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Restaurant, 24-Hour Gym Coming To Greeneville Commons

Five new stores have opened in the Greeneville Commons Shopping Center this year, and the recent period of growth is not over.

Two more establishments, Nova Sushi and Workout Anytime, are scheduled to open within the next nine months, according to Brixmor Property Group.

“With the opening of five national tenants this year, Hobby Lobby, Marshalls, Five Below, Rack Room Shoes and Ross Dress for Less, we have seen renewed energy and interest in the center and from the community,” said Brixmor spokesperson Maria Pace.

Ross Dress for Less opened last weekend.

Nova Sushi is expected to open a 2,800-square-foot restaurant before the end of the year, according to Pace. The new restaurant will be located in what are now two storefront spaces between Pal’s and GNC.

The restaurant specializes in authentic Japanese sushi cuisine, according to the website for its Atlanta location. In addition to sushi, the restaurant’s menu features Japanese dishes.

Workout Anytime, a 24-hour gym, will temporarily occupy a storefront next to Hobby Lobby as a membership office during the construction of a 7,767-square-foot fitness facility between PT Solutions Physical Therapy and Radio Shack, Pace said. Workout Anytime has more than 100 locations across the country with one opening earlier this year in Elizabethton, according to the company’s website.

The physical fitness facility is anticipated to be open by mid-2020, Pace said.

As with Nova Sushi, Workout Anytime will be using two storefronts. Part of the space where Workout Anytime will be located is now occupied by Southern Belle Bridal, which will be relocating to a storefront next to Burkes Outlet and is anticipated to open there in late November, Pace said.

Along with the addition of the new retailers, Brixmor has made other improvements to the shopping center in the past few months, including repaving and striping the parking lot. Pace said the planned improvements have been completed.

With the addition of Nova Sushi and Workout Anytime, two small shop spaces remain in the shopping center.

“We are actively working on leasing two small shop spaces with tenants that meet the needs of the community,” she said.

One of those spaces is the storefront that Workout Anytime will temporarily occupy beside Hobby Lobby and the other between GNC and Casa Nostra Italian Cuisine.

An outparcel at the entrance to the shopping center near the Belk store is also available as a site for free-standing construction.

At the other major entrance to the shopping center from Tusculum Boulevard are two parcels available for development, owned by the Brumit Company. One of the parcels can accommodate a building up to 42,500 square feet in size and the other parcel a building up to 5,500 square feet in size.

While there are no immediate prospects for the two parcels, it is hoped that the new shops in the Commons will bring increased interest, said Bob Brumit, owner of the company.

“The Greeneville Commons is in the best location to serve the whole community,” he said. “We hope the new stores bring further interest in the town, which will help all of Greeneville.”

McCalls' Work With St. Jude Helping Families Worldwide

When Andy and Ellen McCall first entered St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis seeking help for their daughter Penelope, they could not have imagined that step in their family’s journey would lead to new paths — helping other families around the world.

While Penelope succumbed to her health battles shortly before her second birthday in 2016, the McCalls continue their association with St. Jude. Both are now parent “volunteer employees” for the Memphis-based hospital, a worldwide leader in treating childhood cancer and other diseases.

For the past year, Andy McCall has served as a parent educator in the St. Jude Family Centered Care division. As part of the Legacy Voice Virtual Council, Ellen McCall works with online resources for grieving families that are available on the St. Jude website.

Andy McCall said their work with St. Jude helps keep Penelope’s story alive.

“Through this, I get to share Penelope with so many people and use her story to help make the lives of other children and families a little better each time I visit Memphis,” he said. “It isn’t my work, but it is hers and continues her legacy. She wasn’t on this Earth very long, but her impact will last way beyond any of our lives.”

During the last week of September, McCall got to share Penelope’s story with people from 26 states and 10 countries as a presenter in St. Jude’s Pediatric Palliative Care Symposium in Memphis, sharing how the hospital uses parents in its bereavement support program for families.

“It was an honor to participate,” said McCall. “St. Jude is committed to making families’ experiences better.”


As “volunteer employees,” McCall explained that, although he and his wife receive no pay, they are considered representatives of St. Jude and have their own employee IDs and credentials.

After Penelope lost her battle with several health issues, including an aggressive form of brain and spinal cancer, McCall wrote a book, “Pigtails & Steel,” about his experiences and emotions as a father during her treatments and following her death.

“It is different,” McCall said of the book. “It is real and honest about what we went through.”

That book led to St. Jude staff asking McCall to take more part in the Family Centered Care program. He was already volunteering in St. Jude’s Stay in Touch program, which the second-grade teacher at EastView Elementary School continues to do.

In that St. Jude program, McCall and other volunteers contact newly bereaved parents to see how they are doing and ask whether St. Jude can support them in any way.

“Some say they are okay, but there are some who tell you they are really struggling,” he said. “It is nice for them to be able to talk to a parent who has experienced the same thing. It shows them that people are there for them.”

This contact is important to support bereaved parents, McCall said, as many parents whose child has died may never hear from the hospital where they were treated.

After reading McCall’s book, Dr. Lisa Clark, coordinator of the Family Centered Care Program and a bereavement psychologist, asked if he wanted to take on a bigger role helping parents.

In his role as a parent educator, McCall is one of a group of parents who have lost a child and now work with St. Jude staff members and clinicians to support families in the grieving process. He travels to Memphis every couple of months, although not as much at this time of the year; McCall is an assistant coach for the Greeneville High School football team.

While one way that McCall serves as a parent educator is through presentations like the symposium, he also participates on parent panels, takes part in coffee talks with small groups and works one-on-one with staff members to review and improve policies and procedures to support bereaved parents.

Good communication skills are a priority at St. Jude, he said, and everyone from doctors to staff members to parent employee volunteers are taught how to discuss difficult issues or share bad news with families.

As a parent educator, McCall has helped in training doctors and staff members to communicate better through giving feedback from a family’s perspective.

In addition to serving as a parent educator, McCall is also a member of the Quality of Life Steering Council. This group of bereaved parents and St. Jude staff members serve as a parent voice and liaison with St. Jude, he explained. The hospital takes the parent recommendations and puts them into action along with its end-of-life care procedures.


St. Jude is the only program in the world that uses bereaved parents as educators and involves them in the decision-making process in palliative, end-of-life care.

During the September symposium, McCall and a St. Jude staff member made presentations to attendees about the hospital’s program to help grieving families and its use of parents who have gone through the same experience.

St. Jude offers this information as a free resource to other hospitals, doctors and other clinicians, he said, and it was well received by the attendees.

One hospital in Rochester, New York, brought parents to the symposium to learn more about the program, and McCall said he was able to speak directly with doctors from Bolivia, Indonesia, Nepal, China, Mexico and Hungary.

“I have never been part of something so inspirational,” he said.

Many of the attendees do not have bereavement care in their hospitals and were taking the information from the symposium to build their own programs from the ground up, McCall said.

During one session, he met a clinical psychologist from Bolivia — the only one in that South American country.

The psychologist told him there is a great need in his country for a program to help bereaved parents as he knew of couples who have divorced, individuals who have emotionally struggled and a number of suicides following the loss of a child.

“It is amazing to think, through this symposium, we could help Bolivia, Indonesia, Nepal and other places to implement their own programs so parents may be connected to help and get better,” McCall said.

“Pigtails & Steel” has been translated into other languages, and participants from other countries purchased it in their own languages to use as a resource for fathers, since males are the least represented in grief and bereavement care, primarily due to cultural traditions, McCall said.

When he wrote the book, McCall said he thought it might help people locally or at St. Jude, but he did not consider its potential for an international effect.

“I never thought of anything like this,” he said. “It is pretty incredible. I was writing my thoughts down at the time, and now it is a blessing for people across the world.”

Officials Emphasize Preparation As Key To Disaster Response

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

The Benjamin Franklin quotation was among those used by Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison Friday to drive home the message of readiness in the event of a disaster at a well-attended meeting of the Local Emergency Planning Committee, held at First Baptist Church in Greeneville.

Representatives of law enforcement and other first response agencies, industry, utilities, education and health care agencies were among those at the meeting, which was coordinated by Heather Sipe, interim director of the Greeneville/Greene County Office of Emergency Management; and Eric Kaltenmark, chairman of the LEPC.

Sipe said Greene County can be subject to a disaster or emergency event at any time, citing the torrential rainfall in February and widespread flooding as a recent example.

The LEPC meeting was held to help groups represented there better understand how to effectively coordinate a response.

“We’re just kind of moving things forward and getting things going,” Sipe said. “I think it’s time we start to communicate with each other again.”

Morrison said in disasters and emergencies, “Disaster sometimes equates to inexperience.”

The April 2011 tornado outbreak in sections of Greene County claimed eight lives, injured hundreds of others and destroyed numerous homes and other buildings. Morrison said the response to a similar disaster today would be different based on available resources.

Greene County now has one acute care facility and one hospital.

“In future situations, old situations may not apply because those changes (create) a new environment,” Morrison said.

Challenges include managing people and communications, and incorporating changes in the structure of the 911 call system, digital radio communication advances among first responders and other changes “in cyber-information systems,” Morrison said.

Future emergencies will be managed from the new location of the Greene County Emergency Management Agency office in the former Consumer Credit Union office on CCU Boulevard off East Andrew Johnson Highway.

The move from the current cramped North Main Street office will be completed “as soon as we can,” Morrison said.

Morrison was involved in tactical planning in the military and localized his Army experience to the group he addressed Friday.

“Prepare for the unknown,” he said, paraphrasing Gen. George S. Patton.

He cited several key areas that require teamwork, including cooperation and coordination, planning and preparation and effective communications.

“When communication breaks down, confusion rules,” Morrison said.

A background screen displayed another message: “When disaster strikes, the time to prepare has already passed.”

Morrison said people can choose not to be a victim, take time to prepare and have a plan in place in the event a disaster strikes. “Today is the opportunity to prepare for what tomorrow will throw at us,” he said.

Caleb R. Lawson, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency East region district coordinator, also spoke at the LEPC meeting.

He referred to the Sept. 25 industrial fire in Dandridge, which included assistance from Greene County first responders. He also mentioned recent wildfires in eastern Tennessee.

“We’ve had a busy season for responses,” Lawson said.

Lawson said TEMA is available to assist with training in how to respond to emergencies and disasters. Preplanning is vital, Lawson said.

Kaltenmark, who is also a member of the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad and is director of product development at MECO Corporation, said there is now “much better communication” between Greene County first responders and the state Division of Forestry after recent wildfires in Cherokee National Forest.

About 50 people attended Friday’s meeting. Sipe said another LEPC meeting will be held in the spring.

Represented at the meeting were the Greeneville Police Department, Greeneville Fire Department, Greene County Sheriff’s Department, Greene County-Greeneville EMS, Greene County 911, Greeneville Water Commission, Greene County government, Greenville Light & Power System, Greeneville City Schools, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Greene County Health Department and Chaplain Danny Ricker.

Also represented were Ballad Health, East Tennessee Homes, which is run by the state Department of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities, Comcare, Advanced Home Care, Jost International, U.S. Nitrogen, Donaldson Company, Jost International and Oldcastle Building Envelope.

JUDD: We Should Make Phil Collins An Honorary Citizen – No Kidding!

Leaders of Greene County and Tennessee, I’ve got a proposal for your consideration.

It’s not political and I don’t think would be controversial, though likely you’ll think, at first blush, that it makes no sense.

Here goes: I propose that the Greene County Commission should name Phil Collins an honorary Greene Countian, and the State of Tennessee should make him an honorary Tennessean.

Right now you’re thinking, huh? Does he mean Phil “Sussudio” Collins? That guy who can’t hurry love and would not lend a hand if you told him you were drowning?

Okay, I’ll force myself to go no further with strained Phil Collins lyric references. But yeah, that’s the Phil Collins I’m talking about. The singing British drummer from the band Genesis who also became a solo superstar in the 1980s.

The guy truly does deserve to be an honorary Greene Countian. And Davy Crockett would back me up on that informal nomination, if he were available, given that Davy is the reason this idea makes sense.

Here’s what I’m talking about: Phil Collins, against all odds (oops – sorry!), is a huge Crockett fan who has gathered in so many relics and memorabilia of the Alamo, Crockett, and so on that his assemblage is thought to be the largest private collection of its sort in the world.

He authored a coffee table book about his collection, “The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector’s Journey.”

Collins even donated collected items to the Alamo in 2015, saying in a press conference at the time: “There’s no point in my keeping the cream of it for me, because I want everyone to see everything.”

In short, Phil Collins has got our boy Crockett’s back. He’s out there promoting Davy, which by extension promotes Tennessee and Greene County.


How did an Englishman become obsessed with the Alamo saga and the people involved in it?

Collins himself has admitted it would make more obvious sense had he become enthralled by some famous English figure or battle. He can’t fully account for why his interest turned instead to a siege that happened nearly two centuries ago, more than 5,000 miles from where he was born.

Collins does, though, know what the catalyst of his obsession was: the Walt Disney productions starring Fess Parker as the Greene County-born frontier hero. Collins saw those on television in his boyhood.

In his upper 60s now, Collins was just the right age in the mid-1950s to become entranced by Fess Parker’s Crockett, as were millions of other youngsters around the globe. Collins played Davy-at-the-Alamo at his London suburb childhood home, wearing a coonskin cap made from a fur coat his grandmother cut up and sewed together for him. There were plenty of other pint-sized backyard Crocketts around the world in those days, but relatively few have retained that early interest as long and thoroughly as Phil Collins has.

I don’t know whether Collins is aware that Fess Parker himself visited Greeneville and Limestone when the Crockett film was premiering in the 1950s.

As an adult, Collins began collecting Alamo- and Crockett-related memorabilia after his wife gave him an old bill of sale for a horse ridden by a courier dispatched from the Alamo during the 13-day siege in 1836.

According to the website History.com, Collins has collected items including an authenticated Crockett rifle, Crockett’s fringed leather shot pouch, a knife once possessed by Jim Bowie, a snuffbox belonging to Sam Houston (another Tennessean!), and a sword used by Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.

The relevant part of it all for Northeast Tennessee, obviously, is that the Crockett saga of which Collins is so fond began right here.

Now that the English boy who played in a homemade coonskin cap has grown up to be an enormously wealthy man of worldwide fame, might he take note if the area that gave rise to his American hero declared him an honorary citizen? Might he even pay us a visit? Might the afore-mentioned visit of Fess Parker to our community help prompt Collins to do the same?

Maybe not, maybe so. To me, it certainly seems worth laying the groundwork, given that it would take only minutes, and essentially no money, for the Greene County Commission to authorize a resolution of honorary citizenship for the British musician.

And why not seek to have our state do the same? Texas, where Davy’s story ended, already has named Phil Collins an honorary Texan. Our state, where Crockett’s story starts, easily could follow suit and make Collins an honorary Tennessean.

A Greene County honorary citizenship resolution might be just the thing to kickstart the whole process.


I’m certain the Tennessee Historical Commission and the East Tennessee Historical Society would be supportive (especially if Collins proved willing to share some of his collection with Tennessee, as he has with Texas). Time it right, and the whole thing could happen by Davy’s next birthday in August, 2020.

Is it worth a shot, or am I just daydreaming, piling one unlikely possibility on another?

I don’t think it’s just idle, worthless thought. If the Greene County Commission asked our legislative delegation to approach the state about making Collins an honorary Tennessean, I think our reps would gladly do so. Legislators from the other areas of the state where Crockett lived or hunted might get on board, too.

If this crazy notion actually carried through to the end, our own Crockett Birthplace park would be a logical site to host an official, state-sponsored event to ceremonially finalize the whole thing. Ideally Collins himself could attend to accept his honorary citizenships and talk about the international significance of the best-known native son of Greene County. I bet he could afford the air fare. Or the state could foot the bill.

Or at the least Collins might speak to us live via computer.

I’m pretty sure the event would make news and boost awareness of our county and its towns.

So what do you think, local leaders and state legislators? I can’t see any real downside to trying. The worst that could come of it would be that ... well, that nothing comes of it. No loss to us for the effort. Life would just go on as before – just another day for you and me in paradise. (Sorry – did it again!)

If you’ve read this far, thanks for indulging my flight of hopeful fancy. But if anybody with authority out there sees merit in this notion of mine, go for it! It doesn’t really cost anything to pass a county commission resolution, so if it all leads to nothing, no real loss.

But if it did lead to something … very cool!

In my mind, the bottom line is, there’s only one birthplace of Davy Crockett. So if ever anything like this is done at all, shouldn’t we be the ones to do it?

Besides, wouldn’t it be worth it just on the possibility of seeing Phil Collins sitting at the counter down at Tipton’s on Depot Street, munching a griddle-fried honeybun in his new honorary home county?

If you’d like to learn more about Collins and Crockett, here’s a good link to get you started: www.history.com/news/phil-collins-has-always-remembered-the-alamo