category, please nominate a Unicoi County business that has served the community through superior customer service, thorough volunteerism, philanthropic endeavors and longevity in the community.

In the Education category, please nominate an individual or group demonstrating exemplary service in local schools, colleges, libraries, day cares or an institution dedicated to the betterment of education and children.

In the Emergency Services category, please nominate an individual who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in local law enforcement and other emergency services, such as fire departments, ambulance agencies or public health departments. This individual may be a paid employee or a volunteer.

In the Public Service category, please nominate an individual who has served or currently serves Unicoi County as a public servant for a government agency.

In the Service to the Community category, please nominate an individual or group who has been instrumental in improving the lives of other county residents through volunteerism.

After nominations are closed on Sept. 1, recipients will be selected in each category and then honored at the awards banquet, to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22, at Unicoi United Methodist Church.

The event will be catered by Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Tickets are $15 per person with all proceeds to benefit the Clinchfield Senior Adult Center and the Unicoi County Humane Society.

For more information about the nomination process or the awards banquet, call The Erwin Record at 743-4112.