By:  Meg Dickens

Freelance Writer

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

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