Information on More Hymns of the Church

This ‘n’ that

By Jack Swift

As I was working on my last column, it occurred to me that some information about the origin of and information about some other great hymns might be of interest to some folks. Christmas carols were my main focus then but in this column I want to feature information about a few regular hymns that I came up with.
As a young person growing up in the Church, I often was asked to lead the choir or the congregation in song. With limited talent but a willingness to help, I did that over a span of time. Of course during that time my hearing was good but it is now very bad. But the experience as song leader afforded me the opportunity to familiarize myself with several songs and hymns. Hence, here are a few that I liked a lot.
“Lead Me To Calvary,” is a hymn that I enjoyed singing as well as hearing sung. Unfortunately, not much is known about that hymn. A lady named Jennie Hussey is thought to have written it. She lived throughout her life in a rural area of New Hampshire. During her life she care of her invalid sister. Reportedly she was a fourth- generation Quaker. She was a cheerful and positive person and it shows in the writing of this hymn.
Another favorite hymn of mine is “Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone?” It was written by Thomas Shepherd. It came about as Shepherd was preparing a sermon on Simon Peter. He couldn’t find many hymns on Peter, so he decided to write a hymn about Peter. Originally, the first line of his hymn was “Shall Simon Bear the Cross Alone?” That line was later changed to
“Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone.”
O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee.” Is another of my favorite hymns? Washington Gladden, a former newspaperman before going into the ministry, believed that Christians should be involved in the world’s problems and he was outspoken about his views. He wrote the hymn in 1879.
Who doesn’t remember that old song, “Shall We Gather At The River?” That hymn was written in the summer of 1864. An epidemic was sweeping New York and the heat was terrible. He was faced with how to deal with the fact that many of his church members had died and many were near death. He felt he had to keep on comforting people and he wrote this song to serve as a comfort for them.
Just thinking about those great hymns brings back memories. I think the old songs have stood the test of time and we should be hearing more of them.

Grandfather Mountain experiences one of the wettest years on record

LINVILLE, N.C. — 2018 made a splash on Grandfather Mountain.

As per the recording site at Grandfather’s Nature Museum, where the park’s naturalists gather daily records, some 123.62 inches of precipitation fell on the mountain last year.

“That’s 10 feet of water!” said Amy Renfranz, director of education for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Linville, N.C., nature park. “Though we had several big days of rain and snow, most of it fell in small amounts throughout the year.”

The largest precipitation events took place on May 19, 2018, with 6.41 inches of rain and Sept. 17, 2018, with 5.84 inches of rain.

“This record year nearly doubles our annual average of 63.13 inches,” Renfranz said. “In comparison, Seattle only received 35.73 inches of precipitation in 2018 — a markedly dry year for the Western states. New York City received 46.78.”

In 2017, Grandfather Mountain recorded only 73.73 inches of rain. The mountain’s rainiest day in history remains Sept. 8, 2004, on which 11.3 inches were measured.

As recorded by the weather station at the Mile High Swinging Bridge, the mountain’s wettest year was 1979 with 89.25 inches of rain. The same station recorded 77.36 inches of rain in 2018 (making it the fifth wettest on record), but, due to high winds and closures from inclement weather, rain data collected at the bridge often amounts to lower totals than other collection areas on the mountain — in this case, significantly lower.

The Nature Museum measurements are made in accordance with the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, commonly known as CoCoRaHS. Grandfather Mountain’s naturalists have been recording and reporting data to CoCoRaHS since 2011, and 2018 marks the wettest year on record, according to that particular data.



Grandfather Mountain recorded two gusts above 100 mph in 2018. On March 2, 2018, a gust of 101.9 mph was charted by an automated weather station at the Mile High Swinging Bridge, followed by a 101.7-mph gust on Oct. 20, 2018.

The record wind speed at that location is 120.7 mph, set in December 2012.

In addition, winds gusted higher than 60 mph at least 64 days in 2018.



A place known for its temperature swings, Grandfather Mountain experienced a temperature range of 83.8 degrees in 2018.

The highest temperature recorded at the Mile High Swinging Bridge was 77.2 on May 13, 2018, and the lowest temperature was -6.64 on Jan. 19, 2018. As such, the mountain did not beat its record high of 83.2 degrees from July 1, 2012, or its record low of -32 degrees from Jan. 21, 1985.


Weather Reporting

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation records and reports data in three different ways:

  • The park maintains an automated weather station at the top of the Mile High Swinging Bridge. The N.C. State Climate Office assists the foundation in calibrating the machines and ensuring overall accuracy of data.
  • Grandfather Mountain has been an active member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Cooperative Observer Program since 1955 by reporting daily temperature, precipitation and weather events from a location near the Mile High Swinging Bridge.
  • Park naturalists also record and report daily precipitation totals from the Nature Museum and Entrance Gate to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS).

With rare exceptions, the temperature will be 10 to 20 degrees cooler at Grandfather Mountain than in the flatlands below. The average rate is 2.2 degrees per 1,000 feet, meaning that for each thousand feet gained, the air is 2.2. degrees cooler.

For more information on Grandfather Mountain’s weather or to access current conditions, visit

The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call (800) 468-7325, or visit to plan a trip.




011019_GFM_weather_2018_SS: In 2018, Grandfather Mountain experienced a temperature range of 83.8 degrees. The highest temperature recorded at the Mile High Swinging Bridge was 77.2 on May 13, 2018, and the lowest temperature was -6.64 on Jan. 19, 2018. Photo by Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

Grandfather Mountain

Taking the first steps

  County Mayor Mike Taylor leads a group of nearly 40 residents on a hike to celebrate the New Year at Doe Mountain Recreation Area. After the hike, which covered a little over 2 miles of scenic mountain terrain, the group was treated to hot chocolate, coffee, and cider. Several door prizes, including Johnson County Farmers Market and local merchant gift cards, were also awarded. Photo by Dennis Shekina

United States Government Shutdown for the 21st Time in History

Reported by Wallethub


As the clock struck midnight December 22, 2018, the United States government shut down for the 21st time in history. This time, it’s a less-intense partial shutdown, which occurs when Congress fails to pass necessary appropriations bills.

The partial shutdown has lasted into the New Year, hitting the thirteen-day mark on January 3, 2019. For context, the longest shutdown ever was 21 days under President Bill Clinton, and only seven shutdowns have ever lasted ten days or longer. This is the third shutdown under the Trump administration, but the previous ones lasted only one day and three days, respectively.

When the government shuts down, certain federal employees work without pay or receive a furlough. This includes over 41,000 law enforcement officers, 52,000 IRS workers and 96 percent of NASA employees. “Non-essential” government services also remain inactive and certain benefits are liable to run out of funding. One of the main issues keeping the government in a partial shutdown at the moment is President Trump’s call for increased border security and funding for a border wall, to which Democrats in Congress remain opposed.

Some states are hit harder by a government shutdown than others. To determine the places most affected by the 2019 partial shutdown, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across five key metrics. They range from each state’s share of federal jobs to federal contract dollars per capita to the share of families receiving food stamps.


States Most Affected by the Gov. Shutdown   States Least Affected by the Gov. Shutdown
1 District of Columbia   42 Ohio
2 New Mexico   43 North Dakota
3 Maryland   44 New Jersey
4 Hawaii   45 Kansas
5 Alaska   46 Wisconsin
6 Virginia   47 Indiana
7 West Virginia   48 Iowa
8 Mississippi   49 Nebraska
9 Alabama   50 New Hampshire
10 Arizona   51 Minnesota

Key Stats

  • Red states are less affected by the government shutdown than Blue states, ranking 26.83 and 24.81, respectively, on average. (Lower rank = greater impact).
  • The District of Columbia has the highest share of families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, 20.95 percent. That’s 3.5 times higher than in Wyoming, the state with the lowest at 6.00 percent.
  • Wisconsin has the lowest share of federal jobs, at 1.02 percent. The average state has 2.6 times more federal jobs, at 2.61 percent.

To view the full report, please visit:

Battling addiction

By Jill PenleyTrish Burchette

Opioids abuse remains a big problem for Tennessee, Johnson County.

The nation’s struggle with opioids continues as nearly two million Americans are estimated to be addicted to prescription painkillers, and the volunteer state seems especially vulnerable with nearly 2,000 reported drug overdose deaths just last year.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, the death toll has risen for least the sixth year in a row.
“More Tennesseans died last year from drug overdoses than from automobile crashes,” said Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner in an August news release announcing the overdose death toll.
Prescription opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone remain the most common cause of overdoses, but an alarming number of deaths are attributed to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, that can be up to 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and deadly. Prescribed only in instances of extreme pain, fentanyl typically comes in patches worn on the skin. Anesthesiologists also use the drug during surgery.
“It is going to take a community-wide effort to combat the opioids crisis in our community and our region,” said Trish Burchette, A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition Executive Director. “The ACTION Coalition is working to bring together all sectors of our community in 2019 to provide resources to each other and our community.” The coalition is
actively pursuing grant funding to aid in fighting this
ongoing crisis at the local level.
Legislation passed last year strengthened the number of times dispensers had to turn information into the database. The law states: “Any pharmacy, or licensed healthcare practitioner, who has a DEA number and dispenses controlled substances in (or into) Tennessee must report to the database daily (but no later than the close of business on the following business day); each controlled substance they have dispensed over the last twenty-four (24) hours.
If a dispensing healthcare practitioner does not dispense any Schedule II-V prescriptions during a reporting period, a “zero report” must be submitted to the database.”
In the past, pharmacists had to call insurance companies to get more information on a patient. Now, pharmacists are expected to turn away anyone they suspect of misusing or abusing drugs.
Burchette advises the A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition is actively working with the local faith community to initiate a new support group in Johnson County. “We are holding a meeting with local church leaders or anyone interested in helping on January 3, at 6 pm at the First Christian Church in Mountain City to discuss the best way to provide resources in Johnson County to those in need.”
For more information regarding the upcoming meeting or for information and resources to assist with opioids addiction, contact the Action Coalition office at 727-0780 or stop by the office 138 East Main Street.

Nathan Rogers recognized as “Employee Of The Year”

Submitted by Rep. Timothy Hill

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — State Representative Timothy Hill (R-Blountville) today joined with the Tennessee House of Representatives to recognize Kingsport native and current Legislative Assistant Nathan Rogers as 2018 House Employee of the Year.
Rogers received the honor for his dedicated service to the citizens of Johnson,
Carter, and Sullivan Counties. He has worked in Representative Hill’s Office for
3.5 years. During this time, Rogers has assisted Representative Hill with all constituent-related matters. Additionally, he has played a vital role in the process of filing and tracking legislation designed to improve the lives of residents in Northeast Tennessee, as well as the entire state.
“The people of the 3rd House District have come to know Nathan for his incredible work ethic and commitment to our community, region, and state,” said Representative Hill. “Recognizing him with this distinguished award is a small way we can thank him for his tremendous efforts. We are very fortunate to have him as a part of our team in Nashville, and I look forward to continuing our partnership in the years ahead.”
“Receiving this award was completely unexpected,” said Rogers. “I am grateful to Representative Hill,
my legislative colleagues, and my loved ones for their
support as I work to help the citizens of my hometown community.”

Jo. Co. FSA county committee election results

Johnson County U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that Pat Conville was elected to represent his local administrative area (LAA-2) during the recent county committee election.

Melvel Wagner will serve as the first alternate.
Donald Garland will serve as second alternate.

“County Committee members are a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA,” said Jo Ann Reece, county executive director. “They help deliver programs at the county level and work to serve the needs of local producers. All recently elected county committee members will take office in January 2019.

Every FSA office is served by a county committee made up of local farmers who are elected by local producers. Nearly 7,800 FSA county committee members serve FSA offices nationwide. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office.
County committee members impact the administration of FSA within a community by applying their knowledge and judgment to help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs, conservation programs, indemnity and disaster programs, emergency programs and eligibility.

County committee members impact producers through their decision making and help shape the culture of a local FSA office. They also ensure the fair and equitable administration of FSA farm programs in their counties and are accountable to the Secretary of Agriculture. Members conduct hearings and reviews as requested by the state committee, ensure underserved farmers, ranchers and foresters are fairly represented, make recommendations to the state committee on existing programs, monitor changes in farm programs and inform farmers of the purpose and provisions of FSA programs. They also assist with outreach and inform underserved producers such as beginning farmers, ranchers and foresters, about FSA opportunities.

Oh Tannenbaum

Johnson County 4H Chapter with their submission to the Festival of Trees “Best Tree” contest. Ornaments are from their recycled ornament contest that was used to promote recycling
in our area. Photo by Bethany Anderson

A Cricket County Christmas Wedding

Y’all come on out to Roan Creek Baptist Church and see Glenda Mae finally get hitched to Elmer Crick at the Cricket County Christmas Wedding. Performances are Saturday December 15th at 5:00 pm and December 16th at 6:00 pm. By the way beware of Grandma Taylor’s fruitcake. Admission is free. Photo submitted


A new beginning

I felt I should share this with all of you seniors out there.
Moving to Tennessee was filled with pleasant surprises. It was suggested that I join the Senior center.
At first I could not imagine doing this as i have never thought of myself as a senior (lol) but in doing so a new life opened up for me. The Johnson County Senior Center directed by Kathy Motsinger was more like a youth center. There are sio many fun and health related programs that I could not even begin to tell you all of them. You name it, and there it is.
Then there is the center’s van driver, Terry Hodges, who drives you to and fro and is patient and kind and helpful in any way you ned.
All you seniors out there come to the Senior Centerand enjoy a fun-filled life. you will feel young and spry, once again.
I can not say enough wonderful things about the Johnson County Senior Center.
Sincerely, Valerie Edes

This ‘n’ That Old Readers Digests Bring Back Memories

By Jack Swift

Johnson County Historian

While looking through my books and magazines the other day, I came across a couple of editions of the Readers Digest that I had acquired sometime ago. Both were of interest in that they were published near the time of my birth. It was the Digest’s 17th year of publication. One was dated March 1938 and the other was published in December of 1938. I was born March 22, 1938.
Now that has been a long time ago, but I like to reminisce about the past. Both magazines were full of interesting stories. I noted it was before the Digest began accepting advertising. It would be hard for me to pick out one of the articles as being best because all of them were interesting. Some of the headlines drew me to read some of the stories included in those editions. Oh, by the way, the price per magazine and the yearly subscription tells a little about the way things were as far as costs are concerned.
While the prices per products and services were low, the value of a dollar was much more then than now. The magazine per copy was 25 cents and a year’s subscription was only 3 dollars per year. A topic of interest to me in the March issue was one entitled “We Are What We Eat” condensed from Collier’s Magazine. Collier’s will be remembered by some as a popular magazine of general interest that was published for several years. The article explores the place diet has in our lives, comparing various diets of certain nationalities as to how they developed. I noted that there is a lot of emphasis on diet today as well.
Another topic caught my eye. The article was titled “Leading a Dog’s Life” It was interesting to note that the author pointed out that dogs who do heroic things such as rescuing people from burning buildings take no thought about the consequences of their actions, whereas sometimes people have an underlying motive such as glory and honor when they are heroic.

WIN the 12-Days of Christmas


A lucky ticket holder will win an entire holiday tree full of decorations and prizes! The Johnson County Arts Center is featuring a fund-raising winter tree adorned with not only festive decorations of silver and gold but also a number of delightful gifts, certificates and prizes. These items represent the 12-days of Christmas and the winner gets all; the tree, the lights, the decorations and the prizes! Don’t need a tree? It would make a very special gift, or just take your favorite ornaments and the prizes! Tickets are $1 each. There will be a second and third drawing for prizes as well. Inspecting the tree, you will find:
12 Shining Stars
11 Silver Bows
10% Off Something
9 “Next Drawing” Tickets
8 Picture Notecards
7 Works of Art
6 Balls of Soap
$50 worth of Certificates
4 Snowflake Napkin Rings
3 Pairs of Earrings
2 Heritage Hall Tickets
“And a golden bird for our fund raising tree!”
Stop by the Arts Center, (10-5 M-W & F, Th 10- 8, Sat 10-2) 127 College Street in Mountain City, to see if you can find all 12-days of Christmas represented! Enjoy their complimentary Hot Coco Bar too! Proceeds will benefit the Arts Center Operating Costs. Drawing will take place Dec 20th.

Big Spud

“Four year old Zeak Timbs, son of Danny & Chassie Timbs, shows off this 2 lb. 10 ounce potato grown by Gerald & Louise Lawrence.” Submitted photo.

Conference champs

Conference Champs

Johnson County Longhorns running back, Nathan Lane (4) is filled with pride while leading his teammates toward a major 35-12 Region One 3A Championship victory against Unicoi County. Lane found the end zone five times during the game helping Johnson County repeat as conference champions in their derailing of the No.10 Blue Devils. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

Fall is in the air on Main Street

Constance Blankenship

Mountain City Elementary student, Constance Blankenship, 10, of Laurel Bloomery poses with a pumpkin last week after she was enjoying lunch with her mom. The beautiful sunny day was the perfect time to checkout the annual “Scarecrows on Main” displays now going on in downtown Mountain City. Photo by Tamas Mondovics.

Cleaning up

Watauga Lake Cleanup

A young volunteer, Vera Genille, proudly takes part in the 2018 Annual Watauga Lake Clean up. The event organizers would like to thank all 65 volunteers who participated in this year’s event held last month, as parents and grandparents brought their little ones to help the cleanup effort.  The children have learned the valuable lesson of refraining from casually tossing trash out their car windows or leave it behind in a public campsite, while helping to keep Watauga Lake one of the cleanest bodies of water in America.
Photo by Dennis Shekinah

Get your motor runnin’


Mountain City TN resident, John Wayne Jeffries enjoys a photo op, while taking his 1967, Dodge Coronet, 440 for a spin aroundtown. The region boasts of many classic car enthusiasts who make use of local events to show off their prized possessions. Photo By Tamas Mondovics.

First responders on the job

Firemen Laurel Bloomery

Johnson County Emergency Communications director and District 1 Fire Chief, Kevin Colson, left, instructs firefighters as they are entering an Eastridge Lane home last week following a call to dispatch of a structure fire. According to preliminary reports, the fire was electrical that started around the entertainment center in the family room but was quickly attended to by three units from District 1, 2 and Mountain City. Following the initial response, firefighters continued to put out hotspots, mopping up and removing burned and charred materials from the home. Photo By Tamas Mondovics.

Everyone loves a parade

Johnson County senior attendant, Renie Morrow, smiles while she is driven down Main Street during the 2018 Homecoming Parade in Mountain City. The annual parade made its way through town, ending at Paul McEwen Stadium ahead of the JC Longhorns 35-7 football game victory against the West Greene Buffaloes. Please see our complete Homecoming coverage in our “B” section. Photo by Tamas Mondovics