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Book offers look at ‘personal side’ through columns

As Mark A. Stevens winds up his 13-year career at The Erwin Record, a new book, featuring the majority of his columns published from 1997 through 2011, will be published.
Over the years, Stevens has published a column under the titles of “From the Editor’s Desk” and, later, “From the Publisher’s Desk.” His award-winning columns have ranged from hard-hitting editorials to humor pieces. In fact, he’s had opinions on most everything – and wasn’t afraid to share them.
Stevens’ book will be titled “Welcome to Erwin … Where the Mayor’s Name is Bubba and Main Street’s a Dead End,” a sly reference to an early conversation he overheard when he first came to manage The Erwin Record in 1997.
The book compiles Stevens’ editorials, personal columns and humor columns and presents a wide range of issues from hard-hitting political editorials to humorous accounts of his life with his wife, Amy.
The title, Stevens explained, is meant to be humorous and stems from a conversation between two former employees of The Erwin Record he overheard when he first became executive editor and general manager of the publication.
“Thirteen years ago, News Editor Carole Crawford and Charles Edwards, our photographer, were talking,” Stevens recalled, “and Charles looked over to me and said, ‘Welcome to Erwin, where the mayor’s name is Bubba, and Main Street is a dead end.’ What you have to remember is that at the time, Garland ‘Bubba’ Evely was the mayor and Main Avenue, which most people refer to as Main Street, of course, really is a dead end.
“So that was a funny little thing people used to say, and I loved it when I first heard it. I remember thinking at the time that it would be a great title for a book. I thought it sounded like something Lewis Grizzard, the late, great humor columnist, would have titled one of his books.”
Stevens added that he feels the title also encompasses the spirit of Unicoi County – a mingling of both pride and humor.
“That’s the beauty of it,” he said. “The people of Erwin and Unicoi County have a lot of pride in their community – as they should – but they also have a lot of self-deprecating humor.
“There is another saying that could have been a great title – ‘Where is Erwin, Tennessee? Half way between Unicoi and Flag Pond.’ That’s been put on T-shirts for years, and I think it’s such a great humorous line. But I had been drawn to ‘Where the Mayor’s Name is Bubba and Main Street is a Dead End’ for so long, it had to be that.”
Stevens’ book is 208 pages and packed full of past events and issues, covered in Stevens’ editorials and columns. From controversial political events to personal stories and humorous takes on everyday life, his column has garnered quite a following among The Erwin Record’s readers over the years.
“This book is the personal side of me – my opinions,” Stevens explained. “In the book, I have also written postscripts when I think a column needs further explanation that I hadn’t originally included. I hope people will read the columns and be transported a few years back in time as they recall past events both humorous, political and politically humorous.”
While Stevens’ book, which will sell for $21.95 plus tax, will be released Monday, March 7, he will be available to sign copies Tuesday, March 8, from 4-7 p.m. during a farewell reception held in his honor at The Erwin Record. He will, also, be available to sign copies during normal business hours throughout that week.
Stevens is moving to Lafayette, La., where his wife, Amy, has accepted a position with LHC Group Inc.