In March of 2020 the world came to a halt for many as the COVID-19 pandemic took us away from school, church, social events and many other activities.
With school closures and virtual learning in way, teachers adjusted, students began to learn mathematics from their kitchen tables and parents had to find a way to work while also helping their children in a new way.
Now, almost two years later, the community is still trying to figure out how to live and learn with this pandemic.
Keep the faith, be the change
I watched in surprise (I’m ashamed to admit) as the world became a kinder place with the surge of Covid in 2020, with many people insisting that everyone should pass along that kindness. Many did. It was inspiring.
Then I watched in horror as 2021 brought an abundance of people full circle to showing their true colors once again. According to recent statistics, crime in 2021 was off the charts. Road rage, shootings, murders, human trafficking, racism and domestic abuse, just to name a few, reared their ugly heads once more. Overwhelmingly, it seemed.
Are we humans completely unredeemable? Well, yes—without Christ we are. But that doesn’t mean we bear no responsibility for our actions until He returns.
My family had a one-of-a-kind encounter this Christmas that has dominated many conversations since, as well as helped restore my faith in the capacity of the human heart for kindness.
My husband and I decided to break tradition by taking our immediate family out for a Mexican dinner on Christmas Eve rather than the usual feast at home. Now before you get all up in arms thinking I didn’t cook for my family, you should know that I spent most of Christmas day doing just that.
On Christmas Eve we chose our favorite Mexican restaurant for the meal, only to discover when we arrived that they had closed at two pm. After many boo-hoos, we made a mutual decision to go to our second favorite Mexican restaurant.
Since we were a party of fifteen, six adults and nine grandchildren, we called ahead. They had a very long table grouping ready when we arrived and seated us immediately. The service was excellent and the food was even better. We all had a delicious meal and a wonderful time with lots of laughter.
Near the end of our dinner, a man approached us from a booth near our tables. He came to stand between me and my daughter. To my shame, I expected something untoward was about to happen. Then he leaned down and placed a fifty-dollar bill on the table.
“I’ve been sitting over there listening to your family conversations and it has blessed me,” he said. “I would like to contribute to the cost of your meal, or you can do something else with the money. It is up to you.”
As a writer, words are my forte. In that moment, I had none. I looked across the table to my husband who was as surprised and tongue-tied as I was. Words escaped me. I felt like an idiot as I stammered, trying desperately to think of the right thing to say.
My husband and I have always done our best to be a financial blessing to others; especially those we knew to be in need. In all of our life, neither of us had ever been in the position of being blessed in this manner. It was eye-opening and humbling.
Finally finding my voice, I thanked him but insisted that it wasn’t necessary. He insisted that it was, and refused to be swayed. My daughter, son, myself, and my husband stood and spoke with him for a few minutes. There were tears and hugs as we parted ways. All of us smiling. The blesser and the blessed.
After the gentleman went back to his booth, my husband and I looked at each other, still in a bit of shock, and immediately agreed we should leave the money as a tip. Our server had been excellent and certainly deserved it. So, that is what we did.
This encounter may not seem that odd to some of you reading this. Maybe people handing you money on a daily or weekly basis for no reason is common. For our family, the unusual experience struck a chord and brought to mind the importance of being kind to strangers and paying our blessings forward.
Matthew 7:13 says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.”
Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap.”
And Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted…”
Of all the joys our family experienced this Christmas, our encounter on Christmas Eve with a kind man who wished to bless others was one of the best moments, and no doubt God-directed. A lot of details had to fall into place for us to be in that particular restaurant at that exact moment. For whatever reason, God touched a man’s heart, who in turn touched the hearts of fifteen family members, who hopefully touched the heart of a server in a Mexican restaurant.
We’ll never know who that money ultimately blessed, but we were thrilled to be a small part of the blessing.
And if the kind gentleman we met this past Christmas Eve is reading this, consider my faith in human nature restored. At least for one brief moment in time.
In March of 2020 the world came to a halt for many as the COVID-19 pandemic took us away from school, church, social events and many other activities.
It’s officially scholarship season; well, if it ever isn’t time to apply for educational assistance!? Union County Farm Bureau has opened the application period for up to two $1,500 scholarship awards this year. If you are a member of the Farm Bureau, do continue reading, this is a wonderful opportunity.
Widespread pain is linked to a heightened risk of all types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, finds research published online in the journal Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine. This association is independent of potentially influential factors, such as age, general health, and lifestyle, the findings indicate.
Have you ever felt lost in your own home? I did back when I was teenager and it was scary.
Way back in the 1970s, my parents added a larger living room onto our house with a basement underneath it. And in that basement, they put in a woodstove. Let me tell you, it kept the living room nice and warm all winter.
My sister Icy Madelene (aka Pat) McMurray is famous in our family for her belief in the restorative and healing properties of Vicks VapoRub. She has told me that this marvelous ointment can treat/cure anything.
Because of this, I was most interested in a Facebook post concerning the uses for Vicks VapoRub. I did a quick Google search on Vicks VapoRub and will relate below from memory some of the interesting things I discovered. You can do a Google search for more detailed information, but the Facebook post listed the following uses:
The Northern and Midland Baptist Associations are prayerfully seeking a man of high moral character who is fully committed to the Lord and to Christian ministry to serve as a bi-vocational or semi-retired Director of Missions. He must be a mature, stable Christian who is able to relate well to other people. This person needs to have a thorough knowledge of Southern Baptist church life and be grounded in Southern Baptist doctrine and polity. His primary role is to assist the churches of our Associations in fulfilling the Great Commission Jesus has given to His church.
In order to show support for the Union County Christmas Parade, Union County Business & Professional Association decided to encourage its members to participate.
Several of the UCBPA members decorated floats or vehicles including Five Star Waste, Home Town Pest Control, Tammie Hill Realty Executive Associates, UT Extension Union County, Maynardville Mayor Ty Blakely, Union County Government and Maynardville Drug & Express Care.
For over 100 years now, Farm Bureau has shone a light on rural America by giving farmers and ranchers a voice.
Throughout those 100 years, the Farm Bureau Federation has undergone numerous changes along the way.
Now, Union County is undergoing one of those changes, the transition of agency management as Paul Smith retires from his position.
The Union County Board of Education approved Lewis Group of Knoxville as architects for the proposed middle school in its December meeting.
Carrie Cooke, Purchasing Agent for the Union County Finance Office, chaired the nine-member committee. After several meetings over more than two months, the committee interviewed the highest qualified from the eleven firms who were interested in the project. Those firms made presentations and were ranked by the committee.
You know, there is just something to me about the challenge of fitting all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together into a complete picture. Recently, I came to the conclusion that this challenge could be one of the reasons I love to write. Instead of fitting pieces of a picture together, I place words together to come up with a complete, and hopefully meaningful, story.
Winter hiking is wonderful. The air is crisp and clean. The forest is still.
With the air so clear it makes for some amazing sunrises and sunsets. So much is missed by those who only hike in the warmer months.
Hiking around the lake in the winter months will produce lifetime memories of wildlife, God-made ice sculptures and scenery.
Many other outdoor hobbies lend their own rewards for being out in the winter months—like bird watching, fishing, kayaking and viewing the night sky.
I have caught some of my largest fish during the coldest times.
James 2:23 KJV
 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
I can’t read James 2:23 without the simple lyrics of “I Am a Friend of God, by Israel Houghton and Michael Gungor, playing in my mind. It’s the kind of lyric that can get stuck on replay in your mind for hours. Which in this case is probably not a bad thing, especially if we associate it with the scriptures the lyrics are based upon.
Thomas Andrew Dorsey was born July 1, 1899, to a religious and gospel music family in Vila Rica, Georgia. At the age of 17 he moved to Chicago and attended the College of Composition and Arranging. This set him on his life’s course as a gospel singer and songwriter.
During his life, Thomas wrote 3,000 songs with 1,000 being gospel songs. Two songs you may remember are his 1932 song, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” and in 1937 he wrote “Peace in the Valley.”
Medical guidelines help doctors understand the best way to treat health conditions. Surprisingly, many doctors do not adhere to them, and this is a problem, according to a new study by scientists at the University of Utah, studying health and MD guidelines. People with lower back pain injury miss 11 more days of work in a year when they only receive treatments for lower back pain that are not recommended by medical guidelines compared to people treated according to guidelines. The findings were published in PLOS ONE. Among the nearly 60,000 people whose medical claims were analyzed:
Roark Tree Farm in Claiborne County has been recognized by The American Forest Foundation for being an established Tree Farm for 25 years. A certified Tree Farm manages forests for multiple use benefits such as wood production and wildlife habitat in a sustainable manner. Steve Roark, who owns Roark Tree Farm with his wife Rhonda, has managed a number of projects over the decades.
As the young showmen drive their hogs around the show ring they all intently look at the judge and make every turn smoothly and at the perfect time.
Every showman has their own way of doing things, but each one makes an impression on the judge. The crowd sets on the edge of their seats wondering who will be chosen as the grade champion showman.
According to the Global Burden of Disease Study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, neck pain is ranked as the fourth leading cause of global disability. One of the main reasons for neck pain has been attributed to lifestyle, particularly when people spend long durations of time with their necks bent forward. however, a systematic, quantitative study has been lacking on how personal factors, such as sex, weight, age and work-related habits can affect neck strength and endurance.
“I don’t want to and I won’t go to Grandma’s house this year! She’s old and I never liked her or Grandpa anyway. They always treat me like a child!” Fourteen year old Maisie stomped her foot as she stormed out of the kitchen. Her mother’s gaze followed as her daughter made her way up the stairs to her bedroom, clomping her foot as hard as possible on every step as she went; more like a child than a teenager.
My mother was so excited when she came into my house carrying a small bag. As for me, I soon regretted it.
You see, she had just bought a box set of Christmas movies for Sara. VHS tapes. Yep, this was a few years ago. Anyway, at this time, Sara was a toddler and mom wanted her to enjoy all of the old TV shows we had enjoyed over the years. One of these movies was, “Frosty the Snowman.”
I was talking recently to a lady. In the course of our conversation, she told me that she has two children, one a post high school graduate, the other an early elementary student. I remarked that there was a lot of years between her two children’s ages. She told me that she lost a lot of weight before conceiving her second child. We determined then and there that Big Macs were a good form of birth control.
You can learn a lot from talking with elders. In a conversation about Christmas with my mother some years ago I learned that the Christmas of her childhood had an extra bit of celebration. Her father Sillus Day would always hold back some candy from Christmas in a big, locked chest and would give it out on January 6, a day he called “Old Christmas”.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – High-quality, locally sourced ‘UT Beef’ is now being served on the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus.
Produced at UT’s Northeast Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Greeneville, and being prepared and served through an agreement with UT Dining Services managed by Aramark, the farm-to-table effort supports sustainable agricultural production by utilizing locally grown beef as a reliable food source while maximizing supply chain resiliency.
Back Row - Connie Wilder, Gloria Holcomb, Glenda Cooke, Carol Pratt, Shirley Grabko, Leslie Sharpe
Bottom row - UT Extension Agent Alyshia Victoria, Brenda Osborne, Sharon Hansard, Linda Effler, Margie Collins, Lyndora Lindsay, Sherry Jones, Kaye Whaley, Ashley Mike UT Extension Administrative Assistant.
The Big Ridge Family Community Education Club celebrated with a festive lunch on Dec. 16th at St.Teresa’s Catholic Church. After a short business meeting and donations made to a local Food Bank and a needy family, the group exchanged small gifts. A game of Secret / Dirty Santa was played and enjoyed by everyone. Lunch consisted of lots of delicious Finger Foods.
There’s nothing like a good last-minute adventure, especially one on Christmas Eve. This happened to me many years when my daughter Sara was still small.
It started on December 23rd when we went to a cousin’s house for an early Christmas gathering. I so enjoyed being with my family and watching Sara open her gifts. That is until she opened the one with a doll.
It is rarely that anything seems to surprise me. I suppose that is common as one grows older, but occasionally I am reminded that there might be a few surprises yet to come.
I went to the credit union to pay my car payment earlier in the week. I walked in just barely before the lobby closed. I walked up to the only available teller, a friendly young lady who grew prettier in my estimation throughout our brief encounter.
I like sweet potatoes about any way you can fix them. In fact, I buy a 20 pound box of sweet potatoes every fall from a man who brings them up from the Carolinas and parks in front of Janet’s Hair Salon in beautiful downtown Maynardville. It takes me all year to finish that box. I am always looking for new ways to fix them. I come up with this recipe the other day. It is a variation of a rutabaga recipe I tried. They are spicy but not like a pumpkin pie. Try them and see what you think.
"Friday nights lights" is a phrase used quite often by many community members and fans as they talk about the excitement around their hometown football games.
Whether the team has a winning or losing streak for the year, there is a nostalgia surrounding Friday night lights.
High school students celebrate the event with face paint and cow bells, while the football players prepare themselves by wearing their jerseys to school that day.
Do you love decorating for the holidays? Do you love driving around to see Christmas lights? We have a fun contest for everyone who likes Christmas lights.
UT Extension Union County will host its annual Light Up Union County Contest in 2021 to get our town decorated for the holiday season. Whether your skill is closer to the Charlie Brown tree or Clark Griswold, we want to see your lights.
Periodic absences for various reasons continue to cause the Union County Board of Education to barely have a quorum.
At the November school board meeting, Chairman David Coppock and Vice Chairman Marty Gibbs were absent along with Brad Griffey from Luttrell. Dr. Jimmy Carter, Director of Union County Schools, chaired the workshop and oversaw the election of Andrew Reed, who represents District 6 (Paulette), as the Chairman Pro Tem to preside at the November meeting.
Aaron Russell and Shannon DeWitt are Man and Woman of 2021
Union County Business & Professional Association named Aaron Russell and Shannon DeWitt as Man and Woman of 2021 at its Annual Banquet on November 19, at Hubbs Grove Fellowship Hall.
Aaron Russell, publisher of Historic Union County News, was praised by Robbie Corum, the 2020 Man of the Year, for Aaron's “out of the box thinking.” With this “tackle the unknown attitude,” Aaron has given Union County its first online newspaper, as well as a printed monthly edition.
Last month, Olivia Howard joined the UT Extension Office here in Union County as the full-time 4-H agent. Olivia was born in Kansas, lived in Michigan and moved to the Knoxville area when she was in 4th grade where her love for agriculture started.
This led her to pursue a degree in Animal Science at the University of Tennessee. Olivia’s experience in Extension started when she completed an internship with the Knox County Extension Office in summer of 2020 where she worked in agriculture and natural resources.
New research from Boston medical Center identifies elevated mortality risk for women with back pain when compared to women without back pain. Back pain was not associated with mortality among men, indicating long-term consequences of back pain may differ by sex. The overall findings suggest that mild back pain (pain that does not keep a person from exercising or doing daily activities) is unlikely to impact the length of one’s life, but risk of mortality was increased among adults with more severe back pain.
Over 300 children will have presents under the tree this Christmas thanks to the dedicated volunteers of Union County Children's Charities.
Gina B. Gilbert, Tammie George, Brooke Simpson and Pam Tolbert serve as the leaders of the 501(c)3 nonprofit to organize the effort while Carol Pratt, Janet Holloway and friends shop and assemble the bags.
At least eight area churches gave away socks, toiletries, laundry detergent, books and paper products. Another church supplied hams, and the Family Resource Center contributed gift cards from a grant for teenage siblings.
By Beth Bergeron
Once again, 4 H members in each elementary school are collecting pop top tabs for their community service project and the first full jug has been turned in. All tabs will be donated to our local Ronald McDonald House for recycling.
In the process of collecting these tabs, the students learn the importance of recycling, and are encourage to recycle the entire aluminum can.
By Alyshia Victoria
Union County FCE members gathered on November 18 to celebrate thanks for one another and for our community. Family & Community Education (FCE) clubs are located across the state, and we have a great group here in Union County.
The goal of FCE clubs is to strengthen the home and community by improving the quality of life of individuals and families through continuing education, leadership development and community service.
By Mary Johnson
Sharps Chapel residents have been meeting at the Sharps Chapel Senior Center once a month to share the latest news, research and concerns regarding the new Mexican-owned Sanfer SPF egg production factory farm. The facility will eventually house 72,000 chickens in eight concrete block buildings on the historic Sharp family farm on Sharps Chapel Road.
By Jeff Brantley
I represent the 5th District of Union County (Sharps Chapel and Speedwell side). A controversy has arisen about the location of a chicken/pharmaceutical farm in Sharps Chapel. Some are complaining about property values, odor, contamination, etc. Most of the resistance comes from lake lot property owners who are approximately a mile away from the proposed business.
By Alyshia Victoria
Have you heard of FCE clubs? Perhaps you have heard of the homemaker’s club.
Family & Community Education clubs (FCE), formerly known as the homemaker’s group, have been around for a long time. While 4-H clubs have been a way of building community and skills among youth throughout Tennessee history, FCE clubs have been doing the same for adults. The goal of FCE clubs is to strengthen the home and community by improving the quality of life of individuals and families through continuing education, leadership development and community service.
Ina R. (Ogle) Lane-age 82 of Luttrell, born June 21, 1939 in Sevier County passed away Thursday, January 13, 2022 at her home. Ina entered into her eternal celebration that she had the assurance of from her teenage years. She was a member of Union Chapel Baptist Church, Maynardville and was a loving grandmother, mother, sister and friend who always put the needs of others before her own.
Geraldine (Richards) Bailey-age 79 of Maynardville passed away Wednesday morning, January 12, 2022 at North Knoxville Medical Center. She was a member of Macedonia Baptist Church. Preceded in death by mother, Nora Bell Richards; brothers, Benny Richards and Steve Richards; son, Roger Lynn Treece; daughter, Patricia Ann Treece.
Joyce Vandergriff Turner - age 67 of Maynardville, passed away peacefully in her sleep on January 10, 2022. She is preceded in death by her parents, Edward and Martha Vandergriff and Della Mae Oaks. Joyce is survived by son, Charles Gentry and daughter-in-law Natasha; daughter, LeeAnn Turner Large and son-in-law Eric; grandson, Dakota Gentry; granddaughters, Evelyn Gentry, Destiny and Emma Large; and siblings, Michael Vandergriff, Kyle Vandergriff, Tony Vandergriff and Patsy Mallicoat. A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.
Anna Leora “Lee” Graves Pollard Kitts went home to her Heavenly Father January 10, 2022 at the age of 89. She had a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ her Lord. Anna adored her children and all of her siblings. She enjoyed showing kindness to others by sending bouquets of flowers to her shut-in friends. She loved her plants, music and a good road trip. Anna was also an excellent seamstress, working for many years at Hall Brown and John H. Daniels.
Clyde L. Monroe-age 93 of Maynardville passed away Saturday, January 8, 2022 at Willow Ridge Center. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Maynardville; a graduate of Horace Maynard High School, class of 1945 and a U. S. Army Veteran 1950-1951. Preceded in death by parents, Raymond and Bonnie (Palmer) Monroe; siblings, Gareth P. Monroe, Mary Jo Meyer, Willa Sue Cox, Eugene D. Monroe.
Johnie Marie McCurry - age 80 of Corryton, went to her heavenly home January 8, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. peacefully surrounded by her loved ones. Johnie Marie was born February 7, 1941 in Luttrell. Her love and humor were adored by everyone who knew her. Johnie was a mother, sister, mamaw, friend and devoted care giver to many. She was one of the founding members of Fellowship Christian Church where she spent her Sundays serving her savior.
Joshua Dustin (Dusty) Sexton, age 34, of Maynardville passed away Saturday, January 8, 2022. He was born on October 14, 1987. Dusty is preceded in death by his mother, Janice Sexton and grandparents. Dusty is survived by his father, Jerry Sexton and step-mom, Brenda Sexton; his children, Aubree and Konnor Sexton; his siblings, Toni (Tim) Brown, Chris (Kayla) Sexton, Gina (John) Hale, Jennifer (Jeremy) Brake and his nieces and nephews.
Barbara Sue (Wyrick) Rutherford-age 71 of Maynardville, born October 25, 1950 passed away Thursday morning, December 30, 2021 at North Knoxville Medical Center. She was a member of New Friendship Baptist Church. Preceded in death by son, Russell Luke Tolliver; daughter, Rebecca Pierce; parents, Calday and Francis Wyrick; brothers, Fred Wyrick, O. G. Wyrick, Theodore Wyrick; sisters, Carolyn Kitts, Othella (Sally) Corum, Pearl Atkins, Hester Atkins.
Nellie Wynn – 48 of Maynardville, passed away December 26, 2021 with family by her side. She was born March 27, 1973 to Willis and Mildred Wynn. Your life touched so many others and will be remembered forever more, to leave the world a better place than it had been before.
Peggy Lou Sharp Bates was born July 13, 1936 and passed away December 22, 2021 due to pancreatic cancer at the age of 85. She was a member of Cedar Ford Baptist Church in Luttrell. Peggy was a 1954 graduate of Horace Maynard High School, cheerleader for four years and captain her senior year, and a member of the school paper staff.
Mamie Jo “Wood” Collins – age 91 of Maynardville, passed away on Tuesday, December 21, 2021, with her sister by her side. She was a member of Alder Springs Baptist Church.
She was preceded in death by her husband Robert Collins; son, Michael Collins; and parents Fonzie and Vileto Wood. Mamie is survived by her sisters Wanda Vandergriff of Maynardville and Clara Ramsey of Kentucky, several nieces, and nephews.
Some people only walk this earth for a short time. Their departure reminds us that God knows when he is ready to take his children and turn their trials and tribulations in for Angel wings. Our loved ones are now our protectors, watching over us from above.
Jennifer Rena (Hickman) Shepherd, age 45, of Luttrell, went home to Jesus to gain her angel wings on December 18th, 2021 at North Knoxville Medical Center.
James David Edwards-age 64 of Sharps Chapel, born January 11, 1957 passed away Friday, December 17, 2021 at Claiborne Medical Center. He retired from Chrysler Corporation in Kokomo, Indiana. He was a very loving husband and father. He loved everyone he met and never met a stranger. David was saved at Lily Grove Baptist Church at a very early age. Preceded in death by parents, J. R. and Nadine (Johnson) Edwards; brother, Douglas Alvin Edwards; sister-in-law, Sharon Moyers Edwards; aunt, Jo Ann (Edwards) Bailey; grandparents, Roy and Ruth (Shoffner) Edwards; Ed and Ocie Johnson.