Category Archives: Editorial

Norris Highlands Today… and Tomorrow

The Norris Highlands is a regional brand recently developed to help promote the rural counties around  Norris Lake.   The idea for a brand was started six years ago when Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker made an address at Cove Lake State Park.  Commissioner Whitaker highlighted the many assets of our region and suggested “branding” as a way to coordinate a better vision for promoting these unique attractions.   The name Norris Highlands came to the fore as an acceptable brand by those desiring to celebrate both the Lake and mountains of our region.

The brand is intended to boost the tourism and retirement industries by focusing on our unique characteristics of natural beauty and cultural heritage.  The Norris Highlands target region (Campbell, Claiborne, Anderson & Union counties) ranks in the nation’s top 10 of lake destinations for retirees.

Tourism, it should be noted, is the second leading industry in Tennessee after agriculture.  With about $14.4 billion of revenue each year, this amounts to a significant opportunity to increase our share of state tourism dollars by raising our profile as a visitor-friendly destination.   The Norris Highlands, per capita, has more parks and wildlife reserves than any other region of Tennessee.

The Great Smoky Mountains, the California Wine Country, the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Florida’s Emerald Coast all represent successful examples of effective regional branding.  Each of these brands combine elements of natural, physical attributes along with imagery that evokes an alluring sense of place.   The Norris Highlands follows this design:  taking the most profitable and identifiable attraction in the area, (Norris Lake), and combining it with our Appalachian highland culture.  “Highlands,” most frequently associated with auld Scotland, serves as a good cultural description describing the area’s scenic qualities as well as pointing to the Scots-Irish heritage of the area’s first pioneers.   Clearly, with a gaze in almost any direction from the Lake one can see the majestic, highland citadel that is the Cumberland Mountain range.

Just as there are other vineyards in California besides Napa Valley, and other beaches in Florida besides the Emerald Coast, there are indeed other mountains in Tennessee besides the Smoky Mountains!   The genius of successful branding is the magic of turning a common thing into an especially rare, exotic or otherwise valuable thing.   There used to be just oranges, until one day someone put a Sunkist label on them.  Likewise, gelatin became transformed by the introduction of Jell-O.  And, soda drinks were all pretty much the same until one rose above the rest as “the Real Thing!”  This type of marketing illustrates another advantage of effective branding:  customer loyalty.

Studies have proven that people will often choose retirement areas based upon places they have frequented as tourists.   Human Beings, after all, are creatures of habit.  With repeated trips individuals begin to identify with an area, and that builds into a strong, emotional attachment.  Children, particularly, become loyal to certain vacation spots and choose to return to them over and over again.

A couple of months ago I was in San Diego and happened to meet a young lady who knew about Norris Lake.  Amazingly, this person living thousands of miles away not only had a familiarity with our remote, rural lake, but a proud memory that she was delighted to share.  Now THAT is something to build upon!

The Lake, though attracting millions of dollars annually from tourists and retirees, is not sufficient in itself for branding because it fails to integrate and energize the surrounding infrastructure needed for broader growth and development.  Just as “Dollywood” and “Pigeon Forge” evolved over time to augment and highlight the additional assets outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there needs to be something similar to invigorate the area outside Norris Lake.  With no significant city or theme park to draw upon, the necessity arises for a powerful brand that will incorporate as many assets as possible in the surrounding counties:  The Museum of Appalachia;  Green McAdoo Cultural Center;  Cumberland Gap National Park;  Speedwell Academy;  White Lightning Trail; Campbell County  Elk;  McCloud Mountain;  Sharp’s Chapel;  Roy Acuff Museum;  Big Ridge State Park;  and, a variety of popular ATV and Hiking trails.  There are also special event assets, such as:  Secret City Festival; Louie Bluie Festival;  Fall Homecoming Festival;  etc.  All of these fit neatly into the package of the “Highlands” for that over-arching banner that will expand our economic opportunities.  It will also provide a chance for a stronger buy-in from those individuals affiliated with such assets so they can work together in collaborative promotions rather than going it alone.  As a bonus, the focus upon cultural and heritage assets will bring a much needed sense of pride to those who already call this region home.

The Norris Highlands may or may not catch-on as the ultimate brand for our region, but without a Dolly Parton or some Pigeon Forge-type commercialization there’s not much else we can rely upon for future growth beyond the already developed shores of Norris Lake.

Bill Claiborne

Contact Bill by email.

Norris Highlands Today… and Tomorrow

The Norris Highlands is a regional brand recently developed to help promote the rural counties around  Norris Lake.   The idea for a brand was started six years ago when Tennessee Tourism Commissioner Susan Whitaker made an address at Cove Lake State Park.  Commissioner Whitaker highlighted the many assets of our region and suggested “branding” as a way to coordinate a better vision for promoting these unique attractions.   The name Norris Highlands came to the fore as an acceptable brand by those desiring to celebrate both the Lake and mountains of our region.

The brand is intended to boost the tourism and retirement industries by focusing on our unique characteristics of natural beauty and cultural heritage.  The Norris Highlands target region (Campbell, Claiborne, Anderson & Union counties) ranks in the nation’s top 10 of lake destinations for retirees.

Tourism, it should be noted, is the second leading industry in Tennessee after agriculture.  With about $14.4 billion of revenue each year, this amounts to a significant opportunity to increase our share of state tourism dollars by raising our profile as a visitor-friendly destination.   The Norris Highlands, per capita, has more parks and wildlife reserves than any other region of Tennessee.

The Great Smoky Mountains, the California Wine Country, the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Florida’s Emerald Coast all represent successful examples of effective regional branding.  Each of these brands combine elements of natural, physical attributes along with imagery that evokes an alluring sense of place.   The Norris Highlands follows this design:  taking the most profitable and identifiable attraction in the area, (Norris Lake), and combining it with our Appalachian highland culture.  “Highlands,” most frequently associated with auld Scotland, serves as a good cultural description describing the area’s scenic qualities as well as pointing to the Scots-Irish heritage of the area’s first pioneers.   Clearly, with a gaze in almost any direction from the Lake one can see the majestic, highland citadel that is the Cumberland Mountain range.

Just as there are other vineyards in California besides Napa Valley, and other beaches in Florida besides the Emerald Coast, there are indeed other mountains in Tennessee besides the Smoky Mountains!   The genius of successful branding is the magic of turning a common thing into an especially rare, exotic or otherwise valuable thing.   There used to be just oranges, until one day someone put a Sunkist label on them.  Likewise, gelatin became transformed by the introduction of Jell-O.  And, soda drinks were all pretty much the same until one rose above the rest as “the Real Thing!”  This type of marketing illustrates another advantage of effective branding:  customer loyalty.

Studies have proven that people will often choose retirement areas based upon places they have frequented as tourists.   Human Beings, after all, are creatures of habit.  With repeated trips individuals begin to identify with an area, and that builds into a strong, emotional attachment.  Children, particularly, become loyal to certain vacation spots and choose to return to them over and over again.

A couple of months ago I was in San Diego and happened to meet a young lady who knew about Norris Lake.  Amazingly, this person living thousands of miles away not only had a familiarity with our remote, rural lake, but a proud memory that she was delighted to share.  Now THAT is something to build upon!

The Lake, though attracting millions of dollars annually from tourists and retirees, is not sufficient in itself for branding because it fails to integrate and energize the surrounding infrastructure needed for broader growth and development.  Just as “Dollywood” and “Pigeon Forge” evolved over time to augment and highlight the additional assets outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there needs to be something similar to invigorate the area outside Norris Lake.  With no significant city or theme park to draw upon, the necessity arises for a powerful brand that will incorporate as many assets as possible in the surrounding counties:  The Museum of Appalachia;  Green McAdoo Cultural Center;  Cumberland Gap National Park;  Speedwell Academy;  White Lightning Trail; Campbell County  Elk;  McCloud Mountain;  Sharp’s Chapel;  Roy Acuff Museum;  Big Ridge State Park;  and, a variety of popular ATV and Hiking trails.  There are also special event assets, such as:  Secret City Festival; Louie Bluie Festival;  Fall Homecoming Festival;  etc.  All of these fit neatly into the package of the “Highlands” for that over-arching banner that will expand our economic opportunities.  It will also provide a chance for a stronger buy-in from those individuals affiliated with such assets so they can work together in collaborative promotions rather than going it alone.  As a bonus, the focus upon cultural and heritage assets will bring a much needed sense of pride to those who already call this region home.

The Norris Highlands may or may not catch-on as the ultimate brand for our region, but without a Dolly Parton or some Pigeon Forge-type commercialization there’s not much else we can rely upon for future growth beyond the already developed shores of Norris Lake.

Bill Claiborne

Contact Bill by email.

Aunt Hester’s General Store

Hi there! Come on in and join us. You know most of the folks here, don’t you? There’s Jellico Jane, Caryville Charlie, Jacksboro Josh, LaFollette Lou, Norris Nel, and Lake City Lil. Yes, we’re still here shooting the breeze about one thing or another. It’s been eight years now that we’ve been talking about, not so much as what is going on in Campbell County, but what isn’t going on in Campbell County. It’s gotten to the point that we might ask ourselves the following question: Do we have the government we want or do we have the government we deserve? What’s your opinion?

Yes, the General Store is still a cozy place to visit and as the years have gone by my skills have grown in the Arts and Crafts area of the store. Just the sound of those two words, Arts and Crafts, make me want to reach for my glue gun. Most folks here know that when I first started crafting, I thought Origami was something you poured over rice and splashed with soy sauce. Now, I’m a whip stitching, rhinestone gluing, quilting, hot glue gun twirling, antiquing, Political Pundit Diva!

You bet your Chocolate Do Das I’m a Pundit. It’s a fact, I do have an opinion about things and most of them are based on what I see as the results of things that happen. But, before I make up my mind, I do try to see both sides of something before deciding just what side I’m on. It’s the right thing to do.

Yes, all the no driving, no turn signal using, I-think-I-can-drive-and-yak-on-my-cell-phone folks on the roads in Campbell County is still one of Aunt Hester’s pet peeves. I just add it onto the way I feel about the price of cable television, the School Board talking about education and not educating, the County Commission finding the money for trivial things and not the important things as they talk about bringing jobs into the county while not bringing any as they raise taxes and spend foolishly. Then there’s the fact that we don’t have a decent bookstore, all the empty commercial space, and bad cooking. It all gives me a huge siege of the vapors.

Where were we? Oh, yes! Sit down here at the table with these good folks and help yourself to some fresh coffee and my just-baked Chocolate Do Das. Take a bite. Good, aren’t they?

Good cooking is getting to be a lost art. Lord knows, I haven’t had a good mess of green beans, a fluffy homemade biscuit, or a skillet of pleasing cornbread in any home I’ve been invited to lately. Many cooks try to fool Aunt Hester with those frozen biscuits. Darling, most of us here know that just because it looks like a biscuit, doesn’t mean it’s a biscuit! Most young ladies nowadays, think that Red Eye gravy is a mascara color!

These good folks sitting here with us were just discussing the heavy burden of the debt we’re accumulating in this county, state, and as a nation. Many of us seem to think that President Obama, along with the Senate and Congress have forgotten that they are an instrument of the People of the United States. On the other hand, are they a reflection of the People of the United States? We also wonder the same thing about what is happening with our new County Commission and the County Mayor.

There’s much talk about Entitlements. From where I sit, government is one of the most “entitled” groups around. What do you think? The price we pay for Public Servants has gone crazier than a Hound Dog chasing a rabbit! At least when the dog gets the rabbit, you get dinner. It seems that nowadays with Public Servants, we pay for their dinner and we get left with an empty plate!

Of course, that kicked the dog off the porch and as you can hear, they’re still at it. That’s what happens when you put some of the best minds in the county at the same table. All of them are proud to be Citizen Journalist. They may not have a degree in Journalism, but all of them have a degree in Thinking. And they have a knowledge that goes far beyond formal learning. They have experience. They’ve tried and failed. They’re interested in the success of many and not just themselves.

What do you think is right? As a county and as a country, are we doing the best we can? When in our own county we can’t stop drugs, especially the stupidity of Meth making and Meth taking! I just have to take a Stanback when I think of how dumb the whole business happens to be. I think the problem might just have something to do with the Probation System we have now. What do you think?

Seeing you in here today reminds of the first letter I received eight years ago. It was posted on the Message Board here in the store and it said the following:

Dear Aunt Hester:

How do I get my boyfriend to stop looking at other women when we are out?

Dear Lady:

First, be glad he’s not looking at other men. Then try spotting those silicon implants before he does. Point all the hot babes out to him first. Or, when “Mr. I’m wearing my tight blue jeans ‘cause they’re not wearing me” goes by, say in your best southern accent, “Mercy, mercy . . . buns of steel!”

Well, my Chocolate Do Da Darlings, it’s time to move on. You come on back to the General Store and visit again. Remember to keep your Daisy fresh and think about this: Are you a person who stands in their own shadow and wonders why it’s dark?

It’s just a matter of learning . . . unlearning . . . and . . . relearning.