- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 17 Dec 2006.
(c)2006 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL Taking a break at the Newport Quiznos are father and son, Robert and DeWayne Denton. Robert is retired from TVA and DeWayne manages the restaurant.
By: DAVID POPIEL
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
Folks must have been driving about our hometown with their windows rolled down taking in the sunshine and high 60s with the official start of winter coming Friday, December 22, with these mild days an early Christmas present. Last week in our wandering about town we chatted about things we only see from a distance or glances through trees and across hilltops.
What I did not see when looking at the house was the tree on the towering bean silo at ConAgra. After a call from folks at the plant, I went back last week and saw the outline of a Christmas tree. You can barely make it out in the photo here, but we will try to photograph it at night for you to enjoy. You can thank the ConAgra employees for adding a little Christmas spirit by placing the brightly lit Christmas tree on the bean silo. The maintenance dept. workers crafted the tree themselves with cables and colored lights. I expect any day to see decorations hanging from it to include Hunt's ketchup bottles. Be sure to scan the cold night skies this week before Christmas.
Also, seen from afar, is a giant bird's nest at SI Group (formerly Schenectady International) in the industrial park. That morning I went to talk with Callisse Finchum and American Appliance Plant Manager Tim Grooms about a story we will soon do. While in the reception lobby, I chatted with Jan Wilson. How we got to talk about the osprey nest you could see through the glass door across the highway I don't recall. She had watched the two chicks being fed by the parents earlier in the year. Newport SI Group Plant Manager Jeff Prickett told me that the giant birds started building nests on the old lime silo in the spring of 2004. The employees removed the twig nest after the chicks grew old enough to leave. In 2005, the osprey parents returned and built another nest so the employees just left it. "The big orange wind sox doesn't seem to bother them," said Jeff. Jan told me the high winds shifted the empty nest this fall. I suspect this will be no problem for the big birds to fix for another brood in 2007. Jeff said he wasn't an osprey expert but noted some interesting behavior and thought it might be a way the parents tried to teach the young about fishing for food. There is an abandoned tank full of water next to the lime silo. SI workers saw the birds bring fish from the Pigeon River and drop them into the holding tank. Perhaps the parents later dove down from the nest to retrieve the fish hoping that the chicks were watching and learning about how to fish in Newport-I wonder if the TWRA knows the big birds didn't have fishing licenses? Some additional things I learned from Jan Wilson surprised me. She came to the area more than a year ago and started as receptionist at American Appliance last March. Before that she lived in Sidney, Australia, but had spent most of her life in Dallas, Texas and Mississippi. Since, my siblings live in Dallas, I asked where she lived. Yes, Jan lived in the same community of Carrollton that my sister does. In fact, Jan had moved to a small suburb in 1986 called the Colony. My mother lived at the Colony during the early 1980s. Jan has children in Jefferson County and that is why the road led her to our hometown.
Last week we chatted about Robert Denton seen at Newport Quiznos of which he is a co-owner. Since then I talked more with him and also found out that partner Randy Rippetoe's mother is from Newport. In hopes of bumping into Robert again, I swung by the new Quiznos and sure enough he was at the counter. His son, DeWayne, the manager and co-owner, had gone to the bank but returned in minutes to join us. Did I mention that Robert's wife, the former Sarah Donzella Strange, is a distant kin to the late Dewey Strange-longtime county fair leader? Robert's mother was Leona Sutton, whose family lived at Cosby, but Robert was born in Jefferson Co. and spent his life working for TVA, including a stint at the John Sevier plant in Rogersville. DeWayne is known by many of you from the years between 1989 and 1993, when he worked at the Newport Hardees with Conchita Austin and Jetta Inman. He later worked at the Jefferson City Health and Rehabilitation Center. His former Hardees associate, Randy, is now director of operations for Hardees in Johnson City. That's how DeWayne got back into the restaurant business. He told me that now Randy also oversees the Newport Little Caesar's owned by the Restaurant Management Group. The Dentons also have a daughter, Ponzella, who lives in Maryville and works as a respiratory specialist. By the way, Robert likes the bourbon honey chicken sub. They are interesting folks, and I'm glad to have made their acquaintance.
In plain talk, if you take your eyes off the road and look higher you may see some things that have eluded your perception and are worth a look.