Oak Grove School Renovation Nears Completion

Preservation Union County volunteers Stan Bullen and Joe Rogers work on the windows at Oak Grove School in Sharps Chapel.

Five years ago, Preservation Union County set out to restore historic Oak Grove School in Sharps Chapel. And now that labor of love is nearing completion as Preservation Union County board member Betty Bullen hopes to hold an open house at the completed building before the end of summer 2017.

The school, located near the Sharps Chapel convenience center, opened in 1935 and hosted students first through eighth grade in its two rooms until its closure in the 1960s. It was a WPA project, built in the Rosenwall style after plans for school kits from Sears-Roebuck. Bullen said Oak Grove is one of the few publicly owned schools of its kind in near-original condition, making preservation important to the history of the area.

When Preservation Union County started the project, the school was in bad shape, grown over with vines and the floor rotting through. Volunteers rebuilt the foundation, replaced the joists and beams, replaced broken windows and replaced the roof. They salvaged and replaced original wood floors and the original wood hanging doors that separated the two classrooms. The school bell still resides under the school's roof. A myriad other projects have been addressed by a dedicated group of volunteers.

"I can't count how many thousands of hours of volunteer work has gone into this," said Bullen. "Every time we do something it turns into five other things."

Right now, electrical wiring is being inspected and new fixtures installed. Next will be plumbing and fixtures, plus HVAC. There's room for a kitchen, but Bullen said "it will take another fundraiser" to get it installed.

Once completed, the school will house the Sharps Chapel Book Station in one classroom and a community meeting room in the other. The county will take over upkeep of the building and Preservation Union County will step aside, but if the building becomes vacant or unused Preservation Union County will take over the building's care.
Betty Bullen
Bullen thanked everyone who has helped with the effort so far, from volunteers to donors. Grants from the TVA Retirees Association, East Tennessee Foundation, Union County Foundation, the National Trust and Dow Chemical all helped boost Oak Grove School, along with $10,000 from Union County Commission to help with the finish work. Corporate and silver sponsors include the Winery at Seven Springs Farm, Food City of Maynardville, Midway IGA, K. David Myers, J.V. and Linda Waller, Wanda Byerley and Copper Cellar Corporation. She thanked community members who stopped by to help out and neighbors who provided potluck lunches on workdays.

"When we work, people stop by and tell us stories about when this was a school, and we've recorded some of those stories," said Bullen. "We've even had some who taught school here. We're hoping the community will come out and see it put to use and open to the public."
Oak Grove School
Bullen said Preservation Union County is also trying to get the school added to the National Register of Historic Places. One inside wall will host a display of historic photos of the school and of the area before and after the impoundment of Norris Lake.

But when Oak Grove School opens to the public, it won't be the end of Preservation Union County's efforts. Bullen said it's just the beginning.

"I think it's a good beginning," she said. "I hope County Commission members and every county official will come to the grand opening and see it and realize that it's a good beginning for historic preservation in Union County. If we're going to make Union County a destination, restoration should be a huge consideration."

For more information and updates on the Oak Grove School project, visit Preservation Union County's Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PreservationUnionCounty/.

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Obituary

Fred Carl King

Fred Carl King, age 90, passed away February 21, 2018 at Westmoreland Nursing Home and Rehab Center. Preceded in death by father Taylor King, mother Lona Brown King, son Stephen King, brother Eugene King, and sister Evelyn Whaley. Survivors include sister Pauline McManus, daughter Connie Jackson, sons Fredrick King (Chrissy), David King (Penny), grandchildren Kirsten King, Tyler King, Amber Welch, Todd King, and Gregory Jackson (Renee), several great grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews. Family will receive friends from 5:00-7:00 p.m.

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A native of Union County, Estelle was born in the Nave Hill community on January 8, 1914. She was a retired school teacher and received her teaching certification from Lincoln Memorial University. Estelle educated generations of families in the county, having taught first through eighth grades in a one-room schoolhouse in the Nave Hill and Hubbs Grove schools. She ended her 30 year-career at Maynardville Elementary School.

James (Frank) Edwards

James (Frank) Edwards, age 80, went to be with the Lord Thursday, February 22nd after a long illness. He enjoyed time with his family, especially his grandchildren and playing his guitar. He was a member and deacon of Bryams Fork Baptist Church.

Irene (Walker) Nelson

Irene (Walker) Nelson - age 83 of Halls passed away peacefully with her family at her side on Wednesday, February 21, 2018. She was a devoted wife, mother, sister, mamaw, aunt, and friend. She is now rejoicing in heaven alongside of her husband Arvel Marion Nelson, daughter Martha Nelson, grandson Jason Nelson, parents Andy and Cora Walker, brothers Glen Walker, Houlk Walker, Perry Walker, sisters Virgie Gabriel, Cecila Brantley, and Ethel Dennis. Her legacy lives on through her loving and devoted family: daughter Judy (David) Walton, sons Tommy (Marlene) Nelson and Jeff Nelson.

Scott Sparks

Scott Sparks, age 51, of Knoxville, TN, went to be with the Lord on Monday, February 19th, 2018. Scott earned his bachelors degree from the University of North Carolina, his masters degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and was a teacher at Karns High School. He was a former College Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, former Pastor at White Stone Church, and founding Pastor of The Grove Church. Scott's passion was leading people to Christ and walking along side them in their faith journey.

John Sterling Inklebarger

John Sterling Inklebarger, age 82, of Corryton, passed away Sunday, February 18, 2018. He was a member of Graveston Baptist Church. He owned his own trucking company hauling building materials until a tragic accident in 1973 that left him disabled. He loved traveling with family and spending time with his friends whittling and trading knives. He will always be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend.

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Flossie Irene “Nanny” Sherritze-age 90 of Maynardville, born December 3, 1927 went to be with her Lord Sunday morning, February 18, 2018 at home. She was devoted to her family and her church. She was a member of Hines Creek Baptist Church in which she was instrumental in getting organized in the early 1950’s. Preceded in death by parents, Edgebert and Lucy Wyrick; husband, Charles “Rattler” Sherritze; daughter, Norma Faye Sherritze; brothers, Ralph, John, Fate, Jim, Ceba, Swann, J. Will and Earl Wyrick.

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Survivors: sisters: Margie Stansberry and Nancy Harvey, both of New Tazewell.

Private memorial service will be held at a later date. In accordance with his wishes, he will be cremated. Arrangements by Cooke-Campbell Mortuary, Maynardville.

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