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Businesses are finding new homes before spring arrives

Tuesday afternoon I was happy to see Ruth Wilson at the new Wilsonís Sav-Mor
Pharmacy off East Main at the former Tuckerís Cafť location. You remember that Randy
and Tammy Tucker operated the restaurant from about 1994 until 2009 when Bill McMillan
bought it. Ruth, at left, talks with a favorite customer, Tammy Tucker, who hardly
recognized what used to be her work place.
Published: 8:29 PM, 02/21/2014 Last updated: 8:08 AM, 02/24/2014

Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

Cold returns this week after we stripped to our T-shirts and shorts for outdoor walking along Broadway in our hometown, where citizens can expect to see much colder days, but will there be more snow?

There are fewer than a week of days before March rolls in to confound us with the whims of spring weather. Looks like we missed the tornado last week after Weather Channel phone warnings jarred us out of sleep at 6:00 a.m. The lightning over L.S. McKayís house must have been frightful. I saw him in Walmart just weeks ago and he hasnít aged but looks younger.


From mining to writing


For now I wish to complete our visit and chat with writer and retired water utility worker Ray Baker, of Newport. He started out in a damp zinc mine in Jefferson City and ended at the water plant on the hill overlooking Jimtown and Newport. After Ray retired, he worked about six or seven years to finish Wrong Road to Eternity. I asked why he doesnít write now and he explained that as he has gotten older it is difficult to follow a stream of ideas and weave his words into a story. On May 9th he will be 84.

 He lives off Golf Club Drive with his wife, the former Bobbie Hill, and said the theme of the book was kindled by his own memories of the Great Depression and rural life near the French Broad River. That is the setting for Wrong Road to Eternity. Ray said he credits Bobbie for getting and keeping him motivated to write again. She asked him, what if she bought an electric typewriter, would he use it? When she did, he began earnestly in 2002 and self-published the novel in 2006. Ray noted that well-known artists self-publish, such as Griscomís A Time to Kill. ďSelling a book is lot harder than writing a book,Ē said Ray.

His only real training over the years was reading Writerís Digest. Ray also completed another novel he calls Modern Times but has not been doing any writing lately.


Ice can hurt you


More than a week ago, while stopping at the Farm Bureau Insurance office, I saw a fellow limping around on crutches. It was Gray Graves. He told me that during early January he ran outside and slipped on ice. This caused him to break his upper leg and bruised his shoulder. Ice is treacherous. Just ask Bill Crum, of Edwina. Bill is a look-time employee of the gas utility. He is like me, a workaholic, and has done so overcoming lots of obstacles such as a liver transplant about 17 years ago. In addition to dealing with that and pneumonia he was laid up on the couch last week from a fall. He got out of his vehicle at work and slipped on ice taking a nasty fall but didnít break anything. Letís hope we are over ice for the winter. I keep bumping into another victim of an ice fall, Gary E. Parks. You recall he fell in his driveway more than a year ago but recovered with therapy at VIP Physical Therapy, which is soon to move its location to the Western Plaza. I still plan to talk with Gary about his Vietnam war era experiences.



Who crossed bridge first?


Iíve been asked to set the record straight on who was the first to cross the rebuilt Wolf Creek Bridge over the French Broad River. You recall the historic arched bridge was closed for almost two years. It quietly reopened on Sunday, February 2. We were sent some photos and information about the opening and mentioned that Mayor Vaughn Moore was among the first to drive across in his Dodge truck. But Mayor Moore relinquished the first-place title and said he was accidentally in the area when the barricades were removed. Both Sam Burgin and former Cocke County Sheriff D.C. Ramsey were at the bridge first waiting for the barricades to be taken down.. Apparently they heard it was to open at the day and time transmitted to them. Burgin was on the Wolf Creek side, as he lives east of the bridge. D.C. and Wilma Ramsey were on the Newport side as they live near the Del Rio Hwy. 107 intersection. I am told that D.C. Ramsey was the first to drive across the new bridge and perhaps passed Sam who was going in the other direction. At least they didnít collide on the bridge. Mayor Moore told me an interesting and perhaps true story of an accident when the original bridge was built. A worker fell off the bridge and survived because he fell onto a soft sandbar in the river. Days or weeks later the same worker was killed when he was tossed off a horse-drawn wagon and broke his neck. Maybe you have heard who this man was and could tell us?


From one corner to the other


Monday afternoon was balmy, sunny and a relief from the not-so-sweet Valentineís time of snow and ice, when I walked into the new Wilsonís Sav-Mor Pharmacy. The folks you know moved one block from the west side of Newport Dry Goods to the east side in what was formerly Minnis Drugs. You will not recognize anything but the people because of the modernization and presentation of the new drug store. Ruth Wilson, Rob Bullington and staff moved into the time-hallowed location with little fanfare in mid November. One of the first people who greeted me was Lisa Giles, a 27-year-veteran clerk and all-around helper. You know her well. I chatted some with Helen McClaren, the pharmacist on duty. She has been with Wilsonís Sav-Mor for about five years, grew up in Jefferson City but worked many years in Jackson before Rob recruited her for Newport. Perhaps the person other than Ruth, who has worked there the longest is Linda Swanger, a pharmacy technician. Here are some of the other folks you know who attend to your prescription needs: Lexi Wilson, pharmacy tech; Dillian Hall, pharmacy tech; and Tonya Smith, also a pharmacy tech and long-timer at the business. Ruth helped plan the move and all her customers followed.

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