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Business Pulse - Craft Fair canceled due to COVID
Craft fair - Shelby Roberts, Shawn Roberts.jpg
Shelby Roberts, left, and Shawn Roberts get their booth ready during last year’s Warren County Arts and Crafts Fair held at Warren County Fairgrounds. Like so many other annual traditions, this year’s craft fair has been canceled.

So here’s the bad news first.

The long list of event cancellations for the second half of 2020 keeps getting longer. We’ve already lost our beloved Warren County A&L Fair, the Autumn Street Fair, and now add the Warren County Arts and Crafts Fair to the list.

The cancellation of this year’s event marks an unusual stretch for the craft fair, which was long held at McMinnville Civic Center in November. I always consider it a kickoff to the holiday season.

But with the Civic Center closed last year for $10 million worth of improvements, the craft fair was moved to the fairgrounds out of necessity. Homeland Community Bank sponsors the craft fair each year and toyed with the idea of moving it to the fairgrounds again this year, but ultimately decided canceling the show would be the better option.

“We want to do what’s best for our vendors and our customers,” said Homeland Community Bank marketing director Cindy Rogers. “We had talked about maybe having it at the fairgrounds the fourth week of October. That would have kept us away from the Autumn Street Fair and hopefully not been too cold at that point. But ultimately we decided not to have it at all.”

Cindy said Homeland Community Bank made the decision to cancel the craft fair on the same night as the fair board made the decision to cancel the fair. That was by coincidence and not by design. She said bank officials wanted to notify all the vendors first before releasing the news to the public.

Fingers are being crossed for a return to normal for 2021. Civic Center construction should be long complete by that point and the COVID pandemic, hopefully, will be a thing of the past too.

Superior Walls

cements new line

For 17 years, Superior Walls has manufactured precast concrete walls for home construction. Now the company is installing a new line that will allow it to manufacture walls 40 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

When complete, this new line will immediately make Superior Walls a major player in all types of commercial projects, including multi-story buildings, parking garages, warehouse and distribution centers and municipal buildings. The company can also install commercial stairwells and commercial elevator shafts.

Superior Walls president Stacey Harvey used the new Hampton Inn hotel that’s under construction on Sparta Street as the perfect example. He said he’s noticed workers have been laying concrete blocks for the elevator shaft for weeks. He noted if Superior Walls had been used, the elevator shaft could have been done in three days.

“Time is money,” said Stacey. “And the sooner they’re done with the elevator shaft, the sooner they can work on the rest of the project, which puts them closer to the time when they can rent rooms.”

The Superior Walls process allows entire walls to be manufactured at the company facility in Rock Island. Those walls are then transported to the job site and installed. It’s a much faster process, Stacey noted, than constructing the walls on the job site.

“With us being able to go to 40 feet tall, that’s a three-and-a-half story building,” said Stacey. “This is going to bring more jobs and it’s going to force us to expand.”

Superior Walls operates in a 50,000-square-foot facility. Stacey said phase 1 of the expansion will increase the building size to 75,000 square feet in a projected 24 months. Phase 2 of the expansion will increase it to 100,000 square feet in 48 months.

Stacey says the Superior Walls workforce is currently at 42 employees. He said the company will add 6 to 8 more when the new line is operational, which he hopes is in October.

As for residential construction, Stacey describes business as “through the roof.” He added, “We’re 20% over last year and we had a really good year last year.”

He said Superior Walls is uniquely situated between Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga to serve all three major cities well.

Economists often note that most new jobs in a community are created by existing businesses that slowly expand. It’s always gratifying to recruit a company that’s going to bring 100 jobs at once, but most growth is achieved through companies that are already here and gradually add to their workforce.

Business Pulse applauds Superior Walls for this new line, which will help bring money into Warren County. It’s been a team effort, Stacey noted, with all employees making valuable contributions and doing their part.

The Farm Stand

Provides fresh food

Ashley Steakley got the idea for The Farm Stand from her children. They would set up a lemonade stand in their yard on Tobbitt Road across from the Centertown ball fields and customers would stop by to gulp down lemonade by the glass.

That gave Ashley the idea to sell produce from that spot.

“I asked my husband to build me a stand for our anniversary in May and I really didn’t envision the stand he was going to build,” said Ashley. “It was much bigger than I ever imagined.”

Customers have embraced the business, which has been open about two months. Farm-fresh vegetables are the reason why.

Ashley says she and her children get up at 4:30 a.m. to start picking vegetables from their 2.5-acre garden. There are all sorts of items, including green beans, peas, squash, okra, zucchini, tomatoes, pickled eggs and jam.

The pickled eggs are from egg-laying chickens the family raises. They also raise meat chickens.

“Our goal is to be self-sufficient,” said Ashley. “I call it homesteading, but a lot of people aren’t familiar with that term today.”

Ashley stresses that she and her family are very germ-conscious and they wear masks at the produce stand. They did, however, make an exception and take off their masks to be photographed.

The Farm Stand has been well-received and Ashley says people are realizing it’s worth the short drive to Centertown. 

“We strive to be waste free,” said Ashley. “When our vegetables start to get a few blemishes, we give them away to people in need. I call them extra love vegetables.”

If you can’t make it out to Centertown, but still want fresh produce, The Farm Stand will deliver for free within a 10-mile radius on Tuesdays and Thursdays, provided the customer makes a $15 minimum order.

The business is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day but Saturday. On Saturday, business hours are 9 a.m. to noon.

“We have a camera outside so we know when somebody pulls up,” said Ashley. “We don’t have to sit out there all day if we’re not busy.”

For more information, or to place a delivery order, call The Farm Stand at (931) 743-8562.

NHC McMinnville

Is now COVID-free

It’s been a rough stretch for NHC HealthCare of McMinnville. There have been 30 patients to test positive for COVID-19, along with 19 employees. Among the worst news, there have been four deaths, according to the NHC website.

But there is good news to report as NHC has announced on social media that all patients have now recovered and the local nursing home is now completely free of COVID. That’s a report that’s welcomed with open arms.

The COVID outbreak was a terrible development at NHC, especially after employees worked so hard to keep the virus out. NHC closed its doors to all outside visitors, and this even included Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, two occasions when families expect to spend time together.

NHC took some heat for this policy, but employees held their ground because they figured it was the best way to keep the virus away from patients. 

Unfortunately it crept in and caused very tragic results. It’s great to hear that COVID is no longer active at the facility.

Peaches are

Coming Monday

I want to give the Peach Peddler one last plug before it arrives at Covenant Academy on Monday.

That’s because times are especially tough for just about everyone and private schools are no exception. If you buy a box of delicious peaches for $25, then $5 of that purchase goes to Covenant Academy. Plus, you get a box of great-tasting peaches in the process.

The Peach Peddler will be at Covenant Academy from 4 to 7 p.m. this Monday.

That’s all folks

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