United Central Organizes Blood Drive to Show Support of Employees and Their Families

BRISTOL, Tennessee – United Central Industrial Supply, a wholly owned subsidiary of The United Distribution Group, a distributor of consumable supplies, and other value added services, is hosting a blood drive on February 28 from 9 AM – 3 PM in the parking lot of 1241 Volunteer Parkway, Suite 1000 in Bristol, Tennessee.
This blood drive is in support of a longtime employee, David Miller, whose young niece, Ellee Large of Abingdon Virginia, is undergoing treatment for leukemia through St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Blood Assurance will be coordinating the blood drive for United Central.
Henry Looney, President of United Central stated “United Central is a family and when we can help and support each other, we are proud to do so. We are excited to work with Blood Assurance to coordinate donations to support the Niswonger Children’s Hospital and ten other hospitals in our region.”
To donate, donors do not need to know their blood type, but they do need to bring a photo ID. Additionally, while appointments are not necessary, they are encouraged as they take priority over walk-ins. Appointments can be coordinated with Amber Morris of United Central by calling (423) 573-7306 or emailing her at amber.morris@udginc.com.

Upcoming area blood drives

The recent surge of flu, norovirus, upper respiratory infections and other illness has had a negative impact on local blood collections. We urge all healthy individuals who can donate to come to one of our centers or mobile blood drives shown below. For additional opportunities to give please visit www.bloodassurance.org to schedule an appointment today.

 

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

  • Thursday, February 23, 10:00a-5:00p, Milligan College, Milligan College, TN
  • Friday, February 24, 8:30a-3:00p, Towne Acres Elementary School, Johnson City, TN
  • Friday, February 24, 11:15a-3:30p, First Bank and Trust, Abingdon, VA
  • Monday, February 27, 8:30a-4:00p, Jonesborough Elementary and Middle Schools, Jonesborough, TN
  • Tuesday, February 28, 9:00a-3:00p, Ellee Large Honorary Blood Drive at United Central Industrial Supply, 1241 Volunteer Pkwy, Suite 1000, Bristol, TN
  • Wednesday, March 1, 9:00a-4:00p, North Side Elementary School, Johnson City, TN
  • Wednesday, March 1, 10:00a-3:00p, Primary Care Center, Abingdon, VA
  • Thursday, March 2, 5:30a-11:00a, Mullican Flooring, Johnson City, TN
  • Thursday, March 2, 9:30a-11:15a, Blue Ridge Home Health Care, Galax, VA
  • Friday, March 3, 9:00a-3:00p, Little Milligan Elementary School, Butler, TN

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, Anne-Lewis Vowell, 423-635-3441, Anne-LewisVowell@bloodassurance.org

Johnson County Middle School hosts robotics state qualifier; local high school named as tournament champion

By Rebecca Herman

On Saturday, February 18 Johnson County Middle School hosted the JOCO VEX “Winter Wonderland” State Qualifier, which was sponsored by TVA, Tennessee Valley Authority. Sixteen teams from eight schools came to compete with the hopes of qualifying for the state Robotics competition. Middle and high school teams came from across the state, with Memphis traveling the longest distance.
The schools who competed were: Johnson County Middle School and Johnson County High School, Mountain City, TN; Brentwood Academy, Brentwood, TN; Sullivan North High School, Kingsport, TN; Happy Valley Middle School, Elizabethton, TN; Holston and Innovation Academy Middle School, Blountville, TN; Jefferson County High School, Dandridge, TN; and St. George’s Independent School, Collierville, TN.
The competition was well received by everyone in attendance. For many parents, this was the first time seeing their child competing because the competitions are usually held in middle and west Tennessee. This event is a first for Johnson County and will “be a yearly state qualifier event,” according to JCMS team sponsor and teacher, Susan Quave. So far, this is the first state qualifier for East Tennessee.
Teams have multiple opportunities to gain points: skills notebook, robot skills challenge, and programming skills challenge. Rich Miller, state judge, spoke to the group of students before the competition began and expressed his excitement that, “every team today completed the skills notebook!” Miller explained that completing these notebooks will help students learn the skills necessary for any career in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field.
The students began the day with qualifying matches where teams compete against one another. Each event began with the programming skills challenge, where each team pre-programs their robot to run the course in order to gain as many points as possible in 15 seconds. From there the robots began the next challenge where the team members use remotes to move their robots to gain points in order to clear their assigned space. The space is filled with two “bags” and multiple “stars.” Depending on where the items were moved determined the number of points each team received. The goal was to move as many “bags” and “stars” into your opponents’ space before time was called.
The alliances were picked and the elimination matches began after lunch.  These newly formed teams then competed against other alliances. Brentwood Academy received the Excellence Award, which qualified them for State and Regional Championship and CREATE U.S. Open; Tournament Champions were Brentwood Academy and Johnson County High School, which qualified them for State and Regional Championship and CREATE U.S. Open; the Build Award went to Jefferson County High School; the Design Award went to St. George’s Independent School; Judge’s Award went to Brentwood Academy; Robot Skills Award, which qualifies for CREATE U.S. Open, went to Brentwood Academy; and the Sportsmanship Award, which was chosen by the students, went to Johnson County Middle School.
After this event, JCMS and JCHS, have three out of their four teams that have qualified for the State Championship, which will take place on March 4 in Brentwood, TN.  Schools that place at the State level will then compete at the World Championship, which this year takes place in Louisville, Kentucky.

Watauga Lake accessibility and Sink Mountain boat ramp discussed by local officials

By Marlana Ward

Lake accessibility was the topic of the evening when representatives from the National Forest Service, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), and members of the Johnson County Commission met together February 9, 2017. The popular Sink Mountain boat ramp, the need for repairs, and possible site enhancement were the main focuses of the meeting.
Johnson County Mayor Larry Potter opened the meeting by expressing his desire to see the ramp moved further up the access road to allow room for a fishing pier to be added to the lake access point. He explained that though he knew water flow in that portion of the lake could be an issue, he hoped that a solution could be found to make the lake more accessible to more people. He also mentioned that giving emergency personnel a better launching point would be very beneficial to the county.
US Forest Service Ranger, Keith Kelley, addressed those gathered to say that while he was relatively new to the Johnson County area, he was interested in learning more about any issues with the Forest Service properties in the county and the history thereof. Kelley also brought attention to the fact that the water in the Watauga Reservoir belonged to the Tennessee Valley Authority and any work done on the water would have to be approved by that agency as well.
Representing the local sportsmen of the county, Commissioner Jimmy Lowe spoke of the continuing deterioration of the Sink Mountain Ramp and the need for maintenance. He explained how the gravel between the concrete portions of the ramp has been steadily washed away over the years and the need to have the ramp re-bedded was something that needed to be addressed soon. Ranger Kelley acknowledged the concern for the needed repair and assured that it would be looked into soon. He said that a repair of that nature to an already existing fixture should not need approval from multiple agencies and would be something that could be taken care of easily.
Commissioner Lowe, as well as Commissioner Rick Snyder, both expressed a desire to see a floating dock system installed at the Sink Mountain location. The increased ability to single-handedly launch a boat as well as a less-damaging method of launching could be achieved by having a dock system that lowered and raised with the water level and give boaters a way to secure their boat in the water during launch and loading without having to drag their boats across the graveled shore.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk on sale now.

Johnson County Middle School hosts robotics state qualifier; local high school named as tournament champion

By Rebecca Herman

On Saturday, February 18 Johnson County Middle School hosted the JOCO VEX “Winter Wonderland” State Qualifier, which was sponsored by TVA, Tennessee Valley Authority. Sixteen teams from eight schools came to compete with the hopes of qualifying for the state Robotics competition. Middle and high school teams came from across the state, with Memphis traveling the longest distance.
The schools who competed were: Johnson County Middle School and Johnson County High School, Mountain City, TN; Brentwood Academy, Brentwood, TN; Sullivan North High School, Kingsport, TN; Happy Valley Middle School, Elizabethton, TN; Holston and Innovation Academy Middle School, Blountville, TN; Jefferson County High School, Dandridge, TN; and St. George’s Independent School, Collierville, TN.
The competition was well received by everyone in attendance. For many parents, this was the first time seeing their child competing because the competitions are usually held in middle and west Tennessee. This event is a first for Johnson County and will “be a yearly state qualifier event,” according to JCMS team sponsor and teacher, Susan Quave. So far, this is the first state qualifier for East Tennessee.
Teams have multiple opportunities to gain points: skills notebook, robot skills challenge, and programming skills challenge. Rich Miller, state judge, spoke to the group of students before the competition began and expressed his excitement that, “every team today completed the skills notebook!” Miller explained that completing these notebooks will help students learn the skills necessary for any career in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field.
The students began the day with qualifying matches where teams compete against one another. Each event began with the programming skills challenge, where each team pre-programs their robot to run the course in order to gain as many points as possible in 15 seconds. From there the robots began the next challenge where the team members use remotes to move their robots to gain points in order to clear their assigned space. The space is filled with two “bags” and multiple “stars.” Depending on where the items were moved determined the number of points each team received. The goal was to move as many “bags” and “stars” into your opponents’ space before time was called.
The alliances were picked and the elimination matches began after lunch.  These newly formed teams then competed against other alliances. Brentwood Academy received the Excellence Award, which qualified them for State and Regional Championship and CREATE U.S. Open; Tournament Champions were Brentwood Academy and Johnson County High School, which qualified them for State and Regional Championship and CREATE U.S. Open; the Build Award went to Jefferson County High School; the Design Award went to St. George’s Independent School; Judge’s Award went to Brentwood Academy; Robot Skills Award, which qualifies for CREATE U.S. Open, went to Brentwood Academy; and the Sportsmanship Award, which was chosen by the students, went to Johnson County Middle School.
After this event, JCMS and JCHS, have three out of their four teams that have qualified for the State Championship, which will take place on March 4 in Brentwood, TN.  Schools that place at the State level will then compete at the World Championship, which this year takes place in Louisville, Kentucky.

Johnson County Health Department recognized by Tennessee for performance excellence

The Johnson County Health Department has earned Interest Level Recognition in the annual Excellence in Tennessee recognition program administered by the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE). TNCPE is Tennessee’s only statewide quality program and is patterned on the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, the national standard for recognizing role model performance through innovation, improvement, and visionary leadership. The Johnson County Health Department will accept the award at the 24th Annual Excellence in Tennessee Awards Banquet on March 2, 2017, at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs.
“The Johnson County Health Department, led by County Director Caroline Hurt, is actively and eagerly embracing this continuous process of improvement in carrying out our collective Mission,” said Regional Director Rebekah English, Northeast Regional Health Office.
The Johnson County Health Department provides clinical-based and population-based public health services to residents in and around Johnson County, Tennessee.
Through an annual evaluation and assessment process, TNCPE recognizes high-performing organizations that demonstrate continuous improvement and role model processes. This year, TNCPE has named 42 organizations as 2016 Award winners that represent outstanding achievement in the following industry sectors: health care, manufacturing, service, education, government, and nonprofit.
“This award represents hard work, focus, and a dedication to performance improvement,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “The Johnson County Health Department’s efforts to improve its processes will go beyond the walls of the organization’s workplace to touch lives throughout Tennessee.”
Organizations like the Johnson County Health Department apply to the TNCPE program at one of four levels. As the levels increase, so does the depth and complexity of the application, which is based on the Baldrige Excellence Framework. Since the program was founded in 1993, only 23 organizations have attained the excellence designation. One will receive the Excellence Award this year; two organizations will be honored with the Achievement Award; thirteen will receive a Commitment Award; and 26 will receive Interest Recognition.
“This program helps organizations look at the big picture and continuously strive to implement the best practices in their industry,” said TNCPE President Katie Rawls. “But it’s not easy—organizations like the Johnson County Health Department are truly passionate about performance excellence and have chosen TNCPE and the Baldrige framework to help them become the best they can be.”
A full list of winners can be found on the TNCPE website www.tncpe.org.
Established in 1993 as a public-private partnership, the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence strives to promote economic development and drive organizational excellence by helping companies and organizations grow more competitive in today’s global marketplace through affordable, in-depth assessments. A statewide nonprofit, TNCPE is grounded in the Baldrige Excellence Framework—a holistic framework used by organizations across multiple industries to improve their performance and achieve sustainable results. More than 1,300 organizations have participated in and benefited from the TNCPE program. Four Tennessee businesses—Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation, Pal’s Sudden Service, Eastman Chemical Company, and Federal Express—have been honored with both the prestigious Baldrige National Quality Award and the TNCPE Excellence Award.
For more information about the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence, contact Katie Rawls, president and CEO, at katie.rawls@tncpe.org.
For more information on the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, visit www.nist.gov/baldrige.
For more information on Johnson County Health Department, contact Caroline Hurt at caroline.hurt@tn.gov.

Johnson County to name bridge in memory of World War II veteran Rubin Stout

By Rebecca Herman

The Johnson County Commission met on February 16 for their monthly meeting; all commissioners were present. The meeting began with public comments.
First to address the commission was Roby Phillippi, who asked the commissioners to consider changing the wildlife baiting regulations due to the overpopulation of wildlife in the county. Phillippi and many other hunters in the county would like to be able to put out bait year round and many states have already passed laws that allows baiting of wildlife year round. County attorney Perry Stout explained that there are state laws that are in place that would not allow the county to make such a decision. Mayor Larry Potter suggested Stout look into the law and said that the county may be able to send in a resolution to ask the state to change the law. Stout stressed that the law is strict and the punishment for breaking said law is harsh; one could lose his license to hunt, guns, etc.
Jerry Jordan addressed the commission asking for them to approve road name changes in Shady Valley and Mountain City due to new residents who need addresses. They voted to add “Lane” on to a road that has been called “Barry Blevins,” which is located off Winchester Road and to merge a small section of Walts Road with Hubert Taylor Road. These changes will be added to the county road list. The commission approved this request.
Next to speak were Ken Wiley and Dr. John Payne who requested the commission to consider dedicating a county bridge in memory of Rubin Stout, a Johnson County native and veteran of the United States Army. Stout was a World War II veteran who had an exciting military career that sent him across the globe. The commissioners voted to approve the request and chose to name a bridge in the Pandora community after Stout.
Russell Robinson asked for the approval of budget amendments. Russell explained that money was moved to pay for new school buses and an educational program which the Johnson County School Board voted on the week before. The commission approved this amendment.
Sheriff Mike Reece asked the commission to approve the auction of a 2007 Chevy Impala that is listed under the sheriff’s department surplus equipment. The commission approved this request.
Perry Stout reported speaking with State Representative Timothy Hill about concerns that the county has about inmate issues. Stout said, “They know the problems…they didn’t realize some of the issues, so it was educational.” He also explained that it makes a difference when the commissioners call the state representatives and officials.
Mike Taylor invited everyone out to the JAM Jamboree and silent auction on April 18 at Heritage Hall. JAM has 75 kids, who are learning and playing old timey music. This program continues to grow each year and would greatly benefit from community support.
The next commission meeting will be March 16 at 7pm.

Red Cross offers services to help with disaster preparedness plans in Johnson County

By Bonnie Davis Guy

The February Mountain City Council meeting came to order promptly with Mayor Kevin Parsons, Vice Mayor Jerry Jordan, and Aldermen Kenny Icenhour and Bob Morrison in attendance. Alderman Bud Crosswhite was absent due to illness. With the council having a quorum, they moved forward with the night’s agenda beginning with public presentations.
First to address the council members was Ellen Watkins from the Johnson County branch of the American Red Cross. Watkins wanted to update the council members on the county’s response to the recent catastrophic wildfires in Sevier County/Gatlinburg as well as other events affecting our area. Watkins was called to Gatlinburg the first night of the fire and helped find shelter and assistance for some 14,000 people. On Christmas Eve 2016, the shelters were finally closed with everyone placed in housing. Watkins, a long-term veteran of the Red Cross, visibly teared up when she reported, “It is unreal how the people of Tennessee stepped up to the plate with donations of needed items, clothing and financial aid. I am so proud,” said Watkins. The audience responded with congratulations and comments acknowledging Tennessee is the volunteer state.  Watkins went on to explain to the board that she would like to see residences and businesses of Johnson County have disaster preparedness plans in place. The Red Cross, and specifically Watkins, is available to help create these plans if needed. Johnson County recently suffered a microburst weather event, which is a type of tornado/straight line wind scenario. Our area is susceptible to severe weather and natural events that can end in disaster situations. Being prepared can make all the difference.  Mayor Parsons thanked Watkins and said, “I am proud to have you as a citizen of our town.”
The next item involved a landowner acquiring an unused right of way to 365 Hillside Drive across from Apple Street. The landowner is interested in developing this property but the entrance would encroach on the city’s right of way. Attorney Steve McEwen will investigate the issue, as the council had no objections at this point. A motion was made and passed to give Mayor Parsons and Attorney McEwen the authority to move forward with this request.
Chris Dunbar, Johnson Counties Middle School teacher and coach for the JV baseball team, asked permission to use the city’s ball field as a practice field starting on February 13 through March 31. With an all yes vote, permission was given.
The consent calendar with January minutes and the second and final reading of budget amendments were unanimously approved.
Items of concern for the council members and department heads began with Vice Mayor Jordan who thanked the city workers for the hard work at trying to cover up the graffiti at Ralph Stout Park. He also asked Andy Garland for a time frame on rehabbing the reservoir at water tank hill. Garland responded that the project will begin as soon as the weather permits and equipment can get to the site. Jordan also had concerns about buildings and property in the city that are not up to city ordinance due to disrepair or junk around the property. According to Jordan, he thinks it is time to enforce the ordinances set forth by the city council.
Alderman Bob Morrison wanted to express his heartfelt appreciation to all the city’s employees for their dedication and hard work.  Morrison has pictures of the bridge along the Goose Creek Trail at the Johnson County Welcome Center. He reports hearing lots of fears that although the bridge is an over the top design (built so water can rush over top in a high water situation) it will washout or cause water to flood the area below the welcome center or possibly the basement.  He also reminded the council that the Hall Tax decreases were beginning this year. “I am not satisfied with the answers we are receiving concerning the Welcome Center bridge, Parsons said. “We will continue to work on the issue.”
Mayor Parsons was next to speak and was happy to say we would all be seeing advertisements coming out for the Doe Mountain Recreation. V. Tate Davis has been put in place as the executive director, along with Tina Delante as the assistant Director for Doe Mountain Recreation. “I will be glad to see revenue come into the county from Doe Mountain,” Parsons said. He also stated he supported what Vice Mayor Jordan said about upholding the city ordinances on keeping property and buildings up to standard. After a motion was made to uphold the ordinance and start sending out notices a vote was taken and passed unanimously.
Sheila Shaw informed the council that Dry Run Utility District must have a closeout audit per the state. It will be from October 2016 – January 18, 2017.   A budget amendment was asked for and granted with an all yes roll call vote. Shaw also stated that all the Dry Run Utility District customers were being added to the Mountain City system. Ron Murphy from the Dry Run office has stated he is willing to stay on and assist with the switch over until he is no longer needed. The board responded they would like to wrap up the project by the end of February, obtain the records and maps that are necessary and get Dry Run running smoothly.
New business was next on the agenda with the first item being a discussion concerning the Goose Creek Trail time extension and request for additional funds. The funds would be to pay an engineer to be on site until the project was complete. The council stated they were not inclined to grant either the extension or the additional funds. The original contract stated the contractor would have the project completed within 180 days. When that could not be done, they filed for an extension with the state. It was brought to the board’s attention that the crew was not on site working some 30 days out of that 180. Jerry Jordan was firm in saying his vote was for no extension and no more money.  Parsons also stated he was “against additional money” going toward the project.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk on sale now.

Johnson County High School graduation set for May 13

By Rebecca Herman

On Thursday, February 9, the Johnson County School Board met for its regularly scheduled meeting; all board members were present.
Director of Schools Dr. Mischelle Simcox began the meeting by recognizing the employee of the month, Julian Crews, teacher at Johnson County Middle School.  Crews teaches seventh grade social studies and according to JCMS Principal Edna Miller Crews creates “an atmosphere where students desire to explore and inquire…he presents and teaches in such a way that all students want to be actively engaged in the lesson.” Miller also explained that Crews is able to have this impact of students due to his “tireless efforts” and “countless hours preparing lessons that include effective differentiated learning strategies based on the abilities and learning difficulties of students, ensuring that all students are successful in thinking through the task and mastering the objective.”
Miller also recognized students who received the top ten scores on the ACT Aspire test. These students worked hard and earned high scores in at least three of the four subject areas. The students recognized were Samantha Manuel, Lauryn Johnson, Veda Morefield, Lauren Patterson, Christopher Laing, Issac Brown, Nathan Trivette, Christian Woerner, Robert Coffey, and Madison Wright.
Rick Thomason and Danielle Pleasant spoke to the board about the 4-H program and additional programs that are offered to students in the school system. After giving a brief history of the 100-year-old organization, Pleasant and Thomason explained what the program offers the children. Pleasant said that in Johnson County they focus on workforce development. In order to teach students to be responsible citizens, Pleasant works with fourth, fifth, and sixth graders to complete five projects per school year. These projects help students to learn the Parliamentary Procedure, public speaking, financial education, supply and demand, decision-making, demonstration and poster making, and essay writing. By completing these projects students are able to learn life lessons and are rewarded for their efforts with placement ribbons and an award ceremony at the end of the school year.
Rick Walters from Horace Mann addressed the board next. Walters is also a representative for donorschoose.com. This is a website that allows teachers to post projects, activities, supplies, etc. that need funding.  Individual donors, as well as businesses, can then choose which projects they would like to fund. Walters told the board that Johnson County Schools has had over $200,000 donated to complete these projects, with Roan Creek Elementary (RCE) receiving the most donations with over $50,000; RCE has also had more projects funded than any other school in the state of Tennessee.
Marly Eggers, student school board member, reported to the board that the seniors would have local Scholarship Day on February 10. She also reported that there are now four televisions in the commons area that show an ACT practice question, the lunch menu, weather, and announcements. According to Eggers, the Health Occupation Student Association team went to the regional competition and several students will be moving on to state. Abby Smith, junior at JCHS, was chosen to attend the 2017 Tennessee Governor’s School for Scientific Models and Data Analysis.
Eggers also updated the board about the upcoming schedule for boys and girls basketball tournaments and announced that the boys junior varsity team “won their conference championship game for the second year in a row.” Next up for JCHS sports will be softball and baseball, with practices beginning the week of February 14, followed by tennis and track and field.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.

Johnson County Jail overcrowding can lead to loss of all state inmate revenue; Sheriff offers idea to convert empty building into jail annex for additional housing

By Marlana Ward

Representatives from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department and a number of the Johnson County Commissioners came together February 7, 2017 to discuss the department‘s overcrowding situation and future revenue possibilities.
Presently, the county jail houses approximately 57 state inmates at any given time.  The Tennessee Department of Corrections pays the county $37 per day to house these inmates.  Housing costs run close to $5 per day, giving the county a revenue profit every day a state inmate is kept in county custody.
While the money earned by keeping state inmates helps the county budget, increases in the number of county inmates being booked into the jail has lead to overcrowding and the inability of the department to house as many state inmates. Sheriff Mike Reece spoke to the commissioners present about recent visits by inspectors to the jail and the resulting departure of 14 state inmates due to crowding issues found.
“The inspectors look at yearly averages,” Sheriff Reece explained.  “If they find that there are too many we could lose certification to house state inmates.”
Sheriff Reece explained that the housing of the state inmates within the county jail had led to a surplus in the jail’s budget and that money was put into the county budget, helping to keep taxes from being raised.  He stated that if the county did not take advantage of the opportunity to house the state inmates, budget shortfalls would lead to increased taxes and budget cuts by the county. With over 28,000 state inmates being presently held in county jails across the state, the potential is high for income by counties through housing a portion of these inmates.
Commissioner George Lowe questioned the rise in local prisoners leading to overcrowding and asked if the addition of requiring property title searches for bonds had contributed to more local inmates being unable to post bond and leave the jail.  County attorney Perry Stout stated that the title searches had not had a negative effect on the bond system and was a way to protect the county from worthless bonds.
Commissioners questioned what could be done to help with current overcrowding and expressed their dissatisfaction with the current jail’s construction and location.  Given the jail’s limited space on the Honeysuckle Street property, expansion of the building is not an option.
Sheriff Reece presented the idea of converting the county’s empty industrial building located in the Industrial Park on Highway 67W into a jail annex that could be used to house state inmates.  The building, which has been empty since its construction several years ago, has the size and utility connections to make it a viable option for repurposing to a jail.  Preliminary calculations done by the sheriff’s office had shown that the ability to house approximately 150 inmates in a building of that size.  With 150 inmates at an annex location, as well as the 65 inmates that could be housed at the current jail location, the earning potential for the county could be $3.4 million, which would equal a surplus of over $1 million dollars after operating costs.
For the rest of the story and a sidebar of more details and information, pick up a copy of this week’s Tomahawk.

Bristol Herald Courier reports Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont have visitation restriction in place to protect patients from influenza

Bristol Herald Courier

JOHNSON CITY AND KINGSPORT, Tenn. – All of the hospitals operated by Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System have put in place visitation restrictions in order to protect patients from influenza.

The health systems are asking anyone younger than 12 and anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms refrain from visiting patients in the hospital at this time.

Flu-like symptoms include cough, fever, body aches, headache, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, chills and fatigue.

During the week of Jan. 29 through Feb. 4, Mountain States hospitals recorded 86 positive flu cases. The following week, Feb. 5 through 11, that number nearly doubled to 167 positive cases. Wellmont hospitals diagnosed 60 positive flu cases from Jan. 30-Feb. 5, and the number grew to 91 cases from Feb. 6-12.

“We are definitely beginning to encounter the peak of flu season,”  Jamie Swift, Mountain States corporate director of infection prevention said. “These numbers are higher than anything we saw last year; for comparison, the highest peak for Mountain States during the 2015-2016 season was 118 cases in one week. This week, we started out Sunday with 38 cases in our emergency departments, so we’re anticipating that flu activity will be even higher than last week.”

With flu actively circulating in the community, everyone is encouraged to take extra precautions to stop the spread of infection.

Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes, and please – stay home if you are ill,”  Dr. Gail Stanley, an infectious disease physician at Bristol Regional Medical Center said. “People can spread the flu for up to 24 hours before they start to show symptoms, and they can continue to be contagious for a full week after the onset of symptoms — sometimes even longer with children.”

Prior to implementing restricted visitation, Wellmont and Mountain States hospitals were already employing a number of other precautions, including providing masks at each entrance and registration area and designating separate waiting areas for patients experiencing fever or respiratory symptoms.

“Our emergency departments and urgent care centers are always available for people when they are vulnerable. Because of the high volumes, it is likely wait times may increase during this spike in flu-related activity,” Dr. Stanley said. “If individuals have certain health conditions (i.e., pregnancy, weakened immune systems or people with medical conditions like Asthma, diabetes or lung disorders), we encourage them to contact their physician if they start to experience any symptoms.”

To further protect children in the community, Niswonger Children’s Hospital offers the following tips:

• Children who have a fever should be kept home from school or daycare.

• A child who has a fever that lasts longer than 72 hours should see his or her doctor.

Steps for Establishing Clover in Pastures

By Rick Thomason, UT/TSU-Johnson County Extension Director

One of the most common forage recommendations made across the Southeast is to plant clovers in grass pastures.  Gary Bates, director of the University of Tennessee Beef and Forage Center, says research at the UT Institute of Agriculture has shown that seeding red and white clover in tall fescue pastures and hayfields can reduce fertilizer needs.

“The yield of a tall fescue-clover mixture will be equal to a pure tall fescue stand fertilized in the spring with 60 pounds of nitrogen per acre.  With the price of fertilizer, this can save a significant amount of money,” Bates says.
The forage expert cautions that many producers experience inconsistent results when trying to establish clover stands.  “Seeding rate and environmental conditions are two common reasons,” Bates said, but they are not the main problem.  “One of the most common reasons for the failure of clover seed to emerge and establish is due to planting the seed too deep,” he said.
“Clover seed is very small and needs to be planted less than one-fourth of an inch deep.  Using no-till drills to plant clover seed in February and March can make it difficult to control seeding depth.  The drills are heavy and the ground is soft,” Bated added.  He says it is often better to broadcast the seed on top of the ground.  Here’s the procedure that Bates recommends for planting clover into a fescue pasture:

  1. Fertilize according to soil test.  Establishment and yield of clovers will be enhanced if the proper pH and nutrient levels are provided.  Do not add nitrogen.  Nitrogen will not kill clovers, but it stimulates grass growth and increases the potential of the clover being shaded out by the grass.
  2. Seed 2 pounds of ladino white clover and 4 pounds of red clover per acre.  With the clovers, be sure to use pre-inoculated seed, or inoculate the seed yourself.
  3. Seed the mixture from February 15 to March 1.  If forage stubble is 2 inches or less, broadcast the seed on top of the ground.
  4. Don’t graze livestock on the newly seeded pasture until the pasture is 8 inches tall.  This will allow the clovers to develop a root system that will not get pulled out of the ground by grazing.

Bates says following these simple steps will improve the quality of pastures and hayfields while at the same time reducing costs.  More information can be found online at the UT Beef and Forage Center website (utbeef.com) or at your local county UT Extension Office.
The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and outreach through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.

Johnson County Health Department offers flu vaccinations at no charge

Flu season is here, with seasonal influenza cases now reported across Tennessee. The Johnson County Health Department is working to protect the entire community by providing flu vaccinations at no charge to area residents on a first come, first served basis. A small amount of vaccine is still available and to ensure they can be used to protect health will be provided at no charge to patients until vaccine supplies are depleted. Appointments must be made to receive flu vaccine, and are now being scheduled at the clinic.
“Anyone, even healthy people, can get the flu and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age. Vaccination is the best protection against the flu, and the Johnson County Health Department recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine every year,” said Caroline Hurt, County Director. “It takes about two weeks to be protected after you get the flu vaccine, so we want everyone who hasn’t had their flu shot to get one right away to help keep our community healthy.”
The flu vaccine is especially important for people at high risk for serious illness or death from influenza such as the elderly, pregnant women and young children, as well as healthcare workers, and family and friends of anyone at high risk. Expectant mothers should be vaccinated during pregnancy to protect themselves and pass protection on to their unborn babies.
Flu shots will be provided at no charge to patients. Both adults and children may receive flu vaccine at the clinic. Please call the Johnson County Health Department at (423) 727-9731 today to book your appointment. The clinic is located at 715 West Main Street in Mountain City and open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

National Guard program can help struggling 16-18 year olds obtain high school credits

Early last year Governor Bill Haslam, Deputy Governor Jim Henry, Commissioner of Children’s Services Bonnie Hommrich and Major General Max Haston announced that Tennessee is the latest state to be approved by the Department of Defense for a National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program.
After months of preparation, the Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy (TNVCA)  is ready to become a reality.
The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is a 17-month, voluntary, second-chance program for 16-to 18-year-old struggling youth who may have dropped out of school or behind in credits. Participants have the opportunity to enhance life skills, increase self-esteem, learn job skills, and if they qualify, cadets will have the opportunity to take the high school equivalency test (HiSet).
The program focuses on Eight Core Components; Academic Excellence, Physical Fitness, Leadership/Followership, Responsible Citizenship, Job Skills, Service to the Community, Health & Hygiene and Life Coping Skills.  The cadets begin with a two week acclimation period followed by a 5 month Residential Phase and a 12 month Post Residential Mentoring Phase.
Tennessee will be the 40th program joining programs in 28 states, DC and Puerto Rico.
The Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy will occupy the former Woodland Hills facility in Nashville.
“We wanted to bring Youth ChalleNGe to Tennessee for a number of years, but finding the right facility and obtaining the required Federal and State funding has been a challenge,” said Maj. Gen. Haston.  “We appreciate the foresight of Governor Haslam, Deputy Governor Henry, Commissioner Hommrich and our Legislature in helping make this happen.  This is a great day for the youth of Tennessee.”
Funding for the program is shared between the federal (75%) and state (25%) governments.  The first class of the Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy class will be approximately 100 cadets and is set to host its first class on July 9, 2017.
For additional information and how to apply please contact TNVCA at: www.tnvolunteerchallenge.com
tnvca@tn.gov  or call 629.888.5868.

Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee recognizes unsung parent heroes across Tennessee

Governor Bill Haslam proclaimed the month of February as Parent Leadership month in conjunction with national celebrations of parents happening across the country this month.  To honor the thousands of parents in our state who demonstrate strength, support and courage for their own families and those in their community on a daily basis, Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee is recognizing the unsung heroes of our state.

Couples and individuals across the state were nominated for demonstrating incredible resiliency in the face of challenging circumstances and modeling a tenacious spirit to advocate for the children in their life.  These individuals are marked by their courage and unwillingness to accept obstacles and road blocks in regards to what is best for children. Together they have made Tennessee a better place for children to call home. Nominations for the unsung heroes’ awards were received and reviewed by a subcommittee of the Parent Partnership TN leadership team.

“Supporting parents in their dedication and devotion to give children great childhoods is at the heart of what we do every day.  It’s an honor to recognize the unsung heroes of our state who do what is right for children without ever seeking recognition,” said Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee’s President and CEO, Kristen Rector.

Ten award winners will be recognized at the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth’s 2017 Children’s Advocacy Days in Nashville, TN on March 14th and 15th.

The Parent Partnership TN Leadership team is composed of 23 parents and practitioners representing the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services’ 12 regions. Through monthly training, advocacy, and community involvement, the leadership team is advocating for policies that positively impact children and families across Tennessee.

 

Tennessee National Guard Youth Challenge Program Ready to Roll

NASHVILLE – Early last year Governor Bill Haslam, Deputy Governor Jim Henry, Commissioner of Children’s Services Bonnie Hommrich and Major General Max Haston announced that Tennessee is the latest state to be approved by the Department of Defense for a National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program.

After months of preparation, the Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy (TNVCA) is ready to become a reality.

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program is a 17-month, voluntary, second-chance program for 16-to 18-year-old struggling youth who may have dropped out of school or behind in credits. Participants have the opportunity to enhance life skills, increase self-esteem, learn job skills, and if they qualify, cadets will have the opportunity to take the high school equivalency test (HiSet).

The program focuses on Eight Core Components; Academic Excellence, Physical Fitness, Leadership/Followership, Responsible Citizenship, Job Skills, Service to the Community, Health & Hygiene and Life Coping Skills. The cadets begin with a two week acclimation period followed by a 5 month Residential Phase and a 12 month Post Residential Mentoring Phase.

Tennessee will be the 40th program joining programs in 28 states, DC and Puerto Rico.

The Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy will occupy the former Woodland Hills facility in Nashville.

“We wanted to bring Youth ChalleNGe to Tennessee for a number of years, but finding the right facility and obtaining the required Federal and State funding has been a challenge,” said Maj. Gen. Haston. “We appreciate the foresight of Governor Haslam, Deputy Governor Henry, Commissioner Hommrich and our Legislature in helping make this happen. This is a great day for the youth of Tennessee.”

Funding for the program is shared between the federal (75%) and state (25%) governments. The first class of the Tennessee Volunteer ChalleNGe Academy class will be approximately 100 cadets and is set to host its first class on July 9, 2017.

For additional information and how to apply please contact TNVCA at: www.tnvolunteerchallenge.com

tnvca@tn.gov

629.888.5868

Groundhog Day 2017: Meteorologists, Phil predict 6 more weeks of winter lie ahead

AccuWeather Global Weather Center – February 2, 2017  – AccuWeather reports  just after sunrise on Thursday, Punxsutawney Phil declared six more weeks of winter for the United States – a prognostication AccuWeather meteorologists largely agree with.

Though many Americans are longing for warmer weather, most of the country will be faced with weeks of wintry conditions.

“There will be more rain than snow in the big East Coast cities,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said. However, the interior Northeast will have a higher chance for snow as temperatures remain below normal.

“As far as a significant warmup goes across the Northeast, I think you have to hold off til late April or early May,” he said.

Cold air and snow will also persist in the Midwest, northern Plains and Northwest, enveloping nearly the entire northern tier of the country.

Northern and central California will see additional winter storms and rainfall. The abundant precipitation will continue to build a buffer for reservoirs in the coming months, Pastelok said.

Meanwhile, wet weather will grip cities from the mid-Atlantic down to the Florida Panhandle.

The rest of Florida will mark the exception for the Southeast, as dry weather prevails between now and springtime.

The spring season will officially begin on March 20.

For more details on what to expect, check back for AccuWeather’s full 2017 spring forecast on Feb. 8.

Unite on National Wear Red Day® to Raise Awareness About Americans’ Greatest Health Threat

The American Heart Association is encouraging everyone to wear red on National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 3, to raise awareness for the fight against heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 & No. 5 killer of all Americans.

More than 800,000 people in the U.S. die from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases each year. But 80 percent of cardiovascular disease may be prevented through healthy habits such as eating right, controlling cholesterol, getting physical activity and not smoking.

Events highlighting the Go Red for Women movement’s 14th anniversary will kick off during Heart Month in February.

Wear Red Day Proclamation

Johnson City:

  • When: Friday, Feb. 3rd at 10am
  • Where: Johnson City Medical Center Heart Hospital Lobby (400 State of Franklin Road, Johnson City, TN – use Heart Hospital Entrance)
  • What: A Presentation regarding National Wear Red Day and the local volunteer project “Little Hats, Big Hearts”. Volunteers have crocheted red caps for all babies born in the month of February in honor of Heart Month for Mountain States Health Alliance Nurseries. City Mayor, David Tomita, will read the Wear Red Day Proclamation, and Dr. Matthew Loos, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Washington County Hospitals, Mountain States Health Alliance and Dr. Shobha Hiremagalur will speak regarding Heart Health.
  • This event is not open to the public but media is welcome.

Kingsport:

  • When: Friday, Feb. 3rd at 12:45pm
  • Where: Holston Valley Medical Center (130 Ravine Road, Kingsport, TN) in the Heritage Room
  • What: A Presentation regarding National Wear Red Day and the local volunteer project “Little Hats, Big Hearts”. Volunteers have crocheted red caps for all babies born in the month of February in honor of Heart Month for Wellmont Health System Nurseries. Tim Attebery, President of Holston Valley Medical Center, will read the Wear Red Day Proclamation, as well as Lori Jackson, Executive Director of CV Service, will speak on the importance of Heart Health.
  • This event welcomes media

National Wear Red Day

  • On National Wear Red Day, Friday, February 3rd, Tri-Cities and surrounding area residents who support the cause are encouraged to join local news anchors, personalities, companies and corporations in wearing red to bring awareness to heart disease in women. Use the #TriCitiesGoRed to share your photos and posts.

Current blood drives in area

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

  • Friday, January 27, 9:00a-3:00p, Grand View Elementary School, Telford, TN
  • Friday, January 27, 10:00a-3:00p, Victory Orthotics & Prosthetics, Bristol, TN
  • Monday, January 30, 11:00a-2:30p, Grayson Rehab and Health, Independence, VA
  • Monday, January 30, 11:00a-4:30p, Ingles Supermarket-Boones Creek, Johnson City, TN
  • Tuesday, January 31, 9:30a-2:00p, Chilhowie Elementary School, Chilhowie, VA
  • Tuesday, January 31, 11:00a-5:00p, Johnson County Community Hospital, Mountain City, TN
  • Wednesday, February 1, 8:00a-2:00p, Hunter Elementary School, Elizabethton, TN
  • Wednesday, February 1, 1:30p-3:30p, Heartwood, Abingdon, VA
  • Thursday, February 2, 9:00a-12:00p, Food City, Marion, VA
  • Thursday, February 2, 12:00p-6:00p, Johnson City Medical Center, Johnson City, TN

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.