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Operation Time Capsule: Unicoi County Hospital Junior Board collecting stories for the ages

Sue Guinn Legg • Apr 18, 2019 at 9:30 PM

ERWIN — On a mission to help Unicoi County Hospital become the first hospital in the nation to be designated as a storytelling center of excellence, the hospital’s Junior Board of Directors is collecting favorite stories and photos of life in the county to place in a time capsule.

Hospital Administrator Eric Carroll and the Junior Board on Thursday invited community members to submit short stories and photos depicting what it is that makes Unicoi County home at any of eight dropbox locations in Erwin and Unicoi.

Submissions will placed in a chest specially handcrafted with railroad ties and dated railroad nails and sealed in glass case that will remain on display at the hospital for the next 25 years.

The time capsule is a capstone project for this year’s Junior Board of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from Unicoi County Middle School and the public’s help is needed to make it a success.

Kelly Whaley, the middle school’s wellness teacher and Junior Board mentor, said the board has so far gathered between 15 and 20 stories and their hope is to double that number with submissions gathered through the collection boxes.

While a few historic relics — small pieces of Blue Ridge Pottery and medical instruments from the old hospital — will go into the time capsule, space is limited and it’s stories and photos of life in community the Junior Board is after.

Carroll said its important to the board that the time capsule’s contents not be exclusive to health care but a reflection of Unicoi County as a whole.

As the hospital continues to work with the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough to obtain its designation as a storytelling center of excellence, Carroll said, “We want to fill the hospital with stories.”

Those who prefer to tell their stories in person rather than write them down may place a note about their story and their phone number in a collection box for a Junior Board representative call for an interview.

The dropbox locations are The Computer Guy shop on Gay Street in downtown Erwin, Jones Hardware and Rheba’s Hair Care in Unicoi, Calvary Baptist Church, Evergreen Freewill Baptist Church, the hospital, the middle school and the Unicoi County Family YMCA.

The story and photo collection will continue through May 1. The time capsule, handcrafted by Junior Board member Audie Brown’s dad, Scott Brown, will be sealed and placed on display at the hospital in ceremony scheduled for May 16.

In addition to Audie, the Junior Board members are Faith Bennett, Seth Hopson, Brian Hughes, Norah Ray and Makena Riebe. The group was selected due to excellence in academics and good behavior and Carroll said is impressed by how well they have represented the school and the hospital.

“They’re a great group,” Whaley said, They’ve really engaged the community in this and they’ve spent time with the community’s leadership and will be telling some of their stories as well.”

Norah said any fond or funny memories of Unicoi County are especially welcome.

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