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Shopper News blog: Solstice band brings the heat across Knoxville

The Knoxville News-Sentinel logoThe Knoxville News-Sentinel 10/2/2020 Ruth White, Knoxville News Sentinel
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a person holding a guitar: Band founder and lead vocalist Marty Gee feels the chemistry at Brickyard Bar and Grill in Bearden on Aug. 22, 2020. © Submitted Band founder and lead vocalist Marty Gee feels the chemistry at Brickyard Bar and Grill in Bearden on Aug. 22, 2020.

KARNS/HARDIN VALLEY 

Solstice band brings the heat across Knoxville

Nancy Anderson, Shopper News 

Solstice band is taking Knoxville by storm. Five teenagers from Hardin Valley and Oak Ridge formed a band one short year ago and now find themselves in demand several days a week.

a group of people sitting on a bench in front of a building: Solstice Band plays “Ain’t No Sunshine,” by Bill Withers at Hey Bear Café on Middlebrook Pike Tuesday, July 21, 2020. © Submitted Solstice Band plays “Ain’t No Sunshine,” by Bill Withers at Hey Bear Café on Middlebrook Pike Tuesday, July 21, 2020.

From Hey Bear Café, to Brickyard Bar and Grill in Bearden, to Hard Knox Pizza to festivals and private parties, the band gets toes tapping with rhythm and blues covers and original tunes.

“It’s all about the chemistry,” said lead singer and rhythm guitar player Marty Gee. “We knew right away we had a certain chemistry. We can anticipate what each other is doing or needs during a set. They can almost read each other’s mind. It’s so much fun when it comes together like that.”

The band started with Gee, 16, and good friends Jackson Frazier, 16, on lead guitar and Maddox Frazier, 15, on bass. Then came Jacob Greene, 16, on keyboard and Grayson Strader, 15, on drums.

 “It all started when I was playing the Secret City Festival last year," Gee said. "I asked Jackson and Maddox to play with me. I knew they were good players because we had the same guitar teacher. Our parents work together so we’re really good friends. I’ve been friends with Grayson since I was little. Jackson and Maddox were friends with Jacob. We played together and thought we sounded good enough to start a band.

“We played our first gig on summer solstice 2019. That’s where the name comes from.

 “Most of us have been taking music lessons since we were little, except Grayson. Grayson is self-taught, but his drumming was almost band quality right off the bat at about 4 years old. He’s that talented."

The boys may be young but they draw a crowd where ever they play, so their fans seem to think they’re good enough, too.

Gee said the band had a number of notable influences including John Mayer, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

They’ve turned several rhythm and blues classics into crowd favorites.

a group of people posing for the camera: Solstice band takes a pause during their gig at Hey Bear Café on Middlebrook Pike Tuesday, July 21, 2020. From left: Jackson Frazier, Jacob Greene, Marty Gee, Grayson Strader, and Maddox Frazier. © Submitted Solstice band takes a pause during their gig at Hey Bear Café on Middlebrook Pike Tuesday, July 21, 2020. From left: Jackson Frazier, Jacob Greene, Marty Gee, Grayson Strader, and Maddox Frazier.

“We love to play ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ by Bill Withers, ‘Pride and Joy,’ by Stevie Ray Vaughan, and our original ‘Bird House Blues’. The crowd seems to like them too. I think they’re great songs that people can sing along and dance to.

“We’re adding new originals to our set this week, so we’ll do covers and about five originals. We’ll add more and more originals as we write them. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if we find ourselves making a living with this band one day.”

Info: find Solstice Band on Facebook.

COMMUNITY HAPPENINGS

  • Autumn Walk Subdivision will host a neighborhood sale, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, October 2 and 3. The subdivision is located off Dry Gap Road, on the left  just past the Cunningham Rd./Dry Gap stop light. 
  • Beaver Ridge UMC Fall Food Give-Away event, 8-10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, 7753 Oak Ridge Highway. Remain in your car and drive through only; food will be put in your trunk. Everyone is welcome. “The Pumpkins are Coming!” event is Saturday, Oct. 10. Help unload the truck of pumpkins that will go on sale the following week. Info: 865-690-1060.
  • UT Arboretum Society to hold Annual Fall Plant Sale online through Oct. 10. Vendors are Tennessee Naturescapes, Riverdale Nursery and East Fork Nursery of Sevierville. Log on to https://utas-plant-sale.square.site/ to shop and make payment. All payments must be made by credit card online in advance. No sales on the pickup days. Upon ordering, a link will be provided to choose a pickup time for contactless delivery: 1-6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, or 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at UT Arboretum, 901 S. Illinois Ave. in Oak Ridge. Info: mcampani@utk.edu.
  • The $5 bag sale continues daily at the Friends @ Rothrock Used Book Shop at Lawson McGhee Library, 500 W. Church Ave. A bag of books of your choice is $5. Sponsored by Friends of the Knox County Public Library. Info/hours: www.knoxfriends.org or 865-215-8775.

NORTH/EAST

Makers meet on Lunchpool, local creator’s digital space

Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News 

When the Mayor’s Maker Council held its Fifth Annual Maker City Summit virtually over the second weekend in September, the award-winning online platform Lunchpool, founded by Rocky Hill resident Alex Abell, gave everyone the digital space to gather.

a person holding a dog: Annika, Avie and Alex Abell take a breather with their dog Red Rover — “Rovi.” May 11, 2020. © AC Goodman Photography Annika, Avie and Alex Abell take a breather with their dog Red Rover — “Rovi.” May 11, 2020.

Originally from Thomasville, Ga., Abell earned a degree in marketing from Valdosta State University and “fell in love with the entrepreneurial spirit” while there. Working at the Florida-based company MarketingExperiments right out of college, he quickly rose through the ranks to become senior data analyst.

“I didn’t absolutely love it,” he says. “My saving grace was my lunch break. I’d go find a favorite spot and have my lunchpool — like a carpool. The same people every day — people I sat near in the office. We’d eat lunch, laugh and cut up.

“I was going out so much that my wife started to notice the drain on our bank account. So she started packing me leftovers.” Relegated to eating at his desk without his buddies, lunchtime wasn’t much fun anymore. “I thought ‘I really need my lunchpool.’”

At the time Abell found it difficult to make friends and noticed that other 20- and 30-somethings, fresh out of their college environment, were having the same trouble. “So I was in this company with 5,000 people and an office with 500 people and a room with 50 people. I looked around and everyone was also eating at their desks, going to Reddit, social media, looking at their computer screens.”

That’s where the idea of Lunchpool was born.

graphical user interface, application: Clare Freeman and Allie Mounce of Pretty Useful Co. give their Maker City Summit presentation on the Lunchpool online platform, created by Rocky Hill resident Alex Abell. Sept. 12, 2020. © submitted Clare Freeman and Allie Mounce of Pretty Useful Co. give their Maker City Summit presentation on the Lunchpool online platform, created by Rocky Hill resident Alex Abell. Sept. 12, 2020.

Set up like an online lunchroom or banquet hall, participants can table-hop and have general or private conversations. For a more formal event, speakers, presenters, graphs and educational tools can be shown to the audience, and Q&A sessions provide interaction with experts. Lunchpool is lively and fluid, and according to its website, provides “virtual events that feel like the real thing.”

Abell, his wife, Annika, and their almost-3-year-old daughter, Avie, moved to Knoxville when Annika, who holds a PhD in marketing from the University of Florida, became an assistant professor of marketing at the Haslam College of Business.

 Abell says he has fallen in love with Knoxville.

Rocky Hill resident Alex Abell is the creator and “maestro” of the award-winning online platform Lunchpool. 2019. © submitted Rocky Hill resident Alex Abell is the creator and “maestro” of the award-winning online platform Lunchpool. 2019.

“If I was to brand Knoxville I would call it ‘The Collaborative Capital of the Southeast.’ People not only work together; they’re also very careful not to step on each others’ toes. There’s nothing like the community here. It seems to me like it’s poised for some extreme growth over the next little while.”

As is Lunchpool itself, whose logo incorporates the lunch sack that started it all. “The world can be your lunchpool; technology is the digital icebreaker. During the pandemic there’s been such an increase in demand — we had to hire more people. We’ll have 10 by the end of the month and I haven’t met any of them! Two are in East Tennessee. When the pandemic is over we’re going to have lunch.”

FARRAGUT

‘How to season it up’: Shopping local for fall decor

Gabriela Szymanowska, Shopper News 

It’s officially fall, and with the cooler weather come the fresh, warm scents and colors of autumn. 

While the season started just last week, stores have already prepped for the season with many displaying the usual fall decor: pumpkins, cornucopias, wreaths and scarecrows. 

Beyond just displaying the pumpkins in The Town Framery and Gifts, the shop can provide inspiration on how to arrange the pumpkins within customers' homes. © Gabriela Szymanowska/Shopper News Beyond just displaying the pumpkins in The Town Framery and Gifts, the shop can provide inspiration on how to arrange the pumpkins within customers' homes.

Autumn is a time for football, pumpkin spice and bringing warmth into the home, as Debi Tuttle, owner of The Town Framery and Gifts, put it.

“It’s a warmth, not only of the color but of the fact that we’re coming back inside,” Tuttle said. “And so I think when we come back inside after being out for the summer, we start looking around and we try to figure out how to season it up and warm it up.”

For those still looking for fall decorations to add to their collections and wanting to find unique items, there are plenty of local shops to find the centerpiece for your decor. 

The Town Framery, 12814 Kingston Pike, has been open in its current location since 2005 and evolved from the Mary Wilbourn Gallery into a local business selling custom frames, local artwork, unique gifts and plenty of home decor.

Inside, customers can find a variety of pumpkins, from cement to galvanized to ceramic and more, in a wide range of colors to match any room color. In addition, displayed on a stand are stems that customers can choose from to make bouquets and wreaths or choose from already made ones found throughout the store. 

Tuttle, who took over from her mother, Mary Wilbourn, when the store moved from Lenoir City, explained that customers who come to the Framery will find decor and artwork made by local vendors. 

a vase of flowers on a table: The Town Framery and Gifts has multiple pumpkins on display, from galvanized to cement to wooden and ceramic. Sept 2020 © Gabriela Szymanowska/Shopper News The Town Framery and Gifts has multiple pumpkins on display, from galvanized to cement to wooden and ceramic. Sept 2020

“Sometimes what you find may be more unique than what you find in a box store. We don’t shop with the same vendors so it’s all going to be a little different, but it’s really more about, I think it’s about service, is probably the bigger factor,” Tuttle said. “We actually help people put things together. You know they can come in and talk to us about what they’re trying to achieve and we can help them with what they’re trying to achieve.”

Another local Farragut store where customers can find some unique fall decor is The Consignment Shoppe at Campbell Station Road, right near Interstate 40. 

The Shoppe sells clothing, jewelry, home decor and gifts, all of which are consignment, said owner Paige Sibold, who bought the store in January 2018. The Consignment Shoppe acts as a third-party seller, with Sibold accepting and reselling merchandise from outside suppliers, who receive 40% of the sale. Those looking to sell their items at the store must book an appointment in advance, and items can be no older than two years.

a vase of flowers on a table: Fall decor items can be found all over The Consignment Shoppe, 11316 Station W Drive Suite 102, and set in a middle display to greet customers. Tuesday, September 22, 2020. © Gabriela Szymanowska/Shopper News Fall decor items can be found all over The Consignment Shoppe, 11316 Station W Drive Suite 102, and set in a middle display to greet customers. Tuesday, September 22, 2020.

Customers are sure to find older decorations that aren’t sold in other stores, yet might be exactly what guests have been looking for. 

“The cool thing about consignment is you can find older things that you might have collected or someone in your family might have collected, so you can add to your collection,” Sibold said, adding that items can be a third to half of what chain store prices might be. 

As candles are always a great way to bring the fall scent into the home, Sibold said The Consignment Shoppe is featuring a new candle line, with a twist to how they’re made. 

Instead of just using candle jars for the wax, the candlemaker can pour the candle into any container a customer might want it in — from an old teacup to a ceramic bowl to something found at the store. Sibold said if a customer has a hollow vintage, ceramic pumpkin, it would make a great fall decoration.

The Consignment Shoppe is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and The Town Framery and Gifts is open Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Both stores are planning an open house event, with The Town Framery and Gifts holding it throughout the entire month of October; The Consignment Shoppe will have a weeklong event in November, though both will be focused on preparing for the next season: Winter. 

More: '50s diner meets '90s coffee shop at South Press on Chapman Highway

KARNS/HARDIN VALLEY

Valley Church launches congregation at HVA

Nancy Anderson, Shopper News 

Pastor John Gargis planned to launch Valley Church at Hardin Valley Academy with a music festival. All didn’t go according to plan. As soon as the band set up, the sky opened up and poured rain with thunder and lightning on the newly formed congregation.

a man holding a sign: Pastor John Gargis welcomes his congregation to the inaugural service of Valley Church at Hardin Valley Academy Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. © Submitted Pastor John Gargis welcomes his congregation to the inaugural service of Valley Church at Hardin Valley Academy Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020.

“Luckily the school was open so we all just ran in there. Most everyone wore a mask and kept 6 feet apart. We still had a great time and a great service. We thought launching a new church in a pandemic would be hard; we didn’t think we’d have to contend with a thunderstorm, too,” said Gargis.

“After planning for over a year, we are thrilled to join Solway UMC and the other amazing churches in the Hardin Valley area.” 

Concord United Methodist is the host church.

The church doesn’t plan on being at Hardin Valley Academy forever. The Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church purchased 20 acres on Hardin Valley Road over 10 years ago. The architects are just completing the design of a new 10,000-square-foot Community Center.

Gargis came to Hardin Valley more than 30 years ago. His two sons graduated from Hardin Valley Academy. “I’ve been in Hardin Valley for 30 years except for four years when I was appointed to a church in Fountain City."

He is completing a master’s program at Asbury Theological Seminary. He received a bachelor’s in religion from Liberty University in 2017.

a group of people standing next to a guitar: Valley Church band get toes tapping at the inaugural service of Valley Church at Hardin Valley Academy Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Pictured from left is Worship Leader Aaron Tracy, Wes Lunsford, Laurel Wright, and Kevin Kagley. © Submitted Valley Church band get toes tapping at the inaugural service of Valley Church at Hardin Valley Academy Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. Pictured from left is Worship Leader Aaron Tracy, Wes Lunsford, Laurel Wright, and Kevin Kagley.

“I was in the technology industry and had some success owning three businesses in Knoxville. I received the call to serve the Lord, and the Methodist Church wanted me to go to seminary. I’ve been in school for 10 years and soon I’ll have a master’s in divinity.”

Gargis has served with Celebrate Recovery, Knox Area Rescue Ministries Emerald Youth Foundation, and Knoxville Leadership Foundation.

The church has an active youth program led by Dave and Katie Humphries. Both went to Emory & Henry College in Virginia.

While in Virginia, the couple attended Arcola United Methodist Church, where Katie was youth coordinator for 10 years.

The worship leader is country artist Aaron Tracy, who specializes in wholesome, uplifting music. He started his music career at 8 in Louisville with the help of his mother, learning to play guitar and strengthen his vocals. He can be found playing around Knoxville at Calhoun's at the Marina, Smoky Mountain Brewery, and Tennessee Tap House.

a group of people sitting at a station: The inaugural service of Valley Church was planned as an outside music festival, but rain forced the congregation inside at Hardin Valley Academy on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. © Submitted The inaugural service of Valley Church was planned as an outside music festival, but rain forced the congregation inside at Hardin Valley Academy on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020.

Director of Family Ministries is Kim Ponder. Ponder uses the Orange Curriculum as a main teaching tool for ministry. The curriculum begins with infants and extends through elementary school. It engages the children with amazing Bible stories, creative videos, songs, memory verses along with fun and exciting activities that help reinforce the lesson.

Gargis said the church believes in community and has a number of local missions in mind.

Info: www.valleychurch.church

More: From Germany to the Patriots' end zone: Tennessee football's international reach

KNOXVILLE

2020 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon — online and on course during the pandemic

Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News 

Here’s a virtual event in which you can still “really” take part. This year, due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions, the 2020 Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon — originally scheduled for spring — is shifting its focus to the fall, and its course to a virtual format.

But you’ll still be able to run, raise money for a great cause and achieve your personal goals.

a group of people standing in front of a building: It doesn’t get much more “Knoxville” than the annual Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, finishing in the shadow of the Sunsphere. This photo is from last year’s event. April 1, 2019. © Courtesy Knoxville Track Club It doesn’t get much more “Knoxville” than the annual Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, finishing in the shadow of the Sunsphere. This photo is from last year’s event. April 1, 2019.

“The move to a virtual Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon event helps ensure the health and safety of our community, runners and volunteers,” says Jason Altman of the Knoxville Track Club, which organizes the run. “Additionally, it’s our responsibility to follow local government mandates and regulations that do not make in-person events of this size feasible at this time.

“While we can’t run together in downtown Knoxville, we can take steps to prioritize health and fitness wherever we are and join together in spirit to continue this iconic event reimagined for current times.”

Altman has been a serious runner since 2004 and race director since 2006. His personal best time of 2.38 was at the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon in 2012. He won that year, as well as three other times.

He’s well aware that the virtual race — which can be run on the actual course, on a course of one’s choosing, or even on a treadmill — will lack the festive atmosphere and camaraderie of a real live event.

a group of people walking down the street: The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon is now in its 16th year — and its first as a virtual event. March 30, 2014. © Courtesy Knoxville Track Club The Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon is now in its 16th year — and its first as a virtual event. March 30, 2014.

“You’re used to that adrenaline, and sort of the ‘pomp and circumstance’ before the starting pistol,” he says.

“We are in a challenging year. Physical health was the primary thing when the pandemic hit. But making sure people are staying strong mentally and emotionally was a big talking point.”

Altman stresses that, even with the large crowds associated with a typical marathon, “you’ve got to be able to focus on yourself.” He was buoyed by a recent conversation with a friend who said, “Hey, I’ve done the 5K every year, and I’m still going do the virtual. Because it is still the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon.”

All the usual race day events — the Covenant Kids Run, 5K, half marathon, marathon, and relay — are included in the nine-day event window, beginning Nov. 7. In early November, the start line, mile markers and finish line for all courses will be painted. Social media will be used to connect virtually, share photos, post personal records, and provide support and encouragement, and participants will be able to upload their results via the marathon website (www.knoxvillemarathon.com).

a group of people posing for the camera: Jason Altman, multiple marathoner and race director for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, with wife Kristy and sons Jackson and Karson. © Courtesy Knoxville Track Club Jason Altman, multiple marathoner and race director for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, with wife Kristy and sons Jackson and Karson.

“The most wonderful thing about the event each year is how it brings the community together — participants, sponsors, volunteers,” says Altman. “This is a unique opportunity to come together and continue to support it, just in a different way.”

Altman hasn’t run the Knoxville marathon himself since 2005 — his first marathon ever — because his duties as race director keep him too busy to train. But he’s going to run it this year. “Fifteen years later, I get my wish!”

For more information, and to register, visit www.knoxvillemarathon.com or call 888-217-5635.

FARRAGUT

Putt-Putt Golf & Games marks 29 years of safe family fun

Gabriela Szymanowska, Shopper News

Walking into the doors of Putt-Putt Golf and Games, guests are greeted with the bright neon glow and pinging sound of arcade games.

Opposite the front doors heading toward the back is the food counter touting America’s favorite snacks like pretzels and slushies. An ice cream freezer showcases a variety of flavors that visitors can choose from to cool down after playing.

a person standing in a garden: Audrey Blankenship and her family recently discovered Putt-Putt Golf & Games, and have visited a few times. Blankenship played a round of mini golf against her younger brother, Levi, on Wednesday, September 16, 2020. © Gabriela Szymanowska/Shopper News Audrey Blankenship and her family recently discovered Putt-Putt Golf & Games, and have visited a few times. Blankenship played a round of mini golf against her younger brother, Levi, on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.

Stepping outside, guests are greeted with three 18-hole Putt-Putt golf courses that offer a full day's worth of play. In addition, families can practice hitting baseballs in a batting cage. For many, Putt-Putt Golf and Games remains the exact same as when they first entered —  a place for family fun.

Owners Marva and David Vaughan moved to Knoxville in 1991, wanting to start their own business. Loving the Smokies and the friendly people in Knoxville, Marva Vaughan said it was an easy choice opening the business in Farragut.

“We have always loved to play Putt-Putt as a family and we knew when we decided to start our own business that we wanted to do something in the family entertainment business,” Vaughan said in an email. “Collectively as a family we came up with the idea of owning a Putt-Putt Golf & Games, and the Smoky Mountains drew us to East Tennessee! Having a family fun center where people can enjoy spending time together was a perfect fit for us!”

The Putt-Putt franchise was established in 1954. The Vaughans pay a fee to be able to use the Putt-Putt brand name, making them the only miniature golf course in Knoxville to use it, and ensure their courses are up to exact Putt-Putt standards.

a statue in a park: Being an official part of the Putt-Putt franchise, Marva and David Vaughan make sure that their miniature golf courses are up to the exact standards required by the franchise. © Gabriela Szymanowska/Shopper News Being an official part of the Putt-Putt franchise, Marva and David Vaughan make sure that their miniature golf courses are up to the exact standards required by the franchise.

This year marks the 30th season for Putt-Putt Golf and Games. Not only has the business been open for 29 years, but Monday Sept. 21 was also the 29th annual Free Day of Putt-Putt.

By tradition, every year on the third Monday of September, Farragut Putt-Putt opens its doors from noon until 9 p.m. so residents can come to play free miniature golf.

Vaughan said this was in conjunction with the Town of Farragut as a way to really show the community what their support has meant to them. This year, because of COVID-19, the town donated 100 masks to be given out.

Karen Tindal, tourism coordinator for the Town of Farragut, said the event really showcases what a strong-knit community Farragut is.

“To have a business do something that generous is, it says a lot about how they feel about the town and their relationship with the town and the citizens,” Tindal said. “I’ve lived in the town 25 years and my kids had birthday parties at, you know, Putt-Putt. Now they’re taking my grandkids to Putt-Putt.”

Being a small, local business has some challenges like closing for COVID-19 at the beginning of the year, but plenty of rewards as well. For the Vaughans, owning a family-oriented business has proven memorable, with their own kids growing along with the business.

Justin Pollack, 17, and Camden Smolter, 16, play a round of miniature golf keeping score as they go along on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at Putt-Putt Golf & Games. © Gabriela Szymanowska/Shopper News Justin Pollack, 17, and Camden Smolter, 16, play a round of miniature golf keeping score as they go along on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 at Putt-Putt Golf & Games.

Vaughan said her two children began working at the business when they were 5 and 6 years old. Now grown adults with their own lives and careers, they still come back to visit and form new memories along with community members.

Audrey and Levi Blankenship said that they’d just discovered the local business two months ago and have already been back a few times.

“It’s just a fun experience that I can come here and have a little competitive attitude with my brother,” Audrey Blankenship said. Levi voiced his agreement, adding he enjoyed the different courses and activities offered.

“We are grateful for the opportunity we have had to be a part of this community and cherish the friendships we have made over the past 30 seasons,” Vaughan said. “While we never know how many seasons are left in our future, we hope the next generation of Putt-Putt Golf & Games owners, whoever they may be, will carry on the tradition and continue to provide quality family fun for all those who come!”

HALLS/FOUNTAIN CITY

Artist Abby Ryan releases fall cards, designs Knoxville-themed wallpaper

Ali James, Shopper News 

Abby Ryan graduated from college a year ago, and in that short time she has launched her own freelance graphic design and illustration business, a range of paper goods, and landed her dream job. And somehow, she still found the time to get married over the summer.

a woman holding a flower pot: Abby Ryan on June 25, 2020. Ryan launched Knox Paper Scissors Co. last Thanksgiving to sell her designs on cards, art prints and calendars. © Ali James/Shopper News Abby Ryan on June 25, 2020. Ryan launched Knox Paper Scissors Co. last Thanksgiving to sell her designs on cards, art prints and calendars.

Ryan launched Knox Paper Scissors Co. last Thanksgiving to sell her designs on cards, art prints and calendars.

“I have done a lot of custom, freelance work, but I wanted to be able to design something to put on products that people can buy as well,” said the Fountain City resident. “A lot of designers usually do one or the other. The first product I started with was a calendar featuring prints of places we love in East Tennessee.”

The calendar was so well received that Ryan is toying with the idea of re-releasing it for 2021.

When Ryan attended college in Florida, she said she made friends from all over the world, and that inspired her to include other destinations in future prints. “I’m hoping to release a calendar of places I have traveled, a bucket list calendar,” she added.

Each of the local landmark illustrations in the calendar can be purchased as art prints in either 8x10 or 5x7 sizes. Those prints, greeting cards and envelopes are all available in the Knox Paper Scissors Co. space at The Southern Market.

a close up of food on a table: Abby Ryan also does custom family illustrations that can be used as special place settings. © Ali James/Shopper News Abby Ryan also does custom family illustrations that can be used as special place settings.

“I sell new products in my store there, which means I don’t have to think of filling the orders,” said Ryan. “I don’t always list all of the products on my website, knoxpaperscissors.square.site, they just go straight to The Southern Market.”

For fall, Ryan has designed two different cards — ‘hey, boo’ and ‘I love you more than pumpkin spice’. “I feel they have a double purpose," she said. ”I sometimes buy cards because they are pretty, almost too pretty to give away, so I buy two and keep one.

"I grew up loving cards and stationery and how they can be an encouragement to someone. When I was away at college, friends would send me cards. Handwritten cards are definitely a lost art.”

When Wunderwall Mural launched last summer, Ryan was helping them create their branding guidelines when they asked her to create some illustrated wallpapers to sell on their website. “It is a premium wallpaper and definitely renter-friendly — you can remove it easily,” said Ryan. “They loved my Knoxville art and thought it would be a really good idea to make it into wallpaper. It was a cool project to work on, and they are going to list it eventually on their website.”

calendar: Abby Ryan custom designed all of the decorations for her June 2020 wedding. © Ali James/Shopper News Abby Ryan custom designed all of the decorations for her June 2020 wedding.

In what is left of her free time, Ryan brings branding, logos, custom portraits and illustrations and invitation ideas to life for her clients through a separate arm of her freelance business, Abby Ryan Design.

“Designing logos and branding is fun; I love bringing someone’s brand to life,” she said. “Just ask me, it’s most likely that I will do it.”

POWELL

Lonely and scared, young moms connect and support one another

Al Lesar, Shopper News 

Even before she first sat down, Linda Bost was sure she didn’t belong.

The young mother who had just moved to East Tennessee from Texas had isolated herself in her home with a 4-year-old and another on the way.

“My neighbor (Amy Hamer) had to pull me out of the house,” Bost recalled. “I kept refusing, but (Hamer) was adamant. She got me to check it out.

a group of people posing for the camera: Linda Bost, with her husband, Ben, and youngest daughter, Nellya, is in charge of the North Knoxville Mothers of Pre-Schoolers group that helps young mothers deal with the challenges of life. © Submitted Linda Bost, with her husband, Ben, and youngest daughter, Nellya, is in charge of the North Knoxville Mothers of Pre-Schoolers group that helps young mothers deal with the challenges of life.

“I sat there trembling. I felt so insecure as a mother. I couldn’t put my son in the childcare, I just kept him on my lap. I couldn’t let go. But, I looked around and nobody seemed to be bothered.”

That’s because Bost was looking around a room filled with mothers at her first North Knox MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) meeting.

MOPS is an international organization focused on helping mothers navigate some of the tough situations life might have for them. Bost, in her second year leading the local chapter, has meetings set for the first and third Mondays of each month (10 a.m.-noon) at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church (701 Merchant Drive).

Most vulnerable   

a group of people sitting on a couch holding a baby: Linda Bost has leaned on MOPS to help her through the formative years of her children (from left) Nellya, Taddux, Zemi and Tayt. © Submitted Linda Bost has leaned on MOPS to help her through the formative years of her children (from left) Nellya, Taddux, Zemi and Tayt.

The organization has a loose relationship with the church. A typical meeting provides childcare and snacks for the preschoolers. During that time, moms are able to enjoy fellowship and a message from the parent organization.

“The most vulnerable state for a woman is pregnant or with a small child at home,” Bost said. “It’s difficult for a mom to make friends. Here, she and her children are in a safe environment where she can have coffee, unwind and relax.

“There will be a video and discussion about topics like depression, anxiety, young children and marriage and other issues that moms deal with.

“It forced me out of the house and gave me the opportunity to meet so many women who are still my friends.”

Bost is emphatic that the lessons are Christian-based, but it’s not a Bible study.

“I grew in my faith from those meetings,” she said. “I was re-baptized in my church and started going to a Bible study. Now, I have a small group at my house every Thursday.”

Redirected life   

a group of people in a room: Several mothers gather each week to support one another through this time in their lives. © Submitted Several mothers gather each week to support one another through this time in their lives.

Money will never be an obstacle for any woman interested in joining the MOPS meetings, according to Bost. She said the first three meetings are free. To continue takes a $39.95 yearly membership to the international group and $20/semester fee for the local organization.

The international group uses that money to help women in other countries. The local chapter uses its money for paying for childcare, snacks and any costs associated with the room where the meeting is held.

“We do fundraisers and we have scholarships available,” Bost said. “Any mom who wants to join won’t be turned away because of money.”

Bost said her experience has redirected her life in a positive way. She now has 10- and 5-year-old boys and daughters 3 and 1, with No. 5 on the way.

“This has helped give me a new calling,” Bost said. “I’ve been able to love on women. I’m that friend that gets it now. I’m the one talking to others I see who might be in a bad place; those that are sleep-deprived and lonely.

“If you become involved, those clouds will lift.”

For more information, contact Bost at: northknoxmops@gmail.com. 

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FARRAGUT

Town residents' concerns on ‘improper procedure’ addressed

Gabriela Szymanowska, Shopper News 

Community concerns raised during the week since the Farragut Planning Commission meeting were addressed during the Sept. 24 Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting by Town Attorney Tom Hale. 

Hale commented on the concerns that the Planning Commission had gone through improper procedure. 

a man wearing glasses and a suit and tie: Town attorney Tom Hale. © Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel Town attorney Tom Hale.

“The suggestion that somehow that was improper or done improperly caused me to think that I should look into it and try to understand what happened and make sure that that resolution was properly adopted,” Hale said. “And keep in mind, that was a resolution. It was not a rezoning. It was not an amendment to an ordinance.”

The concern was that citizens’ comments about the Land Use Plan in regard to the town center were read after the vote during the Citizens' Forum portion of the meeting instead of before discussion of the resolution.

Hale made clear that the Planning Commission simply adopted a resolution accepting changes to the Land Use Plan document and did not actually enact any laws. 

The confusion, as well as the dismay about not being able to easily voice concerns, stems from Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order that all town meetings must be virtual because of the pandemic. The order is in effect until Oct. 28, after which the Town will be able to host in-person meetings with limited numbers. 

Citizens thus must submit their current comments online, and as Hale explained, it appeared many of the comments did not directly address the resolution itself, but rather the rezoning of the property or building of apartments. 

After Hale’s address, many of the comments during Citizens' Forum were aimed at addressing the situation. Comments also focused on the disapproval of building apartment complexes at the Old Kroger and Biddle Farm locations, citing traffic concerns.

The Board also approved amendments to the Town’s traffic calming policy, with the new policy reflecting everything discussed in the workshop back in August. 

The biggest change indicated was the way the vote would be taken among affected residents. Town Engineer Darryl Smith said the required thresholds to approve these measures would need to be 50% from anyone in the affected area and 65% in the speed zone.

Also approved upon first reading was Ordinance 20-19, which amended the changes to general and state street aid funds for the 2020-21 fiscal year. 

The changes increased the general fund expenditures from $7.2 million to $7.3 million.This was aimed at expansion of the Light the Park event along Campbell Station Road toward I-40 and Kingston Pike, making it more walkable and safer for social distancing. 

There was also a request to increase the budget for street resurfacing, from $1 million to $1.7 million.

The Admiral’s Corner was approved for a brewpub permit, which was passed during the Beer Board directly before the start of the BOMA meeting. The permit was approved by three members, as there were technical difficulties for members at the start of the evening. 

OPINION

It’s hard to let go of memories

Leslie Snow, Shopper News columnist

I tell myself I’m the perfect person for the job because I’m fast and not overly sentimental. I feel confident that in the four days I’m in Cleveland, I can sort and pack everything in my mom and dad’s house so they’ll be ready for their move to Knoxville.

I get up early on the first day to go through my mom’s bookcases. The books are old and dusty and I’m not sure if they’re for reading or for decorating. There’s a label on the first bookcases that say “sell” so I assume the books are meant to be taken to a used bookstore to be sold or donated.

I box up most of the books, keeping a few pretty ones to take to Knoxville, then move on to the next bookcase and repeat the process. In an hour, I pack up eight boxes of books to sell and two boxes to take to the new house. I feel energized and happy that I’ve gotten so much done in so little time.

While I’m admiring my handiwork, my mom crawls out of bed to grab a cup of coffee and to see what I’ve been doing. She gasps when she sees the bookcases. “Where are all my books?” she asks. I’m confused by her tone because it sounds like she’s accusing me of something.

“I packed them to take to the bookstore,” I say proudly. “Don’t worry, I kept two boxes for the bookshelves in your office.”

“You took away all my books,” she says, sadly.

“I didn’t take them, Mom, I packed them for you. It said 'sell' on the bookcases.”

“That’s because I wanted to sell the bookcases, not the books,” she mumbles as she heads to the kitchen to find the coffee. 

We get past the misunderstanding over the books and move on to her bedroom closet. I pick up a black turtleneck and ask, “Keep or shed?”  She doesn’t answer right away so I ask, “Have you worn it in the last year?” She shakes her head no and I put it in the “donate” pile.

As we go through her clothes, the donate pile grows. She frowns and says, “It looks like I’m not taking any clothes to Knoxville.” I add more sweaters to the “keep” pile.

Later, while my mom is sorting her jewelry, I’m tackling a drawer in her nightstand. I find a stack of papers and begin reading to see what can be thrown away. I recognize my handwriting on the first sheet. It says, “Dear Pup, Can we meet for lunch today? I’m done with class at 1:30 and would love to see your cute face. From, Your favorite youngest daughter who loves you very much, Gup.”

The nicknames give the timing of the note away. I was in high school when I called my mom Pup and she called me Gup. My mom saved that note for 40 years. To me, it’s just a piece of paper, something easily discarded. To her, it’s a memory.

I use a gentler tone with her after that. I try to be patient even as the clock ticks away on the four days I’ve set aside for packing. Her house is full of books and trinkets that mean something to her. Her drawers are full of notes that remind her of happier days. 

And I know right then, I’m the perfect person to help my mom move because I’m fast and not overly sentimental. And I’m the worst person for the job for all the same reasons.

Leslie Snow may be reached at snow column@aol.com.

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This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Shopper News blog: Solstice band brings the heat across Knoxville

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