From The General Manager

Published 1:01 pm Monday, April 18, 2022

As we were planning the spring issue of Carter County Living, I couldn’t help but think of the transformation all around us as new life is sprouting out everywhere. How could anyone in Carter County not enjoy this time of the year?

So as we were discussing our cover feature story, we chose someone giving new life to antiques: David Collins. His interest in antique stoneware started when he married his wife, Pam. She had three pieces of the pottery, and Collins said he was soon buying and reselling pieces, building a collection that today includes nearly 500 pieces of utilitarian pottery dating to the late 1700s.

Collins adds to his collection based on what he can find that piques his interest. These types of pieces can be found in estate sales, online marketplaces and where different groups with their members can be found on social media such as Facebook or on online auctions. He shares more tips and insights into his collection with our readers in the cover story.

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To continue talking about change, our artist spotlight this issue is helping transform lives through his music at Dollywood.
One of the longest standing shows is Dollywood’s own Southern Gospel group the Kingdom Heirs, who have been entertaining guests at the park since 1971. Known for smooth harmonies and the heart-felt message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the group includes baritone singer Loren Harris, who hails from Carter County. He joined the group in 2016, and is no stranger to singing gospel music. His parents were a preacher and church pianist and he sang his first song at the age of 3. His Southern Gospel career began in the spring of 1996 joining the Wilburns of Carthage when their baritone position came open. Moreover, he is the worship leader at Valley Forge Freewill Baptist Church in Valley Forge.

And while some people say beauty is only skin deep, Kaylee Hollifield proves beauty stems from the heart. The Elizabethton High School student recently was crowned Miss Tennessee during the AmeriFest National Pageant in Pigeon Forge and will represent Tennessee at the National Pageant in Indiana later in 2022. Kaylee began her community outreach just before her 10th birthday when she and her mother, Monica, made a trip to the Good Samaritan Ministries in Johnson City to donate food. She remembers hearing that the pantry may not have enough food to share at Thanksgiving and seeing an empty freezer at the food pantry. It was the beginning of her personal platform — Kaylee’s Helping Hands. And it is the reason pageants mean so much more to Hollifield than just putting on pretty dresses and gowns.

The River Riders are starting the season with a fresh team and a new general manager at the helm. Maya Mathis replaces Brice Ballentine, who left for Iowa after last year’s season. She brings experience as a collegiate athlete and excitement to the helm of the Appalachian League team. Mathis began working for the River Riders last season as the assistant general manager. She is from Chattanooga and played softball her whole life. Mathis attended the University of Tennessee where she played collegiate softball, and then transferred to ETSU where she continued to play the sport and complete her college education.

Whether it’s with a basketball or a bowling ball, Levi Lyons is proving to be a standout athlete. Lyons, a junior at Hampton High School, plays basketball for his high school and competes on a bowling team in Johnson City. He doesn’t plan to stop pursuing bowling after he graduates from high school. And while Lyons’ bowling career has become one focal point of his life, the high school student also has a love for basketball, something he has competed in since a young child. Lyons and the rest of his team have had a phenomenal season this year, clinching a spot in this year’s TSSAA basketball state championship tournament.

For our restaurant in this issue, we have Libby’s Restaurant. Diners at the restaurant will quickly notice that the restaurant is designed to create a comfortable space. Owners Donald and Jamie Campbell want their customers to feel like they are at home and have the freshest food prepared when ordered. Jamie is no stranger to the restaurant business, and the delightful story of how their restaurant came about is sure to bring a smile to readers’ faces.

These are just a few amazing stories in this issue that remind us what makes Carter County what it is today, the greatest place on earth to live. We hope you enjoy this issue, and if you know anyone who would make a great story, please let me know at