Interpretive Center will be boost for Roan Mountain State Park


Photo by Dave Boyd
The Rhododendron Gardens atop Roan Mountain are the big summer drawing card for the park. The gardens will be featured in one of the displays being designed for the new Interpretive Center, which will be located in the park's Visitors Center.

By Rozella Hardin
STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

   Roan Mountain State Park, one of the most visited parks in the Tennessee State Park System, is also one of the most beautiful parks in the state.
   One of two state parks, located in Carter County, the Roan Mountain State Park is home to the biggest natural rhododendron garden in the world. To add to its beauty, 10 miles of Grassy Balds, the longest anywhere in the world, stretch from Carver's Gap on The Roan north to Big Hump Mountain.
   The park contains 2,006 acres nestled in the foot slopes of Roan Mountain. High mountain peaks, such as The Roan, with an elevation of 6,285 feet, form a backdrop to the park. In June, the Catawba Rhododendron, with its crimson red flowers, grace the mountain tops.
   On of the park's biggest draws is its camping facilities and cabins. All of the park's 107 family campsites have a grill and picnic tables and are located near a bathhouse and hot showers. The campground has 87 RV sites with water and electric hookups and 20 tent sites.

Tourism council promotes local artists; searches for ways to increase revenue


Photo by Dave Boyd
Local artist, Dean White, stands with her paintings, which are currently on display at the Elizabethton-Carter County Chamber of Commerce.

By Julie Fann
star staff
jfann@starhq.com

  
The Elizabethton-Carter County Tourism Development Council spent 2003 considering ways to promote the economic base of the local area and improve the Council's Web site. The number of tourists who visited the Chamber of Commerce increased by approximately 2,200 this year compared to 2002, according to Larry Gobble, tourism council director.
   Recently, area artists have displayed their work inside the Chamber, which was expanded in 2002 to create room for such efforts to attract tourists. Gobble said the Council also plans to create a brochure that features local artisans.

Watauga Regional Library connects public libraries


Libraries are still all about information, and books are a main source of that information. Books are also a means of entertainment, especially for those who love to read. By being a part of the Watauga Regional Library and its library network, local readers can access 800,908 books, videos, CDs, talking books, etc.

By Rozella Hardin
STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

   The Watauga Regional Library serves the public libraries of six counties -- Carter, Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington -- as well as three cities -- Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport -- and East Tennessee State University.
   Its Northeast Tennessee Public Library Network connects the public libraries of the Watauga Regional Center to the Internet and the Tennessee Electronic Library -- a network that dramatically improves access and maintenance costs. "Sharing the costs and use of a powerful library management system, housed on a computer-service at ETSU saves tens of thousands of dollars in start-up and maintenance costs," said Joyce White, Director of the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library.

2003 was 'break-out' year for 'The Wataugans'


Photo by Dave Boyd
"The Wataugans," which is performed annually, had a "break-out" year in 2003. The outdoor drama is expected to become a premiere attraction in the Southeast within the next few years. A scene from last year's Silver Jubilee season shows Herb Roberts, right, former superintendent of Sycamore Shoals State Historical Area. Roberts is now East Tennessee Director of State Parks in this area.

By Rozella Hardin
STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

   Last year was a "break-out" year for Tennessee's official outdoor drama "The Wataugans," which celebrated its 25th anniversary season.
   Herb Roberts, Area Manager for East Tennessee state parks, said the performances last season drew the largest crowds ever. "I think it was a break-out year for the drama, and that future performances will draw even bigger crowds. I think it will be a defining event for Sycamore Shoals State Park and Elizabethton," Roberts speculated.
   Roberts served as manager of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area for 20 years before being promoted to his present position last summer. The new park manager is Jennifer Bauer, who served for two years as interpretative specialist at Sycamore Shoals and the Carter Mansion and prior to that as Ranger-Naturalist at Roan Mountain State Park.

Doe River Gorge Ministries adds two new lodges for summer campers


Photo by Dave Boyd
Doe River Gorge Ministries has been a busy place during the off-season, as two new lodges are being built to accommodate 56 students each. Also, new and larger restrooms are being added to the existing lodge, and a new and larger Big Top Tent will provide space for dining and evening worship.

By Rozella Hardin
STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

   Doe River Gorge Ministries, located on 700 acres bordering the Cherokee National Forest, this past year launched the largest expansion in its brief history -- a long-term facility plan that will complement the Gorge property and maximize the facility to reach thousands of young people with the message of Christ.
   The first phase of the plan is being implemented now. Construction is now under way on two new lodges that will house 56 students each. The lodges are expected to be complete in time for the summer 2004 season. Each lodge will have eight air-conditioning sleeping rooms, carpeting, private baths, and balconies overlooking the beautiful Gorge property.

Car shows and cruise-ins are popular pastime in city


Since the dawn of the automobile, Americans have had an unyielding passion for driving and owning a car. In the last 50 years, owning older, classic automobiles has become a hobby of untold magnitude of many Americans. In Elizabethton, cruise-ins are a popular summertime activity.

By Rozella Hardin
STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

   Since the dawn of the automobile, Americans have had an unyielding passion for driving and owning a car. In the last 50 years, owning older, classic automobiles has become a hobby of untold magnitude of many Americans. From the average guy down the street to famous celebrities, American people love their cars. It is a passion that has virtually become a tradition.
   During the summer months, anyone driving by the Carter County Plaza on W. Elk Avenue would think they had taken a step back in time as the parking lot at Ingle's is filled with a variety of antique cars and trucks parked there every Saturday evening by their owners, who socialize and discuss not only the cars, but families and other things.

Cable's Hampton Family Restaurant hosts weekend bluegrass music


Photo by Rick Harris
Cable's Hampton Family Restaurant offers homestyle cooking every day and free bluegrass and gospel music on the weekends.

By Julie Fann
star staff
jfann@starhq.com

  
If you're hungry for homestyle Appalachian cooking and bluegrass music, Cable's Hampton Family Restaurant offers an authentic cultural experience.
   Bright orange tabletops and chairs circa 1972 lit by faux chandeliers provide a perfect atmosphere for eating tasty entreés like frog leg and crawfish dinners. The restaurant is located across the street from Hampton Elementary School on the banks of Laurel Fork, a creek that joins the Doe River.
   Cable's began offering free bluegrass and gospel music on weekends just four months ago.

Aging of 'baby boom' generation presents new challenges for Elizabethton Senior Center


Photo by Dave Boyd
The Elizabethton Senior Citizens Center is constantly upgrading its exercise equipment. "Younger seniors are very interested in physical fitness," said Ruth Goodwin, director. The Center has treadmills, a paragym, health rider, step machine and bicycles.

By Rozella Hardin
STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

   At present, about one in eight Americans is 65 years or older. However, as a result of the aging of the baby boom generation, it is projected that by 2030 about one in five Americans will be 65 years or older, which means that the local population of senior citizens will expand very rapidly during the coming decade.
   This presents a challenge to the Elizabethton Senior Citizens Center as well as other senior centers across the state and country. What type of activities and programs do they envision?
   "We are already seeing a new breed of seniors," said Kathy Dula, assistant director and bookkeeper at the Elizabethton Senior Citizens Center. "While some needs remain the same, we are looking at a different group of seniors who are nearing retiring," she said.

Theatre Bristol entertains, educates people of all ages


Photo By Abby Morris
Amy Tallmadge, director of Theatre Bristol's production of "The Miracle Worker," checks the stage and props before a performance of the play.

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   One area not-for-profit organization has dedicated itself to introducing children to the world of live performance theatre and is bringing adults along for the ride.
   Theatre Bristol was founded in 1965 as the Bristol Children's Theatre. The organization was incorporated in 1970 and produced its first adult season in 1980 and changed its name to Theatre Bristol. The organization is now in its 38th theatrical season.
   "We were founded as a children's theatre and that is still our primary mission," said Emily Ann Thompson, general manager for Theatre Bristol. "Our mission is to entertain, inspire and educate children of all ages."
   In addition to introducing children to theatre, the Bristol Theatre is working to keep the tradition alive in adults as well.

Libraries as information centers are taking on new dimensions


The local library is a good homework center for students, who use the afternoon and evening hours to access information for reports and papers in school.

By Rozella Hardin
STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

   Libraries have always been places for learning. Today, libraries as learning places are changing, diversifying, taking on new dimensions. The Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library has already taken steps in that direction with computers and online data bases.
   "Books will always be a focus of the library. We will still be an information and resource center, but the difference will be in the way we access it," said Joyce White, director of the local library.
   As the tools for learning and products of scholarship change and become digital, libraries are becoming repositories for materials that go far beyond the traditional published print literature.

Local parks add resource programs and improve land

By Julie Fann
star staff
jfann@starhq.com

  
Because the public's interest in the outdoors, traditional arts and history has increased, Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area and Elizabethton Parks and Recreation spent 2003 adding programs and mending existing park land.

Watts Dance Studio: Still dancing after 51 years

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

  
"It just keeps getting better," remarks Ann Haynes Watts about her 51-year career with Watts Dance Studio. The studio boasts a busy year with record enrollments, numerous performances and a performance in Orlando, Fla., at the Magic Kingdom.

Trainers a valuable asset to local teams

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR STAFF
jbirchfield@starhq.com

   Athletic trainers provide a valuable service to local teams, many times helping an injured athlete back to the playing surface much quicker than in years past. For the trainer, it's a labor of love.
   "It's a great job, I love it," said Milligan College athletic trainer Erica Roggie. "I've always been involved in sports and headed off the pre-med path to pursue a career in this. It's the perfect mix between sports and medicine."

Brothers-in-law help hunters find the right equipment

By Abby Morris

Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   If the thrill of the hunt is something you long for, then you will be able to find what you need at H&S Hunting.
   Owners Mike Manuel and Howard Craft took their own personal love of hunting and turned it into a business. "We started with our outfitting in Illinois and we decided to open a retail store," Manuel said. "It helps promote our (outfitting) business."

Curves: A fun way to exercise and manage your health

By Rozella Hardin

STAR STAFF
rhardin@starhq.com

   Building a better tomorrow means helping Carter Countians become healthier citizens. "We hope to help do that with our new fitness health management program," said Gib Carr, who with his wife, Debra, are owners of Curves.