4-H reports from Johnson County students

In our last 4-H meeting we had 6 club points. To start the meeting, Kayden Epperly led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Next, Ashton Dollar led the 4-H pledge. Johnalyn Yates gave the thought of the day. After the roll was called, Carson Brown read the minutes from the last meeting. Sarah Morris announced our next project which is Public Speaking. Last, the winners of the ornament contest were announced. In 3rd place was Kayden Epperly, 2nd place was Maleia Leonard, and 1st place was Zahlan McNeal. Everyone in our class got blue ribbons!
Desirea Robinson
Mrs. Gregory’s 5th Grade
Roan Creek Elementary
Today is October 7, 2017 and the project for this month is to write a speech. We talked about the different parts of a speech. Abel Johnson opened the meeting. April Ferguson led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Zoe Epperly led us in the 4-H pledge. Chloe Sutherland gave the thought of the day. The winners of the ornament contest were: Chloe Sutherland- 1st place, Landon Greene- 2nd place, and Liam Cranford- 3rd place.
Zoe Epperly
Mr. Timbs’ 4th Grade
Roan Creek Elementary
On November 1, 2017 Mrs. Proffitt’s 6th grade class had their 4-H meeting. We learned about the poster contest and we can think of it as designing a mini billboard advertising 4-H. Posters are due on December 6, 2017. The winners of the Public Speaking contest were: Reese Young- 3rd place with her speech about Joan of Arc, Makenzie Kelly- 2nd place with her speech about Mary, Mother of Jesus, and in Ezra Howard- 1st place with his speech about Joseph, Father of Jesus.
Bryana Hayworth
Mrs. Proffitt’s 6th Grade
Doe Elementary
Today I will be talking about our 4-H meeting in Mrs. Kittle’s class. We as of now have 3 club points and 0 service points. I, Sierra Green, led the 4-H pledge. Makynna Younce led the 4-H Pledge and Adrian Arguello gave the thought of the day. The next project is the poster contest. The winners of the Public Speaking contest were: Stephanie Knight-3rd place, Nathan King-2nd place, and Lauryn Bishop- 1st place.
Sierra Green
Mrs. Kittle’s 6th Grade
Mountain City Elementary




Bradley Hardie’s battle with Barrett’s Esophagus

Bradley Hardie

By Paula Walter

Bradley Hardie had always been a healthy man. He was an airline pilot for 23 years and health was a high priority for him. Hardie’s father, a doctor, had prescribed a protein pump inhibitor (PPI) for his son in 1985 to help manage his acid reflux.

After years of medication, Hardie came across research on PPIs that showed that with diet changes, people may be able to get off their medications. Hardie successfully weaned himself off his PPI, but noticed a sudden drastic change in his weight.
In January of 2016, Hardie’s doctor wanted him to have an endoscopy that would take a look down Hardie’s esophagus. The results came back as Barrett’s Esophagus, a precancerous condition that is seen mostly in those who have suffered with acid reflux for a long time period. A biopsy was performed on Hardie and it came back negative for cancer.
Six month later, Hardie went for a six-month check up as a follow up to the Barrett’s Esophagus diagnosis. Initially, the doctor didn’t see anything but they decided to go ahead and perform a biopsy. It came back positive for cancer. According to Hardie, the doctor was surprised, as they didn’t see anything with the endoscope procedure.

On July 8th, Hardie had surgery. According to Hardie, he and his wife, Robyn, thought his esophagus would be cut approximately five centimeters above the area affected by the Barrett’s esophagus. However, the entire esophagus was removed. According to Hardie, his stomach is now attached to the top of his throat. His doctor informed him that patients heal better if the entire esophagus is removed, rather than a portion of it. Hardie did not require radiation or chemotherapy.

Hardie now sleeps on a wedge to keep his head elevated to prevent food from going into his lungs, causing him to aspirate and possibly develop pneumonia. He has noticed there are times since he had the surgery where he is queasy and nauseous.

According to Hardie, he left the hospital armed with little information. Hardie would like to have been more informed and educated regarding the surgery, his recovery and what to expect after the operation. He and his wife, Robyn, came across the Esophageal Cancer Education foundation, a support group that includes a conference call. The group has been informative and helpful during his recovery. Hardie stresses to know your options and be an informed patient.

Hardie has regained his strength since the surgery. “I’m a grateful guy,” he stated. “I’m lucky. I’m glad to be here.”
Common symptoms of Barrett’s Esophagus include heartburn, regurgitation, trouble swallowing foods, long-lasting dry cough and/or hoarseness of voice.

A poppy flower, red as blood, may help us acknowledge the new wars being fought in our own backyards

An Opinion Article by Dan Weber, president of the
Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC]
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov 10 – The world was a dangerous place during World War I.  It was even more dangerous during World War II.  And, it was frightening enough during the Cold War that ensued.  Then came the Korean War and Viet Nam.  And, now our valiant soldiers are maimed and die in far away deserts and barren lands as we seek to stem the threat posed by Jihad.
Meanwhile, we face a new kind of conflict today, one that is just as deadly and fearsome as any we faced in the past-perhaps even more so.  This new insidious threat cannot be contained by trench warfare as the allies waged in the First World War.  It cannot be won with a massive invasion like the one that took place in Normandy 73 years ago.  Nor will it abate with a truce as were those that were negotiated in Korea and Southeast Asia.
Unlike guns and cannons and missiles and such, ideologies are the deadly elements of the battles being fought in the 21st Century.  They fuel a kind of insanity that was ushered in on September 11, 2001 and that continues to beget unexpected mayhem and death.
Perhaps, the reason this new kind of warfare scares the living daylights out of us is because it requires no battlefields.  The fighting is done on our streets, in our churches at festive occasions such as a concert featuring pop music.  The theaters of operations are literally in our own backyards.  The purpose of the anarchy is elusive.  Is it conquest that drives the perpetrators.  Or is it a malevolence that lurks in the deep recesses of their minds.
We saw that last Sunday when a gunman opened fire and killed 26 innocent worshipers and wounded 20 others at a church in an otherwise peaceful Baptist Church in a suburb of San Antonio, TX.  Just six days earlier in New York City unsuspecting bicyclers and pedestrians were mowed down by a truck driven by a lone terrorist as his victims took the sun on a bicycle path in lower Manhattan.  Eight died and many others were injured.
That attack in New York happened within a stone’s throw of the site of the World Trade Center where the deadliest sneak attack in American history took place in 2001.  Thousands died when two terrorists hijacked commercial airliners and flew into the Twin Towers, piloted by crazed Jihadi murderers.  Their companions used two other hijacked planes in an attack on the Pentagon and in a thwarted attempt to fly their plane into the White House, resulting in many, many more victims of senseless violence.  Brave civilian soldiers – the passengers aboard that aircraft – took up the fight and forced their fanatical abductors to crash their plane into a field in Pennsylvania.  All aboard were killed.
Meanwhile, in Las Vegas last month a shooter used an automatic weapon to kill 58 concertgoers and wound nearly 500 others.  He did it from the comfort of his high-rise hotel room overlooking the venue.
I could go on and on listing the heinous events that have occurred in recent years in the U.S. and in England, France, Germany, Belgium and the other battlefields of the existential threats of the new millennium.  More important, I am at a loss to think of a solution-a way to stop the madness.
All I can do is to recollect that this weekend we memorialize all those that fought in wars past and present.  We call the day Veterans’ Day in honor of those valiant soldiers, sailors and airmen who risked and lost their lives protecting their homeland.  Some call it Remembrance Day, which is perhaps a more apt moniker as we take the time to remember not just all those who fought our wars but all those who lost their own lives – the innocent civilians who are the victims of conflict.
The day was originally known as Armistice Day to memorialize the end of World War I on November 11, 1918.  Wearing a red poppy flower in one’s lapel quickly became a way of publicly acknowledging the horrors of that war and the sacrifices that were made.
Some still wear the poppy flower.  Fewer of us can remember the poem that spawned the symbol-a plaintive lament written by John McCrae, a Canadian soldier, in May of 1915 at the height of World War I – a war that was supposed to be the War to end all Wars.  It begins:
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row,
that mark our place; and in the sky
the larks, still bravely singing, fly
scarce heard amid the guns below.”
The Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC] is the largest conservative senior advocacy in the U.S.

Laurel Bloomery Family and Community Education get crafty to raise funds for 4-H scholarships

The members of the Laurel Bloomery Family and Community Education crafted pottery spoon holders, patriotic wreaths, homemade soaps and a few other items, which will be sold in the gift shop at the 36th Annual Tennessee Association of Family and Community Education Conference to be held November 5th-8th in Knoxville, TN. These proceeds will be used for 4-H Scholarships and training programs across Tennessee. To learn more, or to join a Family and Community Education club in your area, please contact Sarah Ransom at 727-8161 to find the club nearest you.

The Johnson County Farmers Market has come a long way

By Richard Calkins

The Johnson County Farmers Market has come a long way since its founding in 2008 by a pioneering group of local producers. With the recent approval to build a permanent home at Ralph Stout Park, the summer-time farmers market is now a well-established local institution.

The aim of the market, from the beginning, has been two-fold. First, to bring fresh, locally-grown produce to the residents of Johnson and surrounding counties, not just because it tastes better and lasts longer, but also to support healthy eating. And second, to support the local economy by helping area farmers, and those producing value-added agricultural products, to grow their income by selling directly to consumers.

More recently, we’ve launched a winter-time farmers market, with essentially the same two objectives. As with the start-up of the summer market, however, it will take time to develop into a fully established local institution.

The good news is that we have had a very successful start-up. Located in the warm and cozy basement of the welcome center, our first Saturday session attracted a dozen different vendors and more than 150 customers. We were able to offer a variety of fresh, local produce, from hydroponically-grown lettuce to organically grown carrots and collards, from the last of the tomatoes and eggplant to the first of the cool-weather crops like kale, spinach, and bok choi, along with freshly-pressed apple cider, farm-fresh eggs, jams and jellies, local honey, and freshly-baked bread and pastries. We also had a number of craft vendors offering jewelry, lotions and soaps, stained-glass items, Christmas ornaments, and the like – just in time for the holidays.

The importance of the winter market, however, goes well beyond the virtues and benefits of a traditional summer farmers market. What we are trying to do, in fact, is to help in the development of an entirely new form of agricultural enterprise. While Johnson County has been predominantly an agriculture-based economy from the time of the European settlers, it has become almost impossible to make a living on a traditional family farm. With the demise of the green bean market, the disappearance of dairy farms, and the loss of tobacco as a cash crop, about all that’s left is beef cattle and hay.

Given the start-up costs of land, equipment, and cattle, it is nearly impossible for beginning farmers to make a start, and even for those inheriting a family operation, the uncertainty surrounding market prices make it a somewhat risky undertaking. And yet there is growing enthusiasm among young people, veterans, and even retirees for getting into the farming business. There is also a large and growing number of “support groups” for beginning farmers in this area. Increasingly, these aspiring farmers are adopting a different farming model, one developed (among others) by Elliot Coleman in Maine and JM Fortier in Quebec, Canada, often referred to as “market gardening”.

This model involves four key, complementary and inter-dependent elements: growing with organic methods (of increasing importance to consumers, and with a higher price point); intensive (using only two acres or less); four-season (using season-extending methods such as “hoop houses” to maximize annual production), and direct-to-consumers marketing (cutting out the middle-man).
One of the challenges of implementing this model, of course, is that of the “chicken and egg”: without a sufficient number of local farmers growing year-round, it’s difficult to establish a winter market; and without an established winter market, it’s difficult for four-season market farmers to get up and running. But here in Johnson County, we’ve made a start. With the support of the community, we are confident that we can grow the number of farm families able to share in this endeavor, simultaneously expanding their family income and meeting the demand that clearly exists for fresh, locally-grown (and value-added) agricultural products.
Stay tuned!


Winter lawn care tips for a better spring

By Rick Thomason

University of Tennessee
Johnson County Extension Director

The winter is when you spend the least amount of time thinking of your lawn.  You have put the lawn mower away and are ready for a few months of relaxation before you have to start the lawn maintenance routine again.  There are a few things you can do during even the harshest winter that can ensure a beautiful, lush yard once spring rolls around again.
Late fall or early winter are the best times to fertilize cool season grasses with phosphorous and potash.  Since the majority of the lawns in North America are made from these grasses, it is a good bet your yard has a typical cool season blend.  Before the first freeze, give your lawn a thorough fertilizing to replace all of the nutrients that can be lost from the soil during the hot summer months.  Once the weather turns cold, the fertilizer will remain in the soil and feed your lawn’s roots all winter long.  When spring comes your lawn will be full of healthy, lush, green grass that has been feeding on good fertilizer nutrients underneath the snow.

It is easy for items to be left on the lawn during the long, cold winter when no one goes outside very often.  Stray logs, toys, and even lawn furniture can be accidentally overlooked before the first snow comes.  Make sure that you clear the lawn of all objects after you mow it for the last time of the year.  Do an occasional sweep of the lawn every couple of weeks during the winter, as well.  If an object is left on the grass during cold weather and snowfall it can create large dead spots because of the weight of the object. In the spring the grass in that area will be stunted and thinner than the rest of the yard.

When the grass is brown and short it can be easy for people to forget that it shouldn’t be walked on.  Try to prevent very much foot traffic on your winter lawn.  Grass is relatively resilient, but it will have a difficult time recovering if a path becomes worn across the lawn.  Keep your sidewalks cleared of ice and snow so that you and your guests won’t be tempted to cut across the yard very often.

Never allow anyone to park a truck or a car on your lawn.  Even the smallest vehicle will leave impressions in the soil and kill off the grass that is underneath the tires.  Using the lawn as a parking lot is the fastest way to kill the good grass and make room for crabgrass and other types of weeds.

There really is not much lawn care that needs to be done during the cold months of winter.  If you properly prepare the lawn during the fall, it will be fine until the warm days of spring arrive once more.
·Make sure you aerate, fertilize, and mow the lawn before the first freeze of the season.

·Rake away any dead leaves that may have fallen and collected on your yard to avoid wet spots that can become mossy or moldy.

·Keep the lawn cleared of debris and help everyone in the family respect the yard while it is dormant.

Once you have taken care of everything that needs to be done during the fall, you will be ready to enjoy a nice cozy winter indoors with your family before lawn care season begins again in the spring.
Source: www.lawncare.org

Joe Ray says his new cochlear implant requires him to learn how to listen again

Ray hopes his cochlear implant will allow him to resume activities that his loss of hearing had interfered with.

By Paula Walter

Doctor Joe Ray has struggled with hearing issues for many years. In fact, he failed the hearing test three times when he joined the Air Force. He wasn’t sure what caused the hearing loss, but he did recall running a jackhammer one summer in his youth.
“I didn’t realize I had a hearing problem until I started square dancing at 58,” Ray stated. “Now at 66, I noticed I had trouble understanding the calls. I would ask them to turn down the music and to repeat calls.” According to Ray, his hearing issues were one of the reasons he retired from dental practice at 61. “I didn’t want my hearing loss to impact my profession,” he stated.
According to Ray, he decided to go a different route when he considered hearing aids. He needed a device that could help him understand speech more clearly.
Ray’s hearing tests showed he only had hearing of eight percent in his left year and seven percent in his right year. “Hearing becomes a problem after hearing loss gets to 60 percent,” Ray stated.
After consulting with his doctors, Ray decided to go the route of a cochlear implant. It is a small electronic device that offers a different option when hearing aids do not offer the accuracy needed to understand speech.
According to Ray, Medicare does not pay for a cochlear implant until the hearing loss registers at less than 30 percent. In Ray’s case, he needed assistance for speech interpretation. “I could hear low frequencies,” he stated. “A woman’s voice is harder to understand than a man’s.”
After doing some research online on different hearing aids and what they offered, Ray decided to take it one step further and he made the trip from Mountain City to Asheville, North Carolina, to see doctors that specialized in cochlear implants. On August 28th, he received an implant in one ear. Ray explained the implant as a wire wrapped around the auditory nerve.
“You lose your natural hearing,” Ray stated. “It replaces your natural hearing. It takes about three months before you can notice a difference. I can hear better already. Basically, I had to learn how to listen again.”
Typical side effects from the procedure include some dizziness for up to two days, but basically patients should feel fairly normal and recover quickly. During Ray’s surgery, there were some complications with the wire. Ray had a slower than expected recovery and had to lay completely still, with his eyes shut to regain his balance. According to Ray, it takes time for the brain to adjust if there is dizziness.
“It takes awhile,” he continued. “It’s not for the faint of heart. You need to be a determined sort of individual.” According to Ray, he is currently hearing sounds he hadn’t heard in a long time. ”I can hear the sound of leaves rustling,” he said.
Ray explained that Medicare would cover the surgery if your speech were impacted. According to Ray, if you have Plan F as supplemental insurance, you shouldn’t have to pay more than $50 to $100 out of pocket. The cost for the equipment, testing and operation is approximately $100,000.
According to Ray, overall he is glad he had the surgery. “I am hearing sound I haven’t heard before, he said. I had to quit doing things because I couldn’t hear.” In just a few weeks, the processor should be turned on, and within three months, Ray expects he should be hearing pretty well.
According to Ray, if you are considering surgery, read about cochlear implants and any side effects. “It’s a process to learn to hear again,” he stated. “The closest way to explain how I hear right now is to compare the people’s voices to a tracheotomy patient.” The brain has to adjust to where his hearing becomes the new normal. “It’s a whole lot better to where I was before the operation,” he said.
“Do your due diligence,” Ray advised. “It can be a life changing event.”

Tips on how to successfully transplant established trees

By Rick Thomason

University of Tennessee
Johnson County Extension Director

Planning and preparation are the keys to successfully transplanting established trees from one area of your property to another. Transplanting should take place during the dormant season if possible.
To determine the required size of the root ball, measure the stem/trunk caliper diameter six inches above the ground. The root ball to be transplanted should be 10 to 12 inches for each inch of stem/trunk caliper. For example, if the stem/trunk caliper is 3 inches, then the root ball should be 30 to 36 inches in diameter.
To prepare the tree for transplanting, insert a sharp spade to prune the roots around the root ball of the plant to be moved. Prune eight8 to 12 inches deep, three to six months before transplanting. New roots will form from the severed roots. When it is time to transplant, dig 4 to 6 inches outside the original root pruning cut to capture the maximum number of new roots. If soil moisture is low, water the plant a few days prior to transplanting to keep the soil in the root ball from crumbling. The root ball should be about 1/2 to 2/3 as deep as the diameter. Dig carefully and completely around the root ball to keep the root ball intact. Place a large piece of burlap on the ground and gently roll the ball onto the burlap. The burlap should cover the entire root ball. Firmly wrap the burlap and tie it around the root ball. Keep the soil and roots together as much as possible to minimize damage to the root system during the move.
Root balls on larger plants could weigh several hundred pounds. In extreme cases, a tree dolly or heavy machinery may be required. Never lift the plant by the stem/trunk. Always lift from under the root ball.Transplant the tree or shrub into a new hole using established planting recommendations. Do not plant too deep. The top of the root ball should be at or slightly above ground level. Refill the hole with original soil. Firm the soil and water thoroughly. Mulch with two to three inches of organic material. Do not use fast-release or high-nitrogen fertilizer at time of planting.
Adequate soil moisture is critical for several months after transplanting. Water when necessary, but do not overwater. Water slowly to allow water to infiltrate and soak the ground thoroughly. Water once a week during drought periods, enough to have the soil damp to a depth of two feet. Soil moisture can easily be checked by using a spade to open the ground for inspection. Watch for signs of stress, such as wilting leaves, leaf scorch, discoloration of foliage and stunted growth. Transplant existing plants only to similar environments.
Homeowners often are disappointed when transplanting native plants from the woods because the plants perform poorly or die. Make sure that environmental factors such as light, soil moisture and soil type are similar between the two sites. Plants that are growing in the shade usually have a difficult time adjusting to full sunlight. Be patient with your transplanted tree or shrub. Often, you will not see vigorous growth within the first 12 months after transplanting. Usually it takes a few years for trees to become established in your landscape.

Harold Arnold, a man known simply as ‘Coach,’ celebrated by an entire community

Steve and Donna Arnold attend the senior center’s tribute to their father, Coach Harold Arnold.

By Paula Walter

A large crowd gathered at the Johnson County Senior Center this past week as Monday, October 23rd was designated Coach Harold Arnold Day. Tables were covered with pictures, framed awards and newspaper articles that all gave tribute to the man simply know as Coach.
Coach was a football coach, in addition to being the health and physical education teacher at Johnson County High School. In his high school years, he played football, baseball and basketball for Johnson County. After graduation, Coach headed for Lees McRae College and East Tennessee State University where he played football. He was a veteran, and after he left the service, he headed right back to Johnson County where he started his career in 1952. He was a teacher, in addition to coaching football, baseball and basketball for many years. In the words of Jack Swift, Johnson County Historian, Coach Harold Arnold truly was a legend in his own time.
It was obvious from listening to several former students and football players that Coach was one of those special people that leave a lasting impression on you. Dick Grayson knew Coach from the time he was 13 years old. Grayson knew him as a teacher, a coach, and a mentor. “He was able to put his heart into it,” he said. Grayson’s recollection of Coach drew smiles and laughter from the large group that gathered to remember Coach. “He was a remarkable man and my mentor,” he said.
Bob Heck’s father was killed when Heck was young. According to Heck, Coach Arnold would pay him a $1 a week to sweep the gym. “He was always nice to me. He was always so sweet to me. He was a father figure. I learned about life from him,” Heck said. “I’m so proud he was in my life.”
Tom Reece played basketball for Coach. “We had respect for our teachers,” Reece shared. “We were in awe of Coach Arnold.” Reece described Coach as neat and organized. According to Reece, after Friday night football games, there were times the kids on the team who lived in Shady Valley stayed at the Arnold home for the night. In the morning, Mrs. Arnold would fix breakfast for all the players before Coach would drive them back over the mountain to Shady Valley. “He was very spiritual and most appreciative,” Reece said. “He was a sharp guy, him and Ralph Stout. I had the utmost respect for him.”
Sonny Stout knew Coach Arnold from the time he was a little boy. According to Stout, Coach was there to take his mother to the hospital to have a baby. “I think he stayed until my brother was born,” he said. According to Stout, Coach always left his key in the car. Kids would move his car and Coach would go in search of it. “He knew who was doing it and he never said a word,” Stout recalled, his face lit up with a grin as he remembered Coach. He told some of the antics of the kids in the community who would put an extra gallon of gas in Coach’s car, and then take it back out. “He was just a great man and we’re going to miss him around town,” Stout stated.
“Coach impacted my life in many different ways,” said Russell Love. “When I remember Coach Arnold, I reflect on his humility, kindness, his wisdom and his quiet demeanor.” Love was from Elizabethton and he came to Johnson County for a job interview. He recalls sitting down and talking to God. “I can’t even afford to feed my family,” he remembered saying. Later that day, Love received a phone call from Coach Arnold. “If you want to be work, be here in Mountain City tomorrow morning. We could afford to eat. That’s a call from Coach Arnold that I will always be thankful for.”
According to Love, Coach Arnold had an impact on many people. “Their lives have been influenced by Coach. He touched my life and so many in the county. He served his country, his community and he served his God.” Love spoke directly to Coach’s son and daughter, Steve Arnold and Donna Arnold, who were both at the tribute. “You don’t know what he means to me,” he said.
According to Swift, among his many honors was his induction into the Johnson County Hall of Fame, the result of many victories and honor for himself and his school and his teams. The Johnson county High School football field was renamed the Harold Arnold Field. “That distinction was well deserved, as many folk would attest,” said Swift.

Johnson County Center for the Arts features select artists or a special theme every month

John Andrews, one of this month’s featured artists, is self-taught in his mediums of wood and metal.

Temple Reece muses over her latest creation.

Johnson County Center for the Arts will feature an Artist of the Month or a special theme every month.
The first theme will be a show entitled “My Appalachia.” It will showcase around 20 artists who have submitted work and been accepted into the show. The “My Appalachia” exhibit will be on display throughout the month of December.
The featured artists for September were Jean Ann Savery and Lynn Walker. Jean Ann has lived in the Appalachian Mountains of Northeast Tennessee most of her life.  She is a former middle school science teacher and incorporates nature as a common theme in her jewelry and pottery pieces.    Her pottery is made using real leaves from the area into food safe, stoneware dishes.  She believes that the beauty in nature is in its imperfection.  Capturing the beauty of leaves in various shapes and forms is her challenge. Jean Ann and her husband, Joe, have three children and four fantastic grandchildren.  She loves teaching and offers pottery and jewelry classes to children and adults in her studio and at the Center for the Arts on College Street in our own Mountain City, Tennessee.
Lynn R. Walker of Mountain City has been drawn to art and wood since he was in his teens, when he carved Grecian columns for a school project and painted sets for plays. As an adult, he was employed sandblasting wooden signs, carving sculptures and building furniture. Throughout his 20 years in the Navy and another 20 years working for the Department of Defense, art in many mediums, photography and woodworking have been a hobby and a passion. While in the Navy, he received an Associates Degree in Commercial Art, which he continues to use in the pyrography and other artistic elements in his wood bowls. About three years ago Lyn took a beginner’s class on wood turning, and he found his niche.  He finds time between bowl turning, to read articles and watch videos that teach and inspire him.  He harvests some of his turning blanks while cutting firewood, and often people who know of his interest offer him trees or beautiful specimens of wood.
Tia Thomas was the featured artist for October.  She is a self-taught professional photographer who enjoys sharing the beauty and diversity of Appalachia. Her goal is to show the world as she sees it through her art. Tia was raised in Johnson County. She continues to live here and raise her family. Her goal is to help her two children both understand and appreciate their Appalachian heritage.
John Andrews and Temple Reece will be the featured artists for November.
Andrews is a self- taught artist working with wood and metal. He built his own blacksmith shop and even has a mobile one that he will be bringing to the Johnson County Arts Center for demonstration during the month of November. He designs many of his works and can look at a photo or drawing and create a beautiful work of art.
Andrews and his family built a chicken coop featured in Backyard Poultry National Magazine as the “Best Little Henhouse in Tennessee. They used all recycled or repurposed materials. He has designed and built many other functional items used for his business in tree work and around the house. Johnny is married to April Andrews and they have a daughter Lillian, age nine, and son Fields, age three. Both Johnny and April are creative and artistic and love passing these traits on to their children. John is kind hearted, is often doing things to help others and loves the Appalachian Mountains and the people. John will be featuring blacksmith works as the featured artist and the Arts Center is looking forward to showcasing some of his talents.
Temple Reece has taught classes to many children, in addition to providing art supplies for many projects. She developed Sunshine and Smiles program, in addition to holding a series of workshops and classes in the “Budding Artists” program. She has also worked with the arts council to provide over 20 scholarships for graduating seniors. She has over 15 years of service. Currently, Temple serves on the Long Journey Home board and the Johnson County Center for the Arts. Temple was chosen to paint an ornament for Tennessee’s First Lady Haslam. She also placed third in the Long Home Journey art show.
Temple is the wife of Johnson County Sheriff, Mike Reece. She has two sons, and Sheriff Reece has one daughter. They have four grandchildren. Family is important to the Reece family and they enjoy being an important part of their lives.
Each featured artist is honored with a reception at the Center for the Arts including refreshments, music and is open to all guests.  The receptions have been wonderfully attended and it has been great to hear the talking, laughter and music inside the Arts Center. Come by and see the work of the featured artist each month and all the other work on display. Most work is available for purchase. You may visit the website at jocoartcenter.org to read more about each artist and all the events and happenings of the Center for the Arts.

New venue for the Johnson County’s Farmers Market

By:  Jana Jones

Farmers Market Manager

This Saturday’s Holiday Market will mark six years that the Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) has set up their tents in the downtown parking lot of Mountain City to bring fresh picked local produce to the residents of Johnson County. We are very grateful to Mayor Larry Potter and the County Commissioners for providing this convenient, central space. Saturday, October 28th will be our final farewell to the downtown venue.

Starting November 4, the Winter Farmers Market will be located in the basement of the Welcome Center, and when spring arrives, the JCFM will relocate to Ralph Stout Park for our 2018 outdoor season!
I want to recognize our Charter Members of the JCFM “Friends of the Market” for 2017. These individuals and companies have been instrumental in ensuring the continuation of the quality market our customers have come to know.
The Rancher Level: Farmers State Bank, Johnson County Bank, Dana & Linda Woodard, Dennis Shekinah, and Sonyia & Mike Douglas.The Homesteader Level: Webb & Gloria Griffith, Bob & Linda Carlough, JP Burnham, Trenton & Kay Davis, and Scott Greiber.The Grower Level: Sandi Cranford, Liz Edgar, Suzy Forrester, Pat Heinemann, Bob & Nancy Hulcher, H.R. Fallin, Sharon Genaille, Kevin & Mary Ellen Golding, Bob & Nancy Hulcher, Sonnie & Mike Keefer, Susan Stephan, Nancie Svensen, Denise Thornquest, Janice Ward, and Ashley Worlock.And I couldn’t finish out our outdoor market season without giving a huge shout out to all of our volunteers that keep the market running so smoothly. Susan Kopacka, Sharon Genaille and Jeremy Boulanger for bookkeeping; Mike Keefer, David Jones, and James Smith for helping to set up and tear down the market each and every Saturday; Eric Nordmark for his architectural and engineering expertise with the pavilion project; and Sonnie Keefer, Fran Boyette, Chris Dandurand, Susan Kopacka, Mary Ellen & Kevin Golding, Sita Ogle, Denise DeRibert, Patty Sanfilippo and Wendy Flowers for all of their volunteer hours at the manager’s booth on Saturdays. I will keep you updated over the winter months as to the status of the Rural Development grants and when we can expect to have the ground breaking for the Ralph Stout Park Pavilion which will be the new permanent home for the JCFM. Remember, if you plan to have produce to sell or handmade crafts or homemade food items to sell, feel free to contact us at JohnsonCountyFM@gmail.com and get on our list of vendors. I hope you will join us for our “Farewell to the Courthouse Parking Lot Market Party” this Saturday. We will have over 24 vendors with an array of baked goods, beautiful produce, decorating items, and one-of-a-kind handmade gifts. We’ll have pumpkin painting for the kids, hot apple cider, and live music by “The Broken Road”. The party starts at 9am until noon and you are all invited!

Local senior citizens walk The Golden Mile

By:  Paula Walter

Assistant Editor

At 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 21st, over 110 senior adults from the Johnson County Senior Center converged on Ralph Stout Park to enjoy a mile walk on the newly completed “Goose Trail.” The concept of a leisurely walk by the seniors was initiated by Kathy Motsinger, the Senior Center Director, in an effort to promote fitness and movement by the participants. The Golden Mile was coordinated by Joan Payne, a former physical education teacher and coach at Johnson County High School. There was enthusiastic participation from those who were barely seniors to others who were 90-plus years young. All participants received a golden t-shirt to commemorate the event and the more than 70 persons who completed the Golden Mile walk were recognized and awarded a medallion for their efforts.
At the completion of their walk, the participants were also rewarded with a nutritious lunch catered by the Coffee House Cafe. The seniors participated in other activities such as “corn hole”, Rook, horse shoes, and blood pressure checks while waiting for all walkers to finish their trek.
The shirts and meal for the event were graciously sponsored by the Extra Mile Ministries (Barbara Seals, Joe Herman, and Priscilla Herman) and unique wood craft door prizes were provided by J. R. Campbell, former JCHS basketball coach. The blood pressure checks were compliments of the Johnson County Community Hospital. The Johnson County Senior Center especially thanks these community sponsors, because without support from them and others like them we would not be able to provide such special activities for our seniors to enjoy.

Just like everyone, seniors just want to have fun

By:  Paula Walter

Assistant Editor

The Johnson County Senior Center is a busy place that seems to be constantly bustling with activity. Under the direction of Kathy Motsinger, it’s become apparent that being a senior can be a lot of fun. According to Motsinger, there are over 100 seniors who frequent the senior center on a regular basis. As a bonus, the majority of the activities at the senior center are free.
Monday morning starts off at 10:00 am with the Silver Sneakers group. The group meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning and there is no charge for the class. “The Silver Sneakers program is one of our biggest exercise programs,” said Motsinger. The exercises are done while seated.
Line dancing with Linda Gee begins at 12:30 on Mondays and Thursdays. A beginning line dancing class will be held on Mondays at 11:30. Contact the senior center for more information if you are interested in this or any of the many classes that are available.
Those seniors interested in playing pool are welcome to come to the senior center every day, all day long. According to Motsinger, there is a large group that enjoys playing pool and there is a pool tournament coming up on November 1, 2nd and 3rd. Last year, there were 37 participants.
On Tuesdays, the quilting bee meets. Exercises for seniors with arthritis with Sarah Ransom through the University of Tennessee Extension are held both Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00 am. Guitar, fiddle, mandolin lessons are held every Tuesday with the Senior Picking Appalachian Music (SPAM) group under the guidance of Kody Norris and Mary Rachel Nally. There is a $5 donation per class. There is also tai chi class every Tuesday at 12:30 (currently a $5 donation). However, Motsinger was just awarded a grant and tai chi classes will be free beginning in January.

Bunco begins at 12:00 pm. If you haven’t played Bunco, it’s easy to learn. It’s also fun to watch the group of women talking and laughing and at times, ringing their cowbells. “Tuesdays are one of our biggest days,” said Motsinger.
There are special outings and events sprinkled throughout the month. This month, planned trips include trips to Walmart, Pigeon Forge, Mayberry, and a visit to see the Brown Mountain Lights.
For those who enjoy crafts, there is card making with Lorraine, adult coloring and quilting bees. There are puzzles, rook and other board games. Crafters attending Crafts with Kay are currently working on both Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations.

Janet Rhea Payne leads the book club and the group just finished reading The Help. They followed up with watching the movie that was based on the book. Motsinger recently was able to purchase a popcorn machine for the center. This month, the book of the month is “The Girls of Atomic City” and the group will meet Wednesday, October 30th at 12:30 to discuss October’s selection.
There is also a brain games team at the senior center. The name of the team is “The First Sunrise Seniors.” They placed third in their first competition last year. “I think everyone was surprised how well we did,” said Motsinger. There is also storytelling with Evelyn Cook on October 30th.
A country breakfast is served every Thursday from 6:30 am until 8:30 am. The cost is $3 and the monies go to support on-going activities for the seniors. Lunch is served Monday through Friday with a suggested donation of $1.00. The meals are hardy and filling.

In addition to all the activities going on, there is the Crazy Hat Day, Wear Your Favorite Apron Day, Longhorn Day (please wear maroon and white), a 50’s Party, and New Year’s Party. “Each month I try to do something special, at least one per month,” said Motsinger.
Part of the program at the senior center includes education, fitness, health, and blood pressure checks. There is a health fair twice a year where a full panel of blood tests is done. There are health screenings and a free flu clinic. There will a health fair including blood work in November. Stayed tune for more information

A trip to Savannah, Charleston and Jekyll Island is being planned for April 30 thru May 4, 2018. The package includes bus transportation, four nights of lodging, eight meals that include four breakfast meals and four dinners. There is a guided trolley tour of Savannah, a visit to historic Charleston, South Carolina, including a harbor cruise, and a guided tour of St. Simons Island and a tram tour of Jekyll Island. Contact the senior center for more at 423-727-8883.
Judging by all the smiling faces at the senior center, they are proof that growing older can be fun and age is indeed just a number.

The Addams Family’ on stage at Heritage Hall again on Friday and Saturday nights

By:  Marlana Ward

Freelance Writer

The beloved television and motion picture classic, The Addams Family, comes to life on the stage of Heritage Hall as JCHS Players and the Johnson County Community Theatre join together to present “The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy“.  The show provides a glimpse into the family dynamics of the creepy and kooky bunch as Wednesday Addams grows up and finds love in an unexpected place.  Antics abound as the Addams’ try to adjust to this new stage of life and as Wednesday introduces her new beau to the family.
This is the first time that the JCHS Players and Johnson County Community Theatre have joined forces for a high school production. This coalition of local thespians allows for more depth and experience to be breathed into the characters portrayed.  The combination of the two troops seems to flow fluidly and shows the great dedication of everyone involved in the local arts scene.
With the Addams Family being an iconic group of characters from many people’s childhood, casting such important roles had to be done with particular care.  Those chosen for the roles of the family do a wonderful job of capturing the oddly endearing family’s mannerisms and essence.  The cast for the family included:  Derek Visser as Gomez Addams; Megan McEwen as Morticia Addams; Travis Ward as Uncle Fester Addams; Kaelyn Sussex as Grandma; Abigail Arnett as Wednesday Addams; Andrew Robinson as Pugsley Addams; and Zach Issacs as the family’s faithful butler, Lurch.
Visser and McEwen glide across the floor and do a wonderful job portraying the roles of the enamored Gomez and his beloved, stoic-faced beauty Morticia.  Sussex and Robinson accurately express the young angst coupled with the uniquely dark sense of humor which Wednesday and her brother Pugsley are loved for.  Bringing that extra bit of strangeness to the stage, Ward’s Uncle Fester has audiences giggling whenever he comes to stage and declares his feelings for his new “love.”  Ever the straight man Lurch, Isaacs’ presence on stage immediately draws the eye as you look for those moments of surprise from the dedicated family servant.
New to the story of the Addams’ is the addition of Wednesday’s love interest and his family.  The seemingly straight-laced family from Ohio include: Conner Long as Lucas Beineke; Scott Loveless as Mal Beineke; and Josie Ward as Alice Beineke. The trio show the awe and hesitation that any family may have as they enter into the Addams residence.  Long’s portrayal of Lucas is a fun representation of how any young man could expect to react as he pursues a relationship with the girl who does not care to fit within society’s norm.  As Mal and Alice, Loveless and Ward portray what on the surface appears to be the everyday ordinary couple, but of course, things are never as perfect as they seem.  Ward’s musical number during one portion of the show brings laughter and perhaps even a few nods of agreement from the ladies in attendance.
Of course, a story about the Addams’ would not be complete without homage to the ancestors who made the family what it is today.

To read the entire article, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.

From farm to fork – a day on the farm

The fourth annual Farm Day proved to be a huge success with 3rd & 4th graders across Johnson County. A partnership between UT-TSU Extension and Farm Bureau, Farm Day gives all third and fourth graders in Johnson County the opportunity to visit a local farm for a day of hands on fun and education. On Monday, October 2nd, students visited Iron Mountain Farms in Butler to learn about agriculture and its’ impact on everyday life. Students visited 9 stations led by local farmers and industry professionals to learn about where their food and other everyday items originate. Stations included beef cattle led by Agricultural Agent Rick Thomason, dairy led by 4-H Program Assistant Leigh Anne Taylor, sheep and wool led by Jane Plaugher and Debbie Stone from the Blue Ridge Fiber Guild, horse led by Katie Shoun-Harrell of Shoun Lumber, poultry led by Lori Kegley, soil conservation and water pollution led by Jason Hughes and Debbie Lipford from the Natural Resource Soil Conservation office, fruits and vegetables led by Cindy Church from the Garden Barn, forestry led by Danny Osborn from the Tennessee Department of Forestry and beekeeping led by Ben Wheeler from the Johnson County Beekeeper’s association. Highlights of the tour included discovering how many different types of wool there are and the long process of making useable items from raw wool, watching honeybees interact and work in an observation hive and tasting the honey, petting Bud a 2,000 pound draft horse and learning that chickens are the closest living relative to the t-rex dinosaur. Throughout the day students learn just how much agriculture impacts their everyday lives and how each meal they eat goes from “Farm to Fork”. Each student also received a bag of goodies to take home and a water bottle courtesy of Farm Bureau and Farm Bureau Women. We appreciate James and Lori Kegley of Iron Mountain Farms for hosting Farm Day along with all the volunteers, speakers and donors who make this event so special for our youth.


All ages stay fit and ‘young at heart’ as they enjoy square dancing together

By Paula Walter

If you happen to pass by the United Methodist Church on a Monday evening, you may just hear the sounds of music and laughter coming from the fellowship hall as The Young at Heart square dancers gather together for an evening of dance, fun and music. Not only is it fun, but square dancing just happens to be the official Tennessee state folk dance.
According to Sarah Ransom, who is the University of Tennessee extension family consumer science agent, there are currently 18-24 active members of the Young at Heart group who meet on Monday evenings. While many of the dancers have been there for years, approximately 10 to 12 new people have recently joined. They vary in age from nine up to 83 years old. The majority of the group are seniors. “The group is very friendly and welcoming,” said Ransom. “We laugh, have fun and have a good time.”
The group has recently offered dance lessons for those who are new to square dancing. There are approximately six home school students who have joined in on the fun and as a bonus, they are able to count their time dancing as a physical education credit. According to Ransom, square dancing is good for you, not only for physical activity, but it helps with memory, recall and listening. “It teaches you teamwork as well,” Ransom said. “You have to remember the order and carry out the steps.”
Besides just having fun, there are many reasons to square dance. It is a great form of stress relief. You and your partner can dance together and it’s a good way to socialize. Dancing is a safe way to exercise. It keeps your brain sharp as you remember the calls and dance steps associated with them. You burn calories, approximately 200 to 400 calories for 30 minutes of dancing. It’s low impact and helps improve your heart health. As with any exercise, it can result in a lower resting heart rate and lower your blood pressure.
It’s been recommended that people get in at least 10,000 steps a day. It’s been estimated that square dancers get in between 9,000 to 10,000 steps per dance. The dance movements help strengthen bones, especially those that are weight bearing. It is also reported to slow down the loss of bone mass. Dancing keeps your joints moving. It’s also been shown that those who engage in mental and physical activities help slow the onset of dementia and Alzheimer disease, and those who dance seem to fall less as they age.
The Young at Heart meeting Monday evenings 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm for those taking lessons, and dancing is from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The cost is $5 per member, $10 for a family, just $2 for beginners and the first two classes are free. You can come alone or with a partner. There are no classes on holidays or if there is inclement weather.
If you have any questions, contact Willie Hammons at 727-8750.

Co-workers and friends at courthouse mourn recent death of Jerry Farmer

A display set up at Johnson County Courthouse in memory of the late Jerry Farmer.

By Paula Walter

The weight of sadness can be felt in the Johnson County Courthouse. One of their own, Jerry Farmer, known to all as “Farmer,” passed away suddenly on Friday, September 29, while he was on duty at the courthouse. Farmer was 67 years old. Despite attempts to revive him, he passed away from a heart attack.
Farmer leaves behind not only his family, but also those he worked with at the courthouse. Even though it’s been a few weeks, their grief is still raw.
At the time of his death, Farmer was in his 46th year of law enforcement. He not only served as a deputy sheriff in Johnson County, but also previously served in Watauga and Yancey counties.
Tom Wilson, the first woman bailiff at the Johnson County Courthouse, has worked for four years at the courthouse. Wilson and Farmer worked together. “He was very loving,” Wilson said. “He never had a hard word to say about anyone. He would go out of his way to help people, even inmates. He was a good Christian man.” According to Wilson, his heart attack was sudden. “He looked as healthy as a bear,” she said with tears in her eyes.
“He was a loving and caring person,” Wilson said. “He loved everyone in the courthouse and there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for you. He was the kind of person you would think would live on and on. God took him for a reason. He’s there with his Mama and other family. We will see him again. He just paved the way for the rest of us. He was my best friend in the whole world.”
Sherrie Fenner, Johnson County Clerk and Master, worked with Farmer approximately nine years. Farmer was often in the courtroom as he was one of the county’s bailiffs. “He liked everything in place and nothing out of place,” Fenner recalled. “He did everything the right way. The worst days he could turn into a good day.” Farmer was one of those special people who had a positive impact on all he met. “Farmer always stood out to people by his happy character, his big heart and his clever grin,” said Fenner. “He was a dear friend and co-worker to me who was always there to help in any way that he could. He left this world doing what he loved to do. The hallways and courtrooms of this courthouse will never be the same without him.”
Farmer’s impact went beyond the courthouse. According to Sheriff Mike Reece, Farmer worked for the sheriff’s department two different times. After working for a while in North Carolina, Farmer contacted Reece. “I want to come back home,” Reece recalled Farmer saying. “Farmer is not someone you meet every day,” Reece said. “He was more than just an employee. He was a friend. I know once I told him something, I knew it was done. I knew he was going to take care of everything.”
According to Reece, he received compliments from different judges that Johnson County always had the best bailiffs. “I always received compliments on Farmer,” he stated. “Farmer was a good person, all the way around. He never complained, never said he was sick. I never knew him to complain.”
According to Reece, anytime anyone needed help, Farmer was there. “He treated everyone the same way,” Reece said. “He was just a unique person, Farmer was. Day or night, I could pick the phone up and he’d be there. There was nothing he didn’t do I asked him. We’re really going to miss him, not only at his job, but having Farmer as a friend.”
During his career, Farmer received numerous awards and was inducted into the American Police Hall of Fame for Distinguished Achievement in public service. He worked as a Deputy Sheriff in Watauga County, and also served as Deputy Sheriff in Yancey County, North Carolina. He also served as police officer in Watauga Medical Center and as chief of security at Chetola Resort. Farmer was buried with military honors. The somber moments of the final call and bag pipes echoed through the air as friends and family gathered to see their Farmer laid to rest.
Farmer leaves behind his wife, Linda, their daughter and two sons, along with a brother and sisters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He also leaves behind a community of people who were blessed to call him friend.



National agency still trying to identify John Doe found in Shady 40 years ago

Sketch from the case file of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)

By Angie A. Gambill

The Tomahawk was contacted recently by the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) requesting information about a body that was found in 1977 in Johnson County. Forty years later the middle-age male remains unidentified. We are reaching out to our readers that lived in the area during this time that might have information helpful to the investigation.
Articles that appeared in The Tomahawk in December of 1977 recount a gruesome tale of some two dozen elderly men living in the abandoned buildings and grounds of the property known as the Shady Mountain Orchard. Many of the men were disabled, some had skin diseases that required hospitalization, and most appeared malnourished and in general poor health.
According to the men interviewed by authorities at the time, they had been living in a facility in Atlantic City, NJ that was run by a man named Lee Cohn. They said they were not in Tennessee by choice, but that Cohn had loaded them up and brought them to the orchard. Later reports said the hotel building in NJ had been condemned and demolished.
The men also reported that there was no heat in the buildings on the property, they were fed only two meals a day consisting of a “small portion of macaroni and some wine,” and alleged that Cohn took all their Social Security and Veterans benefits to pay for room and board. Johnson County Sheriff Burl Brown stated that one resident showed him a receipt to Cohn for $220 per month for “food, lodging and services.” The receipt also showed that he had paid what he said was his entire Social Security check of $217.50, which left him owing $2.50 each month.
According to the articles, charges were filed against Cohn and on September 30, 1977 he was officially “made aware of the minimum standards and regulations for nursing homes and homes for the aged,” and was told that he must meet with local officials to “discuss the problem concerning his facility.” In mid-October, Shady Valley residents reported to the sheriff that the men were still living in the orchard. When Brown visited the site on October 18, all the residents were gone. Indications were that they had left in a hurry but neither an exact date nor means of departure could be determined. Cohn later alleged that Johnson County deputies had planted drugs on the property and that he had moved his residents to various locations in the northern states.
Investigation revealed that before Cohn had brought the men to Johnson County, that he had apparently brought this group and men at other facilities from locations throughout the United States to New Jersey. When authorities in NJ began to question the conditions of the facilities, he had moved this particular group to Shady Valley.
In early December, the badly decomposed body of a male between the ages of 51 and 60 was found near a stream on the property. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was called in, but the remains have never been identified. It is assumed that the John Doe was one of the men that had lived on the 385-tract of land leased by Cohn, as no local residents had gone missing during the time frame.
NamUs has requested that anyone living in the Johnson County area in late 1977 that remembers this incident and might have any information leading to the identification of the deceased to call their toll-free hotline at 1-855-626-7600. The current case file is available at https://identifyus.org/en/cases/1586 on NamUs.gov website. The original articles in their entirety and pictures of the scene can be accessed on The Tomahawk’s website at thetomahawk.com.
Any help in giving John Doe a name will be greatly appreciated.




Special Olympics basketball team being organized in Johnson County

By Paula Walter

Tonya Mink knows the importance of exercise for everyone. She is the physical therapist at Johnson County Middle School. Mink is currently organizing a Special Olympics basketball team in Johnson County.
The Special Olympics was first formed in 1962 when President Kennedy’s sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, held a day camp for children with intellectual disabilities at her home in Maryland. From there, Shriver’s endeavor has grown to provide training and competitions for 5.7 million athletes with mental or physical challenges. The events are held year round across the globe.
Mink would like to see anyone ages eight and up with special needs to sign up for the newly organized Special Olympics team. “We are encouraging children and adults in our community to participate,” Mink said. “We welcome all ages and abilities.” The basketball team isn’t just for students, but is open to adults with disabilities as well. According to Mink, the Special Olympics organization is trying to encourage development of more teams. Currently, there are no other Area Three Special Olympics teams. This includes Johnson, Carter, Washington and Unico counties.
Children with challenges often cannot participate in many sports because of physical disabilities, Mink explained. It’s often difficult for them to keep running back and forth on the basketball courts. “Team sports are difficult because they don’t have a lot of opportunities,” she said. “When they are younger, they can be involved in team sports, but as they get older, they can’t make the team. They quit or become discouraged and there are no avenues for them.”
Students with disabilities can attend school up to 22 years old. Special Olympics participants can be as young as eight years old and there is no age limit. Devin Shaw is the coach for this newly formed basketball team.
Weekly practice will be held at the gym at Mountain City Elementary. “This is a great opportunity for physical activity and social interaction,” Mink stated. “It’s not just physical, it’s social. There’s a social aspect to it. We hope to play games against the Watauga County, North Carolina team,” she added.
There will be an organizational and sign-up meeting on Friday, October 20th at Mountain City Elementary in the gym. There is no limit to the number of participants who may sign up. “We will split into two if we have to,” Mink said. There is no affiliation with the Johnson County School system.
More information on the local Special Olympics will be available in the near future.