IMPRESSIONS by Johnny Teglas

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Unknown donor invests in Roane County

I wonder who “anonymous” is.
I ponder the question simply because whoever that person or entity is recently made a priceless investment in Roane County.
Through their philanthropy, The Roane Alliance now owns its building free and clear.
Only one stipulation President and CEO Leslie Henderson said was required.
The Alliance and its partners must continue to invest in upkeep and improvements in the property over the next 10 years.
Seems pretty reasonable to me.
After all, the day I visited Roane County to decide if I wanted to live here, one of my stops was at the Alliance building to scope out the community.
I was greeted with smiles, enthusiastic assistance and dozens of brochures touting the area.
If my experience was typical, those who had the vision to pull together the organizations that operate under the Alliance umbrella have had similar influence on hundreds, if not thousands of others.
Friday afternoon, when Henderson, Commissioner for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Jim Henry, Roane Medical Center’s Jim Gann, and Roane County businessmen Jerry Duncan, Steve Kirkham and Jerry Stephens struck up matches for a note-burning ceremony, it seemed to me the vision they shared more than a decade ago laid some pretty important groundwork.
I also discovered there were some pretty interesting tales from the early days.
One centered around a late-night rendezvous to inspect the property.
Another hilarious story touched on an early-morning meeting the next day.
Then there were, um, well, I don’t know if they were meant for publication even though they were shared in a very public venue … so, we’ll just call them “interesting recollections” of Stephens handling a chain saw, power drill and a not-so-voluntary crew of assistants who temporarily disappeared from a dock project he was spearheading ….
Whatever the case, we can all agree the work going on in that building on that majestic piece of property on North Kentucky Street has, and will continue to positively impact our quality of life.
Henry, Kingston’s former mayor and our district’s former state legislator, silenced the boisterous crowd as he recounted the gigantic leap those involved in the formation of the Alliance made.
He extolled the virtues of leaders who put individual city interests aside in favor of a cooperative county first effort.
His eyes sparkled during his impromptu and eloquent comments.
It was obvious he was speaking from his heart
Bravo, Mr. Henry.
And, bravo to “Anonymous.”
Generations of Roane Countians stand to gain from your generosity.
Speaking of generosity … it was quite pleasing to see a small glass jar during the event get filled up with green dollar bills of various denominations!
It set on a display table manned by friend Jill McMaster of Roane Imagination Library.
She, too, is investing in our future.
McMaster is the heartbeat and driving force behind our county’s version of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
The organization’s mission is simple: If you get age-appropriate books in the hands of youngsters — free of charge to them and their families, mind you — they stand a better chance of success once they begin their formal educations.
Fair disclosure … the fellow sitting in this chair also spent several terms serving on the Chamber of Commerce board of directors; one of the organizations that comprise the Alliance.
I also continue to serve on the Roane Imagination Library board of directors and will forever be indebted to McMaster’s hard work and leadership.
Even more so, I am a Roane Countian by choice and expect to see all of the above mentioned organizations continue to contribute to a brighter future for all of us who call this corner of God’s green earth our home.