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From the Publisher's Desk – County has much to celebrate (May 20, 2015 issue)

One of the things that stands out to me about Unicoi County is that we love to celebrate our culture and heritage. We delight in the delicious strawberries grown here, the much sought after, crisp apples and the unique attraction of the ramp. And don’t forget our state recognized ball teams, our famous Blue Ridge Pottery or our rich railroad history.
It is obvious that we have much to be proud of and a lot to celebrate. As publisher of Erwin’s hometown newspaper, I love to feature and showcase those celebrations through photos and words in our weekly issues.
We have so many things happening in this great county and some amazing people who are willing to put in the effort to make them happen. But, there is more to come. Think about all the possibilities the new Rocky Fork State Park will bring to our area with hikes, camping and exploring as well as business growth and development in the south end of Unicoi County.
This past weekend I stopped by Unicoi’s Wayne Scott Strawberry Festival. It is always a good chance to run into friends, pick up some delicious treats prepared by the Clinchfield Senior Adult Center, view crafts from local artists and hear some wonderful music.
I arrived later in the afternoon and saw plenty of attendees making a relaxing venture as they strolled across the grassy school yard or relaxed in a shady spot to visit with friends and give a listen to the band.
The Town of Unicoi is impressive. I have watched it grow from the start of township to present day status. It has had leadership with a vision. Not only has it grown with businesses, but natural offerings have been expanded upon as well.
With the discovery of the Bogart-Bowman cabin, the town soon recovered and transformed a piece of history into a viable gathering spot for many event offerings.
The fire tower restoration, trails and restroom facilities have made the Pinnacle a popular attraction for locals as well as travelers.
The Tanasi Center and visitor’s welcome center have provided a showcase and preservation of the rich art and history from the area. It has been a useful site for how-to classes on simple, handmade gift ideas.
Soon, the town will offer a community kitchen that will be useful on the larger, commercial scale for local cooks to prepare and offer their delicious goods to the area.
With many festivals, events and activities, the Town of Unicoi is always planning something for the community’s benefit. Mayor Johnny Lynch’s Farmhouse Gardens has been the background for many events to draw folks to the area. Fiddlers and Fiddleheads is one such example.
Unicoi offers a good hometown feel of warmth and welcome. Whether you’re stepping into Jones’ Hardware to scout out the many hidden treasures and offerings or gathering at Clarence’s for the delicious homemade biscuits and gravy served all day long, you are going to find friends slowing down long enough to take time to speak and to visit.
With the new additions of Walmart, liquor stores, Family Dollar and unique restaurants, the town is quickly becoming the go-to-place for much of the county.
I’ve known Johnny for years and know his commitment and love for Unicoi. I collected his art when he concentrated more on painting. My family purchased hogs from him for butchering when he raised them to sell. I have visited his home and found him nurturing wild animals back to health as birds perched in the living room. To Johnny, all were welcome whether people or animals. His warmth and welcomeness are what I see exemplified in the people of the Town of Unicoi.
Unicoi County, Erwin and the Town of Unicoi have all seen their share of negativity in the news spotlight recently. It seems the media is quick to jump on board to try and emphasize the negative. As a news outlet, we too must cover what is worthy, but I hope we never sensationalize things for the sake of readership.
While I always want to present an unbiased and accurate report of everything we attend and cover, I love to also look at the many positive things we have going in our county. I like to promote the good things and the good people who make this place one of the best to live.
We have many who pass through and decide to make Unicoi County their home. We have many that visit us for our offerings and hospitality. Let’s not lose sight of those things.