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.

 

 

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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.

 

Autumn splendor in the mountains

Every year at this time Mother Nature shows her true colors in the mountains of Northeast Tennessee. Splashes of orange, red and gold set the subdued green hues of summer ablaze with autumn splendor. Variations of this breathtaking scene unfold throughout the area in mid-October making fall the favorite season of many.

The Addams Family coming in time for Halloween

Just in time for the Halloween season, the Johnson County High School Players in collaboration with Johnson County Community Theatre, are bringing the Tony Award winning, Broadway musical “The Addams Family” to Heritage Hall. In the kooky, upside-down world of the Addams family, to be sad is to be happy, to feel pain is to feel joy, and death and suffering are the stuff of their dreams. Nonetheless, this quirky family still has to deal with many of the same challenges faced by any other family, and the spookiest nightmare faced by every family creates the focus of Lippa, Brickman, and Elice’s musical: “The Addams Kids Are Growing Up.” The Addams’ have lived by their unique values for hundreds of years and Gomez (Derek Visser) and Morticia (Megan McEwen), the patriarch and matriarch of the clan, would be only too happy to continue living that way. Their dark, macabre, beloved daughter Wednesday (Abigail Arnett), however, is now an eighteen-year-old young woman who is ready for a life of her own. She has fallen in love with Lucas Beineke (Connor Long), a sweet, smart boy from a normal, respectable Ohio family — the most un-Addams sounding person one could be! And to make matters worse, she has invited the Beinekes (Scott Loveless and Josie Ward) to their home for dinner. In one fateful, hilarious night, secrets are disclosed, relationships are tested, and the Addams family must face up to the one horrible thing they’ve managed to avoid for generations: change.
Assisted by nine Addams family ancestors plus Uncle Fester (Travis Ward), Pugsley (Andrew Robinson), Grandma (Kaelyn Sussex) and Lurch (Zach Isaacs) the stage comes alive with song and dance. Performances are at Heritage Hall, October 20, 21, 27 and 28 at 7pm and October 22 at 3pm. Advance adult tickets are $10, $12 at the door and student tickets are $5.

The Field School was a beginning farmer training program

By Rick Thomason

University of Tennessee
Johnson County Extension Director

The Field School, East Tennessee’s beginning farmer training program, is launching its third year of programming in November!  They are currently recruiting new and beginning farmers for their program.
The Field School is a monthly series of workshops (November 2017 through August 2018) that provides you with an overview of small-scale farming in East Tennessee’s mountains and valleys, taught by 20+ farmers and agricultural professionals.  It is arranged by the Appalachian RC&D Council, Green Earth Connection, and many area partners with major support from USDA.  F
ield School students attend classroom and on-farm sessions to build the knowledge, networks, and confidence for planning out a farming operation to fit their land and business needs.
After two successful years of running the Field School, we are pleased to announce that we are expanding the session options to include two Tracks.  Students can choose from either Produce or Small Livestock and dive deep into specific farming operations and production methods.
Can’t decide which track to take or want to attend them all?  You can sign up for the Dual Track option and attend all 13 sessions being offered!
Field School Students Can:

*   Tap into the knowledge of seasoned farmers and Ag professionals from across the region.

*   Meet like-minded people who also want to take their passion for farming to the next level.
*   Learn how to connect with the local food scene, with government resources, with new ideas, with markets for farm products, with proper laws and legal guidance.
*   Experience different farming styles and see behind the scenes on area farms through field visits and classroom presentations taught by “real” farmers, including several full-time farmers.
Registration fees for the “Produce” and “Small Livestock” track is $75 each and consists of 9 monthly sessions.
The “Dual Track” allows participants to attend all 13 sessions and costs $100.  There are limited spots in the ‘17/’18 Field School.  To reserve yours, you must fill out the online application<https://goo.gl/forms/QuF65WnbdxzD9n582> and send in payment.  The fee includes curriculum materials and a meal at each session.  More information and the on-line application can be found at the following website: http://arcd.org/field-school.
Three full Scholarships are available for Veterans, so please call 423-979-2581 or email alexis@arcd.org<mailto:alexis@arcd.org> if you qualify.  The cost of the Field School is subsidized by grants from USDA, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Appalachian Regional Commission, and local Business Sponsors.

Johnson County 4-H hosts horse clinic

The Johnson County 4-H hosted a Horse Clinic on Saturday, September 23, 2017 at Chamber Park. The horse clinic offers a safe and fun environment for students to engage in hands on learning, without having to own a horse. This year 17 students attended our clinic which focused on teaching students to safely interact with horses while learning how to groom, saddle, lead a horse, the importance of colors and markings and how a horse’s senses are different from a human’s.

Following the clinic, students could exhibit their horse in an assortment of classes during our show. This year we had 3 lead-liners and 4 students entere the various classes to exhibit their horses’ athletic ability in a variety of disciplines.
All of our exhibitors this year did a wonderful job showing their horses. In Addition each of the participants displayed exceptional sportsmanship for one another. The show results are as follows:

Lead Line:
Joyce Ann (JoJo) Aldridge
Katelyn Jones
Ella Ruth Simcox

Halter Conformation: 1st Megan Rice
2nd Emaline Cornett
3rd McKinzie Jones
4th Bud Robinson
5th Katelyn Jones

Showmanship:
1st Emaline Cornett
2nd Bud Robinson
3rd Megan Rice
4th Katelyn Jones
5th McKinzie Jones

Western Pleasure 2-Gait:
1st Emaline Cornett
2nd Megan Rice
3rd McKinzie Jones
4th Katelyn Jones

Western Pleasure 3-Gait:
1st Emaline Cornett
2nd Katie Simcox

Western Horsemanship:
1st Emaline Cornett
2nd Katie Simcox
3rd Megan Rice
4th McKenzie Jones
5th Katelyn Jones

Trail:
1st Emaline Cornett
2nd Megan Rice
3rd Katie Simcox
4th Katelyn Jones

Barrel Racing:
1st Katie Simcox
2nd McKinzie Jones
3rd Katelyn Jones

Pole Bending:
1st Katie Simcox
2nd Katelyn Jones
3rd McKinzie Jones

 

The Johnson County 4-H would like to thank all the volunteers, parents, coaches, students and supporters that worked together to make this event a success.

Linda Walraed, en plein air artist, paints the beauty of the flowers in the mountains

Linda Walraed, who owns a vacation home in Callalantee in Johnson County, is an artist who paints en plein air, a French term for in open air. According to Walraed, the flowers she paints came from seed she cast out in the spring.
“With the rains we have had, our flower garden has certainly produced gorgeous flowers and put on a grand show.  We have many butterflies, bees and birds that visit the garden daily,” she said.  “I am painting in an impressionist style of cosmos, spider flowers and zinnias. My dog, Tiffany Rose is a constant companion and loves to go out on location with me.”
Her favorite medium is oils using panels.

HGTV comes to Johnson County in search of a secluded log cabin for featured family

By Paula Walter

Home and Garden Television, better known as HGTV, recently sent a film crew to our own Johnson County to film a segment of the show, Log Cabin Living. The upcoming episode is entitled Tennessee Homestead Cabin. Set your DVR, as the show will be aired November 11th at 11:00 pm. According to a recent press release, some of the filming for the show was done in the Pioneer Landing area of Johnson County.
Log Cabin Living focuses on finding log homes for those people who want to escape the craziness of city life and are seeking peace, quiet and privacy in a rural setting. Some of their past episodes including finding a home in Blue Ridge, Georgia with a view of the Appalachian Mountains, a family searching for a cabin and a yard for the dog facing the mountains on the island of Oahu, and a couple searching for a get-away cabin in Wisconsin away from the hustle and bustle of Chicago. The show has also focused on finding cabin home in western North Carolina, Montana, the Alleghany Mountains, Fredericksburg, Virginia, northern Minnesota and the Smoky Mountains.

In this episode set in our own Johnson County, a family of three who love the outdoors are looking for a secluded cabin. The family enjoys hunting and foraging for wild mushrooms. They also repair, modify and build guns. Their budget is $550,000 and they are hoping to find that special log cabin for their family that includes private flat land to homestead.
Make sure to check your local listings to verify the Tennessee Homestead Cabin show time.

 

Representative Timothy Hill supports Tennessee’s education and students

(NASHVILLE) — Throughout the first half of the 110th Tennessee General Assembly, Representative Timothy Hill supported legislative initiatives focused on education benefiting both the state’s educators, as well as Tennessee’s students.
In 2017, Hill and his Republican colleagues passed a balanced budget that includes $200 million in funding for the state’s Basic Education Program (BEP). This funding includes $100.4 million for teacher salaries across the state. Over the last two years, the Tennessee General Assembly has made the largest investment in K-12 education in state history without raising taxes on the backs of hardworking Tennesseans.

Hill fought to support the educational dreams of our National Guard members without fear of financial struggle by sponsoring the Tennessee STRONG (Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen) Act. The legislation establishes a four-year pilot program for eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard to receive a last-dollar tuition reimbursement toward a first-time bachelor’s degree.

Additionally, he supported passage of the Tennessee Reconnect Act. This plan offers all Tennessee adults without a degree access to community college tuition-free and at absolutely no cost to taxpayers. With the passage of the Reconnect Act, Tennessee becomes the first state in the nation to offer all citizens — both high school students and adults the chance to earn a post-secondary degree or certificate free of tuition and fees.

Lastly, Hill worked to enhance transportation safety for Tennessee students by supporting passage of House Bill 322. This legislation requires all school districts, as well as charter schools to appoint a transportation supervisor to monitor and oversee student transportation. The supervisor must receive annual training and also implement a school transportation policy adopted by the local board of education.
It requires all new school bus drivers to complete a driver training program and also increases the minimum age for individuals seeking to obtain a school bus operator endorsement license from 21 to 25.
“When we invest in our teachers, support the educational outcomes of our citizens, and ensure the safety of our children, we are taking the appropriate steps in order to ensure that Tennessee continues to thrive,” said Representative Hill. “It truly is an exciting time in communities across our state, and I look forward to furthering our work of making Tennessee a model of success that our entire nation can follow.”

Timothy Hill serves as House Majority Whip. He is also a member of the House Calendar & Rules, House Transportation and House Insurance & Banking Committees, as well as the House Insurance & Banking Subcommittee. Hill lives in Blountville and represents House District 3, which includes Johnson and part of Carter and Sullivan Counties.
He can be reached by email at: Rep.Timothy.Hill@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-2050.

Farmers Market finds a permanent home at Ralph Stout Park

By:  Jana Jones

Johnson County Farmers Market Manager

Since its founding in 2009, the Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) has been looking for a place to call home. We are grateful to Danny Herman for allowing us to use his Quonset hut by Rainbow Road and Highway 167 for the first three years, and to the county for allowing us to use the courthouse parking lot for the last six years.

These locations have served us well as the community has supported us in good weather and not so good weather. But we have longed for a permanent, covered space to call our home that would allow customers to shop out of the rain and ease vendors’ fears of their tents being blown away by wind gusts that can occur out of nowhere here in the mountains.

The JCFM will be celebrating 10 years in 2018 and we are thrilled to announce that Mayor Kevin Parsons and the Town of Mountain City, with the help of the JCFM, will be applying for two grants through the USDA Rural Development Department to build a pavilion at Ralph Stout Park that will be used as a permanent home for the Farmers Market! Architect and engineer, Eric Nordmark, has designed a beautiful timber-framed pavilion and will be working with general contractor, Alan Hammons, to gather bids for the project. Pictured is Nordmark’s pencil sketch front view and aerial view that was revealed at our Harvest Celebration Dinner last Saturday.

Aside from Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, the proposed pavilion will mainly be used as an additional picnic shelter for the community and will be available to reserve for special events. The design is made up of two 30’X50’ buildings set at an angle that are attached in the center by the roof structure covering. The location at Ralph Stout Park will be behind the existing stage in the grassy area below 421.
Should the grants be fully funded, we are estimating that construction could commence as early as March 2018. Since we don’t expect the building to be completed at the start of our 2018 season, the JCFM vendors will set up tents in the vicinity of the stage area until our new pavilion home is completed.

But for the remainder of our 2017 season, the JCFM is located at the county courthouse parking lot across from the post office in downtown Mountain City, open every Saturday from 9 until noon through the end of October. We accept SNAP/EBT and currently have a program that doubles the dollars for fresh fruits and vegetables for our EBT customers.

Follow us on Facebook to keep abreast of new items offered each week, or visit us online at Johnson CountyFM.org. We welcome all to come enjoy live music, kids’ activities, sample recipes and all of the great items offered by our terrific farmers and vendors at every market!