Editorial: Three cheers
Lending a helping hand
Indiana native Glenn Summers, visiting the area with his wife, three children and another friend, was eagerly anticipating a vacation when took the 407 exit into Sevier County Thursday.
Just a few minutes later, however, he was dealing with a broken-down van — a nightmare scenario for any out-of-state guest. By Friday morning, all was well.
Summers called The Mountain Press to report local citizens — Quenton Henry of Advance Auto Parts, an unnamed driver for Baker's Wrecker Service and Russ at Rule Hollow Automotive — who went above and beyond to help. "It was very refreshing," Summers said. "Even though we had a problem, there were local people that helped us out. It definitely could have gone a lot different."
Henry found Summers both a wrecker and mechanic; the wrecker service went so far as to take the man back to his hotel; and the mechanic worked all night to ensure the family wouldn't have to miss another day of their vacation without a vehicle.
In an area that prides itself for Southern hospitality and rolling out the red carpet to guests, these citizens did things the right way — and they deserve credit for making a family's difficult situation into yet another positive for the Great Smoky Mountains.
Serving the need
Many folks make charitable donations throughout the year to support the less fortunate, and their gifts are always needed and usually appreciated.
But Tom and Joyce Compton are taking a more hands-on approach. In fact, it's about as hands-on as one can get.
The couple, with the help of members of their church, Parkway Mission of Hope, offer free meals every day to dozens of families living in weekly rentals in the Pigeon Forge area. And it's usually a hot meal the family and church members have prepared themselves — not a prepared boxed lunch or uncooked non-perishable food.
"Some of these children, this food is their food for the day," Tom said Tuesday. "When they're in school, they get a meal there, but when they're out in the summer, sometimes they might have a parent working, or between jobs, but they still need to eat."
The Comptons have dedicated a substantial portion of their lives to meeting a need in their community. That level of dedication is truly inspiring.
Tourism season going well
Local officials told The Mountain Press Monday that this year's tourism season is off to a strong start.
It's a good sign for Sevier County and a testament to the businesses that stuck it out and continued to invest in operations through the hard times of the last several years.
Tourism officials pointed to cooperative efforts of the local municipalities as a positive step in even further growth of the area's economy.
Such cooperation is something that has not always existed in Sevier County. Area businesses and individuals and governments can often be fiercely independent and competitive. But, as it's becoming more accepted that a rising tide raises all, more and more people are buying into the approach that teamwork can make an easier job for everyone — especially when it comes to simply getting new tourists to the area.
It's welcome, and hopefully the trend continues. The more new visitors make the decision to venture to Sevier County, the better for all businesses that depend on the dollars generated by tourism. In our county, that's all of us.