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Senior baseball and softball athletes at Carter High School received a drive-by parade for them on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. Knoxville News Sentinel

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What's new in your community? Find out here at the Shopper-News blog. We'll have updates on people, places, businesses, schools and sports in your community. Check back throughout the week.

KARNS

'Take Some-Leave Some' cabinet gains community support

Nancy Anderson, Shopper News 

Karns has a new “Take Some-Leave Some” cabinet (also known as a Blessing Box) to benefit the community, located in the Beaver Ridge United Methodist Church parking lot at 7753 Oak Ridge Highway.

ope赞助It all started with a Facebook post from Heather Maupin, who said Karns should have a blessing box. Patty Eckhart and Jan Cate took the ball and ran with it, calling it the “Take Some-Leave Some Cabinet, or the “TLC.”

They approached store manager Dennis Brown at Home Depot hoping to get a cabinet donated. Eckhart wrote a letter formally asking for the donation. Brown came through, donating a 6-foot-tall cabinet to the Karns community.

ope赞助Eckhart conveyed her thanks to Brown and Home Depot “for providing us with the critical component necessary for the Karns ‘Take Some-Leave Some Cabinet’ to be a conduit for neighbors to help neighbors." 

ope赞助Mark Graham, Randy Creswell and Kam Sanders came on board to help, making it a team effort.

Creswell got approval from Beaver Ridge United Methodist Church to place the box in their parking lot. Graham and Sanders then built a base and shelves for the cabinet April 15. By Friday evening, April 17, the community had filled the shelves with much needed items including canned meats, baking mixes and syrup, potatoes, rice, coffee and creamers, cereals, crackers, and bleach.

ope赞助“It’s unbelievable, but the community completely filled this cabinet within 48 hours. I posted that it was complete on Wednesday. By Friday evening it was completely full. People had already taken some things out and others had put things in,” said Graham.

ope赞助“This whole thing started because someone took an idea and ran with it, actually putting it in motion. I saw a post on ‘I Love Karns!’ Facebook page asking if someone could put this cabinet together so my nephew and I jumped on it.”

The most unexpected item found in the cabinet was homemade cloth face masks.

ope赞助The masks were picked up by Kayla Lynn Meshale, who posted a thank you note to the “I Love Karns!” Facebook page.

“Thank you to my creative community!!" it said. "I am starting my last quarter of nursing school as a nursing student and these masks will be my life saver going into the hospital! I am so grateful for my wonderful community of Karns!! It is wonderful to see the support of our community in these tough times!”

The cabinet is currently filled with canned foods, including soups. Canned meats and baking mixes are the most popular items. People seem to be leaving “front of the shelf” items rather than the canned green beans and beats that have been sitting in the back for years.

Graham said, “The TLC has been going a week now and so many people are helping to keep it stocked. I know it doesn't look like much has been selected because there is so much in the cabinet. I would guess well over $500 in food, hygiene, and cleaning supplies have passed through to the people who need it.

ope赞助“It’s people helping people in our community.”

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POWELL

Driveway artist presents 'positive' view in Broadacres

Al Lesar, Shopper News 

No matter the circumstances of life – and there have been plenty of unique circumstances lately – Sonia Summers continues to rely on her art for stability.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic a couple weeks ago, Summers was the picture of serenity set up near her Broadacres neighborhood painting a landscape portrait of Weigel’s Farm.

ope赞助“Art has always been an essential for me,” Summers said. “It’s always been there when I needed it. It’s a way to let out the pent-up energy.

“If you’re into landscapes, it allows you to explore, even though you’re not able to leave where you’re at. My art makes me feel useful.

ope赞助“It was neat to have people on their walk stop for a while and talk about my art. It’s nice to get feedback.”

Art is also a means for expression. While her cloistered neighbors have gone out past the collection of houses, Summers has adorned her driveway with chalk signs of the season: A Christian theme, a peacock and dogwood.

ope赞助“It’s my way of brightening the community,” she said. “It’s cathartic for me, but, like any public work, you have the audience to consider. I want people to feel a positive in it while they walk around the neighborhood.”

Returning home   

Sonia (Jackson) grew up in Powell, attending Powell Elementary and Powell Middle schools. Her family moved to Cedar Bluff when she attended Knoxville Catholic (graduating in 2003), and she went on to get an art degree from the University of Tennessee (2008).

She and her husband, Zach, were married in 2011, and they moved to Birmingham, Ala.

“I’ve been an artist located between realism and impressionism,” Summers said. “I like to tell the story realistically, but also capture the moment.”

ope赞助In Birmingham, Summers was focused on commission work. With two children (Bella, 5, and Liam, almost 3) and another on the way, Zach (a teacher at Lakeway Christian Academy in Morristown) and Sonia felt last fall was a good time to return to Powell.  

ope赞助“Since I’ve come back here, I’ve taken a step back to create and re-learn some things,” Summers said. “I’ve gotten back to some traditional techniques; things that weren’t covered in college. I’ve gotten back to the basics, which has been fun.”

On the fringe   

ope赞助Trying to establish herself in the Knoxville art community has been a challenge. Before she was married, she and her father, Robert Jackson, had done some murals around town.

“We were on the fringe of the art community,” Summers said. “We knew some of the people who were big, but we were never in there.”

ope赞助A job at Painting With A Twist in Farragut has been put on hold the past several weeks because of the coronavirus. It has left Summers more time to get her homeschooling plan in place, while working on her own style.

ope赞助“I started Bella with the basics (of art) when she was 2½,” Summers said. “Since then, she’s cut loose. She enjoys her creativity. We’re ready to have her work with more formal shapes and images.

“Liam, he’s a little too rambunctious. He likes to color, but that’s all for now.”

While the kids spend their time doodling, Summers has taken her canvas to the front of her house – for all her neighbors to see.

ope赞助“It will change every couple days,” she said. “I just want people to be able to see the positive.”

To get a look at Summers’ work, or to contact her, go to soniajacksonsummers.weebly.com, or her Sonia Jackson Summers, Artist Facebook page.

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HALLS/FOUNTAIN CITY 

Venture beyond the backyard on Halls Greenway

Ali James, Shopper News 

ope赞助Hiking and nature trails may not be the first things that come to mind when people think of Halls. Last week the weather was perfect for a hike and a little bird watching, but with the state park trails still closed , adventures in quarantining had to happen a little closer to home.

KNOXVILLE 

Dogwood Arts takes Chalk Walk online

Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News 

Though the annual Dogwood Arts Festival, scheduled to start April 24, isn’t happening this year because of coronavirus concerns, one of its most popular attractions – the Market Square Chalk Walk – took place online instead, with the virtual Chalk (Your) Walk Competition.

ope赞助“We’ve been inspired by the words of encouragement, messages of hope, and friendly reminders to wash your hands left on sidewalks and driveways all over the city over the past few weeks,” says Shannon Herron, marketing and creative director for Dogwood Arts.

ope赞助With the theme: “What Inspires You,” the competition took place on the Dogwood Arts Facebook page April 4-12. “We received over 200 submissions, and 19,500 votes,” says Herron. The winners, judged by how many “likes” their pieces got, are

  • Mary Ward
  • Sonia Summers
  • John, A.J., and Chris Thayer
  • Sarah Bellah
  • Teresa McNelly

Summers says she was happy that the competition took place online because she loved seeing all the other creations. The Powell resident is a professional artist with a degree in fine art from UT, where she also drew regular cartoon features for The Daily Beacon. In addition to showing and selling her own work, she teaches at Painting With A Twist in Farragut.

With Holy Week as her theme, and the knowledge that gathering for worship is not possible right now, Summers chalked a montage of Easter events and symbols.

“I hoped others would find solace in the comforting and familiar faith imagery,” she says. “Even though we aren’t practicing our faith as we normally would, we are all still here as brothers and sisters in Christ and united in similar angst and suffering with the whole world right now.” She also draws parallels between Christian symbols of self-sacrifice and “all the health care workers and essential workers putting themselves at risk for the benefit of others.”   

ope赞助Karns resident Teresa McNelly teaches art at Grace Christian Academy. “For many years now, I have wanted to participate in the Dogwood Arts Chalk Walk in Market Square but have either missed the deadline or have chickened out. When I found out they were doing a virtual version of it during this time of social distancing, I figured it was a perfect chance to participate.”

She chose a favorite inspirational phrase from a book by Priscilla Shirer. “Her words, ‘Walk on. Have faith. Fear not.’ inspire me to keep walking, to have faith and to not fear despite what might be happening in my life – good or bad.”

Winners receive prize packs from Dogwood Arts and the chance to have their artwork featured on merchandise at the 2021 Chalk Walk.

Sponsors for the event are ORNL Federal Credit Union, First Horizon Bank, the Slocum Family Foundation, the Tennessee Arts Commission, Status Dough Doughnuts, Jerry's Artarama, and Jim & Becky Dodson.

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BEARDEN

Pastor is Cokesbury's central connector during COVID-19

John Shearer, Shopper News

The Rev. Stephen DeFur of Cokesbury United Methodist Church in West Knoxville was once a serious bicycle racer who experienced both excitement and challenges while taking long rides across the undulating countryside during competitions.

Now he puts in long days as a minister navigating the pastoral landscape that includes the highs and lows of his congregation members’ lives and trying to offer inspiring sermons.

And he has enjoyed this ride, too.

“I’m on the job 24-7 and put in around 65 hours a week,” he said of overseeing the 5,300-member church that has 45 full-time staff members. “It’s a massive organization. It requires a lot of time, but I can’t fathom any other work. It’s great to see lives changed every day.”

ope赞助As DeFur recently talked over the phone while helping get some groceries to his parents in Crossville, he said his church has no doubt been affected by not meeting in person due to mandates by Holston Conference Bishop Dindy Taylor for safety reasons.

But they have continued to try and meet the needs of the members and others who regularly attend the church services on a typical Sunday.

While they have had a strong online presence for about five years, they hurriedly switched all their ministries completely over within about a 48-hour period when the coronavirus outbreak reached Tennessee and safety measures were urged in mid-March.

ope赞助That has included not only the Sunday sermons, but also such activities as a Thursday Zoom support group for those who need to talk about issues with which they are dealing.

They have also continued a once-a-week ministry of outreach in a safe and social distancing way. That has included in recent weeks a drive-through food pantry and sending free pizzas to every fire station in Knox County.

ope赞助“We are making sure we are connecting with people,” he said, adding the church is also planning to send some youth to help with the tornado recovery effort in Chattanooga, where a number of church members have connections.

ope赞助DeFur also has a connection to Chattanooga, and first sensed a call to a life of Christian ministry as a freshman at Hixson High School while attending Hixson United Methodist Church.

ope赞助The senior pastor, the Rev. Bob Walker, and the youth (and later associate) pastor, the Rev. David Graves, now a bishop, helped guide him, he said. “Those two guys helped me sense my calling and made sure I stayed on the right path.”

The multi-sport athlete in high school – who later once noticed another young bike racer named Lance Armstrong at a race in Athens, Ga. – went on to seminary. And after serving a church in Cartersville, Ga., while in school, he came to Cokesbury in 1996 as an associate pastor.

ope赞助Cokesbury – located at 9919 Kingston Pike just east of Pellissippi Parkway – has become one of the larger United Methodist churches in the country, and it was previously led by such pastors as the Revs. Jerry Anderson, Ken Henderlight and Steve Sallee.

Sallee had especially grown the church through his leadership before his untimely death from heart complications in 2013, and DeFur said it was not easy to step in as the new senior pastor for the man who had been his best friend.

“I had to lead and grieve at the same time,” he said. “That’s a relatively unprecedented thing to have happen. But our church has a deep history of taking care of each other and survived that process.”

Cokesbury has worship buildings on both the north and south sides of Kingston Pike, and also has a location in Johnson City. The church also founded the Susannah’s House ministry in Knoxville for mothers battling addiction, and it has looked at starting a similar ministry in Johnson City.

ope赞助During normal times, DeFur – who enjoys bass fishing, playing golf and walking as hobbies – preaches one contemporary-style service on Saturday and three on Sundays. Other pastors on staff include Anna Lee, Mark Beebe, Rebekah Fetzer and Charles Maynard.

ope赞助“I think it’s the greatest church in America,” DeFur said of Cokesbury. “I’ve never seen a group of people so engaged and wanting to make a difference. Even though we are cooped up, we are still making huge impacts on the community.”

Until the coronavirus pandemic, the United Methodist Church at large had been heavily embroiled in the debate over whether gay clergy can serve or whether gay weddings can take place at churches. DeFur said his church has tried to focus more on making a difference than making a political point and has stayed mostly out of the discussion.

“I’ve worked really hard to keep myself and the church out of politics,” he said. “We have such a wide and diverse group, it would be hard to get a consensus.

“Our doors are wide open. Everybody needs to experience Jesus. Life is too short and too precious to get caught up in politics.” 

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NORTH/EAST

The Shora Foundation keeps caring for kids during coronavirus isolation

Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News 

The Shora Foundation, founded in 2008 by Tanika Harper, has a history of providing services of many kinds to children, teens and young adults in the East Knoxville area. Its goals are “to elevate education, enhance experiences, shift mindsets, empower generations and increase opportunities.”

It’s still doing that. Even during the coronavirus lockdown.

ope赞助“We are actually delivering educational resources and groceries to our families,” says Harper. “One of our main concerns is food security. While Knox County Schools are doing the best they can, we know that some of the kids don’t have transportation to get to school. So it’s our responsibility to know that not only are the kids eating but their parents, their brothers and sisters.”

ope赞助Shora – “a safe place” in the Nigerian language – offers programs addressing academic, social, emotional and physical needs. Its Academic Center provides after-school and summer programming to help grade-school students in under-resourced communities strive and reach their full potential. With Shora’s intervention, 90% of the students they serve academically progress to the next grade level. 

The Breakfast Club is a summer program for high school seniors and young adults ages 18-24, who are finishing up one big part of their lives and beginning another. The staff provides a life skills curriculum, focusing on education, financial literacy, character and career development.

African-Americans are at a higher risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Shora offers exercise/fitness classes and “Garden on Selma,” a community garden offering fresh produce. The organization also helps with GED programs, college enrollment and job placement.

The fact that Shora is very much on its feet during this unprecedented pandemic is a testament to the dedication of its founder, small staff, volunteers and partners, including Young Life, Community Evangelistic Church, Hope Resource Center, the Knox County Health Department, Eternal Life Harvest and Hope Fellowship Church.

ope赞助“Zoom calls, getting food, delivering food, making up educational packets, delivering packets – all of those are somebody’s job!” says Harper. “Right now we have two staff and about two or three volunteers. When we are operating our full-time program we have 8-10 volunteers.

“The educational packets are grade-specific to each child, and we only give materials that have been taught through KCS. We are not teaching new material at this time. We give art project resources each week. 

ope赞助“Our staff are calling and stopping by the homes of students who we believe are high risk of falling into a ‘mental slump.’ It’s important that we allow them to talk through this trying time with trusted adults.”

ope赞助The words of Kailash Satyarthi, the Indian social reformer who campaigned for the universal right to education, are quoted on Shora’s website: “The power of youth is the common wealth for the entire world. The faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present, and our future. No segment in the society can match with the power, idealism, and the enthusiasm and courage of the young people.”

You can help. Visit shorafoundation.org.

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KARNS/HARDIN VALLEY

'Adopt a Senior' takes off like wildfire

Nancy Anderson, Shopper News 

ope赞助Robbin Paige Sharp had a bright idea. She wanted people to adopt high school seniors and shower them with gifts and cards May 8 through May 15.

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Class of 2020! Show us your senior picture!

Area graduation ceremonies have been put on hold – but the News Sentinel and Shopper News would like to honor high school grads with a photo gallery on masderd.com. 

High school seniors in Knox and surrounding counties (public and private schools) are invited to submit a senior/graduation photograph and be recognized as part of the Class of 2020.

It's easy! Just submit a quality JPEG photograph and include the first and last name and school of the senior to be recognized. Email to: Features@masderd.com and put "Graduation photo" in the subject line. 

We can't wait to see your smiling faces!

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FARRAGUT

BOMA tightens belt during troubling times

Margie Hagen, Shopper News 

ope赞助A workshop meeting prior to the regular Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting on April 23 reviewed the upcoming budget beginning on July 1 and looked at options to decrease expenditures as revenues from retail and restaurant sales slump.

Fiscally conservative, Farragut follows the “pay as you go” philosophy and has no appreciable debt. Looking forward, Town Administrator David Smoak presented revisions for the board to consider. The final budget will need to be approved by BOMA in June, so they will be considering all exigencies.

ope赞助Line items included adding staff and equipment for Public Works. With the addition of the Community Center, completion of the grounds at the Campbell Station Inn and expansion of McFee Park, there is more acreage to mow and maintain. Director Bud McKelvey requested three more employees, but those positions may have to be staggered in over time.

A full-time Community Center assistant operator will be needed when the center reopens to the public. That person would direct events at night and on weekends, replacing several part-time assistants. “It’s a $5 million building,” said Parks & Recreation Director Sue Stuhl, adding, “but depending on what happens, we’ll wait.”

Health insurance renewal was another topic discussed. Should the town stay with the current plan or increase employee contributions? Vice Mayor Louise Povlin was against raising employee premiums since merit raises may be postponed.

Capital improvement projects and stormwater funding were critiqued and prioritized, some by cost and some by safety concerns. Board members agreed that stormwater funding should be approved along with the Smith Road sidewalk and Watt Road pedestrian crossing projects, but nothing is final yet.

ope赞助A lot of hard choices will have to be made by BOMA before decisions about the budget are finalized.

ope赞助Some relief for Farragut hotels and motels came at the recommendation of Mayor Ron Williams. He proposed a 90-day suspension of the recently approved sales tax on hotel rooms until Sept. 1. The entire board wholeheartedly agreed, and the revised ordinance will officially be voted on in a future meeting.

ope赞助Knox County’s Director of Health Dr. Martha Buchanan popped into the online meeting from her downtown office, updating residents on COVID-19. She outlined plans for continued testing and noted that more local guidelines will be coming soon. Advice and statistics change daily, so find the latest at the Knox County Health Department’s website.

“COVID-19 is passed as easily as the flu but will make more people sick,” Buchanan said. “We don’t have ‘herd immunity’ and we are all susceptible.”

Williams took time to thank residents for “pulling together” and continued to encourage physical distancing, the wearing of face masks and staying home. A lot more went on during the combined meetings including the citizen forum, so if you missed watching live on community television, find it on Farragut’s YouTube channel.

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OPINION

We’ll all have stories to tell

Leslie Snow, Shopper News columnist

Hollywood will probably make movies about it. Clothing manufacturers will print “I survived COVID-19” T-shirts for all of us to wear. And of course, we’ll have our stories, the ones we tell and retell to the folks too young to remember what it was like to live through the pandemic of 2020.

ope赞助We’ll talk about wearing masks to the grocery store and describe the empty shelves we saw when we got there. We’ll remember the way truck drivers and health care workers became heroes and recount stories of nurses cheering for patients coming off ventilators.

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