Volunteer Spirit

Again and again, Tennesseans prove why we’re the Volunteer State.

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Last year, much of our beloved Smoky Mountains National Park was destroyed by wildfires. Much of Gatlinburg also burned, and that community was left with many scars. But, through volunteers and programs like Mountain Strong and Dolly Parton’s My People fund, Gatlinburg and the surrounding area has come a long way toward healing.

Tennesseans are called Volunteers, not just because we support the University of Tennessee, but because we are famous for stepping up when help is needed. During the Mexican-American war, when President Polk called for 2,600 troops to volunteer in America, Tennessee showed up with 30,000 men, ready to fight. This was after the Alamo, and former Tennessee Governor Sam Houston demanded great loyalty from his home state. This year, Houston needed help again, and Tennesseans showed up, again!

This hurricane season has been horrific, with Harvey and Irma causing devastation with record-breaking flooding in Houston and massive destruction of homes and land in the Florida Keys and along the West Coast of the sunshine state. Many people came up to East Tennessee to escape Irma’s fury, seeking refuge in the safety of our mountains.

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Now that the storms have passed, relief is needed, and Tennesseans have once again proven they go above and beyond the call of duty. Celebrities like Kenny Chesney and Dolly Parton donate time and money, but regular Tennesseans step up to help, too.  Tennesseans in Nashville and Knoxville showed up in droves with boats and other watercraft hitched to their vehicles, ready to drive to Houston for search and rescue efforts.  Knoxville firefighters, emergency responders, churches and volunteers donated time, money and relief supplies to help people whose lives were disrupted by these natural disasters. Knoxville residents are raising money for relief efforts in both Houston and Florida through sales of these t-shirts.

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It’s easy to watch the morning news and believe that we don’t care about each other in this country, that hatred and arguments and irreconcilable differences are the new cultural norm in America. But, when disaster strikes, we help each other. We rescue our fellow human beings from the floods, and bring food and drinking water to those who need it. So many people responded to the call for help in Houston that volunteers had to be turned away! Tennesseans were front and center in the big-hearted groups who showed up.

We’re proud to call Tennessee our home, and we love the giving hearts of our neighbors.

If you’re looking for a Tennessee home, too, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Winter Morristown Activities

Nothing makes a place feel more like home than having a community.

Tennessee is pretty much middle-of-the-road for seasonal surprises. We’re mild for the  most part, with the occasional drought (like this year’s) or hot or cold year thrown in, just in case we were getting too used to the status quo. People moving in from further south think it’s shockingly frigid this time of year, while those coming from further west or north think it’s downright balmy. Either way, it doesn’t take long to get used to the rule of the season: either wear or have layers at the ready. It’s not uncommon to start the day freezing but have an afternoon with temperatures in the 60s, even in January!

Tennessee has a stark beauty in the middle of winter. The water in Cherokee lake recedes, showing red-orange clay and veins of rock normally hidden the rest of the year. Trees shed their leaves to reveal undulating hills. Though the days are shorter, sunsets and rises are brilliant this time of year. Even the stars are amazing in the crisp, freezing night air.

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If you like to hike, winter is a great time for it. Trails are less crowded and visibility is increased by miles because of the dryer air and naked trees.

It might not be the best weather to enjoy our parks or sit on the porch, but there is still plenty to do in Morristown! Rose Center has a full list of classes available for you to expand your mind and learn new skills this winter. Join the choir, learn to paint, draw or dance, even hone your creative writing skills! Check out RoseCenter.org for more details.

Rose Center in Morristown also hosts events all year, even during these soggy, gloomy winter months. Come in and warm up at one of the art exhibitions or concerts on the schedule. Check their website to find out more.

If you don’t like to sweat under a winter coat, head indoors. Exercise is one of the best ways to beat the winter blues. Get fit and make some friends at the free Zumba class held every Monday and Thursday in the community room of the Morristown-Hamblen library. See their website for more information.

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The Theatre Guild in Morristown, at 314 S Hill St, has a busy performance season in the works. Enjoy an evening’s entertainment in the audience, or get involved for weeks of camaraderie and behind-the-scenes entertainment. Visit their website for upcoming plays and contact information.  Even if you don’t have a craving for the limelight, you can feel the pride of helping a show come together in dozens of important ways.

Nothing makes a place feel more like home than having a community. Get involved and love where you live!

If you’re interested in the real estate market in Morristown, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Christmas Shopping in Blaine, Tenn.

Take a step away from the big crowds and see what the little, local places have to offer.

It’s all too easy to get fed up with holiday shopping before you even start: the crowds, the anxiousness (What if she doesn’t like this?! What if I’m paying way too much…didn’t that store at the other end of the mall say they’d throw in a free electric bread-butterer?!)

Fortunately, although our area is full of convenient chain and big-box stores, we are built upon the legacy of homemade and cherished, not to mention quirky, things. Take a step away from the big crowds and see what the little, local places have to offer. Your gift recipients will get something unusual and you’ll have a happier shopping experience. In these weeks before Christmas we’ll look at small-town shopping in a few little-known places.

Hey, while you’re cruising the highways and byways of upper East Tennessee on a quest for holiday shopping cheer, remember: the scenery is free!

 

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Photo courtesy of Leigh

Let’s get started with a day in Blaine, Tennessee. Blaine is located just Northeast of Knoxville, and we recommend starting your Blaine shopping pilgrimage from just north of the town, heading toward Knoxville on Highway 11W, also known as Rutledge Pike.

Blaine Antiques

On the right hand side, at 1945 Rutledge Pike, this unassuming little store is worth the drive. It’s truly a treasure hunt, so don’t expect to be in and out in five minutes. Be on the lookout for unusual dinnerware, vintage and collectable toys, jewelry and antique furniture. If you’re an upcycler, this is definitely your kind of muse.

Contact Blaine Antiques at (865) 933-0021

Boots, Lace & Southern Grace

New in 2016 is this store for the fancy, fashionable Appalachian lady. Located just a few minutes west on Rutledge Pike from Blaine Antiques, this is a great girlfriends’ destination. The place is full of lacy tunics, jewelry and a general cowgirl flare. You’ll recognize it by the bright turquoise bench just outside the door.  Visit their Facebook page or give them a call at (865) 401-4168.

Little Dipper

Need a burger and ice cream break? Walk next door for lunch. Little Dipper is small and friendly, and they serve up lunch specials with big portions and Mayfield treats that bring in hungry folks from miles around. Visit their Facebook page or call (865) 932-4886.

Okie’s

Okie’s Pharmacy offers “Cures and Curiosities” in both locations, at Blaine and Maynardville. Locals pick up prescriptions here, but while they’re waiting they peruse tie-dyed reading glasses, old-fashioned greeting cards, luxurious lotions by J.R. Watkins and Burt’s Bees and seasonal sundries like scarves, socks and costume jewelry. Looking for stocking stuffers? Okie’s has a big assortment of old-fashioned hard candies.

Call (865) 932-7775 or visit www.okiespharmacy.com.

The Southern Belle Boutique

Headed out of town, on the right side of Rutledge Pike, is another new source for mountain fashion with attitude: The Southern Belle Boutique. Part of the Southern Elegance Salon, this new store is where Blaine ladies can go for a one-stop complete makeover.

Call (865) 228-9405 or visit their Facebook page for more information.

There you have it: a day of shopping in less than a three mile stretch of highway!

If you want to find out more about living in rural Northeast Tennessee, visit my website at DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Easing Retirement Concerns

Retirement brings with it dramatic life changes. Those approaching this milestone have concerns.

Real estate is about more than just location, location, location! It’s about investing in a life of security and comfort, and it’s even about having something solid to leave as a legacy. Many people choose to relocate (or stay put!) in Tennessee because land is affordable and the cost of living/standard of living ratio is among the very best in this country.

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from retiretennessee.org

Retirement brings with it dramatic life changes. Those approaching this milestone have concerns, about finding stability, financial safety and finding a life of fulfillment after a lifetime of focusing on a career. CBS Money Watch addressed a few of those concerns in this article.

We took a few points and tailored them to fit those recent or pending retirees who might be looking to move to Northeast Tennessee.

Concern: running out of money.

“Between saving enough, being able to spend efficiently, affording your desired lifestyle and the possibility of outliving your money, running out of funds is likely your top retirement concern.”

You can outrun your budget no matter where you live, but if you stick to your limits, this upper right corner of Tennessee is a great place to stretch the value of your dollars. Hiking, swimming, sight-seeing…all this greatly increases quality of life and costs almost nothing. Home costs and energy bills are very low in comparison to other states, in part due to milder weather and in part due to lower prices.

Concern: feeling empty.

“Consider taking up some hobbies more seriously, joining a local group, spending more time with friends and family or planning a trip to kick off your retirement.”

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friendsofthesmokies.org

Thriving arts communities in Morristown and Rogersville, golf clubs, Friends of the Smokies, volunteer opportunities…our area is built on community. Leaving your career can make you feel unmoored, but the solution is to find a new tribe, a new purpose and like-minded group of people to help anchor you in this new stage of life.

Concern:  healthcare.

“Just one reason it’s important to maintain an emergency fund into retirement.”

Moving to a rural area doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your care. Overall lower living costs in Tennessee are a boon to those needing to pad their emergency fund, or pay for prescriptions and other ongoing medical treatments. Also, the medical community in Hamblen, Jefferson, Grainger and surrounding counties includes a wide variety of professionals, ranging from medical doctors and nurses to chiropractors and osteopaths. This means a wide range of care is available to you, close to home.

Concern: falling home values.

“If you planned your retirement timing and total savings taking in the factor of home appreciation, it’s a good idea to allow that to be a bump up in lifestyle but not the money you need to live.”

If you plan to sell your home in a state with higher home prices, you might be pleasantly surprised at how much house your money will buy in Tennessee. With what you have left over, you’ll be able to pad out your emergency fund or pay for a trip to Dollywood when your grandchildren come to visit!

If you’re interested in listings available in Northeast Tennessee, please visit my website at darlenenereeves-kline.com.

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Education in Jefferson County, Tennessee

Check out Jefferson County! It might be the perfect “fringe-rural” spot for you and your family.

Fringe-Rural

Jefferson County is termed “fringe-rural,” which means it has both urban and rural attributes. With a hop and a skip in one direction you can be in dense woods, hunting deer or turkey without another soul in sight for miles. Take a jump in the other direction and you’re in Knoxville, Morristown or Sevierville. The biggest appeal of Jefferson County is its lovely rural land situated close enough for an easy commute to one of these bigger cities. Population here isn’t very dense, but there are many resources and cultural sites in the area. Carson-Newman University, a pre-Civil War institution, is one such cultural beacon. For a family who might be on the lookout for someplace close to the bigger city of Knoxville (a little over or under 30 minutes away, depending on your in-town destination) yet rich with country charms, making a home in Jefferson County just might be ideal.

The public school system is made up of 12 schools, one of which is an alternative school and one of which is the Jefferson County High School. Find out more about the Jefferson County public school system here.

Resources

The public school system also has supplementary family resources, from information about babies and very young childhood to resources on free kids’ books. ( Did you know Dolly Parton founded a statewide early reading program called the Imagination Library, which sends free children’s books to preschool-aged kids?) If you’re new to parenting, or just looking for a bit of information, go here to find out more.

Jefferson County High School

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Jefferson County High School is the system’s only high school. According to U.S.News.com, student enrollment for 2016 is 2,102. Boy-girl ratio is pretty even, at 51 percent male to 49 percent female. Student-teacher ratio is 16:1, and there are opportunities for Advanced Placement courses and exams, which give college-bound students a real leg-up. In fact, many high schools in Tennessee are pushing to improve the availability and passing rate of their AP programs. Overall high school graduation rate is 90%.

Jefferson County Private Schools

There are two options for private schooling of little ones in the area.

Jefferson Montessori School is a very small school for little ones. Fans of Montessori say it’s a great way to give kids a jump-start on a love of learning, especially in the important early formative years. You can contact them at:

Phone: (865) 475-5250

Po Box 489, Jefferson City, TN 37760

Blue Springs Christian Academy is a Pentecostal School run by volunteers. It’s a very small, private school for kids K-12. Reach them at:

3265 Blue Springs Rd, Strawberry Plains, TN 37871

Phone: (865) 932-7603

Carson-Newman University

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Of course, for post-secondary education in Jefferson County there is Carson-Newman University, the historic liberal arts Christian school that has been an important part of life in Jefferson City since 1851. They offer fifty different majors in on-campus and online courses in fields such as art, education and health pre-majors (to name just a few). It’s a small campus, with 2,528 students are enrolled there as of 2016. Visit their website to find out more about the school.

Check out Jefferson County! It might be the perfect “fringe-rural” spot for you and your family. Visit my website at darlenereeves-kline.com to view listings.

 

Schools in Morristown, Tennessee

Who knew you’d be the one doing homework to send your kid to school?

Morristown has a lot to offer any family: beautiful parks, fabulous lake access, convenient shopping and restaurants, a vibrant art scene…but there are practical things to think about when moving to Hamblen County, too. Daily life (and livelihood) details matter a lot, like jobs, cost of living, and availability and quality of schools. Once you decide to make the move, starting early on school enrollment is a must. In fact, you should arguably check on the best schools in your new area before you choose a house, as it might affect the neighborhood you need to live in for school zoning. Check out this article for tips on moving your kids to a new school.

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From Clipartpanda.com

As we’ve said, one of the most important things for parents to consider when moving to a new area is the quality of schools, so let’s consider the many options Morristown has to offer in that department. There are more options than you might think for private education in addition to the public school system for kids in kindergarten through high school in Hamblen County.

There are 18 public schools in the Morristown public school system. That number includes one alternative school and two high schools (Morristown East and Morristown West are football rivals from way back!) Visit the public school website for Hamblen County here.

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Morristown East High

According to GreatSchools.com, the top schools in Hamblen county are Alpha Elementary (K-5), West View Middle (6-8), John Hay Elementary (K-5), and Witt Elementary (K-5). These schools are chosen based on comparison of standardized testing scores.To learn more about these schools’ rankings, visit here.

Niche.com rates Hamblen County public schools overall at #14 for the whole state of Tennessee for the year 2016. That’s based on a slew of categories, including test scores, college readiness and graduation rates. That’s 14 out of 100. Not bad! Check out the website for more information.

Some parents disagree with public school policies or feel strongly about private school education because of personal beliefs. Many families are choosing to go an alternate route in educating their children.  If you’re one of those parents, Morristown has you covered, too. Hamblen County is home to six private Christian schools. Visit PrivateSchoolReview.com for more information.

The two biggest private Christian schools in Morristown are All Saints Episcopal School, with over 100 students enrolled in  Pre-K through 8th grade, and Cornerstone Academy with over 100 students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade.

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All Saints is poised to celebrate their 50th anniversary next year (2017). Visit their website to learn more about the school. Cornerstone, founded in 2006, has broken ground on a brand-new addition to their campus. They’re expanding! Visit their website to find out more about Cornerstone Academy.

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There’s a lot to consider when choosing the best school for your child! This article in Time has some good tips about what makes a good school.

This article from The Washington Post also has some great tips on making the school choice.

Who knew you’d be the one doing homework to send your kid to school?

Please visit my website for information about listings in Morristown, Tennessee!

 

Arts in Morristown, Tennessee

If you’re an artist, or someone who appreciates the sense of community and creativity that artists bring to a town, Morristown, Tennessee might have more for you than you think.

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You might expect to find a wide array of art in tourist areas like Sevierville or Pigeon Forge, or in a bigger metropolitan area like Knoxville.  But if you’re new to the Morristown, Tennessee area, I’ll let you in on a great secret that locals know: Morristown is a major hub for the area’s thriving arts community. Artists from surrounding counties display fine art at the Rose Center, which boasts the newly refurbished  Edith Davis Gallery, as well as a Local Artist Gallery. Rose Center hosts bigger community events, too, such as the Mountain Makins Festival. Morristown also has a lively Art Association, which puts on Arts in the Park every September. Read on to find out more:

 

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Photo from tngenweb.org

Rose Center

This historic center was built in 1892 as the town’s first coeducational public high school. Today it’s a “Designated Agency of the Tennessee Arts Commission.” In this beautiful building you can take anything from  an art or yoga class (or enroll your kids in one!), to one of the Center’s courses on writing grant proposals for arts programs in our area. There’s even a Children’s Touch Museum and a Historical Classroom! The Center’s classrooms and reception areas are available to rent for community programs, weddings and baby showers.

According to RoseCenter.org: “Classes currently available may include guitar, acrylic painting, jewelry making, children’s art, drama, Zumba, tai chi, cake decorating, clogging, and more!”

If you have a skill and some time, Rose Center’s volunteer staff is happy to hear from you.

Rose Center is open Monday through Friday, 9-5. Visit RoseCenter.org for more information about the history and programs of Morristown’s cultural arts center.

Mountain Makins Festival

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Photo courtesy of visitmorristowntn.com

This is the 41st year for this acclaimed festival, hosted by the Rose Center Council for the Arts.

RoseCenter.org describes the festival: “The award-winning festival, started in 1976 as a way to raise funds to save historic Rose School, celebrates the very best of Appalachian culture, from crafts to music. The festival is a delightful combination of crafts, food, music, dancing and fun.”

This is one venue where you can get a ride on a pony, snack on some delicious fair food, stop by to check out  a banjo-strumming virtuoso in period garb and ogle local arts and crafts. Fall is incomplete without a good festival, and this one certainly fits the bill!

Visit Mountain Makins FaceBook page here.

Morristown Art Association

This thriving community of artists hosts a juried art show at the Rose Center, as well as gatherings and workshops throughout the year. In September they put on Arts in the Park, a family-friendly art show with live performances, food and local arts and crafts available for sale. They even include a tent where kids can make art with the help of a professional artist.

Visit their FaceBook page for information about upcoming events and membership.

If you’re an artist, or someone who appreciates the sense of community and creativity that artists bring to a town, Morristown, Tennessee might have more for you than you think.

Don’t forget to visit darlenereeves-kline.com/ for more information about listings in Morristown.