Blount museum offers assistance with Everett cannon
By Matthew Stewart | The Daily Times
If Blount County Schools can resolve legal questions concerning an antique cannon that Everett High School won 45 years ago, the Blount County Historical Museum is willing to help the school district with its restoration efforts.
Blount County Schools and Everett High School alumni previously reached an impasse concerning the cannon, which is the property of Blount County Schools. The cannon is currently located at Heritage High School, and it is displayed on a concrete pad near the football field at home games. Heritage High School students built the pad for the artillery piece.
Nine Everett High School graduates recently formed a group, the Cannonball Run Committee, to coordinate alumni efforts to obtain, restore and ultimately donate the cannon to another group.
Blount County Schools publicly supports the Cannonball Run Committee’s restoration efforts and wants to partner with them. However, school officials aren’t willing to relinquish their property rights.
After being approached by the Cannonball Run Committee about the cannon, the Blount County Historical Museum Board of Directors discussed the artillery piece and decided to submit a letter to Blount County Schools informing the district about its willingness to work with school officials if they decided to pursue restoration efforts.
“We understand it is Blount County Schools’ property,” said Blount County Historical Museum Board President David Duggan. “We also understand there is some concerns about surplus property law. If it can be worked out and it is satisfactory to the schools, we’d certainly be willing to house it at the museum.”
In the letter, Blount County Historical Museum Board of Directors also advised school officials about the museum’s permanent loan arrangement with the city of Maryville regarding “Ole Huldy.” The 1926 American LaFrance was Maryville Fire Department’s first fire truck.
Museum officials recommended that board attorney Rob Goddard meet with city of Maryville attorney Melanie Davis, Duggan said. “If Blount County Schools is interested in this partnership but feels it can’t due to state property law, they might consider a permanent loan where it would remain county property but be permanently displayed in the museum. We fully respect their decision, and only wanted to offer additional guidance. If the schools are interested, we would be interested in helping them.”
Blount County Director of Schools Rob Britt has received the museum’s letter, but he hasn’t met with school board members and board attorney Rob Goddard to discuss the options outlined in the document. Britt plans to meet with them within the next month.
How they won it
In 1967, WNOX-FM and Lay’s Meats held a contest for all local schools. Students vied for a cannon, which alumni think was assembled in 1883 and possibly saw service in the Spanish–American War.
Competing schools were required to turn in handwritten notes, and Everett High School produced nearly 8 million “Lay’s Meats Sloppy Joes” notes to win the prize. Everett High School maintained the cannon until its closure in 1977.
Shortly thereafter, the artillery piece was transferred to Heritage High School. Everett High, Porter High, Townsend High and Walland High schools were consolidated into Heritage High School.