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.

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.

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.