County Commission continues leadership and progress

Orderly progress appeared to be the theme of the Union County Commission Meeting on September 23. Chairman Jason Bailey and Vice Chairman Gary England were re-elected to their leadership positions by acclimation. Commission approved the minutes and notaries as usual. Grants, building improvements, and finance highlighted the Mayor's Report.
Mayor Bailey reported that the county received a $50,000 Three Star Grant to be used to help the Union County High School purchase vocational equipment. This equipment will be used to offer dual credit classes during the day and possibly add night classes for adults in the fields of auto mechanics and health science. Health science could offer CNA training.
Bryan Shoffner, Career and Technical Director at UCHS, has also acquired a CTE Growth Grant for $30,000 to enhance these efforts. In addition, the county received an ETHRA Grant for $46,077.52 to be used for workforce training.
Mayor Bailey and Director Shoffner will be partnering with Danny Satterfield in the Tennessee Pathways Program to best use these funds. These monies will help ensure that a Tennessee School of Applied Technology (TCAT) will be established in Union County and help to meet one of the Three Star Goals. The other grants, CDBG, Health Grant, and Farmers Market, are in various stages of approval or submission.
County building improvements continue. The courthouse has 30 new vinyl desk chairs to replace the ones in both courtrooms. Pressure washing and caulking at the courthouse is in progress. County maintenance is partnering with the UCHS Building Trades class under the direction of Keith Nease to replace roofs, cabinetry and other fixtures in community buildings.
As the community buildings and other county-owned buildings are upgraded, Mayor Bailey asked the commission to consider formulating policies for long-term use and a change in the fee structure. These items will be discussed at a future meeting.
The Veteran's Place wall will be resurfaced to have a granite appearance in time for the Heritage Festival on October 5. The VFW and Carroll Carmon of Modern Woodmen donated $1240 toward the refurbishment. Donations continue to arrive and are welcomed.
Mayor Bailey noted that Union County has a solid credit rating with very little debt. Other than the last payment on UCHS, the county has a $3.5 million debt that is mostly due to the construction of Paulette Elementary School. He thanked the finance office, Mayor Williams' administration and the commission for their sound financial practices.
The commission approved all committee appointments and established two new committees at the mayor's request. The Construction Committee will be a joint effort by commissioners, school board members, Director Jimmy Carter, and Mayor Bailey to begin discussion and planning for a new middle school. The Ordinance Committee will review all ordinances for possible changes, including the proposed Litter Ordinance, and make recommendations to the commission.
The Sheriff's Report for August 31, 2019, included 793 calls, 15 wrecks with injury, 26 wrecks without injury, 2 residential burglaries, 138 booked into the jail, 134 released from jail, with the current jail population being 96.
Ann Dyer informed the commission that all departments were under budget in the Finance Report from the Trustee. The budget was reviewed and approved by State Comptroller. A Letter of Commendation was emailed from Ronald Queen in state Finance Department to the county Finance Department for submitting the FY 2020 Budget by June 30, 2019.
Commission approved the new position of Purchasing Agent under Budget Amendments. The Purchasing Agent's salary is $34,500 including benefits. The cost will be shared by four departments with 70% paid by the school system and $6,522 to come from the county general fund. Without this new position, the bid limit would drop to $10,000 from $25,000 and triple the workload of the finance department. The position was recommended from the Financial Management Committee. Commissioner Brantley of Sharps Chapel was the only negative vote.
Other budget amendments were approved, including grants for highway bridges and an amendment to allow Union County to be the fiscal agent for a KUB Grant to Grid Corporation. Surplus items were also approved.
Father Steve Pawelk, Chairman of Union County Library Board, referenced a letter to commissioners and invited them to visit the libraries and see the myriad of duties that librarians and staff perform that far exceed the checking out of books. He noted that our librarians do presentations for state training sessions, coordinate the Imagination Library, assist citizens in writing resumes, host electronic and in-person story times, administer the author rally, direct the small business forum, host Healthy Kids Day, and implement the Summer Reading program, to name a few. Father Steve also informed the commission that he was being reassigned to Cincinnati, Ohio, to help train young men for the ministry and will be leaving in January 2020.
With no drama or dissension, the commission elected Charles Holloway to be the Third District Constable. Holloway was nominated by Commissioner Billy Cox (3rd) and elected by acclimation.
Commission approved a contract to address mental health evaluations and treatment services for criminal defendants. The cost would be a flat fee of $450 for each basic evaluation. The Electronic Monitoring Resolution was postponed at Sheriff Breeding's request until Judge Edmondson can review the resolution.
Two citizens addressed the commission under public comments. David Keith West of the 7th District cited several court cases, explained that Commissioner Brantley had violated his First Amendment rights by using Facebook as a public forum, but then deleting West's question and comment regarding the duties of a county commissioner. West had to stop mid-sentence in his presentation due to the two-minute time limit.
Another citizen, Chris Anderson, commented regarding posting of county jobs such as the purchasing agent. Anderson requested that the commission give consideration to experience in lieu of education and to explain what experience might meet the qualifications. He stated that the process needed to include, not exclude, applicants and that all applicants deserved to be interviewed.
The next County Commission Meeting will be on Monday, October, 28, at 7 p.m.



Awards Abound at 2019 Heritage Festival

picture of Rocky Top Award winner for best portrayal of the festival theme, More Fiddlin' Around, was A& B Bookkeeping and Tax Service. Picture has two white rocking chairs in front of a banner made of pumpkins that say More Fiddlin' Around.  The rocking chairs are surrounded by mums in washtubs with a fiddle displayed on haybales.

Rocky Top Award winner for best portrayal of the festival theme, More Fiddlin' Around, was A& B Bookkeeping and Tax Service.

At Wilson Park, over 100 vendors competed for various booth awards at the 2019 Union County Heritage Festival last Saturday. A&B Bookkeeping & Tax Service claimed The Rocky Top award for the best portrayal of the festival theme. The Best Heritage Award for the best example of Union County history portrayed in a craft went to Martin Shafer for making maul handles on an Ole' Time Hit 'n Miss Engine & Lathe. Ralph Webster of Webster's Woodcrafts won Best Unique Craft Item for his handmade Black Walnut Bowl.

Heritage Fiddle Contest Announces Winners

picture of an old front porch with 2019 Fiddle Contest Winners: Eric Nafzigar (2nd), Kasey Moore (1st), Austin Stovall (3rd)

2019 Fiddle Contest Winners: Eric Nafziger (2nd), Kasey Moore (1st), Austin Stovall (3rd)

There was “More Fiddlin' Around” as fiddle lovers of all ages welcomed competitors in Union County Heritage Festival's Second Annual Fiddle Contest on Saturday, October 5, 2019. Amateur fiddlers took the stage and performed their best renditions of some fiddle favorites. While the judges were wrestling with very difficult decisions, all of the fiddle participants and several of the guitar, string bass, and mandolin players leaped to the stage to entertain the crowd with an impromptu performance of several popular fiddle tunes.

2019 Heritage Festival Quilt Show Winners

Picture of a memory quilt with hearts, initials, and other icons to remember family members

The Union County Historical Society sponsored the Heritage Festival Quilt Show at the Union County Museum & Genealogical Library. More than thirty quilts lined the museum balcony. Ellen Perry and Patricia Campbell coordinated the event.

Connie Johnsey won Best of Show for her quilt entitled “Harvest Spice”. Best Heritage Quilt was Kim Beeler's “Diary Quilt” that reflected memories of loved ones that "walk beside us every day".

Other awards included the following:

Rubbing Your Belly and Tapping Your Feet

My thoughts were of “Sleeping Beauty” and “Rumpelstiltskin” as Tim I walked down the line of vendors at the Union County Farmer’s Market. We were searching for the lady with a spinning wheel since I was to conduct an interview with her.

“There she is!” Tim pointed, but I still couldn’t see a spinning wheel anywhere; in fact, I didn’t notice it until we reached her tent. You see, I had assumed all spinning wheels were made like the ones mentioned in old fairy tales. I had assumed wrong.

Historic Road Signs

Since it is my birthday, I decided to write about my birthplace and the historic sign at its site: the old Ailor Mill on Route 144, Ailor Gap Road. Of course, this is not really my birthplace, but as a four-year-old I did believe my father when he said that it was. My real birthplace was in a 1958 Chevrolet in Claiborne County, but that's another story. It may not have been that mill on that site, but simply a barn constructed there after the old mill was torn down. Regardless, I believed it to be true and now a historic marker commemorates the site.

Can backpacks really cause long-term problems?

More than 14,000 children are treated for backpack-related injuries each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Can these childhood injuries result in long-term back problems or chronic pain?

By the age of 14, seven percent of children report that back pain affects their everyday life. The lumbar (lower) spine is vulnerable to injury when children carry heavy loads. Such injuries may also lead to early degenerative changes in the lower spine.

And it’s not just the weight you carry in your backpack, but how you carry it.

Cadillac Style

On Sunday morning, I get up and get ready for church. I have gathered all the materials I will need for the day on the Saturday night prior—clothes, Sunday school booklet, Bible and commentaries. This way, I don’t have to rush to get things done and can sleep a little later than would otherwise be possible. All I have to do is get up, shower, shave, put on my clothes, and grab my Sunday school bag before heading out the door.

Local Rivers Were Early Interstates

Back in the early and mid-1800s the industrial age and a growing population created a demand for raw materials to make products, especially from wood and metals such as iron and lead. Our area had metal ore deposits to produce pig iron in locally owned furnaces fueled by charcoal and coke. Pig iron needed to be shipped to big cities like Chattanooga where it was refined and made into metal products such as tools and farm implements.


The Endangered Small Country School--Birchwood Elementary

Birchwood Elementary School, picture courtesy of Shannon Wright (because I can't locate mine!)

The year 2005 was momentous for me. I had been looking for work in an ever widening circle from Athens. I had interviewed in Monroe, Loudon, Bradley, McMinn, and sent applications to every school district that I could drive to in 45 minutes.

Finally in August, I sent applications to Knox and Hamilton counties, even as I cringed at the commute time it would be to any school in those counties. Two weeks after I had sent those applications, I received a phone call from the principal of an elementary school at the northern tip of Hamilton County.


When I was a kid, the fall of the year was butchering time. Dad usually had a castrated boar that he had fattened up for the kill. I never understood why a farmer would fatten up a pig. You can only use so much lard. Anyway, I have a question for you. Have you ever made scrapple? I remember when the pig's head would be cooked and all the meat carefully cut or pulled away from the bone. Sounds gross, doesn't it? Head cheese is good but it is a bit different from my recipe for scrapple. Do you have some pork sausage languishing in your freezer? Here's a use for it.



Saturday, October 26, 2019 - 17:00

Alder Springs Baptist Church will be having a community wide fall cook-out Saturday, October 26th from 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at the church. Come join us for food, fellowship, fun and of course candy!

Kenneth “Dink” Brown Benefit

Saturday, November 2, 2019 - 16:00
Kenneth “Dink” Brown Family

Kenneth “Dink” Brown Benefit Saturday, November 2nd 4pm - 8pm

Kenneth “Dink” Brown of Luttrell received a kidney transplant on September 17, 2019. This benefit is to help them with medical expenses and household bills. He will not be able to work for around 3 months. 100% of the proceeds go directly to The Brown Family.

Union County Opry

Saturday, November 16, 2019 - 19:00

Balsam Range Saturday, November 16th Doors open at 6pm The show starts at 7pm

Bluegrass music's reigning Entertainers of the Year: Balsam Range are coming to Maynardville on Saturday, November 16th!

Union County Board Of Education

Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 18:00

The next regular workshop and meeting of the Union County Board of Education will be held at Union County High School on Thursday, September 12, 2019. The workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the meeting immediately to follow.

Extension of Dr. James E. Carter's contract as Director of the Union County Public Schools will be discussed and considered for approval at this meeting.

UCBPA Meeting

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 12:00

UCBPA meets the second Tuesday of each month for approximately one hour. Membership is $25 annually. The meeting begins at noon at Hardee's in Maynardville. Anyone interested in making Union County a better place to live, work, worship, or play may attend.


Inez Evon Shelton

Inez Evon Shelton-age 93 of Washburn passed away Monday afternoon, October 21, 2019 at her home. She was a member of Mt. Eager Baptist Church since she was 9 years old. She received her Masters Degree of Science from the University of Tennessee and taught school in the Grainger County School System for 41 years. She was preceded in death by grandparents, Paris and Lucinda (Williams) Hamilton, Samuel and Nora (Nicely) Shelton; parents, Rev.

Charles Franklin Kerekes

Charles Kerekes-age 62 of Knoxville passed away Saturday afternoon October 19, 2019 at the home of his daughter. He was a loving father and grandfather. He worked at Dalton Foundry in Kendallville, Indiana for 30 years. Preceded in death by his wife, Marlene Kerekes; parents, John Kerekes and Mary Toth; brother, Andrew Kerekes, sister, Wanda Kay Kerekes Potter.

Survivors are daughter, Sarah Campos, grandchildren, Aryana and Jaydon Campos, brother, James Kerekes and several nephews.

Sierra Huiting

Sierra “Iver” Huiting – age 22 of Andersonville, passed away peacefully on October 18, 2019. She was a member of Byrams Fork Baptist Church. Sierra loved her pet frogs and fish, nature, art, Chick-fil-A; and her online friends.

Wayne Eugene Adams

Wayne Eugene Adams, age 75 of Knoxville, TN went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Friday, October 18, 2019, at home surrounded by his loving wife and family. He had suffered with numerous health issues through the years.

Brenda Oleda "Williams" Hutson

Brenda Oleda “Williams” Hutson-age 72 of Luttrell joined the Heavenly Choir Wednesday evening, October 16, 2019 at her home surrounded by her loving family. She was a lifelong member of Mountain View Church of God of the Union Assembly. Retired employee of Atlantic Research Corporation, Knoxville. Preceded in death by great-granddaughter, Isabella Grace Nicely; parents, James A. and Pearlie Williams; brother, Doffise Williams; sister, Lela Williams.

Melba Jennilee Brewer Kitts

Melba Jennilee Brewer Kitts-age 86 of Knoxville went home to join her family circle unbroken. The angels set her spirit free peacefully Tuesday evening, October 15, 2019 at her home with her family by her side. She was a member of Dante Church of God. She loved to sing and spread the word of God. Devoted caretaker to many family and friends. Her legacy will continue through her children and those she influenced by interaction of her faith in Jesus Christ. At last she is Home where there is: “Peace in The Valley”.

Rickey Eugene Ray

Rickey Eugene Ray-age 60 of Luttrell passed away Sunday morning, October 13, 2019 at the home of his sister. Preceded in death by wife, Tammy Nicely Ray; parents, Harvey and Minnie Ray; brothers, R. H. Ray, Jr.; Silas Walter Sweat; sister, Kathy Kay Bell.

Barbara Booker

Barbara Christine (Warwick) Booker – age 83 of Luttrell, was born August 8, 1936 and passed away October 12, 2019. She was a member of Fairview Baptist Church in Tater Valley.