Johnson County leadership class embarks on adventures

Members of the 2017-2018 Johnson County Leadership Class have had two great adventures in October and November. On October 19th, the class enjoyed a day filled with the history of Johnson County. The day started with a tour of the Trade Grist Mill hosted by Frank Lawrence. They then followed the Daniel Boone Trail to the Shouns Crossroads. The class climbed to the Shoun monument in memory of Leonard and Barbara Slemp Shoun and enjoyed a most spectacular view of the Neva community. The group proceeded down Highway 167, detouring to the site of the cave at Maymead where in 1949, Indian relics were found during a mining blast. The relics were studied by the archeology department of the University of Tennessee. The next stop was along the Daniel Boone Trail at the beautiful Butler Museum. The most knowledgeable Herman and Nancy Tester guided our tour. In the afternoon the group was privileged to go inside the infamous Butler Mansion. The owner, Joan Trathan, was most gracious and welcoming to the class. The day ended at Sunset Memorial Cemetery viewing some locally well-known and some little known but very interesting gravesites.
On November 18th, the class attended Regional Leadership Day at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce. This is a fun day in that leadership groups from Greene, Hawkins, Johnson, and Unicoi Counties, along with the city of Kingsport, come together to interact and learn about each other. The group heard three amazing motivational speakers; Miles Burdine, Kingsport Chamber President and CEO, Jeff Hostetler, Director of Sales and Marketing, Tele-Optics, Inc., and David Golden, Senior Vice-President, Chief Legal Officer, and Corporate Secretary, Eastman. The day was topped off with a ride on the Kingsport Carousel and ice cream sundaes from Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers.

Johnson County 4-H student reports

Mrs. Greer’s fourth grade class has once again succeeded in another assignment. This project was to do a speech about someone or something in our Tennessee history. We had four weeks to do the assignment. On Friday, November 10th, our speech winners were selected. First place was Izzy Thompson, second place was Serenity Jones, and third place was Nate Sutherland. The next assignment is to create a poster. Mrs. Greer’s fourth grade class is excited for this next project. We hope to get a lot of points this year! Hailey Lewis
Mrs. Greer’s 4th Grade
Mountain City Elementary

In our recent 4-H meeting we shared our speeches to the class. Many of our speeches were on Egyptian History: pyramids, Pharaohs and artifacts. In 1st place was Gaston Dugger who did his speech on Osiris. In 2nd place was Vanessa Perkins who did her speech on the sphinx and in 3rd place was George Grill. Then we learned our next project, the poster project!!
Eli Fritts
Mrs. Gentry’s 6th Grade
Mountain City Elementay

Ms. Dugger’s 4th grade class had their 4-H meeting on November 3, 2017. Today we gave our speeches to the class. Everyone did a great job! In 1st place was Josie Cox, 2nd place was Sarah Presnell, and in 3rd place was Ansley Clifton. Our next project is the poster contest.
Katelyn Osborne
Ms. Dugger’s 4th Grade
Roan Creek Elementary

In 4-H we talked about our next project, which is the poster contest. When designing your poster, you will have to use your imagination and creativity.
Mattie Jones
Mrs. Henson’s 6th Grade
Mountain City Elementary

Ms. Parrish’s 5th grade 4-H club had their ornament project contest. We all knew that there would only be three winners. The winners were: 1st place- Zachary Lunceford, 2nd place- Matthew Swift, & 3rd place- Kaylee Roark. Our next project is the public speaking contest.
Matthew Swift
Ms. Parrish’s 5th Grade

Mountain City Elementary
In our last 4-H meeting the teachers talked about our next project, the speech contest. We have to write a speech on U.S. History. The ornaments were judged and ribbons were given out. This was the end of our meeting.
Sarah Johnson
Mrs. Chambers’ 5th Grade
Mountain City Elementary

This month we talked about our Public Speaking contest. Mrs. Pleasant said it will be a big contest if everyone tried their best. We also talked about the hamburger method and how to write a speech. You can see me next month in the Tomahawk.
Mattie Jones
Mrs. Henson’s 6th Grade
On November 3, 2017, Mrs. Stalvey’s 6th Grade class gave their 4-H speeches. Everyone did a great job on their interesting speeches. Our winners were Hunter Taylor- 3rd place, Brayden Cannon- 2nd place, and Alexa Childers- 1st place. Congratulations and great job! The next project is the poster contest. Your poster needs to have a great message and description. Have a nice evening!
Alexa Childers
Mrs. Stavey’s 6th Grade
Mountain City Elementary

In our 4-H meeting we learned about our 4-H project. It is going to be the poster contest. If you use the clover on your poster, it can be green with white H’s or a black and white version. Then we started the speeches. First place was a tie between Ivy Lakatos and Ariel Tester.

Sarah Johnson
Mrs. Chambers’ 5th Grade
Mountain City Elementary


‘My Appalachia’ art show award winners announced

By Paula Walter

The Johnson County Center for the Arts held a reception this past Friday to celebrate My Appalachia. The works of over 20 local artists were featured as they explored what Appalachia means to them. Participants were invited to create a work of art in response to the theme of My Appalachia. The artists could use any medium to express what Appalachia means to them. There were those who submitted paintings, quilting, and photography, among others.
“Most folks had never shown anything before,” said Cristy Dunn.
The featured artists are as follows, along with their choice of art medium: Mona Alderson- quilting; April Andrews-photography; Lillian Andrews- painting; April Blevins-photography; Jeana Chapman-abstract painting; Lewis Chapman-painter; Lisa Clark-pencil drawing; Diana Darocha- ceramics; Cristy Dunn-painter; Tyler Earp-ceramics; Madisyn Farrow-painting; Jason Hughes-woodworking and wood-burning; Gail A. Larson-vintage doll clothing; Frank Icenhour-photography; Andrew Matherly-painting of his “Sunset-Mountains and Trees”; Sandra Moody-photography; Carol Peterson-painting; Shirli Pollard-quilting; Bobbie Puleo-stained glass;Temple Reece-painting; Richard Righter-painting; George San Filippo-woodworking; Jen Keller Sarskuan-mosiacs; Dennis Shekinah-photography; Mike Taylor-wood carving; Tia Thomas-photography; Andrew Whitaker-string art and Kadee Worlock-photography.
The winners are as follows: City Mayor Award- first place goes to Frank Icenhour for his “Where I come from”. The first place for the County Mayor’s Tennessee Music Pathway award goes to Lewis Chapman for “Wilson Jam,” second place goes to Mona Alderson for “My Appalachia,” and third place goes to Jeana Chapman for “Singer.”
The Johnson County Soil Conservation District Natural Beauty Award first place goes to Mike Taylor for his “Wood Santa,” second place to George San Filippo goes for his “Acorn Tea Box,” third place goes to Shirli Pollard for her “Mountain Music,” and Honorable Mention goes to Gail Larson’s doll clothing collection.
The Johnson County Soil Conservation Farmland Heritage Award first place goes to Kathy Dawson for “Tobacco Barn. Second place award goes to Mona Alderson for “My Appalachia. Third place award goes to Kadee Worlock for “Reuben” and Honorable Mention goes to Frank Icenhour for “Country road, take me home.”
The Chamber of Commerce first place award goes to Bobbie Puleo for “Harvest Moon, My Appalachia. Second place goes to Dennis Shekinah for “Forge Creek, Tennessee.” Third place goes to Tyler Earp for “Tall Vase.” Honorable Mentions go to Richard Righter for “Maiden in the Mist,” Jen Keller Sarskuan’s “Mosiac Birdhouse,” Jason Hughes for “Banjo,” and April Blevins for “Scarecrow.”
The Johnson County Art Council Youth Participation Award goes to Tyler Earp, Andrew Whitaker, Lillian Andrews, Andrew Matherly, Madisyn Farrow and Kadee Worlock.
The Johnson County Center for the Arts offers a warm and inviting atmosphere to come in, sit down awhile, and take a look at the artwork by local people. It’s a perfect place to pick up some Christmas gifts, such as Santas carved out of walnuts, homemade soaps, wooden frames, earrings, stoneware, prints, leaf bowls, photography and more.
A pop up Christmas card activity for children is planned for this Saturday from 10:30 to 11:30. Painting classes have been held and plans are in the works for the center to offer leather-working classes. A spoon carving class is also in the near future with Brenden Bohannon.
The art center is currently open Monday and Tuesday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, Thursday and Friday from 10:00-5:00 and Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. Check with the art center as these are the hours the center will be open before Christmas.
While the winners have been announced, the People’s Choice Award is still ongoing through December 16th and ballots can be cast for your favorite artwork.

Meet your neighbor Trenton Davis … local environmental health scientist visited Chernobyl two years after the nuclear explosion

By Paula Walter

Trenton Davis has long called Tennessee home. Although he and his wife, Kay, now live in Johnson County, Davis was born in Greene County and grew up in Limestone. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in health education and general service, he went on to Tulane in New Orleans, Louisiana, earning his masters in environmental health. He completed his education at the University of Oklahoma, earning his PhD in environmental health. After teaching at ETSU and East Carolina University, Davis and his wife made their way back to the mountains of northeast Tennessee and settled in Johnson County after his retirement.
In May of 1988, Davis, who was then the acting dean of East Carolina University, was invited to be a part of a delegation of 60 scientists from 19 countries to attend a Soviet Union sponsored international convention in Moscow on hazardous waste management and environmental issues. Those in attendance were able to take in some of the sights in the Soviet Union, including a ballet and the Moscow Circus.
“The trip was outstanding,” Davis said. “We got to see a lot of the countries. They made sure we saw the sights.” According to Davis, they were fed well, including several meals served with caviar. “They were trying to impress us,” he said.
The group not only traveled to Moscow, but also made the trip to Kiev. It was during this visit to the Soviet Union that Davis and the delegation were invited to visit Chernobyl, the site of a nuclear accident that occurred in April of 1986. “I didn’t know we were going to Chernobyl,” he said. At the time of the explosion, Chernobyl was a town in northern Ukraine, and was still part of the Soviet Union. The nuclear explosion in Chernobyl occurred on April 26, 1986. According to Davis, one of four nuclear reactors at a power plant near Chernobyl exploded during testing, sending out highly nuclear radioactive materials. Davis explained that a nuclear test in progress that went out of control led to the explosion that actually occurred in the town of Pripyat.
“The people in Chernobyl, 20 miles away, were the first ones to be affected,” said Davis. At the time, the Soviet Union estimated there were approximately 20 who died in the explosion. There were also approximately 120,000 people evacuated from the area surrounding the site of the explosion. Those who were impacted the most were the fire fighters who arrived at the scene without any protective gear. According to David, the radioactive materials affected the children in the area.
“There is a lot of thyroid cancer,” he stated.
Davis was able to meet with the director of the power plant while visiting Chernobyl. “People did not deserve what happened to them,” Davis stated.
According to Davis, the cleanup at Chernobyl was minimal. Waste was buried in holes dug in the ground, using no precautions to safeguard the nearby residents from the radiation. Trees were buried, thousands of acres of were stripped, and approximately 100 villages were destroyed. It was reported that nearly 80,000 head of cattle were also evacuated from the area, and of those, more than half were destroyed.
According to Davis, the Soviet Union set up a registry to track all the individuals who had been evacuated from the surrounding areas around the nuclear explosion. “After the wall fell, Moscow wouldn’t fund it and Ukraine couldn’t afford it,” he stated. “We would have known so much more about the effects.”
According to Davis, the scientists the group spoke with were very open, however the officials themselves were very guarded. Davis made sure to stay close to the technician who constantly measured radiation levels in the area.
“Who would have thought an old country boy from Greene County would have had the experience of seeing the site at Chernobyl and meeting the scientists involved?” Davis said.


Safety tips for outdoor lighting during the holidays

By Rick Thomason

UT-Johnson County Extension Director

For many people, decorating the outside of their home with brightly colored lights and decorations is a favorite part of the holiday season.  Although these outdoor decorations are enjoyable to look at, they can be a safety hazard and can potentially cause a fire if not installed properly.  Michael Buschermohle, an engineer and University of Tennessee Extension specialist offers these guidelines for those planning on lighting up the outside of their homes this year:
1.   When selecting lights, extension cords or outside decorations, be sure the packaging states that it is designated for outdoor use.  Outdoor lighting is weatherproof and designed for temporary operation in harsh winter weather.  Look for the UL label.  This label indicates the product has been tested by an independent laboratory recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  Outdoor lights with these labels satisfy the minimum standards for product safety.
2. Before you hang your outdoor decorations, take a minute to check the bulbs, sockets, light cords and extension cords for nicks, cuts, broken insulation or exposed wires.  Throw away any damaged lights and cords.
3. Since you will need to use extension cords, make sure the wires in the cord are large enough to carry the intended load.  The thicker the wire, the more it can handle and it should be able to carry the load without overheating.  If the cord gets hot while the lights are on, it is carrying too much load.  Always fully unwind extension cords to avoid overheating.
4.  When connecting outdoor lighting, be careful not to create a maze of extension cords, plugs and wires that all come from the same electrical outlet.  Electrical outlets and timers used for Christmas lights should be readily accessible for quick disconnection or adjustment as necessary.
5.   Purchase appropriately sized timers to automatically turn lights on and off.  Lights should be turned off when people are not present and they should not be left on overnight.
6.  When connecting two or more strings of lights together, wrap the plug connections with electrical tape.  This prevents the strings from being disconnected, and also protects the connection from the elements.  You should also tape the unused female plug at the end of the light run.
7.  Many stores have a variety of hangers that greatly simplify installation of outdoor lights.  Avoid nailing or stapling the wires in place, since this can easily damage the insulation on the outside of the wire and create corrosion in the wire or a short circuit against the staple.
8. Electrical outlets for exterior lighting should accommodate three-prong grounded plugs and should be on an electrical circuit protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).  Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased at hardware stores if this circuit protection is not available.  Be sure to pull the plug rather than the cord itself when disconnecting cords.
9.  Remove outdoor lighting at the end of the Christmas season.  Christmas lights are not designed to withstand long-term exposure to the sun and weather.
“Don’t spoil your holiday season by risking a fire,” said Buschermohle.  “By following these simple steps, we can all enjoy the pleasure of seeing homes transformed for the holiday season.”


‘My Appalachia’ art show hopes to inspire pride in who we are

Johnson County Center for the Arts’ December show features the work of thirty local artists and artisans. Participants were invited to create a work of art in response to the theme “My Appalachia.” Artisans could use any medium to explore what Appalachia means to them. Our region is home to a rich history and culture with music and traditional craft that tell the story of a people of depth and resilience. But we also face more than our share of adversity with disproportionate poverty, addiction rates, and all the side effects that come with these issues. Through exploring “My Appalachia”, we aim to strengthen our community, inspire pride in who we are, and foster creativity. There will be an opening reception on Friday, December 8th from 4-6 o’clock. The public is invited to attend.


Rick Ward, storyteller and musician, entertains lunch crowd at senior center

By Paula Walter

Rick Ward, storyteller and musician, recently entertained an audience who had gathered together at the Johnson County Senior Center to enjoy a meal together. Ward referred to himself as a banjo player, a ballad singer and an instrument maker.
Ward, who was born in Watauga County, has deep roots in Valle Crucis, makes his own musical instruments and plays old time music. He recently won the Brown-Hudson award from the North Carolina Folklore Society. The award recognized those who have made contributions to traditional culture in North Carolina.
Ward’s grandfather, Tab Ward and his father, N.T. Ward, had a life long influence on Ward’s music.
Not only were Ward’s father and grandfather talented musicians, but his mother, Willa Jean Ward, sang in a church and on local radio programs. Tab was a well-known banjo player and could often be found at Jack Guy’s store in Beech Creek selling his sought-after banjos.
Appalachian folk music was a staple of the region and was influenced by immigrants who came from England, Scotland and Ireland. The songs passed down through Ward’s family for generations had a large impact his music. The instruments he plays are all handmade, including some made by his grandfather, Tab, and some he made himself. Ward’s father also made instruments, including banjos, dulcimers, fiddles and some bass fiddles.
As Ward picked up his banjo and started playing the music that had been handed down through his family for years, you could hear the tap, tap, tapping of feet on the floor of the senior center. He plays his grandfather’s famous double knock, a mountain style on his homemade banjo. According to Ward, he teaches that same style to his music students.
Ward opened with a song by his grandfather, Lord, when will my troubles be over. The banjo he played was his grandfather’s, one that he and his father, N.T., finished making together.
Ward alternated between telling stories to his audience at the senior center and playing music and singing. Some of the songs he played included Pretty Polly, a murder ballad, Batching on the farm, about his grandfather whose wife died and left him on the farm all alone, and I wish I was single again, one of Ward’s favorites.
In addition to being a talented musician, Ward began training in marital arts when he was 17 after a long illness. Once his health began to improve, Ward decided to become continue his martial arts journey and become a teacher. His goal was to help others learn martial arts. Ward has achieved the rank of 10th degree grandmaster.

Hometown Christmas in Mountain City

Main Street in Mountain City was a page straight out of Charles Dickens over the weekend. The festivities began Friday night with Christmas on Main and carried over to Saturday with the annual parade. Float winners in the non-profit category were Bishop Family Lights with first place, Christy’s Dancers took second. In the church category, Calvary Baptist Awanas won first and Roan Creek Baptist Church took second. Johnson County Bank’s stunning float took first place in the business category.

Johnson County still needs three mentors for Tennessee Promise

With a record number of Tennessee students applying for TN Promise, tnAchieves, the partnering organization that administers Governor Haslam’s TN Promise locally, needs 2,500 volunteer mentors to ensure each student has a local support system.

This year more than 62,000 students applied for TN Promise! Each applicant is paired with a volunteer mentor that spends one hour per month helping ease the transition from high school to college. Mentors remind students of important deadlines, serve as a trusted college resource and encourage students to reach their potential.
Statewide the program has recruited 72 percent of the volunteers needed to meet student demand. Locally, Johnson County has recruited well, finding 83 percent of mentors needed. Three mentors are still needed to meet student demand.
“Many TN Promise students are intimidated by the college-going process,” said tnAchieves Executive Director Krissy DeAlejandro. “Mentors provide the nudges and encouragement our students often need to be successful. If you have one spare hour per month, please consider serving as a mentor. It is a small commitment that can have a big impact on a student’s life.”
tnAchieves trains all mentors, provides them with a handbook and sends weekly updates to ensure that the mentor is armed with the tools necessary to work with their students. Interested volunteers can apply and find more information at
tnAchieves is a privately-funded scholarship and mentoring program that seeks to provide an opportunity for every Tennessee student to earn a post-secondary degree.
If you have questions about the tnAchieves mentoring program, please email Graham Thomas at

Tips to help pay off student debt early

Recent college graduates may be entering the job market with degrees in tow, but many also are leaving school with sizable amounts of student loan debt. According to a 2017 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, student loan debt rose for the eighteenth consecutive year, while reports that student debt in the United States totaled $1.4 trillion in 2017. Canadian students are not faring much better than their American counterparts, owing an average of $28,000 after four years according to the Canadian Federation of Students.

Student loan debt is a heavy burden that has short- and long-term affects on borrowers. Sizable student loan debts may affect young professionals’ ability to support themselves, while the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that such debt has contributed to a decline in the housing market, as fewer college graduates can afford to buy homes while still in their 20s.

The notion of paying off their student loans before they reach maturity may seem implausible to some borrowers. But there are a handful of ways for adults with sizable student debts to do just that.

· Make more frequent payments. Many homeowners pay their mortgages off early by making bi-weekly payments. Doing so means they will make 26 half-payments, or 13 full payments, each year as opposed to the 12 full payments made by homeowners who pay on a monthly schedule.

The same approach can be applied to student loans. That extra annual payment each year can gradually chip away at loan balances, helping borrowers pay loans off before they reach maturity.

· Prioritize paying off high-interest loans. Many students finance their educations by taking out multiple loans. If these loans come with different interest rates, borrowers should pay off the high-interest loans first to reduce the amount they’re spending on interest. Borrowers will still need to make minimum payments on other loans, but any extra money they intend to pay each month should go toward paying down the high-interest loan.

· Refinance loans. Many recent college graduates do not have lengthy credit histories, and some might be carrying low credit scores. Once such borrowers have shown that they can consistently make payments in full and on time, they can approach their lenders to refinance their loans in the hopes of getting a lower interest rate reflective of their creditworthiness.

Refinancing may only be available to borrowers with private loans, but this strategy can save student debt holders a lot of money over the life of their loans.

· Take advantage of offers from lenders. Some lenders may reduce interest rates for borrowers who agree to certain terms, such as signing up to receive e-statements or enrolling in automatic payment programs in which money is deducted directly from a borrowers’ bank account on the same day each month. The savings created by such offers may seem insignificant each month, but can add up over time.

Paying off student loan debts early can be done, even for borrowers whose debts are tens of thousands of dollars.

Amelia needs a forever home

Amelia is one amazing girl. She weighs 34 pounds and is a pure muttigree, the best of all breeds. She is the social butterfly of the rescue and loves to meet and greet every new dog that comes in. Amelia is still a young gal, eight months and needs some training so a fenced in yard is a must. For adoption information, please call Rescue Dog at 423-956-2564.

Yard sale for Kari’s Home for Women

There will be a fundraiser indoor yard sale for Kari’s Home for Women on Dec. 9th from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Optimist Clubhouse on State Farm Road in Boone. Holiday gift items, furniture, costume jewelry, home décor, purses, shoes, clothing. Kari’s Home for Women is a residential home for women in recovery from addiction that serves the Johnson County area as well as Watauga County.

Have you ever kept something from someone because they might judge you?

By Denise Woods
Tomahawk Contributor
Have you ever kept something from someone because you feel like if they found out then they would shame you, judge you, or humiliate you because you made a choice that turned out to be a bad choice for you? Have you ever been embarrassed to admit that the choices you’ve made has hurt your family and friends? Have you ever not gone somewhere for fear that someone will see you there?
These statements are describing STIGMA. Webster’s dictionary describes stigma as: “A mark of shame or discredit.” Webster also describes stigma as “An identifying mark or characteristic; specifically: a specific diagnostic sign of a disease.” Addiction is a disease! If we think about addiction in the same sense of heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, we might be able to better understand the basis of addiction.
Diabetes, for example, is mainly caused by not eating healthy foods and not being physically active. Diabetes can also be caused by heredity. Although, some people who understand what causes diabetes will still choose to eat unhealthy resulting in out of control A1c levels. Sweets and carbs are just so good. This disease is not a moral failure. We do not shame someone because they have diabetes, heart disease or cancer. We help them. If your doctor told you that you had heart disease you wouldn’t think you were a bad person. You would say to yourself, “How can I overcome this disease?”
Addiction is the same way. Although there may be many addictions in society, let’s focus on substance use addictions. Webster’s dictionary describes addiction as: “The compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance.” When someone chooses to first use a drug they do not intend to become addicted to it. Tobacco, for example, may first be used in youthful years to look cool or to be part of the “in” crowd, and before long the nicotine has got that person hooked. Prescription drugs, for example, may first be used to ease pain and before long that person is hooked and needs more of the pills to maintain the pain. Other drugs such as Methamphetamine or Cocaine may be used because a friend offered it to them or because of the pleasure it makes someone feel and right away and that person is hooked. That is addiction!
Addiction can also be hereditary. A web article ( explains genetics and addictions stating that addiction is due to 50 percent to genetic predisposition and 50 percent to poor coping skills. One study looked at 861 identical twin pairs and 653 fraternal (non-identical) twin pairs. When one identical twin was addicted to alcohol, the other twin had a high probability of being addicted. But when one non-identical twin was addicted to alcohol, the other twin did not necessarily have an addiction. Based on the differences between the identical and non-identical twins, the study showed 50-60 percent of addiction is due to genetic factors. (Prescott, C. A., & Kendler, K. S., Genetic and environmental contributions to alcohol abuse and dependence in a population-based sample of male twins. Am J Psychiatry, 1999. 156(1): p. 34-40.)
The children of addicts are eight times more likely to develop an addiction. One study looked at 231 people who were diagnosed with drug or alcohol addiction, and compared them to 61 people who did not have an addiction. Then it looked at first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or children) of those people. It discovered that if a parent has a drug or alcohol addiction, the child had an eight times greater chance of developing an addiction. (Merikangas, K. R., Stolar, M., Stevens, D. E., Goulet, J., et al., Familial transmission of substance use disorders. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 1998. 55(11): p. 973-9.)
Addiction is not a moral failure but our society tends to shame someone because they have an addiction. Why do you think an addict continues to use? One reason could be because abusers are welcoming to help someone feed their addiction. They are not judged by their use. They are not shamed or shunned by their use. They support it. Addiction does not choose who it targets. It is waiting on the next person to grab hold of. Once the object of addiction is used the brain and body craves it again and again resulting in feeding it with more of the substance. Once addiction grabs someone’s life it does not want to let go. It does not matter who you are or where you come from. Addiction can affect anyone.
The stigma of addiction results in people who have the disease do not seek treatment. If someone has cancer, treatment is the first option. Why not help someone seek treatment for an addiction? Other negative results of the stigma of addiction are harm reduction, self-esteem and mental health. Long-term use of marijuana lowers a person’s IQ by eight points, resulting in reduction of thinking, memory, and learning functions ( Stigma attacks someone’s self-esteem and mental health, making them feel worthless and sometimes results in death, leaving families saddened at the loss of a loved one.
Johnson County has a lot of substance use addictions. Instead of spreading the word about who is the next person to get caught using or distributing the drugs, we should be spreading resources to those who have the disease of addiction. Our county is improving when it comes to available recovery resources. The following is a list of recovery meetings and help lines.
Johnson County
“I Am Responsible”: “AA” meeting 7pm at Mountain City Community Center on Mondays and Thursdays.
Righteous Cause Recovery: (Faith Based) 6pm meeting and meal at Dyson Grove Church Fellowship Hall on 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month.
Ala-Non (support group for families): 12-1pm meeting at First Christian Church every Tuesday
Tennessee REDLINE: Information and referral hotline (1-800-889-9789)
Tennessee Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-800-784-8669)
Marijuana Addiction: (1-866-470-4253)
HOPE (National Hopeline Network for suicide prevention): (1-800-781-2433)
A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition, Inc. 423-727-0780 (drug info on treatment, general info, and Rx lock box distribution)
If Johnson County does not begin to reduce the stigma of substance addictions it WILL tear our community apart person by person. Families are hurting. We need everyone doing their part to reduce drug use in Johnson County. If you would like to know more about A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition and our efforts to reduce drug use in Johnson County, The next coalition meeting will be on November 28th from 11:30am-1pm at the Johnson County Health Department Annex. Everyone is welcome to attend.
In light of the recent drug activities in our community, the A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition would like to rally our community to stand up and say enough is enough. Drug use is negatively impacting our community and our families. These two men made a choice that has affected their families and the community, but they are not the only ones. There have been others that have chosen this path but because they are leaders in our community their choices have brought light to this issue of drug use in our community. Drug addiction does not pick and choose whom it affects. It can affect young, old, male, female, parent, grandparent, pastor, lawyer, teacher, and yes even a law enforcement officer. Being aware of how easy it is to become addicted to prescription pills is part of preventing addiction from happening. Educate yourself on the dangers of all drug use. Johnson County needs to talk about the issue and not be judge and jury to these men. Good people make mistakes too.

March of Dimes announces grant to prevent premature birth help prevent premature birth

March of Dimes has announced a $60,870 grant from Amerigroup Foundation to help prevent premature birth and improve the health of moms and babies across the state of Tennessee. This recent grant from Amerigroup will support March of Dimes efforts to curb smoking in Tennessee, which ranks among the top states in the nation with the highest prevalence of pregnant smokers. Smoking among pregnant woman has been proven to increase the chance of premature births and other adverse birth outcomes. November also marks Prematurity Awareness Month and November 17 is World Prematurity Day.
Prematurity is the number one killer of babies in the U.S., and babies born even a few weeks early have higher rates of illness and hospitalization compared to full-term newborns. In addition to the toll on families, economic costs for prematurity are estimated at more than $26 billion annually by the National Academy of Medicine.
The Amerigroup Foundation grant will enable the March of Dimes to make smoking cessation available to additional women in Tennessee by supporting programs throughout the state. The grant will provide smoking cessation services to pregnant women and help improve health outcomes. Research has shown that babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than babies born to nonsmokers to have birth defects, have a low birth weight or be born too soon.
“This grant allows the March of Dimes to provide much-needed support and services for thousands of moms, to help them have healthy, full-term pregnancies and healthy babies,” said Paul E. Jarris, MD, MBA, senior vice president and chief medical officer of the March of Dimes. “The March of Dimes applauds Amerigroup Foundation for its dedication to better health for American families and their continued support of our mission to help give every baby a fighting chance.”
The March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign, launched in 2003, seeks to raise awareness of the problem and to lower the rate of premature birth to 8.1 percent of births by 2020 and to 5.5 percent by 2030. The $60,870 grant to the March of Dimes is part of Amerigroup Foundation’s ongoing commitment to addressing health disparities and improving public health in Tennessee. Through its Healthy Generations program, the Amerigroup Foundation is working to address some of the nation’s most complex health issues, among them, reducing the incidence of low birth weight babies and engaging mothers in prenatal care.
The new grant continues a longstanding relationship between Amerigroup Foundation and March of Dimes to improve maternal and infant health. Most recently, in 2015-2016, a $1 million grant from Amerigroup Foundation’s parent foundation, helped the March of Dimes provide prevention services to 6,600 women, including those reached by smoking cessation programs in three states. To learn more about the Foundation, visit
About the March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites and To participate in our annual signature fundraising event, visit If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our community to find comfort and support. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

How to choose and care for your Christmas tree

By Rick Thomason

University of Tennessee
Johnson County Extension Director

Selecting the perfect tree is essential when it comes to decorating for Christmas.  Get the best tree you can to ensure it lasts and looks great the entire holiday season.  There are a lot of Christmas tree options out there from which to choose.

If you are cutting your own Christmas tree, there are likely many tree farms in your area that will allow you to choose a tree and cut it down yourself.  If you’ll be cutting your own, be sure you leave the house with a hand saw, some twine, a blanket for when you strap the tree to your vehicle and some gloves to protect your hands.
If you will be buying a pre-cut tree, make sure it is freshly cut.  Touch the needles and branches to see if a significant amount comes off in your hand.  Lightly bang the base of the tree on the ground.  If an excessive amount of needles fall off, the tree is not fresh.  Test the limbs to see if they are sturdy enough to hold the weight of the ornaments.  Also, if the tree is fresh, you should be able to smell the tree’s fragrance easily.  The tree should be a dark green color all over with no areas of brown needles.  Check to be sure that the bottom of the tree trunk is sticky with resin.  Needles should not break when bent between the fingers.  As when cutting down a tree yourself, bring twine and a blanket for strapping the tree to the top of your car if you don’t have a truck or similar vehicle with room to haul the tree.
Find the right location for your tree.  A little forethought will help avoid any problems once you have your tree and start decorating for Christmas.

Take the time to measure the dimensions of your room.  Use a measuring tape to check the height, bearing in mind the dimensions of your tree stand.  It’s a good idea to leave at least 6 inches from the ceiling to the top of your tree.  Don’t forget to ensure that the room is wide enough for the size of the tree you want if you’re going to place the tree in a corner.  Write these measurements down and take your tape measure with you when you go to purchase your tree.
When you get your new tree home, be sure to put it into a bucket of water as you prepare to erect it.  Don’t place the tree in high-traffic areas where it could get knocked over by children or pets.  Trees are usually best placed in a corner or in front of a window for optimal effect.  Never place your tree near a heat source, such as a radiator or fireplace, as this can present a fire hazard.

Consider anchoring the tree to a wall with a thin rope or heavy-duty string as an added safety feature to help stabilize the tree.  You can use this safety feature and easily hide it so it doesn’t detract from your tree’s appearance.

Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.  The average tree can soak up to a gallon of water a day.  A dry tree can be a fire hazard.  With good care, a Christmas tree can easily stay fresh for a month or even longer.
Before stringing lights on the tree, make sure the bulbs and the light string itself is in working order.  Use lights rated for indoor use only.  Consider using LED holiday lights.  They’re more efficient than regular light strings and don’t put off as much heat.  Decorate the tree the way you want.  This is the fun part!
Dispose of your tree properly after the holiday season.  Don’t just throw out your tree with the trash.  Recycle or mulch it yourself.  Many municipalities have recycling centers where you can take your tree or have it picked up for recycling.

Santa’s mailbox in front of courthouse

Santa’s Red Letter Box will be in front of the courthouse starting Wed., Nov. 22nd. Letters mailed to Santa in this mailbox will be delivered directly to the North Pole and will not need postage. Children will need to be sure to put their name and address in the letter so that Santa will know who wants what and where to find you. The Red Letter Box will remain in place until Dec. 20th. Don’t delay too long, start thinking about your own letter today!

New plans for moving Doe Mountain forward

Willie Hammons, Commissioner Kevin Triplett, the commissioner for Tennessee Development of Tourism and Tate Davis address the future of tourism in Johnson County

By Tate Davis

Doe Mountain Executive Director

Commissioner Kevin Triplett and Dave Jones of the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development visited the Doe Mountain Adventure Center on Harbin Hill Road Friday morning to discuss the next steps in building Doe Mountain into a world-class wilderness adventure destination. State Senator Jon Lundberg and Representative Timothy Hill joined the delegation, underscoring the importance of the project to the State of Tennessee. Discussions focused on marketing the trail system, which currently has more than 50 miles of trails and funding for additional expansion next year.
The Friday meeting followed fast on the heels of the Johnson County Commissioners transferring land to the Doe Mountain Recreation Authority (DMRA) for permanent restroom facilities at the Harbin Hill Trailhead the previous evening. Restroom construction had become critical with the increasing number of visitors to Doe Mountain. The Authority plans to break ground on that project and begin refurbishing the historic Kettlefoot Fire Lookout Tower, high atop Doe Mountain, over the next several months. A grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission will fund much of the work, which will be complemented by a new hiking and biking trail climbing more than 1,200 feet from the Adventure Center to the tower on the summit of Kettlefoot Peak.
DMRA officials Frank Arnold, Dennis Shekinah, Chairman Willie Hammons and Executive Director Tate Davis were eager to discuss improving the Doe Mountain project. In late October, the Authority added single track Trail M1 and opened the newly reconstructed Trail 15, linking Harbin Hill with the Pioneer Village Shopping Center in Mountain City. The new Trail 15 makes it much easier for visitors to reach Pioneer Village for food and fuel. Moving forward, the Authority plans on immediately ratcheting up marketing, particularly in North Carolina, source of well over half of Doe Mountain’s visitors. DMRA also hopes to spur investment in adventure tourism businesses, such as bike and ATV rental shops, catering to the growing tourist traffic.

Johnson County Middle School hosts robotics competition; wins three awards

Robotics teams ready their robots for competition Saturday at JCMS.

By Paula Walter

It was once again competition time for the Johnson County robotics teams. Twenty-five teams from across the state of Tennessee participated in the VEX competition this past Saturday. This year, the competition was held on home turf at Johnson County Middle School.
After opening ceremonies with Tennessee State Representative, Timothy Hill, the competition was underway. VEX competitions have become the largest and the fastest growing competitive robotics program for students across the world, from elementary school to college students. There are over 20,000 teams who come from 45 countries worldwide that participate in more than 1,500 competitions.
Teams of students design and build robots that play against each other in an engineering challenge. Students on robotics team develop lifelong skills that include, among others, teamwork, leadership and communications. Competitions are held year round and are open on local, state and national levels.
The competitions are held on a 12’ by 12’ square field. There are two teams, a red and a blue team, who face off in matches against each other. The competition consists of a 15-second autonomous period where the robots are programmed to participate in the match without human interaction, and then one minutes and 45 seconds driver controlled play. The students program, design and build the robots.
There are 80 cones in the competition field. Winners are determined by the team whose robots stack the most cones on goals, have the highest stacks of cones and also the highest number of parking robots. The object is to earn the highest score.
Not only do teams have to win with the number of points per match, but the students must explain the process for designing, building and programming their robots. In addition, they are responsible for writing the code to run the programs. The students keep an extremely detailed notebook full of pictures, drawings and intricate descriptions of the process they followed for the judges to examine during the competition.
Johnson County has four VEX robotic teams, two from the middle school and two from the high school. The teams are made up of a minimum of three students who each have different duties they are responsible for. Middle school students and high school students compete together. They meet after school in an after school program held in Susan Quave’s classroom in Johnson County Middle School. It’s not uncommon to find students sitting down and writing code in one classroom, and others cheering for their robots in a match off in the classroom next door.
“There are several state qualifying awards that are given out at a tournament,” said Quave.” “The high school team that includes Dalton Sluder, Lauren Paterson, Jackson Mays and Ryan Bilodeau won the prestigious high school excellence award.” According to Quave, the high school team that includes Emily Irizarry, Jonathan Wilcox, Alex Jennings competed in the semifinals.
“Our middle school team 3075A was on the alliance (three teams) that won as tournament champions,” said Quave. “This team also was won the middle school design awards.” Johnson County Middle School team A includes Jackie Jenson, Brandon Sutherland and Dillon Long.
Johnson County Middle School team 3075B includes Wyatt, also known as “Big W” Decker, Damon Thompson and Mcgreger Barnhill, who is the team captain and writes the notebook for Big W’s team. This team also competed in the semifinals. “I got interested when I was in Doe Elementary,” said Decker. “One of my teachers suggested it and I got interested. I’ve started thinking about my future and how good this would look in a resume. I have to keep my grades up as well. I am the main driver and programmer for the team.“ According to Thompson, who is on the same team as Decker, he just started working on the robotic team at the beginning of the school year. “I mostly build and fix. I am the main builder,” said Thompson.
There will be several more tournaments scheduled before the state tournament in March of 2018.
“The teams will compete in January again to seal their spot at the State Championship, which is held March 2-3 in Nashville,” Quave added. The coaches for the Johnson County Robotics high school are Kasi Dishman, Rebecca Byers and Craig Sluder. The middle school coaches are Susan Quave, Dave Quave, Mr. Sentell and Dr. Brenda Eggers.
An endeavor of this size cannot be possible without the assistance of the community and Johnson County Middle School. Quave would like to thank those who have donated generously to the program.



Addie Bobbitt knows the heartache of losing a loved one to drugs

Addie Bobbitt (far right) and other ladies associated with the Kari Home for Women in Vilas, NC

By Paula Walter

Addie Bobbitt knows the heartache of losing a loved one to drugs. Her daughter, Josie, died from a drug overdose in June of 2015. She was 33 years old. After a move to the Boone, North Carolina area, Bobbitt ran across an article in a magazine about a recovery home for women In Vilas, just outside of Boone, who are struggling with substance abuse. Kari’s Home for Women, established in May, 2015, provides a safe place for women over 18 where they can heal, emotionally, physically and spiritually in a six-month program.
According to Bobbitt, her immediate thoughts after reading about the home for women in recovery was how could she help better their lives and what could she do to make a positive difference. She was no stranger to helping those people heal from addiction as she had previously worked with a women’s recovery home in Florida. “I feel if my daughter had been in a recovery house, she would be alive today,” Bobbitt said.
Bobbitt not only wants to work with the recovery home residents in Vilas, but one of her goals is to establish a faith-based recovery home for women in Johnson County. She has another goal that is close to her heart. Bobbitt wants to be trained and go into the jails and let women who are jailed know there is a place for them as they recover from drug addiction. According to Bobbitt, often the women don’t know where to go after being released from jail. She remains in close contact with Dawn Knighton, who runs two recovery houses in Ormond Beach, Florida. “Dawn will take them in Ormond Beach,” she added.
According to Bobbitt, she has been offered a home in Johnson County that could be easily be turned into a recovery house. However, at this time, she has not been able to find counselors for the potential residents. Without counselors, the program will not get off the ground. Bobbitt is ready to hit the ground running, but still lacks a key component to the program. “We are looking for a perfect fit for experienced counselors to work with those with drug and alcohol situations.”
Bobbit partners with Mark Sijthoff, who has lived in Johnson County since 1999, to work towards their goals of helping women dealing with addictions. “Mark and I are very adamant about starting a recovery home in Johnson County,” Bobbitt added. She is hoping to have enough funds donated so there would be no charge for the recovery program as the women begin to heal.
If you are interested in helping Kari’s Home for Women add more housing for additional women, they are looking for volunteers the first weekend in December to renovate a mobile home. There will also be a fundraiser rummage sale for Kari’s Home for Women on December 2nd from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm at Faith Bridge Methodist Church off Route 321 and Aho Road in Vilas, beside the Mustard Seed.
If you have any questions, Bobbitt can be reached at addiebobbitt1@gmail or 386-717-0267.

Mountain City Elementary School recognizes 2017 stampede winners

Raising money, getting exercise, and just having fun is a good combination. Students, staff, and parents enjoyed walking laps while raising money for their school at the 2017 “Stampede” walkathon at Mountain City Elementary School. Prizes were recently awarded to all students who participated, and school wide winners were announced. Winners were: School Wide Winner: Miley Reynolds; Top Five: Landen Johnson, Jaden Picazo, Mack White, Karlie Jo Fletcher, and Gaston Dugger; Grade Level Winners: Pre-K/Head Start-Cooper Ingia, Kindergarten-Sara Beth Pennington, First Grade-Clara Wilson, Second Grade-Gavin Mahala, Third Grade-Addy Snyder, Fourth Grade-Isaac Lewis, Fifth Grade-Jasmine Cunningham, and Sixth Grade-Natalie Oliver and Kevin Horner; Poster Design Winners: Mrs. Baker’s Class (PreK-2nd) and Mrs. Shepherd’s Class (Grades 3-6). Students who collected the most donations for the ticket drawings were: School Wide Winner-George Grill and the Top Three-Hannah Fletcher, Zyra Baker, and Ethan Reece. A total of $15,910.25 was collected to purchase instructional supplies and materials for Pre-K/Head Start-sixth grade. Mountain City Elementary School would like to thank the students, staff, parents, volunteers, community and businesses for supporting this event.