Look Back: A Little Something From Our Files From the Week of April 23

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By Cheryl Duncan, Assistant Editor

25 Years Ago
A sense of relief swept over Bob and Peggy Kyker of Harriman when they learned their son, U.S. Navy Petty Officer Robert Qualls, was safe and unharmed after a fire and explosion aboard the battleship U.S.S. Iowa, on which he was stationed. “It has been a long night,” Peggy Kyker said, recounting how family members repeatedly called toll-free numbers before daughter Karen Reeves was eventually able to reach someone. “We’ve all just been worried to death,” Kyker added. “Bobby’s the youngest and kind of the baby.” Navy officials reported 47 people were killed in the explosion and fire on April 19, 1989, during open seas gunnery practice in the Atlantic Ocean, about 330 miles northeast of Puerto Rico.

10 Years Ago
Motorists weren’t the only ones concerned with rising gas prices. Marina owners along Watts Bar Lake worried about losing gas sales as boaters took the water. “We’ve had a few complaints,” admitted Yral Baker, owner of Bayside Marina and Resort. “It’s busier this year because the weather is nicer, but it doesn’t seem like we’re selling as much as we should.” Marina-grade fuel is more expensive than unleaded gas, and though it’s better for boats, sticker shock prompted some to fill up their boats and vehicles from the same gas station pumps. “If I get stuck in the water, I’ll pay the little extra at the marina,” said Wayne Franklin of Midtown.

Five Years Ago
The communities of Rockwood and Kingston mourned the deaths of two of their prominent residents. In Rockwood, longtime City Council member Gene East seemed to be on the road to recovery from a stroke and pneumonia when he died after being hospitalized earlier in the week for an infection. East, 77, was known as a watchdog over the city and its spending. “He loved this town,” said Rockwood City Recorder Jim Hines. In Kingston, 18-year-old James Sams III was getting ready for his senior prom when his was killed in a head-on collision on Hwy. 70. The athlete was a favorite among teachers, coaches and teammates on the Yellow Jacket gridiron. “Everybody here loved him,” said Kingston football coach Vic King. “We’ve all lost friends and family over the years, and it’s always bad. But when you lose a young person, it really hurts — and we’re all hurting right now.”

One Year Ago
After a ride on the roller coaster that catapulted the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood to stardom, Oliver Springs native Janelle Arthur was eliminated from competition on FOX’s “American Idol.” Arthur’s third tryout for the talent-show-styled program was her most successful, and her final performances showed off the country songstress’ chops with Vince Gill’s “When I Call Your Name” and Dolly Parton’s “Dumb Blonde.” Though Parton hailed her fellow East Tennessee country crooner’s performance, it didn’t pass muster with “Idol” judges, who avoided using their one “save” of the season to prevent Arthur’s elimination. “Unfortunately, baby, it’s not unanimous,” judge Randy Jackson said. “We’re not gonna use it, but we love you ...” Arthur later performed in the “American Idol Live” tour in Knoxville.