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More changes taking place about Newport, just look and see

Earl Norton, at right, talks with customer Jerry Crum on Wednesday afternoon. Earl
operates M&N Automotive located next to the By Lo market off Cosby Highway. The garage
had not operated for more than 30 years until Earl opened his business there about five
months ago.
Published: 11:39 PM, 08/24/2012 Last updated: 11:39 PM, 08/24/2012

Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

We are fast approaching the last full moon of the month on the last day of August when temperatures dipped in our hometown making us believe that fall is arriving early along with the string of morning fogs and departures of the last swallows.

You recall that we talked about the new Dollar General store built at Hwy. 411 and Highway 25/70 not far from the Shell station at the intersection leading to Bush Brother's cannery and center. By the way, visit the antique car show at the Bush center Saturday only. The Dollar General opened on Aug. 1 with Bria March the manager. I met Laura Potter, an associate manager who lives in Newport. She is from Roane County and coincidentally knows Rick Hooper, our managing editor, who worked for the Roane County newspapers years ago. Rick and Jenny's daughter, Didi and Laura were schoolmates. Another employee I met is Tina Dillon of Cosby. Her sister works at the Parrottsville Dollar General. The store employes eight people and shows off the new retail concept and style for the national change.

Construction is also moving along on the new Stinnett Chevrolet showroom, and Marc Stinnett said this will be open in October. The old building is getting a facelift to match the new structure fašade. That day Marc and Dad, Cleo, were getting ready to deliver a red Silverado 2500 to Hot Springs and wishing the bridge was not closed.


New business operators welcome you


During the past weeks I've been noticing changes at the By Lo market off Cosby Highway at Cave Church Road. You've seen the equipment and men digging and working in the parking lot last week, so I stopped in Wednesday as the temperatures were rising. The By Lo market has been one of the Plain Talk's busiest locations for newspaper sales, and I wanted to be sure we are still inside after Mo Swanson retired months ago. I believe that Tim Layman operated the market for a while and then Vijay Patel, who owns the I-40 and 25/70 BP store, took over on August 13. The property is still owned by Billy Pat Cureton and his sister, Norma Jean Myers. I think their parents lived on the hill above the market and former garage years and years ago.

Vijay confirmed that he is tearing out the old gas pumps that had not been operated for many years. Then the parking lot is going to be paved so customers have more and easier access. The inside of the store is changed to add more merchandise and soon you will see a new sign for the business. Plain Talk customers will still have the convenience of picking up the latest news at our inside rack.

While watching the ditching and construction, and since Doug's Pig barbecue bus was closed for the day, I wandered over to the garage. As I mentioned, it has been so long since this garage was open and operating that I don't have a memory of it. A familiar man standing inside while his car was being repaired was Jerry Crum. Perhaps you know him, as I do, as the brother to Cocke County Deputy David Crum. Jerry worked and retired from Falcon Products years ago. Also seated inside taking a break was M&N Automotive boss Earl Norton. He is a Bridgeport Norton, the son of the late Robert Norton and Mom, Barbara Franklin. For about 40 years, Earl has been a mechanic starting out working for area dealers and then for the past 28 years running his own mechanic shop. He has five fulltime mechanics and does everything from motors, transmission repair to oil changes. As the business grows at the busy location, he plans to add another service bay. It's good to see the looks of the location improve and these businesses doing well in Newport.



Family could not stay together


We left off last week moving along in a tragic story told to me by Von Smith concerning he and Carolyn's adopted daughter Gail Heffelfinger and later Gail Holt. After working many years in Newport, Gail and son, Chris, left Tennessee and lived in Paducah, Kentucky, where she continued to work and he got a college education. They were returning to Cocke County in May 1993 to live here again. The moving truck they used broke down on a ramp in Nashville. While waiting outside the truck for the wrecker, a car came along the ramp and ran into Gail. She was knocked many feet into the air and along the pavement and died hours later at Vanderbilt Medical Center on May 22, 1993 at age 46. The late Rev. Artie Ray Chapman officiated at the Manes funeral, and Gail was buried at the Smith family plot at Clay Creek Cemetery.

Those of Von's age or older, he is 79, may recall his father, Eldy Smith, who was born at Grassy Fork. Eldy and his son, George Beech Smith, went to New Jersey to work at an orchard as there were no open jobs in Cocke County during the Great Depression. Eldy was married to Lola Neas Smith and for a time they lived about a mile south of the current Bybee Market off Highway 160 on the Hurley property. Sadly, Lola contracted TB, died in 1942, and all her children were placed in Christian homes. Von went to live with Lola's brother, Truman Neas. At one time he worked at a Newport hardware store before moving to Ohio. Truman and wife, Nan, raised Von until he ran away at age 16.

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