Stan Voit: Random thoughts on this and that for summer day

Jul. 13, 2013 @ 11:45 PM

A little bit of this and that for a hot summer day ...

There has been a lot of traffic in our little community the past few weeks. Locals may resent it, but it reminds me of the time some Japanese industrialists were visiting Auburn while I was editor there. The city was widening a major thoroughfare and another street on which the men were traveling as they were shown around. “You sure have a lot of torn-up streets,” one of the visitors said. Sheepishly, the local industrial recruiter said, “Yes, we do.” “We like torn-up streets,” the visitor replied. “It shows progress.”

Clogged streets to Sevier County people are like torn-up streets were to those Japanese guys. So while you may find it takes longer to reach your destination, and you may get frustrated at the indecision of visiting drivers who don’t know their way around, remember that the money they spend keeps people employed, taxes coming in and our own streets repaired. If you choose to live in a tourist destination, you gotta live with the consequences. ....

The reaction to the decision to drop our Monday paper has been met mostly with understanding, and that is appreciated. Such decisions are not easy, and the repercussions always uncertain. We got calls, to be sure, but when subscribers were told that the choice was to go up on the rates or drop the Monday edition, they seemed to appreciate the dilemma and accept the decision. That’s gratifying. ...

Twenty-five years ago I couldn’t get enough of the song “Forever and Ever Amen.” It was a terrific piece of music, made better by the guy singing it, Randy Travis. For a decade or so, Travis had THE voice in country music, a throwback to the earlier days when country music singers had distinct styles you could recognize immediately. That’s not the case any more. Three years ago he was in Gatlinburg to perform for a religious gathering, and George Hawkins called and invited me over to meet Travis and attend his performance. I begged off, for a reason I cannot remember. I do know now much I regret it. No matter his personal failings in recent years, he is a great talent who I hope bounces back from his medical emergency. This is written on Thursday, so something could have changed. But not his songbook, thank goodness. ....

Hope you have tried Cancun, the new Mexican restaurant on Dolly Parton Parkway in Sevierville. It has been open a few weeks, located in what was a barbecue eatery across from the Food City shopping center. The owner, who also has a restaurant in Knoxville, spent a lot of money to remodel the interior. The food is great — the best Mexican food I’ve had in the county. I recommend you give it a try. ....

In all the talk by Republicans of repealing the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, let’s not forget that the law does many good things, including coverage of pre-existing conditions, allowing people to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26, preventing insurance companies from canceling coverage if you get sick, no annual limits on coverage, and allowing subsidies and tax credits for those who who want insurance but cannot afford it. The bill is flawed, to be sure, and way too wordy and confusing, but let’s change it, not throw it out. ...

The addition of Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and the possible location of a moonshine distillery will make The Island in Pigeon Forge even more attractive to visitors. ... The Tennessee Smokies have had to deal with a lot of rainouts this season, which affects the bottom line. It’s unfortunate, but what can you do? ... Here is a generational shift: Vacation Bible school used to be exclusively a daytime program. Now it is almost always held at night. And many churches invite children and adults, with programs for each. ...

I was looking out the window one evening at dusk last week when I was transfixed by the strangest sight yet in our time here: a family of skunks moving down the backyard along a fence separating our yard from a pasture. They were in a circle, moving in unison. I couldn’t stop watching. One broke off and went under our shed, followed by the others. Nobody wants a family of skunks living under their shed, so I tossed some water bottles at the storage house to scare them. They left, headed off down the other yards toward a home. What a remarkable site, but glad they didn’t stick around. ...

— Stan Voit is editor of The Mountain Press. His column appears each Sunday. He can be reached at 428-0748, ext. 217, or e-mail to svoit@themountainpress.com. Twitter: @stanvoit.