Butler, woman killed in wreck near Watauga Lake

One Killed

One person was killed in this two-car crash on U.S. Highway 321 around Watauga Lake on Monday afternoon. The crash took place in a sharp curve near Little Stoney Creek Campground. The highway was shut down for three hours while workers cleared the crash site. The Tennessee Highway Patrol is working the crash. Next of kin have not been notified.Photo By John Thompson Johnson City Press

By Tamas Mondovics

A two-vehicle accident that shut down the state highway in Carter County claimed the life of a Butler woman last week near Watauga Lake.
According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol THP, the fatal crash involved Marsha Shepherd, 40, Butler, TN who crossed the centerline of Highway 321 traveling southbound near the intersection of Little Stoney Creek Road.

Shepherd hit a car driven by Mountain City, TN resident, Thomas Fortune, 75, who was traveling in the northbound lane. Shepherd died from her injuries, but THP provided no information about Fortune at this. The wreck occurred just after 3 p.m. on Monday, May 21, backed up traffic for miles as the road was closed in both directions while troopers worked to investigate the crash.

King invites young ladies to STEMgineering Summer Camp July 16-20

The King University Women in STEM club is excited to host a camp for young women in grades fifth through ninth in the surrounding community. The STEMgineering camp at King will be an action-packed week filled with activities focusing on Chemistry, Engineering, Biology, Cryptology (code breaking), Animation Software, Chess, Coding/Programming, Orienteering, and Statistical Analysis. The camp will be held on King’s main campus in Bristol, Tennessee from July 16-20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

“The outpouring of interest in our STEM Day for Girls event that took place this spring showed us there is a need and desire in our area for STEM-related education for young women,” said Wendy Traynor, M.Ed., assistant professor of Mathematics at King. “We anticipated 20 students at our spring event and were incredibly pleased to host more than 70 middle school girls who were excited about STEM. Our new STEMgineering Camp at King was born from this enthusiasm.”

The cost to attend the summer camp is $225, which covers lunch each day, camp T-shirt, lanyard, and all supplies and materials. Instructors include King University professors and King students, as camp counselors, who are members of STEM undergraduates.

Tentative daily schedule:
8:45-9:00 ARRIVAL
9:00-9:30 Morning Group Activities
9:30-12:00 Morning STEM session
Lunch in the King University Dining Hall
1:00-3:30 Afternoon STEM session
3:30-4:00 Afternoon Group Round-up
4:00 Dismiss for the day

Space is limited. You can register at: http://www.king.edu/about/clubs/stem/stem-camp.aspx. For questions, please email Camp Director Wendy Traynor at wltrayno@king.edu. There are a few need-based scholarships available. Please email Professor Traynor for an application for those scholarships.

The King University Women in STEM club is a community of female undergraduates majoring or minoring in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math. The club was formed in August 2015 thanks in part to a grant from the Tensor Foundation of the Mathematical Association of America which funded travel to academic conferences, costs to bring in national level speakers, and various club events.

Shady Valley Fire Department participates in Vehicle Extrication Class

By Tamas Mondovics

The Shady Valley Fire Department spent the first weekend of May training to rescue individuals after a vehicle accident. The Vehicle Extrication class was organized by the Tennessee Fire and Codes Enforcement Academy requiring each student to complete 24 hours of training.
According to officials the vehicle extrication training, which was all done at theShady Valley fire station 10114 Hwy 421 North, can be one of the most complex and challenging responses that
firefighters face due to the increased technology in newer vehicles.

“Firefighters were trained on techniques to safely remove someone that is trapped in a vehicle using tools as simple as a hand wrench and hacksaw to advanced equipment such as hydraulic rescue tools including the Jaws of Life,” said Fire Chief Charles McQueen, with the Shady Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

McQueen added that Shady Valley had 12 firefighters complete the training along with four firefighters from Warriors Path Fire Department in Kingsport.

“On behalf of the fire department we would like to thank the State Fire Instructor’s Kenneth McQueen (Shady Valley Fire) and Ben Wexler (Warriors Path Fire) for presenting a great training program,” the Chief said.

Cornett’s Used Cars of Shady Valley provided the vehicles to use for the training.
“We extend a special thank you to our community forcontinued support and donations that allow us to provide the services that we do,”
McQueen said.

School bus driver makes connections, brighten days

Lisa Greer assists Johnson County Schools bus driver Anita Smiley in transporting some exceptional students to school each day. It takes a special blend of skill, empathy, and patience to carry students with special needs and this duo flawlessly pulls it off on a daily basis. Photo by Jill Penley

By Jilly Penley
Freelance Writer

Every morning during the school year, a little bus travels the mountainous terrain of Johnson County, and every morning as the students board the school bus, a genuine, infectious smile greets them. Behind that smile is Anita Smiley.

“Being a bus driver means more than picking up and dropping off students,” says Smiley, who is quick to stress the connections with students really made it special for her and her assistant, Lisa Greer. “It’s a fulfilling job. You definitely don’t have the same thing happening every day.”

Each morning of the school year just after 6 a.m., Smiley, who also works part-time for Johnson County Trustee, Lisa Crowder, picks up Greer at her salon in Mountain City, and the two begin their daily route. Each afternoon the process starts again in reverse when Smiley picks up Greer and heads to the high school campus to pick up their first students to transport back home. Smiley’s not your typical bus driver. Whether the special need is easy to see or one that many people may not realize, Smiley and Greer, treat every child the same and welcome each child by name. “Saying they are special is an understatement,” said Smiley. “When they click that seat belt and give a thumbs up and a smile that they accomplished something,” Smiley adds, “It brings tears to our eyes.”

Her special-needs passengers range from first grade to students looking forward to high school graduation. Currently, this duo picks up & delivers five students. “Many people, despite their best intentions, do not know how to approach someone with disabilities,” admitted Smiley. “The main thing is to treat people the way you would want to be treated.”

The success of a program for exceptional children depends upon the people who have daily contact with the children. The regular bus ride to and from school can be an important part of a child’s progress toward accomplishment of goals. Once the bus is loaded, Smiley pulls out for a circuitous route through Johnson County’s highways and hollers to deliver children to waiting family


Seniors dance the night away at the Senior Prom

Rick and Elaine Moore crowned as Prom King and Queen

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

The Johnson County Senior Center went all out with its Senior Prom at RedTail Mountain Resort last week as more than 120 people showed up to party the evening away. It was an opportunity for seniors to get dolled up and head out for an evening. Rick Cornett from Rick Cornett Photography took traditional prom photos in front of a backdrop while Johnson County High School’s Skills USA students prepared and served an impressive meal under the guidance of Culinary Arts teacher Craig Cox. Dinner consisted of a house salad, prime rib strip steak, chicken cordon bleu, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans and either a cupcake or piece of cheesecake was also a hit.

“Many of the seniors told me they never got to go to their prom,” said Senior Center director Kathy Motsinger. “Now they are already asking me to have another one.”

After dinner, attendees flocked to the dance floor to steal the show with their dance moves. As the evening progressed, Motsinger announced the prom king and queen, Rick and Elaine Moore, who have received their crowns to thunderous applause and drifted to the dance floor for their honorary dance.

Motsinger thanked the sponsors who made the evening possible. Peter Lawson and RedTail Mountain Vista, Johnson County Bank, Farmers State Bank, Iron Mountain Construction, Hux & Lipford Funeral Home and Miller’s Flower Shop. The Skills USA students worked hard preparing a delicious meal and excellent service. Prom attendees also donated $500 in tips to the Culinary Arts Department, which plans to use the funds for travel expenses to the national
competition in Louisville, Kentucky.

Everyone was content by the end of the evening. The special evening was filled with smiles and laughter. Everyone headed to the dance floor for the final dance, to the song entitled Forever Young. Incidentally, Senior Prom was the final event held in the ballroom that is reportedly set
to be converted into hotel rooms.

Coming together to pray for our nation

By David Holloway
Staff Writer

The first Thursday of May holds great significance for the nation of America. We recognize this day as the National Day Of Prayer. All around America, prayers were being offered for this great nation. Mountain City was no exception. Several houses of worship held special meetings to pray for this nation. The Republican Women of Johnson County held an event at Ralph Stout Park on Thursday evening.

“The purpose of the event is to come together as a Nation to pray for our Nation on the National Day of Prayer,” said Ashley Worlock, President of the Republican Women of Johnson County. “We also pray for our county. There is a theme every year decided by the National Day of Prayer organization.”

The theme this year was Unity. The National Day of Prayer Mission is to mobilize unified prayer for America. In 1775, the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming this nation marking it as this nation’s first call to prayer. President Truman established a national day of prayer in 1952. President Reagan amended the law proclaiming the first Thursday of May to be the National Day of Prayer starting in 1988.

The event was the second annual National Day of Prayer event sponsored by the Republican Women of Johnson County. Last year it was held at the County Courthouse steps with 19 people in attendance. This year, there were about 50 people in attendance. Among those in attendance, were our District 3 Tennessee House Representative Timothy Hill, First District Congressman candidate Todd McKinley, Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox, school board Chairman Kenneth Gregg, and Key Kernaghan, candidate for District 2 Constable.

“Our country was formed as a Constitutional Christian Republic, and as our pledge of allegiance states, “to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God,” said Anita Smith, Vice President of Republican Women of Johnson County and Worship and Children’s Pastor at Mighty Fortress Church.“The United States is not above God or without God, but under God. The NDP is a time for us to focus on 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” We are praying andbelieving for healing for our land.”

The event at Ralph Stout Park started at 5:30 pm with a welcome, an opening prayer and praise and worship lead by a team of musician’s from the various Highlands Fellowship campuses. For nearly an hour, participants prayed about different topics. Worlock opened the prayer time by reading the National prayer. Prayers were offered for unity between women and unborn and between women and babies. Earl Gambill, manager of the Community Center Pool, prayed for unity between children and parents. Worlock prayed for unity between senior citizens and family and between soldiers and country. Will Kerley, a high school student, prayed for unity among peers. Michelle Walters, a high school teacher, prayed for unity between students, parents, and teachers. Uriah Fletcher, a high school teacher, prayed for unity between education department and parents. Dawn Botts, Associate Professor at Appalachian State University, prayed for unity between law enforcement and citizens and unity between the city and its people and between the county and its people. McKinley prayed for unity between democrats and republicans and between states and nation. Smith prayed for unity among the churches.

Volunteers served pizza and refreshments to the attendees of the event and delivered pizzas to local organizations along with a message that prayers were said for them duringthe event. Contributions from Community Church, Republican Women of Johnson County, Farmers State Bank, Little Caesars, and personal donations from Mary Gale, Karen Weaver, Anita Smith, and Ashley Worlock funded this event.

School year ends with bridge project ongoing

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

Since mid-November, parents, teachers, and students have accessed the Johnson County High School campus by an alternate route impeding traffic flow and congesting the entire area particularly at the beginning and end of the school day. Many parents remain concerned with the traffic pattern, and the time it is taking to see the bridge project completed.

“Unfortunately the bridge will not be open for graduation,” said Dr. Mischelle Simcox, Director of Schools. “We hope that the bridge construction will be completed over the summer. We appreciate the patience of our students, parents, staff, and community while the bridge construction has been occurring.”

The entire bridge project, which has been in the making for nearly five years, has been plagued with issues. When construction finally got into full swing in mid-January, operations came to a halt just a few weeks later when a sinkhole appeared as the contractor was excavating to footer grade. Immediately, all heavy equipment was removed from the area, and the bridge construction halted as TDOT Geotechnical Division and TDOT Environmental Division were consulted for remediation.

Utilizing the remediation plan, the contractor began working to clean out the hole, which, according to Community Relations Officer, Mark Nagi with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, had then expanded to approximately 10 feet wide and at least 25 feet deep. “Requirements for Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control (EPSC) measures were upgraded per recommendations from TDOT Environmental and TDEC,” said Nagi. On April 29th, the contractor began implementation of the upgraded EPSC measures and prepared to resume work on the project, but reportedly, as the contractor worked on the sinkhole, the size and extent of the cavity became more apparent.

Nagi explained that TDOT Geotechnical was requested, and a representative visited the site last week, on May 2. With the recommendation of TDOT Geotechnical, the contractor proceeded with filling the sinkhole with several loads of stone.

“The stone seems, at this time, to have stabilized the bottom of the sinkhole, and is starting to fill the hole,” said Nagi.

While a positive step for the project, residents will have to deal with construction-related issues including vehicles not been able to enter at the front entrance of the school. The detour route to enter the high school/middle school/vocational school area begins on Fairview Avenue, near the track, and continuing up the hill from there. Traffic has been instructed to exit by the vocational school making its way down East Hillcrest Drive. Nagi is promising to stay on top of things when he said, “We will continue to monitor the situation as the repair process continues and make any necessary adjustments to the plan as appropriate.”

National Nurses Week recognizes the value of skilled caregivers



Johnson County Community Hospital Nurses Amanda Tester, RN; Sharon Hughes, LPN;Ciera Boudle, LPN; Yvonne Paisley, RN; Priscilla Hicks, RN; Amy Phillips, LPN; Cheryl Parker, RN pause for a photo during National Nurses Week. Submitted Photo.

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

People decide to pursue nursing for various reasons, but for Amy Henson, currently with Johnson County Medical Group, the choice of profession was personal.
“I decided to pursue nursing when my brother was in the hospital,” said Henson, “I saw what a difference a kind, caring nurse could make for the patient and the family.”

Nursing plays an integral part in any successful healthcare system. Comprising the largest segment of the healthcare workforce, nurses represent one of the fastest growing professions in the country with more than 3.1 million registered nurses practicing nationwide. Whether providing care in hospitals, in-office, home-based or long-term care – nurses often work long hours to assist others, and this week has been set aside to recognize their national contribution. Amedisys, Inc., one of the nation’s leading home healthcare, hospice, and personal care companies, is among the many companies planning special events this week in honor of nurses and particularly the more than 5,700 nurses who call the company home.

“Amedisys is a company of caregivers with nurses as a key component of our success and our excellent patient care,” stated President and CEO Paul Kusserow. “I’m honored to support and inspire these outstanding professionals.”

The week’s festivities, supported by the American Nurses Association (ANA), actually officially kicked off last week with National Nurses Day falling on May 6 and will close on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who has been called “the founder of modern nursing.” First instituted in 1953, National Nurses Week celebrates the contributions nurses have made for the medical profession and encourages recognition of nurses and nursing students for their tireless work. The theme for this year’s National Nurses Week is “Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence.

Teresa Ransom, who started working as a nurse in the operating room at Watauga Medical Center in Boone in 2001, explains she originally wanted to go into veterinary medicine, but when it was determined the school for that specialty was too far away, she chose to enter nursing. Ransom, returned to Mountain City after her husband retired from the military, and considers nursing a true calling. “I love helping people through the rough parts of life,” she said.

Incidentally, nursing continues to be one of the most in-demand professions and as Baby Boomers age and the need for healthcare grows, the shortage of nurses is expected to intensify. Not only are experienced nurses retiring at a rapid rate, but there are also not enough new nursing graduates to replenish the workforce.
The American Nurses Association estimates the U.S. will need to produce more than one million new registered nurses by 2022 to fulfill the country’s health care needs.Fortunately, there are no shortages of caring individuals, young and old, that give of themselves to inspire, innovate and influence. Perhaps, Joannie McQueen, RN with Signature Healthcare, explained the nursing profession the best when she said, “It’s the hardest thing and the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It’s everything I imagined, plus a lot I couldn’t have dreamed up in a million years.”

Mountain City Youth Center vote still to come

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

Continued discussion about the proposed Youth Center was one of the main topics as the Town of Mountain City Board of Mayor and Aldermen met on May 2, 2018.
The discussion was a continuation of talks that have been taking place for over a year as leases, grants, and appraisals have all crossed the desks of city officials for consideration.Mayor Kevin Parsons brought the youth center topic before the council at the meeting in the hopes of having a vote taken that would either further the plan or close the door on the idea.

The progress Parsons shared with the group was that the Paul Brown Estate, the entity that owns the property at 1123 South Shady Street, is offering to sign the property over to the town immediately if an agreement about cost can be reached.The current proposal is that the town will pay half of the appraised cost of the property by the end of a three-year period as well as an annual, 2.3 percent fee collected as required by law. The current appraisal, which the estate had performed some months ago, has the town’s discounted cost set at $126,000. Parsons explained that the city had been invited to have a second appraisal done. If the parcel appraises less, the price will proportionately be also less. The estate, however, will not raise the price over the $126,000.

City Attorney George Wright voiced concern that the original lease the town had entered into with the estate for the property was only for the parcel on which the existing building sits on and that the current appraisal was for that property only. He stated that the adjoining plot had to be obtained to ensure ample parking and that according to some maps; the building even encroached upon the second parcel as it sits. Parsons assured the council that the estate was aware of this and was including both parcels in the price.

Wright also brought up the anticipated costs of tearing down the existing structure, as it does not meet building standards and suggested request the cost of demolition as a discount from the purchase price of the property. Parsons countered that the grants he was confident about the town obtaining being more than ample to meet the costs for demolition or construction needed.City Recorder Shelia Shaw asked how the town could anticipate being able to pay the $126,000 at the end of three years if the project was approved. Parsons stated that grant monies should cover the costs but also that if the center were able to operate successfully, as he believed it would, “the center would be able to support itself and provide the revenue needed to meet the cost.”

Wright estimated that a second appraisal could be completed in as little as two weeks if the appraiser was available. Morrison then requested postpone the vote on the project until prices were finalized.Parsons expressed the need to have this matter settled so that grants could be re-applied for and the youth center project plans could be underway adding that he had the paperwork on his desk and ready to be re-submitted “as soon as a decision is reached.”

“We began working on this project a little more than a year ago,” Parsons said after the meeting. “We first leased the property with the hopes of developing it as a youth center and then to purchase it. The problem with that is to be eligible for a grant; the town must have the property deeded to it. We should be able to vote when we reconvene on May 15. I anticipate work to begin quickly once the property is in the town’s name. I see the youth center as being a plus when it comes to other businesses moving into the city. The more opportunities for entertainment we have give one less opportunity for the youth to get into things that they shouldn’t be doing. It also has a great chance to incubate other entertainment and retail establishments.”

To facilitate a meeting to be held promptly to settle the youth center matter, it was decided not to adjourn the city council meeting for the evening, which allowed the council to reconvene as soon as the appraisal is in without having to meet state requirements for a public advertisement. A tentative date of May 15 has been set for the group to reconvene and have their final vote concerning the project.

Crews from multiple counties respond to major fire at Shoun Lumber in Butler.

Shoun Lumber Fire

Photo by Wayne Barry

By Tamas Mondovics

Johnson County firefighters and several crews from Carter County responded to a major fire that broke in a Butler, TN lumber yard this week. According to Johnson County Emergency Management director Jason Blevins, crews reportedly arrived to the fire at Shoun Lumber on George Shoun Lane, about 1:30 p.m. on Monday. By the time firefighters reached the yard, the sawmill was fully involved, Garber said. Shoun Lumber is a family-owned business.

Garber said that eight fire departments from Johnson County, eight from Carter County, and one from Sullivan County responded to help put out the blaze, which began when employees were working on a welding project at Mill #2 and sawdust caught fire and quickly spread. This week’s incident is reportedly the third time that the lumber company has caught fire in 30 years. No other details are available at this time.

Sunrise Quilt Guild donates to a local charity

Tennessee Sunrise Quilt Guild

Tennessee Sunrise Quilt Guild president Shirli Pollard, left, presents Robert Cress and Dennis Henson the quilt “Aged to Perfection.“ Each year Johnson County’s Tennessee Sunrise Quilt Guild makes and donates a handmade quilt to a local charity. This year‘s recipient was the Johnson County Shrine Club Roadrunners. Money raised from donations will be used to transport children to Shriners’ Children’s Hospitals. For information, contact any local Shrine Club member or Robert Cress @423-895-8577 or Dennis Henson @423-727-9182.

Elijah Haynes enjoys the spotlight Johnson County Talent Show

talent show

The recently held Johnson County Talent Show Middle School Category first place winner for singing “Home” Elijah Haynes, right; is joined by fellow performers including second place winner Will Smith, left, playing “Hallelujah” on piano and third place winner Kyla Tolliver, center for singing “The House That Built Me.” The show was showcasing the talent of many young people (K-12) while raising funds for more than a decade. The recent event held at Heritage Hall in front of a full house featured 29 students in 24 different acts in four categories of competition—K-3, 4-6, Middle School, and High School. Participants included winners from every school in the county as well as home school. Photo by Dennis Henson

Story time at the Senior Center

Minnie Miller

                      Minnie Miller

Submitted by Beverly McKinney

For a few months now the Johnson County Senior Center has enjoyed the monthly “Story” time, featuring several Johnson County citizens.Each event is entertaining and educating local senior residents with topics including how the county became the “Green bean” capital of the world. To date, other topics included how the region became Johnson County, Flo Bellemy describing how her family grew up in the County and how several communities got their name or nickname, the type of music such as the dulcimer has thrived under the instruction of Rick Ward and his family. John Mast shared some exciting genealogy, while Director Kathy Motsinger asked Minnie Miller to prepare and present the stories. “The program has become a big hit,” Motsinger said.

Local and surrounding county residents most likely know that Miller has a “story” of her own to tell, which she shared on Friday, April 27 also known as National Tell A Story Day. Motsinger explained that “Minnie’s Story” revealed that with help from God, family, friends, good doctors and medicine, and even a former student who brought her the book The Little Engine That Could, Miller survived a near-death horrible accident. “Those having lunch at the Senior Center were enthralled as Minnie told her story,” Motsinger said. The next story to be told by Lois Dunn, coupled with some unique music is scheduled for Monday, May 21 at 11:30 a.m.

Big changes coming to Camp Davy Crockett


More than 100,000 scouts who have attended the camp over the years enjoyed activities such as archery, canoeing, swimming, rifle shooting, and more.

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

For decades, young men from local communities have ventured to Whitesburg, TN to experience fun and to learn at the Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Davy Crockett. Now, the Sequoyah Council of BSA is asking for those who have benefited from the program or the camp itself to return and invest in the youth of tomorrow.Camp Davy Crockett located on 1,800 acres of various grounds including shoreline, woods, and mountains opened in 1972 and had been providing a wide range of outdoor activities to the more than 100,000 scouts who have attended the camp over the years.The camp surroundings accommodate the many activities such as archery, canoeing, swimming, lifesaving, rifle shooting, sailing, motor boating, forestry, nature, fishing, First Aid, woodcarving, leatherwork and more. In a recent release by the Sequoyah Council, the organization expressed its dedication to remaining relevant in today’s world stating, “In keeping with the Sequoyah Council’s reputation of being an innovative leader, Camp Davy Crockett also features Project C.O.P.E. (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience), kayaking, geocaching, climbing, golf, mountain biking, Frontier Camp and the First Year Camper Program.”

Being in operation for more than 45 years, Camp Davy Crockett has grown and aged, so the need for improvements and expansions to the camp has become necessary to ensure safe, successful camp experiences for years to come. The council has been working behind the scenes to begin the fundraising process for much-needed changes and repairs. The camp’s campaign titled “Let’s Get It Growing” focuses on sharing visions for the future with scout alumni, current scouts, and those scouts yet to come. The silent, first phase of the process was very successful with $3.2 million raised. Now, the group is ready for Phase II, which will be a public effort to raise the remaining funds needed to reach the camp’s goal. In the official statement, scout executive/CEO of the Sequoyah Council, David Page said, “”Let’s Get It Growing” enables us to connect with the entire scouting family and our community to share the story of Camp Davy Crockett, emphasizing its role in providing the best possible outdoor experience for our scouts. Phase one of our campaign put us in a position to start tackling some critical needs, and this next step is the natural evolution of our effort to sustain the camp for the next 25 to 30 years.”

Improvements already completed or are underway at the camp are construction of a new, multi-purpose dining hall and renovation of the current dining hall to increase staff dormitories and training areas. New bathhouses; 50 new Adirondack cabins; waterfront dock; log roll and iceberg elements; purchase of a Tahoe ski boat; paddle boards; kitchen enhancements; road improvements; 11 campsite pavilions; and staff village, which will be made available for rental during the camp’s off-season are all on the list. Johnson County has sent a number of its own scouts to Camp Davy Crockett over the years and each year more young men enter the organization to learn and grow skills to help them in the future. “There are over 50 scouts registered in Johnson County and 20 adult volunteers,” said Royce Fox, Field Director for the BSA Sequoyah Council.

Fox sees the camp as an essential part of a scout’s time with the organization and a time when great strides are made in character development. “It has often been said by Scout leaders that a boy will get more program time in one week of camp than he will in a whole year of weekly Scout meetings,” he expressed. “They get to experience the things they have learned first-hand and hands-on. They learn by doing and have a great time in the process.” The Sequoyah Council realizes that the many improvements planned for the camp will take time and have a scheduled completion date of 2019-2020 for some of the more involved projects such as a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) center and family fun activity center.

The BSA is dependent upon alumni and active community members to make sure that future generations of scouts will have the chance to experience camp and all the opportunities made available during their time there.“We are genuinely grateful for those who have embraced

our vision and contributed to our cause,” Page said. “With this final phase, we will ensure that Camp Davy Crockett remains a cornerstone of the scouting experience for youth in our region for many decades to come.” Those wishing to learn more about the improvements to be made at Camp Davy Crockett can visit the camp’s website at www.letsgetitgrowing.com.


Scout at Camp Davy Crockett preparing for the Zipline.

Introducing the GOJOCO new Kids Club

GOJOCO Kids logo

By Jana Jones
Farmers Market Manager

Have you heard of GoJoCo? Governor Bill Haslam began the ”Healthier Tennessee Communities”  initiative in 2014 through the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness with the vision of the entire state of Tennessee working together as citizens, employers, school systems, community organizations, health-care systems, and local government agencies toward a single goal – a Healthier Tennessee. In the summer of 2016, Angie Stout, Public Health Educator at Johnson County Health Department, invited over 30 community members to a meeting to determine interest in developing a working group to work toward reaching the goal to have Johnson County named as one of these “Healthier Tennessee Communities”.  From that meeting a new wellness committee was formed and  created  the logo “GoJoCo, A Healthy Johnson County.”  The committee designed a plan based on Healthier TN Communities criteria and began implementation of that plan in November 2016. A website was launched in the fall of 2017– GoJoCo.org – which was designed to be the go to place to find all of the activities offered in Johnson County, encouraging our community to move more, eat smarter, and enjoy a life free of tobacco products.

Out of this think tank GoJoCo Wellness Committee, the GoJoCo Kids Club was born. Beginning Saturday, May 5th and continuing every Saturday morning through October at Ralph Stout Park from 9am until 11:30, there will be a tent at the Farmers Market designated as the GoJoCo Kids tent. Parents will be able to bring their pre-school through elementary school aged children to the tent to participate in the new GoJoCo Kid’s Club.

The activities consist of a variety of exercise games including a type of Kids Ninja Warrior obstacle course where the Kids Club leader will chart each child to see how they improve each week they visit the GoJoCo Kids Club tent. Children MUST wear suitable shoes to participate. Tennis shoes or something similar are best, while flip flops or clogs would not be appropriate. A second Kids Club leader will be showing children how to make their own healthy snack and talk about the benefits of making healthy choices. Children will learn how to make fun snacks that look like flowers, trees, animals, and plants and try some foods they may never have tried before. Parents will be able to learn as well in order to help their child re-create these fun snacks at home. Children can participate in one or both activities. Each station will take approximately 5 to 8 minutes to complete.

At the end of October, if a child has participated at least 10 times during the summer, their name will be placed in a drawing to win a new age appropriate bicycle. Additional incentives are planned throughout the program. The GoJoCo Kids Club is sponsored by the GoJoCo Wellness Committee, the Johnson County UT/TSU Extension office, the Johnson County Diabetes Coalition, and the Johnson County Farmers Market. Volunteers are needed to staff the GoJoCo Kids Club each week. Interested high school students or adults may contact JohnsonCountyFM@gmail.com. To learn more about the Healthier TN Communities initiative visit www.healthiertn.com.

Roe visits The Tomahawk

Rep. Phil Roe visits The Tomahawk

Following the 2018 Johnson County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast held last week at the Crewette building in Mountain City, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN), right, stopped by the Tomahawk Newspaper for a quick visit with Editor, Tamas Mondovics, and Publisher, Bill Thomas.

Cosplay heroes

Abingdon Comic Con

Cosplayers at the first annual Comic Con held last week at Virginia Highlands Community College in Abingdon
line up for a photo as the judges select the winners. Comic Con., allows comic book enthusiasts and fans to gather and meet creators, experts and each other was a success. Organizers are promising to make the free event a community tradition. Johnson County High School is also hosting its annual Longhorn Comic Con., scheduled for June 2-3, 2018 in Mountain City, TN. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

Safe Babies court program to be implemented

Safe Babies

Youth Services Officer, Cole Gladden has been selected to lead Johnson County’s Safe Babies Court program, which has been created to assist families affected by drugs, neglect, or abuse and to have a safe, familiar place to work together for the benefit of the children.

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

Children go through the country’s court system as victims of neglect, abuse, or other situations daily, which lead to court intervention and placement. As the need for court involvement with families continues, some states and counties are taking steps to combat the cycle of neglect through new programs and initiatives. The US Department of Health and Human Services offers the following statistics regarding children in the country’s court system.

According to health officials, every six minutes an infant or toddler is removed from their parents’ care in the US due to neglect or abuse making it the largest age group of children that have been maltreated at 28 percent aged three years or younger. Tennessee’s occurrence of infant and toddler aged, maltreated children are even higher at 31-35 percent. Johnson County is taking steps to combat these numbers and will soon be one of only a few counties in the nation to offer the Safe Babies Court program. The program will seek to help families who enter the county’s court system due to drugs, neglect, or abuse has a safe, familiar place to work together for the benefit of the children.

The Safe Babies Court program will be funded by a $250,000 grant. The grant allows the employment of one full-time officer to assist local families. Johnson County’s officer will be Youth Services Officer Cole Gladden. “We are very excited that Department of Children’s services approached us about the grant,” Gladden shared. “The grant is to start a Safe Babies Court program which will be a division of the Johnson County Juvenile court that deals with Infants and Families of dependency and neglect.”

The Safe Babies Court program is based upon the Zero to Three model, which focuses on childhood development during the formative, early years. The twelve core components the program uses are: Judicial Leadership; Local Community Coordinator; Active Court Team focused on the Big Picture; Targeting Infants and Toddlers in Out-of-Home Care/ Under the Court’s Jurisdiction; Valuing Birth Parents; Placement and Concurrent Planning; The Foster Parent Intervention; Pre-Removal Conferences and Monthly Family Team Meetings; Parent-Child Contact; Continuum of Mental Health Services; Training and Technical Assistance; and Understanding the Impact of Our Work.

According to the Zero to Three website (www.zerotothree.org), using the twelve components will help the court system address multiple areas of concern and better help children and families who find themselves in the court system.
The site states: “Carried across all 12 core components is the SBCT aspiration to address the poverty, trauma, and racism that most of our families confront. Every one of the 12 core components contributes to our racial equity and human dignity platform.”
Addressing not only the child who is currently in the system but also the parents’ upbringing and lifestyle, which led to the situation that is important to end the cycles of neglect.

Zero to Three also explains: “The families served by SBCTs face an overwhelming number of risk factors in comparison
to the general population. Almost all of the parents of young children who enter the child welfare system have suffered their own history of trauma.”By having a constant, dedicated space to operate in and a full-time youth officer, the Safe Baby Court program can provide stability in uncertain times.

“One of the goals of the court is to give infants a safe and nurturing environment to grow and thrive in, with familiar sounds, smells, and people,” shared Gladden. “We also want to reduce the recurrence of maltreatment of children, reduce the number of adverse childhood experiences for the children, and address generational trauma for the families and children as well as prevent future court involvement in the lives of families and children.”

Gladden added that the limited number of communities seeing success across the nation led to the implementation of the Safe Baby Court program.“The national standard of maltreatment recurrences is at 9.1 percent over 12 months,” Gladden she said. “With the Safe Babies Court Team approach measured over 12 months and among 251 children across participating sites, it was reduced to 1.2 percent.”

The court system will not be the only entity involved in the care of the families throughout the program. “The court team will work with DCS, Mental Health providers, foster parents, birth parents and local community partners to give the children their safest, best chance at a good start,” said Gladden.Setting out to make positive changes in the families participating in the Safe Babies Court program is something that the community can affect and equip.

“We will be looking for community partners to help with the various task that may include help with transportation, visitations, and supplies for the children,” Gladden said. “The program works a lot on the concept of it take a village to raise a child. We will be holding a meeting shortly for organizations, businesses or individuals that would like to be apart in the program.” Those wishing to learn more about the program and ways to help may contact Office Cole Gladden with the Johnson County Juvenile Court by calling 423-727-9486.

Community foundation hosts annual talent show

By Tamas Mondovics

The Johnson County Talent Show has been showcasing the talent of young people (K-12) and to raise funds for more than a decade.
This year’s event was held in front of a full house at Heritage Hall Friday evening and featured 29 students in 24 different acts in four categories of competition—K-3, 4-6, Middle School, and High School.
Participants included winners from every school in the county as well as homeschool participated.

K-3 Category had eight acts
First place: Allie Mullins & Kearstan Jennings for a dance routine Second place: Elizabeth “Ellie” Averill for a gymnastics and dance routine Third place: Shelby Lipford singing “Twinkle, Twinkle”

4-6 Category had 7 acts
First place: LaRue Mills singing “Falling in Love with
You Second place: Hailey Isaacs singing “Gold Watch and Chain” while playing
guitar Third place was Joshua Ransom playing “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” on piano

Middle School Category
had four acts
First place: Elijah Hay-nes singing “Home” Second place Will Smith playing “Hallelujah” on piano Third place: Kyla Tolliver singing “The House That Built Me”

High School Category
had five acts
First place: Abigail Arnett singing “Linger” while playing guitar Second place: Cameron Clawson & Will Kerley singing “Cold Weather” on piano Third place: Julia Jenkins singing “Love Triangle”
Prizes in each category were as follows: 1st Place–$75, 2nd Place–$50, 3rd Place–$25 and all other students who participated received an honorable mention gift card worth $5 or more.
The Johnson County Foundation was established in June 2001 through the work of the Johnson County Champion Community Committee and the generous gifts of time, vision and resources by a group of Johnson County residents committed to strengthening communities and improving the quality of life in Johnson County.
Johnson County Education Growth began in 2002

Star LED already aiding local economy

By Jill Penley

Freelance Writer

The Johnson County Industrial Park is buzzing with activity as Star LED, the company specializing in LED lighting products for commercial, residential, marine and automotive applications, is making progress toward renovations and additions to 55,500-square foot facility which will eventually house the company’s manufacturing site, showroom, and office spaces.
Star LED CEO, Charlie Blanco is pleased with the progress of the project and explained all the materials for the project were purchased locally, and the contractors working at the site are also from the area.
“Our organization and brand are primed for growth and market penetration. A facility in Mountain City, Tennessee furthers Star LED’s strategy for expansion in the United States while supporting our strategic partners efficiently,” Blanco said. “Our presence here in Mountain City will enable Star LED to be ever more responsive to our partners’ and clients’ immediate needs by providing superior grade LED lights for any application and unparalleled service throughout our clients’ experience with us.”
LED, or “light emitting diode,” lights use 90 percent less energy than standard light bulbs. Additionally, they last longer, up to 25 times longer than standard light bulbs. They are also more durable and offer better light quality than other types of lighting. Star LED guarantees all its products for five years.
“By having the ability to assemble our product in the U.S., allows us to ensure that product quality is second to none against all of our competitors,” said Star LED Chairman Garry Garoni. “Manufacturing that is re-shored allows for better employment rates and better global economies. People feel patriotic when they support the U.S economy and create jobs for American workers, which is important to Star LED. People also want to know that the product is safe and the quality is superior in the marketplace, which is something we can guarantee and control with our facility.”
The company’s Tennessee distribution center is on track to begin manufacturing later this year.