A couple of new businesses opened in Marshall County, offering a taste of Napa Valley in Gilbertsville and the opportunity to begin a new career in Benton.

Chocolatta is a rustic yet elegant boutique chocolate and wine shop located at 6126 US Hwy. 641 N., near KY Shores. Store hours are Wed. and Thurs. from noon to 6 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. The store is closed on Mon. and Tues.

Susan Coolidge, owner of Chocolatta, said she and her father, George Coolidge, wanted to deliver a Napa Valley experience in a Kentucky neighborhood. So the offerings include wine, craft beer, cheese, chocolate, baked goods, coffee and tea.

Renovations to the building are ongoing, Coolidge said, but the half that's open is ready to serve. She said they are able to serve some beverages over the counter but the espresso machine hasn't arrived yet.

They had a soft opening in time for the Independence Day crowd but plan a grand opening at a later date when renovations are complete, she said.

For more information, visit the Chocolatta Facebook page or call 270-255-9664.

The new Palpation Prep School of Massage is now accepting students for its first series of courses at 1012 Main Street Suite D in Benton.

Valerie Smothers, LMT President/Clinical Director, said the first class will meet Mon. through Thurs. from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. She said the 16-hour week allows people who work a full time job elsewhere to still attend while working toward the required number of hours for certification. Kentucky requires 600 hours but her program requires 650 hours because she spends more time on business and anatomy. The whole program takes about nine months to complete, she said.

Smothers said her number one priority is offering quality education to her students. She said the direction of massage therapy is headed toward mainstream healthcare which means her students need to be armed with the ability to speak with medical professionals using proper terminology, finding up-to-date research, keeping proper records and communicating with insurance companies. She noted the medical field is searching for ways to treat patients without opioids in the face of the epidemic, and massage therapy is something they're considering as an alternative.

"If you have aches and pains, instead of offering opioids, massage therapy will at some point be offered as a care and I feel like that's a huge reason to get well educated therapists into the workplace so we can help combat this issue with opiates we have right now," she explained.

Smothers began massage in 1999 at Sun Touch Massage School and became a licensed massage therapist in 2005. She worked as a mobile therapist visiting businesses and clients in their homes until 2007 when she stepped out on her own and opened Cup & Stone Bodywork Center on Main Street in Benton, where she works still. In 2010 she began leading the massage program at Daymar College in Paducah, which is when she realized her passion for education.

Smothers said her school and three educators are dedicated to four commitments of success: commitment to quality education, excellence in professionalism, code of ethics and standards of practice of massage therapy and to the massage therapy community--from student to practitioner and beyond.

For more information or to sign up for classes visit palpationprep.wordpress.com or call 270-252-0979.

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