From House to Home

All of us have moved from house to house but not many of us has moved a house. The year is 2000, a new millennium. Our house movers are regular people; one a school teacher at Ingleside Elementary in Athens, her husband working at Crescent Hosiery Mill in Niota. A large two story house was sitting on the property adjacent to the mill near Highway 11. The land would be needed for expansion but not the house. The president of Crescent, Bill Burn, asked Steven Burce to try and find someone who would move this beauty that was built in 1908 by David Marshall Garrison. After several months Steven only had people interested in gutting and tearing down the old home. This thought upset him so he decided that maybe he could move it. Janet, his wife, was not on board, she was enjoying her empty nest now that both children were in college and she was not looking for a big project.A chance visit by Janet to the house where (Steven just happened to have the key in his pocket), after a quick tour Janet changed her mind. It was love at first sight. Thus began the two year process. First job was cleaning out the house. The second story had been turned into an apartment and the new walls were demolished. The downstairs front foyer had years of paint on the beautiful pine woodwork this had to be stripped. They laughed that after starting this process that it appeared new paint had been applied each year. Janet’s sister came to help strip the layers of paint and said she would bring a pot of beans, two hours into the work she drily told Janet that “this is a more than a one pot of beans project.”With the house cleaned out they were ready to look for a mover. Fortunately Highway 72 in Sweetwater was expanding the right of way and houses along the route had to be moved. Steve approached one of the movers and had him come and look to see if the house could be moved. He was given a green light so next was finding property for her new home. Power lines, turns in the road, road grades, the police department, the utility company as well as fiber optic cable were all considerations. Every afternoon the Burce’s would drive around the Niota area looking for property that could work. Finally, they decided on 10 acres close by, but after having the earth grader prepare the site it was determined that at least 17 additional acres were needed. Moving day was finally here. Locals set up lawn chairs to watch the progress. What excitement when the attic was cut off and safely set by crane on the ground. Next the roof had to be sawed off. This was a critical moment as the roof could explode when lifted from the living space. Steven had been working on reinforcing the saw mill run oak framing which was so hard that it was impossible to drive a nail, so only screws could be used. They were successful. With the upper floors gone the house was now the required 25 ft. above ground level. The roof and the attic were moved separately on flatbed trucks. A pit had been dug at the new site and footers poured. The house is 3500 sq ft. and 70 ft. by 40 ft. lengths of steel were used to support the grand lady as she crawled forward to her new home. When she arrived at Cedar Pond the crane lowered her over the footers and she was jacked up so that the foundation work could begin. After 600 blocks were laid she was slowly lowered barely sighing when she felt the solid stones under her weight. Later the Burce’s walked through the house looking for cracks and problems they opened a closet door and found that a half-gallon jar of water that had been forgotten it was still sitting safely on a self after the house being lifted and moved over a mile.This was not the end of the story only the halfway mark. This old friend was to be restored, so now work began on insulation, wiring, plumbing and repaired trimwork. The home features, a Butler’s pantry, a maid’s bedroom above the kitchen and 9 ft. pocket doors into the formal living room. The brick chimney made the move but was deemed unstable. Janet tore down the bricks and threw them into the courtyard. Today they frame the house as pavers for the walkways and patios.The walls are plaster so care had to be taken to restore and prevent cracks. Wallpaper returned to the entryway. Fortunately the staircase had never been painted and the pine hardwood floors were easily refinished after the carpet was pulled away. The Burces’ had a plan to start in the attic and work their way down. Instead of living in their new home they would return to their Englewood house which had hot water and sleep in a clean bed at night. They waited until the house was fully restored before doing the final move. This process took 2 years but the reward is evident.

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Presidential Visit: June 22, 2019

The 43rd President of the United States will be the featured speaker at the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual benefit, June 22, 2019. The event will be held at McMinn County High School. The proceeds from this event will go toward downtown businesses and the chamber, which was heavily damaged by fire in 2017.

Bush’s visit to Athens will mark the first time since 1985 that a U.S. president has visited the McMinn County seat, when President Ronald Reagan spoke from the courthouse steps.

Visit for more information and to purchase your tickets to An Evening with George W. Bush.

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Wingin’ It

Andrew Curtis is the human definition of spontaneous and lived it out loud when he took off on an impromptu exploration of Europe. Planning a trip abroad takes months of planning, reservations, contacts and scheduling. Andrew purchased a ticket, his single and collective action done prior to boarding a plane bound for Europe.There was a timetable set of three months for exploration and rough idea of route as he set three days per destination: Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Prague, Austria, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, France, the Czech Republic, Monaco and Iceland.The timetable changed immediately. “I spent two weeks in Greece, which is one of my favorite countries. I love Athens…this time I spent time in the Greek Islands.” Curtis was very fond of the Greek Islands. “I went to the island of Delos. It’s completely ruins of a pretty advanced society. The water is clear, the beaches are really nice and they’re some of the friendliest people I’ve met on my travels.”As it neared the close of his time in Europe, the vast travels brought up a major issue, as he couldn’t afford the increased cost of $2,500 for a return trip home. It is a significant issue that pre-planning most often eliminates, however, Andrew’s spontaneous attitude didn’t allow for any frustration. Upon doing a little research, he discovered something unusual. “It actually ended up being $900 to go from Europe to Australia and then back to the U.S.”So, he decided to go to Australia for two weeks. It was there he swam the great barrier reef, explored Sydney and got more than he bargained for at a hostel. Curtis laughed as he shared the experience. “That hostel was a hot mess. The faulty fire alarm kept going off at random. It was $15 a night, so I shouldn’t have expected much.”For those who feel inspired to follow in his footsteps, Curtis gives this advice: “Be willing to change your plans. Be flexible and laughat yourself.”Maybe jetting off for three months of travel without set planning is not for everyone but we can all apply the Andrew Curtis way of life to our day to day. As in travel, life will throw obstacles, so be spontaneous and go with the flow, for atthe very least, you will have a really great story.

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Fall is coming to Tennessee, and pumpkins are showing up at roadside stands and in the grocery stores. Pumpkins give a bright pop of color as our leaves make their way to the ground. This squash is native to America. It was Christopher Columbus who carried pumpkin seeds back with him to Europe. There the farmers of the “Old World” used this newfound squash to feed pigs.

The new world Native Americans had lots of uses for pumpkins. They roasted pumpkin strips over campfires and used them as food. They used the sweet flesh in numerous ways: roasted, baked, parched, boiled and dried. They ate pumpkin seeds and also used them as a medicine. The blossoms were added to stews. Dried pumpkin could be stored and ground into flour. Pumpkins helped The Native Americans make it through long, cold winters. They even dried strips of pumpkin and wove them into mats for their floors. They dried the shells and used them as bowls and containers to store grain, beans and seeds. Indians introduced pumpkins and squashes to the Pilgrims. They were an important food source for the Pilgrims, since they stored well, which meant they would have a nutritious food source during the winter months.

I got to visit Villandry, a restored castle and grounds, in France where they specialize in vegetable gardens. Not like the ones we have here in the South where you have your green beans, okra, tomatoes and potatoes. These gardens are laid out in formal beds, with the vegetables as beautiful as flowers. These beautiful vegetables are perfectly tended, mulched and even edged in dwarf English boxwoods.

Taking a clue from the French, I loved the pop of color pumpkins delivered to the late fall landscape. Not only are the pumpkins beautiful, they don’t have to be watered. Each year now, I buy pumpkins in the fall, pull up all the tired weeds and flowers, re-mulch the area and arrange my pumpkins in an artistic form. I love it. Some people, especially my grandchildren, were not as impressed.

Two years ago, the season changed, and before I knew it, December had arrived, and I was still sporting the pumpkins of fall, but after the constant sun, rain, heat and freezing weather, the pumpkins had rotted. During a grandchildren visit, I got shovels and a wheelbarrow, and we went outside to clean up the rotten pumpkins. Yuck and gross were the words I heard most, but my 5-year-old didn’t say anything until we were almost finished. Then she quietly said, “Mamagayle, I know where there is another melted pumpkin.” She had described the rotten pumpkins perfectly.

Any good, well-drained soil will grow pumpkins. A soil of medium texture is best, but good results can be produced on heavy or light soils if they are properly tilled and well fertilized. Direct seeding should not be attempted until the soil has warmed up for germination (usually after May 15).

If you want to grow pumpkins, you can buy seeds of many varieties at any lawn and garden store. But start out with only one or two kinds until you get the hang of it. The white pumpkins are currently really popular for decorating. Normally, shallow cultivation, just enough to control weeds, is sufficient for this crop. Rows should be about 4 feet apart, with hills containing two or three seeds. Each hill should be about 3 feet apart. These plants need lots of room. Keep them at the edge of the yard or garden. The foliage is beautiful when young and healthy.

Although pumpkin plants produce a profusion of flowers throughout the life of the plant, only about 2 pumpkins per vine can be expected. All pumpkins produce separate male and female flowers on the same plant for natural pollination.

While pumpkin size is generally controlled by genetics, any factor that limits plant growth will adversely affect its size. This includes water, temperature, insects, diseases, pollination, fertility, soil type, plant population, weeds, etc. Pumpkins are about 90% water.

Pumpkins last longer if you harvest them when they reach their mature color and the rind is hard. Use the seed packet to get an idea of the mature color of your variety. Wait until the pumpkin rind loses its shine and it’s hard enough that you can’t scratch it with your fingernail. The curly tendrils on the part of the vine near the pumpkin turn brown and die back when it is completely ripe, though in some cases they can continue to ripen off the vine. Cut the stem with a sharp knife, leaving 3 or 4 inches of stem attached to the pumpkin.

You can enjoy growing pumpkins or you can be like me and leave it to the pros and buy them in the fall. Each year the U.S. produces 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins annually.

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Boys & Girls Club of Ocoee Region: What A Difference A Year Has Made

Last year, the Board of Directors for Boys & Girls Clubs of the Monroe Area made the decision to form a strategic alliance with Boys & Girls Clubs of the Ocoee Region. On January 1, 2018 the Monroe Area Clubs became Boys & Girls Club of the Ocoee Region – Monroe County Units, representing the northern operations (Bradley, Meigs, and Polk County units are part of the southern operations). The goal of this merger was to strengthen both organizations through consolidation of operations, and allow them to expand staff opportunities. The primary objective is, and always has been, to focus on better serving the kids through our region.So what have we accomplished thus far in the Monroe Units? Across all Club units, our average daily attendance for September was 319 kids served. This represents an increase of over 70% over this same time last year. This increase is attributed to our tremendous staff, volunteers, our increased community partnerships, and reduced fee structure for after-school and summer programs. In fact, the Vonore and Teen Center Units have reached their capacity! The Board of Directors are exploring options to expand capacity so as to allow our Clubs to serve more kids in both after-school and summer programs.In addition to better serving our community, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Ocoee Region – Monroe County Units have turned a part-time position at the Sweetwater Unit into a full-time position. A full-time Unit Director was added for Vonore and the Madisonville Teen Center hired an Assistant Unit Director. Staci Dean, Director of Northern Operations stated, “You can feel the excitement in the air at all our units. We are truly motivated to create an environment of fun and learning for all our kids.” Beyond added staff, the Monroe units improved its technology capabilities at all Club locations and is currently implementing more programs that make attendance at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Ocoee Region more fun, more educational, and more responsive to our kids’ challenging school requirements.The stated goal of Boys & Girls Clubs has always been to serve more kids. The Monroe Unit Board Chairman, Joe Crabtree stated, “The merger has made a positive impact in our ability to accomplish the mission of better serving our kids and has made perfect business sense.”  As we continue to grow, as part of the overall Boys & Girls Clubs of the Ocoee Region, we want to thank businesses, community partners, and all who have contributed to the Monroe units for the tremendous support you have provided.We are so excited about the future of serving our youth in this region. We will continue to deliver programs that provide them with the tools for academic success, specialized educational programs, leadership growth, and character development. Our aim is to continue to equip our kids with the essentials necessary to make wise life choices and promote healthy lifestyles.

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