I would like to share a few experiences of the full and rich life of one of our most highly accomplished local residents, Jim Clayton. He is returning to his first love, music, and will join the Union County Opry Band for a live performance this Saturday. Clayton’s uncle gave him his first guitar on his sixth birthday, and he was in love! As he grew older, he idolized Eddie Arnold and wished to be like him; but God had better plans.
We have a TV star in our midst, Union County! Kara Cooke was modeling when she graduated from Union County High School in 2018. She then enrolled in classes at Gage talent agency in West Knoxville, going once a week for a couple of months where she learned skills such as working the runway, how to pose for the camera, and how to apply make-up. She also took acting classes. One of her instructors started The STAIR Agency for models and actors and she followed him. Her career took off after auditioning and being selected for a spot in Knoxville Fashion Week.
One of Plainview Chief of Police Eddie Muncey’s favorite activities as a young boy was playing baseball and, like many young boys, he dreamed of being a professional baseball player.
Muncey also had a great admiration for police officers and was enthralled with the lights, the sirens, and the dignity of the uniform. Growing up in Union County Muncey played baseball until high school when his priorities changed and his new passion was to get a set of wheels. He got his first job at Hensley’s IGA and with his earnings bought his first pickup truck.
Several years ago, when painted furniture rose in popularity, Jeannie Cox just had to try it. Her first project was a small side table that she found a delight to do and it turned out great. She laughs and says, “Of course there were many disasters along the way!”
The best-kept secret of success is that failure is part of the formula.
What are the makings of someone in a prominent position? The short answer is, there is no singular path. As a young man struggling to find his way, Kevin Brown admits he had poor study habits in high school, preferring to goof off; that was until he worked a few manual labor summer jobs, which was good incentive to “work smarter, not harder.” Brown realized that a good education was necessary to broaden his scope of career opportunities. He didn’t know what he wanted to be, but he did know that he wanted to help people.
Srinivasa R. Chintalapudi M.D., known by his patients as “Dr. Chinta,” is a third-generation physician. As a boy in Vijayawada, India, a young Chinta was inspired by his uncle, a country doctor whose hospital served a rural community. Chinta was not interested in watching tv or movies and many other youthful activities; he preferred spending his summers with his uncle, the country doctor who inspired him. Chinta enjoyed carrying his uncle’s medical bag as he accompanied him on house calls.
Dr. John C. Osborn was only 18 months old when his father started dental school, so in a sense, he’s been through it twice.
He grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, but his mother’s family was from Knoxville, so there were plenty of visits to this part of the country.
At 15, Osborn started working in his father’s lab, pouring moldings and such, so it was always front and center as a career path choice. After graduating from high school he moved to Chattanooga for college, then on to Nashville for dental school.
The Honorable Jared R. Effler, District Attorney General is proud of his Union County, TN roots. He is happy to say that he is a product of Union County Schools and that he’s living proof that with the building blocks of a solid education, a person can accomplish anything they set their mind to. Effler graduated from Horace Maynard High School in 1991 and went on to Lincoln Memorial University to obtain a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Management in 1995. Although his earliest ambition was to become a veterinarian based on his love for animals, during college his career goals changed.
Mike Chesney, incoming Maynardville City Manager, aspired as a child to become a person who would help others and make a positive difference in their lives. The very young see heroes in firefighters and policemen, then as they grow up realize there are a lot of other people helping communities run and flourish.
I recently spoke to Jack Rhyne to learn his story and it is a fascinating one! Like most little boys growing up in a Roy Rogers world, Rhyne hoped to grow up to be a cowboy. That didn’t quite work out, but he has lived an adventurous life. Rhyne grew up in Anderson County, enlisted in the Army as a young man, and married Marie Merritt from Grainger County, who served as Rutledge’s City Recorder.
In October, I noticed a new business, Letner & Company, advertising its services on the Union County Speaks Out Facebook page. As someone with a strong background in sales and marketing, I appreciate the effort in making one’s available services known, so I wanted to learn more about this new company. Over the years I have heard several people comment on the difficulty in finding people to fill service positions in this area, and thought I would use this forum to introduce them to the community.
Maynardville Mayor Ty Blakely can be described as the city’s website describes the town: friendly, with an eye on the future.
He had an unusual habit for a small boy — he enjoyed reading the daily newspaper! As a child, he looked up to his grandfather who was a math teacher and coach at Powell High School. He wanted to be like his grandfather and expected to follow in his footsteps in the teaching profession, but life presented other opportunities.
Deborah Stroud’s Union County roots run deep, as both parents, J.T. Russell and Frances Heiskell Russell, are natives of this area.
As the daughter of a preacher and owner of a construction company, Stroud learned all about working hard, a lesson which has served her well.
Career Trend, an online resource that discusses duties of elected and appointed city officials (for anyone entertaining the notion of serving), describes small town mayors as the Chief Representative of the People.
That description is quite fitting of the Mayor of Plainview, Gary D. Chandler. Having an interest in making his community better, Chandler began serving as Plainview City Alderman in 2003. He was elected Plainview City Mayor 10 years ago and is currently serving his third term. Chandler is the third mayor to serve the City of Plainview in its 28-year history.
Like many of our local leaders, Jerry Lawson wears many hats while serving our community: Sheriff’s deputy by day, mayor of the City of Luttrell in the evening.
Lawson began serving as mayor on July 1, 2019, and has made some large strides in a short amount of time. Although the position of mayor, which is the chief executive officer of the municipality, may conjure images of administrative office work only, but the job bears a lot more responsibility than presiding over meetings — although that is an important aspect of the position.
Willie David Cox Jr., known by friends and co-workers as David, was elected as Union County Road Superintendent in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. In this vital county position, Cox is responsible for directing, planning, and organizing the county road maintenance program. He oversees and performs many duties required to keep our county roads safe and traversable, such as paving, maintenance and repairs, striping, placing guardrails, culvert cleaning, ditching—as needed—and mowing. The Union County Highway Department is also responsible for the maintenance of the Union County Ferry.
A Butcher, a Baker, a Candlestick Maker…Mother Goose nursery rhymes of yore had youngsters thinking of various professions in a fun and lyrical manner. Then, in the mid-twentieth century, as television entered America’s family rooms, the possibilities were more easily imagined. Wide-eyed kids began to imagine being an Astronaut, a Police Detective, a Rock-n-roll Musician, a Soldier, a Wilderness Explorer, or even President. Honorable Darryl Edmondson, General Sessions Court Judge, was one of those kids.