Welcome to my world. I am a journalist in East Tennessee. My neck of the woods is in the Cumberland Mountains, on the eastern edge of the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, where I work as publisher and editor of the hometown newspaper and my wife is an elementary school teacher. We have three children, twins Toby and Rachel, and baby Cooper. Our hound mix, Scooter, lives here too. There are also two cats — Popeye and Chubs — neither of which are very fond of me.

God gave us life, but only for a short while. It’s best to fill it up with things that we enjoy. Like Tennessee football, Chris Ledoux music, sweet tea, and — perhaps most importantly — the great outdoors. And Andy Griffith reruns.

Send me an email, if you’re so inclined, to benwgarrett at gmail dot com. But don’t ask me about my picture. I do not really wear makeup, nor am I a Hollywood star, but this is what an app on my phone said I’d look like if I was. (The rest of the pictures on this page have not been edited. Much.)

Keep close to nature’s heart . . . and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

John Muir, America’s great conservationist and explorer, knew the way to renewing the soul. It was as simple as getting outside. The world has changed a great deal since Muir (1838-1914) roamed the American frontier. Yet, in some corners, it hasn’t changed much at all.

As you explore these pages, I hope you’ll discover the Cumberland Mountains and the mighty Big South Fork of the Cumberland River. It is from these geographical features that my home is carved, and they’re why I call this place home. Although he was writing about an entirely different land, far West of here, when I stand on the Big South Fork on a summer’s morning as the break of day lifts the mist off the river and the rising sun glints off the cliff walls that tower overhead, I’m reminded by what Norman Maclean said of the Little Blackfoot River: “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”

To learn more about this part of the world, and to see why we call ourselves the Adventure Tourism Capital of Tennessee, visit DiscoverScott.com.



Despite the gloom-and-doom forecasts of print journalism’s future, community newspapers have been largely insulated from the national trends that are negatively impacting national and some metro papers. Their readership is steady, their ad base is steady, and the role they play in Small Town America hasn’t changed. They do more than enlighten and inform. In their own way, they also advocate and encourage. That is a role I embrace, and if I may be audacious enough to say so, I believe communities are stronger with a strong community newspaper.
Ours is proud to be one of Tennessee’s most consistent award-winning newspapers, and was the 2015 General Excellence winner in the University of Tennessee-Tennessee Press Association contests for its circulation class.



All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable which makes you see something you weren’t noticing which makes you see something that isn’t even visible.


We can love completely without complete understanding.


The forests of America, however slighted by man, must have been a great delight to God; for they were the best he ever planted. The whole continent was a garden, and from the beginning, it seemed to be favored above all the other wild parks and gardens of the globe.