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A closer look at 2016

Seniors fear higher health costs if

ACA repealed

By Scott Frith

We all know that 2016 was a great year for Republicans (and a not-sogreat year for Democrats), but let’s take a closer look at what happened and what’s ahead in 2017. Scott Frith First, while the biggest political story of the year was Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential race, some observers were surprised by the size of Trump’s win in Tennessee. Trump won Tennessee by nearly 25 points – a higher margin than Mitt Romney’s 20-point win in 2012 and John McCain’s 15-point win in 2008. Locally, few have noticed that Gloria Johnson has now lost three of four state elections. (Johnson lost a state Senate special election in 2011, re-election in 2014, and lost again in 2016. Johnson’s only win was in 2012.) Democrats are expected to find another candidate to take on Rep. Eddie Smith in 2018. Nonetheless, Johnson would be favored for city council next year and would be a strong candidate for Knoxville mayor in 2019. The other big story was Republican state Rep. Martin Daniel winning re-election despite being criminally charged with assault for shoving former To page 3

Gloria Johnson stands with Mary Linda Schwartzbart during a roundtable discussion of the Medicare “doughnut hole.” Schwartzbart’s late husband, Arnold, was affected by the gap in coverage before his death due to the cost of his medication. Photos by Shannon Carey

By Sandra Clark When the sloganeering Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20, his supporters will expect three things: Drain the swamp; Build a wall, and Repeal and replace Obamacare.

That third goal is a sticky wicket, complicated by Trump’s insistence on the word “replace.” Repealing Obamacare is a straight up/down vote. The House of Representatives voted to do it 50 or 60 times (depending on who’s counting). Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a bill to repeal it outright.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promises, “The Obamacare repeal resolution will be the first item up in the New Year.” But not all senators see a simple solution, even the Republicans. Sen. Lamar Alexander said in November that full repeal and replacement could take years. And

Nurse practitioner Richard Henighan demonstrates the Medicare “doughnut hole” with a real doughnut during a roundtable discussion at Time Warp Tea Room.

he thinks full repeal will require 60 votes in the Senate – an almost impossible goal on such a divisive issue. To page 3

Methodist youth groups gear up for ‘Resurrection 2017’

Christmas tree recycling

Knox County residents can bring their unwanted, formerly live Christmas trees to participating Knox County Convenience Centers for free disposal through January at Dutchtown, Halls, John Sevier, Karns, Powell and Tazewell Pike centers. Info: solid_waste/christmas_ treecycling.php

January 4, 2017

draws youth and adults from By Carol Z. Shane Florida, Mississippi, Ohio, Now that the 2016 Christmas season has Pennsylvania and New Jerended, churches are looking to the new year. sey, as well as the Holston Among the 887 churches of the Holston ConConference areas of East ference of the United Methodist Church, it’s a Tennessee, southwest Virvery busy time for youth. ginia and northeast Georgia. On the third weekend in January, over And what began as a Unit12,000 of them will be gathering at the LeConte ed Methodist conference has Center in Pigeon Forge for “Resurrection 2017.” now come to include attendDescribed on its website as “an awesome Lansford ees from Baptist, Presbyteannual event of worship and spiritual growth for youth and youth mentors,” the conference rian, Christian, Lutheran, and nondenomi-

national churches. “It was started in 1986 by three pastors,” says Laura MacLean, associate director of connectional ministries for youth and young adults for the Holston Conference. “They saw a need for something for the youth during the winter. “There are lots of activities in the summer and fall, but this is a touchstone at a time of year when not much is going on. The first one drew about 300 people. It’s really grown!” To page 3

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Nick Pavlis won’t run for mayor By Betty Bean Nick Pavlis has been city council’s Energizer bunny for the past six years, showing up for neighborhood meetings all over town and making himself available to anyone who calls him. He’s Knoxville’s longest-serving council member and has long been assumed to be aiming at a run for mayor in 2018. But he now says 16 years in city government is enough. “People just get tired,” Pavlis said. “I was first elected in 1995 and served eight years in an atlarge seat, sat out six years – serving two years on MPC during that time – then ran for the 1st District seat in 2011. I think it’s my time not to have the obligation as an elected official – I’m 62 now and I’m just ready to enjoy my life.” What Pavlis didn’t mention is that serving as mayor is a full-

time job, and would force him to leave his job as state director of governmental affairs with Charter Communications, a position that keeps him on the road between Knoxville and Nashville. “I’m in Nashville every week when (the Legislature is) in session, and sometimes when we’re not in session,” he said. “I love what I do for a living. It’s tailormade for me, and I don’t want to give it up.” Pavlis feels good about the job he’s done for the city and for his district, and although he gives mayors Victor Ashe, Bill Haslam and Madeline Rogero great credit, he believes he played a part in Knoxville’s progress, as well. “I believe I’ll be leaving Knoxville better off than I found it. It wasn’t that long ago that you could have held a Frisbee contest in the

middle of downtown and there wouldn’t have been anybody getting in the way. Nobody’d care. I’m very proud of what we’ve done with the Urban Wilderness projects in South Knoxville.” He says he’s a “little concerned” about the direction city council could take. “I feel we need to have a good mix of people on the council. A good council member can’t be just a business-oriented person, nor should it be strictly a neighborhood-oriented person. We need a healthy mix on there.” He cares deeply about who’s going to step in behind him, but hasn’t heard any names yet. “I have not heard a thing about a successor. I’ve spoken to folks, kind of wanting to stir the ashes a little bit, but I’m not hearing much back. It’s hard to run for office

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these days. You kind of have to be retired, or have a job (with flexible hours) like mine. It’s difficult to effectively shepherd a district and have a full-time job with the hours you’ve got to put in.” He is enthusiastic about a potential candidate in another district – former state Rep. Harry Tindell, who is considering a run for the 4th District council seat now occupied by Nick Della Volpe, who is also term-limited. “Harry is a brilliant person. I learned that when I’d go talk to him about issues. He was always knowledgeable and prepared. If he runs, I’ll support him.” And for mayor? “Too early – it’s still two years out. But knowing me, I’ll be involved. We’ve got the city headed in a pretty good direction and we need to keep the momentum going.”

A-2 JAnuAry4,4,2017 2017• •NPorth owell ShoPPer -newS news 2 • J•anuary /East Shopper

health & lifestyles

Subtle signs, safe hands There was nothing unusual about that Wednesday in March. It was a typical workday for Karen Russell. There was no indication that anything extraordinary was about to happen, and certainly no indication that she was about to have a stroke. Russell, 62, processes data at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, with the end goal of using the results to ensure quality care and patient safety. As she wrapped up her duties at the end of her day, she had no idea that she would soon be on the receiving end of that quality care. On the drive home from work that Wednesday in March, Russell began to experience numbness in her mouth. The possibility of a stroke never entered her mind, and her first thought was that it must have been the result of something she ate. “I thought I was having an allergic reaction, Russell says. “It was so subtle I could explain it away.” Later in the evening she fell asleep in the recliner, and woke to discover her arm and hand had gone numb. “You know how sometimes your hand and arm will get numb while you’re asleep,” Russell says. “I just decided that’s what it was, and so I explained it away, again.” It wasn’t until early the next

morning in the shower that Russell began to realize something could be so wrong that it would require medical attention. “It dawned on me that I couldn’t feel anything on my right side,” Russell says. “I couldn’t feel my toes, my leg was numb, and I decided I might b e

having a stroke.” She informed her husband that she was going to stop by the emergency department at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center on her way to the office. Her husband wisely insisted that he take the wheel. Russell also called her boss to explain what was going on. “I might be a little late,” Russell told her, “ I


“This is not only my choice of employment,” Karen Russell says. “This is my choice of health care, too.”

Signs of

Stroke When it comes to stroke, time lost is brain lost, so it’s important to understand the warning signs of stroke and how to reduce your risk. If you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms, call 911.

Sudden severe headache with no known cause Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination Sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes All nine Covenant Health hospitals are part of our stroke network, so when seconds count, you can trust that our elite teams can provide the comprehensive stroke care you need. Claiborne Medical Center | Cumberland Medical Center Fort Loudoun Medical Center Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center LeConte Medical Center | Methodist Medical Center Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System Parkwest Medical Center | Roane Medical Center

have to run by the ED (emergency department) and make sure I’m not having a stroke.” At the time she was half joking, but the minute she came into the emergency department and explained she was there because of stroke symptoms, things got serious, and the team went into action. “As soon as I said it, there was a wheelchair behind me, and then everything happened so fast,” Russell says. “I just put myself in their hands, and I felt safe.” She was asked many questions, and while she never lost her ability to speak, it frightened her that she wasn’t able to answer the doctor correctly when he asked her what month it was. “I ought to be able to remember March,” Russell says, “because that’s my birthday month.” Screenings and tests were conducted, revealing high blood pressure and evidence of a stroke. It had been 16 hours since Russell’s first symptoms, so she had already passed the window for standard emergency stroke treatment. But in the limited period of time she was there, Russell felt well informed and completely cared for as a stroke patient. “They told me what it was, where it was, and I had a plan of care,” Rus-

sell says. That plan of care got Russell on the road to recovery, and she was able to return to work the following Monday, in the place where she says she’s most happy in life. “This is my hospital, and I love it,” Russell says. “I’ve been here 33 years, and I feel like I own part of it.” Russell laughs when she shares her grandchildren’s response to her treatment at Fort Sanders Regional. “They said, ‘Gosh, Mamaw, that place is the bomb diggity!’” Russell says. She is inclined to agree. “This is not only my choice of employment,” Russell says, “this is my choice of health care, too.” Fort Sanders Regional has been certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission and the American Heart/ Stroke Association, the largest independent health care evaluation system in the nation. The certification recognizes hospitals that meet high standards in treating the most complex stroke cases with advanced imaging, personnel trained in vascular neurology, neurosurgery and endovascular procedures, availability of personnel and facilities around the clock, and both experience and expertise treating stroke patients. To learn more about Fort Sanders Regional’s certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, signs of a stroke, and an online checklist to find out your level of stroke risk, visit www.

The first Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center in East Tennessee Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center serves as the hub of Covenant Health’s stroke hospital network, and offers advanced care and rehabilitation services to patients who experience a stroke. Fort Sanders Regional was the first in the Knoxville area to earn an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification by The Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization that accredits and certifies more than 20,500 health care programs in the United States. This “gold-seal” advanced certification means that Fort Sanders is recognized as having the most advanced and effective treatments available for stroke today. Certification through The Joint Commission involves extensive training for the staff, documentation of effectiveness and inspection of the hospital by The Joint Commission. Part of certification is having a team of “neurohospitalists” on staff. These physicians treat only stroke and neurological cases in the hospital, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Instead of waiting for a doctor to have time from his or her private practice, Fort Sanders Re-

gional has neurologists on hand. “It makes access to specialized neurologists easier,” said James Hora, MD, one of the neurohospitalists at Fort Sanders. “We have 24/7 coverage, and this provides rapid access to a neurologist for acute neurologic problems.” Arthur Moore, MD, was hired in July 2014 as medical director for the center. “With our Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Certification, we offer the highest level of care for all patients. Whether they’re able to have surgery or not, we’re there to give their bodies the

best chance to heal and recover,” he explained. Most stroke patients need followup care after the initial event, and patients at Fort Sanders have access to the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, an award winning rehabilitation center. About one-third of the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center’s patients are stroke patients, according to the center’s medical director, Mary E. Dillon, MD. “Our specialists begin determining as soon as possible what level of care the patient will need,” said Dillon. “Patients have access

to rehab services from the time they arrive in the emergency department, throughout their care here and through all the postacute levels of care.” Having everything – speedy emergency care, advanced surgical techniques and the best in rehabilitation – makes Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center the smart choice for stroke care. “We’re equipped to handle all stroke cases, from the most complex to the least,” said Dillon. “Our patients don’t have to go anywhere else to find help.”

stroke: LIKE IT NEVER EVEN HAPPENED. Leading the region’s only stroke hospital network

Certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission and accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities


No comprehensive stroke and rehabilitation center in our region does more to reverse stroke’s devastating effects than Fort Sanders Regional Medical Fort Sanders performs Center. That’s why hospitals clinical trials and procedures for stroke not available across East Tennessee refer their most complex stroke patients to anywhere else in our region. us. And only Fort Sanders Regional is home to the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, East Tennessee’s elite rehabilitation hospital for stroke, spinal cord and brain injury patients.

North/East Shopper news • January 4, 2017 • 3

Arts & Culture Alliance offers three new exhibitions this First Friday The new year is getting off to a fresh and varied start at the Emporium Center on Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. Beginning this First Friday, the Arts & Culture Alliance will be showcasing works of art from three creative groups.

Carol Z. Shane

The Appalachian Area Chapter of Blacksmiths (AABC) will present “Beautiful Iron” in the balcony gallery. Viewers will see fine, hand-forged architectural ironwork including a variety of items for the home such as gates, grills, sculpture, furniture, lighting, fireplace equipment and door hardware, making the show of interest not only to the general public, but to interior designers and architects as well. Artist Joe Babb took his first blacksmithing course with Paul Lundquist in the late ’70s, then studied with

This painting by retired art instructor Ann Birdwell will be exhibited with over 40 others by the John T. O’Connor Senior Center Painters. Photos submitted Francis Whitaker at the John Campbell Folk School. “For a long time, blacksmithing was a hobby for me. Around 2000, I decided to begin turning it into a business which I now call Elegant Ironworks, found online at elegantironworks. com. I am now a full-time designer and maker of functional ornamental ironwork for the home using traditional as well as modern techniques.” Babb says that blacksmithing allows him to create beautiful, durable and useful things in iron. “I con-

tinue to be amazed at what iron can do,” he says. Other artists in the show include Ron Nichols, Brad Greenwood and Mike Rose. Featured in the downstairs gallery will be “Breaking Ground – What You Want to See,” an exhibition of more than 40 watercolors, oils and acrylics by the John T. O’Connor Senior Center Painters. Ann Birdwell, one of the exhibiting artists, retired as an art instructor from Central High School and began teaching art at the Senior Center in the same year,

1997. “Many wonderful people of various art and life experiences have come into the class and developed into painters. All students work in the medium of their choice: acrylic, watercolor or oil. We had a group show a few years ago at the Emporium and are excited to be exhibiting there again. “We meet every Wednesday with an advanced class from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and a beginning class from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Anyone interested in joining the beginning class can call the Center at 865-

This ironwork by blacksmith Joe Babb will be on display through January at the Emporium Center.

523-1135 and register for classes beginning Jan. 4.” The Emporium Center’s display case, north wall and atrium will feature “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission Gallery of Arts Tribute,” a juried exhibition developed to recognize local artists and to honor the legacy of Dr. King. Themes explored in the exhibit are unity, community, love, racial reconciliation, social

justice and civil rights. The triple exhibition opens with a reception including complimentary refreshments 5-9 p.m. this First Friday, Jan. 6, and the show runs through Jan. 27 at the Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. Most of the works are for sale and may be purchased at the close of the exhibition. Info: or 865-5237543.

Leticia Flores believes in diversity By Carol Z. Shane Dr. Leticia Flores, who was awarded the 2016 Diversity Leadership Award by the University of Tennessee College of Arts and Sciences, knows firsthand about the value of celebrating, promoting and welcoming differences in the human family. As a third-generation Mexican-American, her mission has long been to include people of all backgrounds in her field, her college and her community. Flores, who is an associate professor in the department of psychology and the interim director for the UT Psychological Clinic, moved to Knoxville in 2013 when her husband, Dr. Timothy Hulsey, applied for and won the position of Associate Provost for Honors and Schol-

ars at the university. “He had actually gone to grad school here in the ’80s.” He enjoyed being in Knoxville then, and when he saw the job opening, wanted to return. “They really wanted him. And they created a position for me, so we couldn’t say no.” Flores grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and had never left the state until she went to Duke University in Durham, N.C., for her bachelor’s degree in psychology. “My parents drove me there, dropped me off and said, ‘Good luck, babe!’” she laughs. Further studies took her to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, then postdoctoral training in Seattle. Before coming to Knoxville, she and her husband spent 10 years on the faculty at Virginia Commonwealth

Closer look at 2016 state Rep. Steve Hall during a campaign event. Even more absurd is that the mess isn’t over yet. Daniel’s criminal charges remain pending as legislators return to Nashville next month. Here are some other things to watch in 2017: Knoxville City Council district seats (1, 2, 3, 4 and 6) will be on the ballot this fall, but few will notice. On average, only 5,000 people bother to vote in a typical city election. (Knoxville has a population of about 185,000.) Also, although the Republican primary won’t be held until May 2018, two heavyweight candidates are lining up to be the next sheriff: assistant chief Lee Tramel and former chief

deputy Tom Spangler. Tramel will have the blessing of current Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones (who is term limited). Spangler will raise a lot of money from his political connections in Blount County, where he is employed part-time as director of training. Of course, political posturing is also underway in the race to succeed county Mayor Tim Burchett (who is also term limited). Rumored and announced candidates for mayor are Commissioner Brad Anders, Law Director Bud Armstrong, county GOP leader Buddy Burkhardt and Commissioner Bob Thomas. The wild card in the race is Glenn Jacobs (the professional wrestler formerly

Seniors fear increased health costs Sen. Bob Corker doesn’t like the idea of a quick repeal with deferred implementation while the replacement is hammered out. “It might make sense to repeal and replace at the same time. It’s not really repeal if it’s still in place for three years,” he said Dec. 6 after a meeting with Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Into the fray comes Gloria Johnson, former state representative and Obama organizer. She convened a meeting of seniors last Thursday at the Time Warp Tea Room. “Repeal of the Affordable Care Act will create chaos, raise costs and limit protections for seniors,” Johnson

wrote in the invitation. Mary Linda Schwarzbart said, “Thanks to the ACA, we paid 11 percent less in 2014 than 2013 for our Medicare premiums and saved almost $900 on prescription costs.” In 2013, Schwarzbart fell into the so-called doughnut hole in early June. Linda Haney of Halls said she and husband Dan saved $3,000 in 2016 and expect to save $2,000 this year. With the ACA, they pay $700 of the cost of Dan’s insulin; without the ACA, they would be required to pay almost $1,700. Richard Henighan, a family nurse practitioner from Sevier County, said, “If you are in the doughnut

University in Richmond, Va. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to think about moving here,” Flores admits. “But we’ve actually really enjoyed it; we like it a lot. “People are friendly and very welcoming. We made friends much more quickly here than we did in Richmond. Virginia is more of a ‘northern kind of south.’ Here people have been much more open.” Flores and Hulsey live downtown and “walk everywhere,” she says. “We listen to a lot of music. That’s one thing we love about Knoxville – on any weekend, we can throw a stick and hear amazing virtuosity. We go to a lot of live jazz, a lot of rock and bluegrass. We love the Big Ears Festival; we love Rhythm N Blooms.” Though UT’s Office of Diversity From page 1

known as “Kane”). Celebrities win elections. Jacobs would be a strong candidate for mayor or Congress. Rumors continue to swirl around the political futures of Burchett and U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. Both have been around a while. 2018 will be the 30th anniversary of Duncan’s election to Congress and the 24th anniversary of Burchett’s first election to the state Legislature.  According to a Federal Election Commission filing this month, the “Duncan for Congress” campaign account has $974,058.05 in available cash. That’s a lot of money. 2017 will be an interesting year.

was disbanded in 2016, the university still offers diversity programs in areas such as agriculture, business, law, engineering, veterinary medicine and others. The website states: “Diversity means more than race and ethnicity; it’s about moving beyond just tolerance to a place of understanding.” Flores says, “Diversity spurs life. Hybridization is good for nature, it’s good for community, it brings in different perspectives, it brings in different flavors, makes a community hardier. I think a lot about agriculture – you know, you can’t just keep planting the same crop, you’ve got to have different things in there. The more you combine, especially things that work well together, the healthier your garden’s going to be.”

Downtown resident and UT professor of psychology Leticia Flores believes not only in diversity, but in local businesses. Here she’s at Pete’s Coffee Shop. Photo by Carol Z. Shane

‘Resurrection 2017’ Eric Bronkala, youth minister at Middlebrook Pike UMC, has been taking sixth- through 12thgraders to the event since 1997. “It is designed as an evangelistic retreat to lead young people toward a new or deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. “There are four largescale contemporary worship services with age-appropriate small group sessions, as well as fellowship and free time exploring Pigeon Forge.” This year, Bronkala will be taking 47 youth and 10 adults. “All my participants

except for just a few have been invested in our youth group since school began, growing close as they experience life together and discuss major Christian themes applicable to their everyday life.” In contrast, Central Methodist’s youth director, John Lansford, is looking forward to his first experience with the conference. He’s served on staff or as a volunteer for youth since 2009, and formerly attended Halls Christian Church. He has been Central’s youth minister only since September.

From page 1 “I’m taking a group of four adults and 16 kids,” says Lansford. “The majority of my group has been about five times; I’m the only newcomer.” Lansford says that he is working on some preparatory materials. “One concern has been that it’s hard to maintain the fire that they get at the conference,” he says. “I’m working on a piece about catching fire and keeping the fire lit, asking ‘are we fulfilling what the church has called us to do?’” Info: resurrectionyouth. com or 865-690-4080.

Scott Frith is a local attorney. You can visit his website at

From page 1 hole now, you are paying only 45 percent of brandname drugs. If we repeal the ACA, we are looking at paying 100 percent for that same drug.” Johnson added: “55 million Americans are covered by Medicare. Enrollees have benefited from lower costs for prescription drugs; free preventive services including cancer screenings; fewer hospital mistakes and more coordinated care.” Will “repeal and replace” become law during Trump’s first 100 days? During his first term? And then what? That still leaves the wall building and swamp draining. We live in interesting times.

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4 • January 4, 2017 • North/East Shopper news

East Knox Elementary hosts Cougar Camp Night

Students listen to a story around the “campfire” with instructional coach Johanna Hooter (far left) and third-grade teachers Bekah Parrott and Abigail Coffey.

New Year’s resolutions By Kip Oswald Last week we celebrated New Year’s Day and learned about traditions here and around some parts of the world. Kinzy and I found that almost all people use the New Year to plan to do better with something in their life by making a resolution to improve themselves. I listened to Mom and Aunt Becky make their promise to lose weight and exercise again this year, and both of them started a Kip diet on Monday. After living with Cassie for several weeks now and realizing how different her life is, I decided to figure out what might be some important resolutions for parents, teachers or anyone who works with kids. So the kids in my family and their friends helped me do a survey of almost 200 others with these three questions. ■■What do you want your mom or dad to know about you? ■■What do you want your teacher to know about you? ■■What do you worry about; or what are you afraid of? For the first question, almost everyone

wanted their parents to know they loved them and were really working hard in school. There were also many who wanted their parents to know that they needed help at home with schoolwork, and several said they needed “hugs like when a baby.” In answer to the second question, teachers were told a lot of personal things that could help them understand the students better. Several said they wanted their teacher to know they were hungry or not getting sleep because they were babysitting a little brother or sister. Many also told their teachers they were trying really hard to do their best, and one even said, “I want you to know I read faster than you think.” Question three showed a lot of fears, much like I came to know from being around Cassie. There were a lot of kids afraid of the dark, clowns and bugs, but also many were scared something was going to happen to their mom, dad or family member. There were also answers of worry about parents fighting and leaving. Mom and Aunt Becky asked all of us to answer question one and three and then they changed their resolution according to how we answered those questions. If you have a relationship with a kid, what is your resolution?

Dylan and Emylea Dunaway write the steps for making the perfect camp s’more during East Knox Elementary’s Cougar Camp Night. Students and their families enjoyed making nature-themed art including pet rocks, collages and campfires. Photos submitted

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Pre-K student Caydence Rose gets ready to jump rope at the camp games station in the gym during the family engagement night event at East Knox Elementary.

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Love Towers resident Shelley Jackson won the tacky Christmas sweater contest with her creative, homemade sweater titled “Static Kling” at the annual Christmas Bingo Blitz.

Residents Jackie Lett and JoAnn Leach play a game of Bingo Blitz.

Love Towers residents enjoy Bingo Blitz Nearly 100 residents from Guy B. Love Towers celebrated the holidays at an annual Christmas Bingo Blitz. The residents received gifts, ate food, played games and competed in a tacky sweater contest. “The annual event is always a festive, fun time for our residents,” said Steve Ellis, senior asset manager for Love Towers. “The social committee here plans the event themselves with only a little assistance from our staff. This event makes sure that every resident has a chance to celebrate with friends and feel special around the holidays.” When residents arrived at the party, they were greeted with a smile and a wrapped gift. Christmas music was provided by the “Forever Young” singers from John T. O’Connor Senior Center, who sang traditional holiday favorites. The senior singers also serenaded the residents as they shared a meal. After the performance, a tacky sweater winner was selected, and residents played several games of ‘Bingo Blitz’ with multiple prizes awarded. Shelley Jackson won the sweater contest for her creative, homemade “Static Kling” attire.

FAITH AND SENIOR NOTES • personal development • computer training • industrial & technical • business and professional • online courses • customized training

Member of

■■ First Comforter Church, 5516 Old Tazewell Pike, hosts MAPS (Mothers At Prayer Service) noon each Friday. Info: Edna Hensley, 771-7788. ■■ Fountain City Methodist hosts Griefshare, 6:30-8 p.m. Wednesdays. The group is for those who are dealing with the loss of a spouse, child, family member or friend. Cost: $15. Info: 689-5175.

Love Towers resident and Bingo Blitz event coordinator Marvin Romines shows off his favorite tacky Christmas sweater at the annual Blitz. Photos submitted

■■ All Knox County Senior Centers will be closed Monday, Jan. 16. ■■ Carter Senior Center 9040 Asheville Highway 932-2939 Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. ■■ Corryton Senior Center 9331 Davis Drive 688-5882

Monday-Friday Hours vary ■■ Register for: Super Seniors meeting, 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10; entertainment by the Over the Hill Gang. Veterans services one-on-one, 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10; RSVP: 215-5645 ■■ Larry Cox Senior Center 3109 Ocoee Trail 546-1700

North/East Shopper news • January 4, 2017 • 5

Joy to the world: Optimism restored Joy to the world. Good times have returned.

Marvin West

All together now, one more round of Rocky Top – even with the dreaded woo. Across all of Big Orange Country, and in several far-flung places, Tennessee football fans are celebrating the new year and the new outlook. The Volunteer victory in the “meaningless third-level bowl game” made a wonderful impact on orange-andgray psyche. The lingering pain from that loss in November has dwindled. Well, somewhat. The team bounced back and inspired the multitude to follow. Optimism has been restored. My friend Oscar says he may even renew his season tickets.

The win over Nebraska was more convincing than the score. Tennessee had more speed. Tennessee had more enthusiasm. Tennessee had Derek Barnett and Joshua Dobbs. The senior quarterback was not pin-point perfect in passing but he hit the big one. He ran for three touchdowns. He received the MVP trophy. Two harsh critics surrendered and agreed the performance was somewhat better than acceptable. One did keep count of overthrows. The celebration when Barnett induced the recordsetting sack was one for the ages. If you have a photo, frame it. Save the scene in your memory bank. The entire team ran onto the field to congratulate the warrior and share the moment. He was surrounded with respect. It was beautiful. I think it is safe to say nothing like that has ever happened at Tennessee. Through the decades, few have had a Barnett-style engine. He is truly relentless.

Great tailbacks and Peyton have claimed most of the applause. This was different. I and others said the Music City Bowl did not matter, that the Vols of 2016 had already established their identity. This was not a good team. It struggled with Appalachian State before injuries were a factor. It was not ready to play when the Florida game started. Fate awarded the win at Georgia. Alabama rubbed faces in the turf. Tennessee suffered two embarrassing upsets. One cost a trip to the Sugar Bowl, deserved or not. I and others said the season ended with the loss at Vanderbilt and it was time to begin next year. I and others were wrong. The Vols actually used December. They went after Nebraska with a fierceness seldom seen. Mistakes gave the Cornhuskers two touchdowns but the defense did not collapse. Josh Malone was tough enough in the clutch. The triumph was com-

forting, even therapeutic, for Butch Jones. He thanked Tennessee fans who kept the faith. He said the net result was “an illustration of progress.” I wouldn’t go that far. The Vols finished with nine wins, same as last year, short of expectations. Defensive statistics were a disaster. The offensive line showed some improvement. Dobbs and the passing game got better. Bowl success pulled the fat from the fire. The hot seat is cool enough for the coach to stop squirming. The “meaningless” victory was meaningful. Three consecutive wins over Big 10 foes might sway some neutrals. As he did previously, Butch will turn this into another building block, oops, brick. Winter workouts will have a purpose. Some days may even be fun. Recruiting will get a late boost. Coaches, players and fans can look forward to spring practice. Some time back, I said eight wins were not enough. Nine feels some better.

Lies, darn lies and statistics Research shows that teachers don’t improve in their effectiveness after their fourth year. At least that is what Mitchell Zais, the former South CaroHopson lina state superintendent of education, stated at a recent SCORE (State Collaborative on Reforming Education) event in Nashville. In this era of “fake news,” it is vitally important that decisions affecting our children be based on facts and a preponderance of all the research, not just cherrypicked data that support a particular agenda. Although SCORE should be up on the most recent data concerning education, not one person in the room challenged Zais’ statement. While there are a few studies linking teacher effectiveness to test score data, which back up Zais’ claim, there are many more that do not. In a June review of 30 studies, the Learning Policy Institute concluded that, “Teaching experience is positively associated with student achievement gains throughout a teacher’s career.” Gains continue for teachers in the second and often third decades of their careers and didn’t affect just test scores, but also the absenteeism and discipline rates of students as well. We know this to be true, however, even without the statistics. I certainly hope I am a better teacher now than I was in the fourth year of my career.

I have learned an abundance of things since then. When is the last time you thought, “Boy, I sure do hope my kid gets a rookie teacher this year?” I have, in fact, talked several parents off the ledge who were upset that their child was not placed in the classroom of an experienced educator. I reminded them that we were all new teachers once, and the experienced ones would be there to guide and mentor when needed. Their children did quite well, thanks to quality teacher education programs, but teaching is like other professions. That fifth-year heart surgeon may be brilliant, but I would bet on the experience of a 20-year veteran should an unexpected situation arise on the operating table. I cannot name a profession in which workers top out on their expertise after just four years. So when you hear that Knox County ranks in the 79th percentile among state districts for high school math and the 75th percentile in reading, you also need to know that the rate of students who were advanced or proficient was 20.8 percent and 30.3 percent, respectively. When you hear that only 43.5 percent of our high school freshmen are proficient in English, remember that the new test halved that percentage from last year. When you hear that Tennessee is the fastest improving state in education, you need to know that we didn’t really improve that much; most other states incurred flat or lower test scores.

When you hear that educators can be held accountable by having test score data included as a part of their evaluation, you need to know that the vast majority of teachers don’t teach tested subjects. That means they are judged on the performance of other teachers and even students they don’t teach or who may not even be in their school.

When you hear that India and China have three times as many mathematicians and scientists as the United States, you have to realize they should. They have exponentially more people. And when you hear that teachers don’t improve after their fourth year, remember what they say about statistics. Lauren Hopson is president of KCEA.

A whole new world! He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers – all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of the cross. (Colossians 1:15-20 NRSV) If you are in the habit of skipping the verses of Scripture that always appear at the beginning of this column, stop right now, and go back to the top! Read and reread those six verses and reflect on the power and the wonder of that passage. It is stunning! The magnitude of creation – the centrality of Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection in that creation – is jawdropping! The Apostle Paul captured in those words an astonishing description of Jesus: the Creator, the Son, the Man, the Lamb, the Savior. Sometimes I fear we get so familiar with the Bible

Cross Currents

Lynn Pitts

we don’t read it with amazement and joy. We read it just like we would read yesterday’s paper: “Oh, yeah, I know what happened. I know all that stuff.” As we start a New Year, let’s try – every day – to remember what God has done for us in the person of Jesus Christ. Let’s live into His promises; let’s be His people on earth!

last words UT breakfast much more than social Mayor Madeline Rogero and council member Nick Pavlis deserve credit for adding to our greenway system with the recent announcement that almost a mile will be added in South Knoxville from the Mary Vestal Park over to the OgleMartin Mill Pike corner. Now that greenways in the city are under new management, progress is occurring at a faster pace than in the prior five years. Better late than never for Team Rogero. Let’s hope this pace is maintained and even accelerated. This column will keep checking on the actual progress. The announcement of a greenways maintenance crew under the able leadership of Chad Weth and David Brace is welcomed news as well. Small problems are more easily fixed than big ones, and a dedicated crew to this mission is important. ■■ It is disappointing to criticize the University of Tennessee, but when the President’s office purposefully issues inaccurate information, someone needs to call them on it. One likes to think UT President Joe DiPietro is factually correct and transparent, even on issues where there is division of opinion. As a UT Law graduate, I am proud of our university and feel it is one of Tennessee’s greatest assets, but when the law is ignored one wonders and asks why. Last month, DiPietro hosted a breakfast meeting for area lawmakers at Andy Holt Towers and closed it to the public, claiming it was purely social. A “social meeting” suggests that serious issues of interest to the public would not be discussed. Imagine the surprise after the meeting when participants were interviewed. We discovered the discussion centered almost entirely on diversity and the restoration of the Lady Vols name to women’s athletics. Both are issues that could face the UT board and certainly have already faced the Legislature. There are strongly divided views on both topics, and neither could be considered simply a “social” matter. Two members of the UT board were present at the breakfast, which triggers the Open Meetings law. The law applies equally to the UT Board of Trustees as it does to the Knoxville City Council and Knox County Commission. DiPietro, in a letter to a legislator, actually said the number of trustees present does not matter in regard to compliance with the Open Meet-

Victor Ashe

ings law. So on his theory, a majority of the full board could meet, discuss these pending issues with lawmakers and the public be barred. Does he ever confer with UT legal counsel? Because DiPietro says a meeting is social or hopes it is social does not mean the reality is consistent with the wish or statement. In this case, the President’s office was not truthful in its statement to the media. It was not a social meeting. After the meeting, participating legislators and UT officials spoke to the media about the issues discussed, which causes one to wonder why did they bar the public from the meeting in the first place if they planned to talk about it later? DiPietro should be and is better than this. His secrecy achieves nothing positive. He should take charge of the news releases being issued in his name and rewrite them to be accurate. His own correspondence should acknowledge that the breakfast was far more than social. If not, he runs the risk of people thinking he thinks he is above the law. A big mistake. ■■ Only last week it was disclosed the settlement of the latest Title IX lawsuit exceeds $3.2 million with final resolution nowhere in sight. These are public dollars which could be spent for better purposes than legal fees, media advice and consultants. This story never seems to end despite UT’s effort to keep the story quiet. But as long as it is someone else’s money the board does not seem inclined to call a halt. ■■ KCDC will pay Ben Bentley $160,000 per year. He is the new director from Nashville who was chosen by a closely divided vote of 4-3. The outgoing director, Art Cate, was making $184,704. KCDC is doing the smart thing by hiring the new person (under 38) at a lesser salary than the person he replaces and then let his performance determine what pay increase he may receive in a year or two. The decision was made last Friday at a KCDC meeting. ■■ This writer turned 72 three days ago on Jan. 1. ■■ The Legislature returns for its 2017 session next Tuesday in Nashville.

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A great community newspaper serving the northern and eastern communities of Knox County