Meteorologist Paul Barys holds the script as Alyia McGaha reads the weather forecast for the weekend. Photo by ANGIE BATES

SCOUTING AROUND: Local girl gets to be weather forecaster for a day

   When Alyia McGaha sent the email to Paul Barys, chief meteorologist at WRCB TV in Chattanooga, Tenn., to apply to be junior forecaster, she never expected she would be selected to do the job.
   “I entered it as sort of a joke,” she said.
   After McGaha, a seventh-grade student at Martins Creek Middle School, saw a commercial for the opportunity, she decided to send an email from her school email and computer – not realizing what she was getting herself into.
   McGaha was selected and visited the television station on April 11. She got to see what happens behind the scenes at a television studio while meeting producers, anchors and camera operators.
   “Everybody we met was really, really nice,” said McGaha’s mother, Angie Bates.
   Anchor David Carroll gave her an autographed copy of his book, while anchors Latrice Currie, Greg Glover and Cindy Sexton gave her autographs. She also was given station
souvenirs, including a car decal.
   Before the show, McGaha spent time with Barys, mostly joking around to get her comfortable before going on the air. He let her input on both the highs and lows on the weather map, then gave her the script with the portion of the forecast she read.
   During the weather segment, Barys asked McGaha about Martins Creek.
   “Martins Creek is a quiet community, except Mr. (Rodney) Sellers’ dogs,” McGaha said with a smile.
   Sellers, McGaha’s social studies teacher, lives near the campus, and she said his dogs can be heard barking as far away as the school’s gym. She also shared that science is her favorite subject, and she is in the chorus, band and performing as the Queen of Hearts in her school’s production of Alice in Wonderland.
   “I was so proud of her,” Bates said. “She doesn’t know how big of a deal it was.”
   While McGaha said she is used to speaking in front of people, she was shy about being on TV and felt embarrassed when she watched the show later. Even though everyone is telling her she did a good job – including Barys, who said she did a great job during the broadcast – she learned she definitely does not want to be on the air again. She is interested in astronomy and would like to work for NASA someday, possibly as an astronaut.
   The trip also included time to visit one of her sisters, Kristina Cornwall, a student at Chattanooga State University.
   Students ages 7-12 are invited to apply to be a Junior Forecaster and deliver the weather forecast with Barys during Live at 5:30 Wednesday broadcasts. To apply, students simply need to explain why they would want the opportunity.
   Showing compassion, McGaha said she hoped she didn’t take an opportunity away from another child who wanted it more than she did.

Dickey out of Jeopardy
   The Dickey family of Cherokee County saw one of their own become a Jeopardy champion this month. Jack Dickey, who grew up in Connecticut and lives in New York, was a two-day champion of the game show.
   Dickey’s uncle, Jonathan Dickey, said he was proud of his nephew, and even texted him that everyone in Murphy was proud of him.
   “His namesake, Jack Dickey, would have been overwhelmed with pride for his grandson’s achievements,” Jonathan Dickey said.
   The younger Dickey won a two-day total of $46,802, plus a $1,000 consolation prize for coming in third place on his final night, which aired April 5. On his first two shows, he won by $2 each time.
   He wasn’t as fortunate in his third game, where the Final Jeopardy question was revealed to be “Films of the 1990s.” He was born in 1990, and tied with Kristin Robbins. He decided to bet the full $18,200 he had earned so far that night.
   “I figured that Kristin was the right age and temperament to know ‘90s movies well. I figured she’d get it right,” Dickey said. “I’d rather bet on myself – especially since my knowledge of ’ 90s movies is OK – than risk going home on a question I knew.”
   The Final Jeopardy clue was, “Tommy Lee Jones won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this movie based on a TV series that premiered in 1963.”
   The two other contestants correctly wrote “What is The Fugitive?” Alas, Dickey provided a different response.
   “I was trying to think of movies Tommy Lee Jones had been in the ‘90s that could plausibly have been based on television shows,” Dickey said. “I have never seen The Fugitive and had no consciousness of it, so all that came to mind was Men In Black. I figured there was no more than a
2 percent chance it was right.”
   The episodes with Dickey were filmed in mid-January. His girlfriend was in the audience, and he only told his parents, sister and few close friends that he won. He won’t receive the prize money for a few months, but is considering saving most of it while buying a “nice big couch.”
   He still hasn’t seen The Fugitive, but plans to soon. Coincidentally, that Harrison Ford movie was partly filmed right here in western North Carolina.

Student Art Show opens
   The annual Student Art Show presented by the Valley River Arts Guild opens Friday at the Murphy Art Center with a reception from 5-7 p.m. The exhibit will be open through Saturday, April 28.
   The show features art in a variety of categories by high school students. Monetary awards are given to students whose work is judged to be the best in show or in their category. There also is a bonus prize given to the art department of the school with the most awards. Prizes will be awarded at the opening reception.
   Prizes were raised from contributions of guild artists and donations from the from the community. The show is sponsored by the arts guild and Cherokee County Arts Council.

Concert raises funds
   The Support Big Valley Music Benefit Concert raised $2,500 to benefit the Judith Beyer Memorial Music Scholarship on Friday night at The Daily Grind & Wine in downtown Murphy.
   The money was raised through tips and raffles of one of Beyer’s guitars, two pieces of local art, a set of knives donated by Warriors Veteran Outreach and a massage donated by a local therapist.
   Shelly Stephens, who is organizing the scholarship for the Cherokee County Arts Council, plans to continue fundraising for the scholarship with a raffle for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day baskets filled with goods and services donated by local merchants.
   Tickets will be available at the Art Walk on Friday, May 4, as well as at the Murphy Spring Festival on Saturday, May 5. Both will be held downtown.
   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.