County commission honors Wataugans, others for outstanding achievements

By Lesley Jenkins
Star staff

Before debates and discussion began Monday evening at the Carter County Commission meeting, the commission honored outstanding citizens.
   In recognition of The Wataugans 25th anniversary presentation, dozens of cast members donned costumes at the meeting and even brought muskets, which, ironically, didn't seem to worry anyone.
   The Wataugans is known as the official outdoor drama of Tennessee. The 135-member cast portrays the "life of the early frontier and the historical events which culminated in the Battle of King's Mountain," according to a statement read by County Executive Dale Fair.
   John Ruetz, director of the drama, said the drama depicts the beginning of the settlement in the Watauga region as the first free and independent government in the United States.
   Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area hosts the drama presented by the Watauga Historical Association. In 1975, the first full production had only one dozen cast members; however, now the 135-member cast consists of entire families participating as well as descendants from the historical characters. Numerous members can trace their lineage back to the original families that settled in the Watauga and Nolichucky river valleys.
   The Silver Jubilee Performances will be held July 10th through the 26th, each Thursday, Friday and Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Fort Watauga Amphitheater at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students. Children 6 and under are admitted free.
   Mike Ensor, Unaka High School baseball coach, stood before the commission and the public in attendance as he and his team were recognized for their efforts that pushed them all the way to the state tournament. Ensor and Mike Dorsey, assistant coach, were praised for their excellent coaching that led the team to becoming the first team from Unaka High School to make it to the state tourney and to becoming Smoky Mountain Athletic Conference winners for the fifth time.
   The Rangers have a record of 125 wins and 53 losses over the past five years, which led them to becoming district champions for five years in a row.
   David Hughes, member of the Happy Valley High School track team, was also recognized at the meeting. Hughes was state champion in the one mile and two mile run during 2001-02. In the fall of 2002, Hughes was the state champ in cross country.
   Hughes' other accomplishments include all-conference and all-regional for the past four years, and all-state for the past three years. Hughes was also voted the region's "most valuable track athlete" in 2001 and 2002.