5th Annual Benton Arts and Heritage Day is October 31st

Organizers are looking forward to the 5th Annual Benton Arts and Heritage Day, scheduled this year for Saturday, October 31st. For this 5th annual celebration, planners hope to expand the offerings during the festival and are looking for new vendors and demonstrators. Benton Arts and Heritage Day will feature live music, food, crafts, bouncy houses, a petting zoo, birds of prey from State Parks, a quilt show inside the courthouse, blacksmith, tractor show and scarecrow contest at Benton IGA, and a country-themed beauty contest on the courthouse square. This year’s festival will be from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. BAHD logo

“The reason we wanted to start this festival in the first year was that there really isn’t anything in Polk County geared toward showing off the arts done in Polk County,” organizer Cheryl Buehler said. “Quilt Court was created as a way to show that there things many folks around here consider no big deal, but are truly an art form.”

Organizers would like to add more heritage and art demonstrations to the festival. “Soap-making, beekeeping, woodcarving, quilting, painting… we have people all over the area with these talents, and want them to join us,” Buehler said, adding “we’d love some cloggers or old-time entertainers, too.” Vendor entry forms are available at the Benton Municipal Building, Polk County News, and inside the Polk County Courthouse. Booths used to sell merchandise remain $10. Those who are providing a demonstration are not required to pay to participate. Anyone who utilizes a heritage-related art is encouraged to join the fun.

Application forms for the First Annual Boots and Hearts contest are available at the Benton Municipal Building. Categories will be available for boys and ages birth – 6 years, and girls ages birth – 19 years. Contestants will wear a country-western themed outfit of their choice. Entry is $15 with proceeds covering the cost of the contest. Any money remaining will be donated to West Polk Empty Stocking Fund. Each contestant will receive a participation trophy. Contact Sanna German at 423-716-0785 for info.

If you would like to do a demonstration, have some quilts for the quilt show, or have a vendor booth to sell your hand-crafted wares, please contact Cheryl Buehler at the Polk County News at 423-338-2818. Food vendors should contact John Pippenger at 423-338-0187.

Wildcats scrimmage with Greenback

Polk County came out on the short end of a 6-1 football scrimmage with visiting Greenback Friday but the results were not near as bad as the score would indicate. This was the Wildcats’ first exposure to another team and it gave the coaching staff an opportunity to see how they would respond to competition and to evaluate their individual progress to date.

Greenback is a very good football team with lots of players with speed, size, and athletic ability and is expected to be one of the top teams in the area this season. Polk, on the other hand, has a shortage of experience with 21 freshmen, 11 sophomores, 8 juniors, and 8 seniors on the roster of 48 players. There is also a shortage in size but, as the coaches say, there is not a shortage of heart and effort and the desire to get better.

Ben Norwood scored Polk’s touchdown on a carry that involved several broken tackles, good blocking effort, and lots of guts and grit. Norwood was Polk’s leading rusher for the day and Reno Wimberley had a good game on the ground also.
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Reno Wimberley (10) and Joseph Schoelzel (31) combine to stop a Greenback ball carrier while Wyatt Martin (18) and Ben Norwood (34) move in to assist. (Photo by Jim Caldwell)

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Quarterback Wyatt Martin hands the ball to Ben Norwood behind a surge by the ‘Cats offensive line. (Photo by Jim Caldwell)

Copper Basin Cougars ready for Friday night lights

by Courtney Montgomery

As summer comes to an end and kids all over the Copper Basin area are preparing for early mornings and backpacks full of homework, a select group of young men are preparing for something else…football. Since spring, the numbers have dwindled and only the determined and dedicated remain. These boys have worked all summer and endured the heat, grueling practices, and exhaustion.
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The Copper Basin High School football team went through two-a-days this past week and ended the week with a scrimmage against Meigs County.
“The scrimmage with Meigs served its purpose,” Head Coach Pat Daley said. He explained, he wanted the boys to face a good enough opponent to expose his team’s weaknesses and show the boys the improvements they needed to make. Although up against a Class 2A team with well over 60 players, Daley said, “We were pleased with the effort our kids put forth against a very good opponent.”s-basin fb2
The Cougars dressed out 22 players with three injured on the sideline, two being starting seniors. This scrimmage gave all players the chance to show what they have learned and to get a feel of what real game situations will be like.

Copper Basin High School has their first game at home on August 21 against Coalfield. The Cougars seem ready and eager for Friday night lights.

Election Office seeking legal opinion on budget cuts

During the Polk County Election Commission Commission’s July meeting, the board discussed the polling place in Turtletown, the conditions at the election office, and the cuts made by the county budget committee to money used by commissioners for training seminars. Election Administrator Steve Gaddis told the board he would be meeting with a lawyer to discuss what he characterized as a personal attack against the election office.

Gaddis told election commissioners County Executive Hoyt Firestone said he was not going to pay receipts because the board voted to take pay time versus food time. Gaddis said that was not what the board voted on, and that they voted to take pay because Firestone refused to pay the food receipts. Gaddis said he had spoken with an attorney about the county policy. He said the old policy said to keep receipts, but the new policy did not. Gaddis said if there was a county that offered $25 for travel and did not say to turn in receipts, it was considered per diem.

Election Commissioner Mac York said he had $88 worth of receipts and was refused. He said he would have had $100 for four days, but spend $88. He said his wife goes with him on the trips, but they always get separate checks. Second District County Commissioner Karen Bracken asked if Firestone was saying they were not entitled to the receipts because they are getting the $100 per day. Gaddis said the old policy said $25 per day. He said they had turned in a receipt for Deputy Administrator Nathan Hitson for $12-14 dollars and were told it might not get paid because one person couldn’t eat that much. Gaddis said Hitson likes to get several items from a dollar menu and warm them up in microwave in his hotel room. Gaddis said the board voted to pay themselves because they were not getting reimbursed for their
receipts. York said they were paying themselves the same amount they got paid to come to the meetings, which is the same amount county commissioners get.

“They squabbled over $12, they squabbled over $25, now it’s gonna cost them thousands,” Gaddis said. York said he had spoken with Carlton Deal, who told him they amount they get per day should equal the amount given in the city they met in. Gaddis said it was not a money issue. He said it was a personal strike against their office, adding he hoped that was the way the lawyer would see it, as well.

“We make our decision and they don’t agree,” Gaddis said, adding “We’re state officials. They may control the money a little bit but are not going to tell us what to do.” He said Bradley County keeps tickets, Monroe has a flat $60, and Rhea county has been sued four times. Election Commissioner Anna Clark asked if the
county policy was for $25. Hitson said there was nothing about travel in the policy. Gaddis said taking away their training money was retaliation.

“Who’s saying who trains, us or Hoyt Firestone,” Gaddis asked. “If this office blunders an election,
it’s us. If I can’t train people, that’s me.” Bracken said it was mentioned at the budget committee meeting that the election commissioners were not required to go to the training. She pointed out that no one was there during the meeting to defend their position. York asked if they were supposed to just let Gaddis
go, then meet back at the office for him to teach them what he had learned. He said he would not be spending time in the office for that. York said if that was what they were looking for, they would have to find somebody else.

Gaddis said he requested the commission let him know if they were going to cut so he could be there. He said they did not post the meeting and that there was a conspiracy because they did not need the money. Gaddis said the commission already had the budget balanced, and brought someone in to ask for $5000.
“There was a conspiracy, I know everybody that said everything and brought it about. They did not need the money,” Gaddis said. Gaddis said Firestone offered the money out of another fund, and commissioners intentionally redone it and targeted them over the issue of who is calling the shots. “They don’t like our
procedures and what we’re doing,” Gaddis said. He said they knew Sheena was out and other swere out and it wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Gaddis reiterated that they were specifically targeted and he would be meeting with Attorney Bill Brown to talk about it. He said they needed to get some questions answered. Gaddis said he was convinced they broke TCA code because the county could not give them less money than the previous year.

Train excursion celebrates 125 years of The Old Line

125th Anniversary Trip-at CopperhillThe Anniversary Special arrives in Copperhill. There were 181 tickets sold for the occasion and the entire ridership were offered a sneak preview of the Special Exhibition in the second floor of the Etowah Depot and a continental breakfast prior to their departure. The Train Trip is part of the Etowah Historical Commission’s Commemoration of the completion of the Old Line Railroad from Knoxville to Marietta on June 20th, 1890.

125th Anniversary Trip-PW's MemoryChris James and Melissa Mortimer look out of the end of the Louisville & Nashville Hummingbird rail car that has been dedicated to the memory of PW Jones. PW was a retired L&N/CSX rail welder who worked as a volunteer car host for the TVRM Old Line Excursions for a number of years after his retirement. Chris is a retired CSX Conductor who was working as a car host for the Special and Melissa is a Preservation Planner with SETDD who was a passenger on the trip.

Blueway Projects brings floaters, kayakers to the Hiwassee River

Blueway Float2Thirty plus floaters and kayakers with ties to the Hiwassee Blueway Project went down the Hiwassee River in July. Blueway Float3There were representatives from ten organizations associated with the project that participated in the event. Transportation and float devices were provided by Harold Webb and TVA sponsored a post float meal of Barbecue. (Photos by Jim Caldwell)

Ducktown, TN Receives $300,000 Enhancement Grant

Tennessee State Representative Dan Howell has announced that the city of Ducktown has been awarded a Pedestrian Enhancement Grant in the amount of $300,000. The grant, which is made possible through a federally funded program administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, will fund a project to improve pedestrian safety as well as beautify and revitalize the downtown area.

“These types of projects strengthen our communities,” Howell said, “and I am pleased to see this investment being made in Historic downtown Ducktown.”
Ducktown Mayor Doug Collins said, ” I’m pleased that our grant application has been approved and I think this will give our downtown area a much needed boost.” Mayor Collins also expressed hope the revitalization will give added emphasis to Ducktown’s rich mining history and attract tourists to the area.
Since being established by Congress in the 1990s, the enhancement grant program has assisted communities all over the state in their efforts to revitalize downtowns, highlight historic areas, provide alternative means of transportation, and increase opportunities for economic development.

“I haven’t seen the final design’ Representative Howell said, “but I’m confident Ducktown residents will be pleased with the results. Projects of this type usually incorporate new pedestrian sidewalks with brick pavers, crosswalks, ornamental street lighting, and other pedestrian amenities as well as new landscaping. But the biggest benefit I believe will be the revitalization of downtown Ducktown and stimulation of the economy.”

(L-R) Ducktown Mayor Doug Collins, District 22 State Representative Dan Howell, James Talley, Ducktown City Manager.

Milen is a Hometown Hero

Every hero has a story and Polk County is full of local heroes. One such hero is Daphene Milen, co- founder of the Happy Hearts Ministry at First Baptist Church in Benton, Tennessee. Mrs. Milen has served many people through her ministry. The West Polk Public Library is proud to award Mrs. Daphene Milen with this week’s Hometown Hero award.hometown hero-milen

Happy Hearts started as the vision of two ladies, Daphene Milen and Linda Culpepper. Both were ministering to homebound elderly people when they learned the elderly community did not have many opportunities to fellowship with one another. “God placed it on my heart to organize an opportunity for seniors to meet in a safe place for a meal and fellowship. It has been proven that the more active a person is the longer they live,” said Mrs. Milen. “I had a little vision, but God had an even bigger idea in mind.”

Happy Hearts began five years ago in 2009. 17 senior adults met for Bible study in the Tea Parlor at first Baptist Church. Today the group has over 500 members from approximately 44 area churches with around 200 who attend the monthly meetings. Many of the people on their roll are now homebound. Cards and notes are sent to these individuals. For those who are physically able to attend the program both breakfast and lunch, devotions, exercise and fellowship are offered. A nurse is available for simple health checks and quarterly a team of nurses come in to do more detailed screenings. Local business and individual donations keep the program running at a cost of around $700 a month. If you are interesting in donating please contact First Baptist Church at 423-338-2066.

Happy Hearts meets the third Wednesday of every month starting at 10:00am at First Baptist Church Benton’s gymnasium. Any senior adult can attend.

Ocoee River Jam starts July 31

Final preparations are underway for Ocoee River Jam 3. The weekend long music festival will kick off on Friday afternoon, July 31 and will continue through Sunday evening, August 2nd.

Sunday, August 2nd is “Family and Kid’s Day” from 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. A separate section at the site will be set up with all types of free activities for the children. Gemini Dyes will be doing tie-dye pillowcases or parents may choose to purchase an Ocoee River Jam t-shirt for their child. Sarah Dukes, art teacher at Cleveland Christian School will be teaching recycled art. Face painting by Clay and an inflatable slide and obstacle course will be available by Air Bounce of Cleveland and face painting by the Clayful Artist. Kona-Ice will be selling their infamous snow cones and the Boys and Girls Club will provide additional games and activities for the kids.

Headlining this year’s event on Sunday evening and finishing off the jam is Barry Waldrep & Friends. Mr. Waldrep is a founding member of Rolling in the Hay and currently plays with the Zac Brown Band. Bands playing throughout the weekend include both local and regional performing artists, as well as some widely know acts, such as Leroy Powell and the Messengers, Shelly Fairchild and the Davisson Brothers. orj

The event started in 2013 when a group of friends wanted to see an annual music festival established for the Ocoee area as a way to help increase tourism and in turn, give back to the community. The proceeds from the event go to support local youth organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club in Bradley and Polk County and the American Red Cross’ youth initiatives.

In January of this year, organizers of the event applied for a nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service. The recognition by the IRS was awarded a few short weeks later, making the Ocoee River Jam a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit corporation. “That means all donations, sponsorships and tickets to the event are tax deductible,” states Julie Thornton, President of ORJ, Inc. and Chief Organizer for the event. Julie is a 17-year veteran on the Ocoee River. “The Ocoee is very dear to me. I want to see this festival to continue to benefit our local community for many years to come.”

Local artists and food vendors will be on site, along with informational booths such as Save the Ocoee River Council.

Tickets prices for the event are $30 for a weekend pass or $12 daily and can be purchased online or at the door. Children 12 and under are free. Camping will be available for $10 per night per person at Ocoee Outdoors. Parking for the event will be a ¼ mile west of the venue at Old Federal Road and shuttles will be provided from both the parking area and campground.

Dale Click, lead singer for Dagger Blue and one of the original organizers of the Ocoee River Jam said, “The Ocoee is where I learned to play music. We wanted to create a festival that would not only honor and promote all the talent found in the Ocoee Region, but that would serve a greater cause.”
Dumpy’s and the Ocoee River Jam 3 is a cash only event. For more information, purchase tickets or see a complete list of bands and performance times, please visit Ocoeeriverjam.com.

Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association launches Graveyard Project

The Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association (TOHA) is pleased to announce a short-term project that will take place over the next two months to document odd, unusual, and mysterious burial sites, tombstones, epitaphs, and unusual grave decorations. There are hundreds of cemeteries and thousands of graves in the Tennessee Overhill and due to limitations on time and resources the TOHA needs the public’s help in pointing out graves or cemeteries that might meet its criteria. They are examining the time period from the region’s earliest graves up through 1940. Their end state vision is to use the project to explore the different cultural and funerary aspects in the region through time, spark an interest in region’s history in the youth and families, and discover the stories behind the people that have departed this life.

Ms. Sydney Varajon, 2014 graduate of Tennessee Wesleyan College and current Folk Studies graduate student at Western Kentucky University, will be assisting TOHA with the project. TOHA Executive Director Gerald D. Hodge, Jr. said, “We are excited to have Ms. Varajon assisting us with her expertise. She will help make our end product meaningful, engaging, and useful to the public.”Overhill

If you have nominations for specific graves in cemeteries in McMinn, Monroe, and Polk counties, please contact the TOHA office at 423-263-7232 or info@tennesseeoverhill.com.

The mission of TOHA is to promote and preserve the natural and cultural resources of McMinn, Monroe, and Polk counties through cultural tourism.
Pictured is a grave in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Athens, Tennessee. The occupant is not currently known but the grave is an early grave with an unusual and unique structure.