Pregnancy/infant loss memorial service October 15

Fourth annual community memorial service for pregnancy/infant loss, Oct. 15, 6 pm, at Sunset Memorial Park, Mountain City. This event is for anyone who has lost a child during pregnancy or infancy for any reason. These services will be held across the nation on this special day. Join us as we honor those we can only hold in our hearts. Hosted by Johnson County’s Community Memorial for our Babies,

Heritage Hall ushers needed

If you love people, this is a volunteer service that includes free shows. Usher training class Sunday, October 1st at HH Theatre, 2 pm. Current ushers are required to attend a yearly refresh class.  Please arrive by 1:40 pm to sign in and socialize.  Call Head Usher, De Lite at 727-7131.

Book signing and art show

On Tuesday, September 26, from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm the library will host a book signing and the opening of an art show. Linda Icenhour will be introducing her new children’s book, The Adventures of Jam and Jelly, illustrated by her daughter, Amber Icenhour. Laura Hayworth will, in addition, be signing her latest book, “Jesus is Coming Back, Are You Ready?” Amber Icenhour also illustrated Laura’s book. The event will kick off the art show featuring Kay Braswell’s art students and the artwork will remain on display through the month of October. Light refreshments will be served. Come on down and meet with the authors and artists. Some paintings will be for sale.

Johnson County School Board recognizes JCHS state ranked football team

Supervisor of 7-12 Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Stephen Long, recognizes the Johnson County High School senior football players and coaching team.

By Rebecca Herman

Johnson County School Board members met on Thursday, September 14 for their regularly scheduled meeting; all members were present. The first item addressed was electing a new board chairman and vice-chairman. Kenneth Gregg was voted in as chairman and Howard Carlton was voted in as vice-chairman.
Supervisor of 7-12 Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Stephen Long, recognized the Johnson County High School senior football players and coaching team. As of Thursday, the team was number four in the state and won Friday night’s game against West Greene. Long said, “We are proud of these young men; they represent themselves well and they represent Johnson County well.” Nathan Arnold, senior football player, was also chosen as WCYB and WJHL’s player of the week. Long also honored Head Coach Don Kerley and other coaching staff members.
Student school board member, Chase McGlamery, gave his report. He explained that the football team is “four and 0, which is our highest winning streak in 11 years!” The JCHS golf team also is doing well, by placing third in the district and will be going to regionals. The FFA went to a horse judging competition, where they placed 24th in the state and second in East Tennessee. McGlamery spoke about the ACT and the 45 seniors prepping to retake this test. According to McGlamery, these students have the “opportunity to take advantage of a three hour Mastery Prep Boot Camp course on September 25, which is projected to increase our average composite score.”
The board approved the following items on the agenda:
Overnight field trips for the Robotics Team, JCHS Thespian Troupe, FFA, Latin and Spanish Clubs; the National Spanish Honor Society students to wear tassels and chords at graduation; the contract to audit accounts for the activity funds and U.S.D.A procedures with Lewis and Associates; the purchase of two Simulaids Smart Basic Mannequins and one training bed with headwall from Pocket Nurse was also approved. These items are being funded by a grant, which was written by CTE Director, Herbie Adams. These “interactive mannequins will help our medical students simulate working on real patients,” he stated.
Director of Schools, Dr. Mischelle Simcox, reminded the board that the fall district meeting is coming up on September 18, the TSBA annual conference will be November 2-5, and that due to fall break in October, the next school board meeting would be on October 5.
Board member Kevin Long reminded everyone about the Cranberry Festival, which will take place October 13-14. Board member Mike Payne thanked everyone for the work being done to help alleviate the traffic problems at some of the elementary schools. He said that the traffic seems to be under control now and thanked the administrators and the local police.

Laurel Elementary Fall Festival Sept. 30th

The Laurel Elementary Fall Festival will be held Sept. 30th from 5 to 9 p.m. Students are selling chance tickets for two rocking chairs or $200 gas card from Rush Oil. Chris Mullins will be conducting an auction at 7:30. There will be cakewalks, games for all ages and face painting. There will be food available for purchase for $5: BBQ or 2 hot dogs with baked beans, cole slaw, potato chips and drink.

Book signing and art show at Johnson County Public Library

On Tuesday, September 26, from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm the library will host a book signing and the opening of an art show. Linda Icenhour will be introducing her new children’s book, The Adventures of Jam and Jelly, illustrated by her daughter, Amber Icenhour. Laura Hayworth will, in addition, be signing her latest book, “Jesus is Coming Back, Are You Ready?” Amber Icenhour also illustrated Laura’s book.
The event will kick off the art show featuring Kay Braswell’s art students and the artwork will remain on display through the month of October. Light refreshments will be served.
Come on down and meet with the authors and artists. Some paintings will be for sale.

USDA offers food safety tips for power outages

Editor’s note: The recent major hurricanes to ravage the United States have directly impacted millions and caused heightened concern across the country. Even in the mountains of northeast Tennessee, almost everyone has ties to some degree with family or friends in the affected areas. We have also experienced firsthand deadly flooding in the past in Johnson and surrounding counties.
Food safety during extended power outages is always a major concern. In an effort to help people prepare for the possibility of power outages during this storm season, the USDA offers the following food safety tips.

Storms always present a high possibility of power outages and flooding that can compromise the safety of stored food. Residents in the path of a storm should pay close attention to the forecast to ensure enough time to prepare.
Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40°F or lower in the refrigerator, 0°F or lower in the freezer.
Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes, so don’t overfill the containers.
Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately—this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
Group foods together in the freezer—this ‘igloo’ effect helps the food stay cold longer.
Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.

Steps to follow if the power goes out:
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross contamination of thawing juices.
Use dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible during an extended power outage. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.

Food safety after a flood:
Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water—this would include raw fruits and vegetables, cartons of milk or eggs.
Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Food containers that are not waterproof include those packaged in plastic wrap or cardboard, or those with screw‐caps, snap lids, pull tops and crimped caps. Flood waters can enter into any of these containers and contaminate the food inside. Also, discard cardboard juice/milk/baby formula boxes and home-canned foods if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
Inspect canned foods and discard any food in damaged cans. Can damage is shown by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting or crushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel‐type can opener.

Steps to follow after a weather emergency:
Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.
Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40°F or below.
Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
When in doubt, throw it out.
FSIS’ YouTube video “Food Safety During Power Outages” has instructions for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe. The publication “A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes” can be downloaded and printed for reference during a power outage. An infographic is also available outline steps you can take before, during and after server weather, power outages and flooding. FSIS provides relevant food safety information during disasters on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety and Facebook.
If you have questions about food safety during severe weather, or any other food safety topics, call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888MPHotline or chat live with a food safety specialist at These services are available in English and Spanish from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. Answers to frequently asked question can also be found 24/7 at

Susan G. Komen of East Tennessee announces grant writing workshop

Susan G. Komen® East Tennessee announces its annual Grant Writing Workshops to learn how to apply for its 2018-2019 Community Grants Program. Any nonprofit organization planning to apply for grant funding from Komen East Tennessee must attend this workshop. Eligible 501(c)3 organizations providing breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and patient assistance services are invited to attend.
Grants provided by Komen East Tennessee allow community organizations to provide access and reduce barriers to breast screening and diagnostic services for uninsured, underinsured and medically underserved individuals. Grant funds are also used to help ensure breast cancer patients are able to complete their treatment on schedule by assisting with financial needs during treatment.
The workshop will be held once for each of Komen East Tennessee’s two regions, and attendance is mandatory for grant applicants. The Knoxville Region worksh
op will take place on Thursday, September 14 from 1-4 p.m. at the Pinnacle Building 1111 N. Northshore Drive, Knoxville, TN 37919. The Tri-Cities Region workshop will be held on Thursday, September 21 from 1 – 4 pm at the Komen East Tennessee office at 301 Louis Street, Kingsport, TN 37760.
The Knoxville Region consists of Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier and Union counties. The 8 counties in the Tri-Cities Region are Carter, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington.

To register for this event or for more information, call Komen East Tennessee at 865-588-0902 or 423-765-9313. There is no charge to attend this workshop. Materials and light refreshments will be provided. Deadline for registration is Friday, September 8.
Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit outside of the U.S. government while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Komen EastTennessee is working to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in the local community. Through events like the Komen East Tennessee Race for the Cure®, Komen East Tennessee has invested $9.7 million in community breast health programs in 24 counties and has helped contribute to the more than $920 million invested globally in research. For more information, call 865-588-0902 or visit


Johnson County Middle School Horns route Cloudland Highlanders 32-6

JCMS’ Nate Rice #9 carries Cloudland’s Chase Shell #19 for an 11 yard gain.

By Tim Chambers

Johnson County Middle School was chomping at the bit to get their football season underway and they did so with an impressive win over Cloudland on Tuesday. Corie Neely scored three touchdowns and ran for 155 yards in a 32-6 win on Harold Arnold Field.
Neely put the Longhorns up 8-0 with a 62-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and a two-point conversion.
Cloudland battled back to score their lone touchdown with Caleb Sluder doing most of the work. He scored on a 13-yard touchdown run after runs of 22 and 17 yards on the drive.
That didn’t set too well with Johnson County’s head coach Devin Shaw.
“We got a little slack on defense after we scored the first time,” said Shaw. “We challenged them at halftime and they responded in the second half. I thought we came out ready to play. We scored quick and put the game away.”
Neely’s 10-yard touchdown run and conversion before halftime gave them some breathing room before intermission. He drove the dagger in deep to start the third quarter.
“Our goal was to score on the opening drive, then hold them on defense,” added Shaw. “We did a great job of executing the screen pass and our line did a good job of blocking up front.”
They Longhorns scored at the 7:03 mark on a nifty 52-yard screen pass and run from Dalton Brown to Neely. He got an excellent block from Big John Stout that made it 24-6 after another two-point conversion run.
Sammy Walters closed out the scoring late in the fourth quarter on a 32-yard touchdown run with 2:47 remaining. Brown had a run of 27 yards on a key third and long that kept the drive alive.
Several players stepped up big for the Horns. They got 209 all-purpose yards from Neely in addition to six tackles. Ethan Icenhour led the defense with 10 tackles. Preston Greer and Brown finished the night with seven apiece. Stout logged six tackles as did Nate Rice who also added a sack. Zane Jarrels was in on five stops.
Seth Birchfield rushed for 44 yards to lead the Highlanders. He and Sluder collected six tackles apiece.


Senior Center kicks off Long Journey Home weekend

The Johnson County Senior Center hosted the first event for Long Journey Home 2017 last Thursday evening with a great concert from Kody Norris, Mary Rachel Nalley and their band, a wonderful country dinner, and a night full of dancing. This was the perfect venue since folk dancing was a big hit in the l950’s in the high school gym which is now the Senior Center. Approximately 140 people enjoyed the evening.
Kody, just returning from a tour to several states including Iowa where he received a prestigious award in Bluegrass music, gave an outstanding concert. He invited people to dance and the audience was treated to Lois Dunn, Andrew Matherly, Clarence Braden, Howard Hicks, and others demonstrating flat-footing and clogging. Others enjoyed line dancing and a waltz by Mary Rachel’s fiddle rendition of “Faded Love.” The Sugarfoot Shufflers with their instructor, Linda Gee, demonstrated line dancing and taught members of the audience a line dance and “The Virginia Reel.” Her husband, Jim Gee, entertained the audience with two bagpipe tunes.
The evening ended with Willie Hammons and his local square dancing group dancing two tips and inviting the audience out to the floor to learn a square dance. The caller did an excellent job and traveled several miles from North Carolina to participate in this event.
In addition to all the fun, Kathy Motsinger and her great cooks cleared over $600 for the new Center for the Arts and the Long Journey Home Committee made $548 from the sale of T-shirts, Liner Notes, and donations.
This is just one of many activities going on at our beautiful senior center thanks to grants from Johnson County Community Foundation, Pocket Change, and other donations. Fundraisers like the one above is open to the public; but if you are 60 or older, you are invited to come to the center for any or all activities. You will love what a happy and busy place it is.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony opens new Johnson County Center for the Arts

Evelyn Cook had the honor of cutting the ribbon for the opening of the new Center for the Arts.

Temple Reece welcomed everyone to the ribbon cutting of the Johnson County Center for the Arts on Tuesday. She introduced the board as follows: Cristy Dunn, Executive Director, and Evelyn Cook, Mona Alderson, Celia Pennington and Russell Love, thanking all the donors and volunteers.
Reece welcomed members of the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons, Johnson County Mayor Larry Potter, Sheriff Mike Reece, Rep. Timothy Hill and Mark Stevans from First Tennessee Development District. Russell Love led the group in prayer.
Carmen Deedy and John McCutcheon each shared a positive vision for the county and were appreciative of all the hard work that has been done to make this center a reality. Everyone was invited to Heritage Hall for their performance to benefit the Center for the Arts.
Betty Brown introduced Anne Pope, Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission, who commended The Center for the Arts for their grant writing  and the success of the renovation and establishment of the art center.
Evelyn Cook expressed appreciation to everyone and was excited to cut the ribbon and invited everyone in to see the new Center for the Arts.
The Center for the Arts plans to have a Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) session in honor of all the many donors and volunteers on Friday night, September 15.  The official opening will be September 16. Hours for fall will be Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sundays 1 to 3 p.m. and Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

BBQ, Blues and Brews Festival in Elizabethton September 23rd

Music by “My New Favorites”


Music by “This Mountain”

The sweet smell of barbecue will fill the air in Elizabethton this fall, as the city launches its first-ever BBQ, Blues and Brews festival.

Set for Saturday, September 23, 4:30-9 p.m. at the community’s picturesque Covered Bridge Park in downtown Elizabethton, festival co-chair and a board member of the Elizabethton/Carter County Community Foundation (ECCCF), Amos Brown says he is excited about the event — one he sees as having tremendous growth potential.

“We have talked about having something like this for quite a while,” Brown said. “It’s something we believe people of all ages will enjoy, and it is also a fundraiser for a great cause.”

The “cause” Brown refers to is the historic Bonnie Kate Theater, located in the heart of Elizabethton. The facility, now owned by the City of Elizabethton, is undergoing a transformation and the ECCCF, an affiliate of the East Tennessee Foundation, is hosting the event. The organization was instrumental in raising funds for the purchase of the building.

“Now we need to keep going,” Brown said. “This festival’s revenues will go toward making sure the Bonnie Kate has a new roof, something that has to be taken care of before we can continue making even more improvements. This event will really make a difference as we work to establish a community arts center.”

The event will include a 5K and Fun Run starting at 4 p.m., as well as the dining event which begins at 4:30 p.m. — complete with live music, and lots of great food.

Seven regional restaurants will “pit” the best of their barbecue samples against one another, vying for diners’ votes and the bragging rights to be named Best of Show. They include J’s Corner, the SmokeHouse BBQ Company, and Jiggy Ray’s — all from Carter County, as well as Southern Craft, Moe’s Original BBQ and Hokie Smokie of Johnson City; and Wayne’s Barbecue from Kingsport.

In addition to barbecue samples, each competitor is encouraged to bring a unique small plate to the event. And, for your sweet tooth, Food City will be on hand, providing dessert to round out the meal.

Mimi’s Food Truck & Kona Ice will also be parked downtown for patrons wanting something different, at an additional charge.

“You won’t need to move quickly from place to place,” Brown said. “Everyone will have ample time to leisurely sample the food during the 3-1/2 hours it will be served. Guests can enter the park at 4:30 p.m., and last call for food will be at 8 p.m. During that time, we hope everyone will have a great time, enjoying the food, the live music, the park’s beautiful setting and good friends.”

All diners will also be given a BBQ Ballot to vote for their favorite. The winner will be announced near the end of the event.

Although the Covered Bridge Park has seating already available, with bleachers and picnic tables, Brown also encourages guests to bring their own chairs, blankets, etc., to set up their own picnic areas.

Sponsors for the event include: Stage Sponsor, Med-Trans Air Medical Transport; Level 1 Race Sponsor: Carter County Bank; Level 2 Race Sponsor: Sycamore-Shoals Hospital and Nor-Well;

Level 3 Race Sponsor: LaPorte & Norris, Happy Valley Memorial Park, Edward Jones – Jonathan Street, Cates Music, Security Federal Bank, and Central Paper.

Beer Vendors for the event are YeeHaw and Best Brands Distribution, who plan to bring TailGate Beer, a craft beer from Nashville with several unique flavored beers.

BBQ, Blues & Brews tickets are available for $30 (includes 3 beer vouchers); BBQ & Blues Tickets, (without beer) are $20. Festival, 5K/Fun Run registration as well as discounted Run/Festival combo tickets are available at

For more information, contact Brown at 423-278-6207; or Jared Tetrick, 423-341-3459;

Upcoming area blood drives

Blood Assurance is calling on the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia region to make blood donations at a local donor center or bloodmobile because of the increased demand in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Harvey and flooding associated with the storm has had a major impact on the nation’s blood supply. In response to the need for blood donations, nonprofit regional blood center Blood Assurance has sent and will continue sending blood supply to centers in Southeast Texas.

“Our hearts and prayers are with every person in Southeast Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey,” said Jay Baumgardner, executive director for marketing and community outreach. “Blood Assurance is humbled to be able to support those in need during this tragedy. There are many ways to help during this time, and donating blood is one of the best ways you can support the people of Texas. The need for blood donations is urgent, and we are asking members of our community to give whole blood donations today and in weeks to come.”

Blood Assurance Regional Blood Center will conduct public blood drives at the following locations:

  • Thursday, August 31st, 9:00a-11:00a, Department of Social Services, Abingdon, VA
  • Thursday, August 31st, 12:00-6:00p, ACT-Fairview, Johnson City, TN
  • Thursday, August 31st, 1:00p-4:00p, Highlands Union Bank, Abingdon, VA
  • Friday, September 1st, 10:00a-2:00p, ACT-Fairview, Johnson City, TN
  • Tuesday, September 5th, 1:00p-5:00p, ETSU-Pedestrian Mall/Pride Walk, Johnson City, TN
  • Wednesday, September 6th, 10:00a-5:00p, ETSU-Culp Center, Left Ballroom, Johnson City, TN
  • Thursday, September 7th, 10:00a-5:00p, ETSU-Culp Center, Left Ballroom, Johnson City, TN
  • Friday, September 8th, 10:00a-3:00p, Smyth County Administrative Offices, Marion, VA

Donors also welcome at Blood Assurance Donor Centers:

  • 16000 Johnston Memorial Dr., Medical Suite 110, Abingdon, VA
  • 100 Linden Square Dr., Bristol, VA
  • 1 Professional Park Drive, Suite 14, Johnson City, TN
  • 300 Clinchfield St., Kingsport, TN


Donors must be at least 18 years old (16-17 years old with parental consent), weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. The process usually takes about 30 minutes and includes a complimentary gift and snacks. Donors should eat a healthy meal and drink plenty of fluids -avoiding caffeine- prior to giving blood.

To schedule a blood drive at a local business, school, church or civic/community organization, please contact:


In Tennessee, Mike Patterson, 423-298-4335,

In Virginia, Sam McKinney, 276-780-4136,

Multistate outbreaks of human salmonella infections linked to live poultry in backyard flocks

By Rick Thomason

University of Tennessee
Johnson County Extension Director

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with multiple states are investigating 10 separate multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections in people who had contact with live poultry in backyard flocks.
The outbreak strains of Salmonella have infected a reported 961 people in 48 states and the District of Columbia.  Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 4, 2017 to July 31, 2017.  172 more people have reported ill since July 31st.  215 ill people have been hospitalized and one death has been reported.
Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory findings link the 10 outbreaks to contact with live poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, from multiple hatcheries.  In interviews, 498 (74%) of 672 ill people reported contact with live poultry in the week before their illness started.  Contact with live poultry or their environment can make people sick with Salmonella infections.  Live poultry can be carrying Salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean, with no sign of illness.
Follow these steps for protecting yourself and others while enjoying your backyard flock:
Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.  Also wash your hands after handling clothes and shoes that have touched live poultry.  Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.  If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands with soap and water.
Do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.  Do not eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.

Children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.  People in these groups are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.
Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.

Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for live poultry, such as cages, feed, or water containers.
Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling eggs, chickens, or anything in their environment.
Collect eggs often.  Eggs that spend a significant amount of time in the nest can become dirty or break. Cracked eggs should be thrown away.
Refrigerate eggs after collection.
Eggs with dirt and debris can be cleaned with fine sandpaper, a brush or cloth.  Don’t wash eggs, because colder water can pull bacteria into the egg.
Cook eggs thoroughly.  Raw and undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that can make you sick.
Read CDC’s recommendations (<CDC’s%20recommendations%20(https:/> for taking care of your backyard flock, which apply to all live poultry, regardless of the age of the birds or where they were purchased.

Mountain City Cycle presents FFA with grant

When people think of Mountain City Cycle they think of four-wheelers, ATV’s, and great service. When Johnson County FFA members think of Mountain City Cycle they are reminded of the continued support of the students. In cooperation with Arctic Cat, Shelia Fenner at Mountain City Cycle presented Johnson County FFA with an $800 grant. With continued community support and generosity from local businesses, Johnson County FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of its members. Here FFA members Dawson Cress, Taylor Long, Jacob Baker, Faith Poteet, Mackenzie Cooke and Megan Rice accept a check from Mountain City Cycle’s Shelia Fenner.

Decision on new Potter trial still three months away

A specially appointed judge in the Billie Jean Hayworth and Billy Payne murder case told attorneys that a decision on the request for a new trial for Barbara and Jenelle Potter will not come for at least three more months.
Defense attorneys contend that a book written about the crime following the trial by the lead prosecutor in the case, Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks, reveals details not known to them at the time. Their request for a new trial states that they would have approached their cross examination of Jamie Curd, who testified against the women, in a different manner had they been aware of evidence involving him that was revealed in the book. Curd is currently serving a 25-year sentence for his part in the murders and is eligible for parole in 2019 as a result of his testimony.
After hearing all the proof and arguments from counsel, Judge Don R. Ash said he has to read the trial transcript before he can make a ruling. He expects it to be about 120 days before the ruling is completed.

Veterans Administration trying to reach Vietnam veterans in Johnson County

By Ralph Hutto

Johnson County Veterans’ Service Officer

President Obama and the Congress of the United States of America has issued a lapel pin that is to be issued to all veterans that served during the Vietnam War era (November 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975.) This pin is to be awarded to the veterans of Johnson County that served honorably during the above time period.
The lapel pin is to be presented by the mayor of Johnson County, Larry Potter, at a time and place to be selected at a later date. This pin will be accompanied by a letter of recognition and thanks for your service by the president of the United States.
In order us for to determine the eligibility requirement, your DD-214 needs to be verified. To be verified, bring your DD-214 by the Johnson County Veterans Service office at 208 College Street in Mountain City, 423-727-7929, ad get your name added to the Vietnam veterans list. If your DD0214 is on file with our office, you can call and let us know and we will check the files and verify it. We will make a list that will be read aloud at the presentation ceremony. It will include name, rank, branch of service and dates of service.
For the deceased Vietnam veteran, we have a special honor lapel pin for the veteran’s widow. You will also have to register with the Veterans Service Office and verify with the veteran’s DD-214.
A cutoff date of October 1, 2017 will be the last day that we can accept your applications for this event.
It pleases me that something is being done to show these veterans that we do honor and respect them, in spite of the way they were treated when they came home.

ETSU alumni identify ancient species of snake from Gray Fossil Site

JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University alumni Steven Jasinski and David Moscato are gaining national and international attention for a newly identified ancient species of snake from the Gray Fossil Site.  Their discovery was described in a recently published paper in the Journal of Herpetology.

Jasinski and Moscato earned their master’s degrees from ETSU with concentrations in paleontology.  Jasinski, whose master’s degree is in biology, is now a doctoral student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences, and is also the acting curator of paleontology and geology at the State Museum of Pennsylvania.  Moscato, who earned his master’s in geosciences, is currently a scientific writer focusing on popular articles and is a contributor at Earth Touch News.
In the paper, the authors describe a snake between 12 and 16 inches in length with broad, wing-shaped projections on the sides of its vertebrae that are unlike any other known species of living or extinct snakes.  These projections were probably attachment sites for the snake’s back muscles.  The species probably lived around 5 million years ago.
Although it does not actually have wings, of course, Jasinski and Moscato named the new species Zilantophis schuberti, which translates to “Schubert’s winged serpent.”  The genus name comes from Zilant, a winged serpent from the mythology of the Tatar, a Turkic people living in portions of Russia and Mongolia.  The species name, schuberti, is in honor of Dr. Blaine Schubert, who taught and advised both authors during their time at ETSU.  Schubert is director of ETSU’s Don Sundquist Center of Excellence in Paleontology and an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Geosciences.

“It is an incredible honor to have a species named after me, especially by past students,” Schubert said.  “I am also rather passionate about snakes and lizards, so having one of these critters attached to me through time is quite special.”
“We felt this was a way to honor a scientist who helped both of us immensely with his support, his contributions to herpetology and paleontology – particularly at the Gray Fossil Site – and for inspiring both David and me and furthering our understanding of fossil reptiles and amphibians,” Jasinski said.  “It is the least we can do for Blaine after everything he did for us as students at East Tennessee State University and after we graduated.”
It took several months from the time they first noticed the unusual features of the vertebrae they had found preserved in the sediments surrounding the sinkhole or lake that became the Gray Fossil Site for Jasinski and Moscato determine they had a new species on their hands.  The process involved comparing the bones to those of other snake species, both current and extinct, and consulting with other scientists for confirmation.
“When we first saw (the bones), we knew they were unusual, but the feeling wasn’t so much ‘Eureka!’ as it was ‘What the heck is this?’” Moscato said.
“Even when we began investigating them further, we thought they may be a part of an already known snake, since the morphology or shapes of vertebrae do change somewhat depending on what part of the snake they are from,” Jasinski added.  “After looking at everything we could, we felt confident they represented something new, which was exciting, but then we had to convince other people and scientists of that, as well.  Now that it has been published and recognized as a new species, it does feel great.”
Jasinski and Moscato do not think Zilantophis schuberti lived in the water, but lived and hunted on the land near the body of water.
“Without finding any direct evidence, it is guesswork what it was eating,” Jasinski said.  “It probably lived in the forested area around the (water) and would have preyed on what it could, although its small size would have limited what it could eat.”

“Zilantophis probably had a lot of predators to look out for – birds of prey, large toads, small mammals and possibly larger snakes,” Moscato added.  “We don’t have any evidence of specialized snake-eating snakes like king snakes at the site, but many species of snake today are known to nab smaller snakes.  Small snakes today often feed on tiny creatures like insects, worms and the smallest of frogs or salamanders.  The pond of the Gray site would have been a great place to find all of those things.”
The scientists cannot be sure of the habitat range of the new species at this point.
“Currently, we have not found fossils of this snake outside of this site, but that does not mean it wasn’t living elsewhere.  Small animals like Zilantophis often have smaller ranges, so it may be that Zilantophis was limited in its range, but it will be hard to determine that for sure.  Regardless, now scientists can keep their eyes open to see if any new fossils belong to this snake.”
News of Zilantophis Schuberti’s discovery has been covered by the Discovery Channel, the National Science Foundation, Science Daily, Seeker, Live Science and more, including media outlets from as far as England, India and China.
Zilantophis schuberti is the second new species Jasinski has had a hand in identifying.  In 2016, he and ETSU paleontologist Dr. Steven Wallace identified a dog, Cynarctus wangi, which was approximately the size of a coyote and lived along the eastern coast of North America around 12 million years ago.  Their work was published in the Journal of Paleontology.
The Gray Fossil Site, along with its Natural History Museum, is located 1.8 miles off Exit 13 on Interstate 26.  Discovered 16 years ago during a Tennessee Department of Transportation roadwork project, the site is one of the only late Miocene epoch (between 4.5 and 7 million years ago) fossil sites in the eastern United States.  Some of the species found to date at the Gray Fossil Site include mastodon, red panda, tapirs, peccary, sloth, salamander, rhinoceros, toad, turtle and more.

Blossom rot is a problem for peppers, tomatoes and watermelon


By:  Rick Thomason

Blossom-end rot is a common problem of peppers, tomatoes and watermelons.  It is most often seen in home gardens, but has been quite a factor in droughty years in commercial plantings of these crops.
On tomatoes, blossom-end rot begins as a light-colored area on the blossom end of the fruit.  The affected area enlarges and darkens, sometimes involving up to half the fruit surface.  The affected tissue becomes blackened, sunken and leathery.  The skin of the fruit is often not broken, but remains intact.  Affected fruit may ripen prematurely.
On peppers, the rot is tan and may be mistaken for sun scald.  Sun scald, however, results in a bleached, white area on the fruit.  On bell pepper, the rot usually occurs on the tip of the lobes.  On pimento pepper, the side of the pod near the tip is affected.  Secondary fungi may cause the tan area to turn dark.
Blossom-end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the developing fruit.  This problem results from low levels of calcium in the soil or from a lack of soil moisture.  Uptake of calcium from the soil depends on adequate moisture moving into the roots.  Any condition that reduces the roots’ ability to absorb water, and hence, take up calcium, can cause blossom-end rot.  Heavy fertilization, resulting in an accumulation of ammonium, potassium, sodium or magnesium salts in the root zone, often increases the incidence of blossom-end rot by reducing calcium uptake.  Also, excessive vegetive growth demands calcium, and may divert it away for the fruit.
Blossom-end rot is often a passing problem, occurring only on the first and second clusters of fruit.  Succeeding clusters then may show no problems, with no action taken by the grower.
The following preventive steps should be taken to minimize losses:
Soils on which melons, peppers or tomatoes are to be grown should be tested and limed according to soil test recommendations.  Applying lime or gypsum can provide calcium.  Lime corrects both low pH and low calcium levels, while gypsum only affects calcium level.
Calcium chloride sprays applied to the foliage may help prevent blossom-end rot on developing fruit.  Calcium chloride is applied at four pounds per 100 gallons/acre four times on a weekly schedule, beginning when symptoms first appear.  Calcium chloride solutions are also available on a small scale for garden use.  Application is suggested only for tomatoes.  Calcium chloride can be applied with insecticide-fungicide spray combinations.
Maintain an adequate moisture level in the soil by applying mulch.
Provide supplemental water during drought periods where feasible.
Try to prevent excessively wet soil conditions by avoiding poorly drained soils and by planting on raised beds, if necessary.
Avoid excessive rates of nitrogen fertilizer.
Damage to the roots by deep cultivation should also be avoided, especially after fruit set and in dry weather.