Local artist’s work displayed at Red Clay

Eleven Native American Dancers done by local artist Marie Haas are on display at Red Clay. The artwork is being utilized by the park to help teach visitor what a powwow is. The display will be up all summer in the visitor’s center, which is open during regular park hours.
Haas moved to the mountains with her husband, Frank, from the shores of Lake Erie nearly 20 years ago.

“Our first mountain home was in Shooting Creek NC. It was there that I fell in love with the mountains and their history, people, culture, and traditions. I now live in Ocoee TN. The very name “Ocoee” comes from a word which means “land of the wild apricot,” a vine that grows in my garden and along the roadsides and produces beautiful purple passion flowers and later in the season, an apricot-like fruit,” Haas said.

Haas said members of the Cherokee Nation lived on or near both of her mountain homes.
“It is hallowed land. Sometimes, as I tend the garden or walk our land, I almost feel I can hear or feel the cries of those who were forcibly removed from the lands that I enjoy so freely,” she said.
Haa-1632 Shawl Dancer
Through the years, Haas become increasingly aware of how little she learned of the Cherokee story growing up. Spurred by that realization, she and husband Frank have done their best to learn all they can about that infamous Trail of Tears and what preceded it.
Those explorations ultimately led to the development of this growing series of paintings of Native Americans in their powwow regalia.

“I saw in the beautiful highly textured apparel, a challenge to paint the feathers and leather and beads in watercolor. The task soon took on a life of its own. One painting led to another and soon a new body of work developed.,” Haas said, adding, “It is with genuine pleasure and pride that I share this exhibit with those who come to visit Red Clay State Park, such an important site historically for the Cherokee Nation and the place where inspiration for many of these paintings occurred.”
haas-1638Tradition with Elegance
Haas has been painting and drawing from her earliest days growing up in Erie, Pennsylvania. After many years of teaching biology while doing her art “on the side,” she turned her attention to serious studio work in 1984. She soon established herself as an avid watercolorist in northwest Pennsylvania where she ran her own Sycamore Gallery and conducted watercolor and drawing classes. Marie currently works out of her studios in Ocoee, TN and near the Gulf beaches of Bradenton, FL as well as on her travels. She frequently exhibits her drawings and watercolors in solo, juried and invitational shows throughout the United States. Her work is found in private and corporate collections in the United States, Australia, Canada and Japan. Marie is an active member of the Tennessee Watercolor Society, the Florida Suncoast Watercolor Society, and the Southern Appalachian Artist Guild.

To see more of her work or to inquire about the purchase of any of these paintings, please contact the artist through her website, www.SpaederHaasGallery.com.
You are also invited to follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SpaederHaasGallery

Bear activity temporarily closes Parksville Beach

U.S. Forest Service officials at the Cherokee National Forest said that public use of and entry to the Parksville Beach day-use area in the Ocoee Ranger District is temporarily closed due to black bear activity in the area.

Parksville Beach is a Cherokee National Forest day use area located in Polk County on the north side of Lake Ocoee (Parksville Lake) adjacent to US Highway 64. Access to Parksville Beach is from Hwy 64 approximately 12 miles east of Cleveland, TN.

The US Forest Service and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are working together to address the current bear activity at Parksville Beach. Public cooperation with the temporary closure of Parksville Beach is essential.

Black bears are opportunists and become habituated to areas where food and trash has been improperly discarded or stored and is easily available. Visitors are reminded to:
• Never approach a bear – they are wild animals
• Never leave food unattended
• Do not discard any food scraps on the ground or in streams
• Store food in a vehicle or other secure place when not in use
• Clean up and carry trash out when departing
➢ More bear safety information is available at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r8/home/?cid=fsbdev3_066388

Keeping an area clean and free of trash and food can greatly reduce the chances of encounters with bears. Your cooperation with these simple tips can help break the cycle of bears returning to the same area in search of human food, protecting you and the bears.

For more information about outdoor safety visit the Outdoor Safety in the South website at: http://fs.usda.gov/r8
For local national forest information call the Ocoee Ranger Station at (423) 338-3300.

PCHS student gets Top Honors at FBLA National Leadership Conference in Chicago

Lashawn Couey from Polk County High School in Benton, TN received national recognition at the FBLA Awards of Excellence Program on July 2. Couey competed in E-Business and brought home second place in the nation and a $500 cash award. E-Business students created a website for young artistic entrepreneurs to sell their art, pottery, jewelry, etc. They were to include pictures and information, but not limited to, bio of the entrepreneurs, social media links, purchase and shipping information, and a shopping cart. The information used could be fictitious.

More than 8,000 of America’s best and brightest college students traveled to the Windy City to Step Up to the Challenge as they showcased their talents as future business leaders and vied for the opportunity to win more than $95,000 in cash awards.

Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL), held its National Leadership Conference in Chicago on June 29–July 2. Participants from across the United States attended this exciting conference to enhance their business skills, expand their networks, and participate in more than 60 business and business-related competitive events.

“FBLA has helped develop me both personally and professionally throughout high school. I’ve attended 16 conferences over the last 4 years and each one has provided valuable experience. Being able to take second in the nation my senior year was a great way to top it off. I want to thank everyone that helped us financially to attend the conference,” said Lashawn Couey, PCHS Graduate.

“I am extremely proud of Lashawn. He joins a long list of students from Polk County that have shown it does not matter that we are from a small rural school when it comes to being among the best in the nation. He could have taken the easy road and just did what was expected in class to just pass, but he chose to give it all he had and his persistence and determination paid off,” said Dewey Esquinance, PCHS Web Design Teacher.

Also competing from Polk County High School were Dylan Brackett, Nate Phillips, and Mason Tolzmann. “These students also had a great website. They didn’t quite make it to the medal round, but will have the chance next year to come back and show their talent,” said their teacher Dewey Esquinance. FBLA-FBLAcompetitors2015
According to Esquinance, many individuals and businesses helped make it possible for the students to attend the National Leadership Conference in Chicago including the Polk County News, VEC, First Volunteer Bank, The Drug Store, First Bank of Tennessee, Pippin Insurance, and many other businesses and individuals.

The award was part of a comprehensive national competitive events program sponsored by FBLA that recognizes and rewards excellence in a broad range of business and career-related areas. For many students, the competitive events are the capstone activity of their academic careers. In addition to the competitions, students immersed themselves in educational workshops, visited an information-packed exhibit hall, and attended motivational keynotes on a broad range of business topics.
Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda, Inc., the largest and oldest student business organization, is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) education association with a quarter million members and advisers in over 6,500 active middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Its mission is to bring business and education together in a positive working relationship through innovative leadership and career development programs. The association is headquartered in Reston, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. For more information, visit fbla-pbl.org.

More than 40 kids attend summer reading program kickoff

Summer Reading Kick-Off-Bob Bryant

Calling all superheroes! The 2015 summer reading program was a big success at the West Polk Public Library. Over 40 children ages 2 to 11 came to enjoy the kick-off sessions. The program has been expanded this year to provide sessions for three separate age groups. Sessions are offered weekly from now through July 15th. There is no charge to participate. Program times are: toddlers/preschool 11:30 Mondays; kindergarten – 2nd grade 1:30 Mondays; and 3rd – 5th grade 1:30 Wednesdays.

This year’s summer reading program theme is “Every Hero Has a Story.” Each week, sessions include story time from a book about heroes. Heroes of all kinds are featured including military heroes, environmental heroes, and community service heroes just to name a few. After story time, kids enjoy related activities, games and crafts.

Last week, Amanda Stiles read “Do Superheroes Have Teddy Bears?” by Carmela Lavigna Cole to the preschoolers. Later the children made and decorated their own superhero capes to take home. For the K – 2nd grade group, Mrs. Stiles read “How to be a Superhero” by Rachel Yu, and then the children made their own shields to “fight crime and bad guys”. They also competed in a game requiring them to quickly put on their superhero costumes and rush to retrieve and diffuse bombs (balloons) from populated buildings, thereby saving all within.

“The kids had a great time” said Jessica Free, mother of two little superheroes. “Miss Amanda makes it so much fun for them. They love to come to the program.”
Former local educators Bob and Marie Bryant are coordinating the 3rd – 5th grade program this year. Their first session focused on environmental heroes. Mr. Bryant read “The Camping Trip That Changed America” by Barb Rosenstock, based on the true story of President Theodore Roosevelt’s camping trip across America with environmental hero John Muir which inspired President Roosevelt to establish our National Park system. The book demonstrated the importance of protecting some of our most spectacular natural areas in order that future generations will be able to enjoy them.
Summer Reading Kick-Off-Amanda Stiles
Each week, the program will honor local hometown heroes. Last week’s honoree was Polk County native Sam Rogers. Mr. Rogers has received national recognition for his remarkable accomplishments in designing and establishing planned “green spaces” in populated areas. He attributes much of his love and respect for nature to early guidance by his father, Roscoe (”Boots”) Rogers.

Mr. Rogers showed slides of the giant sequoia trees in Yosemite National Park to the children. Afterward, Mr. Bryant and Mr. Rogers took the children outside to gather around a nearby 30-year-old Tulip Poplar tree. The children then stretched string around the tree to demonstrate the circumference and diameter of the giant sequoia tree, “General Sherman” (the largest known tree on earth) to compare it to the size of the poplar. “I think the children were amazed at the size of the giant sequoia” said Marie Bryant, program coordinator. “We talked about the age of the General Sherman tree which is almost 3,000 years old – 1,000 times older than the large poplar we were standing around.” She then added, “We wanted to impress upon the children the importance of preserving these ancient trees.”
Drawings for door prizes are held at the end of each reading program session. Last week’s prizes for the children included books and small toys sponsored by First Bank of Tennessee, a thermal lunch tote donated by Tashie’s 31, and collector stamps donated by Sam Rogers. Adult door prizes included a gift certificate donated by Ocoee Dam Deli & Diner and a free oil change donated by Bishop’s Auto.
Summer Reading Kick-Off-door prize winners

Door prize winners Paula Stamey, Connor Stamey, and Will Paxton.

If you’d like more information about the summer reading program, please contact Amanda Stiles at (423) 618-7445 or Jenny Rogers at (423) 338-7669. The program is open to the public and free of charge.

Small business focused on local products opens in Ocoee

“We have so much produce, so many food products, and so many artisans in our area, I felt there was a need to start this business focused on local products,” said Ginny Powers, Owner and Store Manager of the Old Sawmill Market.

The Market is an effort to provide a venue at which local farmers, beekeepers, bakers, mill operators, herdsman, food producers, and craftsman can display and sell their products. Each week new products will be brought in and the store is expected to grow and change based up availability and demand.
At the Old Sawmill Market you can find an assortment of fresh produce from Cookson Creek Farm, Shenandoah Boys Ranch, Dogstar Farms, the Delano Community, Mr. Nicholson and the Locke family. Honeys and honey products, from Appalachian Bee and Beavers Family Farm. new business-sawmill mkt

There will also be also have value-added goods from Starr MTN Cannery, Big S Farms and Norris Dam Good Products.
Then there are breads from Delano and granolas from Blackberry Hills Bakery, cereal from Heartland Brands, cheeses from Rafting Goat Cheese and Sweetwater Valley Farms, eggs from Conasauga Valley Farm, poultry from Hoe Hop Valley Farms, ciders from Mercier Orchards, flour, grits, cornmeal, pancake mix, biscuit mix all from Logan Turnpike Mill.

Besides food, the Old Sawmill Market stocks body scrubs, soaps, lotions, young plants, up cycled items, and more all from individuals in Polk, Murray and Bradley counties. Powers said they are looking forward to working with new vendors and encourage people who make a specialty product to come talk with them during store hours about displaying their work.

Powers acknowledges, “This store is all about community, we want to work with and support our community and I believe we have to location to do it.“
Store hours are Friday through Sunday from 12 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Monday 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and is located on Hwy 64E on the hill next to Dumpy’s before Ocoee Dam Deli and Whitewater Grill.

Grassy Creek vs. Greasy Creek

By Marian Bailey Presswood, Polk County Historian

If you happen to live in either of those communities you don’t have a problem knowing which is which, but we’re always having people from elsewhere getting them mixed up. They read an obituary that says someone is buried at Grassy Creek and they look in the Greasy Creek Cemetery, and vice versa. As far as I know the funeral homes haven’t actually buried anyone in the wrong place – or have they?
As the proverbial crow flies it’s about a distance of thirty miles from one community to the other, but I just checked a map and didn’t actually drive it to see. You can get to either one by starting from Benton, going up Highway 64/74 and turning left onto Hwy 30 to go to Greasy Creek. To get to Grassy Creek just stay on 64 until you get to the traffic light at Ducktown, turn right going to Copperhill (if you turn too quickly you will be in Hardee’s parking lot – have a sausage/biscuit for me, please.) Directly across the highway from the substation you will see Grassy Creek Road to the right, and about three and a half miles on the right is Grassy Creek Church and cemetery.
My mission here is to tell you about some of the people who lived in that little community of Grassy Creek bordering Fannin County, Georgia, tucked back in the edge of what is now National Forest. Back in 1999 I did a story in our PCHGS Quarterly that included a map of Grassy Creek drawn by one of the long time residents, Oscar Humphrys. Family surnames on his map of some who lived there during the Civil War era were Rogers, Pelfrey, Chastain, Denton, Allen, Hargis, Addison, Hyde, McCloud, Story, Forrester, Greer, Southering, Witherow and Gassaway. From the way he has it drawn, it looks as if the Allens, Hydes and McClouds had the largest farms, and Grassy Creek ran through all three on its way to the Ocoee River at Greer Ferry.Heritage1
Our Heritage of Polk County book has a little article written by twins Jaime and Dana Chastain when they were in Miss Sallie Kell’s Fourth Grade Class in Ducktown Elementary School. The occasion for the project was the 1986 Tennessee Homecoming which generated a lot of community histories from writers all across the county, most of which have appeared in the News several times over the years, and most were included in the heritage book. The girls wrote, “William Humphrys, Sr. arrived in the area after driving his hogs across the mountain with his family. He picked a place that had an abundance of large oak trees and plenty of acorns for his hogs. With a creek flowing through the property, which had beautiful grassy banks, this was the place he decided to settle and build his house. He named this beautiful site “Grassy Creek” and the name must have fit, for it’s still known as that to this day. The little community had a church that doubled as a school, a post office called Grace, named after Dr. Coonie Hyatt’s sister, and a general store. And the Becklers had a gristmill on Grassy Creek to grind their corn – what else would one need for a thriving community?
Note: By the way, the twins Dana and Jaime are grown now, still live and work in the area, and have children of their own to pass down their love for preserving their community and family history.
There’s another little community on down the road about a mile and a half called Tumbling Creek. I’m not sure how that name came into being, but may be pretty obvious if one saw the creek. Grassy Creek Road seems to dead end into Tumbling Creek where it forks with Indian Creek Road. I guess its official name is Mt. Zion Church and cemetery, but local folks call both Tumblin’ Creek. The cemetery there was established about 1900, and is sometimes called Allen, for the first inscribed markers are all Allens who died in 1901. Among them is Milford Filmore Allen who has many descendants who live around the Benton area. Other prominent names in Tumbling Creek include the Deals, James and Spicy Hall, Agnes and Jim McCay, Pattersons and Paynes, Messers, Pless and Waters, just to name a few. My good genealogy buddy, Joy Locke, from Monroe County could probably tell you anything you wanted to know about the Lockes, Deals, and Pelfreys from that area, and Viola Jones knows the Humphrys family.
Now, turn around and get out of there as fast as you can before it gets dark. Yes, it’s a beautiful place with lots of friendly folks who might feed you and put you up for the night. But if you happen to make a wrong turn and end up on National Forest Service Road 22-2 at the foot of Big Frog, it’s the darkest, scariest place you can ever see at night – to me, that is. I’m sure most folks love it, and I would too, in the broad daylight, but after dark – just sayin’. . . . I still have nightmares about the time a few years ago when Hwy 64 was closed because of the rockslide, and I had to go to a night time funeral in McCaysville. Thinking I’d take the short cut off the mountain from Ellijay to 411 at Chatsworth, I somehow made a wrong turn and ended up on Fort Mountain, at dark, by myself, no cell phone, no one knew where I was, or would ever have found me had I missed a narrow curve and ended up in one of those ravines. Cold shivers!
What do you know about the community in which you live – something special and interesting? How did it get its name, did some special event happen there, or some prominent family live there, are any old houses still standing? Find out, and write it down to Preserve YOUR Heritage!

A Grassy Creek family: This picture has been in our PCHGS files for many years, and is George Washington and Louisa Elminda Lock Humphrys with their first two children, Homer and Claude, taken in 1903. They were parent of seven more children. I don’t know if it is still available, but Jane Humphrys helped put together a wonderful little cook book several years ago that was more about preserving family history than it was preserving food, for it had genealogy, pictures, family stories and all kinds of great info on the Humphrys family. By the way, a great family historian, Oscar Humphrys, son of George W. and Louisa, always said they were the no ‘e’ Humphrys, and I have to remind myself not to put one in their name. Families who are fortunate enough to have someone like Oscar who spent so much time and effort to record their family history ought to be forever grateful, and I’m sure this family is. After he passed in 1998, Jane said of her Uncle Oscar, “You could tell from his voice how proud he was of his family and community. He was truly one of the most remarkable and fascinating men I’ve ever had the pleasure and honor of meeting and knowing.” (Submitted by Marian Bailey Presswood.)

Comments being taken on Hiwassee River permit guided fishing

The Ocoee/Hiwassee Ranger District is proposing to permit guided fishing services on the Hiwassee River. The Forest would advertise, through a prospectus, to fill 2 outfitter guide, flyfishing permits. The permits would initially be issued for a 2-year probationary period and upon reaching a successful operation and permit compliance at the end of the 2-year period, the permits could be extended an additional 8 years for a total of 10 years.

The project area is that portion of the Hiwassee River from the Apalachia Powerhouse to US Hwy 411, east of Reliance, TN in Polk County. Access would include both the Apalachia Powerhouse and Towee Creek Boat Launch sites accessed by National Forest System Road 108 (Hiwassee River Road).

This information is also available on the Cherokee National Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=47200.

Written or oral comments concerning this action will be accepted until July 15, 2015. Written comments should be mailed to Janan Hay at: Tellico Ranger District, 250 Ranger Station Road, Tellico Plains, TN 37385; or faxed to (423)-253-2804. Oral comments can be submitted via telephone at 423-253-8405 or in-person at the above address.

The office business hours for those submitting hand-delivered or in-person comments are: 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Written electronic comments can be submitted to comments-southerncherokee-ocoee-hiwassee @fs.fed.us in a format such as an email message, plain text (.txt), rich text format (.rtf), or Word (.doc).

Comments received in response to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who comment, will be considered part of the public record on this proposed action and will be available for public inspection.

VEC helps install cameras at Chilhowee Middle School

CMSVolunteer Energy Cooperative recently helped Chilhowee Middle School with the installation of new cameras for their building. Aaron Hood, Duke Goins, and Scott Hawkins, all with VEC, helped with installing the cameras and hooking the wires. Garry McDonald and John Hoyt Pippenger were instrumental in coordinated the event and also helping with the installation.

Duke Goins is pictured in the bucket as he installs a camera.

Charges filed after elderly women are forced from vehicle

Two elderly women were assaulted and forced out of a vehicle on Towee Pike, a press release from the Polk County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Departments says. Both women were later found and treated for dehydration and injuries, then transported home. Mark Stevens has been arrested for the incident. According to the Sheriff’s Department, at around 1:30 a.m., Stevens, his 82-year-old great-grandmother, Anna Carmack, and her 72-year-old friend, Janice Manis, were traveling in Manis’s car in the area of Towee Pike. Stevens allegedly became angry and forced Manis to pull into a driveway located at 601 Towee Pike. Manis tried to take the keys out of the ignition, and Stevens grabbed her arm and twisted it in the steering wheel, the press release says. It goes on to say Stevens wrestled the keys from her hand, causing severe bruising and scrapes to her arms. Manis and Carmack were both physically forced out of the vehicle, causing injuries to Manis’s leg.

Stevens then allegedly left the two women on the porch and fled the area in Manis’s vehicle. No one was at home at the residence, and the two were unable to leave due to their age and health issues. Stevens traveled further on Towee Pike, where he caused a disturbance in the driveway of another residence. The resident told police Stevens was behaving in a bizarre fashion, and struck and destroyed a lamp post when he fled the scene. He was arrested in Monroe County near Ivy Trail Rd; the vehicle had damage to the front end.

Around the time of his arrest in Monroe County, Polk County 911 received a call from Carmack saying she was on someone’s porch. Carmack told dispatchers she did not know where she was and needed help. A trace on the call was done, and authorities from both Polk and Monroe counties began to search the area to locate the victims.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, Stevens initially talked to Monroe County officers about the two elderly women, but then refused to cooperate with detectives about where he had left them. Sheriff Steve Ross and detectives searched the area with Monroe County, as well as State Parks, for several hours. Stevens later took detectives where the victims were located. Both of the women were dehydrated and in poor physical condition.
Stevens has been charged on numerous misdemeanor and felony charges and is currently being held at the Polk County Justice Center.

Polk County, TN county commission notes…

The following items were discussed when the County Commissioners met last month:
• Commissioners voted to continue to resist providing a list of names of individuals and insurance information in the Public Records request from William Bracken in court. A redacted list has been provided. County Attorney Jimmy Logan said reimbursement costs were now being sought. He said he felt the case would not likely go in favor of the county. Second District Commissioner Karen Bracken said the case was with her husband, but she felt there was no conflict of interest for her to vote. Second District Commissioner Greg Brooks made a motion to continue fighting the case. All commissioners agreed except Bracken. Commissioners Bishop and Gaddis initially passed on the vote, but later changed their votes to yes.
• Logan said many of the cabin owners in the long-standing tax case had agreed to accept the settlement offer of 7.5%. Commissioners voted to settle with those who accepted the offer, then give the others 20 days to agree to pay the 7.5% before raising the offer to 8%. If they do not agree, the county will appeal the case to seek the original 10%.
• A resolution between the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Benton Police Department was amended to remove any obligation for the Sheriff’s Department to respond to calls within the Benton City limits. Logan said the City had questions about the wording, but the agreement was otherwise the same.
• Sheriff Steve Ross told the board he was in the process of applying for grant money for SROs in the schools. He said it would be beneficial to get letters of support for the program. Ross said they would not know for certain if the grant money will be received until after the start of the school year, so it would not affect his budget request, which already includes school resource officers. The US Department of Justice Grant will pay for three years of salary. Bracken said legislation would allow SSOs (security officers), and asked if that had been taken into consideration. Ross said that was an issue that could be debated all day, but their support just allowed him to seek money. Chairman Daren Waters reminded the board that they would still have to vote on SROs, and Ross was just trying to get support for the grant.
• A contract for Planning Services with SETDD was renewed with the contract cost being raised to $11,000. County Executive Hoyt Firestone said it was the first increase they’d had. Bracken asked if they gave a breakdown of the fee and how they justified the cost. She asked if the Planner really did anything they couldn’t do themselves. Register of Deeds Kandi Bramlett said their help was invaluable to her office and the Planning Board. Bishop said it was money well spent, and recalled all the work put into subdivision regulations. Firestone pointed out they had a legal staff that could be used if legal issues arose. He said they also do mapping. Bishop said the county got a lot for that money. Bracken passed on the vote; all others voted yes.
• Johnny Smith asked for sick pay from his job at the Road Department. Firestone told him to turn his days in and they would check the handbook and have Logan look at everything to ensure they had their ducks in a row.
• $5000 was allotted to help the PCHS website design team pay for trips to national competitions this summer. Several of the members of the team have been working on a new county website, which is nearing completion. Firestone said there was 3-Star money set aside through the Chamber for the website.