A nation divided: 150 years later

Relive history on a tour of these prominent Civil War battlefields

By Robert Thatcher

This year, the country will conclude its 150th anniversary remembrance of the Civil War. But don’t worry if you missed the reenactments and fanfare over the past four years. Take this trip on US Highway 41 from Kentucky through Middle Tennessee to find plenty of history while tracing pivotal battles in America’s most costly war.

Stop #1 – Fort Donelson National Battlefield
Where Ulysses Grant became a household name

Fort Donelson National Battlefield, on the banks of the Cumberland River just south of the Kentucky border, is a natural starting point for a drive through Middle Tennessee. It’s also a good beginning militarily.

Dover Hotel

Dover Hotel

“Almost everything that happened in the state is a sequel to what happened here,” says Doug Richardson, Fort Donelson’s chief of interpretation.

Rivers were arteries of commerce for the South, and the Confederates built Fort Donelson to protect the Cumberland and upstream cities like Clarksville and Nashville

But on Feb. 12, 1862, a little-known Union brigadier general named Ulysses S. Grant set his sights on Fort Donelson. He was confident of victory after his gunboats easily took nearby Fort Henry on the Tennessee River.

Donelson was not so easy. Well-positioned Confederate guns brought victory, setting up a successful “break out” through Union lines. But the victory was short-lived, as the Confederates unwittingly helped Grant by pulling troops back to their original positions. Grant retook the lost ground, and the 12,000-man garrison surrendered unconditionally. The battle made Grant a star and was a catastrophe for the South.

Touring Fort Donelson

The park preserves more than 20 percent of the original battlefield, with several square miles of earthwork fortifications. Don’t miss these highlights:

  • Stand at the gun batteries where Confederate gunners battered Grant’s gunboats.
  • Visit the Dover Hotel where Ulysses S. Grant demanded “unconditional surrender” from his old West Point friend, Confederate Simon Buckner.
  • Pause at Fort Donelson National Cemetery for a reminder of the sacrifices that Americans have made from the Civil War to the present day.
  • While absorbing the history, you may also encounter two notable park residents. “We’ve got two resident bald eagles who live down at the river,” Richardson says. “Our eagles are about as famous as our generals.”

Stop #2 – Stones River National Battlefield
The Fight for the Confederate Heartland

We could follow General Grant to the Mississippi line and Shiloh, where his Army of the Tennessee headed after Donelson, but there’s good reason to drive to Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro.

“When Fort Donelson falls, the Confederates have to give up Nashville,” explains Park Ranger Jim Lewis. “And Nashville becomes the base for the Union Army to launch the campaigns which will lead to Stones River, Chickamauga and Chattanooga.”

For many, Stones River is a quiet retreat from bustling Murfreesboro. But the 6,100 gravestones across from the visitor center are a sober reminder of what took place there. Of the 81,000 who fought here, 23,000 were killed, wounded or went missing in action — the highest percentage of casualties of any Civil War battle.

Early success, then retreat

Cemetery at Stones River

Cemetery at Stones River

On New Year’s Eve 1862, the Southern army under Braxton Bragg attacked first, catching William Rosecrans’ Union troops at breakfast and driving them north. Then on Jan. 2, the Confederates launched another attack along the east bank of the Stones River to drive Union troops off of a high hill.

“In the process of pursuing, those Confederates will come under the fire of 57 Union cannons along the other side of the river and will lose about 1,800 men in 45 minutes,” Lewis says. “That’s a pretty bloody exclamation point.”

The Confederates then retreated.

Touring Stones River

Stones River offers a 12-stop auto tour, including these sights:

  • Walk around The Slaughter Pen, a rock outcropping where Union troops made a stubborn stand.
  • Pay respect at the Hazen Brigade Monument, one of the oldest war monuments in the country.
  • Be awed by Fort Rosecrans, the largest earthworks fortification in North America.

Stop #3 – Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
The Death Knell of the Confederacy

We’ve followed the Union push to Nashville and Murfreesboro. The next stop is Chattanooga. Actually, we’ll go south of the city to Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

Re-enactments, like this one near Chickamauga, Ga., can bring history to life, but battlefields throughout the Southeast are interesting places to visit anytime.

Re-enactments, like this one near Chickamauga, Ga., can bring history to life, but battlefields throughout the Southeast are interesting places to visit anytime.

Driving to the park, you’ll cross the mountains that convinced General Rosecrans not to advance directly on Chattanooga. He moved southwest of the city to block supply lines, forcing Confederate troops into Georgia as well. But Chattanooga was the Union goal.

“Chattanooga is a doorway through the southern barrier of the Appalachians,” says Park Historian Jim Ogden.

Driving through the dense woods of the 5,300-acre park, you can see why confusion reigned in the war’s second-bloodiest battle. About 35,000 men were killed, wounded, missing or captured in fighting from Sept. 19-20, 1863. Strategic mistakes led to a Union retreat. The Union troops retreated to Chattanooga, where they withstood a two-month siege before ultimately breaking through in the battle of Chattanooga.

“This allowed the Union drive across Georgia in 1864, from Chattanooga to Atlanta and from Atlanta to Savannah,” Ogden notes.

Touring Chickamauga

Start at the visitor center on Lafayette Road. After touring the park, drive 17 miles to Lookout Mountain Battlefield for views from 1,500 feet above Chattanooga. Other key sites:

  • Stand on Snodgrass Hill where George Thomas became “The Rock of Chickamauga.”
  • Get a general’s view from Orchard Knob, Grant’s command post, and the Bragg Reservation, Confederate headquarters on Missionary Ridge.
  • Watch the conflict electronically at the Battles for Chattanooga Museum on Lookout Mountain.

Chattanooga was a major blow for the Confederacy. But there’s much more to see on the campaign South – Tunnel Hill, Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain all the way to Savannah and then into South Carolina. The war continued on and your trip can too. Visit nps.gov/civilwar for more sites from the War Between the States.

Tech-Savvy Traveler: Charting your course

Point Park Cannon

Point Park Cannon

Robert E. Lee is regarded by many as the most clever battle tactician of the Civil War. Imagine what he could have done with a GPS! Nowadays, it’s easy to come up with a battle plan and map out the route for you and your troops on your next vacation. Apps like Google Earth provide directions for tourists with aerial or street views of those historic sites from Gettysburg to Charleston. For those battling interstate traffic, Road Ninja is an app that will help you find fuel, food and shelter for the evening, keeping your small army on the move.

Perfectly Imperfect

For the everyday home

A Q&A with Shaunna West, a blogger from Troy, Alabama, who writes about everything from painting furniture to decorating to homeschooling. 

Shaunna West

Shaunna West

What will readers find at your blog?
Shaunna West: Perfectly Imperfect is a window into our lives. You’ll find DIY projects, furniture makeovers, before-and-after room makeovers, shop talk, topics on running a creative business and even a few family posts.

Why did you become a blogger, and how has blogging changed your life?
SW: I have been writing since I was a little girl, and in 2009, I needed to write. I began sharing my furniture-painting techniques and the process of our attic renovation, and soon, the blog became a business and a place for people to seek inspiration for their everyday homes. The community and readers at Perfectly Imperfect took me completely by surprise. There is a world of people interested in the same things you are, and if you’re lucky, you’ll even develop relationships with these incredible people. The Internet can be used for such good, and its reach is incredible. I’m grateful for PI, for my readers and for their willingness to listen to what I have to say.

What are some big trends in decorating this spring and summer?
SW: Any time you gear into spring and summer, people are going to be looking to brighten and lighten their homes. There are lots of beautiful metallics out there and lots of blues and golds and greens as far as colors. Anything you can do to try and make your home feel fresh and clean. Spring is the time when we all begin to organize and begin to purge and pare down and only have what’s necessary in the home. Homes should be functional and efficient as well as beautiful.

Check out her blog: www.PerfectlyImperfectBlog.com

Shaunna’s tips for changing your home on a budget

living roomKeep in mind that your home is your sanctuary away from the busyness of the world. Take the time to create spaces you enjoy and that create rest for you and your family.

If you’re feeling like your home has become dark and dreary, give the walls a fresh coat of paint in lighter neutrals. It will instantly brighten your space. My favorites are Benjamin Moore White Diamond, Sherwin Williams Sea Salt, Sherwin Williams Crushed Ice and Sherwin Williams Comfort Gray.

Save and invest in key pieces like your sofa and armchairs, and shop flea markets and antique malls for small end tables and dressers. You’ll be amazed how much you’ll save when you allow time for your space to come together.
Paint everything in sight. Seriously, paint is the cheapest and fastest way to transform your home. Have a coffee table you love, but hate how beaten up it is? Paint it, and you will have a new piece of furniture in a few hours.

Whatever your interest, there is likely an online community of people who share that interest with you. Our “Featured Blogger” series introduces you to people who write websites about a variety of topics. In the May/June issue, we’ll focus on marriage and relationships.

Other home/DIY blogs you might like:

Layla shares her love of cottage style with readers.

Tracey describes herself striving to create beauty in her heart and in her home.

KariAnne shares her transition from the big city to a slower-paced, happier life.


Can you hear the music?

You’re only a click away from your favorite tunes

By Cecil H. Yancy Jr.

The Rolling Stones asked, “Can you hear the music?” And the answer is, yes! You can easily listen on your computer or mobile device anytime you like.
Digital music services offer you two ways to listen to old favorites or explore new artists.

A download captures the music on your computer for use in the future — think of being able to burn a CD or play the music by clicking on a file from your computer. On the other hand, music streaming is like having a steady flow of music coming into your computer. Just click and create stations from artists you choose.

While downloads have their advantages, streaming appears to be the wave of the future. By this year, according to a Pew Research Institute study, as many as 80 percent of Americans will listen to audio on digital devices. While 51 percent of all adults say they listen to music on these devices, age makes a big difference in music habits, according to the study. More than 60 percent of millennials and 58 percent of Gen Xers listen to music online compared with 48 percent of younger Boomers. Older Americans tend to prefer the traditional AM/FM radio format. But streaming music is getting so easy, music lovers of all ages can jump on board.

Open the box to music streaming

Woman Listening To Music On Her TabletPandora opened the box with one of the first online Internet radio services. With Pandora, you can listen free for 40 hours per month, with advertisements. Pay $36 a year and get the music without commercials. It’s easy to use. Say you like Johnny Cash: Type in his name and a “radio station” of his songs and those of similar audiences will begin playing. The best part is Pandora gives you background information about the artist as the music is playing. You can even skip a certain number of songs you don’t like.

New releases and exclusives

Spotify is another big player in the music-streaming arena. It has a 20-million-plus song catalog from the major record labels, which can be organized into playlists that allow users to stream their own lists or lists from friends or celebrities. The basic features are free after downloading the application, or the premium version is $9.99 per month. Music on Spotify can be imported from iTunes and synced with a mobile device so you can make your favorite songs available anywhere you go!

Create your own iTunes station

In addition to 25 DJ-curated and genre-based stations, iTunes Radio allows you to create personalized radio stations or follow “guest DJ” stations from famous artists. You can pause, skip and playback with iTunes Radio and even buy the tune you’re currently listening to. If you have an iTunes Match Account for $25 per year, it’s ad-free. iTunes Radio is a great merge between a download provider and a streaming service.

A couple of clicks and no cost

Silver Ear Bud HeadphonesIf you’re leaning toward listening to music online, but a bit overwhelmed by the choices, check out sites that only require a couple of clicks to get started and are designed to be more like your radio.

Sites like Boomerradio.com and Bluegrassmix.com offer an easy way to listen to your favorite tunes, with either stations or DJs that pick the tunes. On the Bluegrass site, DJs host shows. On the Boomer Radio site, users can pick from moods like acoustic café, sweet soul music and classic mix.

Real men do eat quiche

By Anne P. Braly

Anne P. Braly

Food Editor Anne P. Braly is a native of Chattanooga, Tenn. Prior to pursuing a freelance career, she spent 21 years as food editor and feature writer at a regional newspaper.

Bea Salley loves to cook. So much so, in fact, that she says she’d like to own a restaurant in her hometown of Walterboro, South Carolina. But until her ship comes in, she’ll stick to catering for area residents in her spare time. Her forte? Quiche.

“I make potato pies, apple pies, coconut pies and cakes, but quiche is my specialty,” she says. “It’s a good, year-round dish, but particularly in the spring.”

Salley’s mother died when she was 13 years old. So with just her father and no siblings, she would never have learned the intricacies of cooking had women in her community — she grew up in Oakman Branch right outside Walterboro — not intervened, taking her under their wing to teach her and stirring her interest in what would become her passion.

But it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that she realized she wanted to make a difference by catering to her community with more healthful food choices.

A healthy choice — With so many ways to prepare quiche, it can be a healthy choice for any season. Be a Salley likes to use ingredients such as fish and vegetables, while keeping the sodium low.

A healthy choice — With so many ways to prepare quiche, it can be a healthy choice for any season. Be a Salley likes to use ingredients such as fish and vegetables, while keeping the sodium low.

“No one in my household — my husband, Fred, our five kids and 10 grandchildren — ever had any problems with high blood pressure or diabetes, and I know what you cook with makes a difference,” she says.

So almost all of her recipes, particularly her quiches, have healthy ingredients, such as fish and vegetables, and not a lot of sodium. And everyone loves them, she adds.

But there’s a saying that’s become quite familiar: “Real men don’t eat quiche.”
Not so, Salley says.

“There are a lot of men who love my quiche. They say it’s filling, so they don’t have to eat as much.”

David Walton of Summerville is one example. He’s been eating and enjoying Salley’s quiches for at least a dozen years. “‘Real men don’t eat quiche’ simply isn’t true when you have quiche as good as Bea’s!” he says.

And it’s this time of year that Salley’s kitchen heats up with quiches in her oven. People like to be outside in the warm weather and not inside cooking, so Salley does it for them.

“Quiche is a quick, full meal for friends and family,” she says. Serve a slice of quiche with a salad and a basket of bread, and you have a complete, healthy dinner. Leftovers are even better — if there are any to be had.

Whether you’re baking a brunch-friendly bacon-and-egg-filled treat for Easter or an elegant vegetarian dinner served with a healthy lettuce or fruit salad, quiche is extremely easy to adapt in a number of delicious ways. The recipes that follow are some of Salley’s favorites.

Veggie Quiche

1/4 stick (2 tablespoons) butter
Quiche_11611/2 onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 10-ounce bag spinach
1 12-ounce container fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (or cheese of your choice), plus more for
1/2 cup sour cream
1 9-inch pie crust (store-bought or homemade)

Heat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat; add onions and bell pepper; let simmer. Add spinach, mushrooms, zucchini and squash; cover and saute until softened. Stir in salt and pepper; let cool, then pour in bowl and add eggs, flour and cheese, blending mixture together. Last, add sour cream, blending well. Pour into crust, sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake for 40 minutes or until quiche is set around the edges and still slightly loose in the center. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before cutting.

Salmon and Mushroom Quiche

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onions, diced
1 16-ounce container fresh
 mushrooms, sliced
1 large can salmon
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup flour
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 9-inch pie crust
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400°F. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat; add onions and let simmer for 3 minutes until onions are soft. Add mushrooms, stirring until soft, then add salmon. Blend mixture together, let cool, then add Swiss cheese, eggs, flour, sour cream, salt and pepper. Blend all together, then pour into crust, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and bake for 35 minutes or until quiche is set around the edges and still slightly loose in the center. Remove from oven and let it sit for a few minutes before cutting.

Note: This quiche is also good served “crustless.” Bake in pie pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray using no pie crust. Follow directions as written.

Bea’s Pie Crust

This is the quickest and simplest pastry crust ever, and it tastes great.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening (preferably Crisco)
5 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3-4 tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Whisk together flour and salt in medium bowl. Add shortening and butter, tossing with fingers until pieces are well-coated with the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the shortening and butter into the dry ingredients. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of the ice water and the lemon juice; mix just until the dough comes together, adding the last tablespoon of water if the dough is too dry. Do not overwork the dough or it will become too tough. Pat the dough into a flat disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling out.

Tips to make the perfect quiche

Quiche is a simple idea for brunch or dinner, but getting it right can be difficult. Here are a few key steps to ensure that your quiche will be creamy and your crust will be flaky.

  • The crust: The first step to a good quiche is having a great pastry shell. It will come out better if you parbake (partially bake) it for about 10 minutes so that it’s dry and crisp before adding your filling.
  • Seal it: To avoid a soggy pastry, brush the bottom of the crust with an egg wash (a beaten egg white) right after parbaking it. The warmth of the crust when you remove it from the oven is all you need to “cook” the egg white and seal the shell to help keep it crispy.
  • Say “no” to low-fat: There’s nothing worse than wimpy flavor when you bite into a quiche, so make sure to avoid using low-fat or nonfat ingredients. Their high water content prevents the quiche from setting properly, resulting in a watery finish.
  • Protect the edges: Once in the oven, keep an eye on the shell, and if the edges of the pastry start browning too quickly, wrap them in a little aluminum foil.
  • Loose is a good rule of thumb: Take the quiche out of the oven when the center is still slightly wobbly. This will ensure that it doesn’t over-cook and will still have its creamy custard texture when you cut into it.

Annville Christian Academy

Broadband technology is helping to enrich education at area schools

SRC Logo+url_liveEditor’s note: This story is the first in a series of articles that will highlight PRTC’s Smart Rural Community award from NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association. 

The children begin each day with a devotion service in the chapel. They make prayer requests — sometimes for a sick family member or sometimes for a lost puppy.

Betty Madden, director at the Annville Christian Academy, says it is a great way to start the day, and it sets the tone for the school’s Bible-based curriculum.

Annville Christian Academy was established in 1985 on the historic campus of the Annville Institute at the request of parents who believed in the benefits of a faith-based education. The school offers students from any background a non-denominational Christian-based A Beka program.

Because of the low pupil-to-teacher ratio, students get ample one-on-one instruction.

Because of the low pupil-to-teacher ratio, students get ample one-on-one instruction.

“Our faculty and staff strive to share God’s love, exhibit his grace and teach his word daily, preparing students educationally, physically and spiritually to be Christian citizens wherever they go,” Madden says.

And with a broadband connection from PRTC, students at Annville Christian Academy are traveling across the globe through online streaming videos, they’re researching information online, and they’re exposed to new teaching styles through broadband.

Connecting educational institutions to the world through broadband is one reason the PRTC service area was designated a “Smart Rural Community” by NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association. NTCA developed the Smart Rural Community award as a way to recognize cooperatives that are promoting and using broadband networks to foster innovative economic development, education, health care and government services.

The academy serves children from preschool through the eighth grade. There are currently 33 students enrolled, but there is room for about 70. Madden says the enrollment fluctuates from year to year.

“A lot of the kids we get struggle in larger public schools,” she says. “They sometimes don’t do well in crowds, but they thrive here in our small environment. They get a lot of one-on-one, individualized attention.”

Recently, younger students were working on an art project, older students were in the computer lab researching a history project and others were studying math.

Students research the topics for their history projects in the computer lab.

Students research the topics for their history projects in the computer lab.

“They get everything here they get in public schools, plus some things they don’t get,” say Madden, who points out that many public schools no longer teach cursive writing or have devalued the importance of spelling. “It takes a lot of time and a lot of dedication, but it works.”

Madden says many of the teachers are retired from other school systems, which benefits the students because the teachers are more experienced and know the techniques that resonate with their students.

The school is privately funded, meaning it receives no government money. They operate with some grant money, but most of their operating cost is generated from fundraisers and donations from area churches. “Other than that, if we don’t raise the money, we don’t get it,” Madden says.

For more information about Annville Christian Academy or to learn how to donate to the school, visit annvilleinstitute.com/aca.shtml or look them up on Facebook

Get local with PRTC Channel 9

Are you a high school sports fan? Do you want to keep track of the issues going before the city council? Or maybe you are interested in learning more about the local region.

Mark Sulfridge films a play at an area school for PRTC Channel 9. PRTC continues to expand its coverage of events in the community.

Mark Sulfridge films a play at an area school for PRTC Channel 9. PRTC continues to expand its coverage of events in the community.

Whatever your interests, PRTC Channel 9 is your source for what is happening in Jackson and Owsley counties.

Local programming from PRTC brings you all the high school sports action, local election coverage, area church services and much more right to your living room.

“PRTC is enriching the community in so many ways and letting you know what is going on,” says Brian Murray, who hosts several of the segments on Channel 9. “With this wide variety of programming, PRTC is making a huge investment in the community.”

Murray, who got his play-by-play start in radio, is the voice of high school sports on Channel 9. The local channel brings all the high school action a diehard fan could want. Basketball, baseball, softball and football — Murray stays busy bringing all the fast-paced action to you.


After 5 years of covering local sports, PRTC expanded its programming to include coverage of local elections and government, as well as a program that would quickly become one of the more popular segments, “Local Treasures.”

“Local Treasures” highlights some of the interesting sites around the region. In the past, they have aired shows about Flat Lick Falls, Hooten Old Town and natural historian and caver Jake Lainhart, among others.

Murray interviews those associated with the sites and highlights the many fascinating stories and facts about all the treasures this region has to offer.

“PRTC is always on the lookout for new topics and ways to bring interesting local stories to our members like no one else can,” he says.

In any given span of 90 days, Murray says Channel 9 usually broadcasts 40-50 events, including local school plays, holiday parades and just about anything going on in the region.

“I’m not aware of a local cooperative anywhere that is dedicated to bringing viewers this much local content,” he says.

For more information about the programming available on Channel 9, visit www.prtcnet.org and click “Channel 9 Video Schedule.” Advertising opportunities are also available. Call 606-287-7101.

Trail Town: Plan to connect McKee to Sheltowee Trace

By Brian Lazenby

Leaders in Jackson County are working to take advantage of the area’s most valuable resource — its natural beauty.

Bob Gabbard hikes along the Sheltowee Trace. Soon a connector will link the trail to downtown McKee to lure hikers.

Bob Gabbard hikes along the Sheltowee Trace. Soon a connector will link the trail to downtown McKee to lure hikers.

Tourism officials and outdoor enthusiasts are working to have McKee designated as an official “Trail Town” along the Sheltowee Trace, a long-distance trail that begins in Pickett State Park in Tennessee and runs north-northeast through Jackson County to Roan County, Kentucky, near Morehead. A spur trail would connect McKee to the main 307-mile trace so it could serve as a stop-off for long-distance hikers. Currently, hikers pass right by McKee without ever putting a hiking boot in local shops, restaurants or hotels.

“The trail is the one golden thread that we can build upon,” says Bob Gabbard, owner of the Town and Country Motel in McKee. He is spearheading the proposed trail connector. “It is not the answer by itself, but I think it can go a long way to helping us develop the area’s economy.”

The Jackson County Department of Tourism has already submitted its permit application for McKee to be designated an official Trail Town. Jackson County Tourism Chairman Demian Gover says the feedback from the U.S. Forest Service has been very positive.

“They seem to be very happy with our plan,” he says.

Both he and Gabbard are eager for the permit to be approved and are hopeful that it happens this spring, but they know it may take until summer before they get the go-ahead.

“It looks like this will be a banner year for us in the trail business,” Gabbard says.


Currently the Sheltowee Trace bypasses McKee by about a mile and a half, and a portion of that section travels along U.S. Highway 421. Gabbard says the proposed new section will eliminate the on-road section of the trail.

Officials have already built one new trailhead in the Hamilton Bottoms area near the McKee welcome sign. Another is planned at the other end of town across from the post office, where hikers could have mail and supplies shipped ahead of them.

Bob Gabbard is spearheading efforts to have McKee designated an official “Trail Town” and build two trailheads and a connector to the Sheltowee Trace.

Bob Gabbard is spearheading efforts to have McKee designated an official “Trail Town” and build two trailheads and a connector to the Sheltowee Trace.

Both trailheads will connect to one another by a trail running parallel to Main Street, but it will pass off the roadway behind businesses and houses.

Both trailheads will connect to the trace, which sees thousands of outdoor enthusiasts each year. Plans are underway to link the trace with other trails to form the Great Eastern Trail running from Alabama to New York, similar to the Appalachian Trail.

While the Sheltowee Trace is primarily used by hikers, it is a multi-use trail and allows horses, mountain bikes and all-terrain vehicles in some designated sections.

Gabbard and Gover want to bring those using the trail into McKee, where they will hopefully spend the night, eat dinner or replenish their equipment.

“We want to be there for the hikers to re-fuel and re-equip,” Gover says. “They are going to do that somewhere. Why would we not want to be there for them when they do?”

It isn’t clear what the economic impact will be if the plan is approved, but Gover says Livingston built a visitors center across from a Sheltowee trailhead in Rockcastle County, about 30 miles southeast of McKee, and is already seeing positive economic results.

“It is not the end-all, be-all for the economy in McKee and Jackson County, but it could be that stimulus and catalyst we need,” Gover says.

Down the road

People inhabited this region as early as the 10th century, says Gabbard, who is also a paleontologist. He says once the connector is approved and built, there are additional plans to capitalize on the “adventure tourism” crowd with a village to honor those early inhabitants.

Did you know? Sheltowee is a Shawnee term meaning “Big Turtle.” It is the name Shawnee Chief Blackfish gave to Daniel Boone because he moved slowly along the trail compared to the native tribesmen.

Did you know?
Sheltowee is a Shawnee term meaning “Big Turtle.” It is the name Shawnee Chief Blackfish gave to Daniel Boone because he moved slowly along the trail compared to the native tribesmen.

“If the plan goes through, in five years we want to have a replica native Appalachian village,” he says. “We have the beauty of our natural resources, and those assets need to be promoted.”

Officials are working closely with Native American groups, and a portion of the village will be dedicated to them.

Gabbard says the proposed trail will not only attract hikers to McKee, but it will also bring bird watchers, naturists and other outdoor enthusiasts to the area.

“This is an ancient land, and it is very fossiliferous,” he says. “There is a lot to see here if people will take the time to look for it.”

For more information about Jackson County and the area’s natural resources, visit www.visitjacksoncountyky.com or www.sheltoweetrace.com.

Featured Blogger: Woman on a Journey

Health & Fitness

Photo Frame CollectionA Q&A with Shelley bowman, a blogger from Texas who has been inspiring readers with her story of weight loss and fitness since 2008

What do readers find at your blog?

Shelley Bowman: Ramblings of someone who has managed not only to lose a large amount of weight — 100 pounds — but who is also keeping it off. This is a bigger victory to me than the initial weight loss. After all, hasn’t just about everyone lost weight at one point, only to regain it?

What are some tips for those interested in losing weight and becoming fit?

SB: Stop eating fast food. Stop getting your meals handed out a drive-thru window. Track your food on a daily basis. I used MyFitnessPal.com. Put it all in there: the good, the bad and the ugly. Go for a 15-minute walk to start. Move daily. All the things you hear, like parking farther away and taking the stairs, add up.

How can someone new to running get started? before, one year, two year

SB: Get fitted at a running store for a good pair of shoes. The right shoes can make or break you. Then go for a short walk, and at the end, try a slow run for 30 seconds. Gradually transition to running a little more each time; don’t go crazy and try to run a mile if you’ve never run before because that’s a good way to get shin splints; then you’ll end up hurting and not wanting to run. Also, finding a friend to run with 

makes a big difference for me. Knowing that you’re going to meet someone to run helps to make sure you actually do it.

How do you stay motivated?

SB: I feel so much better now that I’m not carrying 100 extra pounds. I have a different lifestyle, too. I’m much more active, and I like being able to run or walk without feeling like I’m going to die. Continuing to eat right most of the time keeps me in check; I honestly don’t like how I feel when I overindulge.

What are some of your favorite healthy foods?

SB: You should have a few go-to meals where you can eat healthy without having to think about what you are preparing. For me, it’s nonfat Greek yogurt (I love Fage), either fresh berries or Craisins, and some homemade granola. If I’m out of my granola, I like the Kind brand. For dinner, I like to make black bean tacos using corn tortillas, fresh pico de gallo and a little Parmesan cheese. Snacks range from watermelon or pineapple in the summer, to raw almonds and a little bit of dried cherries. And sometimes an apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter. I also drink a lot of water daily and try to have a glass right before I snack — it makes me fuller so I don’t overdo it.

Why did you become a blogger, and how has blogging changed your life?

SB: I became a blogger when I started my last diet. I wanted to remember how hard I worked to get the weight off, so this time I would actually keep it off. I had no idea how much blogging would connect me with other like-minded people who were doing the same thing. The most important thing was finding a couple of bloggers who had lost over 100 pounds and were keeping the weight off. I was very overwhelmed in the beginning, but finding others who had succeeded gave me hope. And I hope I’m able to give that to the new person who is just starting their journey to weight loss and fitness.

Check out her blog…www.MyJourneyToFit.com

Other health and fitness blogs you might like:

  • www.DashingDish.com
. Besides fitness ideas, this blog is “a place to find healthy alternatives to the food you crave.”
  • www.ComeBackMomma.com
. This fitness coach shares her “continued journey to be the best woman, wife and mother that I can be.”

Whatever your interest, there is likely an online community of people who share that interest with you. Our “Featured Blogger” series introduces you to people who write online websites about a variety of topics. In the March/April issue, we’ll focus on home/DIY projects.


368 Miles of Music

Take a sweet-sounding Southern road trip from the blues to rock ‘n’ roll

By Robert Thatcher

Paul Simon hit the road in the early 1980s seeking inspiration. His drive from Louisiana to Memphis became the song “Graceland.”

This road trip may not give you a song, but it will surely inspire anyone who loves music. Hop in for a drive to four musical meccas.

“Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers”
Muscle Shoals, AL

Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

This river town is all about musical beginnings. So start at the W.C. Handy Home and Museum, the log-cabin birthplace of the “Father of the Blues” in Florence. Stand by the piano where he wrote “St. Louis Blues” — and the blues were born.

Muscle Shoals is also the humble birthplace of another sound that shaped modern music. Think “Brown Sugar,” “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “Free Bird.” It’s hard to believe these global standards and more were recorded in two small buildings here — Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.

Tour dim rooms where “the Swampers” mixed gritty R&B and country soul to create the “Muscle Shoals Sound.” Then record your own demo at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in nearby Tuscumbia.

All this music will leave you with a question. Why Muscle Shoals? Locals say the answer is at our last stop, Tom’s Wall, near the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Tom's Wall in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Tom’s Wall in Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Resident Tom Hendrix built this mile-long monument to his great-great-grandmother, a Yuchi tribe member. Forcibly removed during the Trail of Tears, she’s the only person to make the long walk back to Muscle Shoals. What motivated her?
She didn’t hear the river singing to her in Oklahoma. But she heard it here.

On the Menu: Dine with a view at Florence’s 360 Grille, Alabama’s only revolving restaurant, or under a rock at the Rattlesnake Saloon in Tuscumbia. Also, slurp down “The Harvey” milkshake at the Palace Ice Cream Shop in Tuscumbia.

“Long-distance information give me Memphis, Tennessee”
Memphis, TN – 151 miles via Highway 72 West

W.C. Handy’s musical road led to Memphis. So follow him to the street he made famous for the blues.

Whether you want authentic soul food or live music, Beale Street has it all. And for a full dose of blues, visit May 1-3 during the Beale Street Music Festival.

Sun Studio in Memphis, Tenn.

Sun Studio in Memphis, Tenn.

Rivers and railroads made Memphis a melting pot of musical styles. Blues mixed with country to form rockabilly. And it all combined with a rhythmic force named Elvis Presley to create rock ‘n’ roll.

Start where he started — Sun Studio. In 1953, an 18-year-old Elvis walked into this corner building with a cheap guitar and a dream. Stand where Sam Phillips helped make the dream come true for Elvis and other stars including Muddy Waters, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash.

Then drive to where the dream ended. Tour Graceland’s colonial mansion, visit the grave, view the airplanes — and pay tribute to a talent that left our world too soon.

If you arrive between Jan. 7-10, help Memphis blow out the candles for Elvis’ 80th birthday celebration. And sing “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby!”

On the Menu: Rendezvous Ribs (If there’s a wait, try TOPS, Central BBQ or Corky’s.)

“I’m goin’ to Jackson, look out Jackson town”
Jackson, TN — 88 miles on I-40 East

On the way to Nashville, stop by the International Rock-a-Billy Hall of Fame in Jackson.

Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tenn.

Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tenn.

The brainchild of Henry Harrison, this museum is aptly located in Carl Perkins’ hometown, between Memphis (home of rock ‘n’ roll and blues) and Nashville (home of country and hillbilly music).

But Harrison is quick to point out that this tour is not about glittery memorabilia. It’s about stories of the stars as ordinary people. These stories come firsthand. Harrison claims to be a childhood friend of Johnny Cash, classmate of Elvis and the man who once repossessed Jerry Lee Lewis’ car.

“We don’t tell you how many gold records Elvis had,” Harrison says. “Everybody can look that up. But we do have a picture of Elvis playing touch football beside Humes High School when he was in the 11th grade, wearing Converse tennis shoes and a pullover top. And he was just one of us.”

“There’s thirteen hundred and fifty-two guitar pickers in Nashville”
Nashville, TN — 129 miles on I-40 East

It’s fitting to end our musical drive at the dream destination for would-be stars.

But don’t be fooled by this city’s honky-tonk past. Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline is now filled with skyscrapers. And the “Country Music Capital” is now a center for all kinds of music — bluegrass, blues, Americana, jazz, you name it.

The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tenn.

The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tenn.

Start with a stroll down Music Row and Broadway, the heart of Nashville’s entertainment industry. Take in the record labels, browse Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop and pause by publishing houses. Then tour historic RCA Studio B to sample the famous “Nashville Sound” from the ’60s.

You’ll also want to tour the historic Ryman Auditorium downtown. This former tabernacle was home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974, and it still hosts the “world’s longest-running radio show” Nov. 1 to Feb. 4. Otherwise, head to the Grand Ole Opry House east of downtown.

Many come to Nashville with a guitar and a dream. So before you leave, catch a rising star at a “writer’s night” — one of Nashville ryman_exterior_night_01Nashville’s small acoustic sets for songwriters to try out new material. Try the Listening Room Cafe or the Bluebird Cafe.

On the menu: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken is a mouth-burning must. But you’ll need a hearty breakfast to fuel your drive home. Try the Pancake Pantry, a Nashville tradition since 1961, or the Loveless Cafe. You never know when you might see a star enjoying a good flapjack, too.

Helping Haiti

A mission to give back

By Brian Lazenby

Cody Powell gave a pack of peanut butter crackers to a group of poverty-stricken and hungry children on a recent mission trip to Haiti. What they did changed his life.

One child took the top cracker, and another scraped off the peanut butter. A third took the bottom cracker. They made sure everyone got some.

“This is the poorest of the poor,” Powell says. “But these people have so much love in their hearts, and it is a pure love like I had never seen before.”

Jared Witt also made the trip to Haiti. He says he went hoping to change the lives of the Haitians, but in the process realized how they had changed his.

“I told myself I was going to take the love of Jesus to these people, but I found out that the love of Jesus was already there,” Witt says.

Powell and Witt are two of about 28 from Jackson County that traveled to Port-de-Paix, Haiti, on a mission trip this year to help feed and clothe the poor and teach them about Jesus. They both recently made a second trip to the Caribbean island, and they plan a third trip in the summer.

“I think about those kids all the time,” Powell says. “I look forward to seeing them when I go again.”

A life’s mission

Drucie Brown owned a beauty shop for more than 40 years, but standing on her feet all day caused her to have back problems. She was forced to give up the business, but she knows in her heart that it was the Lord’s way of directing her to more important work — helping others.

Now, the 70-year-old woman operates a jail ministry and teaches Sunday School to both men and women inmates. She helps feed the poor in Jackson County, and she has made multiple trips to Haiti.

“I really think you have to have your home missions as well as your international missions,” she says.

Brown made her first four trips to Haiti with a large, established mission organization, but she and the group began to have different ideas about the work they were doing and where their help was needed most. She formed her own mission group, and that is where she met Powell and Witt.

“I’m for helping the poorest of the poor, and I go where the poor are,” she says.

She formed the Austin Messiah Haiti Mission, named after her severely handicapped grandson, which made its first few trips to the poverty-stricken country with only a handful of participants. But after speaking at area churches such as Bond Baptist Church in Annville and Gray Hawk Baptist Church, Brown’s mission group has really grown. She also says local officials have been very supportive.

“I give a lot of credit to Jackson County,” she says. “They give us a lot of help.”

Goats and weddings

Witt recalls an orphanage in Haiti where about 20 children had been abandoned. He says when the people running the orphanage realized they could no longer feed everyone, they simply left, and the children were forced to fend for themselves.

By the time the mission group left, the orphanage was stocked with several months’ worth of food. The mission was also working with a pastor in Haiti who is now helping care for the children.

Once the mission group returned, Witt says they found sponsors for the children from local churches and funds to support the pastor that is there caring for them.

“Just a little money here goes a long way over there,” Witt says. “If people understood the need and helped just a little bit, it is amazing to think of what we could do there.”

The group isn’t just providing food and clothing. They are offering the Haitians an income and a chance to improve their future.

Brown says the Austin Messiah Haiti Mission buys about 100 goats and gives families a male and female. There is only one catch: they must give away the first offspring. After that, what they do with the goats is up to them.

“They can eat them, they can sell them, or they can raise more goats to sell,” Brown says. “It helps them form their own business, and they can support their families.”

Witt says the goat ministry is a big help in Haiti, where the economy has collapsed and there is not much hope for improvement.

“There is very little opportunity for them to make any money,” he says. “We didn’t want to just feed them for a day and leave them. We wanted to give them a future income.”

In addition to filling them with food, the mission also helps boost their emotional wellbeing. Brown says the group helps pay for many marriage licenses because at $23, it is an expense most cannot afford.

And in spite of all this, she never loses sight of the real purpose of the trip.

“The main reason we go is to tell them about Jesus,” she says.

For more information about the group, or to get involved, call Drucie Brown at 606-813-2728. 

Volunteers Cody Powell and Jared Witt took part in a recent mission trip to Haiti. They helped improve the lives of many in a poverty-stricken village, but say their own lives were enriched by the experience as much as those they went to help. Both say they intend to return to the village in the future.

Drucie Brown’s mission group, Austin Messiah Haiti Mission, seeks out “the poorest of the poor.” They provide clothes and food to the local residents and teach them about Christ.