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Fall calls attention to growers and talents found in Newport


Marcia Shannon helps out with the vegetable vendor sales at the Newport farmers
market on Saturday mornings. Her full time jobs including being a mother and
working for Lisega in Sevier County.
Published: 10:23 PM, 09/21/2012

Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

After a dense fog on Thursday morning temperatures increased from the low 50s as the weekend welcomed autumn in our hometown, where we await the month of October festivals to follow the late September harvest moon.

There is always a lot of news of note for you and here are a couple of things I heard. On Thursday I went to National Bank to see Shannon Moore's left leg cast. The financial consultant told me he had been working on the deck on his house and was standing on a tall ladder in late June. The ladder toppled and he crashed down on his lower leg. This created a severe break that required surgery. Kelly Moore was pushing him around in a wheelchair for weeks but he is on crutches and expects to need them until the end of the year. But Shannon is thankful the injury was not worse.

Later that day after watching workers many weeks now at Newport's Best Western I dropped in to see how the new restaurant is developing. The Plain Talk is helping the company advertise for workers. General Manager Glenna Hayworth was not there or the new pizza/sub manager Dustin Black. A peep through the window reveals new interior and you can look for a new menu and opening soon with giant pizzas.

Before filling a promise I made to farmers market vendors in their last weeks in Newport for sales, I want to end for now a pleasant visit with newly-retired National Bank of Tennessee loan officer Water Allen Freeman. We talked about former bank president Bill Agee and I have been talking at length with him about the 1930s through 1970s, which you will read about here soon.



Grandpa got a special gift


Anyone who has raised tobacco from preparing seedbeds, to planting, cultivating, suckering, cutting, stripping and packing is familiar with the countless hours. Years ago, Allen put away his tobacco cutter and stakes, and gardens instead.

Flashing back to 1966 and, then, National Bank of Newport, not only had Allen gotten an interview and job, he married the former Betty Grice a week before joining the bank. She is the daughter of William and Hilda Grice, and William worked many years at the former Rhyne Lumber Company, the wood dimensioning company founded by Col. Rhyne, Sr. Betty has been an industrious person, too and worked for Tennessee Handbags and later raised their three daughters.

Daughter LaDuska O'Quinn lives with her husband Scott at New Market. She is named after Allen's grandmother. Laura is married to Robert Robertson and they live near Allen and Betty on the farm off Old Greeneville Hwy. Robert is a Newport businessman operating his security systems company. The other daughter is Cathy Isaacs, married to Brian and living at Watauga. There are four grandchildren: two boys and two girls.

Family is a good thing and can be life saving and here is why. Sometime by the early 1990s Allen lost kidney function and needed dialysis. He was on this burdensome routine for about 11 years while waiting for a kidney transplant that did not come. The problem was solved by a precious gift from his niece, Miranda Tocholke. She is Gary Freeman's (Allen's brother) daughter and donated a kidney in early 2001. While Allen and I chatted about the situation we also talked about one of the first persons in Newport to be on dialysis, Sam Marshall. Sam's wife, Ruby, was also from the mountains and family friends of the Freemans. Gary is eight years younger than Allen and retired from the Department of Energy at Oak Ridge. He is married to Reva, of Del Rio. In addition to Miranda they have another daughter, Lynne Freeman. Allen began retirement August 31, and he hopes to travel, particularly to western states and Canada. But he and Betty are in "limbo" for a while, as her mother has been ill. Time has been good to them and cooler days may soon call them to the highway for well-earned relaxation.


Various goods and good people


The Tanner building stands empty yet the parking lot on Saturday mornings has shown some activity but perhaps not enough to encourage farmers market vendors to continue to show up. Some folks told me there were some interesting things to see so I visited one recent warmer morning. Here is who I met and what you might be interested in seeing before colder weather and fall closes the curtains on the market by early November.

A couple of the first vendors who had piles of beautiful vegetables were David and Marcia Shannon. After chatting for just a few minutes I realized I accidentally drove by their large acre-sized garden off Old Sevierville Highway at Johnson Street. It's the peculiar road at a slant connecting Old Sevierville and Carson Springs Rd. He also has been growing fall mums at Michael Price's Classic Plantings. For the past three years they have been selling at the local market. David also operates Shannon's Tree Trimming. His father and sister live in Greeneville and run Shannon's Farm Market so you see they are committed to green and all the vegetable colors. Dad, Fred Shannon, used to grow Christmas trees and you may have bought one from him years past when they lived in the Wolf Creek area. If gardening isn't enough work, David and Marcie also have five children. One of them was at the market with two baby squirrels. David explained he had cut down a tree and the squirrels were in a hollow woodpecker's den during early August bedding in a handful of straw. Without a home now, the Shannons provided one and nursed the babies who also like Gatorade and peanut butter.

Gardens grew well this year with lots of heat and rain. They had a flavorful tomato, secret variety, selling for $1. Can't recall if that was for a small box or a pound. Marcia is a Benson, daughter of the late Warren Benson and Mom, the former Brenda McMahan. Marcia was raised in Carson Springs and has been married this month four years to David. She is a project estimator for Lisega in Sevier. When walking past the tables my eyes appreciated the sight of piles of baked goods at the Bear Country Baked Goods table. These folks live in the tidy loop-road subdivision called Northridge near Parrottsville. Stephanie Parrish recalls baking her first cake at age 11 and is still at it, getting better all the time. She and Roger Parrish are from southeast Ohio and moved here less than three years ago. He was transferred to the Newport Sonoco Products plant after the one in Lancaster closed. They had visited Newport during a vacation and liked it, the people and mountains, and were happy to move so he can continue working in the paper mill. "I love to bake and meet people," said Stephanie, who spent her first summer at the farmers market. She offered banana bread, no-bake peanut butter cookies, peach bread, which is a best-seller at $4 per loaf, and giant cupcakes. I liked the chocolate. If you don't see them there, I am sure you can track them down by following the aroma of baked desserts.


The Eagles, Brave and Arlene


These folks are truly interested and concerned about the future of the farmers market. They were trying to put George Rowe in touch with me to see how the Plain Talk could help the venture, the local growers, bakers, and craftspeople. He is the fresh-egg man and was not there that morning but usually is and sells out quickly. The Eagles had lived at Cosby but moved closer to Douglas Lake. You know Arlene, if you read the Plain Talk, but may not have realized she is the writer and voice for Forrest, the handicapped dog. I featured the crippled dog years ago to help the Animal Shelter, and Forrest is now living well near Clearwater, Florida. He still uses a wheelchair inside the house and can walk some outside.

Arlene's husband, Brave Eagle, is from Jacksonville, particularly the Black Hammock island whereas she is from southern Illinois and retired after 50 years as a medical coder. She worked for Baptist Hospital most recently but during the years assisted the military and private contractors. The talent that caught my eye was her beaded jewelry. She has been doing this craft since 1988, when Brave Eagle taught her his Indian skill. I hope to share more about these interesting folks with you.

The last booth I visited was operated by two women who had lots of pottery and tattoos. They were friendly and support the farmers market. Tiffany Beason is the market manager, and the potter with her was Tiffani Jenkins. Ms. Beason explained that earlier in the summer there had been more vendors, seven or eight usually who are there from 8 a.m. until about noon. Activity is expected to increase during fall. Set up for vendors is free. Ms. Jenkins said she has been working as a potter for about five years and seems to have gotten the knack of it judging by her fine work. Tiffani is self-taught and a native of North Dakota but grew up in New Jersey. She ended up in Cocke County because a friend told her long ago, "My Dad lives in Cocke County." That was good enough for her to make the move.

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