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Courtesy photo 

Jon Wes Lovelace with Volunteer Athletic Director Jim Whalen (left) and Volunteer golf coach Lucas Armstrong (right) at the TSSAA Division 1 Large Class State Golf Championships at WillowBrook Golf Club in Manchester.

Abundant Life Fellowship Church organizes first Jesus Free for All rally

CHURCH HILL — On Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, Abundant Life Fellowship church came alongside Loving Faith Assembly, Wash N Word Ministries, and several other area ministries and music groups to hold the first Jesus Free for All rally.

“We mixed music with testimonies,” said Abundant Life Fellowship Pastor Joel Allen. “There isn’t any preaching per se. It’s a rally to testify that Jesus is still relevant in 2019. We had testimonies of people whose lives Jesus has touched. He has been real to them. We had testimonies of people delivered from drugs and from sex trafficking and healed of cancer. We even had one guy who, at 22, died to the point where he actually began to cross over and saw the light of heaven open up.”

The event took place in the Church Hill Shopping Center parking lot and featured music from seven different music groups such as Brian Burchfield, Landon Bellamy and the men’s choir from Elizabethton’s Recovery Soldiers Ministries. Several food vendors were set up along with activities for children.

Allen explained that the organizers decided on the event’s name because “we wanted to make sure that it was not about promoting a person, church or ministry — just about Jesus.”

According to Allen, this will likely be the first of many rallies.

“We’d like to maybe make it even more than just an annual event, but we don’t know” he said. “It was impressed upon my heart to do one, and that’s what I’ve done so far. Our hope and the mission of both our church and our ministry is to keep a never-changing Jesus relevant in an ever-changing world.”

Abundant Life Fellowship recently relocated from a small brick building in Surgoinsville to a larger space at 415 Old Union Road in Church Hill.

For more information, visit https://www.jesusfreeforall.org or https://www.jesusfreeforall.org/abundant-life-fellowship.html.

Friday morning pickin' and grinnin' at the Medical Center Grill

ROGERSVILLE — When the Medical Center Pharmacy on West Main Street closed in early summer, its lunch counter remained open.

Now known as the Medical Center Grill, LLC, the long-time eatery is open from 9 a.m, until 3 p.m. Monday through Friday each week.

Breakfast and lunch, including what many residents term the “best burgers in town,” are served up daily, according to manager Connie Bailey.

But for the past couple of months, the grill also has been dispensing live music each Friday morning along with scrambled eggs and hamburgers. While customers dine at the counter or at several tables near the front of the business, a group of area musicians plays stringed instruments and sings from folding chairs positioned beneath the greeting card rack.

The greeting cards are on sale at the rate of “10 for a dollar” and both Manager Bailey and musician Jim Bowman said plans are for room to be made for a larger performance area and more dining tables to be added once the greeting cards are gone.

Already gone from the pharmacy that opened in 1961 is the pharmacy stock.

Bowman, a Johnson City native who lived in Gray and Surgoinsville before moving to Rogersville years ago, said he and several other members of the group that now plays at the Grill each Friday have played together at other venues around town for years.

Last Friday morning, the seven-member group was playing everything from western swing to Gospel with plenty of Nashville classics thrown in for good measure.

Those playing music on Oct. 11, included Bowman, singer/songwriter Jeff Orr, Ralph Jones, veteran musician Hale Vance, Rogersville School Board Chairman Reed Matney, Joe Williams, Kenny Wilder and Charlie Whitehead.

Vance, who now lives in Gray, once operated a music store in downtown Rogersville, where group member Reed Matney worked while he was in high school.

Group member Joe Williams also performs with a Gospel group called the Circuit Riders. That group will be performing at 1 p.m. Oct. 26 at Piney Flats United Methodist Church’s fall festival.

Matney played bass guitar and the rest play acoustic or electrical guitars as they accompanied themselves on a variety of songs.

A portable sound system boosted their sound as the musicians took turns singing lead on songs.

Bowman said the musicians sometimes sing songs of their own composition. “Everybody learns the song as we play it if they don’t already know it,” he said

He noted that group member Jeff Orr, who has had a song he wrote recorded by performer Kid Rock, was the first of the loose-knit group’s members to propose that they play at the Medical Center Grill.

“He eats there a lot and one day, he asked them if we could start playing there,” Bowman said.

Grill manager Bailey said she went of vacation earlier this summer and returned to learn that the group was going to start performing at the grill.

“They just showed up and started playing,” she said. “They just do it for fun.”

Bailey noted that Medical Center Grill owner William Pack, who was the pharmacist when the pharmacy closed, decided to keep the grill open.

She noted that Pack, who now is a pharmacist for a chain pharmacy, had purchased the business from its former owners. The building that houses the Medical Center Grill and two other medical-related businesses, is owned by Ken Smith, she said. The building, for many years, also housed the offices of many Rogersville physicians, including Dr. Blaine Jones and the late Dr. Walter Goforth.

Bailey said she reached her 28th anniversary at the Medical Center Grill in August.

“It’s home to me,” she said, noting that she began working at the lunch counter and later became a pharmacy technician there.

VHS junor attends Washington Leadership Training Institute

CHURCH HILL — Ellie McLain, a Junior at Volunteer High School and a member of the Criminal Justice SkillsUSA Club and the Tennessee State Officer Team, had the privilege to attend the Washington Leadership Training Institute in Washington D.C. from September 21-25, 2019.

The conference featured a student leadership track on key career readiness topics. Attending the conference helps students develop their professionalism, communication and leadership skills while learning to advocate for Career and Technical Education.

The conference includes in-depth training sessions on CTE hot topics, effective communication, and the opportunity to advocate with legislative leaders. WLTI will also provide networking opportunities with hundreds of CTE students from across the nation.

“My week began with a flight to Washington D.C. and a busy schedule from then on,” Ellie said. “While in Washington, I was able to advocate on the importance of Career and Technical Education in today’s workforce.”

There, she met with Senator Marsha Blackburn and her staff and discussed how today’s workforce has reported difficulties in filling job openings due to the lack of qualifications, as well as how our economy and the ability to earn a living wage are directly impacted by these factors.

“Along with the many meetings with influential figures, I was also able to visit many monuments and historical sites such as the World War II Memorial, White House, Reflecting Pool, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the U.S. Capitol, and many museums. The trip to Washington ‘broadened my horizons’ as one may say. This trip was an impactful stepping stone in my life that I will never forget.”

State historian releases study on Rogers Tavern

ROGERSVILLE — As the Review reported in A New Visitor in Town: The next steps after discovering William Clark’s 1809 stay at Rogers Tavern, State Historian Dr. Carroll Van West has been conducting a comprehensive study of the Rogers Tavern’s history and structure, and he recently released his findings.

This comes after it was recently discovered that William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expeditions actually spent one night in the Rogers Tavern in 1809 along with his wife, Julia, and his nine-month-old son, Meriwether Lewis Clark.

West was asked to conduct the study to gather the history of the building and see if restoration would be possible.

“We’re not 100 percent sure when the Rogers Tavern was built, but we want to take it back to the way it was originally built,” Steve Nelson told the Review back in August when the discovery was made.

Though West’s report is the first step towards the restoration of Rogers Tavern, he told the Review in August that it is important to take “baby steps” when dealing with this kind of project.

A well-known landmarkThe first portion of West’s report is focused entirely focused on the tavern’s rich history.

Though its exact construction date is still unknown, West explained that it was built around the year 1800 at the direction of Rogersville’s founder, Joseph Rogers.

Rogers was married to Mary Alice Gale Amis, who was the daughter of another notable early settler, Thomas Amis.

When Rogers died, the tavern was passed down within his family until the 1870s when Col. Frederick Heiskell acquired it and began living there with his daughter.

“Heiskell is a significant figure in Tennessee history and is credited with being one of the most important journalists and publishers in 19th century Tennessee history,” West wrote.

He went on to note that the Rogers Tavern was a well-known landmark in its heyday and referenced a section of Joseph Killebrew’s work entitled “Resources of Tennessee,” which claimed that, “at the old Rogers Tavern, as it was called, many of the old celebrities of the day were wont to gather.” The work also noted that, “it was there that General Jackson made the dandy, who wanted a separate room and bed, sleep in the log corn-crib.”

One of the “celebrities of the day” who stayed at the tavern was, of course, William Clark.

The structureWest explained within his report that the existing Tavern is the product of multiple remodels and additions.

The portion of the building closest to the road, which West refers to as the first building period, is the oldest portion. As time went on, the Tavern was expanded towards what is now Crockett Spring Park.

The second building period, which took place between 1870 and 1882 includes the front porch and the middle portion of the building that begins to expand towards the park. The addition closest to Crockett Spring Park and farthest from the road was built during the third building period, which took place between 1900 and 1920. The sleeping porch on the side of the tavern was also constructed during the third building period.

Some minor remodels to the building have also taken place since the third building period, such as an upstairs bathroom that was installed in the 1950s and both a closet and central heat and air that were installed in the 1990s.

Identifying the detailsWest explained within the report that the little details in tavern’s design were able to help him identify their age. For example, he noted the Victorian-styled posts on the front porch of the Tavern indicated that the porch was part of the 1870s remodel.

“During the Heiskell’s 1870s to at least 1882 occupation of the building, it is likely the Victorian-era changes notable in the building fabric were made, such as the Victorian-styled front porch, clapboarding, the second-story porch, and the Victorian-styled newel post and staircase on the first floor,” West wrote.

Unfortunately, the rear room on the second floor of this addition has suffered from extensive water damage and “has the greatest repair needs of any in the building.

West also was able to identify the approximate construction date of the sleeping porch by doing some research.

“As the research of Dr. Jenna Stout has emphasized, sleeping porches swept through Appalachia at the turn of the 20th century out of the medical belief that fresh air was healthy, and that the cool mountain breezes were ideal for patients suffering from respiratory ailments,” West wrote. “Asheville, North Carolina, grew as a medical resort town and is famous today for the number of boarding houses, hotels, and homes with sleeping porches. The Rogers Tavern is a late 19th century example of this phenomenon in Hawkins County, Tennessee.”

The rear portion of the tavern includes a bay window and another porch. West also noted the dark-stained woodwork found inside this portion that is characteristic of the early 20th century Craftsman style.

West’s recommendationsWithin the report, West noted that his investigation was “non-evasive” and did not involve making any changes to the building.

The report concluded the following:

1. The original tavern hall-parlor space of c. 1800-1810 is intact.

2. The original tavern has the potential to be restored to its c.1800-1810 appearance.

3. We recommend keeping the c. 1870-1882 Heiskell addition because it too has interpretive value.

4. The 1900-1920 addition could be removed since it has no ties to the building’s primary period of significance or it could be restored as an office for tavern guides or as a small museum/media room.

5. We have questions about changes to the façade and to the gable-end elevations. Have windows been remodeled on the first floor? Have chimneys been removed?

6. An invasive exploration of the building (meaning the removal of materials) needs to take place before final restoration decisions are made.

He also found a historic corner-cupboard in the third addition that he recommended keeping.

Will the tavern be restored?Though West recommended within his report that the 1870 through 1882 addition be kept because of its “interpretive value,” Nelson told the Review that, in the past, it has always been the wish of the Heritage Association boards to restore the building to how it looked when it was first built.

“Dr. Van West and I actually had that discussion when he was here,” Nelson said. “We talked about the benefits either way, and we really didn’t make a decision one way or another. Of course, in the end, it will be up to the Heritage Association because it belongs to them.”

Now that the report is complete, Nelson explained that he plans to bring this information before the board and discuss the possibility of an invasive exploration of the building as well as the removal of the two additions.

“Hopefully they will at least let me know at the next meeting if I can pull off some of the siding on one end of the building to get an idea of what the logs look like,” he said.

Nelson added that he is “excited” with West’s findings.

“It is great to have a tie-in with Lewis and Clark,” he said. “Hopefully that will make it easier to get some grants so that we can actually restore this thing.”

Paying for the restorationUnfortunately, the process of finding these kinds of grants is a long one.

“Of course, none of the grants are 100 percent, so you also have to come up with the matching part,” he added. “And the heritage association isn’t swimming in money. So, we’ll have to do some fundraisers to come up with the matching part.”

So far, the Rogersville Heritage Association has been hosting Music Mondays as a way to raise money for this project, though the event scheduled for Oct. 2 was rained out.

Nelson also noted that anyone who is interested can donate towards this restoration by giving to RHA and earmarking the donation as funds for the project.

For more back story on the Rogers Tavern, check out the Review’s three-part series on the Tavern’s connection to William Clark called A New Visitor in Town.