Sheriff Mathes lets students take more than little off the top

John Thompson • Jun 19, 2012 at 9:55 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The final prom promise for 2012 was kept on Tuesday.

Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes climbed into a barber’s chair at Whitson’s Barber Shop, 1782 W. Elk Ave., on Tuesday afternoon and submitted to the tonsorial efforts of four teens representing each of the four county high schools.

Quickly, Amber Wooten from Cloudland, Corey Pierce from Unaka, Kaitlin Winters from Hampton and Nicole Campbell from Happy Valley went to work on the sheriff’s locks.

The four had been selected by drawing their promises from a stack of prom promises students filled out following emergency responders’ depiction of a fatal car crash in which a student was killed after the driver had started drinking on his way to the prom.

The very realistic performance was played out in front of hundreds of students seated in the Hampton High School football stadium, complete with a helicopter ambulance landing on the 50-yard line.

It was a powerful presentation that deeply affected the students who watched it. Many signed prom promises after the presentation to say they would not drink alcohol or use drugs during the prom.

Mathes then promised that if there were no incidents involving alcohol at the schools’ proms, he would submit to having his hair cut by some of the students.

“My hair will grow back, but one thing anyone in a barber’s chair hates to hear is ‘oops’ ” Mathes said to the young barbers.

Amid the jokes, Mathes said there was a serious purpose to what he was doing.

“We love our kids, these young adults,” Mathes said. “We know they are the future of our county and we want to encourage them as they are making some life changing decisions. I want to see them go on to college, stay in the county and raise a family.”

He said too many young people have lost that opportunity because of a bad decision made during prom week. He was pleased that the consequences of all the decisions made in Carter County this year amounted to a bad haircut.

It was the first haircut any of the four had ever given but Mathes was able to joke about an even worse haircut he had received.

“When I was going to the Drug Enforcement Administration Academy near Quantico (Va.) I went to get a haircut. The barbers were all from Southeast Asia and didn’t speak much English. I told them ‘No Marine, want FBI.’ They smiled and went to work. After a few swipes they were done and I didn’t have any hair left. They said ‘you like?’ and smiled and said ‘five dollars.’ ”

After the the job was finished, Pierce topped the sheriff. He smiled and said “five dollars.”

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