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A Day Never Forgotten

Wednesday is Patriot Day, commemorating the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

In Greene County, as elsewhere nationwide, it is a day of remembrance. Local observations historically include the raising of the “Freedom Flag” at Greeneville High School.

The flag is displayed once every year, on Sept. 11, to memorialize those who perished and those who served in the aftermath of the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

More than 3,000 civilians, firefighters, police officers and other emergency responders were killed after hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. (See related story, page 5A.)

The Freedom Flag was donated to GHS a number of years ago to be used in annual observations. Members of the GHS Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps have historically hoisted it beneath the American flag at the start of the school day and lowered it before evening.

The flag’s official display protocols indicate it should be displayed on Sept. 11 each year. Longer displays are noted as being acceptable, provided they do not extend beyond the month of September.

According to the Freedom Flag Foundation, which promotes the flag as a symbol of remembrance, it was designed to honor “the tragedy and triumph of Sept. 11, 2001.” The flag has been officially adopted in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Its design, described by the foundation as the “10 Elements,” is imbued with patriotic symbolism in remembrance of the events of that day:

  • Two broad red stripes symbolize lives lost at the World Trade Center and on American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175.
  • A red stripe at the top represents lives lost at the Pentagon and on American Airlines Flight 77.
  • Another red stripe on the bottom symbolizes the lives lost on United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
  • Three white stripes honor police officers, firefighters, Port Authority employees and other responders.
  • A large, single white star represents all those who have lost their lives in the name of freedom.
  • The five white bars surrounding it, shaped as a pentagon, represent branches of the American armed forces: the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
  • The blue background is a symbol of all Americans united together for freedom, the foundation’s explanation says.

For additional information about the Freedom Flag, including protocols for its display, visit

Greene County Imagination Library Celebrates 450K Books

Big numbers are nothing new to the Greene County Imagination Library.

Currently, 90% of children under 5 in Greene County receive free books through the program that mails out about 3,333 each month. The number fluctuates as youngsters age out of the program and others are born or move into the area.

An even larger number was celebrated Tuesday as the local Imagination Library program presented its 450,000th book to Oliver “Ollie” J. Gardner, a happy and energetic 18-month-old.

Greene County Imagination Library Coordinator Ruth Burkey gave Gardner “Pass It On,” by Sophy Henn, during a brief program at the beginning of the organization’s board meeting on Tuesday.

The book tells of a girl who learns that things that make her happy can make others feel that joy if she shares them.

“That happiness is what we are doing with the Imagination Library,” Burkey said. “We are sharing the joy of reading with others in our 10 years of efforts to provide quality books to young Greene Countians.”

Burkey said that the presentation was special to her for another reason: Ollie’s parents, Jordan and Lyndsey Gardner, were friends with her children in school.

Many people think the books are paid for through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Foundation, she said.

“But, they are not,” she said. “They are paid for through the generosity of Greene Countians.”

The Governor’s Books for Birth Foundation matches the local funds raised to pay for books, Burkey said, which means that local citizens’ donations of $12 to $15 can provide a book each month to a child for a year.

If a person donates $12 to provide a book a month, $11.95 goes directly for book purchases with the five cents going for overhead costs such as postage, Burkey said.

The Niswonger Foundation also provides funding to give a book to each baby born at Greeneville Community Hospital, Burkey said.

A strong level of participation is the result of efforts by many in the community such as the nurses who include a registration slip in packets for new mothers. Other partners, such as Head Start, actively sign up participants and field requests from parents to enroll their child, she said.

The way funds are raised can be creative, and Burkey said elementary schools in the Greene County Schools system are starting a competition to see which can collect the heaviest jar of change to benefit the Imagination Library.

The heaviest jar at the end of the competition will receive 10% of the change to be used for resources for its own school library, while the others will receive an Imagination Library book for theirs.

Several officials were also on hand to congratulate the local Imagination Library on its 450,000-book milestone.

Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison said all his children received books through the program. Increasing literacy in the county is an important goal, and the Imagination Library is playing a significant role, he said.

“Thanks for all you do,” he said. “It is recognized, and we do see its results manifested in the achievements of children.”

State Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, also shared that both of his daughters received books through the Imagination Library. How the program helps instill the joy of reading in children is amazing, he said.

“The state of Tennessee is putting some significant energy into making sure students are reading on grade level in the third grade,” he said. “Programs like Imagination Library are at the center of helping give youngsters that firm foundation in reading they need to have success later in education and in life.”

Darryl Brady, representing U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, of Johnson City, thanked the local group for its work. Brady commented that he had been involved with the Imagination Library since its beginnings in just a few counties in Tennessee.

Through that involvement, Brady said he has seen the effect that it can have in improving the education level of a community, which, in turn, brings greater economic opportunities.

Donations for the Greene County Imagination Library can be sent by mail to the organization at P.O. Box 292, Greeneville, TN 37744.

Gifts can also be made to the local organization online through the Governor’s Books from Birth Foundation at by specifying it should be earmarked to Greene County.

Greeneville Oil Event Nets $10K For Community Ministries

Prospective Chick-Fil-A Site Sold; Plans OK'd

The stand alone Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Greeneville is a step closer to reality.

Property at 2645 E. Andrew Johnson Highway was sold Aug. 27, according to the State of Tennessee Real Estate Assessment Data website, which lists the sale price as $1.05 million. The site lists Georgia Schnell as the seller and Chick-Fil-A as the buyer.

The Greeneville Planning and Development Department approved the restaurant’s final site plan. In her report to the Greeneville Planning Commission Tuesday, Greeneville Planning Director Logan Engle reported that the department worked with the developer, New Urban Development Corp., on the plan.

The planning commission approved the preliminary plans for the popular chicken fast food restaurant in May. The site plan calls for the construction of a 4,815-square-foot Chick-Fil-A restaurant with a seating capacity of 114 that would be located in the same general location as the existing building on the site at Crockett Crossing Shopping Center.

The site plan plan shows a double drive-thru and an additional canopy area for expedited ordering and payment. The parking lot is also to be reconfigured.

The property was the site of the former Georgia’s Southern Table and Ryan’s Family Steakhouse restaurants. The existing structure is to be demolished for a new restaurant to be constructed, according to the site plan.

Engle said the planning department learned of the sale of the property last week. The department also learned that, before the existing restaurant building is demolished, the Greeneville Fire Department will use it for training, she said.

What remains unclear is a timeline for the restaurant’s construction. Chick-Fil-A representatives were not able to provide that information for this report as of press time.

Town officials have been told by developers that the opening of the restaurant might not be until 2021. Representatives from Tusculum University are reported to have contacted the corporation to express concern about the new location’s proximity to the campus’ Chick-Fil-A licensee, operated by Chartwells, which offers a limited menu and is open to the public.

At the May planning commission meeting, Tusculum University representatives shared those concerns.


In other business, the planning commission approved a site plan for a Stowaway Self-Storage along Emory Road. The new storage facility would be across the street from an existing climate-controlled storage unit operated by the same business.

The plan calls for construction of a 25,200-square-foot structure for climate-controlled storage, which is the same size as the existing building, Engle said. In addition, the plans include the construction of three other buildings for storage units that would not be climate controlled.

Approval was given subject to the addition of a fire hydrant and sidewalks to the plan and some minor revisions. Earlier in the meeting, the planning commission authorized a plat combining two lots to create a larger one for the new storage buildings.

A plot plan adding about 4,800 square feet to the Eastside Baptist Church property on Serral Drive was also approved. The addition provides space to add 15 parking spaces.

The planning commission also approved plats creating a lot on the David Easterly property at 1415 Hartman Road and combining three lots of the Westmoreland and Moore property on Old Stage Road to create two larger tracts.