Dennis Beavers appointed as state executive director for USDA Farm Service Agency in Tennessee

The Trump Administration recently appointed Dennis Beavers as the new State Executive Director (SED) for the USDA Tennessee Farm Service Agency (FSA). Beavers joined the Tennessee FSA team on Monday, Nov. 13.Beavers was born and raised on a beef cattle/hay farm in Athens, Tennessee, where he and his father still raise Angus feeder calves and hay. He is a graduate of Hiwassee College and the University of Tennessee where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture education. Dennis and his wife Kristi have three children. In his free time he likes farming, writing gospel music and spending time with family in the Clear Springs community.

The Farm Service Agency serves farmers, ranchers and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs. The agency offers farmers a strong safety net through the administration of farm commodity and disaster programs. FSA continues to conserve natural resources and also provides credit to agricultural producers who are unable to receive private, commercial credit, including special emphasis on beginning, underserved and women farmers and ranchers

Under the direction of Secretary Sonny Perdue, the USDA will always be facts-based and data-driven, with a decision-making mindset that is customer-focused. Secretary Perdue leads the USDA with four guiding principles: to maximize the ability of American agriculture to create jobs, sell foods and fiber, and feed and clothe the world; to prioritize customer service for the taxpayers; to ensure that our food supply is safe and secure; and to maintain good stewardship of the natural resources that provide us with our miraculous bounty. And understanding that we live in a global economy where trade is of top importance, Secretary Perdue has pledged to be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.
As SED, Beavers will use his leadership experience to oversee FSA programs in a customer-focused manner to ensure a safe, affordable, abundant and nutritious food supply for consumers.

Straight talk on cattle steroids

By Rick Thomason

University of Tennessee
Johnson County Extension Director

Canada’s Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) has collected some interesting stats on the estrogen level in beef.  A 75-gram serving of beef from cattle treated with hormone implants contains two nanograms (ng ~ one billionth of a gram) of estrogen.  “A person would need to eat 3,000,000 hamburgers made with beef from implanted cattle to get as much estrogen as the average adult woman produces every day, or 50,000 hamburgers to get as much estrogen as the average adult man produces every day,” says BCRC’s science director, Dr. Reynold Bergen.  “Beef is a really excellent source of protein, zinc, iron and a lot of other essential nutrients.  It’s a really poor source of hormones.”
Considering there are about 45,000 ng of estrogen in 75 grams of white bread, the bun probably has far more estrogen than the beef.  If you need an explanation to go with the stats, the short of it is that cattle, alongside people and all other animals and plants, naturally produce hormones that are vital to growth, development and health.
That’s why meat and plants can never be hormone-free.  Some of those natural hormones are steroid hormones, which are nothing more than a class of hormones that have the distinct four-ring nuclei known as a steroid nucleus.  The word “steroid” comes from cholesterol because the hormones are derived from cholesterol and transported in the bloodstream to do their work in other parts of the body.  Promoting beef as raised without the added use of hormones and steroids seems rather redundant as far as beef production goes, Bergen says.
Cortisol, primarily produced in the adrenal cortex, isn’t used to improve feed efficiency or growth in beef cattle, but is one of the most commonly prescribed steroid hormones in human medicine because of its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects.
Estradiol (an estrogen) and progesterone (a progestin) are the two female sex hormones produced in the ovaries.  Oral contraceptives are synthetic versions of these steroid hormones.

Testosterone, produced primarily in the testes, has an anabolic effect in people, that is, it helps repair and rebuild muscle and bone tissue.  In human medicine it’s often used to treat people with wasting diseases or recovering from surgeries.  Synthetic forms of testosterone were developed to give people the benefits without the unwanted side effects, mainly the development of secondary male characteristics.  Synthetic steroid hormones that have this anabolic effect are called anabolic steroids.  Abuse of anabolic steroids and substances that the body converts to steroids is most often associated with athletes trying to build muscle, strength and endurance, but their illegal use is also reported to be growing among teens wanting to buff up.
Beef producers don’t abuse the use of steroid hormones in beef production, as evidenced by a compliance rate greater than 99.9 per cent on residue tests.  They achieve high compliance by choosing appropriate products for specific classes of cattle and using them according to manufacturers’ instructions.
Implants for beef production are commercially available in compressed pellets to be implanted under the skin of the outer ear, which is easily discarded during processing.  Release of hormones from compressed pellets is rapid at first, then slows over the course of 120 to 200 days, depending on the product.
Bergen says a key point is that cattle are implanted long before they go to slaughter.  By then, the implant hormone is used up.  It’s also why there’s almost no measurable difference in hormone levels in beef from implanted and unimplanted cattle. There is more variation in hormone levels between male and female cattle than between treated and untreated animals.  Bergen feels consumers are concerned about conventional beef production practices because they don’t understand them.

Johnson County United Way funds are slow coming in this year

The United Way Fall Campaign is now underway. “In this our 21st United Way Fall Campaign, the challenges are great,” said Judy McGuire.  “Our goal is $40,000, which will help 16 human care agencies who applied for United Way funding.  The needs of our community continue to grow, and the agencies do an incredible job of serving Johnson County.   Every day someone uses one of those agencies.  The volunteer fire departments are continually updating and/or rebuilding their equipment to better serve.  They are responsible for the cost of their own training and better training is critical.  In 2018 United Way will be funding 2nd District, Trade, Neva, Dry Run, Butler, Doe Valley, as well as Shady Valley Volunteer Fire Departments.”
Other agencies who receive funding from the Johnson County United Way are as follows: the American Red Cross who assist in helping victims of single family fires in Johnson County; the Imagination Library, bringing the gift of reading to children from birth to age five.  Every month more than 650 children receive a free and age appropriate book delivered to their homes; the Johnson County 4-H, dedicated to helping our youth develop life skills. The United Way funding helps by providing camperships to those children wanting to attend camp.
Additionally, another recipient, the Johnson County Cancer Support Group, provides emotional, material and financial helps to cancer patients dealing with the hardships of this terrible disease. Johnson County Emergency Heating Assistance for Seniors also receives funding as they provide a variety of heating options that include wood, kerosene, electric, and propane to those seniors unable to afford the cost of heating. Johnson County Safe Haven, a shelter for women and children when the situation in their own homes becomes intolerable because of domestic abuse, will also receive funding from the Johnson County United Way.
“Johnson County Senior Center is an amazing experience for anyone over 55,” said McGuire.  “Every day sees 100 plus people gathering for a meal, conversation, games, and other daily activities.” The senior center will also receive funding from the United Way of Johnson County. According to McGuire, the Legal Aid of East Tennessee has also applied for assistance as it provides legal assistance to victims of domestic abuse and works closely with our own Safe Haven.
Mountain City Community Center, another recipient of the generosity of Johnson Countians, is a busy wholesome environment offering many programs and services to our children.  “United Way is pleased to be able to offer scholarships to children attending the annual Oak Tree Day Camp,” said McGuire. “All of the people involved with these agencies are completely committed to serving Johnson County and they are making a big difference in the way we live our life. Please help them by helping United Way,” said McGuire.  “Your donations stay in the county helping you and your neighbors.
Board members for the Johnson County United Way include: President Ruth Ann Osborne,
Treasurer Judy McGuire, and board members Flo Bellamy, Bobbie Smith, Leni Smith, Brianna Reece, RoseEdda Slemp, Norma Sutherland, Frank Arnold, Tom Neaves, Priscilla Davis and Kim Pope.

 

Former Mountain City Police Officer Ken Lane arrested on federal weapons charge

By Becky Campbell

Johnson City Press

Senior Reporter

One of the former Mountain City police officers charged in an undercover drug operation has a new indictment against him in federal court.
Elmer Kenneth “Ken” Lane, 61, was arrested Monday on a single-count indictment charging him with possessing weapons while being an “unlawful user and addict of a control substance.” The indictment also stated the weapons were “shipped and transported in interstate commerce.”
In layman’s speak, it simply means Lane, who was a sergeant with the Mountain City Police Department at the time, is charged with owning the weapons, which were made in another state and shipped into Tennessee, and he did so while being under the influence of drugs.
The seven weapons listed in the indictment were:
• Smith & Wesson, Model 10, .38 Special revolver;
• Smith & Wesson, Model 66, .357 Magnum revolver;
• Smith & Wesson, Model 19, .357 Magnum revolver;
• Remington, Model 110, 12-gauge shotgun;
• Marlin, Model 336W, 30-30 rifle; and
• Two Glock 22, .40-caliber pistols.
Lane’s initial arrest occurred after a fellow police officer  — according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation — was arrested when he purchased Oxycodone for himself and for Lane from a confidential informant who was working with law enforcement. That fellow officer, Ron Shupe, who was a Mountain City police lieutenant, was arrested Nov. 7 immediately after the alleged drug transaction in Mountain City. At the time, agents said Shupe was in uniform, on duty and and in his patrol car. Both men have now been fired from the Mountain City police force.
That arrest was on federal charges, but at the time, Lane was not charged in federal court. Both men, however, were also indicted by a Johnson County grand jury and arrested on Nov. 9 on state charges.
Lane’s state charges were:
• Conspiracy to possess schedule II drugs (oxycodone) with intent to deliver in a school zone;
• Solicitation to commit delivery of schedule II drugs (oxycodone); and
• Simple possession of schedule II drugs (methamphetamine).
Shupe’s state charges were:
• Possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony;
• Possession of schedule II drugs (oxycodone) with intent to deliver in a school zone;
• Conspiracy to possess schedule II drugs (oxycodone) with intent to deliver in a school zone;
• Solicitation to commit assault;
• Accessory after the fact;
• Release of confidential information;
• Casual exchange of schedule VI drugs (marijuana);
• Simple possession of schedule II drugs (methamphetamine);
• Theft of property over $1,000 (marijuana); and
• Three counts of official misconduct.
The charges against Lane apparently stemmed from information authorities obtained while investigating Shupe, according to federal court records. Investigators apparently discovered Shupe’s alleged drug activities while interviewing a woman jailed in North Carolina on drug charges in June. She told Johnson County Sheriff’s Office investigators that Shupe provided her with methamphetamine several times, and they did the drug together in his patrol car while Shupe was on duty.
After that initial interview, investigators obtained a transcript of Facebook messages between the woman and Shupe. The messages did not contain blatant admissions of drug use, but investigators claim there were descriptions and terms used that led them to believe the two were discussing obtaining and using methamphetamine.
The investigation led officers to subpoena cellular phone companies for text messages between another confidential informant and an account registered to Shupe. Those exchanges also led investigators to believe Shupe was buying narcotics, not just for himself but also for Lane.
In early August, District Attorney General Tony Clark asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to begin an investigation as well. That investigation ran in conjunction with the federal probe. Federal authorities set up a sting operation on Nov. 7, in which one of the confidential informants met with Shupe, gave the officer oxycodone and Shupe gave the informant money. After Shupe left the transaction, he was surrounded by agents from the FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
According to the presentment filed Nov. 9 in Johnson County, the transactions involved a school zone were near Johnson County High School. One official misconduct charge against Shupe accused him of soliciting a man to badly beat someone up or to do it in the city and “I will take care of it” and the unidentified person “will learn the hard way.”
Another official misconduct charge alleged that Shupe took marijuana from the Mountain City Police Department with the intent to distribute it to someone with whom he was involved in a drug conspiracy. The third official misconduct charge alleged that Shupe disclosed information about a violation of probation warrant, which allowed the person to leave town undetected.
The release of confidential information alleged Shupe told someone in the public where another officer lived. Home addresses of police officers is confidential information protected by state law.
Shupe cut a deal with federal prosecutors last week and he waived the indictment process and will plead guilty to possession of oxycodone with the intent to distribute. He faces up to 20 years in prison on that single charge. His plea hearing is scheduled for Dec.6 in U.S. District Court in Greeneville. He remains in custody without bond at the Washington County Detention Center, which contracts to hold federal inmates.
Lane posted a $25,000 bond on the state charges and a filing in federal court indicated he will remain free on bond and monitored by the federal probation office while the case is pending. He was arraigned on the federal charge Monday and has a Jan. 11 plea deadline. If no plea agreement occurs, there is a trial scheduled for Jan. 25 in Greeneville.

Mountain City Board meeting Dec. 5th

The Town of Mountain City Board of Mayor and Aldermen will meet in regular session on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. There will be a public hearing and second and final reading of Ordinance #1572, an ordinance adopting the 2012 edition of the International Building Code, the International Residential Code, the International Plumbing Code, the International Fuel Gas Code, the International Mechanical Code and the International Energy Conservation Code. The public is welcome to attend.

Tennessee State Parks to offer guided hikes on Friday, Nov 24

Tennessee State Parks will offer free, guided hikes at all 56 of its parks on Friday, Nov. 24, the day after Thanksgiving. This is the fourth year for this event, and one in a series of five statewide ranger-led hikes throughout the year.
“There’s a national sentiment that getting outdoors to spend time with loved ones around the holidays is a wonderful way to reconnect and recharge,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill. “Tennessee State Parks aims to offer all Tennesseans the opportunity to get outdoors to engage in healthy, fun activities.”
All hikes will be guided by park rangers and will feature the best that Tennessee lands have to offer, ranging from hikes along historical and interpretive trails to stunning views of waterfalls, peaks and plateaus.

The hikes are designed for all ages and abilities. Some hikes will be approximately one mile in length, tailored for novice hikers, while others are lengthier, and geared toward more experienced hikers. For a more in-depth look at hikes in your area, visit http://tnstateparks.com/about/special-events/after-thanksgiving-hikes.
Visitors are encouraged to share photos of their hike on social media with the hashtag #thankful4hiking.
Other statewide hikes Tennessee State Parks offers include First Day Hikes in January, Spring Hikes in March, National Trails Day in June, and National Public Lands Day in September.

Sen. Jon Lundberg attends Johnson County Commissioners meeting

By Marlana Ward

Budget amendments and property transfer requests were the top items of discussion when the Johnson County Commission met in regular session on November 16, 2017.
In addition to the regular audience of community members and department representatives, State Senator Jon Lundberg was in attendance to observe the local government body in action.
In regular business, October minutes and four new notaries were approved by the commissioners.  There were no public comments brought before the commission.
The monthly budget amendments had been presented to the budget committee at an earlier meeting and approved by the committee.  The amendments had been given to all commissioners within their packet of material to review.  In addition to the amendments in the packets, Johnson County Account and Budget Director, Russell Robinson, requested approval of a 60-month copier lease for the county’s school department.  All amendments were approved.
Commissioner Mike Taylor brought forward the request from the sheriff’s department to allow for the auction of surplus equipment.  Commissioner George Lowe asked if the sale of the items would go through the government auction site, govdeals.com, and purchasing agent Dustin Shearin stated that he believed that to be the plan.  The request was approved unanimously.
Emergency Management Director Jason Blevins came before the commission to request their approval for the Hazard Mitigation Update and Resolution.  Blevins stated that this approval was required every five years and shared how he and various representatives from within the county had come together to discuss and determine the best ways for Johnson County to be ready in case of natural disaster.  Blevins shared that flooding was the most anticipated problem.  It was also shared that FEMA had already reviewed and accepted the plan and that the Town of Mountain City had approved the plan at their meeting earlier in the week.  A question was asked about the possibility of unforeseen circumstances and the ability to request money to assist with additionally needed plans.  Blevins explained that any grants that emergency management applied for had to relate to a plan contained within the Hazard Mitigation Resolution, but that the team which formed the plan were in regular contact and could offer new updates to the resolution as needed and return for further approval.  The resolution was adopted unanimously.
The next item on the agenda was the approval of bids for a fire department grant and to award a bid to C.W. Williams for turnout gear.  County Mayor Larry Potter explained to the commission that while the bid had been approved earlier, it had been contested and was required to be re-bid.  Mayor Potter went on to state how a potential fine had been avoided by the county due to the diligence of Account and Budget Director Robinson.  Potter stated that during work done at the county sheriff’s department, the development agency had reported information that was thought to be fully to state standards.  While the information reported was to state standards, it did not align with official Johnson County guidelines.  If the mistake had been found by auditors, the county could have been issued a heavy fine.  Robinson had caught the error and brought before the commissioners the proper reports and bid information for approval and awarding.  The correction was approved by all commissioners.  The commission was assured that any future information reported by the development agency would be sent to several county officials for review.
Next, it was asked of the commission to approve Betty Brown as a member of the Johnson County Library Board.  The request was approved.
A letter stating compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards was next to be approved by the commission.  Commissioner Bill Adams stated that he had visited the different county buildings to assure compliance and had found all satisfactory.  Mayor Potter said that he had signed the letter for submission to the ADA upon approval by the commission.
Perhaps the largest item on the agenda was the request from the Doe Mountain Recreation Authority (DMRA) for a plot of land to construct restrooms at the Doe Mountain Recreation Area.  Executive Director Tate Davis and Chairman Willie Hammons were on hand to explain the situation and present the commissioners with maps showing the area they wished to obtain for the authority.  Davis shared how revenues had increased over 22 percent in the past year and how the current month was showing a 44 percent increase.  He explained how this increase in visitors meant that the current facilities were not adequate and a new bathroom facility needed.  “This is really a testament to the success of the mountain that we need restrooms,” added Davis.  He also shared that a grant was already available for the construction of the restrooms once a suitable location was acquired.
When asked about the possibility of placing the facilities on property already owned by the organization, Davis and Hammons explained that the only land available was wooded and would require much clearing and grading resulting in a much-increased cost to use.  Commissioner Rick Snyder was concerned about field lines which were located on the land the authority was seeking and insisted that if the plan were approved, easements be included in the deed for the county to be able to service the lines as needed.  Commissioner Chris Pierce added that a clause should be included that if the DMRA were to cease to exist, the property’s ownership reverts back to the county.  With these two adjustments made to the motion to transfer ownership to the DMRA, the plan was approved unanimously.
Another request for land was made by Mayor Larry Potter on behalf of the Mountain City Water Department.  Mayor Potter stated that he and Mountain City Water Plant Manager, Andy Garland, had visited the Pedro Shoun Road area to review a problem with water pressure along the road.  The water pressure was found to be only 20 percent of what it should be and due to this, not only were current residents inconvenienced but the water department could issue no more taps on that line.  Potter explained that the water department was requested a portion of land where the county property met with prison property at an intersection of Pedro Shoun Road for the construction of a pump house which would meet the needs of present and future residents of that area.  Commissioner Rick Snyder told the commission of his familiarity with the proposal and that the land requested should not be any larger than approximately 30×30 feet.  He also expressed that he would be involved in ensuring that the land obtained not exceed what was needed.  In order to take action on the proposal that night, a motion had to first be passed that the rule stating no action on non-agenda items be suspended.  That motion passed quickly and then the motion to grant the property passed without dissent.
The next meeting of the Johnson County Commission will take place on December 21st at 7 pm.  Meetings are held in the upper courtroom of the Johnson County Courthouse.

Mountain City Council approves termination of arrested officers and hiring of two replacements

Mountain City Police Chief Denver Church makes formal request to City Council to replace two officers.

By Marlana Ward

The room was crowded and the agenda full as the Mountain City Board of Mayor and Aldermen met on November 14, 2017.
The meeting began with a special proclamation presented to the family of former mayor of Mountain City, Ralph G. Stout.  The proclamation recognized Stout’s dedication to the town and his many years of service to Mountain City as the mayor named November 14, 2017 as Ralph G. Stout Day.  Stout’s wife Margie came to the front of the room to receive a framed, commemorative certificate given from Alderman Bob Morrison on behalf of the town.
As business began, the first person invited to the podium was Ron McCollum, a representative from a phone system company that proposed to update city hall’s phones at a savings to the town.  McCollum explained that the city’s current phone system was very dated and how the new system could improve communications as well as save the town money the first month it is installed.  Some of the department supervisors asked about the possibility of the system interfering with the way their department communications were set up but McCollum explained that the new phones would only be installed in city hall and would not affect operations in other parts of the town’s infrastructure.  Mayor Kevin Parsons asked McCollum to prepare a presentation for review by the board members and to return next month when the group would be better able to make a decision.
Community member Mary Gale approached the podium next to share an inspiration and plan for work to be done at the Cunningham Park, which Gale holds special fondness for.  Gale first shared photos of the new basketball goals that were installed at the park as a result of a grant she had applied for and gained for the town.  She shared how the kids who played at that park were enjoying the new goals and surface greatly and how this has driven her to seek out more improvements for the small park.
Gale explained how the problem that worried her now at the park was the city pool situation.  She shared how when the pool’s pump was running, an exorbitant amount of water was lost every hour and no one knew where the leaked water ended up.  Gale shared a vision she had for the pool’s much needed improvements and went a step further by putting forth a fund raising plan in which she would be the first donator.  Gale explained how she would like the town to start an account especially for pool renovations.  She stated that she would give the first thousand dollars to the account, and if the town would match it, she would give another $1,000 up to $10,000 matched which would equal the first $20,000 for the project.  Gale said that she would apply for grants but how she hoped that the community would become involved with the project. “If each family would give only $1 for each child or grandchild they have had that has enjoyed the pool, it could make a big difference,” she said.  Gale added that she would apply for grants for the project as available but that she would need some help with documentation from the city concerning the pool’s official numbers.
Finally Gale also expressed a desire to see a wheel-chair accessible swing such as the one recently installed at Ralph Stout Park added to Cunningham Park.  She also informed the board of another type of swing in which the caregiver and child could swing facing one another.  “If you have ever been to the park and seen the joy of a mother and child swinging, you can imagine how what that would look like,” she added.  The mayor thanked her for her dedication to the town and all board members expressed their appreciation and acceptance of her proposals.
Louis Spearman next addressed the board with an update on a community driven account to benefit town employees hurt on the job.  Spearman wanted to clarify that the funds given to the proposed account would not be given to those hurt before the account’s creation but meant for future incidents.  Spearman stated that as of now, they had been unable to find a suitable trustee for the account but how Mr. Brookshire and his bank had been very helpful with information and advice concerning the account.  Mayor Parsons again expressed his appreciation for the idea and for the community’s willingness to help.
Spearman also asked the board to once again review a situation with a doublewide trailer located near his home, which he states is not in compliance with the town’s regulations and being inhabited without authorization.  The mayor asked City Attorney George Wright to again review the situation and determine if anything could be done.
When it came time for alderman reports, Alderman Bob Morrison thanked the town employees for ensuring a safe and successful Halloween night in the town.  Alderman Jerry Jordan, who attended the meeting via phone as he was physically unable to be present, updated everyone on his condition and his hope that he would be back for next month’s meeting.
Police Chief Denver Church came to ask the board’s permission to issue a termination of employment for the two officers who had been recently arrested, one of which had already agreed to a plea bargain with the state.  The board agreed that the employment of the two should be terminated and gave authorization for the positions to be advertised and new policemen hired for the department.  Chief Church also requested permission to alter the town’s policies for violations and repercussions as directed and advised by other state agencies.  This was approved unanimously.
Another item addressed by Chief Church was the increased traffic through east Mountain City as a result of the bridge construction at Johnson County High School.  He acknowledged a large increase of bus traffic in the area and how it may affect traffic.
In other department business, Public Works Director Gary Phillips updated the board about the delayed repairs to the traffic signal at the Shouns Crossroads.  He stated that parts had to be ordered for the repair and that he would once again contact the appropriate people to get that done.
Mayor Parsons brought up the need for Benny Simcox and the utility district that he oversees to use a large amount of water to flush their lines.  The need was recognized and Simcox assured the board that he would monitor the water used and report the total to the town.
Next Mayor Parsons informed the board that he had been approached by a private individual who wished to rent the downstairs of the building that would house the town’s skating rink.  Parsons explained how he discovered it was not possible for the county to waive the property tax costs of the property and his difficulty in acquiring insurance for the building.  He explained how he would propose the rent for the basement be at least the amount needed to cover the taxes and how the individual would obtain insurance for his investments of classic cars which he planned to house in the downstairs area if approved.  Alderman Bob Morrison issued a motion which would allow the mayor to negotiate the rental agreement but with the understanding that if the town moves forward with the skating rink, the individual would have to remove their property from the location.  The vote was a unanimous yes.
City Attorney George Wright updated the board with the progress on informing property owners of the easements which would be affected with the proposed water station to be located at Pedro Shoun Road.  He stated that he would need to once again send letters to the property owners, making them aware of maps and documentation to be reviewed at city hall concerning the project.  Water Plants Manager Andy Garland stated that he had taken County Mayor Larry Potter to Pedro Shoun Road to review the situation and that how Mayor Potter had expressed a willingness to request a 50×50 portion of the county’s property be sold to the city when he would meet with the county commission in November.   Collection-Distribution Superintendent Chris Hook informed the board that the construction company that would be involved with the pump station project is ready to roll as soon as the needed property and permissions were granted.
The meeting returned to agenda items with the town’s contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee being extended.  City Recorder Sheila Shaw informed the board that the increase in insurance cost would only be 6.5 percent, which was much less than the 20 percent she had allotted for in her budget.  This increase means the insurance that currently costs $585.93 would now be $624.24 for employees.  The board voted unanimously to continue with BlueCross BlueShield.
Shaw then told the board that the bids for the Economic Development project had come in way over the allotted budget amount.  While the town had previously approved around $250,000 for the town’s portion of the costs, due to the high bid amounts, the cost would be over $600,000.  Mayor Parsons explained how this jump in cost could be attributed to the construction industries trend towards picking and choosing which projects to take on making it harder to find willing companies to compete for the business.  Frizell Construction provided the lowest bid.  The boards expressed how there was no other option and agreed to the budget increase.
In other business, a bid was awarded to Iron Mountain Construction Company for the Pedro Shoun Lane waterline replacement project with an additional $10,000 for incidental costs in case of unforeseen increased costs.  The 2012 International Building Code, Residential Code, Plumbing Code, Fuel Gas Code, Mechanical Code, and Energy Conservation Code were adopted by the town.  Shaw explained how the code in place by the town had to have been created within seven years and that up until now the town had been using the code from 2009.
Emergency Management Director Jason Blevins came to the podium to ask the board to approve the Johnson County Hazard Mitigation Plan for the year.  Blevins stated that the plan addressed the department’s response plans and jurisdiction during natural disasters such as flooding within the town.  The plan was approved.
Next the need for an updated software system for the police department’s incident reports was discussed.  Chief Church explained how the opportunity arose for the town to switch to the same system which the sheriff’s department uses at a fraction of the cost.  The reduced price was due to the town’s ability to “piggy-back” off the sheriff department’s system while still having their own  hard drives to keep records on.  Recorder Shaw echoed the need for and great price of the proposed system.  The change was approved unanimously.
Last for the evening was the request of the county mayor for the city to waive the tap connection fee for the LED bulb company locating in the industrial park.  Mayor Parsons explained that he had looked into it but that it was not legally possible for the town to waive such a fee.  Alderman Morrison suggested that the town look into the possibility of working out a trade with the company for bulbs to replace the outdated bulbs currently used in town offices in exchange for the fee cost.  Mayor Parsons asked Shaw and Wright to look into the legality of such a proposal.
The next meeting of the Mountain City Board of Mayor and Aldermen will be on December 5th at 6:30 pm at the Mountain City Town Hall.

Roan Creek Elementary Honor Roll

First nine weeks
Kindergarten
All A’s and B’s
Vada Clifton, Carson Icenhour and Austin Shaw.
1st Grade
All A’s
Marley Burgos, Gabbi Crowder, Lucas Gentry, Taylor Jennings and Cameron Snow.
All A’s and B’s
Joey Bendell, Lexie Faircloth, Jenna Forrester, Macie Forrester, Sophia Meade Hernandez, Jacob Prater, Alice Richards, Prailey Roop, Savannah Simcox and Kagen Townsend.
2nd Grade
All A’s
Karter Cox, Claira Porter, Audrey Shaw, Amelia Stout and Ariya Toth.
All A’s and B’s
Elsie Clifton, Jackson Delp, Avonna Humphrey, Konner Stines, Quentin Stout and Dylan Vanover.
3rd Grade
All A’s
Kayleigh Crotts
All A’s and B’s
Kaleigh Dunn, Daniel Gunter, Tyler Hicks, Cora Jonson, Roma Lipford, Chloe Rhymer, Marley Snyder.
4th Grade
All A’s
Maddie Bendon, Ansley Cliton, Haiden Cobb, Josie Cox, Layla Crotts, Jack Csillag, Landon Greene, Kloi Hopkins, Elizabeth Jennings, Abel Johnson, Landin Lipford, Parker Miller, Josh Potter, Shayla Sileo, Chloe Sutherland
All A’s and B’s
Liddy Arnold, Liam Cranford, Myleigh Crowder, Logan Davis, Zoe Epperly, Kaleb Jennings, Emma Lipham, Kylie Morefield, Lexi McCauley, Brisa Mendoza, Harry Perry, Emily Roark, Charlie Salmons, Kevin Williams, Trinity Winters.
5th Grade
All A’s
Jack Able, Elizabeth Bass, Jackson Clifton, Elijah Dickens, Savanna Dowell, Gunner Hutchins, Hannah Johnson, Maleah Johnson, Alistair Laing, Savannah Lewis, Zahlan McNeal, Lanie Mink, Kylie Morefield, Sydney Prater, Owen Price, Desirea Robinson, Marley Townsend.
All A’s and B’s
Eli Anderson, Carson Brown, Jayden Bryant, Tyler Campbell, Emma Eller, Courtney Hargett, Flor Hernandez, Hailey Isaacs, Johnathan Jennings, Joseph Johnson, Maleia Leonard, Clayton Lipford, Dennis McCranie, Gage McDaniel, Adrianna Porter, Amberlynn Reece, Trinity Slimp, Vincent Stout, Emilie Vanover, Addison Ward.
6th Grade
All A’s
Jackson Bakes, Paiten Carroll, Alexa Childers, Sami Csillag, Lydia Eastridge, Chris Eller, Nevaeh Grover, Sophia Livorsi, Curtis Potter, Kaylee Snyder, Trinity Vanover.
All A’s and B’s
Ashlynn Beam. Michael Blevins, Brayden Cannon, Noah Eastridge, Mia Flores, Samuel Greer,
Tristan Hughes, Austin LaBond, Jessica Lopez Berduo, James Potter, Mason Potter, Shainna Putnam, Madison Riffle, Connor Simcox, Brandon Vanover, Emily Walker, Kara Ward, Halley Winebarger.

 

 

 

School Board meeting addresses various issues from grants to construction traffic

School Board celebrates the JCHS football team’s outstanding season by wearing Longhorn vests.

By Meg Dickens

The Johnson County Board of Education met on Thursday, November 9th for their monthly meeting. Before the meeting began, the room was abuzz with friendly chatter as old friends caught up on their daily lives. The meeting was called to order at 6:03 PM and began with a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Chairman Kenneth Gregg gave the floor to Lorie Plank. She called up three women in recognition of their hard work and dedication. These included Angie Miller with 21 years of service, Lorrie Shumate with 25 years of service, and Jean Zuercher (not present) with 26 years of service.
The board approved the agenda before giving the floor to Student Board Member, Chase McGlamery. He reported that “Johnson County High School has been very active within our community this past month.” These endeavors include a fundraiser hosted by cafeteria staff for Lois Farley that raised over $7,000 to help with her medical bills and the Johnson County Players’ recent team-up with the Johnson County Community Theatre for Addams Family, the musical. The musical had record-breaking ticket sales coming in at 833 attendees.
The school board moved on to reading the recommended policy changes. All were accepted onto the agenda. Discussion moved on to leasing a new copier/printer. Saratoga presented a cheaper option but Canon had the capabilities needed. Replacement was unanimously approved.
The floor was turned over to Tina Lipford to address the budget. The numbers for this past month and total expenses were discussed. August sales taxes were down while property taxes were increased from last year. BEP (a profit and break even point) dollars came in at $5,000 more than expected. The discussion moved to whether the board should attend the Day on the Hill where state senators and Congressman Phil Roe would be invited to the high school. It was decided that the state officials and Congressman Roe would be invited for a personal reception to utilize the experience to its fullest.
The next point on the agenda was the bridge construction. It is estimated to be open to traffic at the end of April. There is a possibility of expediting the process if an alternative source of asphalt can be found. The plant currently supplying the project will shut down on December 19th and not open again for 75 days.
UTRUST funds are going to be available soon. These are grants usually allocated to schools according to population. School technology is out of date and the funds could replace up to 60 teacher computers. The decision was put on hold for the moment. Vice Chairman Howard Carlton requested information on how the schools would use the funds to compare which course of action would do the most good. A decision must be made by December 31st.
The meeting wrapped up with an announcement of the school board’s award of distinction and discussion of upcoming elementary school Christmas program dates. Congratulations were given to the football players and cheerleaders on their success, hard work, and dedication. Everyone was wished a happy Thanksgiving and the meeting was adjourned.

John South missing for 19 years; still no answers or closure for family

John South

By Paula Walter

December 18th marks 19 years since John South of Johnson County was last seen. He was in his early fifties and living in Laurel Bloomery at the time of his disappearance.
Daughters Pam Brabson and Angie Sykes had plans to visit their father and help put up his Christmas tree. When the sisters arrived, their father was not at home nor was his car. According to Brabson, it was out of character for their father to not be home when he was expecting family or company to show up as he enjoyed visitors. “He was nowhere to be found,” said Brabson. According to Brabson, she noticed the fire in South’s wood stove seemed to have been out for a long time. “He came home from work on Friday, and he went to a bar Friday night,” she stated.
After contacting South’s sisters, who had no information on their brother’s whereabouts, Brabson and Sykes waited a few days to see of their father would show back up at home. When he did not, they contacted the sheriff’s department. After reporting her father missing, Brabson talked with then investigator Richard Knowles. “He told me he was a grown man and he could do what he wanted,” she stated.
“He was a loner,” Brabson said. According to Brabson, the last place South was seen was at Town and Country Package Store that was located in Mountain City. With no information on their father, Brabson and Sykes turned to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Despite an investigator talking with neighbors, no evidence was found. “It felt like it was one less South to deal with,” Brabson stated. “They didn’t care.”
According to Brabson, years later, the new county investigator, Joe Woodard, renewed the search for South. Records had been lost over the years, and Woodard had to start from scratch. “Woodard just showed so much interest,” Brabson stated. “The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation became involved. They went out with a helicopter,” she said. “His car was never found. “
After approximately seven to eight years after South was first missing, Brabson requested the case files for her father. “All I was given was a missing persons report,” she stated, adding she was told all of South’s files were lost. According to Brabson, she hired a private detective but there was no new information on her father.
According to Johnson County investigator, Joe Woodard, South’s case is still open. “We always look at it,” said Woodard. “We don’t ever file away a missing persons report.” According to Woodard, bones were found near South’s home on October 13, 2017 and more recently on November 8th. The bones will be taken pathology in Johnson City to identify the remains as human or animal.
John South would be 74 years old this year. He was a veteran, going straight from high school to Vietnam.
“I just want to know where he’s at,” Brabson stated.
If you have any information on South, Brabson asks that you contact her at pmbrabson@yahoo.com.

 

Mountain City Police officers indicted on drug charges; Sgt. Ken Lane free on bond; Lt. Ron Shupe agrees to plea bargain

Sgt. Elmer Kenneth Lane

Lt. Ronald Glen Shupe

By Angie A. Gambill

An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Drug Investigation Division, with the assistance of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, resulted in the indictment of two Mountain City police officers on a variety of drug-related charges last week.
In August, at the request of First District Attorney General Tony Clark, TBI Special Agents began investigating allegations that Mountain City Police Lieutenant Ronald Glen Shupe, 44, and Sergeant Elmer Kenneth Lane, 61, were involved in the use and distribution of illegal narcotics. According to a press release from TBI, during the course of the investigation, agents learned that Shupe and Lane were involved in obtaining, distributing, and using controlled substances both on and off duty. Further investigation revealed that some of the transactions occurred within a school zone. On Monday, November 6th, says TBI, during an undercover operation conducted by the TBI, FBI, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Shupe was found to be in possession of a quantity of Oxycodone pills while on duty. He was arrested and taken into federal custody.
Shupe waived a federal detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Greeneville during his initial court appearance last Tuesday on the charges.
Yesterday, November 14, Shupe agreed to conditions of a plea bargain on the federal drug charges in his preliminary hearing. The details of the agreement are not yet available.
A complaint filed on November 7 in Greeneville by FBI Special Agent John Anderson detailed the allegations against Shupe, which included numerous accusations that he provided oxycodone and meth to a confidential informant while on duty and allowed her to shoot up the drugs in his patrol vehicle. Shupe was also accused in the complaint of using narcotics while on duty.
The two-count criminal complaint charged Shupe with possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone and possession of a firearm that had been shipped and transported by interstate commerce. Those charges stem from an undercover operation where a second informant made plans to meet Shupe for an exchange of drugs.
Court records show text and Facebook messages between the two about the transaction. According to the records, Shupe was under surveillance when he met with the informant who was wearing a wire. He was arrested after paying for and taking possession of the oxycodone pills. As soon as he left the meeting with the informant, Shupe was surrounded by agents from the FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
“He was arrested in possession of the pills (Schedule II controlled substances). He was in full uniform, driving a Mountain City police car, and armed with a department issued Glock pistol and ammunition,” the complaint states.
According to the filing, Johnson County sheriff’s investigators met with the first informant at the Ashe County, NC jail in June where she was incarcerated on drug charges. After waiving her Miranda rights, the woman told officers she had received methamphetamine from Shupe on several occasions while he was on duty.
The woman told investigators that she and Shupe communicated through Facebook Messenger. In August, TBI agents obtained a search warrant to get access to the woman’s Messenger account and found multiple conversations she had had with an account registered to Shupe.
In one exchange, Shupe reportedly asked the woman “the best way to do them Roxie Pills. Can they be shot.”
The woman told Shupe she’d never done that, but wanted to because she needed “some go go.” Shupe responded “me too” and that he worked the next morning and would try to find them some.
From other conversations between Shupe and the woman, investigators allege that Shupe was watching for warrants on the woman so he could warn her when law enforcement was looking for her.
In another conversation, Shupe’s text message to the woman said, “Hey baby girl. Just when ever u get to n town let me know and I’ll meet u behind foodlion. I’m still waiting on my candy to arrive and I’ll bring you some. I looked for a new thing but we don’t have any.”
Shupe went on to say that he’d bought a “G” which was described in the court filing as a gram of methamphetamine.
The report stated that the informant “reported she has given Shupe an intravenous injection of methamphetamine on two occasions while Shupe was in his patrol car and on duty. (She) advised she injected Shupe with the methamphetamine into a vein on his hand while they were sitting in his patrol car. (She) reported Shupe would refer to methamphetamine as go-go or an energy booster when they were discussing methamphetamine.”
On Thursday, the Johnson County Grand Jury returned indictments charging Shupe with one count of Possession of Schedule II Drugs with Intent to Deliver in a School Zone, one count of Conspiracy to Possess Schedule II Drugs with Intent to Deliver in a School Zone, one count of Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Dangerous Felony, three counts of Official Misconduct, one count of Solicitation to Commit Assault, one count of Accessory After the Fact, one count of Release of Confidential Information, one count of Simple Possession of Schedule II Drugs, one count of Casual Exchange of Schedule VI Drugs, and Theft of Property Valued at $1,000 or Less. He was served on the new charges in the Washington County Jail where he was already being held on the federal charges.
According to the presentment filed Thursday in Johnson County, the transactions involving a school zone were near Johnson County High School.
One official misconduct charge against Shupe stemmed from him allegedly soliciting a man to beat someone up and to do it in the city where “I (Shupe) will take care of it” so the unidentified person “will learn the hard way.”
The Grand Jury also returned indictments Thursday charging Sgt. Kenneth Lane with conspiracy to possess schedule II drugs (oxycodone) with intent to deliver in a school zone; solicitation to commit delivery of schedule II drugs (oxycodone); simple possession of schedule II drugs (methamphetamine). Lane was arrested Thursday afternoon and booked into the Johnson County Jail on a $25,000 bond.
The charges against Lane apparently stemmed from information authorities obtained while investigating Shupe, according to federal court records. Text messages obtained by officers between an account registered to Shupe and an informant led them to believe Shupe was buying narcotics for Lane as well as himself. Federal court documents detail much of the drug activity Shupe allegedly participated in, and Lane was implicated in those records. At press time, there was no record that he had been charged in the federal case.
In a Monday afternoon phone call, Mountain City Police Chief Denver Church expressed his concern that the community no longer has trust in the police department.
“We lost the trust of the public,” he stated. “They had faith in their officers and in the police department. That was violated. It’s something we’ll have to work on to gain their trust back. Trust isn’t given. It’s earned.”
According to Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece, the sheriff’s department’s involvement was limited to the initial investigation in August that eventually led to the recent arrests of the two Mountain City police officers.
“We received some information, and then referred it to Tony Clark,” said Reece. “We assisted in any way we could.”
Referring to the shortage of town police officers, Sheriff Reece said that although their own department is down seven officers at present, the sheriff’s office has been helping the city police department deal with the situation. According to him, Lane was already on medical leave when the arrest occurred and the county had supplied an officer to cover his position. That officer is still in place. A fully staffed Mountain City Police Department consists of eight officers while the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department should have 14 deputies on staff.
Mountain City Board of Mayor and Aldermen met Tuesday evening in regular session after press time. Decisions are expected to be made concerning the hiring of officers to bring the force back to capacity.
Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons declined to give a statement on the case at this time.
Lane posted bond the same day he was arrested. At press time, Shupe remained in the Washington County Jail.
The Tomahawk will keep our readers abreast of developments in the case via our website at www.thetomahawk.com.

Editor’s note: The Tomahawk would like to express appreciation to Becky Campbell, senior reporter with the Johnson City Press, as well as Sam Watson, content director, for assistance in obtaining information for this article, as well as credit Campbell with numerous excerpts appearing here.

Mountain City Police Lt. Ronald Shupe and Sgt. Kenneth Lane indicted on drug charges

Ronald Shupe

Kenneth Lane

An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Drug Investigation Division, with the assistance of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has resulted in the indictment of two Mountain City police officers on a variety of drug-related charges.

In August, at the request of 1st District Attorney General Tony Clark, TBI Special Agents began investigating allegations that Mountain City Police Lieutenant Ronald Glen Shupe (DOB 8/16/73) and Sergeant Elmer Kenneth Lane (DOB 7/24/56) were involved in the use and distribution of illegal narcotics. According to a press release from TBI, during the course of the investigation, agents learned that Shupe and Lane were involved in obtaining, distributing, and using controlled substances both on and off duty. Further investigation revealed that some of the transactions occurred within a school zone. On November 6th, says TBI, during an undercover operation conducted by the TBI, FBI, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Shupe was found to be in possession of a quantity of Oxycodone pills while on duty. He was arrested and taken into federal custody.

Today, the Johnson County Grand Jury returned indictments charging Shupe with one count of Possession of Schedule II Drugs with Intent to Deliver in a School Zone, one count of Conspiracy to Possess Schedule II Drugs with Intent to Deliver in a School Zone, one count of Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Dangerous Felony, three counts of Official Misconduct, one count of Solicitation to Commit Assault, one count of Accessory After the Fact, one count of Release of Confidential Information, one count of Simple Possession of Schedule II Drugs, one count of Casual Exchange of Schedule VI Drugs, and Theft of Property Valued at $1,000 or Less. He was served on the new charges in the Washington County Jail where he was already being held on federal charges.  The Grand Jury also returned indictments charging Lane with one count of Conspiracy to Possess Schedule II Drugs with Intent to Deliver in a School Zone, one count of Solicitation to Commit Delivery of Schedule II Drugs, and Simple Possession of Schedule II Drugs. This afternoon, he was arrested and booked into the Johnson County Jail on a $25,000 bond.

 

Mountain City Police Officer Ken Lane arrested

Mountain City Police Chief Denver Church has confirmed that a second town police officer, Kenneth Lane, has been arrested by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation today. Charges have not yet been released to the media but are believed to be connected to the arrest of Lt. Ronald Shupe earlier this week.

Shupe was arrested on Monday on charges of possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone and possession of a firearm that had been shipped and transported by interstate commerce. The charges stem from an undercover operation where Shupe allegedly met with an undercover informant and bought oxycodone pills, purportedly for himself and another officer at the department. Shupe waived a federal detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Greeneville during his initial appearance Tuesday on drug charges.

In addition to waiving a detention hearing, which means he won’t ask for bond at this time, Shupe filled out a financial form to see if he qualified for a court-appointed attorney. U.S. Magistrate Judge Cliff Corker granted the request and appointed Russ Pryor to the case. Corker also set a Nov. 15 preliminary hearing for Shupe.

The Tomahawk will update our readers when more information is available.

Mountain City Elementary honor roll

Superior Honor Roll (All A’s)

Grades K-6): Lilian Berger, McKensie Jennings, Konner Self, Aliyah Farrow, Mason Gregg, Braylin Hansen, Molly Lipford, Mason Luckett, Allison Mullins, Barrett Parker, Sara Beth Pennington, Hannah Sharp, Gracey South, Michelle Chambers, Camden Johnson, Tanner Leonard, Savannah Mains, Andrew South, Addison Ward, Clara Wilson, Nicole Eppard, Sebastian Johnson, Amillia Eckert, Issabella Eckert, Peyton Edes-King, Macie Farrow, Lauren Henley, Kearstan Jennings, Alicia Littlewhirlwind, Makenzie Dickens, Jayleigh Kope, Sawyer Marshall, Maddison Price, Isaiah Eller, Haidyn Farrow, Liyah Hillman, Gavin Mahala, Jillian Perkins, Zackary Lipford, Bobby Sexton, Alexander Wright, Carter Atwood, Jackson Bauguess, Rylee Henson, Graham Long, Kyle Maple, Summer Wells, Braxton Bragg, Ella Icenhour, Kacelyn Dunn, Sadira Sato, Nathaniel Sutherland, Kaden Blevins, Julia Crews, Lyric Fritts, Josie Grindstaff, Carson Jennings, Isaac Lewis, Alexis Mullins, Harris Perkins, Ethan Stout, Trinity Fortener, Ariana Spencer, Ariel Tester, Derek Baird, Alen Lin, Jace Stout, Cameron Crowder, Kylah Henley, Gaston Dugger, Eli Fritts, George Grill, Vanessa Perkins, Connor Stout, Kindal Watson, Brady Fritts, Natalie Oliver, Lauryn Bishop, Kevin Horner, and Stephanie Knight.
First Honor Roll

(All A’s & B’s – Grades K-6)

Coleman Rider, Hattie Vines, Kylee Cannon, Ellie Icenhour, Aaliyah Barnett, Ethan Wilson, Zoe Baker, Avery Blevins, Marin Feely, Kelsey Forrester, Mckynlee Smith, Jayden Anderson, Serena Dowell, Jaden Picazo, Eli Hammons, Hailey Lipford, Lily Bauguess, Reece Bulliner, Bentley Forrester, Tyler Lackey, Katelynn Marshall, Zach Roark, Johnny Ray Caygle, Clayton Furches, Gage Grissom Jillian Hatley, Aiden Hope, Sophia Lin, Chanel Vanover, Carson Dorman, Madelynn Long, Hunter McElyea, Connor Wallace, Arraya Mounts, Emilynn Sedgwick, Jalyn Blevins, Gustavo Martinez, Trinity Poe, Karleigh Sutherland, Chandler Townsend, Emma Brown, Michael Gray, Eli Horne, Jill Jensen, Lanaya Joyce, Jada Furches, C.J. Lipford, Aleela Reece, Addy Snyder, Gavan Conder, Emma Dugger, Hailey Lewis, Juan Mejia, Erik Mendoza, Izabella Thompson, Gracie Hammett, Ezekiel Hensley, Michelle Holman, Krystal Kite, Andrew Long, Austin Fritz, Clayton Lewis, Emily Orr, Hunter Paisley, Miley Reynolds, Paola Vargas, Dylan Warren, Jasmine Cunningham, Madisyn Farrow, Ivy Lakatos, Carter Rhudy, Tara Schoolcraft, Cole Smith, Ryder Stevans, Noah Brown, Destiny Johnson, James Kelly, Zachary Lunceford, LaRue Mills, Kaylee Roark, Gauge Stout, Matthew Swift, Sara Ward, Amiliona Zaldivar, Emily Brooks, Tristan Bunting, Gabriella Lowe, Chloe Main, Christopher Nelson, Jasmine Smith, Tory Torbett, Allison Trivette, Charity Weaver, Shawna Arnold, Zyra Baker, Tanner Bulliner, Cassie Capps, Braden Cornett, Alexis Proffitt, Ethan Reece, Chase Thomas, Braden Eastridge, Emily Eppard, Kyle Isaacs, Mattie Jones, Chloe Lackey, Leland Morley, Chance Norris, Natalie Oliver, Connor Orr, Caden Pennington, Samantha Reece, Adrian Arguello, Sidney Bumgardner, Sierra Green, Nathan King, and Evan Moorefield.

 

 

 

 

Mountain City police lieutenant faces federal drug charges

Mountain City Police Lt. Ron Shupe was arrested Monday by federal agents on a drug distribution charge

By Becky Campbell

Johnson City Press

bcampbell@johnsoncitypress.com

Federal agents arrested a Mountain City police supervisor Monday, accusing him of exchanging drugs with a woman who apparently turned on him while she was jailed in North Carolina.

Lt. Ronald Shupe, 44, was booked into the Washington County Detention Center in Jonesborough around 10:30 p.m. Monday and was being held without bond. According to the U.S. District Court website, no detention hearing had been set.

A complaint filed Tuesday morning in Greeneville by FBI Special Agent John Anderson detailed the allegations against Shupe, which included numerous accusations that he provided oxycodone and meth to the confidential informant, identified as CW1 in court records, while on duty and even allowed her to shoot up the drugs in his patrol vehicle.

Shupe was also accused in the complaint of using narcotics while on duty. 

The two-count criminal complaint charged Shupe with possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone and possession of a firearm that had been shipped and transported by interstate commerce. Those charges stem from an undercover operation where another informant, identified as CW3 in court records, made plans to meet Shupe for an exchange of drugs.

Court records show text and Facebook messages between the two about the transaction. Shupe was under surveillance when he met with CW3, who was wearing a wire. After the informant gave Shupe oxycodone pills, which Shupe paid for, the officer was arrested.

As soon as he left the meeting, Shupe was surrounded by agents from the FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

“He was arrested in possession of the pills (Schedule II controlled substances). He was in full uniform, driving a Mountain City police car, and armed with a department-issued Glock pistol and ammunition,” the complaint states.

The complaint implicated another Mountain City officer, but there was no record in federal court that officer had been charged.

According to the filing, Johnson County sheriff’s investigators met with CW1 at the Ashe County, North Carolina, jail in June where she was in jail on drug charges. After waiving her Miranda rights, the woman told officers she had received methamphetamine from Shupe on several occasions while he was on duty.

The woman told investigators that she and Shupe communicated through Facebook Messenger. In August, TBI agents obtained a search warrant to get access to the woman’s Messenger account and found multiple conversations she’d had with Shupe.

In one exchange, Shupe reportedly asked the woman “the best way to do them Roxie pills. Can they be shot.”

The woman told Shupe she’d never done that, but wanted to because she needed “some go go.” Shupe responded “me too” and that he worked the next morning and would try to find them some.

From other conversations between Shupe and the woman, investigators allege that Shupe was watching for warrants on the woman so he could warn her law enforcement was looking for her.

In another conversation, Shupe’s text message to the woman said, “Hey baby girl. Just when ever u get to n town let me know and I’ll meet u behind foodlion. I’m still waiting on my candy to arrive and I’ll bring you some. I looked for a new thing but we don’t have any.”

Shupe went on to say that he’d bought a “G” which was described in the court filing as a gram of methamphetamine.

During the interview with CW1, she told investigators that she met with Shupe at least five or six times between August 2016 to March 2017 to get methamphetamine, and that each time he was in his patrol car to make the delivery.

“CW1 reported she has given Shupe an intravenous injection of methamphetamine on two occasions while Shupe was in his patrol car and on duty. CW1 advised she injected Shupe with the methamphetamine into a vein on his hand while they were sitting in his patrol car. CW1 reported Shupe would refer to methamphetamine as go-go or an energy booster when they were discussing methamphetamine.”

In a text communication from Shupe’s phone to an unidentified co-conspirator, investigators said Shupe arranged purchasing 10 mg Lortab for himself and another officer at the department.

Shupe is also accused of communicating with CW3 by text messages in which they discussed getting “high” and exchanging drugs for money. Also during the exchanges with CW3, Shupe was asked to check on any warrants on someone, and the officer later told CW3 there was a violation of probation on that person.

Reported earlier:

Federal agents arrested a Mountain City police supervisor Monday on charges he was exchanging oxycodone and methamphetamine with a woman who apparently turned on him while she was jailed in North Carolina.

Lt. Ronald Shupe, 44, was booked into the Washington County Detention Center in Jonesborough around 10:30 p.m. Monday and was being held without bond. According to the U.S. District Court website, no detention hearing had been set.

A complaint filed Tuesday morning in Greeneville by FBI Special Agent John Anderson detailed the allegations against Shupe, which included numerous occasions when he provided oxycodone and meth to the the confidential informant, identified as CW1 in court records, while on duty and even allowed her to shoot up the drugs in his patrol vehicle.

Shupe was also accused in the complaint of using narcotics while on duty.

The two-count criminal complaint charged Shupe with possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone and possession of a firearm that had been shipped and transported by interstate commerce. Those charges stem from an undercover operation where another informant, identified as CW3 in court records, made plans to meet Shupe for an exchange of drugs.

Court records show text and Facebook messages between the two about the transaction. Shupe was under surveillance when he met with CW3 who was wearing a wire. After the informant gave Shupe oxycodone pills, which Shupe paid for, the officer was arrested.

As soon as he left the meeting, Shupe was surrounded by agents from the FBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

“He was arrested in possession of the pills (Schedule II controlled substances). He was in full uniform, driving a Mountain City police car, and armed with a department issued Glock pistol and ammunition,” the complaint states.

The complaint implicates another Mountain City officer, but there was no record in federal court he had been charged.

According to the Mountain City Tomahawk staff, both Shupe and the other officer had been placed on administrative leave.

TCAT to offer free NRF certification the week of November 13 in Mountain City

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology has joined the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency and Insight Education and Training Center in Johnson City to offer free National Retail Federal (NRF) certification training the week of Nov. 13.
The training will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the TCAT Elizabethton Mountain City Extension Campus, 110 Pioneer Village Drive. A hiring event will be held at the conclusion of the training.
Free textbooks and lunch will be provided to participants. The initial class will be limited to 24 applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional classes will be offered if there is a sufficient demand, officials said.
Led by instructor Mike Cummings of Insight, the NRF training includes retail fundamentals, communication and teamwork, problem solving, customer service, inventory tracking and payment procedures. A timed exam will be held on the final day of the training for NRF certification.
Dean Blevins, president of TCAT Elizabethton, said “It is critical that individuals have necessary job skills for a successful career. The NRF certification training is being offered on a complimentary basis to strengthen the employment base in the region.” Funding was made possible by a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.
To register for the NRF certification training, contact Cummings at the Insight Education and Training Center, telephone 423-926-6777. Registration will also be held on the first day of classes.

STARLED Inc. to open in Doe Valley early next year with 50 new jobs expected

Charlie Blanco, Johnson County Mayor Larry Potter and Garry Garoni bring new business and jobs to county.

By Paula Walter

The spec building in the Doe Valley area of Johnson County will soon be humming with activity. STARLED, Inc. has a target date of early next year to begin operations in Johnson County.
STARLED manufactures and distributes light emitting diode (LED) lighting products for commercial and residential space, in addition to marine and automotive use. The company has been in business more than 10 years with operations in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Southeast Asia. They are currently manufacturing in China and will soon begin operations in Mountain City.
“This is a multiple phase project,” said Charlie Blanco, Chief Executive Officer. Initially, there will be approximately 10 employees to get the project off the ground, but it is anticipated there will be 50 jobs in the first year. STARLED will be searching for a senior manager to begin operations, and from there, they will build a team of people. They are looking to hire senior management, assembly workers and a warehouse manager.
Mayor Larry Potter has actively been looking for businesses to come to Johnson County and make use of the spec building that has been sitting empty for years. According to Potter, he recently was in touch with an old high school acquaintance, Brent Snyder, from Johnson County. Familiar with Potter’s interest in bringing employment to Johnson County, Snyder recommended Potter connect with Garry Garoni, chairman of STARLED, who had been a business manager for many years, providing energy efficient products that are environmentally friendly.
According to Potter, Garoni did research on this region of the country, and it was approximately a few weeks from their first meeting to sealing the deal. Johnson County is a strategic location for STARLED as they have warehouse districts in Charlotte, North Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia and Minnesota.
STARLED will finance outfitting the building and equipping it so business can begin. An economic development fast track grant of $275,000 was available to help cover some of the cost of getting the building equipped to begin production. The company has a long-term lease of 20 years with an option to buy. “This is a big commitment to our county,” said Potter. “We appreciate Mr. Garoni entering into a long-term partnership with Johnson County.”
LED lights are energy saving. They last longer, are more durable and offer better light quality than others types of lighting. LED lights are energy efficient and last approximately 25 times longer than standard lighting. They use 90 percent less energy than standard light bulbs and they are more cost effective. STARLED guarantees all its products for five years.
LED lighting is the most cost effective way to save energy. The amount of savings depends on the amount of space to be lighted. A standard light bulb will reach a temperature of 400 degrees, where an LED light is significantly less at 90 degrees. “People are becoming eco friendly, and LED is simply a way for someone to contribute to the cause,” said Blanco. “It’s a pioneer of the green movement,” said Blanco. According to Blanco, the product is easy to sell, it saves people money and the lighting comes in any color you want. “LED is a lot of color,” he added.
Currently, less than five percent of the world has changed to LED technology. Some of the businesses that have switched to LED lighting are Exxon Mobile, Hilton hotels, Hampton Inn, Carvel, Ford, Mitsubishi and high end car dealers.

 

 

 

Cash Express coat and toy drive

Cash Express will hold their 13th annual Coat and Toy Drive for the Children. You are invited to join us in the celebration of giving. We are pairing up with our local food bank and family resource center to become a blessing to families in our community.
We will be accepting toys, coats, shoes (washable), clothing, and non-perishable food items in many drop off locations in the area. We ask that all donations be received by Dec. 15th in order to have them delivered in time for Christmas.
Unable to donate items? Monetary donations are also accepted. You can purchase a Christmas stocking for $1 (to be hung in the store). Money collected will be used at the end of the drive to purchase the above items.
Items can be dropped off at Cash Express, 503A S. Church St., Mtn. City. Call 727-0028 for more info.

 

Looking for children to form chorus for Christmas

Calling all students in grades two through six to be members of a community children’s chorus to perform at Heritage Hall at the Christmas “Sing in the season” performance at Heritage Hall on Saturday, December 9th at 7:00 pm. Rehearsals will be at Heritage Hall on Sundays, from 3:00 to 4:30 pm October 29th through December 3rd. Dress rehearsal will be on Thursday, December 7th at 6:00 pm. Contact Marie Jo Thum at 561-901-4322 or Leni Smith at 423-727-1947.