Shopper News blog: Webb School boys set records on way to state cross country title – Knoxville News Sentinel

Shopper News blog: Webb School boys set records on way to state cross country title  Knoxville News Sentinel

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Webb School boys set records on way to state cross country title

John Shearer, Shopper News 

One strategy of a cross country race is to have enough energy and stamina to make a strong kick at the end.

The same could be said for Webb School’s entire season for the boys’ cross country team as well. With a big showing in its final meet of the year, the Spartans somewhat surprisingly won a Division II-A state championship.

“We all ran amazing,” said Austin Rhea, a senior who finished third individually in a time of 16 minutes, 52 seconds to help his team overtake pre-race favorite and runner-up Harding Academy of Memphis.

In fact, he said all the Webb runners ended up setting personal records at the meet held Nov. 6 at the lakeside Sanders Ferry Park in Hendersonville, where the Hardin Valley boys also won a Division 1 large school championship.

Contributing to the Webb championship, which the Spartans realized they had won after seeing the results online 30 minutes after finishing, were Kaden Narayani, who came in fifth at 16:58, as well as Marcus Orton, Billy Robinson and Hank Johnson.

Coach Bobby Holcombe said the team was not planning on racing anymore after the state meet, as they have normally done in the past, so they set their sights on performing well in Hendersonville. And both the boys team and the girls team came through with strong showings.

“We knew the peak race was the state meet, so we focused on that,” he said. “They ran their best race, both the boys and girls. They came ready to race, so you can’t ask more than that.”

The girls, who finished runner-up to St. George’s Independent School from Collierville, were led by freshman Anna Graves with a third-place finish at 19:46. Others contributing to the Lady Spartan scoring were Lauren Davis, Lily Slade, Lawson Phillips and Reese Wilson.

Webb’s success came after a fall season in which they were not sure they would even have some meets, although they did have plenty. And training had to be done with more care. Some of the runners also had to miss some time due to COVID-19 contract tracing.

But all the tests of the running variety came out to their liking.

Rhea said he had to overcome some additional challenges, as he missed the last part of the 2019 season with a stress fracture in his leg, even though he was having trouble cracking the top tier of runners.

“I worked really, really hard over the summer to catch up with everybody,” he said, so the results at the state meet were even more meaningful for him.

“I had been working toward it all year,” said the senior, who is considering running in college and pursuing a meteorology career. “It felt great to cross the finish line and realize I raced the best race I’ve ever raced.”

While he said he and Narayani have similar times in races, as do the next three finishers with each other, they are also close off the cross country course.

“All of us are really, really good friends,” Rhea said. “It’s nice to have that team bond. It makes practice fun.”

Holcombe said their closeness aided in their success.

“They run loose,” he said. “They like training, but they love competing. They dominated the region meet.”

Holcombe, who has a full-time job as a running/endurance coach and business owner, is a former Marine who was a successful local competitor in long-distance races. For a period in the early 2000s, the former Jamestown, Tennessee, resident used his military training to compete successfully in some of the University of Tennessee meets as an independent runner.

In coaching, though, he is not the stereotypical military drill sergeant. But he does say some lessons he learned in the Marines — like being structured and making sure those under you earn your trust — have aided his coaching.

“There were a lot of military qualities I implemented — being on time and making sure they are disciplined — but also having a fun time,” he said.

His Webb boy runners definitely had fun winning the state.

“It felt so good,” Rhea said.


Birdie’s Boutique and Birdie Blue Boytique nestle into Fountain City

Ali James, Shopper News 

In June of last year, Kim Longmire-Carter took over the former Chintzy Rose and opened the Bird’s Nest. Then recently, she closed Once Again Interiors’ Fountain City location and combined the two businesses under one roof in Halls.

As soon as a retail space at 3000 Tazewell Pike became available, Longmire-Carter knew that she had to fulfill her dream of opening a fashion and accessories boutique. “I have seen the amount of passing traffic and since I don’t sit still well, I decided to open Birdie’s Boutique,” she said. “Clothes are so much easier than moving 100-pound furniture and this is just another outlet for me.”

Longmire-Carter said her son used to call her ‘Mama Bird’ and that the name Birdie’s Boutique was the perfect play on the Bird’s Nest in Halls.

Stephanie Bayne, a vendor at the Bird’s Nest, decided to partner with Longmire-Carter in the new Fountain City boutique and carry the extended size clothing, from XL to 3XL and launch Birdie Blue Boytique, selling boys clothes in newborn through size 5.

Birdie’s Boutique carries small through large sizes, as well as shoes and jewelry.

“We hope to expand, but we are getting a feel for it first,” said Longmire-Carter. “Anyone who knows me, knows that I love jewelry and shoes. We went to (the apparel) market in in October and spent way too much money and now that you can shop at the market from your phone I lie in bed and fall asleep buying clothes.”

New products will be shared on Instagram @birdiesknoxville, on Facebook @birdiesboutique and at

“The store is about 1,000 square feet; we are maxed out already, but it turned out so pretty,” said Longmire-Carter. “We wanted to make sure we got open before Black Friday and we are hoping that people who want to avoid the crowds will come and shop here.”

Adding ‘little boy stuff’    

Bayne owns three daycare centers and has three grandbaby boys. “I sprang the idea of the Birdie Blue Boytique, because I heard people complaining that boutiques don’t carry little boy stuff,” she said.

Just in time for holiday photos, Bayne has Daddy and Me shirts and a line of sibling shirts. “Me & Henry is a cool brand because it is different from what you see in most places,” she added. In addition to onesies, rompers, shifts, overalls, pajamas, sweatpants and jeans, backpacks and rain boots have already been great sellers.

“We found there was a huge demand for the curvy girl line and people were so excited after they saw it in the store,” said Bayne. “There is everything from dresses, skirts, tops, pants, coats to jackets.”

Between Longmire-Carter and Bayne, they hope to carry a full range of sizes. “We had to put our minds together to order the whole range, so we don’t leave anyone out,” said Bayne.

Longmire-Carter has gravitated toward retro-style T-shirts with funny sayings, while Bayne said she carries more faith inspired shirts.

“We have a whole section of comfort wear, including skirts and tops, made out of sweatshirt material,” said Bayne. “The comfort wear is really soft, you can wear it to bed or to the grocery store.”

Potential stocking stuffers include wallets, key chains, Himalayan candles, trinkets and the ‘World’s Softest’ socks.

The soft opening on Nov. 12 was a big success. “We were laughing because all of our friends and family came, it was a great response,” she said.

Birdie’s Boutique will celebrate its grand opening on Black Friday with a storewide 25% off sale and serve wine and cheese on Small Business Saturday.


Meeting goes long with Land Use Plan, Ivey Farms on agenda

Gabriela Szymanowska, Shopper News

The Farragut Planning Commission had a packed meeting for Thursday, Nov. 19 with the meeting lasting past midnight.

Some of the bigger discussions revolved around the Future Land Use Plan and the Ivey Farms property. The citizens’ comments for both agenda items spanned pages as Community Development Director Mark Shipley patiently read through, even with some technological issues. 

During the discussion for a request to amend the Farragut Zoning Map in association with the Farragut Town Center at Biddle Farms project, citizens’ comments raised concerns focused on four main areas: traffic, flooding, schools and crime. 

Developer Budd Cullom, who sat in on the meeting to answer any questions and concerns, explained that his staff has done extensive studies on the flooding zones in the area according to FEMA maps. The studies, which covered an extensive area even beyond just the development, found that the current flooding maps have inaccuracies and need to be updated. 

Cullom added that per their grading plan, they would also be building a new bridge over Turkey Creek on the entrance that goes out to Concord Road, which will replace the culvert already there.

Vice Mayor Louise Povlin addressed concerns of residents that by building apartments in that area, it would increase the number of children attending “already overwhelmed” Farragut schools.

“I’m just going to remind everyone that according to the Knox County Planning, market rate apartments do not yield very many students,” Povlin said. “And given the numbers, it’ll yield about 25 students or about six or seven students per school. So, it doesn’t have that impact.”

In addition, Commissioners Ed St. Clair and Jon Greene took a moment to set the record straight that the commission is extremely interested in input by citizens. However, both commissioners found offense at the perceived slander and accusations made about the commission, with St. Clair asking that the forum return to professionalism and the facts and figures of the matter.

“I was offended by some of the comments about the insinuation that we’re taking money under the table or that money was being handed out and that we weren’t doing our job,” Greene said. 

The agenda item passed 7-1, with Commissioner Michael Bellamy voting “no” on the basis of the traffic study.

On the Ivey Farms development property, the Planning Commission addressed concerns by Saddle Ridge residents, who made up the majority of the comments.

Many residents wrote, again, about flooding and drainage from the Ivey Farms development, Union Road being blocked by traffic and some of the steep hills in the development. 

Town Engineer Darryl Smith explained that the development was actually diverting runoff — over five acres of drainage — to the southeast and away from Saddle Ridge.

Joey Wallace said the company is hoping to get building permits by the first of the year, pushing their fencing company to put up fencing near a retaining wall behind the first cul-de-sac by the end of the month for safety. Wallace said they also hope to put up fencing around the Ivey Village property as well.

The last letter read for the section said the preliminary plat and final plat don’t comply with the 2012 International Fire Code stating that there need to be two separate fire apparatus access roads. However, Shipley confirmed that the development is in compliance, with the fire marshal having approved it.

The commission passed, 8-0, all the stipulations the town staff had recommended for the agenda item. 

The commission also approved with stipulations the expansion of parking lots for St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church for easier access. 


Thanksgiving celebration altered by coronavirus

Leslie Snow, Shopper News columnist

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a celebration of everything I love; family, friends, food and gratitude.

We always have a big crowd for dinner. I invite my whole family along with anyone I know who doesn’t have a place to celebrate. We sit around the kitchen table telling family stories and enjoying our traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

There’s herb roasted turkey and pumpkin bisque, cranberry-orange relish and an apple-sweet potato gratin. It’s nearly the same menu every year because those foods are part of our traditions. Everyone knows what to expect and every expectation is met. But this year, I threw out most of those traditions to plan a COVID-friendly celebration.

We cooked ahead so people wouldn’t be tempted to congregate in the kitchen while we basted the turkey or sliced the sweet potatoes. I rented restaurant style heat lamps so we could move our gathering outside and still be comfortable. I dug out the tents we used to take to the soccer fields in case it rained, and I bought outdoor lights to accommodate those early sunsets.

I had a plan and I put it in motion. We might be outside in the cold, but we’d be together, telling our favorite stories and eating our favorite foods. More importantly, we would all be relatively safe from the coronavirus.

But then things changed. The infection and hospitalization rates around the country started growing. Every day seemed to bring new record totals and grim news reports. And my phone started ringing.

Jordan was first to call. “Mom, she said, “are you sure you want to host 20 people at your house? What if it’s too cold, even with the heat lamps, to eat outside? What if we can’t all get tested before we come home?” 

Then Zack called. “What about Aunt Shelley? Is she willing to take a chance with her compromised lungs?”

I heard from Ethan next. “I’m worried about Grandma and Grandpa. What if we get them sick?”

What if. What if. What if.

The news of two promising vaccines made our Thanksgiving plans seem even more questionable. “We’re so close to the end,” my husband said. “We just need to hold on for a few more months.”

As it turned out, I didn’t have to make a decision about Thanksgiving because my phone kept ringing.

My sister decided to stay home to protect her health. My mom was afraid to come even if we were outside. Jordan, who is pregnant, said she couldn’t risk exposure to COVID-19, and Zack and Olivia couldn’t bear the thought of getting anyone sick.

Just like that, my COVID-conscious Thanksgiving fell apart. I’m still mourning the loss of it even though I know it’s for the best.

My husband is right. We’re too close to a vaccine to risk a big gathering now. My children are right, too. So many people we love fall into a high-risk category, the consequences could be dire if they got infected.

And it’s too easy to fall into our old routines. We’re bound to hug each other. We’ll likely sit too close on the couch. I won’t be able to resist holding Clara, and my husband will want to cuddle with Simon. We’ll do what feels right under normal circumstances and forget that the coronavirus is anything but normal.

This year, we won’t be together for Thanksgiving, and it hurts. Despite the loss, I’m as grateful as ever for the people in my life and I’m thankful (and hopeful) that we’ll be together soon.

Happy Thanksgiving, Knoxville. Stay safe.

Leslie Snow may be reached at snow

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