Tennessee Hills wins business Excellence awards


Staff Writer


Local downtown business Tennessee Hills Distillery recently claimed a first and a second place Regional Business Excellence Award from a pool of local businesses including heavyweights such as Ballad Health, Nuclear Fuel Services, Tennessee Valley Authority and others.

The awards, in their inaugural year, were coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce serving Johnson City/Jonesborough/Washington County. The chamber website stated, “The First Annual Regional Business Excellence Awards (will) annually honor businesses for their significant role in our community and (its) economic growth.”

According to a press release from the Chamber, “Recipients were evaluated based on their commitment to excellence in community and culture, environmental support, marketing and innovation and customer experience.”

Tennessee Hills Distillery and owners Stephen and Jessica Callahan nabbed first place in the “Excellence in Customer Service” category and second place in the “Excellence in Marketing and Innovation” category.

The “Regional Business Excellence Awards” were presented at a luncheon held March 28 at the Millennium Center in Johnson City.

The process of choosing the winners, according to the chamber’s website, began with a panel of experts that reviewed the applications for each category and narrowed the field to three businesses.

Those that remained then met with a group of business leaders for a mandatory, in-person interview which decided the winners.

The “Excellence in Customer Experience” category, Tennessee Hills Distillery’s first place award, “Demonstrated you consistently deliver an innovative, upper quartile customer experience.”

Their second place award, in the “Excellence in Marketing and Innovation” category, “Demonstrated you recognize the importance of improving your performance and operational effectiveness.”

The Callahans’ business will celebrate their third anniversary in May, and their list of awards is growing. In the June 2018 edition of Blue Ridge Country magazine, readers chose Tennessee Hills Distillery as the second best “Mountain-made Spirit”, tied with a popular Gatlinburg-based distillery.

As their awards pile up, so does their product list. In the time period since their opening, the Tennessee Hills menu has expanded to include 13 products.

While their products are available in stores around the region, they are in the process of expanding into restaurants. Recently, the downtown Jonesborough eatery Texas Burritos & More has begun to carry their product as well having a featured cocktail at the Blackthorn Country Club.

For those who visit the Distillery, barkeep Bob Dunn does the utmost to provide “Excellence in Customer Experience,” as Callahan explained.

“The stars have aligned for us to be a successful business and (he’s) one of (the reasons).  Bob is an E-9 Master Chief in the Navy.”

Formerly a tour guide in Jonesborough, Dunn now gives the tours at Tennessee Hills.

“As soon as someone steps foot in this door we’re engaging them, whether there’s a full bar or not,” Callahan said. “We’ll walk them through each of our products and we’ll tell them how to taste it, what you should be tasting, what makes it unique, how it’s made and we’ll educate them about our business.”

Strolling On Main to offer wine, art, music

Downtown Jonesborough will be the perfect site for this springtime Strolling event, to be held May 11. (Photo by Whitney Williams)


Jonesborough Area Merchants and Services Association is proud to announce their annual Strolling on Main event in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town.

Guests are invited to stroll through Jonesborough’s iconic Main Street on Saturday, May 11, from 6 to 9  p.m. Talented local musicians and demonstrating artists will be scattered throughout downtown, setting the mood for a delightfully satisfying evening. Historic Jonesborough is the perfect setting to meander in and out of the local businesses; all of which will have a different tasty bite for you to try.

While enjoying the different small bites, there will also be local artists’ work displayed at many participating business.

You can admire different selections of local artwork, as well as try a delicious small bite and weave your way downtown.

Various wine and beer stops will be located along the way, and for all ticket purchasers, crafted non-alcoholic beverages will be available in varying locations.

Each stop will have a bite paired specifically to complement your beverage and amuse the taste buds; altogether stops will have enough tastings to equal dinner.

This event is perfect for a girls night out, Mother’s Day gift, or date night with your love.

Tickets are as follows:

• $20 for Tapas Tastings Only

• $30 for Tapas, Wine, and Beer Tastings

A limited number of tickets are available; please visit www.strollingonmain.com to purchase your tickets now. Tickets are also available for purchase by calling the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center at (423) 753-1010.

Ridgeview Elementary Students Celebrate Jackie Robinson

Ridgeview Students were ready to play ball and celebrate baseball legend Jackie Robinson after studying the American icon in class.


Emily Cicirello’s second grade class at Ridgeview Elementary participated in a celebration of iconic American baseball legend, Jackie Robinson on Monday, April 15. Robinson was an American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947.

Emily Cicirello’s second grade class wore their best baseball gear while also donning Robinson’s jersey number.

The day represented the culmination of a unit of study on Robinson. Students used math skills to calculate innings to determine the winning team and various research methods to find the most interesting facts about Jackie. They ended the day with a “home-run” by enjoying some tasty baseball themed snacks.

Boones Creek School announces open enrollment for 2019

After breaking ground on the new Boones Creek School in 2017, the school will now offer open enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year.


Staff Writer


Just a few months out from its official opening, the new Boones Creek School has opened student enrollment.

The Washington County Board of Education unanimously voted to open student enrollment at its Thursday, April 11 meeting. In January, the board voted to close enrollment once a school reaches 90 percent of the building’s capacity and added the Boones Creek School to that list in order to get an idea of how many students would be zoned for the school following the rezoning in the northern half of the county in November of 2018.

At the Thursday, April 11 meeting, Washington County Director of Schools Bill Flanary said the school currently expects 700 students. Ninety percent capacity at the new Boones Creek School would be 1,100 students, Flanary said.

“We have a pretty good idea of what the enrollment is going to be at the new school,” Flanary told the board. “It will be about what we expected it to be. Kindergarten is still a moving target, but if it comes in like it has, we look for the enrollment to be about 700. That doesn’t include pre-K.”

In the meantime, the district is now looking to add students from the Boones Creek School waiting list to the school’s enrollment.

“I know we do have a waiting list inside the county and inside of Johnson City also,” Flanary said. “It’s time to start letting those families know their children are going to go to school there.”

Any student outside of the district wanting to attend the new school will have to complete a contract agreeing to provide transportation and arrive to school in a timely manner. That contract is required for any student applying to enroll at a Washington County school outside his or her school zone.

“If anyone is coming from Johnson City, they’ll be providing their own transportation,” Board member Philip McLain explained. “They will have to go through the contract process. But to lift this off of the Boones Creek School simply means they can come from outside the district to that school by signing a contract and providing transportation. It’s just opening up the door.”

Flanary said a ribbon cutting for the school will be set for either May or June. In the meantime, the district is waiting on its completion to set an involvement night for the school’s families.

“We’re kind of waiting on BurWil Construction to say, ‘Here’s your building’ to nail that down,” Flanary said.

Meanwhile, the director of schools also announced the appraisal figure for the Boones Creek Middle School building located on North Roan Street.

Flanary said the appraisal came in at $1,770,000 million. That school, along with the Boones Creek Elementary School, will no longer be in use by the school system with the opening of the new Boones Creek School.

Market kicks off new season of ‘locally grown’

Movers and shakers who were instrumental in bringing Boone Street Market to fruition attended Saturday’s event, including Dana York, center, who is credited with finding initial funding and who was given the honor of cutting the ribbon, and Karen Childress, far left, who oversaw much of its implementation.

Boone Street Market celebrated its recent renovation with a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Saturday, April 13, in downtown Jonesborough. While the market re-opened in March, the renovations were recently finalized and the café is already in operation, offering local meals to-go and for dine-in customers. “We’ve been waiting for our store to be back in full swing before planning a grand re-opening,” said Jonesborough Locally Grown Executive Director, Shelley Crowe. “We’ve hired a new chef, rearranged the store to feature new and more products from local producers and created a friendly space for guests to enjoy our kitchen’s offerings. We are excited to show it off to all who have supported these big changes at Boone Street Market”.

Attendees to the ribbon-cutting were treated to the chance to try a special brunch menu available for dine-in customers, along with other fresh to-go options that utilize local ingredients provided by our vendors. Dana York,

Boone Street Market, located at 101 Boone Street, is a 100 percent producer-only market, carrying food produced within 100 miles of Jonesborough, Tennessee and Central Appalachia. The market café offers dine-in and to-go meals made in-house with local ingredients. Boone Street Market is operated by Jonesborough Locally Grown, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that works to expand markets and educational opportunities for local producers and consumers.

BOE weighs state testing for second graders


Staff Writer


The public comment portion of the Washington County Board of Education’s regularly scheduled Thursday, April 11, meeting brought about a pair of motions related to state testing.

A Washington County Schools parent, Kerrie Aistrop, addressed the board during the meeting to discuss her issues with state testing, including a suggestion to eliminate TNReady testing for second graders. State testing is not required for students until third grade. The board’s motion to table the decision failed in a 3-4 vote while a following motion to eliminate the test failed in a 4-3 vote. (Board members Keith Ervin and Jason Day were absent, therefore, a majority vote was required.)

“I suggest you cancel TNReady testing for second graders,” Aistrop said. “It is optional. I don’t understand why we are taking it if it doesn’t count for anything.”

During the meeting, Washington County Director of Elementary Education Karla Kyte explained that the state test for second graders came about as a way for teachers and administrators to better gage where students are terms of learning standards. She also said the state implemented the optional testing for second graders as a part of the state’s mission to have more third graders reading on grade level by the end of third grade.

“The intent of the test was grounded in the research that came out in 2015,” Kyte said. “It’s from where Tennessee has approximately 30 to 35 percent of students in the state reading on grade level at the end of third grade. The state wanted some more accountability for children going into the third grade, therefore they had the optional second grade test.”

Kyte added that the optional state test also comes one year before “the high accountability and the high stakes” testing is required in third grade.

The board was also concerned with the idea of over-testing students.

Board member Phillip McLain asked how many tests second graders typically take throughout a school year. Kyte said second graders typically take STAR tests as well as Common Formative Assessments in addition to typical tests given by teachers throughout the year.

“At the end of the day it has to be about the kids,” Board member David Hammond added. “We are already monitoring them through other tests, just maybe this particular one structured this particular way (is not needed).”

Though some board members also voiced concern regarding test anxiety in second graders, Ridgeview Elementary School’s principal, Kelley Harrell, said she felt keeping the second grade testing would actually cut down on test anxiety when a student gets to the third grade.

“That same stress is going to be enhanced in third grade (if the test is removed) because these kids will have no experience when it would count against our teachers, against our students and against our schools,” Harrell said. “We’re going to put them in third grade when they take a high-stakes test when it does count (and they’ve had) no exposure and no experience? Talk about nerves. It’s going to enhance those nerves in third grade, so do think about that flip side.”

Meanwhile, Washington County Director of Schools Bill Flanary asked the board that they leave the testing for second graders in tact for the rest of the school year.

“In the state of Tennessee, 105 school systems do give the second grade TNReady tests because it gives second graders zero pressure in testing, it gives our teachers a score in how they’re doing in the standards, it builds value-added scores for when children enter the third grade and it’s prescriptive. It doesn’t count for any grade whatsoever. It’s optional. It’s in just a matter of days, but if this board moves to remove it, the board’s will be done.”

Before the board’s failed vote to eliminate the test, board member Chad Fleenor suggested the board revisit the discussion, citing the impact the decision could have on the school system with testing coming the following week.

“I think we need to somehow have a meeting with all our principals and some teachers,” Fleenor said. “We’ve been talking about this testing for three months. We’ve done nothing. Now we’re going to test next week and we’re going to do something about it? I don’t think we’ve thought this out very much.”

Charlotte’s Florals trucks in ‘happiness’ bouquets

Charlotte Julian has turned this classic white Ford into the perfect on-the-go florist shop. Like the perfect bloom boutique on wheels, this flower truck allows Julian to take the flowers to her customers to create a bouquet and enjoy.


Staff Writer


You’ve likely picked flowers from a hillside or flower garden before, but have you picked them from a vintage flower truck set up on the side of the street?

Charlotte’s Florals, the mobile flower shop that’s likely to be seen at farmers markets or downtown events anywhere between Johnson City, Bristol and Kingsport, has been rolling up to customers since 2015. But for owner and operator Charlotte Julian, the flower truck business was a way to fulfill a childhood vision — and offer a little happiness to roadside flower lovers.

“I think from an early age I sort of had this entrepreneurial spirit,” Julian said. “I knew I wanted to have my own business of some sort. I knew I had a creative side. I just didn’t really know what that looked like. So when this opportunity came available, I kind of just hit the ground running.”

One of the first steps in creating Charlotte’s Florals was finding the perfect truck for the task; once Julian found her iconic, white, Ford van from the ‘60s to tote the array of flowers from town to town, she knew she was ready to catch the attention of bystanders.

“We really wanted to find a truck that would really catch the eye and I think we succeed in that,” she said. “We found a truck on Craigslist and went and got it in Ohio. We got it up and running and went from there.”

When Julian parks her white flower truck at an event, customers get the chance to create their own bouquets or simply choose a couple of flowers from the selection. A guest can choose as many or as few flowers as they wish or they can even allow Julian to put her creativity to work.

“I get a lot of guys who need my help and are buying a bouquet for someone,” Julian said. “I like to challenge myself too. If someone asks me, I try to make a different bouquet each time from the selection that we have. But a lot of the girls enjoy doing it themselves, which is really cool to see.”

Bouquets range anywhere from $10 to around $50, depending on the size of the bouquet and what kind of flowers are chosen. This way, guests can find freedom in their selection as well as how much they pay for their selected bouquet.

“I think people enjoy the freedom,” Julian said. “They don’t have to spend a certain amount. It’s not a locked-in price. The first thing I ask people is, ‘Okay, what’s your budget?’ and then we go from there. Anytime someone comes up to me, they’re not spending more than they want to.”

Before the flower truck owner came up with Charlotte’s Florals, Julian was searching for her own freedom that would bring her out from behind a receptionist’s desk and behind the wheel of her own business.

“I had a hard time finding my niche,” she said. “I went to college for two years, didn’t really know what direction I wanted to go in, so in the next phase, I was just a receptionist. I felt held back being behind a desk all day doing that. And so thankfully when this opportunity came about, we just went for it. I’m very blessed to be able to do it full time.”

But it’s not just about showing up at public events: Julian, who is often assisted by her husband, Andrew, said her favorite part of running Charlotte’s Florals are the weddings.

“That’s probably my favorite part,” Julian said. “We can bring the truck to an event or wedding and your guest can build bouquets as a party favor and the host can pick the type of flowers and the color scheme for the event.

“Then we also do build-your-own-bouquet with the bride and her bridesmaids. So we bring the flower truck to their venue either the evening before or the morning of the wedding and they get to build their own for the day. It’s really fun. It’s a special moment and for photos too.”

Whether she’s at a farmers market assisting in the creation of a summer bouquet or parked at a wedding venue assisting a group of bridesmaids in their flower selections, Julian plans to keep spreading the joy her flowers bring anywhere her vintage van will take her.

“I feel like the business itself brings a lot of joy to people’s lives and I love being able to see that firsthand,” Julian said. “So it would be kind of silly to stop spreading that joy. I’m very thankful for it — and I plan to do this as long as I can.”

For more information, email charsflorals@gmail.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/charlottesflorals/ or https://www.instagram.com/charlottesflorals/.

Telford Ruritan ready to continue the work

Left to right, Telford Ruritan members Susanna Chinouth, Carl Daniels, Dan Westbrook and Rick Chinouth.


Staff Writer


The Telford Ruritan building has been a lot of things; it’s been the location of the Washington County Cannery as well as the old Telford School. But one thing hasn’t changed since the building was constructed in 1939 — it is and will continue to be a space to support the community.

But that history was nearly cut short in December when a flood destroyed the ceiling, floor and multiple walls in the ruritan building located on Telford School Road.

“We knew the roof was in bad shape, but the extra weight of the water just caved the thing in where we have the diners, in the kitchen, the bathrooms, part of the hallway, and the walls were messed up,” one of the ruritan’s directors, Dan Westbrook, said. “Because it’s such an old building, we didn’t have much insurance.”

After discovering the devastation, the ruritan reached out to Ruritan National, which prompted help from numerous ruritans, both local and from across the county.

Two of the biggest contributors were Victor Overcash with Vohcarr Construction, located in Chuckey, and Steven Maupin with Maupin Plastering, located in Elizabethton.

“We wouldn’t have gotten it done without them,” Westbrook said. “(Overcash) gave a great price and checked with other builders, developers, contractors. (Maupin) gave us a great price and did all the ceilings. Then he said, ‘you know, the walls are pretty bad in the hallways and particularly the bathrooms.’ And his price was ridiculously low.”

“The short story is we didn’t think we’d be able to get the building reopened at all. So this was kind of a shock.”

The week that the flood happened, the ruritan had just sent out an event postcard about their “Almost famous” barbecue supper. Now that the building has seen repairs and the ruritan has reopened the group is ready to host its first supper event since the flooding.

The barbecue supper will be held

on Friday, April 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. and will include barbecue sandwiches, baked beans, cole slaw, desserts and drinks.

While the suppers typically raise funds for the group’s community efforts, the repairs set the ruritan back in their work this year.

The work they do is no short list; the Telford Ruritan supports local schools by donating “Buddy Benches” to the school playgrounds and supporting 12 local families. They also donate to multiple local organizations such as the EMS, volunteer fire department, homeless veterans and many others.

“One of our big projects was providing food for 12 families,” another of the ruritan’s directors, Rick Chinouth said. “We already had that going when all of the problems happened. We went back in the hallway that wasn’t damaged and still managed to get everything packed up and get it delivered so we completed our project.

Now that the barbecue suppers are back into action and the tee-ball season is underway at the ruritan ballfields in Telford, the group is looking to the future — especially when it comes to raising money to support the club efforts and in seeking new members.

“Now that we’ve rebuilt, we’re just looking at new things we can do for the community,” Chinouth said, “more projects, more things that we can do to draw people into this to make it more of a community.”

To donate or to become a member of the Telford Ruritan, contact the club’s president, Carl Daniels, at (423)753-4374. You can also join the ruritan for its barbecue supper events scheduled for the second Friday of each month or the group’s meetings scheduled for the third Monday of each month.

Constitutional expert pays visit to Bethel Christian

Pastor Vincent Dial, left, welcomes Rodney Smith to Jonesborough.


Staff Writer


Bethel Christian Church received a distinguished guest Saturday morning, as the Director of the Center for Constitutional Studies at Utah Valley University, Rodney K. Smith, spoke to a group of local residents about his latest book, “James Madison: The Father of Religious Freedom.”

In a press release for the event, Smith said, “James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, considered the right of religious conscience to be our most ‘sacred Property.’  Madison’s message is as relevant today as it was when he fathered the First Amendment.”

Smith was visiting a long-time friend and Jonesborough resident who suggested he give a talk to interested members of his church, Bethel Christian.

Currently on day four of his book tour, Smith agreed and spent Saturday morning in a lively discussion about James Madison and his importance to America.

Smith said he became interested in Madison when he was writing his dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania. While researching his paper, he was pointed to an old biography of Madison and after reading the book, determined that he wanted to learn more about him, as well as write about him.

“This book has been a dream and I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to do it,” Smith said. “Now, because I’ve moved to the center, I’ve been able to finish the book and also the book that will follow it.”

As the director of the Center for Constitutional Studies, Smith believes that increasing awareness and knowledge about the Constitution is very important and believes America’s free government and the rule of law are in jeopardy without increased constitutional understanding.

“The Constitution is the foundation of the rule of law that secures rights and equality for all.”

He also cites a recent Annenberg poll which revealed that only 38 percent of American citizens could name all three of the branches of government and 35 percent could not name a single branch.

In his role as director, “the Center is committed to maintaining the standard of excellence and nonpartisanship … as it fulfilled its charge to be a nationally recognized leader in the effort to increase constitutional understanding.”

Smith’s most recent book on the subject of James Madison and his importance to religious freedom will be followed by an already completed work on a similar subject. Concerning James Madison and his wife, Dollie, Smith said the next book is “an unlikely love story that saved America.”

Smith is married and has eight grown children. He said his original plan was to speak at the Department of Education in Washington D.C., but would have required a two week trip, much too long to be away from his family.

Dairy Bar continues to be all about family

Jerry Bowman talks about his path to this dream come true.


Staff Writer


The Old Town Dairy Bar is somewhat of a Jonesborough institution. From stops in the summer for a burger and ice cream to a sweet treat after a day at the ballfields, the restaurant is a staple in Tennessee’s Oldest Town. And now the place will be getting a remodel later this year.

“We hope to remodel the dining room,” owner Jerry Bowman said on a Friday morning before the restaurant opened for the day. “We will do that probably in the later part of the year. We’re thinking maybe October or November. We might have to close for a few days to remodel the bathrooms, get new lights, redo our seats and the paneling and the whole nine here.”

The dining room is expected to receive renovations later this year.

Bowman said the Old Town Dairy Bar has been there since at least 1965, 22 years before he first came to work at the establishment back when it was a Dairy Queen that was owned by Ted Carver. After 10 years working there, Bowman took the opportunity to buy the establishment, although not as a Dairy Queen, but as a similar restaurant that he dubbed the Old Town Dairy Bar.

Since then, everyone from Little League teams to Jonesborough patrons with a hankering for a dipped cone have flocked to the store. But Bowman says when it comes to the atmosphere of the local eatery, it’s less about the food and more about the people.

“We’re no better than the last customer that was in here,” Bowman said. “These customers are what really keep us afloat. I don’t know all of them by name, but I know their face. When they come in here, we’re so appreciative. I have just been very blessed.”

For the Old Town Dairy Bar owner, making each person who walks through the door feel like family is his goal — whether that’s a regular customer, employee or a newcomer.

“I think really it’s about relationships,” Bowman said. “Like when I first got here, mom and dad brought their kids in and then when they grow up, they have kids and it’s like a domino effect. It’s like a family. We try to make you feel like family. Just like the people who work here, we try to make them feel like family. And some of them are just like family, like I said, 20 years working with somebody, that’s pretty close. We’ve been through good and bad.”

Those hard times hit Bowman early on in his ownership of the Jonesborough establishment; in 2007, Bowman went into kidney failure. He had just bought the restaurant and was suddenly unsure of his future after being put on dialysis. But it was a member of his Dairy Bar family changed his life when she gave Bowman one of her kidneys.

“A girl here who worked with me and I knew personally, she gave me a kidney and saved my life,” Bowman recalled. “I would have been waiting on a list for a long time. She’s moved on and gone on to other things, but she said, ‘let me give you a kidney.’ And she’s no kin to me. But she matched up really well.”

Now, the Old Town Dairy Bar tries to do more than just offer ice cream and burgers; Bowman said the restaurant tries to help community efforts where it can by supporting David Crockett High School programs and athletic teams and families who are raising money for medical needs.

Above all, Bowman said it’s the hard work that got him where he is and now it’s the reason he’s stuck around after a second chance at life and his livelihood.

“I love working. I’m getting older — I’m 57. I work my five days a week, about 40 hours and it’s just about a dream, actually. I wanted to own a business one day,” Bowman said. “Things gradually went my way, but about the time I was buying it, my kidney failed. (The previous owner of the restaurant) could have pulled the plug on it any time, but he didn’t. I had my wife down here and she done it until I got better. But I’m full blown now.”

The Old Town Dairy Bar is located at 318 W Jackson Blvd, Jonesborough. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Matilda: JRT to bring childhood classic to stage

Millie Williams plays Matilda in the musical, a child with strong feelings of right and wrong.


The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is excited to bring you the regional premiere of “Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical.” Based on the book “Matilda” by Dahl, this much anticipated show runs March 28 through April 14. Come meet a brave and compassionate girl who faces difficult trials but handles each with a dose of courage, a touch of cleverness, and a lot of heart.

Matilda is a bright, sweet, witty child who has every reason to hate a world that has treated her so cruelly. Her parents are horrendous and her school’s principal even worse. Yet she chooses not to view the world as an ugly place, but one of beauty. She sees people in the best light she possibly can, which, given her circumstances, isn’t an easy thing to do.

The story begins with Matilda being born to parents who do not want her. They already have a son and think their family complete. They don’t want to change anything from their normal. And Matilda’s normal is very different than they know how to deal with.

“Matilda is too smart for them,” said Shawn Hale, who plays Mr. Wormwood, Matilda’s father. “They don’t know how to take care of her, so they lash out. When you lash out, you tend to be mean.”

Shawn Hale and Lorrie Anderson as the Wormwoods, the not-always-kind parents of courageous Matilda.

Lorrie Anderson, who plays Mrs. Wormwood, agreed. “She’s terrible,” she said of her character. “I’m so used to playing characters that are quite similar to me, but this character is so completely different. She’s crass, rude, and materialistic. And I’m not.”

However, somehow, Matilda turns out to be the opposite of her parents. She follows a different set of rules . . . or rather, one rule.

“I think the message of the show is to follow the Golden Rule,” said Millie Williams, who plays Matilda. “To treat others how you want to be treated. To be nice to each other because it’s a good thing to do.”

In spite of being mistreated and unloved, Matilda rises above that and becomes the hero of many.

“Because of the environment Matilda grew up in,” stated Kylie Green, who plays Matilda’s kind teacher, Miss Honey, “she has a very keen moral compass, and so she is always very sensitive to injustices. She has strong feelings about what’s right and what’s wrong. So she’s a champion of the underdog.”

Though it’s true that Matilda is a type of hero and helps others who are treated poorly, she also encourages them to fend for themselves. She believes strongly in standing up for oneself.

“Matilda does set about correcting all the wrongs that are around her,” said Lucas Schmidt, who plays the evil Miss Trunchbull, who traditionally is played by a man. “Yet, in one of her songs, she sings about how people are victims of fate. But also how they could have seized control and done something about it. She feels that though life may not seem fair, it’s up to you to do something about it.”

Though this show has strong themes and messages, it’s done in such an entertaining, funny, and lighthearted way, people will leave feeling very satisfied.

“It is really a heartwarming and touching story,” said the choreographer, Heather Allen, who also is in the ensemble. “The music is so fantastic and contemporary; very different than what we usually do here. We hope it will pull in another generation of kids who love the theatre.””

“Matilda The Musical” is written by Dennis Kelly with original songs by Tim Minchin. This show is directed by Jennifer Ross-Bernhardt and choreographed by Heather Allen. The sponsors are Monkee’s of Johnson City, Home Trust Bank, Wolfe Development, Ignacy Fonberg, Denny Dentistry, and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.

Rounding out the cast are Vanessa Bushell, Chris Carroll, Abigail Chapman, Rachel Chapman, Stephen Cradic, Hollyn Dixon, Liz Dollar, Will Dollar, Mia Freemon, Ryan Gray, Joseph Gumina, Charles Landry, Kyle Mason, Tiffany Matthews, Tristan Matthews, Abby Raper, Rheagan Shelton, Sharon Squibb, and Elliott Tucker.

Show times are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. The theatre is located at 125.5 West Main Street, Jonesborough. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com.

Tickets on sale for Masterpiece Mingle


Tickets are now available for the McKinney Center’s Masterpiece Mingle on Friday, April 5, 7 to 9 p.m.  After last year’s sold out event, participants exclaimed that the McKinney Center must do the event again. 

When you purchase a ticket and arrive the night of April 5, you will draw a number that corresponds to a work of art exhibited at the McKinney Center, which has been donated by a regional artists. Mediums include watercolor, acrylic, ceramics, fabric art, jewelry, woodwork, and more. All pieces will be on display for guests to admire throughout the evening. At the end of the night, guests take their corresponding piece of art home with them. When guests find their work of art they have the opportunity to keep it or find other guests with whom they may “swap.”

Amid the fun atmosphere guests will enjoy live jazz music provided by the Tusculum Jazz Quartet. Main Street Café and Catering will be providing heavy hors d’oeuvres such as smoked salmon quesadillas, beef crostini, grilled chicken skewers, artichoke bake and a chocolate mousse for dessert.

A silent auction will also be available. Items will consist of works of art, sculpture, books, and household items.

Dress is casual. Cash and credit cards can be used for the silent auction and cash bar.

All proceeds go to help with ongoing programming at the McKinney Center which currently boasts over 40 classes and workshops each semester, 400 students annually, 17 artist faculty, and regular schedule of exhibits and activities including the StoryTown initiative, the Juried Art Exhibition, Art in the Park, traveling exhibitions, and more.   

This unique event serves as the signature annual fundraiser for the McKinney Center. Tickets are limited to one-hundred twenty-five, as this is the number of works of art that have been donated. To purchase a ticket, call the Visitor Center at (423) 753-1010 or purchase online at jonesborough.com/tickets.

St. Paddy’s Dash set for Saturday

Runners enjoy last year’s St. Paddy’s Dash.


Join Tennessee’s Oldest Town for its St. Paddy’s Celebration on Saturday, March 16.

Discover everything from live Celtic music, green beer, Irish foods, a fun run, a relaunch of the Jonesborough Gold Hunt and the Leprechaun Trail.

Visitors can also take part in Paddy’s Dash: Brew Fun Run at 4 p.m. at the International Storytelling Center.

The two-mile walk/jog/run will loop through town with an option to stop by Depot Street Brewery for a free five ounce beer and end back at the Storytelling Center.

Enjoy Shamrockin’ on the Plaza in front of the Storytelling Center taking place from 4-7 p.m. with music starting at 5 p.m.

Get into the St. Paddy’s spirit with live music from ETSU’s Roaring Jelly, enjoy a beer garden brought by Main Street Café and Catering with beer from Depot Street Brewery and a special menu of Irish foods.

Come dressed in your kilt, leprechaun outfit or simply all decked out in green for our Best St. Paddy’s Attire Contest for a chance to win a special prize. Shamrockin’ on the Plaza is sponsored by Main Street Café and Catering and JAMSA, Jonesborough Area Merchants Association.

Bring the kids and explore the Leprechaun Trail. This interactive trail will guide you through participating museums, shops and restaurants downtown where you’ll discover treasures consisting of activities or St. Paddy’s-themed treats. One “treasure” along the Leprechaun Trial will be a dulcimer group playing traditional Celtic music. Another treasure you may stumble upon is a make-your-own Victorian, St. Patrick’s Day card from 12 to 4 p.m. at the Christopher Taylor House. Along the trail you’ll also hear stories from playwright and author, Anne G’Fellers-Mason, as she tells the Irish fairytale of, Molly Murphy and the Scorched Leprechaun, in the Chester Inn Museum parlor at 2 p.m.

Participate in the Jonesborough Gold Hunt, a mobile-friendly QR code scavenger hunt, taking place throughout downtown all weekend long. The hunt will include almost 20 locations incorporating Jonesborough’s unique history and architecture. You can find more information about the hunt and get started at jbohunt.com. Another great way to explore Jonesborough is by taking a guided tour of Main Street with the Heritage Alliance. Tour tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the Chester Inn Museum located on Main Street.

The Historic Jonesborough Dance Society will also offer a Saint Patrick’s Day Contra Dance from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children and students.

For more information, go to Main Street Jonesborough’s Facebook page or call (423) 753-1010.

New Boones Creek School to honor local ‘Bars’ history


Staff Writer


It’s official: the new Boones Creek School will be the Bars.

The Washington County Board of Education, in a 6-1 vote, opted for the upcoming K-8 school to don the Bar mascot and name at the latest school board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

The new school, which is currently under construction off Boones Creek Road, will consolidate Boones Creek Elementary School and Boones Creek Middle School. But the BOE had to vote with either a “bars,” the current mascot for the middle school, or “bears,” the current mascot for the elementary school.

Other than the spelling, the difference between the two is the history of American legend Daniel Boone who, while in the Boones Creek area in Washington County, killed a bear. And so it was carved in a nearby tree that “D. Boone cilled a bar on (this) tree in the year 1760.”

That history is one board member Mary Beth Dellinger said she felt needed to be shared with the elementary school kids in Boones Creek regardless of the mascot outcome.

“I’d like to see the Boones Creek Historical Trust get into the school and possibly do some type of training or teachings to let them know about the history of the Bars,” Dellinger said. “I love history and I think it would kind of buy-in both (groups). I’d like to see that if that’s possible.”

Boones Creek Principal Jordan Hughes told the BOE the plan is to honor the history of Daniel Boone, the bear and Boones Creek through a mural at the new school.

“The idea is that we would incorporate history. The hope is that we would have a wall dedicated in the building to the history of the location,” Hughes said. “Why are we called Boones Creek? Why is our high school called Daniel Boone? The history behind the tree, the history of when he hid in the creek — we want to make sure we incorporate all that. We want to work to make sure we get this narrative correct.”

Though board members Dellinger, David Hammond, Keith Ervin, Jason Day, Chad Fleenor and Todd Ganger voted in favor of the motion (BOE members Annette Buchanan and Mitch Meredith were absent), Phillip McLain was the lone “bear” vote. He said it he felt there was enough space at the new school for both Bars and Bears.

“I think there’s room for a presence of Bars and Bears in the school,” McLain said. “There was a principal in the system say to me that even with the history, they teach the kids the correct spelling. I understand the history. I also understand what the principal said: ‘we teach them to spell and say it correctly.’”

For some board members, the nod to history through the Bars name is something to be proud of and is unique to the Boones Creek area.

“Something stood out to me with that meeting we had at Boones Creek; there’s only one Bars in America,” Fleenor said. “I know some people are like, ‘What’s a Bar?’ That gives us the opportunity to stand up, puff our chest out a little bit and say, ‘Right here’s what a Bar is. This is where we come from.’ I love history. Maybe that’s why my passion is so strong on this, but I feel very fortunate we are different. And I want to be different.”

Jonesborough’s Boone Street Market to re-open this week


Jonesborough Locally Grown is excited to announce the re-opening of Boone Street Market after several weeks of closure due to its expansion construction. On Saturday, March 2, Boone Street Market will open its doors with 450 additional square-feet of space.

With the new expanded market, Jonesborough Locally Grown is excited to have more space to feature and sell local produce and meat from Farmers within 100 miles of downtown Jonesborough. In addition to more retail space, there will be extra tables and chairs, allowing patrons to relax and enjoy a hot meal out of Boone Street Market’s kitchen. While the space won’t be set up like a restaurant, it aims to feel more like a café with both hot food to enjoy in person, and meals to take on the go.

While grant money covered a lot of funds needed to make the expansion possible, the community chipped in about half the cost required to get the expansion underway through an online crowd sourcing campaign.

“We want this to be a space that’s perfect our community to sit, relax, and enjoy locally sourced food and beverage,” says Jonesborough Locally Grown President, Shelley Crowe. “We would not have been able to accomplish this type of growth without their support and patronage, so we want to give back to them as well.

Since first opening in 2014, Boone Street Market has been a pinnacle in the community when it comes to featuring and supporting local farmers and the local food economy. Not only does Boone Street Market serve as a year-round farmer’s market, it offers cooking classes on a wide array of topics such as canning, cooking, farming, and more. With the newly expanded space, the store hopes to continue to offer more cooking classes, events, special dinners, taste testings, and more.

Boone Street Market will open at 10 a.m. next Saturday, and will have local dry goods, meats, some seasonal produce, coffee, craft beers, and some hot food and to-go meals made fresh from our kitchen available for purchase. Throughout the next month, Boone Street Market will continue to add new seating and a wider selection of goods to purchase.

Jonesborough Locally Grown is a not-for-profit organization that operates the Jonesborough Farmers Market and Boone Street Market. Funds raised from the dinner help keep market fees low to farmers and enable Jonesborough Locally Grown to offer educational and market opportunities for farmers and consumers.

Wild Game Dinner honors local tradition

From left to right, Don Burger, Leon Caudell and John Tomko honored a Jonesborough tradition at the Wild Game Dinner. (Photos by Tom Pardue)


Associate Editor


A group of men, together with sons and grandsons, attended the annual Wild Game Dinner at the McKinney Center on Saturday evening, Jan. 26. The origin of the dinner is uncertain but most of the “old timers” present believe it started sometime during the 1960s. The largest attendance anyone could remember at the dinner was 87. On Saturday, there were 75 in attendance.  The group was composed of persons as young as 10 years of age and those over 80 years old. 

     What is certain is that Dr. Byrd organized the original Wild Game Dinner. Initial get-togethers were held underneath Sisters Row in kitchen quarters where at one time slaves cooked food for the three residences given to the daughters of Confederate General Alfred E. Jackson.  The impetus for the occasion, according to legend, is that the wives of the original members were tired of “dead animals and fish” taking up room in their freezers.  The men folk were told to do something to get rid of the wild game – and to do it quickly.

    Therefore, the notion of a dinner was suggested.  In the early days, there was an abundance of bear meat, locally caught fish and venison. Included in Saturday’s dinner for starters was “Uninhabited  Organic Salad” or Mexican Corn Bread along with a selection of coffee, iced tea (sweet or unsweet)  and wine. The main course featured ground venison, venison stew, hickory smoked pheasant, quail chowder, and wild Alaskan salmon with noodles. Vegetables included asparagus, baked beans, corn casserole, peas, potato salad,  cinnamon sweet potatoes, Texas hash browns and rice. There was an abundance of desserts that included apple pie, blueberry pie, a butterscotch pudding, key lime pie and chocolate cake along with a selection of several kinds of fudge.  


The group honored John Tomko, who has  been responsible in recent years for organizing the Wild Game Dinner. This year the group was entertained by Brad Eastridge, who played the piano during the early portion of the two and a half hour eat and greet assemblage. Retired pastor Ed Wolfe provided the invocation. He said he remembered when he first attended the dinner only homemade wine was available for drinking. When he mentioned that he did not drink alcohol, he said a fellow attendee went out and purchased a six-pack of soft drinks for him.

The conversation was lively Saturday, with a discussions  at several tables about  the Number 1 rated Tennessee’s men’s basketball team that had handily defeated West Virginia during the afternoon while others were concerned about the East Tennessee State University’s men’s team that during the course of the evening defeated Western Carolina.  

Not forgotten were past dinners where Jonesborough Attorney Jud Thornton cooked bear meat and venison in Dr. Byrd’s kitchen.  When the men gathered at the Three Sisters, there was never enough room for everyone to sit down and eat. Therefore, the eating was done in shifts, with the early diners either sitting around the edges of the room or in good weather exiting the building and gathering in the yard behind the Three Sisters.

Later, the venue for the dinner was moved to Old Quarters on Main Street. 

There, Attorney Bob Green would regale listeners with stories about his days practicing law and Mayor Kelly Wolfe would play the piano, usually attracting some of the men to join him in a sing-along.  Others mentioned former County Attorney Bob May’s attendance and how he could fish all night and bring his catch to the dinner. 

     I remember when my father-in-law Art Winston cried remembering the sad occasion of his wife’s recent passing.  Alfred Greenlee consoled him, telling him that he also had suffered the loss of a loved one as had other members of the group.  

By the end of the evening, Winston went home in better spirits, saying that he had enjoyed the evening.     

     As the group departed the McKinney Center, they agreed that it has provided a great venue for the dinner and that they were anxious to attend again next year.

McKinney Center looks for answers on Booker T. Washington School photo


The McKinney Center’s continued pursuit of historical photos and artifacts has delivered another mystery to be solved- actually, 34 mysteries. A class photograph featuring 34 smiling student faces has everyone asking the question: who are these students?

Only a handful of students to date have been identified, and the McKinney Center is on a quest to discover the name of each and every student. The staff of the McKinney Center is asking area residents to look closely at the photograph and call, email or come by the McKinney Center with information that will help to properly label and archive this precious piece of history.

It has already been determined that the photo was taken in the gym/auditorium, as the old line markings of the basketball court are visible on the floor. During the next month, this photograph will be available for the community to examine and hopefully solve the mystery of not only who these students are, but the time period in which this photograph was taken.

The McKinney Center is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history of the alumni of Booker T. Washington School for future generations, as the school served a vital role in Jonesborough history. In addition, the staff is also looking to find more artifacts, such as photos, report cards, and other memorabilia. These items will be scanned and returned to owners on the same day.

Anyone who can help solve this month’s mystery or who might have additional photos or artifacts can contact the McKinney Center at (423)753-0562 or email Jules Corriere julesc@jonesboroughtn.org or Skye McFarland skyem@jonesboroughtn.org or stop by the McKinney Center Monday-Friday, between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Jonesborough Senior Center gets accreditation


Staff Writer


Monday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen at Jonesborough Town Hall included some financial findings that many residents will find satisfying, as well as news that the Senior Center had been awarded accreditation by the National Institute of Senior Centers, a rare distinction for any senior center.

The Audit Report from the Fiscal Years 2017-2018 was addressed by a CPA from the town’s auditors of Blackburn, Childers and Steagall, David Babb at the Feb. 11 meeting. Babb said that for the first time in several years, there were zero findings in the audit.

“I think that’s something to be very happy about,” he said.

During the “Communications from the Mayor”, Mayor Chuck Vest announced that the Jonesborough Senior Center had been awarded National Accreditation status and invited Senior Center Director Mary Sanger to speak on the subject.

“We started accreditation about two years ago,” Sanger said.  “It’s a very long process and it’s just really taking a hard look at what we’re doing. Our programming, our planning, our staffing, the physical layout of the building.

“Obviously, going into a new center we wanted it to become accredited. National Accreditation is a huge distinction. It can help with getting grants, and it would really set our center apart from other senior centers,” Sanger continued. “Johnson City is an accredited senior center so of course, we didn’t want them to have an award we didn’t have.”

Sanger added that aiming at such a goal while moving into a new facility was setting the bar quite high.

“It was a little ambitious … so at times it had to go on the shelf for a little bit but it could not have come about without the support of the town,” she said. “Bob (Browning) and Craig (Ford) were very involved. Alderman (Terry) Countermine was involved. Dr. Paul Stanton, the staff at the Senior Center and our Advisory Board.”

According to the official website of the National Council on Aging, the NISC “are committed to supporting and strengthening the nation’s 11,000 senior centers through best practices, professional development, advocacy, research and national standards and accreditation.”

The accreditation program was developed by the NISC using nine standards of excellence, which serve as a guide to improve all senior centers and their operations now and in the future.

In order to attain accreditation, all nine standards must be met.

“It’s really a self-reflection. It’s all about looking at the whole picture, not just one little aspect of it. Looking at all the categories and making sure that across the board you’re offering a whole comprehensive program,” Sanger said.

While attaining accreditation was a huge goal for the Jonesborough Senior Center, now that it has been achieved Sanger said the future has more goals to meet.

“We’re looking at continuing to expand. We launched MyRide in December and so we’re looking to continue to expand that program and then probably to continue outreach and do more and more things while we’re outreaching to our seniors who are homebound.”

Commission honors former county budget director

Bobbye Ayers Webb


Associate Editor


The Washington County Commission has proclaimed Feb. 10 – 17 as Mrs. Bobbye Ayers Webb Week  honoring her 40 years of service to county government. Retiring as the county’s budget director, she first took a bookkeeping position under County Judge Jack Wiseman. She worked during the administration of a number of the county’s officials who were elected under a several titles including county chairman, county cxecutive and county mayor.

Born Aug. 4, 1940 in Day Book, Yancey County, North Carolina, she was the first child and only daughter of four children born to Murlin Junior and Geneva Peterson Ayers. Webb died on Oct.19, 2018 at 78 years of age having been a resident of Washington County for 60 years.

Her early life was spent on a farm before the family moved to Johnson City where she attended Stratton and Kings Springs Schools. She excelled in academics and athletics.

After graduating from Science Hill High School in 1958, her family lived in the Keystone Community in Johnson City, about a block from the family-run Webb’s Store on Bert Street.

There she met a store employee, Jack Webb, who she married in 1959.  Her husband, her parents and a brother preceded her in death.

Shortly after marriage, Mrs. Webb took a job working for the newly formed C.P.A. accounting firm of Blackburn and Childers. Within a short period of time, the couple purchased a home in Jonesborough where she lived until her death. Honorary pallbearers at her funeral included George Jaynes, Dan Eldridge, Joe Grandy and the members of the Washington County Commission from 1974 to 2018.

Hired by Judge Wiseman, Mrs. Webb excelled throughout her professional life ranging from the respect of her government colleagues to an award for achievement from the Federal Bureau of Accounting for the United States and Canada.

Washington County, in its Dec. 17, 2018 Proclamation honoring her, announced the formation of the Bobbye Webb Endowment Accounting Scholarship through the Northeast State Foundation.  The scholarship will provide education funding for students pursuing financial careers. Donations to the scholarship fund may be made to the Northeast State Foundation, P. O. Box 246, Blountville, TN 37617.

Jonesborough Library to bring sky-high fun to Chocolate Fest


Staff Writer


This weekend downtown Jonesborough will feature not only the fourth annual Chocolate Fest and all the treats that accompany it, but an opportunity to see the festival from a bird’s eye view. Literally.

One of the 37 stops in this year’s Jonesborough Area Merchants and Service Association sponsored event will be the Jonesborough branch of the Washington County Library, which has arranged for a full size hot air balloon to offer tethered rides for $10 per person, weather permitting.

“I believe it goes up about 60 to 80 feet,” Lollipop Shop owner Jeff Gurley shared recently.

“So it should give a truly spectacular view of downtown Jonesborough, especially over Valentine’s Day weekend and Chocolate Fest.

Gurley coordinated the balloon for the event, and also has some hot air balloon experience.

“I’ve been up in a hot air balloon twice and it truly is the most peaceful setting there is. It’s quiet, you’re up in the air, there’s no engine like a helicopter or an airplane, and there’s three to five people around you, not 200 people like an airplane. It’s just very, very peaceful.”

For those with a fear of heights, library manager Christy Widner said there would be other offerings on hand.

“Our ‘Friends of the Library’ group is doing this book sale (Love & Chocolate: Romance and Cookbook Book Sale) in conjunction with the Chocolate Fest. We’re making chocolate covered pretzels.

“We’re having a couple other things for our patrons. ‘Blind Date with a Book’ is where the books are covered with wrapping paper and you just get a little blurb on the outside of what it’s about, sort of like an online dating service type of blurb and you can check those books out.

“And there are things you can do to enter for a chance to win a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card. (The gift card giveaway) is also at our sister location in Gray. Of course every year we have a candy count. We have a jar full of M&Ms and whomever guesses the closest wins the jar.”

Widner said she hoped that the attractions would help increase interest in the library.

“This is our way of trying to connect with the business community and to get more people interested in the library, in general.”

Washington County Public Library Director Richard Griffin added, “It helps increase the awareness of the library. People forget about us sometimes, they pay for us with their tax dollars but they don’t always make use of us.

“This is our fourth year working with JAMSA. We’ve worked with them also on other projects, but the Chocolate Fest has been pretty big. It helps us because we’re really trying to be part of the community and it gets people into the library so they know we’re here. Hopefully, we’ll get some library cards signed up.

“We have heat, sometimes we have a movie going for the kids if they get tired of walking around, and we have bathrooms and things like that. This is a nice little pit stop for a lot of the folks.”

However the main draw, most likely, will be visible to those driving into downtown Jonesborough for the festival.

According to Gurley, an additional bonus for prospective balloon riders is the opportunity to float over downtown Jonesborough.

“It’s pretty uncommon that the fact that because of the underground utilities that we can even have a hot air balloon in a downtown setting. Typically it’s open farmlands. So this is kind of a one of a kind event that we’ll have.”

While the balloon rides are subject to perfect weather, at this early point in the week the weekend forecast, Gurley said, looked very promising. But he added, “Winds must be below six miles per hour with no rain or moisture. Basically if you see the flags blowing as you come into town, that’s about five miles per hour.”

The Lollipop Shop proprietor added that no tickets would be sold for balloon rides, and a ‘first come, first serve’ style will determine the passenger list. Within a two-and-a-half hour time frame, Gurley said he hoped 80 to 100 people would get the unique experience, with each “load” holding up to a 600-pound weight limit.   

“Each year Chocolate Fest has grown so we wanted to add something different, something fun and something affordable. The balloon in that setting offers a gateway to people as they come into Jonesborough to let them know that there is something going on. It’s a great event to do something outdoors in the middle of winter that is fun for all ages.”