Success Story

Sew ‘N Vac Run by Local Family, Treating Community Like Family, Since 1974

Sew ‘N Vac, Knoxville—a family-owned and operated business—offers:
• Husqvarna, Singer, and Viking sewing machines
• Dyson, Lindhaus, Miela, and Riccar vacuum cleaners
• Service of all makes and models of sewing and vacuum equipment
• Fabric and Supplies
• Classes: Learn to use your new equipment (offered for no additional cost) or learn a new skill for a small fee

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Sew ‘N Vac in Knoxville, TN with my mother-in-law, who had tinkered with her sewing machine and gotten the settings mixed up, so we took it in for service. The owner, Steve Osborne, remembered trading with her more than a decade ago. She traded her mother’s old quilter for a new sewing machine. Osborne looked it over and fixed the settings and replaced a missing foot and refused to take any money for the service. He was just taking care of a customer.

Maynardville Shop Brings Goods and Sundries to North Union County

Jacqueline Stallard, owner of Home Town Shack and Lil Bait Shack

I recently had the joy of meeting young entrepreneur Jacqueline Stallard when I visited her newest shop location, Home Town Shack, in Maynardville. Stallard opened this location—her latest venture—in March 2021 to bring a wide variety of items to the community. In a way, the offerings harken back to the days of the local mercantile, as there is a wide array of merchandise, from boutique items to fishing supplies and even fresh produce when in season. Stallard aims to meet the needs of the underserved northern end of Union County.

Jim Clayton – a legacy of success!

Jim Clayton - “First a Dream”

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.

Overcoming Obstacles: No Such Thing as Perfect

Actress Kara Cooke

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.

Mathematics teacher by degree, steam engine locomotive engineer by dreams

Alva Cunningham, Engineer

As far back as he can remember, Alva Cunningham always wanted to be a train engineer.
He was fascinated by trains, particularly steam-powered locomotives, and has collected steam whistles since the age of 15. He says it’s been “in his blood” his whole life.

Called to Serve and Protect - Eddie Muncey, Plainview Chief of Police

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.

Upcycling at its finest: Jeannie Cox of Rustic-Re-Do

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.

Kevin Brown, Executive Director Willow Ridge Center

Kevin Brown, Executive Director
Willow Ridge Center

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.

Caring Medical Center - Caring Medical Doctor

Srinivasa R. Chintalapudi M.D

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. Osborn: Like father, like son

Dr. John C Osborn

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.

Honorable Jared R Effler - District Attorney General

Effler family: Mary, Mia, Jared, and Katy Beth

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.

New city manager brings business experience

City Manager Mike Chesney

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.

Jack Rhyne– recently retired Maynardville City Manager

Jack and Marie Rhyne

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.

Beautiful Commercial and Residential Outdoor Spaces, Your Personal Oasis

Gabbi and Zach Letner

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.

Honoring and Uplifting our Elders

Charles ”Chuck” A. Gildrie, LCSW

Charles “Chuck” Gildrie, a Tennessee Licensed Clinical Social Worker, recently shared with me a glimpse into his early life experiences, family life in Tennessee, getting an education, and the joys of working in a fulfilling career helping others.

Friendly, with an eye on the future

Mayor Ty Blakely with son Bo and wife Jessica

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.

Chief representative of the people

Plainview Mayor Gary D Chandler

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.

Serving citizens from in front of a seal and behind a badge

Jerry Lawson, Luttrell Mayor and Union County Sheriff’s Deputy, pictured with his family: Sara, Kyle, Noah, Kenzlei, Beau and Kaitlyn.

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.

Maintaining Your County Roadways since 2012

David Cox - Union County Road Superintendent

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.