During especially stressful days, I’ve found a good way to cope is to momentarily slip off to my happy place. This happy place provides a peaceful diversion from the Annoyance of the Day, which seems to happen more than once daily.
Tuesday night’s storm brought with it pounding rain and gusting wind. It had many local residents thinking about their safe places. When the storm onslaught relented and we could peer outside and assess the damage, the building which houses Upton’s Bridal and Formal on Sparta Street was one of the worst hit in McMinnville.
The storm ripped the roof clear off the building.
Store owner Dena Upton was inside at the time with two of her employees and a customer who came to have a dress altered. It was not a pleasant experience.
Said employee Tammy Gutierrez, “It almost felt like somebody picked up the building and dropped it, or that a helicopter was landing on the roof.”
Tammy said building owner Stan Hankal alerted them to the extent of the damage after the brunt of the storm had passed.
“Stan told us to get out, that the roof had blown off and the building wasn’t safe,” said Tammy. “We went outside and looked and sure enough, there was the roof right there on the ground. We didn't know that had happened.”
Despite the damage to the building, the dresses inside escaped damage.
“We were very, very lucky,” said Dena. “None of our inventory was really damaged. We moved some dresses out that night, probably about 15 of them that were on layaway. We moved them out and took them to our cars. I didn’t want anyone who had made four or five payments on their wedding dress to be devastated if something happened to it. But it turns out everything was fine anyway."
Travis Martin of TSM Construction was on the scene Friday doing roof repairs. He was amazed the storm was powerful enough to rip away the roof while it was still attached to brick and block. He said the bricks went flying along with the roof.
“The way we’re putting the roof on now, it will take half the wall with it to blow away now,” said Travis.
Dena said regular business hours have not been interrupted for Upton’s Bridal and Formal. She said April is an extremely busy month due to proms at WCHS and surrounding counties. Her store will maintain its regular business hours Monday thru Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone number is 474-6369.
Brewery to bring suds downtown
Main Street is in the process of getting its own brand of beer as Depot Bottom Brewery has begun the lengthy process to get licensed. The business plans to open at the former Outdoor Shop location at the end of Main Street near the fire hall.
Chris Weitzel and his wife, Becky, own the business along with partner Jacob Bozarth. Chris says he’s spent about five years learning the craft of beer making while brewing beer at home.
“I’ve made some really good beers and some really bad ones,” said Chris. “The craft beer industry is one which is going great right now. It has its own culture that goes with it and I think it will be great to bring that culture to McMinnville.”
Chris says he knows of a number of local residents who have an interest in brewing their own beer and Depot Bottom Brewery will help with that. In addition to selling its own beer by the cup and by the growler, the business will help people make their own beer from the comfort of their home. Chris says they will sell all the supplies needed to get started making your own special brew.
The only catch is beer makers don’t need to get in a hurry. Chris says it takes about a month to make a batch of beer.
As for his current setup, Chris says they have the equipment necessary to make beer 5 to 10 gallons at a time. They are in the process of investing in professional-grade equipment that will allow them to make over 30 gallons at a time.
Since that equipment is a bit pricey, Chris says they have started a crowd funding site at Indiegogo. If you would like to make a donation to the business, you can do so at that site. Based on the amount of your donation, you will get Depot Bottom Brewery merchandise in return.
When it gets up and running, this brewery will make a full-flavored addition to our downtown business district. There are some people who enjoy drinking beer and I’m sure they will enjoy patronizing this shop.
Just don’t look for Depot Bottom Brewery to open too soon in the future. Chris estimates it will take about six months to complete the federal licensing procedures.
Farmers Market sprouts new season
This is no April Fool’s Day joke. The Farmers Market is kicking off its 25th year next weekend with opening day set for Saturday, April 1.
To commemorate the occasion, the Farmers Market is having what it’s calling Food Truck Day. Folks seem to enjoy eating food that comes from a food truck so at least four will be gathered around the Farmers Market pavilion for opening day. There will also be extended hours from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We’ve extended the hours because we want to allow for a full lunch crowd,” said Farmers Market manager Ann Brown in explaining the extra two hours of operation.
Food truck vendors scheduled to be on hand include High Roller Smokers, Collins River BBQ, Hickory Creek BBQ, and Good Ole Sloppy Top. They will be offering a wide range of dishes for both breakfast and lunch.
This marks Ann’s first full year as market manager after taking over last year for longtime manager Mary Cantrell. Ann said two local farming families have been selling at the Farmers Market for its entire 25-year history. They are Burton and Lena Jones, and Joseph and Francis Bain. They are true farming champions.
The food trucks will be on hand next week to help stimulate excitement because the market will be far from full speed when it comes to locally grown produce.
Ann said to expect bedding plants, herbs, flowers, lettuce, and green onions, among other items.
She said usually about a dozen to 15 vendors begin the season with that number climbing to more than 30 vendors by peak harvest time in July and August.
“I want to get the word out about the Farmers Market any way possible,” said Ann. “After all these years, we still have people walk up and tell us, ‘I never knew this was here.’”
The Farmers Market pavilion is located in downtown McMinnville next to the enormous water tower. It's open every Saturday morning from April through November.
Phillips to dig into retirement
Environmental scientist Kyle Phillips is calling it a career. Why you’d want to leave a job with the title of environmental scientist is beyond me, but Kyle says 24 years is enough.
“I got paid to play in the dirt,” said Kyle, 62. “I’ve had fun doing it.”
This Friday, March 31, will be Kyle’s last day with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. He works in the Division of Water Resources and has an office on Locust Street inside the county government building.
If you’re wondering what exactly an environmental scientist does, Kyle said the brunt of his work involves issuing permits for septic tanks. His job is to dig in the dirt 36 to 40 inches to determine soil quality. If the soil won’t allow proper drainage, Kyle won’t issue the septic permit.
He has met some interesting characters over the years. “Stuff happens anytime you deal with the public,” said Kyle.
One example came when he was working for a year in Sevier County. He said he and a co-worker went to examine some property where the owner reportedly had built a makeshift septic tank where the sewage was covered only by a piece of plywood.
Kyle said the plywood was covered by dirt to disguise it and his co-worker walked right on top of it without knowing. He then fell through it.
“He ended up falling in sewage that was about waist deep,” said Kyle.
It’s a funny story as long as you’re not the one in waist-deep sewage.
Kyle said another memorable case came in Coffee County where a man would move his trailer every couple months to avoid having to buy a septic tank. He would dig a hole and move the trailer when the hole began to overflow.
While a septic tank may not be a normal topic of conversation, Kyle said they are an indication of building activity since homes and businesses located outside McMinnville and Morrison city limits require one. He said during years of heavy new construction he could issue 30 septic permits in a month. Last year was about half that with 180 septic permits issued in 2016.
As for the reason Kyle is retiring at this time, he said he has health issues as he was recently diagnosed with tongue cancer. He starts chemotherapy Monday.
“I found a lump on my neck when I was shaving,” said Kyle. After visits to several different doctors, the lump was determined to be cancer at the base of his tongue. He said the cancer was likely caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, this is a common virus that most men and women get at some point in their lives. Some people will never show any symptoms. Kyle said he was planning to retire in January 2018, but his health concerns expedited the process.
Business Cheetah wishes Kyle a full and speedy recovery.
VFW to hold big antique sale
The VFW is holding a massive antique sale next weekend to benefit its veterans relief fund. The fund is used to help local veterans who might be feeling a financial pinch because of a medical bill, an emergency home repair, or another unexpected obligation.
The problem is the veterans relief fund is running on empty. So the VFW is holding an antique sale this coming Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and this Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
“We have the whole grand ballroom full right now,” said VFW ladies auxiliary member Renee Wilson. “We are so fortunate to have so many items in stock. A lady who owned an antique shop decided to close her doors and she donated so much of this to us. She wanted it to go to help local veterans, but she did not want any recognition. She wants her donation to be anonymous.”
Somebody needs to bake that anonymous lady a cake. She is a great American.
If you’re looking to land some antique glassware and things of that nature, stop by the VFW next weekend. Renee points out it’s an indoor sale so it will take place rain or shine, hot or cold, sweet or sour. You can pick up some neat merchandise and assist local veterans in the process.
That’s all folks
Be careful out there and phone in business tips at 473-2191.