The Wilderness of Night

When was the last time you left the comforting lights of your home or campfire and stepped into the darkness? Familiar places take on a mysterious look. Colors vanish and the world closes in as your view becomes limited. You begin to depend more on your ears as your eyes fail. It can be a little spooky, and yet adventurous. Ever since that first campfire man has become addicted to light. We don't feel comfortable outside of the illumination of electric lights, flashlights, or fire. The darkness has become a foreign, forbidding place.

Writers often describe night as cold and empty (as in the “dead of night”), but it is very much alive. Around 85% of the world's mammals are night creatures or become most active during the low-light periods of dawn and dusk. It is a time for hunting, for 60% of all carnivores hunt in the dark. Scents hang closer to the ground in the cool, damp night air.

Have you ever been startled by a pair of glowing eyes staring at you in the dark? Many mammals have a mirror like membrane in their eyes that reflect additional light to their retina, greatly increasing their night vision. It's the glow of that mirror we see in the eyes of the raccoon, fox, deer, and opossum.

Many birds migrate at night, such as geese, wood warblers, vireos, and wrens. They take full advantage of the daylight to feed, saving the darkness for traveling. For species that must worry about overheating and dehydration in daytime temperatures, like snakes and other reptiles, the lower temperatures and high humidity makes night life preferable.

For bug eaters the dark provides a buffet. Billions of them are in the night air, and they all seem to hover around windows and doors, waiting to get in. Some of them sing nice though. I like to sit on the patio and listen to the katydids or crickets chirping their love songs in an attempt to woo a female. The light show put on by fireflies is also worth sitting in the dark for. And if you are in a really dark place, the night sky is ablaze with stars. So, the next time you feel the need for adventure, just slip into the darkness for a little while.

By: Steve Roark
Volunteer Interpreter, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park



Essential Self Care

Take Care of Yourself

The world seems all messed up right now, doesn’t it? A dear friend uses the phrase “upside down and backwards” and I think we all can relate. In these troubled times, we can get overwhelmed with all that is going on that is out of our control. But you can control you! After all, nobody does you better than you! So I want to encourage you to be intentional with how you are living your life and actively pursue a healthier and happier you.


Where's The Doll

I saw it on a TV commercial when I six years old and had a conniption fit.

As most of you know by now, I was such a little tomboy. But I was a tomboy who loved ballerina stuff. There, I admitted it.

Now I wasn’t into ballet itself. What I loved was what the ballerinas wore. I loved their dresses, especially the tutus. I also loved their shoes and tiaras. Actually, I called them “little crowns.”


Opioids for chronic non-cancer pain Doubled in quarter century

The number of people with chronic non-cancer pain prescribed an opioid medicine worldwide increased in the last two-and-a-half decades. But there was only a small number of studies reporting prescription data outside the United States, finds new research. Chronic pain unrelated to cancer includes conditions such as chronic lower back pain, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The Unappreciated Summer Sweat

Summer is my least favorite season with the bugs and all the heat and humidity. With winter when it’s cold you throw on another layer of clothes and your good, but with summer you can run around buck naked and still be miserably hot just standing around. And then there is all the sweating, a particular negative in public, with the B.O. and wet spots under your arms and the small of your back. Summer season is sweaty season, and something I do not like. However, some personal research has revealed that I need an attitude adjustment, for it turns out sweating does the body good.

Speaking of the Census

Twenty years ago a colleague at Niota School (in McMinn County) mentioned she was working the census and getting pretty darned good pay. I needed a bit of extra cash as I was preparing for a get-together with a bunch of girlfriends down in Florida, so I went to the census meeting. They didn’t have online applications at that time.

Heritage Festival rolls to 2021

Stuart Wyrick is tuning and picking a banjo

Stuart Wyrick, noted banjo player and baritone vocalist from Luttrell will perform with Flashback at the 2021 Union County Heritage Festival.

At the July meeting, the Union County Heritage Festival Board and Committee voted to postpone the Heritage Festival to 2021. “We decided to take that country road right on into next year,” commented Director Marilyn Toppins. "With every East Tennessee county experiencing spread above the CDC containment threshold, the risk overcame the ability to keep our patrons and volunteers safe."

Mayor Bailey optimistic about Union County momentum

When Mayor Jason Bailey was elected in 2018, Historic Union County interviewed him, and he stated his aim to promote everything positive about Union County.
In a recent interview, Bailey was asked to revisit our previous article, which can be found at, for an update.
Parks and Recreation:
Bailey believes “Parks and recreation are a huge part of the county.”

Plainview seats elected officials

Mayor Gary Chandler has his right hand raised and is reciting the oath of office with Vice Mayor is holding a Bible with the Mayor's left hand lying on the Bible.

Mayor Gary Chandler takes the oath of office to start his third term as Mayor of Plainview while Vice Mayor Richard Phillips assists.

City Judge Darrick Edmondson administered the oath of office to Mayor Gary Chandler, Alderman Gordon Bright, and Alderman Rebecca Lock at the July meeting of the Board of Aldermen.
Chandler and Bright are incumbents while Lock is a newcomer who takes the seat voluntarily vacated by Marilyn Toppins at the end of her appointed term.

Good neighbor in uncertain times

David McCollough

You just never know where life is going to take you, but David McCollough is so thankful that life landed him here, serving and enjoying Union County communities. McCollough was raised in Alabama, and has come far to settle into his Tennessee home.
As a young man attending Troy University, he considered a career in either business or coaching but ultimately decided business was the path for him. Fresh out of college he initially secured a logistics position in the transportation industry. After some time, McCollough observed that sales appeared to be a better opportunity.

How to text message and avoid pain

While it is well known that excessive text messaging can result in sore thumbs, less is known about its possible effects on the neck, arms and hands. Young adults with symptoms in these parts of the body use a different technique when texting, according to a new study.

Ergonomist Ewa Gustafsson studied mobile phone habits among 56 young adults who text- message on a daily basis. Half of the subjects reported problems with the neck, arms or hands, while the other half had no such symptoms.

Farmers’ Market Fresh returns to the market

We all know that farmers markets, or your own garden, are the best place to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables, but did you know you can learn a lot while at the market? Check in at the Union County Farmers Market information booth when you arrive, as the “Farmers Market Fresh” program has returned to the market.

Moonshining In Union County Part III

Continuing from "Of Hearth And Hoe" by Bonnie Heiskell Peters:
"Although the government began to clamp down on the illegal handling of sugar by requiring store operators to keep records of sugar purchases, there was still little problem in obtaining sugar. Store operators simply juggled their books and falsified their reports. Often merchants sold sugar to still operators and received payment for sugar plus a bonus for allowing the purchase to be made.

In my Father’s house are many mansions

John 14:2 “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (KJV)
Jesus spoke the words recorded in John 14:2 during the final week of His earthly ministry before His crucifixion! Jesus had been dropping hints to his Disciples about his true intentions as the Lamb of God from the moment he first called his Twelve Apostles, nearly three-and-a-half years earlier.


Fast Words

If I could be a cartoon character, I would have to choose Speedy Gonzales.
Why? Not because I have mouse ears and whiskers. Which I don’t, by the way. It’s because I am always in a hurry. Needless to say, that has caused me a few problems.
One such problem is my handwriting. Ironically, I’m a writer who has horrible handwriting. I am so thankful for the modern convenience of computers. Unfortunately for me (and my teachers) we didn’t have one when I was in high school.

Food preservation yesterday and today

I learned how to preserve food from my mother, sister and mother-in-law. Sadly, just a few years back, canning and preserving had almost become a disappearing ritual due to the busyness of today’s life.
These days, home canning and preserving food is regaining popularity due to the empty grocery shelves that have accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abraham Lincoln (practically) slept at my house

It used to be popular, and may still be, for a place to announce, “George Washington [or other historical figure] slept here.” Goodness knows that if could ever make such a claim, I would want to be able to say, “Abraham Lincoln slept in my house.” Interestingly enough, I have come close to being able to truthfully say this.

Chigger trouble: A pain in the belt line

By: Steve Roark
Volunteer Interpreter, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Being outside is normally a lot of fun, but sometimes you pay a price when you run into a nest of chiggers. For their size, these little guys are a real pain in the belt line.
Chiggers are actually baby mites. They are almost too small to be seen with the naked eye, and are red with eight legs. The adults, which can be seen, feed only on plants and are not a problem for us, except for their laying eggs that make more baby chiggers.


I have been watching the Turner Classic Movie channel quite a bit lately. I found a mystery series based in the 1920s that piqued my interest in that era. The Great War was over. Veterans were trying to adapt to civilian life. Gone were the hobble skirts and ostrich- feathered ladies hats. It sort of reminds me of the aftermath of World War ll. We were in a time of transition then, too.

Country Style Potato Sausage Casserole

Bulk pork sausage is one my favorite "go-to" meats for supper. It's cheap to buy and stores well in the freezer. No worries about getting freezer burnt. It comes well wrapped from the store.
I remember when I was a housewife with small children at home. It seemed that my husband's paycheck had a hard time covering enough groceries to last until the next paycheck, but I always had potatoes and onions. Bulk pork sausage from the freezer was the basis for a number of meals.

We the People

Do you remember seeing School House Rock between Saturday morning cartoons as a kid? Those animated short films offered tidbits in three- to five-minute helpings, introducing otherwise sophisticated concepts of civics, economics, grammar, history, and mathematics to young minds in a way kids could easily digest them. One of my favorite episodes was The Preamble (Season 4, Episode 4 - Nov.

Ants on the Green

I still say it was the ants’ fault.

A few years ago, we were visiting some relatives in Ormond Beach, Fla. On every trip, we have a tradition of driving south to Pirate’s Cove Miniature Golf in Daytona. It’s a lot of fun and they have pirate trivia signs everywhere. Who knew pirates could be so interesting?


Hearts of Color

What do you see?

I was born a Caucasian female. I am neither proud, nor ashamed of that fact. It has probably influenced the course of my life, but was beyond my control. Therefore, it is just a fact. What I have done with that fact during my formative years and to date was, and is, somewhat within my control. As with every human being.

The President Has My Number

Picture it—I’m sitting in my living room in my usual spot on the loveseat. It’s the evening of the day of my latest medical procedure. I was not able to eat solid food for one full day before the procedure, so I am indulging in a delicious supper of fried egg and bacon sandwiches that my wife prepared especially for me.

I can remember a time when all my meals were eaten at the kitchen table with my mother and father. At that time it would have been unthinkable to eat a meal in the living room in front of the television. A snack, maybe, but never a meal.

Dog Days, a Hot Topic

I’d heard of Dog Days all my life, but only knew that it referred to the sweltering heat of late summer when dogs laid around more and were more prone to go mad (with rabies). I had a request from a reader to write on the subject in more depth, so if you’re curious as well, read on.

Chicken Pot Pie

Here is an easy version of chicken pot pie. The hard work of cooking the chicken, preparing the veggies and making the sauce and biscuits is all done for you. It does take a while to bake, but you can be doing other things while it does. Nothing beats finding an easy entree for supper.

Summer Fun—Things to Do!  

The Union County Farmer’s Market is still up and going on Saturday’s (10am-1pm) lasting through October in the parking lot of Wilson Park, next to the high school. This farmer’s market is essential for the farmers around the county. Here they have the chance to promote their products as well as make a profit. Isn’t that what we all want? Fresh produce from the farm to the table is a nice exchange for processed foods or even some that are “fresh” in your local grocery store may not be as fresh and tasty as what you will more than likely find at your local farmer’s market.

New study: low back and neck pain tops u.s. Health spending

Seeing a physician or other health specialist for low back and neck pain? You’re not alone, according to a new scientific study. Americans in 2016 spent an estimated $380 billion on low back and neck pain, as well as on joint and limb pain, and other musculoskeletal disorders.

It’s Blackberry Season

The blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis) is a plant known for its delicious fruit this time of year and nasty thorns any time of year that make walking through a colony of them difficult and painful. It is normally found on disturbed areas such as timber harvests and neglected farmland.

The canes grow up to 6 feet tall, are green to red in color depending on age, and have leaves that form in clusters of 3 to 5. The flowers are white with five petals, and bloom late spring, identifying one of the many cold snaps (blackberry winter) common during that time of year.

The Homecoming Shed

I simply can’t help it. Whenever we drive by a country church, I look for a homecoming shed and wonder if they still use it. Then my mind goes back to my childhood.

Like most kids, I looked forward to certain dates with anticipation: Christmas, birthdays, Field Day at school, and last, but not least, Homecoming at church.

The excitement for me started as soon as I woke up the Sunday morning of Homecoming. We quickly got ready for church and went down to my grandparents’ house. The smell that greeted us at the door was simply heavenly.



I signed the many papers required to buy my house on May 1, 1991 and moved that weekend. My colleague Deanie Carver used her pickup truck to help me move several boxes of books (of course, these important items were first to be moved). The late Adrian Shoffner and Rev. Joe McCoy helped me move the household furnishings. Preacher Joe has never forgotten the ordeal moving that upright freezer into the basement turned out to be. I felt so guilty that I didn’t go to church that Sunday, but I couldn’t find my dress shoes in time to get ready!

Do the Math

After finishing the patio area in our backyard there was an open area inside the arc of crepe myrtles that my wife said would be the perfect place for a picnic table. After much discussion we decided on a modification of a design we found on the net, shortening the length from eight feet to seven and making it eight 2x4’s wide instead of seven. The only place I could buy cedar lumber was at the other end of Knox County, a mildly inconvenient trip made more so by the pandemic. I bought two extra of both 2x4’s and 2x6’s, which turned out to be a good thing.

Potatoes with Canned Luncheon Meat

Have you noticed the canned luncheon meat on the grocery shelf, next to the Spam? It resides there because it really is the same as Spam, just in a plain wrapper and cheaper. Use whichever one you like. I personally think the Spam tastes better. This simple recipe is delicious. It doesn't look like much as you stir it together, but you are in for a surprise. It tastes great.

Library Summer Reading Program

It’s that time of year when children are out of school and need something productive to do that will keep themselves, and their parents, sane. Flying to the rescue comes a summer reading program which will motivate children to not only fill time productively, but expand their knowledge by reading. Entering a different world where imagination is key, time is no longer, and nothing else exists is often the highlight of a summer break for many children.

Artificial intelligence can scan doctors’ notes to distinguish between types of back pain

About 80 percent of adults experience lower back pain in their lifetime; it is the most common cause of job-related disability. Many argue that prescribing opioids for lower back pain contributed to the opioid crisis; thus, determining the quality of lower back pain in clinical practice could provide an effective tool not only to improve the management of lower back pain but also to curb unnecessary opioid prescriptions. Several studies have documented increases in medication prescriptions and visits to physicians, physical therapists, and chiropractors for lower back pain episodes.

Who Was Abraham Lincoln?

In the spirit of “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” a hit game show that challenges adults to answer grade-school questions, I find myself wondering if the average adult remembers important lessons learned about the historical figures who helped shape our great nation. Recently, I was pondering Abraham Lincoln. Hopefully, we all remember that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president, delivered the Gettysburg Address, and signed, by Executive Order, the Emancipation Proclamation. Today, however, my thoughts flow beyond historical events and more toward who he was as a person.

Pride or Prejudice?

This very day I received the following statement in my email:

Every Southerner knows that tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that red eye gravy is also a breakfast food; that scrambled eggs just ain’t right without Tabasco, and that fried green tomatoes are not a breakfast food.

There has been since the beginning of American history a distinct difference between the northern and southern parts of our country. Many of these differences are God ordained, such as the geographical features. Allow me to provide a very simplistic view.

Squishy Toes

Most people wouldn’t consider this to be a fond childhood memory, but I do.

As a child, I was such a tomboy. Actually, I still am, or so I like to think. Anyway, if it was a warm and sunny day, I was running and playing outside. As my Mamaw Jo used to say about me, “I swannie, she goes wide open.” I think that meant I was running with everything I had. If so, she was right, I was.


Life in the Great Outdoors?

Teepee in the glade constructed by the Taylor/Brogan grandchildren in 2020

With social distancing a very real thing these days, I have been extremely impressed with how my husband, Brent, and I have handled the forced togetherness. For many months now, it has been just the two of us. We were already isolated on our 30 acres where we can’t see any neighbors and no neighbors can see us; but C-19 has taken self-isolation to a whole other level.

Now I'm wondering if maybe I’ve been a bit too smug in thinking we had this covered.

The Mountain Lore of Removing Warts

I really like learning about our local mountain culture and am blessed to have grown up in a family that has held onto that culture for generations. One example of an old cultural belief that has been around ever since it was brought over from Europe is charming warts off.


Union County Board of Education

Thursday, August 13, 2020 - 18:00

The next regular workshop and meeting of the Union County Board of Education was scheduled for Thursday, August 13, 2020 at Union County High School. The workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the meeting immediately to follow.




Marie Ann Muntz

Marie Ann Muntz-age 47 of Sharps Chapel passed away suddenly Monday, August 10, 2020 as the result of an automobile accident. Preceded in death by parents, Leonard and Mary Ilean Dillion. She was a very precious housewife and a friend to all.

Survivors left behind include her husband, Robert Muntz, Sharps Chapel; two sisters, Judy Mace and Linda Pickens, both of Indiana.

A celebration of life service will be held at a later date. Arrangements by Cooke-Campbell Mortuary, Maynardville.

William "Billy" Mihaltian

William “Billy” Emery Mihaltian-age 72 of Luttrell passed away Monday, August 10, 2020 at Big South Fork Medical Center. He had been a resident of Huntsville Manor Nursing Home. Billy was a retired contractor building houses and also operated the Union Ground Mall in Maynardville. Billy was an accomplished guitar player and drummer with various local bands. Preceded in death by father, Peter Mihaltian; sister, Angela Claire Mihaltian.

Sarah "Sissy" Wolfe

Sarah Ann “Sissy” Wolfe-age 63 of Thorn Hill passed away Monday afternoon, August 10, 2020 at her home. She was a member of Liberty Missionary Baptist Church in Thorn Hill. Preceded in death by her father, Milton Allen; brother, Willie Allen and sister, Lennis Hensley.

Delores (Dee) Norris Koontz

Delores (Dee) Norris Koontz, age 89 of North Knoxville, passed away Friday, August 7, 2020. Preceded in death by parents, Mode and Lottie Riffey Mink; husbands, Clarence Norris and Dewey Koontz; son, Moe Norris; grandson, Michael Norris and all of Dee’s siblings. She is survived by her children, Saundra, Allen (Hazel), Darrell (Becky), Edna (Ricky), and David (Karen); many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, and several step children. The family will receive friends from 5:00-7:00 PM on Tuesday, August 11th at Mynatt Funeral Home Fountain City.

Larry Woodrow Cox

“The Legend” Larry Woodrow Cox age 75 of Knoxville passed away at home on Thursday, August 6, 2020. Larry served in the United States Army from 1963-1966. Afterwards he joined the Knoxville Police Department and served from 1967-1996 when he was severely injured in an on the job car accident which resulted in him being disabled and unable to return to the job he loved.

Horst Saegebrecht

Horst Saegebrecht, age 79, of Corryton,TN, went on to be with the Lord August 3, 2020. Horst was a loving Father and grandfather. He was preceded in death by wife, Carolyn Saegebrecht, son, Dieter Saegebrecht and daughter, Doris Kimball.

Johnny E. Jones

Johnny E. Jones, age 81, of Halls formerly of the Gibbs community, passed away peacefully at his home 3:00pm Wednesday, August 5, 2020, surrounded by his family. He attended Graveston Baptist Church and faithfully read his bible daily. He was a 1957 graduate of Gibbs High School. He was the owner of Jones Refrigeration for many years. He was an avid Kentucky Wild Cat Basketball fan. Preceded in death by parents, Luella and Edmond Jones and brother Dr. Edward Branson.

Connie Smith Macklin

Connie (Smith) Macklin – age 64 of Maynardville, passed away suddenly on August 6, 2020. She was a member of Valley Grove Baptist Church.

She is preceded in death by parents, Glen and Ina Mae Smith; and mother-in-law, Donna Macklin. Connie is survived by husband, Rick Macklin; siblings and spouses; and many nieces and nephews.

Daniel Lee Baker

Daniel Lee Baker, born October 24, 1946 in Knoxville, TN, passed away August 1, 2020 in Pigeon Forge, TN. Preceded in death by parents John Baker and Eula Effinore “Effie” Wilson Baker, brothers John Wayne and George Caswell Baker.

Julian Osborne

Julian Osborne, 18 yrs old, passed away July 30, 2020. She was a 2019 High School Graduate, currently enrolled at Walters State and was ready to take on the world. Julian loved adventure, outdoor activities and being with her friends. She leaves behind the love of her life Derek Norris and furbaby Molly. Her smile was contagious and will be missed beyond measure by family and friends. Celebration of life will be held Friday, August 7, 2020, at 6:30 pm at Faithway Baptist Church, 4402 Crippen Road, Knoxville, TN 37918. Pastor Rick Passmore & Ricky Graves will be officiating.

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