Moving into the end of
January, intense cold is holding on to our hometown landscape making it difficult for electric and
natural gas utility workers on the frozen terrain. They deserve a vacation to the Caribbean.
I must make a mention of a long-time friend and
associate with Jones Media Inc., the company that owns the Newport Plain Talk, Bob Hurley, who
died last week of cancer. He had already been working at the Greeneville Sun in the 1960s, when I
joined the Plain Talk in 1973. Bob was an exceptional writer and photographed the Appalachian scene
with a keen, artistic eye. He is related to Cocke County people and has written on our folks, too.
He and I covered the infamous snake handling at the county courthouse in the late 1970s. I will
never forget when the snake handlers had been preaching to a crowd on the railroad tracks side of
the courthouse. Spectators formed a semi circle and Bob was up front, me next to him. He was about
6 feet-six and hefty. Suddenly one snake handler, seeing Bob and his big camera, moved closer and
held the copperhead or rattler up towards Bob. In a loud voice, Bob said, “That’s close enough
fellow.” I was at Dr. Steve Smith’s office last week and he told me the kinship. Steve’s father,
Conrad, who died last year, was a first cousin to Bob Hurley. Conrad’s mother, Lilly Hurley, had
married Fuller Smith of the Point Pleasant area. Lilly’s brother Joseph Hurley, was Bob’s father.
“He was the biggest one in our family,” said Dr. Smith.
Cold days but hot food
The weather produced quite a contrast last week with a balmy afternoon on Monday
followed by a sheer plunge in the temperatures to about 9 degrees by Wednesday, 4 degrees Friday.
While walking along East Broadway I made a few photos which you see here showing car washing and
then a bundled up woman proclaiming the pizza buffet at Milano’s. The pizza and potato soup came
in handy to combat the cold. It has been most unusually cold but more like it used to be and this
caused a scramble for fuel such as propane now in short supply. We reported on the fuel transport
problem but it will pass as quickly as the weather changes.
business people are dealing with broken pipes from freezing. I was talking with Mike Crowell at my
neighbor, East Tenn. Tire, where he and his employee were fixing tires in this terrible cold with
no heat. In addition, the water line froze so he has had no water. Friday morning, I visited with
Hop Byrd in his business office that also houses Newport Car Detail Center where I was shooting
photos. He said the old building also had frozen pipes.
If you want to
try some hot Italian food that I recently heard about, you might visit the Sub Station and Welcome
Station next to the former Cosby National Bank branch along Highway 321. I had a brief talk with
business operator Frank Aloi, an Italian from upstate New York. He and his wife, Mary, have been
here 15 years. Frank had other small businesses but is really trying to make a go of the new
restaurant that features lasagna, manicotti, pastas, and more. He opened four months ago. He hopes
that by offering good home cooked food more tourists will stop at Cosby. I learned that he is the
fellow who built the log cabin next to the Cub Motel many years ago. Soon, I will visit to bring
you more information about Frank and his new restaurant and how the food is.
Keep Cocke County Beautiful
We have been talking about Tim Berkel and his
work with Keep Cocke County Beautiful, a recent program presented to the Newport Kiwanis Club. I
reported on his marine/shipping background. Tim also managed to upgrade his education obtaining
degrees in marketing and international business. His last job as a senor vice president and general
manager made him responsible for a fleet of 55 ships and 2,800 employees. KCCB is benefiting from
this marketing and business background as the non-profit has already received more than $100,000
in grants. I found it most interesting that he worked at an Alabama shipyard as marketing
strategist and product development taking the enterprise from unprofitable to $100 million revenue
per year in just two years.