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THE BOOKEND: Oh, my goodness!!

Dear Readers, howdy, how are y’all? Well and good, I hope.

My bff, Ms. Bridgette Anne, has been busy, so I haven’t made it to Hancock County yet. Bridgette is my adventure buddy. She is very calm in the face of almost any difficult situation, which makes her perfect for my travels as I tend to get myself in to quite a few sticky situations. As a matter of fact, I had a horrifying situation about a month ago.

Before I proceed with my little true to life tale, I shall change the names of those involved, to protect them from embarrassment and myself from a lawsuit. Ha!

Occasionally, I have a little job helping with a wealthy, and very prominent elderly couple named Jane and Jerry. I will help Ms. Jane with getting to various doctors and appointments. She is 85 years old. One day Ms. Jane’s daughter asked if I could drive her to the dentist in Johnson City.

Now I have driven in Los Angeles, and NYC, among many big cities, and I’m here to tell ya, they drive crazy in Johnson City! I was extremely nervous about navigating Ms. Jane’s huge Lincoln through there. Not to mention the fact that Ms. Jane must have two walkers just to get to the car, an oxygen tank and a wheelchair. She is a fall risk which is enough to make a person want to jump out of their skin with nerves.

The NEXT complication is that Ms. Jane is highly highly fussy. She is quick witted and will use her wit to slice you to ribbons just about every 32 seconds. She has an air of, “to the manor born.” It’s enough to make a cat jump out of its fur.

Now y’all, this scenario combined with my well-meaning, but klutzy ways are like a train wreck waiting to happen. I kept praying for help to get everything together, get Ms. Jane safely into the car and arrive at the dentist.

We made it to the dentist without any problems. I helped her into her wheelchair. Nothing but nothing pleased Ms. Jane, she complained about the air-conditioning in the office. She asked me to tell the staff to shut off the air, but I managed to sweetly explain there were other patients in the waiting room, thus risking her wrath. By the time we were done at the dentist and on our merry way back home, she was put out with the whole ordeal. I stopped and bought her an ice cream, which put her in a better mood.

When we got towards Greenville, the school children were on their buses, so I took a backroad to Ms. Jane’s country home. She approved of the route and said that they drove that route quite often. I breathed a sigh of relief. Too soon I might add.

As we rode down the two lane highway and approached a busy four way the big Lincoln died, smack dab in the middle of the road, 20 yards from the stop sign. Ms. Jane and I both panicked. We were out of gas. It being my first time to do this job, and what with so many details I hadn’t checked the gas.

Ms. Jane yelled at me to turn on the emergency blinkers, but there were so many buttons I couldn’t find them. Fortunately, there was a gas station to our right. Ms. Jane rolled down her window and began waving her arms and hollering, “Help! Help!” Oh Lord, I felt like the worst caregiver ever born into the world. Within just a minute a man at the gas station came over with a tank and gave us just enough gas to get to the pump.

What an ordeal ... but it wasn’t over yet! Ms. Jane was as mad as a wet hen on the way home. After fussing at me about the gas tank not being full, she looked at the sky and said, “Oh Lord! So many trials I have endured, and you save me from all of them.”

I thought for sure they would never call me to help them out ever again, but they did ... and buddy you can just bet I made sure that gas tank was full!!

Until next time y’all, have a good week, and have a literary week!

MY VIEW: Our newspaper family is thankful for you and your family

My wife and I own a newspaper in Alabama, one that we started from scratch 16 years ago. The paper soon beat the britches off the competition because we focused on things that we knew local folks were interested in: local folks.

In establishing that paper, Dee Ann and I traveled many miles, put in many long hours at the office, and spent what most folks would call their “days off” taking pictures at church events, civic meetings, and fire department fundraisers, because that’s where news happens, not sitting behind a desk at a computer.

I’m telling you that because that is still my work ethic today ... most of my nights and weekends are spent covering meetings of some form or fashion here in Hawkins and Hancock counties, and many of my Saturdays and Sundays at events making photos. A lot of it I do because, heck, I just enjoy being out with you folks, meeting new friends and covering events that make a difference. And I can tell you that the other two people on our news gathering team — Staff Writer Allison Goley and Sports Editor Jim Beller — have similar work schedules.

Some newspapers aren’t doing so well right now – and many of the nation’s largest have “folded” — because they have, sadly, forgotten the two main ingredients that motivate people in places like Rogersville, Church Hill, Surgoinsville, Bulls Gap, Mt. Carmel, Mooresburg, Clinch Mountain, Sneedville, Kyles Ford, Treadway and others to support papers like The Rogersville Review and The Hancock Co. Eagle … NAMES AND FACES ... stories about and pictures of the people you know, people who are near and dear to you, and people in political and public service whose decisions and actions — for better or worse — affect your life on a daily basis.

Not one of you reading this paper right now bought it to find what happened this week in the ridiculous impeachment hearings in D.C., or in what new liberal schemes the politicians out on the Left Coast cooked up. No.

You bought these LOCAL papers because you are interested in and want to know what actions your LOCAL town councils, county commissions and school boards took, and how those decisions may ultimately affect you, your family, your job, your children … and your pocketbook.

You bought these LOCAL papers to find out what’s going on in the classrooms of your children or grandchildren, and to keep up with how the LOCAL home teams fared in sports. You bought these LOCAL papers to see how many little bundles of joy were welcomed into the LOCAL community, how many LOCAL couples got hitched, and how many dear friends and loved ones we gathered at LOCAL gravesides scattered across the hills and valleys of our counties to say goodbye to.

You also bought these LOCAL papers to find out which LOCAL stores have the best sales because, in today’s economy, your family needs to save every dollar you possibly can. A good community newspaper should bring you all of that … and more.

Which is why the staff of the Review and the Eagle has made a renewed commitment to continue to bring you all of that ... and more ... for the remainder of this year and in the new year ahead. And you can help us to do that.

For example, is your spouse or child serving in the armed forces?

Do you have a son or daughter who has received an award, honor or recognition in college?

Is your non-profit organization involved in a community improvement or outreach program of any kind?

Do you know a “Hometown Hero” … someone who has a “story to tell” that would warm our souls and tug at our heartstrings?

Do you have a new business (that is less than a year old) that has not been featured in the Review or the Eagle? Or, has your existing business renovated, expanded, or added employees during the year?

What does your non-profit organization’s calendar look like for the next few months?

Is your fire department planning a training session, or your graduating school class a reunion?

Do you have goals, plans, ideas, dreams and visions for Hawkins and Hancock counties that others would be interested in knowing about?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, we’d love to hear from you.

Many of you already call, email, visit and share with me on a regular basis your ideas and opinions about how these two newspapers can be more responsive to the needs of the two-county region, and trust me … I take notes.

When it comes to access to your publisher, the door to my office is always open. I am so accessible to you, in fact, that I put my cell phone number on my business cards and you are welcome to call me anytime I can be of service.

There’s always a fresh pot of coffee brewing here, so stop by soon and let’s talk, or call me and I’ll be glad to come to your place.

No matter what part of either county you live in, our newspapers care about the people and events that shape your world, so tell us how we can better serve you. On a final note, I would like to extend my personal wishes to you and your family for a happy, safe, and blessed Thanksgiving.

I am so very thankful for a great job that I love, for my family — my wife, four great kids, and seven even greater “grands” (lol) — a roof over my head, for food on my table, my health, my friends, and most of all, for a Savior who loves me in spite of all of my faults and failures.

We all have much to be grateful for if we just took time to stop and count our blessings instead of whining and complaining so much ... amen??

Our newspaper family is so very, very grateful for and appreciative of your faithful advertising support and your continued readership and loyalty.

And for those of you who will be working in local food banks, kitchens, churches and other ministries this week to help feed those in need, thank you. Thanksgiving and the upcoming Christmas holidays can be sad, lonely and hungry times of the year for folks who, for whatever reason, find themselves in a bad way.

May God bless you and your organization for opening your doors and your pocketbooks to those in need.

That’s my view.

And, please, if you drink or do drugs this holiday season, don’t drive ... the precious life you save could be your own, or that of some innocent person.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!