• The Unaka Christmas tree has been decorated by many members of the community. Photo by BEN KATZ
    The Unaka Christmas tree has been decorated by many members of the community. Photo by BEN KATZ

SCOUTING AROUND: Community tree spreads Christmas spirit in Unaka

    Dallas McMillan of Unaka had good reasons to be a grump this Christmas. He lost his sister, Edith, during the holiday season last year, then his beloved mother, Frankie, in February. Instead, he decided to bring Christmas to Unaka, and give the community its own Christmas tree.
    “I was just trying to be happy,” McMillan said. “I thought I’d do something for the community.”
    He came up with the idea the week after Thanksgiving, and placed the tree he purchased from the Murphy Rotary Club’s charity lot at the Unaka welcome sign shortly after church services Sunday. He then asked other residents to add ornaments or decorations in honor or in memory of a loved one, for themselves or just for the spirit of Christmas.
    When Ann Lukens heard about what McMillan was doing for the community at a fire department meeting, she decided to purchase an ornament specifically for the tree.
    “It’s a great idea,” she said. “We have only been here 12 years, but we have tried to really make it our home. Our community. It seemed like a very neighborhood-oriented thing to do.”
    McMillan placed two garlands – one gold, one blue – in memory of his mother and sister.
    Frankie McMillan was well-known in Unaka, as she was active in her church, the community club, fire department and as a teacher. She served on several county boards and as a leader for multiple youth organizations.
    “She was one of those moms who did everything,” McMillan said.
    Edith – more commonly known as Edie – McMillan only lived in Unaka for a short period of time, but she made friends quickly, her brother said.
    “She was just Miss Frankie’s daughter,” McMillan said. “And, of course, my mother loved to brag about her children.”
    She left Unaka to go to college in Chapel Hill in 1978, then lived in Durham until she passed away the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in 2017.
    McMillan said the Unaka Christmas tree looked nice with all the ornaments from the community placed on it just before Christmas.
    “It’s very heartening that people would want to participate,” he said.

Rummler makes half-court shot
    When Ranger Middle School students went on a field trip to Young Harris (Ga.) College last week, they never imagined one of their classmates would come home $50 richer.
    The students were among the 560 students from Hayesville, Ranger and Towns County, Ga., participating in the Education Day event at the men’s and women’s basketball games against Augusta University.
    During halftime of the men’s game, student spectators could pay a dollar to attempt a basket from the half-court line to raise money for the Make A Wish Foundation, but no one made the shot. During the women’s game, the contest was offered again, and Dominick Rummler tried a third time, this time seeing the ball bounce off the backboard and fall through the hoop.
    “I was shocked,” Rummler said.
    Rummler, a seventh-grade student who is on the Hiwassee Dam/Ranger middle school basketball team, has made half-court shots before during practice in the middle school gym. Monday was his first time on a college court, and he learned it’s a little more than what he’s used to, using his first two attempts to judge how hard he had to throw the ball.
    For winning the contest, Rummler was given $50. He plans to save the money.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.

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