Spring-like weather arrived on Thursday to warm hearts on
Valentine's Day in our hometown, but folks were also stocking up at grocery
stores anticipating some snow for the weekend in these mountains.
A met a couple of interesting people who are new to me.
Reverend James Robert Allen came to the Plain Talk office last week to place a
notice about reorganizing the Clear Creek Coon Club. In past years Kenneth Reed
had handled these news items with me. James is an evangelistic preacher who
lives near Newport Raceway off Industrial Road and is a long-time resident of
the Rankin area. The reorganization takes place on February 16 at 7 p.m. at the
Hill Top Baptist Church fellowship hall in Newport. Hill Top church is easy to
spot off West Broadway near the old Rhyne Lumber Company plant. The coon club
like others in the county does far more than hunt, and helps the community. We
will be announcing the club's new officers soon.
While picking up some snacks at For Heaven's Cake Bakery
where chocolate is still the number one choice, I met Mark Mathis, who is a
self-taught airbrush artist. When walking up to the building, a giant painted
cupcake on the east wall easily caught my attention, and it is the artwork of
Mark. Having known many in the Mathis family, I asked his kinship to the late
Albert Mathis, who was an outstanding Mason, 33rd degree, and Mark said Albert
was a brother to Mark's father, Cleve Mathis. This means Cocke County Trustee
Rob Mathis is a nephew. I will soon make some photos and tell you more about
Time to test the pavement
Last week we began talking with Lydia and Larry
"Yogi" Shelton about their families and their enjoyment of running
for sport. Lydia (Suggs) Shelton got her inspiration for running from her
children and friends. Over the years she has improved her physical conditioning
and endurance plus lost weight. I asked her to refresh my memory on how she
ended up in Newport with Yogi. Being raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, she had no
contact or connections with East Tenn., except through church. She attended
First Free Will Baptist Bible College in Nashville. While there she was a
member of a traveling drama group for the college and in the early 1980s
visited Newport. She met Yogi at the church and by 1982 they were married.
Once in Newport, she started teaching at Newport
Christian and Grace Christian schools. Lydia was an elementary grade school
teacher for about 10 years. Scott Gorrell was an administrator at Grace Christian
for part of that time. I got to know her because she worked at the Newport
Plain Talk in 1994 as classified dept. manager and did a fine job. We hated to
see her leave but she was able to join the county clerk's office. For about 16
years she has been working for County Clerk Janice Butler. And serves as a
title clerk in that office.
I have mentioned Yogi and Lydia's children, Paul, 27, and
Amber, 21. She is earning her degree at East Tenn. State University. Paul
teaches at Unicoi County Middle School and is also high school football coach
in his fourth year. Paul's wife, Sarah, attends the Quillen School of Medicine
where she is studying to be a doctor. Her family name is Himmelreich and she
grew up in Bearden.
Paul tells me he began running track at Cocke County High
School in cross-country. Sarah was also a runner. In 2009, Paul completed the
Atlanta marathon and this encouraged Sarah to run the Cincinnati marathon along
with Amber. So Paul, Sarah, and Amber all completed the popular Ohio marathon in
May 2011. At first Lydia had no intentions of ever running 26 miles at one time
and started running to get in better shape. She would run a few miles but when
she turned 50 thought it might be a challenge to run 10 miles. In 2010, she ran
the Bluegrass Half Marathon in Johnson City, as did "the kids." She
continued her training with lots of support from both Lincoln Avenue Baptist
pastor Craig Ward, an avid runner, and his wife, Ann, who is a regular running
partner with Lydia.
Craig and Ann marathoners
Craig ran the Flying Pig Marathon and Ann has completed
two marathons. By May 2012, Lydia was ready and did run a full marathon. The
family all cheered her along and it required a lot of cheering and Gatorade
during that six hour run. Amber joined mom to run the last six miles together.
Ann also ran alongside. "If you are training to run a marathon, you have
to have a partner," said Lydia.
"There are so many things I learned I can do
better," she said, reflecting on her running. Prior to her first marathon she
trained four months to gain the endurance and confidence required. While she
has not scheduled to run another marathon soon she does do many five-mile runs.
Looking back at the start of her marathon training it was
also the time Yogi had his colon cancer surgery. Lydia and Ann had planned to
run 20 miles non-stop but put this on hold. Later, as Yogi's health improved,
he was there during training to cheer her along. "My two kids are some of
my best supporters," she said. They also post on Facebook to share their
running interest. Other friends have begun running regularly including Clyde
and Lisa Allen. And so the journey continues for the running Sheltons.
People are learning gun safety
Over the next couple of weeks we will be
talking about a topic that should be of interest and meeting with folks who use
and train others in the handling of weapons, particularly handguns. The
highlight of 2012 for me must have been the Cocke County Sheriff's Department
handgun carry permit class at the Newport Community Center. Or was it the death
of my long-time redbone hound Zeke?