Bits of Stone for Sunday, July 7
By Dean Stone | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In 1966 Tom Ballard got his start in The Daily Times newsroom
I like to keep readers informed of the achievements of numerous individuals who began their career in The Daily Times newsroom before going on to greater things and using the talents they developed here.
As readers know, Tom Ballard and another Maryvillian, Ed Pershing, have joined two former Oak Ridge National Laboratory computer scientists in forming PYA Analytics. They plan to use “big data” to help businesses and health care cut costs and improve quality. Ballard is chief operating officer.
After working here in 1966 and 1967 as a summer reporter, Tom worked at the Knoxville Journal and from 1969 to 1973 was director of Alumni Programs at UT.
From 1973 through 1982 he was manager of Information Services, then director of Communication, then assistant director and finally associate director of the UT Institute for Public Service.
Beginning in 1983 and through part of 1999, he served as executive director of Public Service, then assistant vice president for Public Service and then associate vice president for Public Service and director of Governmental Relations for the entire university of Tennessee.
From 2000 to 2004, he was UT vice president for Public and Government Relations.
From 2004 through 2011 he was director of Economic Development Partnerships, then director of Partnership at Oak Ridge National Laboratory before joining Pershing Yoakley & Associates in 2012.
That is a long list of achievements, which we had never published for the most part.
The name Ballard is not new at The Times. When Tom’s uncle Fred R. “Barney” Ballard was a student at Everett High in the late 1920s he was sports editor of The Times. Barney went on to a successful career with the Associated Press, serving as Kentucky-Tennessee bureau chief.
Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center featured in Conservationist
The just out July-August issue of the Tennessee Conservationist includes an excellent article on the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend.
The three-page article by Editor Louise Zapp details hands-on for kids, volunteers working at the center and music in the mountains. It is a place where visitors can get a taste of life in the mountains in the past.
Executive Director Bob Patterson notes the center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 noon until 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Cades Cove Museum picture, story in Blue Ridge magazine
A photograph of the Cades Cove Museum in the historic Thompson-Brown House, across the street from Blount Memorial Hospital is in the new issue to Blue Ridge magazine.
Accompanying the photograph is an article noting the Thompson-Brown House is one of the oldest, two-story, dog-trot log structures in East Tennessee.
Also in this 25th anniversary issue is a tribute to Asheville’s famous Grove Park Inn which is turning 100 years old.
Selected the No. 1 cover of the magazine over its 25 years was in the fall of 1991. It was a view of the Methodist Church in Cades Cove as seen from the Rich Mountain Road.
Ghost Town in the Sky is arising from the dead. The 1961 co-founder, Alaska Presley, has stepped in to reopen and rebuild the attraction, which has been closed due to numerous negative events. Now in her 80s, Presley bought the site for $2.5 million at public auction in 2012. Open this year, the Maggie Valley attraction once drew 600,000 visits annually.
Farmer completes two-book series of humor, fact, fiction
A few days ago Jim Farmer a Knoxville friend from Tennessee Jaycee days stopped by for a visit and left copies of his two-book series just completed.
A retired banker and builder, he was a national director when the Jaycees were the most active group of age 21-to-35-year-old men in the 1950s.
The books are entertainingly relaxing with a mixture of fact, fiction and humor on two familiar subjects.
The first is “The Long Tale Mouse,” and it is talking about the familiar mouse used on computer terminals.
The second is “The Rabbit Who Lost Its Ears,” which deals with the disappearance of rabbit ears on television sets and related information.
Both books contain interesting facts about television and its origin.
Charlie Daniels, Knoxville cartoonist, drew the covers for the books. They are available at book stores for $18 each or both for $30.
Pellissippi Bridge named for Medal of Honor recipient
Many local residents using the Pellissippi Parkway to west Knox County or Oak Ridge daily cross the Blount-Knox County line in the middle of the Tennessee River on a bridge named for Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman without knowing who he was.
First Lt. Bonnyman received a posthumous Medal of Honor for heroism as he led the way for other Marines during a bloody assault on the embattled islet of Betio at Tarawa Atoll.
He earned the medal, our nation’s highest military award, on Nov. 22, 1943, the final day of the four-day battle in a fight so intense three Medals of Honor were awarded posthumously.
Born May 2, 1910, in Atlanta, he grew up in Knoxville after his family moved here when he was 2. His father became president of Blue Diamond Coal Co. in Knoxville, one of the widest distributors of coal for home heating at the time. He attended Mrs. J.A. Thackston’s school.
Sandy graduated from Newman High in Lakewood, N.J., before entering Princeton University in 1928 to study engineering. As a sophomore he emerged as a star guard on the football team but the ever restless youth dropped out of school in 1930, lacking grades required to become a junior.
He finally enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a flying cadet on June 28, 1932. He attended preflight school at Randolph Field, Texas, but washed out of the program and received an honorable discharge in September.
He found employment in his father’s company then married a local sweetheart, Josephine Bell, in San Antonio, Texas, on Feb. 15, 1933.
Always striving to improve his place in life, in 1938 he moved to New Mexico where he purchased a small copper mine with interest in a second in Santa Rosa, 60 miles from Santa Fe, and started his own small mining business at the age of 28. There he fathered three daughters, Frances, Josephine and Alexandra.
When WWII broke out, Sandy was exempt from service but the determined Bonnyman signed up once again for the Army Air Corps flight training and once again washed out, apparently for buzzing too many control towers.
He then turned to the Marine Corps where he was accepted as a private in July 1942 in Phoenix.
Details of his battle achievements are well reported in the Early Fall 2012 issue of World War II magazine by author and researcher Joseph M. Horodyski of Brook Park, Ohio.
His legacy lives on, thanks to photographs made during the battle by Obie Newcomb and in newsreels and documentaries of the battle for Tarawa.
That brought another first. There is an action photograph of Bonnyman during the act for which he received the medal. It is the only photograph of a Medal of Honor recipient taken during the act for which he received the medal!
• Inconsistent taxman cometh from all angles and often without reason. It all depends. In Connecticut children’s diapers are taxed but adult diapers are untaxed.
• In Maryland, the government is taxing “impervious surfaces” roofs, driveways and basically any other man-made structure that doesn’t allow rainwater to naturally soak into the ground. Part of the 2010 Environmental Protection Agency mandate to reduce runoff into Chesapeake Bay, homeowners in the 10 most populous counties will pay about $100 annually. Businesses with large roofs and parking lots will be hit with five and six figure tax which will be passed on to customers.
• Thinking on how to reduce government spending, a fellow on the job observed he got paid, and paid his taxes and the government distributes his taxes as it sees fit.
In order to get that paycheck on his and on most jobs he is subject to random urine tests for drug use with which he has no problem. The problem is the distribution of his taxes to people who do not have to pass a urine test.
He asked, “Why shouldn’t one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them?”
The unknown observer had no problem with helping people get back on their feet but objected to some who are sitting on their back side doing drugs while he works.
Dean Stone is editor of The Times.