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Technology Center Earns Tennessee Pathways Certification

Two programs at the Greene Technology Center are among the first in the state to earn Tennessee Pathways Certification.

The welding and machine tool technology offerings have been awarded Certified Tennessee Pathways status through the state Department of Education program, among the first to earn that designation, GTC Principal Randy Wells told the Joint Board of Education Thursday.

The programs will be recognized in early November at a conference in Nashville, Wells said.

According to the Department of Education, the certification “is a school-level distinction that recognizes high school pathways with a defined labor market need, a progression of high school coursework that includes postsecondary opportunities and a series of work-based learning experiences with at least one employer partner.”

Assistant Principal Marsha Hybarger and Guidance Counselor Kim Gass were diligent in collecting information and the documentation needed in applying for the certified status, he said.

Wells also reported that the Technology Center has been awarded a federal Perkins Reserve grant for student certifications and equipment. This grant is in addition to the Perkins grant the center receives each year and is competitive funding for which schools have to apply annually.

“This is very important to us because it allows our students the opportunity to earn industry certifications while still in high school at no cost to them or the school system,” he said.

The school received $15,000 to pay for student certifications and $33,000 for equipment, which will be used for servers for the information technology program and mannequin trainers and an emergency stretcher for the health science program.

The center is expanding another program to help students earn points needed for Work Ethic Diploma, a workforce readiness credential that can be earned by high school seniors, Wells told the board. Some companies give preference in interviewing to candidates who have earned the credential.

Students can earn five points through passing a voluntary drug screening towards the Work Ethic Diploma, and it has proven popular for seniors at the center, he said. To earn the diploma, students can earn points in 14 areas, including attendance, discipline, grade point average and completing career and technical education coursework.

This academic year, the center is expanding the program to include students not currently enrolled there, Wells said.

The first screening will be next week, and the center has notified all five high schools to invite them to send any senior wishing to participate. Each school has been invited to send up to 10 students for the screenings, he said, and the center looks to offer the voluntary screenings a number of times this school year.

The screenings are free for the students. The center has received funding to cover the cost.

Wells also thanked Sherry Cobble and the Greene County Sheriff’s Department for collaborating with the center to provide the service.

The center’s enrollment for the fall semester is 335, with 189 of those as beginning students, the principal also reported to the board. This semester is the third consecutive that the number of beginning students has exceeded 170, and this trend should increase overall enrollment, Wells said.

In action items, the Joint Board also approved the purchase of new exterior doors for GTC. The school has 31 doors and 24 transom panels in need of replacement due to weather and wear, Wells said.

The new doors and transom panels will be steel and be provided by Vicars Construction at a cost of $46,837.

Mosheim Closes 'Meals On Wheels' Site

Citing low participation and the recent death of Mosheim’s Meals on Wheels program coordinator, the town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Thursday evening to end it.

Mayor Tommy Gregg shared a memo from the town about the Oct. 15 passing of Beverly Myers, the town’s meal site coordinator.

“Beverly enjoyed the time spent with the congregants at town hall and was always smiling and laughing with everyone. She will be missed a great deal by her fellow employees,” the memo said.

Myers’ death meant that the town must either find a replacement or terminate the program. Gregg shared statistics from First Tennessee Human Resource Agency on Mosheim’s Meals on Wheels participation statistics, which had barely met the state’s requirement for funding, an average of 10 meals served per day.

Although all board members indicated agreement that the program is valuable and necessary, they decided to terminate the program due to dwindling participation, the lack of a replacement for Myers, and the availability of Roby Fitzgerald Adult Center, a meal site, to Mosheim residents.

Mosheim residents can be served by the Roby center moving forward.

In other business, the board passed a resolution authorizing Gregg, Vice Mayor Harold Smith, Recorder Kelle Lowery, and Secretary Stephanie Wallin as signatories for town bank accounts.

Gregg said the resolution came in response to a law passed in July which dictates the necessity of a formal contract.

The board also OK’d Mosheim Police Department job descriptions. All other town job descriptions were approved at September’s meeting.

Alderman and Town of Mosheim Volunteer Fire Chief James Foshie presented the board with a list of four recommendations for the open position of assistant chief. The other aldermen recommended Foshie make the decision. He agreed and said he would inform the board of his decision at the next meeting on Dec. 5.

Foshie also shared an update that automated external defibrillators have been installed at town hall and that the Mosheim Public Library will be next to receive the same equipment.

Gregg announced the town received a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $344,000 toward work on Pump Station No. 6 on North Mohawk Road. Work will include plumbing, sealing tanks, and work on the base to ease access in inclement weather.

The board went into a closed session with Attorney Douglas Payne to discuss ongoing litigation before adjourning the meeting.

The board will not meet in November due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

JUDD: Earlier Halloweens Had More Tricks Than Treats

Picture yourself living in a rural community that has only one good access route: a road that extends over a bridge across a wide creek.

It’s during the first half of the 20th century, on Halloween. You’ve been in town all day and are eager to get back to your home and family. As you begin to come into view of the bridge you must cross to get there, you see a flickering light and smoke rising into the evening dusk.

“They’ve done it again,” you whisper to yourself behind the steering wheel. “Those durn boys have built a fire on the bridge again, the worthless good-for-nothings!” You recall that last year, at least, they had settled for merely blocking the bridge with a log. That was annoying enough, but at least a log could be pushed out of the way. A huge bonfire is a different situation altogether.

From what I heard old-timers say in my childhood years, that bridge bonfire scenario used to happen fairly commonly at a bridge connecting a community called Poplar Grove with the rest of my home county of Putnam. My dad preached at the Poplar Grove Baptist Church during the 1960s, and some of the older men always stood out in the church parking lot, smoking cigarettes and talking before it was time for the service to start. In the fall, sometimes one or two might mention that particular Halloween prank, a memory from decades before.

Google Street View shows me that the old bridge that was still there when I was a kid has been replaced by a much wider, modern two-lane span, so that particular prank is less likely to occur today at that location. Also, I’m pretty sure that such an act would generate a harsher law enforcement response these days than it would have back in more easy-going years when Halloween tomfoolery was customary, expected and usually shrugged off and forgotten.

It’s a pretty safe bet that Halloween bridge-blocking wasn’t limited to that one Middle Tennessee location. It probably happened all over America.

Reading some about American Halloween pranking traditions reveals that Halloween mischief of earlier generations often was more extreme than our modern variants of “rolling a yard” with toilet paper, or soaping the windows of a parked vehicle.

Removing the gates on fenced grazing fields was a common prank in farm country. In some rural areas, Halloween gained the alternate name of “Gate Night” because of it. The immediate result would be livestock roaming the countryside with the ghosts and goblins. The later result was the necessity of herding the strays back in and replacing the gate.

One fairly common shenanigan in rural America took effort and mechanical ability: disassembling a farm wagon, or buggy, taking the parts to the top of a barn or outbuilding, and reassembling it there, keeping quiet enough not to get caught in the act.

An amplification and variation on that roof-topping prank was to somehow get a cow, calf or goat up on the roof along with the wagon, leaving the farmer to figure out how to get everything safely onto the ground the next day, and get the wagon put together again. And even when that was done, he might return to the house to be told by his wife that somebody uprooted all the turnips in the patch, then tipped the outhouse over and threw the turnips and greens into the pit.

Of course, there also was the always-effective caper of blocking chimneys and filling houses with smoke.

Youths of generations back had a mean streak around Halloween, it would seem. And the website history.com tells us, that the umbilical cord of that mean streak stretched all the way across the Atlantic to forbears in Europe, the British Isles and elsewhere.

Ireland and Scotland were heavy contributors to late October pranking. In Scotland, Halloween pranks of the 1800s commonly included such acts as setting cabbage leaves ablaze and pushing the smoking layers into someone’s cottage while they were absent, maybe under the door or through a window that hadn’t been secured. This made for a smelly welcome home for the returning homeowner.

Immigrants brought their Halloween customs over to the United States from their home countries, where they were adapted and Americanized.

According to a 2012 article by Emily Chertoff in the magazine “The Atlantic,” the North American Halloween had, by the beginning of the 20th century, become “a celebration of mischief in all its forms, but it retained its early, otherworldly tones.”

Chertoff wrote further: “According to most sources, the holiday emerged out of the Celtic feast of Samhain ... the day of the year when the boundary between the spirit world and the world of the living is most flexible. In the U.S., it developed into a pidgin holiday. ... Many adults tolerated pranks because they represented the spiritual origins of the holiday – they were supposed to be perpetrated by mischievous sprites or goblins, who played tricks and then disappeared.”

Halloween trickery in the United States initially was most prevalent in rural areas, but as cities began receiving more immigrants, much of the mischief became urban.

New kinds of pranking opportunities were possible in cities. You couldn’t, for example, find a manhole to leave uncovered on a country road, but large cities had manholes in abundance. A coverless manhole on a busy street had the potential to cause any number of axle-warping mishaps for pranksters to guffaw over from the shadows of a nearby alley.

Automobiles themselves offered yet more high jinks options, such as deflating tires, putting rotting matter on top of engines to grow hot and smelly, soaping up the windows, and so on.

Beside the streets, busy city sidewalks made possible such Halloween mischief as tossing flour into the faces of pedestrians. Harmless in itself, but certainly annoying. I can imagine that the flour-throwing “perps” must have beat quite a speedy path away from the scene of their crime, maybe with the victim in angry pursuit.

The flour-in-the-face thing is something I never knew of as a Halloween-related act, at least until I saw the 1944 classic film “Meet Me In St. Louis.” In that film, a little girl character, Tootie, accepts a challenge from friends to throw flour into the face of a neighborhood man the children dislike and think of as wicked.

Tootie accepts the challenge, knocks on the man’s door, and throws flour in his face while speaking harshly to him, then runs. The act earns her respect and honor from her less bold peers, who have watched from a safer vantage point. The flour-tossing is, in that film, described by the children as symbolically “killing” the man, perceived by them as a slayer of cats and abuser of his wife.

I had it in mind to finish this column out with some local Halloween stories, but when Tim Massey’s column for this week came in, I saw he’d beaten me to the punch, with a column about some of his own local Halloween experiences. That actually works out better, because Tim is a local fellow who experienced Greene County Halloweens himself, so he’s qualified to write on a subject I would have to deal with second-hand. So be sure to check Tim’s column today, if you haven’t already. (See page 10A.)

I will mention one particular Halloween in Greeneville that made front-page news. It had nothing to do with Halloween trickery or pranks, but with a football triumph.

On Halloween of 1935, Coach Ty Disney’s Greeneville team defeated rival Morristown before a crowd estimated at 3,000 people.

Locals were appreciative. The Greeneville Sun headline Nov. 1 declared: GREENEVILLE’S HALLOWEEN IS BEST IN HISTORY.

Local Man Sells Hindenburg Artifacts On 'Pawn Stars' TV Show

Jim Fleming recently parted with artifacts from one of the most visually stunning disasters of the 20th century — the fiery destruction of the German airship Hindenburg.

Fleming ventured to Las Vegas in 2018 and sold the articles on the popular television reality show “Pawn Stars.”

As the Zeppelin completed a cross-oceanic flight and prepared to anchor under stormy skies on May 6, 1937, in Lakehurst, New Jersey, it burst into flames. The hydrogen-filled, lighter-than-air craft was enveloped in a sheet of flames and crashed to the ground, resulting in 36 fatalities among the 97 travelers aboard.

James Fleming, father of Jim, was serving in the Navy and stationed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He was among those ordered to the scene for crowd control, his son said this week in an interview.

“He kept the public away from the scene. Before he left, I’m sure several (Navy men) picked up souvenirs of some sort.”

Fleming, who is a manager of Habitat for Humanity store in Greeneville, enjoyed appearing on “Pawn Stars.” He detailed his experience, and how the Hindenburg wreckage came to be part of his family’s personal history.

“He just happened to pick up some of the cloth and struts and metal pieces,” Fleming said of his father, then a young man in his early 20s.

The next day James Fleming sent a Western Union telegram to his mother in Georgia describing what he saw.

“Dear Mama was sent to Lakehurst Thursday night for guard duty at Hindenburg crash slept with survivors of crew will be here till Monday nothing left of ship except twisted metal most all bodies burnt beyond recognition will be thinking of you Sunday love — Jimmie.”

It was the brittle, yellowing telegram that lent a personal stamp to the collection of artifacts and particularly fascinated Rick Harrison, the operator of the pawn shop featured in the television show and someone well-versed in history.

“It convinced Rick that it was authentic. He likes it because it tells the story,” Fleming said.

Other Hindenburg remnants Fleming brought to the pawn shop included a small piece of the airship’s lightweight metal frame, a rectangle of silver skin that covered the airship, and a swatch of red fabric that was on one of the tail fins that surrounded swastikas, signifying its link as a source of pride to the leaders of pre-war Nazi Germany.

Harrison, like others who work at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas where Pawn Stars is filmed, also drives a hard bargain.

“He’s always interested in making a dollar, of course,” Fleming observed.

Fleming regularly views Pawn Stars, which airs at 10 p.m. Mondays on the History Channel. Family patriarch Richard Benjamin Harrison, known on the show as “The Old Man,” died in 2018. His son Rick, who Fleming spoke with, now runs the business with his son Corey. Another main character and pawn shop employee who often provides comic relief is known as “Chumlee.”

James Fleming was a World War II veteran who remained in the Navy for 28 years. After his death, the Hindenburg artifacts were stored at his mother’s house until she passed away in the 1980s. An only son, Fleming inherited the shoebox containing the remnants.

Fleming heard a news report about other artifacts from the Hindenburg being auctioned off in New York City and spoke with his sons about the possibility of selling some of the items he had.

“To get on the show, you have to start with an agent. You fax a lady in New York with what you got and she contacts Rick to see if he was interested,” he said.

Rick Harrison was interested. Fleming was asked to set an opening price, which he did: $20,000 for the lot.

“He already knew what we would ask,” Fleming said. Arrangements were made on a date to visit Las Vegas to film the segment. Fleming and his two oldest sons, who also flew in from out of state, paid their own way.

Pawn Stars premiered in 2009 and more than 300 episodes of the popular series have been filmed. Fleming said about 50 curious fans were in line waiting to get in the store the morning in September 2018 he arrived to do the segment.

”There is a theater rope (in the middle) so they go in one side and out the other,” he said.

Rick Harrison “already had an idea what he was going to give for it but he didn’t know what,” he said.

Fleming had to stand on a certain spot near the counter and could not interrupt while Harrison was talking, he said.

Most people don’t know there is an exact replica of the pawn shop that was built behind the building seen in the show. Part of the filming was done there so Harrison and Fleming could negotiate without other people talking and other background noise. Customers are asked to come into the replica pawn shop to appear in the background during filming but are instructed not to talk.

Fleming said he could not ask for more than the top price he earlier gave the show representatives.

“I opened at 20 (thousand) and he came back at 10,” Fleming said. One of the persons with the show suggested he ask for $17,000, but Fleming decided to come back with a price of $12,500.

“He said $11,000 is my final offer,” Fleming said.

The men agreed and the segment wrapped up.

“(Harrison) knew it was a rare piece,” he said.

The 15 minutes the encounter took was later edited down to a show segment of about three minutes, Fleming said. The show first aired on Aug. 5 and was repeated on Monday night. A spokeswoman for A&E Networks, parent company of the History Channel, said she did not know when it may run again.

Even though he did not get what he asked for the one-of-kind Hindenburg wreckage, “It was still a lot of fun,” Fleming said.

Fleming split the $11,000 with his sons.

The Hindenburg artifacts are framed and carefully arranged around the Western Union telegram from “Jimmie” Fleming to his mother. The items can be seen on the pawn shop website, gspawn.com/hindenburg-crash-wreckage.

The asking price is $35,000.

“It’s just Rick. It’s just business, that’s the nicest way to put it,” Fleming said.

Fleming’s father told him the Germans later went to the crash site in New Jersey and took away the metal skeleton from the Hindenburg and used the wreckage to make aircraft.

The disaster was immortalized in history through the words of NBC radio announcer Herb Morrison, who was in Lakehurst for a routine newsreel voice-over. As he watched the massive airship burn and crash to the ground, Morrison became emotionally distraught and uttered the words, “Oh, the humanity.”

The recording of Morrison’s commentary was immediately aired as part of America’s first coast-to-coast radio news broadcast.

Lighter-than-air passenger travel rapidly fell out of favor after the Hindenburg disaster.

Fleming moved to Greene County from Florida and has lived in Greeneville for about five years. One of his sons attended Tusculum University.

“I came up to see him and I decided to stay,” he said.

The family still has a few remnants from the Hindenburg that Fleming said will be passed on to his grandchildren.

“Why did I (do it)? It was just something I felt like, wow, it’s only something you do once. We probably would have got more money for it if we put it up for auction,” he said. “It was just a cool thing to do. It was like a vacation, and I got paid for going.”

Past episodes of “Pawn Stars” can be accessed on History.com. The episode featuring Fleming is notated season 16, episode 19.