Sweetwater announces Independence Day Celebration plans

Officials with the City of Sweetwater have announced that the city will hold an Independence Day Celebration on July 4. While the event will be scaled down with no 5K, parade or ceremony, there will be a concert in the Duck Park, any vendors who still wish to participate and a fireworks show by Pyro Shows at dark. “We encourage everyone to socially distance themselves, or even watch the fireworks show from their vehicles, as it can be seen well from Main Street and Sweetwater-Vonore Road, as well as Highway 322,” officials told The Advocate & Democrat.

This year’s National Muscadine Festival cancelled

The Monroe County Chamber of Commerce has announced that this year’s National Muscadine Festival has been cancelled.

“After consulting with several professionals and Tsali Notch Vineyard, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Muscadine Festival,” wrote Chamber officials on its Facebook page. “Unfortunately, with the current projections and uncertainty, it is in the best interest of the general public, you, our guests, our volunteers and our vendors to not hold the National Muscadine Festival. While we are disheartened at the thought of a September without this event, we feel that moving forward would be a risk to our community and that seeking the monetary support it takes to hold the festival is not in the best interest of our local business community, who have had to deal with so many challenges.”

Organizers say they plan to be back and better than ever for the 2021 festival.

KMCB Annual Membership Meeting postponed

Keep Monroe County Beautiful has announced it is postponing its Annual Membership Meeting, originally scheduled for June 9, due to the coronavirus pandemic. “We are monitoring the situation and hope that we can reschedule this meeting sometime in the near future,” said Executive Director Sandy Akins in a news release to The Advocate & Democrat. “The health and safety of our membership, board members and guests are most important during this time. We appreciate your understanding for this decision and hope to see you as soon as it is safe to do so.”

City of Sweetwater updates

The City of Sweetwater has opened most park facilities. Unfortunately, the state Dixie Youth tournament for July has been cancelled. The basketball and football facilities, along with playgrounds, will remain closed until the state allows the opening of close-contact sports. “We hope to make announcements about the Splash Pad and City Pool in the next week,” city officials told The Advocate & Democrat.

Parade of Flags

The Downtown Madisonville Association has announced the annual Parade of Flags Ken White Memorial event will be held June 14-July 31. This year’s opening ceremony has been cancelled due to COVID-19, but flags will still be placed.

Flags are available to honor or memorialize American military members or other in the community who exemplify good citizenship. The flags will be flown on the Monroe County Courthouse lawn and at Madisonville City Hall. Each flag and its pole, along with an identifying name plaque, will be available to purchase from the Downtown Association. On July 31, the flags will be removed and can be picked up by the purchaser at Madisonville City Hall. All proceeds will be used by the Downtown Association to improve and beautify the downtown area of Madisonville. This is a cooperative effort by the Downtown Madisonville Association, the City of Madisonville and Monroe County.

Flags are $25 each and can be purchased by calling Susan Saunders at 423-261-5140, Linda Hensley at 423-295-4151, or Madisonville City Hall at 423-442-9416 and asking for Parade of Flags information.

SPL updates

Sweetwater Public Library has new temporary library hours of Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. In-house checkout service will be available Monday and Wednesday only for high-risk (ages 60 and older, or those with weaker immune systems; and Tuesday and Thursday only for families and those ages 64 and younger. On Friday, there will be no in-house checkouts, but other services will be available.

Curbside services will continue to be offered each day the library is open. Place reserves via phone at 423-337-5274 or online using the card catalog at http://sweetwaterpubliclibrary.org.

Printing, faxing and copying services are also available, along with express computer access. A 30-minute workstation is available for walk-ins in the library lobby, set up for black and white printing.

In addition, extended computer sessions (up to one hour) are available by appointment. You will need to call the library to book a session. Extensions of more than an hour will not be given due to high demands for computer use. Once your session is over, the computer will shut down and you will lose any unsaved progress. Staff cannot recover your lost work. Please plan accordingly and bring a flash drive if needed.

At this time, there will be no library programming to protect patron and staff health. This is in compliance with CDC recommendations for group gatherings.

For more information about re-opening of library services, visit the website or the Facebook page, or call the library at 423-337-5274.

SPL Summer Reading Program

With the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, Sweetwater Public Library will offer a free online Summer Reading Program through READsquared. For anyone wanting to participate in the program without internet access, reading slips will be available at the Mayes Avenue entrance to the library.

The library will also offer the following online programs through its Facebook and YouTube pages:

On June 11, a Fun with Science program will be led by Brian Sherrill from Art Circle Public Library in Crossville. The video will be uploaded at 2 p.m.

On June 18, a STEAM Storytime program will be uploaded at 2 p.m. Sweetwater Public Library volunteer Melissa Polley will read “Smoky Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella” by Alan Schroeder.

On June 25, the staff of the library will continue to create fun and imaginative crafts you can use to tell your own stories and adventures in an Imagine Your Story program.

MPL Summer Reading Program

Madisonville Public Library has moved its Summer Reading Program online this year. The program can be accessed at madisonvillelibrary.readsquared.com/. Follow the link and create an account for your child and they can log reading or listening minutes to earn prizes. Children will earn a price for the first 100 minutes reading or listening. After that, they will receive a prize bag with 10 items each time they reach about 500 minutes. For each 100 minutes, they will be entered into a random drawing at the end of the program. For more information, call the library at 423-442-4085 and ask for Children’s Librarian Sandy.

VPL Summer Reading Program

This summer, Vonore Public Library will have an at-home, family fun Summer Reading Program. The theme for 2020 is “Imagine Your Story,” and the library will be exploring stories about dragons, unicorns, knights, superheroes, giants, mermaids and many more.

Families will be able to come to the library to check out books and pick up activity packets centered around the theme of the week.

Participants can track the number of times that they take home books to read from the library, with prizes being awarded for regular visits.

Call the library at 423-884-6729 to register for the program and get started. This year’s program will go through Aug. 1.

The library’s hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday; and from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday each week. For now, that visit includes wearing masks and gloves.

TPL Summer Reading Program

Tellico Plains Public Library’s Summer Reading Program is also underway. If you were unable to attend the kickoff and want to participate in the program, stop by the library to register or register online at www.tellicoplainspubliclibrary.org. Summer Reading Program events will be held every Thursday at 6 p.m. until July 23 (but no event will be held on July 2).

Tom-Forgery at Fort Loudoun

Swing the hammer with all your might! Meet the blacksmith inside his shop at Fort Loudoun on Thursday, June 11, and get ready for a fiery journey. Join Seasonal Ranger Eric Collins as he makes hooks for the garrison coat racks, nails for reinforcing ramparts and other metal hardware. Fundamentals of a blacksmith’s work will be demonstrated, along with a historical look into one of the most important roles of a settlement. There will be three separate programs: from 1-1:30 p.m., from 2-2:30 p.m. and from 3-3:30 p.m. Visitors are welcome to stay afterwards for additional information. The programs are free, but registration is required. To register, call Fort Loudoun at 423-420-2331. This program will also be held on Sunday, June 14, and Thursday, June 18.

Trader Joe at Fort Loudoun

Grab your moccasins and string your beads! Meet Seasonal Ranger Eric Collins inside Fort Loudoun on Friday, June 12, to interact with an 18th century frontier merchant. Hear stories of faraway villages and haggles for priceless treasures. Recount the life of a trader on the frontier and browse the goods he has for sale. There will be three separate programs: from 1-1:30 p.m., from 2-2:30 p.m. and from 3-3:30 p.m. Each program is limited to nine participants. Registration is required. To register, call Fort Loudoun at 423-420-2331.

A Soldier’s Life for Me

Curious to see if you can handle the life of a British soldier? Join Fort Loudoun State Historic Area’s Seasonal Ranger Eric Collins on Saturday, June 13, for a day of living history at the fort. Grab your canteen and head to the Grand Barracks to talk about life as a British soldier on the frontier during the French and Indian War. A musket demonstration will also be provided for attendees who are not opposed to loud noises. There will be three separate programs: from 1-1:30 p.m., from 2-2:30 p.m. and from 3-3:30 p.m. Visitors are welcome to stay afterwards for additional information. Call Fort Loudoun at 423-420-2331 for more information or to register for a program.

Free spay/neuter vouchers

Monroe County Friends of Animals (MCFA) Spay Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP) will issue free spay and neuter vouchers to low-income Monroe County residents on Saturday, June 13, from 9 a.m. to noon.

This will be a call-in voucher session. There will be no physical presence required. Those that wish to request a voucher should call one of the following phone numbers: 423-836-2041, 423-595-4007 or 423-404-4206. If the line is busy, try the next phone number. Keep trying until someone answers. Do not leave a message, as messages will not be monitored.

Free spay and neuter vouchers can be used for dogs and cats by Monroe County residents who meet SNAP criteria. Pet owners can receive multiple vouchers to “fix” all their pets.

Canning Basics

Wanting to learn about home canning or just want a refresher on the basics of food preservation? Join University of Tennessee Extension in Monroe County for a free Zoom class on canning.

On June 15 from 6-7 p.m., the class will focus on pressure canning. Learn why you need to use pressure for canning certain foods, types and selection of pressure canners and steps involved to ensure a safe, quality product.

On June 16 from 6-7 p.m., the class will be about water bath canning. This session will cover equipment, which foods are processed by water bath canning, steps involved and, as a bonus, information on pickling.

If you are interested in attending one or both of these sessions, please email UT Extension Agent Rebecca Layman at alayman@utk.com with your name and the sessions you are interested in attending. You will receive a return email with more information a few days before the session.

Space is limited to 20 people per session for these free sessions.

UT Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.

18th Century Medicine at Fort Loudoun

Join Seasonal Ranger Eric Collins at Fort Loudoun State Historic Area in Vonore on Monday, June 15, in the fort’s infirmary to delve into the fine arts of 18th century medicine and surgery, covering aspects that range from early amputations to medicinal treatments still used today. There will be three separate programs: from 1-1:30 p.m., from 2-2:30 p.m. and from 3-3:30 p.m. Registration is required. To register, call Fort Loudoun at 423-420-2331. Visitors are welcome to stay afterwards for additional information.

Curbside service at MPL

Madisonville Public Library has started curbside pickup services. Patrons can reserve up to 10 items in advance online or over the phone. Call the library at 423-442-4085 to schedule a pickup appointment. You can drop off any books you have checked out at your scheduled pickup time.

TPL is open

Tellico Plains Public Library is now open with limitations. The library has limited hours and is limiting the number of patrons inside the building and using the computers. There will be no programming, however, until further notice, but virtual programming options, including Facebook Live story times and Zoom meetings, are in the works.

For curbside pickup, patrons can reserve books online or by phone and the librarians will place materials in a bag outside the door when the patron arrives. Patrons who need copies and faxes can call ahead for services, and it will be handled through the book drop slot.

New limited hours are as follows: Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with curbside pickup from 2-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Graduation dates

Monroe County Schools has announced the new dates for high school graduations. Celebrations for the Class of 2020 will be held on the following dates:

  • Sweetwater High School on July 30;
  • Sequoyah High School on July 31;
  • Tellico Plains High School on Aug. 1.

More details coming soon.


The Tellico Plains High School prom will be held on July 10 at The Barn at Faith Farms in Niota at 6 p.m. Prom tickets can still be purchased by emailing Kayla Adams or sending her a message on Facebook.

Sequoyah Prom

Sequoyah High School’s prom will be held on Saturday, July 11, from 6-9 p.m. at Airport Hilton in Alcoa. This year’s theme is “Roarin’ 20s.” Tickets are $50 each and can be purchased with cash or checks made to Sequoyah High School. Tickets can be purchased on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. or by contacting murphyk@monroe.k12.tn.us. If the prom is cancelled due to social distancing guidelines, all tickets will be refunded.

MACA events cancelled

The Monroe Area Council for the Arts will be canceling all summer art programs due to the growing concerns to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). “The health and safety of our students, teachers, artists and staff are our top priority,” said MACA Administrator Rebecca Inman. As part of this, MACA’s Art Alliance art show, the Monroe County student art show, Summer Arts Intensive, Music Intensive, Theatre Camp and Kids Art Camps are cancelled.

Celebrate Recovery meetings cancelled

In accordance with CDC guidelines and local government recommendations, regularly scheduled Monday meetings of Celebrate Recovery at Sweetwater First Baptist have been cancelled until further notice.

Celebrate Recovery meetings at Madisonville Church of God on Tuesday nights are cancelled until further notice.

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