Upcoming area blood drives

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

  • Thursday, July 20th, 2:45p-4:45p, East Tennessee Ambulatory Surgery Center, Johnson City, TN
  • Friday, July 21st, 9:00a-2:00p, Ferguson, Johnson City, TN
  • Monday, July 24th, 11:00a-4:00p, Walmart, Unicoi, TN
  • Tuesday, July 25th, 9:00a-12:30p, Washington County Health Department, Johnson City, TN
  • Tuesday, July 25th, 10:00a-3:00p, Johnson County Community Hospital/Hunter Lundy Memorial Blood Drive, Mountain City, TN
  • Wednesday, July 26th, 9:00a-4:00p, Johnson County Community Hospital/Hunter Lundy Memorial Blood Drive, Mountain City, TN
  • Thursday, July 27th, 9:00a-2:00p, MSHA CBO Office, Johnson City, TN
  • Friday, July 28th, 9:00a-7:00p, Abingdon “Battle of the Badges”, Abingdon, 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, MikePatterson@bloodassurance.org

In Virginia, Sam McKinney, 276-780-4136, SamMcKinney@bloodassurance.org

Johnson County Schools registration August 4th

The 2017-18 school year for grades 1-12 will begin with student registration on Friday, August 4th from 8:15 to 11:15 a.m. Lunch and breakfast will not be served that day. Monday, August 7th will be the first full day for students.

All teachers and administrators will attend the opening in-service at Johnson County High School on Wednesday, August 2nd beginning at 7:30 a.m. Teachers will have a work day at their schools on Thursday, August 3rd.

Kindergarten children will begin school with a staggered schedule on Monday, August 7th and Tuesday, August 8th and all kindergarten students attending on Wednesday, August 9th, Head Start, and PreK will begin school on Thursday, August 10th. The appropriate program staff will contact parents of children in these programs who have completed registration. The staff will explain when the program will start, what the program will include, and will answer any questions the parents have about school. Parents of these children who have not completed registration should do so immediately at the school office. If you have any questions, please call 727-2640.

Deadline to Enroll in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC)

NASHVILLE, TN, July 13, 2017 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Tennessee Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting State Executive Director (SED) Tyeisha Samples reminds farmers and ranchers that they have until August 1 to enroll in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and/or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2017 crop year. These programs trigger financial protections for participating agricultural producers when market forces cause substantial drops in crop prices or revenues.

“Producers have already elected ARC or PLC, but to receive program benefits they must enroll for the 2017 crop year by signing a contract before the August 1 deadline,” said Samples. “Please contact your local FSA office to schedule an appointment if you have not yet enrolled.”

Covered commodities under the programs include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.

For more program information, visit the Johnson County FSA office at 119 S Murphey Street, Mountain City, TN, by telephone at 423-727-9744 or visit www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.


Mountain City Council business varied and lengthy

By Rebecca Herman

Charlie Jennings from the Johnson County Youth Sports League was the first to address the city council at their July meeting. Jennings asked for the council to approve the use of the fields and concession stands at Ralph Stout Park for the youth football program. The council approved this request.
The council also approved for engineer drawing to be done for new tennis courts at Cunningham Park. Paul Maulden, Ashley Warlock, and Mary Gale updated the council with the requirements for the new tennis courts based on United States Tennis Association (USTA) standards. The group has already done some fund raising and has plans to apply for grants to cover the cost of the tennis courts. Maulden explained that there are two possible grants that they are applying for, each is $20,000, but in order to apply the city council had to approve blueprints that are up to USTA standards.
Next, the board discussed and approved expanding Heritage Square, per the request of Alderman Bob Morrison, to include the new Johnson County Center for the Arts. They approved this request and said that there has been some discussion of landscaping to be done, table to be placed, and a possibility of a small stage placed in order to have music played periodically.
Alderman Bud Crosswhite spoke next about allowing fishing at Ralph Stout Park. He explained that during the Fourth of July celebration, he had several people ask about the subject. After some discussion, a motion was made to allow fishing on Saturdays in the park, during normal operating hours. More information will be posted at a later date.
Mayor Kevin Parsons spoke about getting an Americans with Disability Act approved swing placed at Ralph Stout Park. Prices have been attained and now the swing needs to be ordered. Alderman Morrison showed concern over the frame of the swing, which he felt looked “flimsy.” Public Works Director Gary Phillips explained that the frame could be reinforced, if necessary. Mayor Parsons also announced that he would like to dedicate the swing in honor of Hunter Lundy. The council also approved for a new pump track to be installed in the park and for the park to be the location of a carnival, which will take place July 26-29. A location was approved at Ralph Stout Park for the Farmer’s Market if they choose to use it.
Mayor Parsons then announced that someone has inquired about donating an eight-lane bowling alley to be placed in the new skating rink.
City Attorney Steve McEwen told the council that July’s meeting would be his last. He will be moving on to another job and “wished you all the best in moving forward.”
Water Plant Manager Andy Garland asked the council to allow him to look at the costs of building a new tank instead of repairing what they currently have. Garland has already spoken with an engineer, who explained to Garland that the city would end up paying more to continuously fix the current tank. The council approved for Garland to check prices of a new tank.
The council also approved a request by Collection-Distribution Superintendent Chris Hook to replace a small section of piping on Circle Drive, as long as the price is reasonable. Hook explained that pipes are already being replaced around the location, so it makes sense to also replace this small section of piping.
Hook also said that he received a letter that stated that the city’s sewer maps were not accurate, so Hook asked that the council approve putting bids out to get the sewer maps updated to show to 70 miles of line and 700 locations of manholes. The council approved the request.
Parks and Recreation Director Flo Bellamy announced that the community center received a grant from Operation Pocket Change to purchase an automated external defibrillator and requested that the council help with the cost of background checks for four employees of the community center in order to work with students in after-school programs.
Earl Gambill told the city council that he is going to need additional lifeguards to cover the pool in August because most of the lifeguards he has will be going back to college. Mayor Parsons also mentioned that the new pool vacuum seems to be working well and that he wants to look into the costs of building a splash pad in the future.
The next city council meeting will be on August 1 at 6:30pm.

Johnson County School Board takes issue with county on budget cut

Johnson County Director of Schools Dr. Mischelle Simcox accepts an award for Superintendent of the Year for the region.

By Rebecca Herman

Thursday’s school board meeting began with the recognition of Superintendent Dr. Mischelle Simcox, who was chosen by her peers, as the Superintendent of the Year for the region. She is now a finalist for Superintendent of the Year for the state of Tennessee, which will be announced in September.
The school board then recognized six teachers who were granted tenure: Faye Baker, Rachel Osborne, Alicia Bauguess, Sonya Hammons, Miranda Horne, and Brian Taylor.
Dr. Simcox sent her condolences to the family of Coach Harold Arnold. “The school system owes him a gratitude of debt…he was a great educator and coach.”
Board Chairman Kevin Long read a letter from the board that addressed a change to the 2017-2018 General Purpose Schools Budget due to a decrease in revenue from the county. Dr. Simcox said that due to the decrease, the money would have to be pulled from “carry over dollars.”
Long explained, “On June 14th, we were satisfied with the letter from Mr. Russell Robinson outlining the school system’s budget allocation figures for the 2017-2018 school year. In the very same letter, Mr. Robinson wrote – and I quote: ‘These allocations should be used in your budget preparation for the upcoming fiscal year.’ I can tell you right now that is exactly what the school did.”
“The school system prepared their budget and then a short time later the system had the proverbial rug pulled out from under us. Mr. Robinson’s figures were no longer good. We were told Mr. Robinson’s figures were now being cut by $28,756,” explained Long.
Long went on to explain that this amount of money does not seem like much when you are dealing with millions of dollars in order to run a school system, but if you consider what $28,000 can buy then you can see what students would be missing. “Twenty-eight thousand dollars buys a lot of textbooks. Twenty-eight thousand dollars buys a lot of computers. Twenty-eight thousand dollars goes a long way toward paying one of our many outstanding teachers.” Long emphasized, “Let me be clear: Twenty-eight thousand dollars goes a long way toward helping educate the children of this county.”
Long explained that the school board has sent all the information concerning the issue to the school system’s attorney in order to see if this decrease “presents a maintenance of effort issue…but it is certainly my hope that we never end up taking a route toward the courthouse…it is my hope that the County Commission will also listen to our concerns, and that they will simply give back to Johnson County Schools money Mr. Robinson already promised us.”
“What attracts businesses and people? Schools,” said board member Howard Carlton. Carlton went on to explain, “We continue to provide top notch programs and education compared to other counties…it seems a little short sighted to do anything to the school system when you look at the progress that we are making and it’s pretty amazing that you [teachers and administrators] are able to stay under budget with the money that’s been given.”
School Board Vice Chairman Kenneth Gregg also spoke and explained that this cut also comes after the school system “has already had $110,000 cut from federal money.” Gregg also expressed that the teachers and administrators are “good stewards of the money that is given to you and we have a better community because of the work you do.”
Long encouraged teachers and parents to attend the next county commissioners meeting to voice concerns about this unexpected decrease to the budget.
The next school board meeting will take place on August 10 at 6pm.

Commodity distribution August 4th in Mountain City

UETHDA’s Executive Director, Tim Jaynes, announced today that the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency will begin a Commodity Distribution on August 4th, 2017 at the National Guard Armory located at 1923 S Shady Street in Mountain City, TN. If you have questions you may call the Johnson County Neighborhood Service Center at 423-727-6633. Items will be distributed on a first come, first served basis to income eligible households until all commodities are gone. All recipients must be residents of Tennessee. This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

Each recipient must now have a white colored commodity ID card in order to pick up their commodities. An ID card is obtained by completing an application at the Neighborhood Service Center. We strongly encourage each recipient to complete the application prior to August 4th; this will be helpful in reducing you wait time. However, staff will be available during the Distribution to help you obtain an ID card if you have not already done so. If someone is picking up your commodities, they must have your ID card and be authorized on your application; limits to pickup are five (5) orders.

The distribution will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will end at 11:00 a.m. or earlier if food is no longer available. Also, volunteers may be available to help elderly and disabled persons carry their commodities.

Misrepresentation of need, or sale or exchange of USDA commodities is prohibited and could result in a fine, imprisonment, or both. USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance Program is available to all eligible recipients regardless of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


Wellmont, Mountain States partner with the CAP Foundation to offer breast and cervical cancer screenings

NORTON, Va. – Early detection is the key to beating breast and cervical cancer, but statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show many women are not getting the screenings they need. Screening rates are particularly low among women who have no health insurance, with only 38 percent of uninsured women receiving mammograms and 63 percent receiving Pap tests on the recommended schedule.

To help address the need for screening in our area, Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System will partner with the College of American Pathologists Foundation to host See, Test & Treat® – a free breast and cervical screening event for women who live in Southwest Virginia. The event will be held Saturday, Aug. 5, at 8 a.m. at Medical Arts Building No. 2 on the Norton Community Hospital campus.

Services will include Pap tests and mammograms, as well as breast and cervical exams. Most test results will be available the same day, and caregivers will work with patients to ensure they receive follow-up care if tests show any concerning findings.

The foundation provides program oversight and a significant grant for this event. One of the leaders in bringing the event to Wise County is Theresa Emory, M.D., a pathologist who practiced in the region and is a member of the foundation’s board of directors.

“We are excited to be able to bring See, Test & Treat to a rural community for the first time and hold it in Wise County,” Dr. Emory said. “This is a great opportunity for women to participate in screenings and exams that could potentially save their lives. We have developed a seamless process to take care of these women throughout their time with us and look forward to serving them.”

To be eligible for a screening, women need to register by calling Wellmont Nurse Connection at 1-877-230-NURSE (6877), where nurses will walk them through the signup process and provide them with an appointment time. Breast and cervical exams and Pap tests will be available to women between the ages of 21 and 65, while mammograms will be provided to women who are between the ages of 40 and 65. Women who have received a Pap test within the last three years or a mammogram within the last year will not need to repeat these screenings.

In addition to breast and cervical exams and tests, the event will offer lab work and bone-density screenings for women who register. Medical professionals from Wellmont and Mountain States will also have booths to discuss additional medical topics with women, such as nutrition, physical activity, tobacco cessation and diabetes.

Event organizers are helping women focus on their well-being by providing some activities for their children while they receive their exams and tests. Food City is supporting the event by donating food for patients as well as backpacks filled with school supplies for patients’ children. University of Virginia’s College at Wise is providing housing support for some of the care providers.

To help spread the word about the clinic, representatives of Mountain States and Wellmont will have a table at the upcoming Remote Area Medical clinic. That event is being held Friday, July 21, through Sunday, July 23, at the Wise County Fairgrounds.

“RAM has provided an exceptional service to the region for decades, and we wholeheartedly support the great work it has achieved,” Dr. Emory said. “Our services will complement what RAM offers and enable women to receive a comprehensive level of care through both events. Women tend to focus on the needs of others, but it is imperative they set aside time to look out for themselves.”

For more information or to register, call Wellmont Nurse Connection at 1-877-230-NURSE (6877). To learn more about the national program, please visit the “get involved” section of http://foundation.cap.org.

Johnson County awarded federal funds to supplement emergency food and shelter programs

Johnson County has been awarded Federal Funds made available through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program.
Johnson County has been chosen to receive $6,764.00 to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the county.
The selection was made by a National Board that is chaired by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and consists of representatives from American Red Cross; Catholic Charities, USA; National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA; The Jewish Federations of North America; The Salvation Army; and United Way Worldwide. The Local Board was charged to distribute funds appropriated by Congress to help expand the capacity of food and shelter programs in high-need areas around the country.

A local board made up of local representatives will determine how the funds awarded to Johnson County are to be distributed among the emergency food and shelter programs run by local service agencies in the area. The Local Board is responsible for recommending agencies to receive these funds and any additional funds made available under this phase of the program.
Under the terms of the grant from the National Board, local agencies chosen to receive funds must: 1) be private voluntary non-profits or units of government, 2) be eligible to receive Federal funds, 3) have an accounting system, 4) practice nondiscrimination, 5) have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs, and 6) if they are a private voluntary organization, have a voluntary board. Qualifying agencies are urged to apply.
Public or private agencies interested in applying for Emergency Food and Shelter Program funds must a written application that includes the amount of EFSP funding requested by program area (food, rent, utilities, etc.) to Local EFSP Board, P. O. Box 46, Kingsport, TN 37662. The deadline for applications to be received is July 19, 2017.

Rep. Mae Beavers announces bid for governor

Republican Mae Beavers recently announced her bid for governor of the State of Tennessee on June 3rd. Governor Bill Haslam is restricted from running again due to term limits. Beavers served as a Wilson County Commissioner from 1990 until 1994. She was then elected to the legislative house from 1994 for eight years before she ran for senator. She was elected in 2002 and has been in the Tennessee senate ever since.
Beavers recently sat down with The Tomahawk on her visit last week to Johnson County and shared some of her platform she is running on. According to Beavers, she would like to see the repeal of the gas tax. “We did not need a new tax,” she stated. According to Beavers, she believes in less regulation and less taxes for businesses. She is concerned about education in the state and voted against race to the top. She is pro-life and has been the sponsor of second amendment bills.
With regard to healthcare, Beavers would like to see people be able to go across state lines to purchase health insurance as it would create more competition. She was a sponsor of the bathroom bill that would have required students in public schools in Tennessee to use the bathroom that matched the sex of the student on their birth certificate.
Beavers also introduced a resolution to declare pornography a public health crisis, which passed the Senate. “I have children and grandchildren,” she said. I’m very worried about their future. We are losing all of our values we grew up with.”
According to Beaver, she would like to strengthen homeland security in Tennessee, as well as see more technical development schools and training in the state. It has been previously reported that both homeland security and safety would be at the top of her priorities.
Some of her platform issues include: leading the effort that killed the state income tax, repealing the gas tax, is 100 percent pro life, is pro second amendment, continues to fight to for children, families and communities by opposing illegal immigration and terrorism. According to Beavers, she passed a law protecting the privacy of the people of Tennessee by requiring a warrant before your cell phone can be searched. She also supports more technical training in schools. Her stance on jobs involve removing certain regulations on businesses.
“This next year is an important election as far as a governor. Everyone is claiming to be conservative,” Beaver stated. “I can set myself apart as a bold conservative leaders with a proven track record. I’ll challenge people to look at your record. I can back up what I’m saying, my stance on the issue. I have a record of being outspoken and that’s what earned me the name of “Iron Lady.” If you want bold, conservative leadership, you need to vote for me.”
At this time, the candidates in the race for Tennessee’s governor are Republican Mae Beavers, Republican Randy Boyd, Democrat Carl Dean, and Republican Bill Lee. Those that were previously considering a run and are out of the race include Andy Berke, Marsha Blackburn, Joe Carr, Bob Corker, Bill Freeman, Mark Green, Bill Hagerty, Tre Hargett, Scottie Nell Hughes, and Andy Ogles. Those who remain undecided at this time are Diane Black, Craig Fitzhugh, Beth Harwell, and Mark Norris


Routine business for June county commission meeting

By:  Bonnie Davis Guy

Freelance Writer

The June Johnson County TN County Commission meeting came to order on at 7:00 pm on the 15th in the upper courtroom of the Johnson County Courthouse. All commissioners were in attendance. Sherriff Mike Reece called the meeting to order. There were no visitors in the courtroom and no one signed up to address the commissioners.

First item on the agenda was the approval of the May minutes. Commissioner Poore made a motion to approve followed by a second by Commissioner Hill, an all yes show of hands followed.

Approval of two notaries was the next item to be voted on. Both Lisa Michelle Lipford and Catherine A Tierney were unanimously approved.

Russell Robinson, Accounting and Budget Director, was next on the agenda and presented budget amendments for review and approval. No questions or concerns were expressed and a motion was made by Commissioner Long to approve the amendments followed by a second from Commissioner Grindstaff. As per policy, a roll call vote was then taken with a unanimous return.
A new public records policy was next on the agenda and was approved by all following a presentation discussing details of the new policy. The records policy follows Tennessee code as provided under the Tennessee Public Records Act (TPRA). The TPRA provides that all state, county, and municipal records shall always be available for public inspection during normal business hours. Personnel of the Johnson County Register of Deeds shall timely and efficiently provide access and assistance to persons requesting to view or receive copies of public records.  The designated Public Records Request Coordinator will be responsible for  reviewing that the requestor shows evidence of Tennessee citizenship, have proper forms required to make copies and pay any applicable fees involved for the copies. This policy is to be up for review and renewal every two years.
There was a brief discussion regarding an EMS resolution however due to a request that North East State Corrections (NECX) be in on the meeting and decision, no details were discussed and the matter was tabled until the next meeting to accommodate NECX’s request. Tabling this resolution was passed by a 13-vote count with one pass.

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

TN National Guard joins in statewide cyber security exercise

Tech. Sgt. Anthony Cherry, left, and Staff Sgt. Philip Wallace manage personnel actions, such as accountability and availability of National Guard personnel at the Emergency Operations Center of the Tennessee National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in Nashville June 15. The Soldier and Airman, along with several other National Guard members are participating in a statewide Tennessee Maneuvers (TNMAN) exercise taking place from June 12-18. TNMAN is a multi-agency exercise that builds collaboration and understanding among the state’s National Guard forces and civilian agencies for domestic crises and natural disasters. (U.S. National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Robin Brown.)

NASHVILLE – This week, Soldiers and Airmen of the Tennessee National Guard are taking part in a statewide exercise focused on cyber threats. This is part of the annual joint Tennessee Maneuvers (TNMAN) exercise, working with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee State Guard, and various other state agencies taking place June and July.

“TNMAN exercises one of the three key focus areas of the National Guard – Domestic Operations,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Brown, G3 Directorate of Military Support, Tennessee Army National Guard. “Interagency coordination during domestic operations is built on relationships, and the Tennessee National Guard works with our state partners throughout these exercises.”

“We are fully invested in responding to disaster events,” he added. “Outreach, training, and exercises are the best way to build key relationships with other agencies and for building mutual trust and understanding.”

Last year exercised a scenario centered on the New Madrid fault erupting in Memphis. This year, the situation is a cyber attack targeting power grids across the state.

“The exercise was developed with TEMA, and is coupled with the Guard’s response to extreme temperatures in the state as well as various civil unrest scenarios,” said Brown.

Part of the “civil unrest” requires the Tennessee Army National Guard’s 168th Military Police Battalion, out of Dyersburg, Tenn., to team up with the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC) and state parks in Milan.

“The 1/230th Assault Helicopter Battalion, based in Nashville, Tenn., is also participating with the TDOC portion of the exercise, conducting flights of TDOC and state park personnel from Nashville to Milan, to replicate interagency movement,” said Brown.

The National Guard has a smaller footprint in this year’s exercise due to their largest unit, the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, previously scheduled training at Fort Hood, Texas.

“Last year was proof that the adaptive battle staff concept worked with multiple units participating,” explained Brown. “This year, we had to scale it back due to the amount of resources needed to support the training event in Texas.”

TNMAN is critical for interagency relationship building across the state.

“It enables our state partners and ourselves to better understand each other’s capabilities and limitations, making us better equipped to handle real-world situations that occur within the state,” Brown said. “We need to understand how the emergency response effort works at every level; to understand the language, planning factors and how we all operate.”

“Our internal education of the domestic framework will speed our response and ultimately mitigate suffering for our fellow citizens in a time of crisis,” he added. “These are excellent exercises to continue to train and refine the practices of the Tennessee National Guard. They build confidence in our members and competency in domestic response missions.”

Johnson County School Board recognizes ten retirees at June board meeting

Left to right, retirees Kim Garrett (standing in for her husband Don), Barbara Hampton, Margaret Wallace, Jewel Harmon, Sharon Wallace, Carol Russom, and Wayne Shepherd along with Johnson County Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox.

By Rebecca Herman

The Johnson County School Board honored all retirees during the June board meeting. Ten teachers, educators, and staff completed their careers in the Johnson County School System in the 2016-2017 school year.
Those retiring were Barbara Hampton, Dr. Bridgette Hackett, Jahala Thompson, Dr. Don Garrett, Margaret Wallace, Jewel Harmon, Sharon Wallace, Carol Russom, Wayne Shepherd, and Dwayne Arney.
The school board welcomed student school board members Chase McGlamery and Renie Morrow. McGlamery will be taking over for Marly Eggers, who graduated in May.
The board approved the consent agenda which included upcoming overnight field trips for three groups: the JCHS Cheerleaders to travel to Orlando, Florida in September 2017; the JCMS History Club’s trip to Washington, D.C.; and the JCHS German Club’s trip to England, France, and The Alps in June 2018.
Also approved within the consent agenda was the continuation of Coordinated School Health for the 2017-2018 school year and for the 2018 JCHS prom to be held at Carnegie in Johnson City, TN.
Barry Bishop gave an update on summer projects. The Shady Valley Elementary gazebo project was completed and is now American Disability Act compliant. A few projects are currently on hold while they wait on supplies, but Bishop said he is confident all projects will be completed before school begins. Bishop also updated the school board on the bridge project that will be done this fall/winter at the entrance of Johnson County High School (JCHS) and Johnson County Middle School (JCMS). The bid will open in August and the installation should be able to begin in October. “The new bridge is pre-fab, so it can be installed in the winter months without any problems,” Barry Bishop said. Bishop also told board members that a practice field is being built behind JCMS; board members suggested adding parking to the current baseball and softball fields. Bishop said this could easily be done and that the maintenance department needed fill dirt, so this project would help accomplish this need.
Dr. Mischelle Simcox explained to the board that the school system has still not received final testing data from the state and report cards have not been issued due to this delay. Simcox said that the state is placing the blame on the testing company, Questar, who has yet to complete the grading of the end of year tests. Due to these delays, final grades for grades three through eight will have the end of year test scores factored in.
Dr. Simcox and other administers have also been working have been working on filling various positions in the school system. New hires include: Gale Moretz, Mountain City Elementary custodian; Jeffrey Lewis, JCHS Custodian; Jennifer Harry, JCHS Receptionist; Aleena Boone, Johnson County Schools, Speech Language Pathologist; Hannah Calhoun, JCMS teacher; Rebecca Hilton, JCMS Special Education teacher; Harlie Cornett, Mountain City Elementary teacher; Cassidy Burks, JCHS school counselor; Rebecca Byers, JCHS Chemistry teacher, Garry Cole, Johnson County Vocational School, Career Technical Center( CTE) construction teacher; James McCulloch, Johnson County Vocational School, CTE Construction teacher; and Robert McDaniel, JCHS ESC teacher.
The next school board meeting will be July 13 at 6pm.

FBI offers local major event training for churches and houses of worship

A major event training for churches and houses of worship will be held on Tuesday, July 25, 2017at 6:00 PM the Fellowship Hall of First Christian Church located at 401 West Main Street Mountain City, TN 37683. Recently, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office sent out notifications to all churches/houses of worship, notifying the leadership that the FBI has offered a major event training, free of charge. Please let us know if you were not contacted, as every effort was made to include everyone, however a lot of notifications were returned.
The training will cover: active shooter, forming a collaborative plan, understanding the situation, determining goals and objectives, plan development, plan preparation, review and approval, plan implementation and maintenance.
Again we ask that if your church/house of worship has not been contacted, please let us know at 423-727-7761.

Cook, Herman and Campbell take home Chamber awards

By:  Meg Dickens

Freelance Writer

The Johnson County Chamber of Commerce held their annual dinner and awards banquet at RedTail Mountain on Friday night. The room was full of old friends exchanging pleasantries and new friends being made. The meal consisted of salad, steak or chicken, mashed potatoes, and asparagus with caramel cheesecake for dessert.
The banquet began with a speech by EDC Commissioner, Randy Boyd. Boyd told the story of how he drove through Mountain City for over a decade on his way to sell his invention. He used this to segue into talk of how to improve our community and state. Tennessee is reportedly in its best state in history but more can be done. That is why he along with Gay Triplett created the Rural Taskforce. Its goals are to have zero distressed counties in Tennessee by 2025 and to create a “rural renaissance” where businesses and tourists are excited to come.
Celeste Dunn, head of the Johnson County Leadership Program, presented a slideshow showing what the participants experienced. They learned about teamwork and explored several businesses and hidden treasures in Tennessee. As she said, “Leadership is about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying to get things done.”
The Leadership class of 2017 includes: Sidney Timbs, Courtney Stout, Eden Fenner, and Maggie Aldridge sponsored by Operation Pocket Change; Priscilla Herman sponsored by Danny Herman Trucking; Elizabeth Adams and Brionna Reece sponsored by Farmer State Bank; Sherrie Fenner and Nina Norfleet sponsored by the Johnson County Government. It is significant that all of the participants were female.
Jeannie Countiss told a funny story about her experience touring Parkdale before thanking the Board of Directors along with those who have helped along the way. This includes honorary members Larry Potter and Kevin Parsons. She also mentioned the 28,000 inserts that will be showing up along with electric bills to draw more people to the area.
This is the point in the evening where President John Coolahan was mentioned.

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

2017 Free Fishing Day to be held Saturday, June 10th

The 2017 Free Fishing Day is Saturday, June 10 when anyone may fish free without a license in Tennessee’s public waters.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides the annual free day in hopes of increasing interest in fishing. The day allows anyone the opportunity to try this great outdoor sport, especially children to celebrate fishing as a wholesome and healthy recreational option. In addition, children ages 15 and younger may fish without a license beginning on Free Fishing Day through the following Friday (June 16).

            The day and week are annual events in Tennessee and are great opportunities to introduce children to the enjoyment and excitement of a day on the water catching fish. The TWRA is among several organizations planning special fishing events, primarily for youngsters. The TWRA annually stocks several thousand pounds of fish for various events.

For a list of the events, visit the TWRA website at www.tnwildlife.org and the For Anglers section. Anglers and potential anglers should check the events list often since special events are frequently added.

Free Fishing Day and Week apply to Tennessee’s public waters, TWRA owned and operated lakes, and state park facilities. Some privately owned pay lakes and ponds continue to charge during this special day and week. Anglers will need to consult with those operators if there are any questions about a particular facility.

Volunteers needed to help dig up a mastodon (and accomplish other assorted tasks)

JOHNSON CITY – Paleontology enthusiasts are invited to volunteer with excavation and lab crews at the East Tennessee State University Gray Fossil Site and Museum.

A volunteer orientation session for prospective “paleontological assistants” is scheduled for Saturday, June 10, from 10 a.m.-noon at the museum.

Many volunteer positions are currently available, primarily assisting in the field, because of the recent discovery of a nearly complete mastodon skeleton, among several other individuals.  Gray Fossil Site paleontologists are seeking dedicated people to help recover this and other specimens.

Volunteers will work side-by-side with the crew, excavating the massive bones and wet-screening the sediment produced during the dig.

“These skeletons illustrate the ridiculous size of our mastodons, ranking among the largest terrestrial mammals ever found,” said Dr. Chris Widga, the new head curator at the museum and an expert on Proboscideans (elephants and their closest relatives).  “This new semi-articulated skeleton appears to be a male that was roughly four meters tall and nearly 16 metric tons.”

Dr. Steven Wallace, director of field operations at the Gray Fossil Site, joked, “We will need a small army to dig this guy out!”

By joining the museum team, volunteers become part of a unique group of dedicated individuals who can be found in nearly every area of the site.  Whether digging in the pits, screening sediment, picking concentrate, greeting visitors, guiding groups or working alongside museum curators, there are many important ways in which volunteers contribute.

The museum regularly offers volunteer training and orientation in the spring and fall, but the June 10 session has been scheduled as an “extra push” because of the new mastodon skeleton.

Training and orientation is required, and the museum cannot accept new volunteers outside of the orientation dates.  Volunteers must be 15 or older.

Regular hours at the Gray Fossil Site and Museum, located 1.8 miles off Exit 13 on Interstate 26, are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

For more information, email Shawn Haugrud, laboratory and field manager, at haugrud@etsu.edu or call 423-439-3661 and leave a voice message.

Rep. Phil Roe to hold staff office hours in Mountain City June 14th

Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) announced he will send staff to hold office hours in Mountain City on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at the Johnson County Courthouse from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

 Roe’s staff will be available to assist First District constituents.

Some of the ways that Roe’s district offices can be of assistance:

  • Senior Citizens: Social Security and disability
  • Students: financial aid, entrance to U.S. Service Academies
  • Veterans: VA claims and military service problems
  • Small Business: SBA loan applications, technical assistance and interpretation of federal regulations
  • Home Buyers: FMHA, FHA, and VA home loan application problems
  • Local Governments: disaster assistance, regulation compliance, and federal grant application problems
  • Taxpayers: IRS tax problems

Participants reap healthy benefits of Tai Chi at Johnson County Senior Center

The Mountain City Senior Center is excited to be offering Tai Chi classes. Kathy Motsinger, director of the center, became interested in providing Tai Chi after visiting many surrounding senior centers. Tai Chi is being offered at most of these facilities.  Kathy became aware of how popular Tai Chi is with seniors. Kathy wants to make sure Johnson County residents have access to the same programs being offered in larger cities and counties.
Chris Laing, owner of and instructor at Blue Ridge Kung Fu Arnis Academy of Mountain City, is teaching the class. Chris has been training and teaching Tai Chi for over twenty-five years. He has witnessed first hand the benefits that Tai Chi provides. Classes meet Tuesday at 12 noon at the Senior Center.
Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that has its origins as far back as the 900’s AD. Tai Chi Chuan is different than many martial arts because it is an internal system. Tai Chi not only focuses on external strength but on internal strength and health. In fact, today, Tai Chi is most known as an exercise. The principles of Tai Chi’s health benefits are based in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Tai Chi is praised worldwide as a great low impact exercise, especially for seniors. In Tai Chi, the student will slowly perform certain movements while breathing deeply. These movements are designed to increase the body’s Chi (energy). The stronger the energy, the healthier a person will be.
Western medicine has begun to study the benefits of Tai Chi practice on health. An article on the Harvard Health Publications website lists several studies conducted all across the world. Practicing Tai Chi was shown to increase muscle strength. Combining Tai Chi practice with standard Western treatment methods was shown to help improve: Arthritis, Low Bone Density, Heart Disease, Hypertension, Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke, and Sleep Problems. In one study, Tai Chi was shown to help the quality of life and daily activities of those with breast cancer. These are just a few studies listed on one site.
Doctors are recommending Tai Chi to help with pain management. Tai Chi can benefit health in many more ways. Teaching better balance is helpful for those who are getting older or who are dealing with diseases or injury. Tai Chi can be practiced by students well into their eighties. Some practitioners have been recorded practicing even longer. The Western community is starting to learn what many in China have known for over a millennium. Tai Chi can improve your health and overall life.

IMPROVE Act provides $100,783,079 in transportation projects in Johnson County

Former Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey details IMPROVE Act’s projects in Johnson County and across the state.

The Transportation Coalition of Tennessee held a series of news conferences last week to discuss the impact of the IMPROVE Act’s projects on different areas of the state. As part of the series, a press conference was held to detail how specific projects will affect Johnson County residents.
The total impact for Johnson County is $8,306,079 for the combined revenue to cities and counties as well as the Tennessee Department of Transportation road and bridge projects, totaling $92,477,000 from the IMPROVE Act.
According to the materials distributed, the five TDOT-funded projects in Johnson County are as follows:
1. Local Bridges 0A064 Stage Coach Loop Bridge over Doe Creek 0.01 miles $199,000
2. Local Bridges 0A296 Forge Creek Cir. Bridge over Forge Creek 0.01 miles $349,000
3. Local Bridges 0A409 Little Dry Run Rd. Bridge over Roan Creek 0.01 miles $986,000
4. Local Bridges 0A375 Slimp Branch Rd. Bridge over Roan Creek 0.01 miles $943,000
5. Rural Access SR-91 from near Cold Springs Road to the Virginia state line 7.81 miles $90,000,000
The event was part of a 95-county tour to discuss specific projects in every area of the state.
The IMPROVE Act creates a long-term, dedicated funding source to fix outdated transportation infrastructure by making a modest increase to the user fees on its roads and bridges while providing a tax cut to the grocery, business and Hall income taxes.
The increase in the user fees means Tennessee residents won’t shoulder the entire burden alone, as revenue will be captured from visiting tourists and the trucks that move goods through the state. This continues Tennessee’s history as a pay-as-you-go state, meaning the people who use the roads pay for their upkeep.
“Governor Bill Haslam’s IMPROVE Act is the fiscally responsible way to fund transportation infrastructure projects, using an increase in the user fee offset by giving Tennessee residents the largest tax cut in our state’s history,” said Susie Alcorn, executive director of the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance.
The IMPROVE Act prioritizes 962 projects across all of Tennessee’s 95 counties, addressing a $10.5 billion backlog in repairs and updates. The legislation also includes a local option for municipalities to hold their own referendums for tax increases to fund local transportation needs and provides property tax relief to veterans and the elderly.

Preventable Injuries Fill Hospitals Each Memorial Day; Vanderbilt Doctors Urge Safety on Upcoming Holiday Weekend

With the Memorial Day holiday upon us, Vanderbilt University Medical Center is preparing for what is typically one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Victims of automobile, boating, motorcycle, swimming and all-terrain vehicle accidents flood Vanderbilt each year during this holiday weekend, which is considered the official kick-off to summer.

“Many of these accidents could have been prevented or significantly reduced in severity with proper safety precautions such as wearing helmets and seatbelts,” said Richard Miller, M.D., chief of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at Vanderbilt. “Alcohol is also a big contributor to accidents and injuries. It is critical to stay hydrated, consume alcohol in moderation and know your limits. Taking the keys away from those impaired may save a life.”

On average, Vanderbilt LifeFlight makes about 40 flights over Memorial Day weekend, which is nearly double the flight volume of a typical weekend. Vanderbilt LifeFlight experienced the highest volume of flights in the program’s history over the 2012 Memorial Day weekend, flying 90 patients over the three-day period.

Among the 2016 Memorial Day weekend Trauma admissions, nearly half were motor vehicle collisions. Many of these car accidents were due to impaired driving, distracted driving and the overall heavy traffic over this weekend.

“One poor decision can impact the lives of many,” said Alex Jahangir, M.D., medical director of the Vanderbilt Center for Trauma, Burn and Emergency Surgery at Vanderbilt. “I would encourage everyone to make responsible decisions this Memorial Day and celebrate the lives of those who defended and protected the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Vanderbilt offers these reminders for the upcoming holiday weekend:

Fire: Properly clean grills, check for gas leaks and only use grills outside. Carefully monitor anyone who is near a fire of any kind, and properly extinguish fire pits when not in use.

Water: Never swim alone, closely supervise children, wear flotation devices when boating and be mindful of other boaters and skiers nearby.

Travel: Wear helmets at all times when riding a bicycle or motorcycle; wear seat belts at all times when traveling by car; obey the speed limit and other traffic laws; refrain from texting or other distracting activities while driving; and never consume alcohol while driving.

Sun: Temperatures across the Southeast are expected to be in the mid- to high-80s this weekend, making heat-related illnesses and sunburn a concern. Wear sunscreen and drink plenty of water. If feeling faint or nauseous, get into a cool, shady place immediately.

Alcohol: Limit alcohol intake, as it can impair judgment and intensify the consequences of heat exposure.