Special to The Messenger
As a member of the Boy Scouts of America, I’ve enjoyed many privileges from serving as Troop Historian to teaching younger scouts as a Troop Guide. However, this summer has proven to be the most eventful in my scouting experiences thus far.
In working on fulfilling requirements to earn the “Journalism” merit badge, I chose two courses: (1) visiting an NBC-affiliate television station and interviewing those in charge of programming and (2) selecting someone in a community who is influential because of his or her leadership, talent, career, or life experiences. In selecting the latter, one man immediately came to mind. His name is Mr. Robert Kirkland, and I consider him one of the most influential men in our own region. He is an extremely busy man, and that made it a bit difficult to get in touch with him. However, we finally crossed paths and he invited me to his estate in the heart of Obion County on Wed., August 6, 2008, for a formal interview. Most of the following information was gathered during our conversation.
Robert Kirkland was born in Newberry, S.C. He graduated from Union City High School. Many residents of Obion County might remember him from several years ago when he worked temporarily at the Ford Tractor Company as an inventory man. Among his other jobs, he detailed used cars for retail and worked as a laborer in Southern California. Interestingly, Mr. Kirkland also has experience as a private detective, has worked for The University of Tennessee Alumni Association, and made a living working in a local Ben Franklin Store. With all of his work experience, Robert Kirkland is probably best known for his ownership of the company, “Home Decor,” located near the industrial park on the north side of Union City. Aside from being a sharp businessman, Mr. Kirkland will forever be recognized as a man with giving in mind. He has done so much for our local community and is always looking for new, innovative ways of creating ideas that will forward growth in our area. His latest involvement is one of the largest in the entire region, and it is now being constructed. Once completed, it will be called, “The Discovery Park of America.”
Discovery Park will be on Everett Blvd. on US-51 By-pass in Union City, known by locals as the Goodyear bypass. Mr. Kirkland stated that Phase 1 of the landmark Park project will involve several different themes, including Convention Center, Art Gallery, Pioneer Village, Botanical Garden, Antique Car Museum, Exploration History, Military History, Regional History, Natural History, American Indian History, Science and Technology, & Alternative Fuel themes. Additionally, the Park is scheduled to house temporary world class museum exhibits, a coffee shop, a gift shop, and a Tennessee Welcome Center (to be funded by the State Transportation Department.) Kirkland’s hopes are that The Discovery Park will bring business to the area, creating more jobs, and provide a site for tourism with the arrival of the upcoming I-69 through our area. Incidentally, Interstate-69 is scheduled to cross through the United States from Canada to Mexico, opening various parts of the United States to increased trade an tourism. Union City will be accessible to I-69 by two exits, one exiting onto State Route 22 in Union City and the other exiting onto Brevard Road, which will be the exit for Mr. Kirkland’s 42 million Discovery Park Museum Project.
When asked for advice to anyone desiring to excel in business, Mr. Kirkland responded, “I would advise anyone to get an education, read everything they can, find something they really love to do, and do it.” His example is unprecedented in our area as a businessman, entrepreneur, and charitable humanitarian, all of which is why I chose Mr. Robert Kirkland to interview in helping fulfill requirements for my Boy Scout Journalism merit badge. My thanks are extended to Mr. Kirkland for his time and hospitality during this interview.
Visit www.discoveryparkofamerica.com to learn more about the project, scheduled to open in the summer of 2010. For information on Boy Scouting, e-mail First Class Scout Mason Hoffman at email@example.com.
Editor’s Note: Mason Hoffman, First Class Scout and a member of Troop 55 in Union City, wrote this story as part of an assignment for earning a merit badge. He is an eighth-grade student at Lake Road Elementary School and is the son of Mike and Belinda Hoffman of Troy.
Published in The Messenger 10.01.08