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Unicoi County Historical Society presents Stevens with Garland award

Mark A. Stevens, publisher of The Erwin Record and author of a Unicoi County history book, accepted the Walter B. Garland Historical Preservation Award at the Unicoi County Historical Society’s annual Christmas dinner Friday.
The award was established to honor the late Judge Walter B. Garland, who was the motivating force behind the historical society’s creation in 1971, and also to honor those individuals in the county who have shown an extraordinary effort to honor and preserve the county’s history.
Historical Society President Christine Tipton said Stevens was selected by the society’s officers as the recipient of this year’s award due to his efforts to preserve the county’s history through individual efforts, as well as through The Erwin Record. Stevens is the author of “Then & Now: Unicoi County,” a book that captures the county’s history through photographs.
“Preserving history can be done in a variety of different ways,” Tipton said. “Mark’s book is one that will live on through the years. But aside from the book, he has always been a supporter, using The Erwin Record to preserve history. He does this through The Erwin Record’s Heritage page, and we are also pleased that he has started collecting our photos. In addition, Mark has endorsed historical stories in both special supplements and weekly issues of the paper.”
She added that Stevens’ encouragement of others also played a part in his receiving of the award.
“I think Mark is really enthusiastic,” Tipton said. “The Erwin Record partnered with Lou Thornberry to publish one of his books. That was a huge book in its preservation of history. Mark has not only worked on his own projects, but he has helped others, as well.”
Tipton noted the importance of preserving the county’s history, saying it preserves people’s values.
“I appreciate and the society appreciates, and I think everyone should appreciate anybody’s efforts – whatever they might be – to preserve history,” Tipton said. “History is valuable to pass on to other generations. It’s important for future generations to be aware of how we, as a county, have grown and developed.”
In accepting the award, Stevens noted that he had worked with Garland’s daughter, Carole Crawford, who served as news editor of The Erwin Record before her retirement.
“I never knew Judge Garland personally,” he said, “but I knew of his love for history.
“My grandfather loved history, and he was always reading history books. He encouraged me to do so, and I’m so glad he did.”
Stevens writes a weekly history column for The Erwin Record titled “This Week … In Years Gone By.”
A seventh generation Unicoi Countian, Stevens said local history is particularly important to him, and he feels a need to preserve history for future generations.
The Walter B. Garland Historical Preservation Award was established in 2005. Past recipients include: James Goforth, Hilda Padgett, William Cooper and Lou Thornberry, all published authors.