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Leftwich, Byrge voted to Chamber leadership team

Hal Leftwich (center) is the Scott County Chamber of Commerce president for 2024, while Linda Byrge (left) is vice president and Sheneka Burchfield is treasurer.
The 2024 annual meeting of the Scott County Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Hal Leftwich, CEO of Big South Fork Medical Center, will serve as the Scott County Chamber of Commerce’s president in 2024. Mrs. Linda Byrge, of For the Love of Paws, will serve as the Chamber of Commerce’s vice president in 2024. Mrs. Sheneka Burchfield, marketing director of First National Bank, will serve another term as treasurer.

Those were the unanimous votes of the Chamber’s board of directors at the Annual Meeting held Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 at the Scott County Senior Citizens Center in Oneida.

A capacity crowd enjoyed a grilled chicken dinner prepared by the Senior Citizens Center, after which routine business was conducted at the first meeting of the new calendar year.

Outgoing Directors: Outgoing directors were recognized, including Virginia Bruce, former owner of South Fork Tack in Oneida, and Cheryl Cribbet, former owner of Cabins of Elk Run in Robbins.

Re-Elected Directors: Several directors whose terms expired in December 2023 were re-elected to new terms that will run through 2026. Among them: Michael Laxton, president of United Cumberland Bank; Fannie Burke, of The Highland Connection; Ben Garrett, publisher of the Independent Herald; Erika Schmelter, of Brimstone Recreation; Scott County Mayor Jerried Jeffers; and Sheneka Burchfield, marketing director of First National Bank.

New Directors: New directors nominated by the Chamber of Commerce’s nominating committee included Jagger Coffey of the S.T.A.N.D. Coalition, Ralph Trieschmann of Timber Rock Lodge, and Dianna Massey of Integrity Tax & Bookkeeping. They were approved by unanimous vote after there were no nominations from the floor.

Nominated Officers: Officers for 2024 were recommended by the Chamber of Commerce’s nominating committee as Hal Leftwich, CEO of Big South Fork Medical Center; Linda Byrge, of For the Love of Paws; and Sheneka Burchfield, marketing director of First National Bank. They were also approved by unanimous vote after there were no nominations from the floor.

Business of the Year: Integrity Tax & Bookkeeping was recognized by Sheneka Burchfield as the 2023 Scott County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year.

Person of the Year: The late Wayne King was recognized by Ben Garrett as the 2023 Scott County Chamber of Commerce/Independent Herald Person of the Year.

The guest speaker at the Annual Meeting was Elijah West, a Scott High School student who was recently honored as the latest Eagle Scout from Scott County.

Funeral services scheduled for former Chamber president Wayne King


Funeral services for Oneida pastor and business owner Wayne King will be Friday afternoon. King, 64, passed away peacefully at his home on Tuesday, Dec. 26, following a months-long battle with cancer.

King, a native of the Pine Hill community and a veteran of the U.S. Navy, was a three-time president of the Scott County Chamber of Commerce, serving in that capacity in 2003, 2012 and 2013.

King was also a longtime employee of Scott County Hospital, which became Big South Fork Medical Center, and was the owner of Baby J’s Pizza in Oneida. He also owned High 5 Solutions and Intervention Academy, working with at-risk youth through the Scott County court system.

He was pastor at New Salem United Baptist Church in the Smith Creek community for 23 years.

State Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, offered his condolences to the family.

“Wayne King befriended me 15 years ago,” he said. “As the years have passed we haven’t seen one another as often as we would like. Despite the passage of time, however, we have remained stedfast friends. Wayne was a visionary community leader, businessman and man of God. I am heartsick to learn of his passing and offer my condolences to his family and friends.”

King is survived by his wife of 43 years, retired educator Kim Cross King, and three children: Tara Brewster, Corey King and wife Alicia, and Caleb King and wife Kaitlyn. He is also survived by six grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held Friday, Dec. 29, at 2 p.m. in the chapel of Jones & Son Funeral Home in Oneida, with visitation beginning at 12 p.m. Interment will follow at Scott Memorial Gardens in Oneida with full military honors conducted by American Legion Post #136 of Oneida.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Salvation Army, 2584 Buffalo Road, Oneida, TN 37841; or Shop With A Cop, c/o United Cumberland Bank, 106 Municipal Drive, Oneida, TN 37841.

Chamber of Commerce announces monthly coffee meetings


HELENWOOD — The Scott County Chamber of Commerce is launching a monthly networking event called the Power Hour.

Hosted by member businesses of the Chamber of Commerce, the Power Hour will provide an opportunity for Chamber members and supporters to network and grow.

The Power Hour will be held on the second Wednesday of each month from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. It will be hosted by a different Chamber member each month, who will provide coffee and light refreshments of their choosing. Host businesses will provide tours of their business, or offer a guest speaker, at their choosing. The events will give Chamber members the opportunity to network with each other, fellowship, learn about each other’s businesses and help to grow Scott County’s unique business community.

The first Power Hour will be held Wednesday, March 8, and will be hosted by First National Bank. Everyone is invited to attend the meeting in the lobby of First National’s new Main Office in Oneida from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m.

The second Power Hour will be held Wednesday, April 12, by Timber Rock Lodge — Oneida’s unique inn and event venue in the transformed world headquarters of Jim Barna Log Homes.

The third Power Hour will be held Wednesday, May 10, by United Cumberland Bank, at the bank’s Oneida branch office on Municipal Drive.

Future dates beyond May are currently open. Chamber members wishing to host the Power Hour should contact Scott County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Stacey Swann by calling (423) 663-6900 or emailing stacey.swann@scottcounty.com.

RSCC’s Sharon Wilson is new Chamber president


Sharon Wright Wilson

Sharon Wright Wilson, director of Roane State Community Collegeís Huntsville campus, has been elected president of the Scott County Chamber of Commerce for 2023.

Wilson was elected by unanimous vote of the Chamber of Commerceís board of directors at Thursdayís annual meeting, after being recommended for the position by the Chamberís nominating committee.

Wilson succeeds Sheneka Burchfield, marketing director at First National Bank, who handed over the gavel to Wilson near the conclusion of Thursdayís annual meeting.

Burchfield was subsequently elected to serve as treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce, replacing Plateau Electric Cooperativeís Jacob Billingsley, who is stepping away from the Chamberís board of directors after a long-time stint as the organizationís treasurer.

Independent Herald publisher Ben Garrett was elected vice president of the Chamber.

The president oversees board meetings, appoints committee chairpersons, and works hand-in-hand with the Chamber of Commerceís executive director to accomplish the organizationís goals.

At Thursdayís meeting, the Chamber of Commerce also welcomed new company representatives: Angel Sexton, representing the Childrenís Center of the Cumberlands, Mayor Jerried Jeffers, representing Scott County Government, and Justin Cross and Dustin Lay, representing The Highland Connection.

Thursdayís meeting was dedicated to the memory of two members of the Chamber of Commerceís board of directors who have passed away this month: Kellie Walker and Diann Stephens.

74th annual Christmas parade set for December 3


ONEIDA — The 74th annual Scott County Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade is set for Saturday, Dec. 3, beginning at 2 p.m.

Held annually on the first Saturday of December, the Christmas parade is a longstanding tradition of the Chamber of Commerce. This year’s parade will follow the traditional parade route along Industrial Lane and Alberta Street through the heart of Oneida. The theme is “A Magical Christmas.”

The parade will organize in the parking lot at HBD Industries, located at 240 Industrial Lane. The parade will step off at 2 p.m. sharp, following Industrial Lane east to Alberta Street at Traffic Light #1, then following Alberta Street north to Walmart. At Traffic Light #5, the parade will turn right onto Claude Terry Drive before disbanding in the parking lot of Oneida Elementary School.

All floats should be in place by 12 p.m. on the day of the parade. Judging will begin at 12:30 p.m. Other entries should report no later than 1:15 p.m.

The deadline for entering the parade is Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 5 p.m. The entry fee is $20 per float, or $10 for horses and other vehicles. The late entry fee is $25. Any horses entering the parade must have a current Coggins test.

Santa Claus is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. Any entry having a live Santa will be disqualified from participating in the parade.

On the day of the parade, drop-offs should take place outside of Gate #1 at HBD Industries. No vehicles will be permitted to enter the parking lot unless they are a part of the parade entry. No vehicles can be left in the parking lot after the parade departs. Volunteers will be in place to walk children from the gate to the float they are participating with.

In case of inclement weather, the parade will be moved to Sunday, Dec. 4, at 3 p.m.

Download a parade application

Burchfield elected president of Chamber of Commerce


Sheneka Burchfield, of First National Bank, will serve as Scott County Chamber of Commerce President in 2022.

Sheneka Burchfield will serve as president of the Scott County Chamber of Commerce in 2022.

Burchfield, who is a representative of First National Bank, was elected by the Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors at Thursday’s Annual Meeting, acting on the recommendation of the Chamber’s Nominating Committee.

Burchfield will succeed Kathy West, executive director of the Appalachian Life Quality Initiative, who served as president in 2021.

Shonda Ellis Duncan — former executive director of the Scott County Shelter Society — was vice president in 2021, but left her role as a director of the Chamber after taking a new job.

The Nominating Committee recommended Burchfield as president, Sharon Wilson as vice president and Jacob Billingsley as treasurer.

Wilson is site director at Roane State Community College’s Huntsville campus, while Billingsley represents Plateau Electric Cooperative.

The Nominating Committee’s recommendations were approved after a motion by Hal Leftwich, CEO of Big South Fork Medical Center, and a second by Myke Baird, of United Cumberland Bank.

Burchfield will serve her second stint as the Chamber’s president. She was last president in 2016.

Also on Thursday, Robby Burress and Cody “Moe” Mullis were approved as new directors of the Chamber of Commerce. Burress owns Robby Burress Insurance in Oneida, while Mullis owns The Black Cat Antiques & Oddities and coordinates the Music On Main festival series.

Both Burress and Mullis — who replace Paul Strunk and Craig Allen as directors — were recommended by the Nominating Committee. They were approved by the Board of Directors following a motion by Leftwich and second by Ben Garrett of the Independent Herald.

Baby J’s Pizza, HBD/Thermoid honored


HBD/Thermoid’s Jerome Crabtree is pictured with incoming Scott County Chamber of Commerce President Sheneka Burchfield, after HBD was honored as the Chamber’s Industry of the Year.

HBD/Thermoid was honored Thursday at the Scott County Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting as the Chamber’s Industry of the Year.

“Thermoid has represented excellence in quality since 1883 and has delivered innovative solutions for the most challenging environments across air, land, sea and space,” said incoming Chamber of Commerce President Sheneka Burchfield in presenting the award. “Thermoid produces one of the broadest lines of industrial rubber products available anywhere in the world.”

Burchfield pointed out that when the Titanic shipwreck was found, it was a Thermoid hose — made at the Oneida plant — that was used on the submarine, and that Thermoid hoses made in Oneida have been used to carry fiber optic cable across the ocean floor since the early 1990s. Those hoses are manufactured in Tennessee orange color.

Additionally, Thermoid products made in Oneida have been involved in the exploration, production and spill cleanups within the gas and oil industry.

Wayne King, owner of Baby J’s Pizza, is pictured with incoming Chamber president Sheneka Burchfield.

In addition, Baby J’s Pizza was honored at the Annual Meeting as the Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year.

“The pizza business comes naturally to the King family, with the three siblings having so many years invested in making and selling pizzas to Scott Countians,” said Myke Baird of United Cumberland Bank in presenting the award. “And as you listen to Wayne King talk about the pizza business, you soon realize that it’s family, along with customer service, that guides his operating principles.”

The name “Baby J’s” is actually derived from family. Five of King’s seven grandchildren have names that start with J: James, Jase, Jazz, Jaden and the late Jesse Wayne, who was named after his grandfather and died tragically and unexpectedly at the age of just eight weeks.

King is a Baptist pastor and a former county mayor candidate, and a long-time fixture on the business scene in Scott County. He also serves as a director of the Chamber of Commerce.

King said he started Baby J’s to provide employment and to provide opportunity to give back to the community.

“Community is important to us. Without the support of each other, communities fall apart,” King said. “And when they fall apart, lives deteriorate.”

Kellie Walker honored as ‘Person of the Year’


Kellie Walker, executive director of the Children’s Center of the Cumberlands, is pictured with her husband, Dustin, and their daughters, and her parents.

Kellie Walker, executive director of the Children’s Center of the Cumberlands, was presented at Thursday’s annual meeting as the Scott County Chamber of Commerce/Independent Herald Person of the Year for 2021.

Walker was chosen as the ninth Person of the Year, a recognition that dates back to 2013.

Through her personal battles of losing her son, Kip, and her fight against cancer, Walker has inspired Scott County. She was present for Thursday’s Annual Meeting, along with her husband, Dustin, her daughters, her parents, and several of her co-workers from the Children’s Center.

“Anybody who knows her will tell you that even now, after everything she has gone through and everything that she is going through, she is still the person who is trying to uplift everyone around her and make their lives better, and I cannot think of a better example of selflessness than that,” said Independent Herald publisher Ben Garrett in presenting the award. “She could’ve withdrawn and isolated, but she didn’t do that. Basically, she has chosen to share with us — this community — the most personal and difficult time of her life and in doing that, she has inspired an entire community.”

Kellie Walker is pictured with her husband, Dustin, their daughters, and Scott County Chamber of Commerce Treasurer Jacob Billingsley.

Walker said that she and her husband, Dustin, talked about whether to make her battle with cancer public when she was first diagnosed.

“I told Dustin, I can recall the conversation so vividly, I want people to know what the Lord can do, and I want people to know what the Lord is going to do in this situation,” she said. “Through that, however my life turns out, whether I live or die, I want people to see God’s glory through that.

“I am so blessed. God has blessed me so tremendously,” Walker added. “It’s not about me. It’s about Him. To tell you my story is to tell you about the good Lord, the good that He has done, and the things He has blessed me with, and not just that but the way this community has stood behind me.”

Fairest of the Fair Pageant Applications Now Available


The applications for the Scott County Fairest of the Fair Pageants are now available. Download the appropriate forms or pick up applications at the following locations: Scott County Chamber of Commerce, United Cumberland Banks, and First National Banks. Forms and $25 sponsor fee must be mailed to: Scott County Fair, P.O. Box 220, Winfield, TN 37892.

There are 5 age categories:

Little Miss Junior: 4-6 years old

Little Miss: 7-9 years old

Miss Pre-Teen: 10-12 years old

Miss Teen: 13-15 years old

Miss Scott County: 16-20 years old

Little Miss Junior Little Miss Miss Preteen Miss Scott County Miss Teen

Chamber and IDB team up to purchase water bottle filling stations for schools


HUNTSVILLE, Tenn. — A water bottle filling station is being purchased for each of Scott County’s nine schools, as well as the Boys & Girls Club of the Cumberland Plateau, the Industrial Development Board of Scott County and the Scott County Chamber of Commerce announced today.

The purchases are being funded by grant money through the Tennessee Three Star Community program, which will also be used to purchase each student in Scott County a reusable water bottle.

“This is an exciting step forward for our schools,” said Stacey Swann, executive director of the ID Board. “Any time the IDB and the Chamber of Commerce can partner with our schools to help make improvements for our community’s students, it’s a great day.”

Swann heralded the teamwork at the municipal level that helped make the Three Star grant application successful. She credited Scott County Mayor Dale Purdue, Huntsville Mayor Dennis Jeffers, Oneida Mayor Jack E. Lay and Winfield Mayor David Cecil for their cooperation throughout the grant process. The IDB and the Chamber of Commerce were tasked with completing the extensive legwork required for Scott County to receive recertification as a Three Star community.

“The guidelines for the grant funding that accompanies the Three Star certification changed this year, and the traditional things that money could be spent on were no longer an option,” Swann said. “We put our heads together to come up with a project that would benefit the youth of Scott County and meet the state’s guidelines, and this is what we came up with.”

Water bottle filling stations have become a must-have in public schools in recent years, but tight budgets prevent many schools from making those purchases. Two years ago, parents teamed up to raise funding for a filling station at one local school, but most local schools remain without the filling stations.

Benefits of the water bottle filling stations include providing free water for students whose parents cannot afford to supply them with bottled water, reducing the amount of plastic bottles that are disposed of in landfills and reducing sickness in schools. Traditional water fountains are germ magnets, with the mouths of dozens or even hundreds of students coming into contact with the same metal surface in a single day.

“There is a lot of focus on healthy living right now, both in Tennessee and across the nation,” Swann said. “One key component of healthy living is staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water. It’s exciting that we can offer our students a stylish and free way to refill their water bottles, which will hopefully encourage them to drink more water and fewer sugary drinks.”

Tennessee’s Three Star program requires successful communities to develop and implement strategic plans that focus on five areas: jobs and economic development, fiscal strength and efficient government, public safety, education and workforce development, and health and welfare. The program is administered by the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development.