Community supports Mountain City Elementary Career Fair

October 17, 2018

By Tamas Mondovics

The Johnson County Schools office of Coordinated School Heath led by Amanda McGlamery and Amanda Mullins has once again teamed up with Mountain City Elementary School to host a career fair. Under the supervision of school principal Ms. Gay Triplett, the event proudly hosted dozens of local businesses colleges on Friday morning. While all the participants put their best foot forward, it was the students that dressed up as what they individually would like to have as a career that stole the show.

“This past week the teachers and staff have discussed how it’s never too early to begin thinking of their careers,’ said McGlamery. “It is extremely important to give our students this opportunity to explore the many employment and education options our region has to offer.”

The theme of the day appropriately was “Students of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow” and drew attention to the importance of thinking about careers early on and the necessity of a good education to achieve such goals.
The many vendors participating in the event included Danny Herman Trucking, Mountain City Care & Rehabilitation, Johnson County Emergency Management, Farmers State Bank, ACTION Coalition, Farm Bureau, Heritage Propane,

Johnson County Bank, Johnson County Sheriffs Department, Mountain Electric, Ballard Health, WINGS, Johnson County Rescue, Squad. Johnson County Fire Department, Northeast Correctional Complex, Northeast Community College, Amedysis, CTE programs, HOSA, FFA, Culinary Art, Motorsports, Criminal Justice, Structural Systems, JCHS Student Council.

“My favorite was holding the bunnies,” said 9-year-old Michale Watson, referring to a couple of students staffing the Johnson County FFA booth with McGlamery and Mullins expressed their appreciation to all those who took part in and supported the fair, which she said was a “great success.”

“We would love the thank all our vendors, Chase McGlamery for videoing and photography; MCE Principal Ms. Gay Triplett; teachers and staff without all of whom this day would not have been possible.”

For more information about Mountain City Elementary School, please visit

JCHS Culinary arts students enjoy hands-on learning

October 17, 2018

By Tamas Mondovics

Johnson County High School culinary arts teacher Craig Cox has every reason to be proud of his students that are filling up his classrooms to the brim.

“I have approximately 100 students per semester,” he said. “I try my best so the students will constantly be learning through hands-on experiences.”

There is no doubt the young cooks love both what they are creating, cooking, eating and serving.Cox, has been an educator for five years, coaches football, and teaches a number of courses (no pun intended) including Culinary1, 2 and 3 at the high school in Mountain City. Culinary 1 at JCHS is an introduction to the culinary arts class where students learn what equipment is used in a commercial kitchen, along with knife skills, safety, and sanitation of the kitchen.

“I also offer Culinary 2 and three as dual classes, so students who qualify to take this get three hours of college credit from Virginia Highlands Community College for each class they take so they could get a total of six hours,” he said.

Cox emphasized that his young cooks learn through books and through hands-on.“With Culinary 2 we work on industry certification,” he said, adding that the students who take this class along with Culinary 3 have the opportunity to get certified by the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe program as ServSafe Manager in sanitation.

Currently, in Culinary 2 the class is learning how to make a Food Truck, including the creating a menu, design a truck and come up with a business plan for operating the truck. The students will finish up with a diorama of their truck where they will make it out of boxes.

“This is a great opportunity for the kids to see what it would take actually to handle a real business,” Cox said.

It is noteworthy that JCH culinary class is not shy of supporting the community by getting as involved as possible, including having a hand in the Farmer’s Harvest Dinner for the last three years. The students also cooked meals for the Senior Citizens Prom and helped with many events over the last four years.

“We do catering of all types when available,” Cox said. “This gives the students the opportunity to work in a true restaurant setting.”

Cox is confident that the program will continue to grow while offering its young students the chance to enjoy learning through hands-on experience.

TDC hosts seminar on tourism for local businesses

October 17, 2018


Tourism expert, Dave Jones, gives a speech on the natural beauty and heritage of Mountain City and Johnson County, during a recent seminar on tourism in the region. Photo by Megan Hollaway

By Megan Hollaway
Freelance Writer

Johnson County and Mountain City businessmen and women have once again gathered together to discuss and focus on aspects of tourism in the region. Tourism experts for northeast Tennessee, Alicia Phelps and Dave Jones, both conducted the seminar, which focused on why tourism is important and how to boost it in the area. The emphasis was obvious zeroing onto the benefits to tourism, such as increasing income, and helping diversify the economy.

Phelps provided attendees with some statistics including the fact that just last year Johnson County generated more than ten million dollars in direct tourism expenditures. To put that in a household-to-household number, each household in the county pays $198.12 less in local and state taxes thanks to the tourism dollars brought in from local businesses and destinations, officials said. The first half of the event focused on the effects of tourism and why places like the local community are important to tourists anyway.

Jones, one of the key speakers, said, “There are four pillars of Tennessee Tourism: Scenic beauty, Music, Family experiences, and History and Heritage.”

Jones also described tourists as seeking an authentic southern experience.

“Johnson County, which is full to the brim with natural, gorgeous views, friendly southern hospitality, and a rich historical and musical background fits every criterion.”

The second half of the seminar focused on the aspect of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google and its relationship with locally owned businesses in tourism. The discussion also included a workshop to either improve currently existing social media pages for local businesses or support them in creating social media accounts, while attention was also on just how to build a business’s online presence.

“This kind of workshop and seminar is critical to the businesses of Johnson County,” said Richard Calkins, owner of Harbin Hill Farms. “I am glad to have participated in it.”

Phelps and Jones, along with the Tourism Development Council of Johnson County, have confirmed their intent to host another seminar and workshop once the need arises, or more local businesses express a desire to attend.


Community recognizes beloved businessman’s contributions

October 17, 2018

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

At the recent meeting of mayor and aldermen, October 2, 2018, was named Karl William Cornett Memorial Day. A large number of Cornett’s family and friends were in attendance to witness a proclamation presented to Edith Cornett in commemoration of the day. Karl was a native of Johnson County with his family has been in the area for over 200 years. As a young man, he helped his father build homes and later worked in Maryland at a factory manufacturing supplies for the US Army before he himself was drafted. He served in World War II achieving the rank of Sergeant.

Karl and Edith began their story together when a friend told Edith of a handsome, young man who lived on a farm just two miles away from her family’s farm. “Before we met, a mutual friend told me how handsome he was,” Edith remembered. “I was anxious to see for myself. My cousin and I went to a church meeting knowing he would be there. He and his friend walked us home, and the rest is history.”

After marriage, Karl and his brother-in-law began working in agriculture. “Karl and my brother raised beans,” Edith shared. “Bean sales went down, so we needed a better source of income.”

It was this situation that led Karl to pursue the business that he would come to be known for in the Mountain City community. “Karl and his dad ventured into the used furniture business.” The company started by Karl and his parents in 1949 became the Cornett Furniture Store that he and Edith operated for 69 years. The store became a fixture on Main Street in Mountain City and offered the couple the chance to make lasting friendships with town residents and visitors alike. “Through the years, customers and salesmen coming in seemed like family,” Edith explained. “We met strangers who were so nice we felt like we had known them forever.”

Throughout their marriage, Karl and Edith welcomed three children. Joyce, Judy, and Aaron added to the warm and loving home that the couple had started in 1947. “We tried to take care of the children, raise them up right, send them to school to get a good education, and teach them to be good citizens,” said Edith. “We hoped they would choose to live, work, and raise their family in Johnson County.”

As the years passed, the couple found many interests and adventures to enjoy together. “We enjoyed traveling, mountain climbing, fishing, going on picnics, and golfing,” Edith shared.

In 1999, the couple took the opportunity to spend winters in warmer weather when they were able to buy a house in Florida. While there the couple continued their tradition of making friends wherever they went. “We bought a house on a golf course so Karl could golf while there. He had some good golfing buddies who came from colder areas.”

The couple was best known for their work together as a team and Edith shared how that teamwork went beyond their furniture business and to their home: “We both liked to keep busy. When we got home in summer, Karl would mow with the riding mower, and I would mow with the push mower. Karl would hit the high places, and I liked to mow close, but he mowed much more than I did.”

While Karl passed away on August 17, 2018, his wife, children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren continue to cherish the memories they made together as Edith expressed, “Our best memories are working together, getting along as a family for seventy-one years and enjoying every minute of it.”

Chamber sponsors annual leadership retreat

October 17, 2018


JC Leadership Class of 2018-19 participants Kelly Turner, Marissa Mullins, Jeff Young, Kelly Dugger, Zach Peake, Lindsey Wills, Angel Gilley, and Brad Reece pose for a photo during a recent event. Submitted photo

Staff Report

The annual retreat for the Johnson County Leadership program was held last month at the Prospect Hill Bed and Breakfast. The program sponsored through the JC Chamber of Commerce encourages members of our community who display an interest in serving and leading to step out and become involved, which follows our Leadership motto, “If not you, then who, if not now, then when?” The retreat was and is facilitated by Russell Robinson, Director of Budgets and Accounting for Johnson County.

During the two-day event, the group learned the history of Johnson County, practiced team-building exercises, wrote personal mission statements, studied many leadership skills developed by the National Association of Community Leadership, wrote a marketing statement and finally a
visionary statement for Johnson County.

Johnson County Schools boasts of graduation rate

October 10, 2018


The recent report of Tennessee schools graduation rate came as a pleasant surprise to Johnson County School officials, including JCS Dorector Mischelle Simcox.

“I want to brag on our high school,” Simcox said, adding that Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced that the 2017-18 high school state graduation rate was 89.1 percent, which is the highest graduation rate on record for Tennessee.

“Johnson County High School’s graduation rate for the 2017-18 school year was 97.5 percent, which far exceeds the state rate. I am very proud of our staff and graduates.”

Laurel Elementary boasts fall festival success

October 10, 2018

Johnson County Emergency Management Operations Officer Michael Sumner, assists Laurel Elementary School 4th grade student Karlie-Jo Fletcher, with fingerprinting during the school’s fall festival. The Sheriffs Office and Emergency Medical Services teamed up last week to provide families with copies of their children’s fingerprints while creating a fun and informative activity for students. Photo By Megan Hollaway

By Megan Hollaway
Freelance Writer

Laurel Elementary School hosted its annual fall festival last Saturday that according to school officials was once again a great success.The festivities began at 5 pm and lasted until the Auction, which began at 7:30. At the start of the celebration, the teachers of Laurel banded together in classrooms to offer attendees games and prizes. The usual activities, such as ring toss, darts, and bowling, as well as unique games like poke-a-pumpkin and Pop-the-Panther, were also included.There was also a cakewalk during this time, and the School Mascot, a Panther, roamed the halls giving high-fives to parents and hugs to students.

A face painting station prompted most everyone to be decked out. In one classroom, goldfish was a winning prize. An important booth set up was the Child Fingerprinting booth, which was a joint effort between the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department and the Emergency Medical Services of Johnson County. Posing as a fun activity in which a sheriff’s deputy and EMS worker dipped the child’s fingering into ink and pressed them onto a special paper just like they would do at the police station, The fingerprinting activity also served as a resource to the community. The special paper with the prints was then given to the child’s parent or guardian and would serve as a resource should the child go missing.

The auction was set to begin following the games, face painting, and fingerprinting. According to event organizers, a total of 93 lots were on the list for the auction. The lots included furniture, artwork, gift cards, and clothing. To start the auction off, Dr. Eggers spoke about the contribution of the teachers and students who had already raised more than $3,000.

Eggers, who began working at Laurel elementary school just this August said, “This first year here is more wonderful than I could have imagined. I would like to thank the teachers, classroom assistants, the community, and parents, without whom I could not have made this happen.”

The successful auction is promising to bring in funds to help the school bring in new supplies and create better opportunities for the students.

County Mayor, Sheriff complete first month

October 10, 2018

The two newly elected Johnson County
officials; Sheriff Eddie Tester, left, and Mayor Mike Taylor are posing for a photo during a recent rally in Johnson City. Submitted photo


By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

It has now been one month since Johnson County’s new mayor, and the sheriff took office and some things are noticeably different while others remain the same.

“As the Chairman of the County Commission,” said Mayor Mike Taylor, “I had some knowledge of the many things that were handled in the Mayor’s office, but until you sit in the mayor’s chair, you don’t know exactly how many things come across your desk daily.”

A year ago, Taylor was teaching sixth-grade students at Mountain City Elementary School. He now spends much of his time wooing tourists, industry, and jobs to Johnson County.

Adhering to his campaign motto, “Focused on our Future,” Mayor Taylor hit the ground running. “My first month involved following up on some projects that were in progress,” said Taylor, “and meeting as a member of various boards and regional committees that includes several mayors.”

While the office maintains the same hours and open- door policy, a new executive assistant, Beth Cox, welcomes visitors and keeps everything organized.“Honored,” is the word Taylor would use when describing his first month on the job.

“As the chief financial officer of the county and responsible for many things that directly affect the lives of many people,” said Taylor. “I feel honored for the trust the voters have extended to me.”

When asked about possible improvements, Mayor Taylor is quick to mention the lack of space. “If you have visited the courthouse lately, it is obvious that the lack of space challenges all the courthouse staff,” he said. “As the courts have grown and the amount of use the courthouse gets, space is at a premium.”

Taylor feels that at some point the county government will have to look at addressing the issue.

While still getting acclimated to the new position, the new mayor is already exploring growth opportunities. “One of my goals is to have more retail opportunities in our community,” explained Mayor Taylor, who recently attended the Retail Academy in Nashville. “I have spent a good amount of time following up on leads, making phone calls pitching our community to retailers,” he said. “I am hopeful that these efforts will bring positive results in the future.”

When Eddie Tester was sworn in as the new Johnson County Sheriff soon after winning the seat in the August election, he had some lofty ideas about what he wished to accomplish as lead law enforcement officer for the county.
With the first month in office under this belt, Tester is quick to point out the office of sheriff is bigger than himself.

“It also consists of my employees and the citizens of Johnson County,” he said, “to whom I was elected to serve.” Sheriff Tester came into the job with more than 28 years of experience in law enforcement in addition to extensive training as a firefighter and an EMS paramedic. “It is an absolute pleasure to do what I love to do in my hometown,” the sheriff said. “I have a fully staffed department with certified officers and jail staff that are working hard every day to provide safety and security to all the citizens of the Johnson County.”

When he first took office, Tester says, he chose to set some broad goals including tackling the ongoing drug epidemic plaguing Johnson County. “I work alongside my officers every day,” he said, “to combat this epidemic and reduce the crime rate within our communities.” Sheriff Tester has also implemented a K9 program consisting of three fully trained and certified K9 and K9 handlers, which will enhance tracking, officer safety, and drug and explosive detections.

With this office comes huge responsibility, but Eddie Tester is determined to make a difference. “As of date I have implemented some goals that I had prior to being elected your sheriff,” said Tester, “and I have other goals that I will continue to pursue that will benefit not only the sheriff’s office but the community as a whole.”

Community mourns passing of longtime resident

October 10, 2018


By Tamas Mondovics

The town of Mountain City is now mourning one of its most loved, respected and longtime members who died earlier this week following an accident while transporting his tractor on Lumpkin Branch Road just south of Dug Hill Road in Mountain City.According to Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Willie Hammons, of Hubert Taylor Road in the Forge Creek area died Monday afternoon (10/8) a result of his injuries.

Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester said that the tractor began sliding off the trailer, while it was being moved. Sadly, Mr. Hammons was unable to get out of the way in time. Tester said that as a result, Mr. Hammons passed away shortly after the accident, which occurred around 3:30 pm. Mr. Hammons will be greatly missed by many in the community who had the privilege to know him. Mr. Hammons was 75.

Bidding for a Cause: Auction at school Fall Festival

October 3, 2018

Doe Elementary School Fall festival

Under the direction of the Leader in Me initiative at Doe Elementary School, Chloe Arnold, Haley Corum, Skyler Fetner, Audrey Decker, Chris Reese, Pacey Arnold, and Austin McElyea show off the Leadership skills poster that describes the different aspects of leadership. Photo submitted

By Megan Hollaway
Freelance Writer

Amid face painters, music, and halls decorated with student artwork, Doe Elementary hosted their Fall Festival on Friday. There was a hay maze, concessions, and an auction beginning at 8 p.m. which would have a peaking point when the big ticket item of the evening would be auctioned off, a 2002 Mazda Tribute. Community members from ages one to one hundred came out to enjoy the festivities, decked out in Hill Topper gear to support their school or just out to celebrate a school that celebrates its student population. The winnings from the auction will be going toward a new set of chrome book laptops for two new grades, third and fifth.

Doe Elementary School principal Teresa Stansberry opened the auction saying, “It was really amazing how the community contributed to our school for this Auction.”

The school board and school staff in the crowd were recognized, and then the auction began with a rush of bidding. Chris Mullins, a teacher at the high school, conducted the auction, while Daniel McEwen, another high school teacher collected the names and information of the winners. There were nearly one hundred items up for auction.

Teresa Stansberry pointed out that the community donated most of the items to help raise funds for the school. The actions of this community and this school have set a great example of selflessness to the students of Doe Elementary; however, the students there are also setting a good example for the community- in how to be a leader.

Along with the student artwork, the halls of Doe Elementary are specked with the seven Habits to inspire leadership. The concept has been the focal point of the New Year, as a theme running through every grade in the school, all based on the book, “Leader in Me- 7 habits,” by Sean and Steven Covey. “Be Proactive,” and “Seek first to understand, then to be

understood” are just two of the seven, and posters with phrases like these hang in every hallway, reminding the students to be leaders; mindful, patient, good leaders at that.


The Field School now accepting applications

October 3, 2018

field school group photo at Couch greenhouse - Copy

Participates in The Field School, a farmer training program started by The Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development Council. Submitted photo

The Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development Council is announcing the launch of the 2018-19 Field School, a regional training program for beginning farmers.  The application and full schedule of workshops can be found at and the deadline to apply is October 31.  The tuition fee is $125 for 9 workshops on business planning, financial planning, and marketing.
This will mark the fourth year of the Field School, which has had close to 100 students over the last 3 years.

“We have a lot of interest in the Field School from a wide variety of folks,” says Lexy Close, Program Coordinator for the Appalachian RC&D Council.  “In the past three years, we’ve had age ranges from 14 to 73, recent college grads to recent retirees, folks with less than an acre and some with hundreds of acres of family land.”

It’s not just for new farmers either.  Past students have included experienced farmers looking to diversify their operations into specialty
and direct to consumer markets.

“I’ve been farming for 20 years and I wasn’t sure I would learn much, but I really did learn a lot,” says Field School graduate Jay Heselschwedt, owner of Sweet Life Farm in Tazewell, TN.  “We changed our plans after going through the Field School and doing more research. We plan to go the agritourism route to educate people about honey bees and sell real local honey.”

“We’ve tried to make the program as affordable and fun as possible,” says Close.  “Not everyone completes the program still thinking that farming in their preferred career choice, but we have a number of graduates that are now farming at least part time.”

New this year, the Field School will be split into two programs: the Winter Business Intensive and the Summer Field School.  The Winter Business Intensive will consist of 9 workshops on creating a comprehensive business plan that will run from November through March.  Workshops will be lead by 20+ agricultural experts and experienced farmers. Applicants for the Winter Business Intensive are encouraged to have at least one year of recent farming experience.

The Summer Field School will consist of 6-8 on-farm workshops that will run from May through September.  These workshops will feature produce and livestock production methods, including season extension, rotational grazing, fruit and orchard production, and more.  Each workshop will be lead by an experienced farmer or agricultural profession and include a tour of the farm operation. No previous farm experience is required to participate in the Summer Field School.  The full schedule and application for this program will be posted on by January 2019.

Beginning farmers of all experience levels can also apply to participate in a 200 hour on-farm mentorship program with an experienced farmer.  More information on this program can be found on the Appalachian Sustainable Development website:

The Field School is run by the Appalachian RC&D Council with funding from USDA, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

For more information, please contact Alexis Close at or call 423-979-2581.

Adams recognized for winning 11th term as county commissioner

October 3, 2018

Bill Adams

Bill Adams

By Tamas Mondovics

Recently reelected Johnson County Commissioner Bill Adams (District 1) smiles while proudly holding a plaque of special appreciation acknowledging his longtime service for the citizens of his district. County Mayor, Mike Taylor presented Adams with the award along with a letter from Tennessee County Commissioners Association, Executive Director Charles Curtiss, which was read to all present.

“I wanted to congratulate you for the job you have done and will continue to do for your district,” Curtis stated in his letter.

Curtis emphasized that very few people are elected beyond five terms as commissioners and that the fact that Adams is beginning
his 11th term “speaks volumes.” This achievement reinforces that the citizens of your district trust you and are happy with the job that you are doing for them and Johnson County overall,” Curtis said.

The director also noted that in his opinion there are only two types of public servants: those who care and those who pretend to care.
“It is obvious that you truly care for the people you represent,” he said.

Congratulations to you, Bill. Keep up the good work.

Reece leaves void in office and in hearts

October 3, 2018

Darrell Reece

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

Darrell Reece was known by many from his current job as Superintendent of the Johnson County Highway Department, where he had served one term and was recently re-elected for a second term. Before his time at the highway department, Reece worked for Brown Brothers Construction and Town of Boone for many years.

“Darrell was a great leader for our department,” said Tracy Atwood, deputy highway superintendent. He led us with honesty, integrity, and hard work.”

Atwood states Reece was always willing to assist in all aspects of the department. “It didn’t matter whether it was leadership, office duties, or digging in the mud with a shovel, he believed in leading by example and was never above pitching in and offering assistance.”

Atwood relates that, under Reece’s leadership, workers at the highway department wanted to excel. “Darrell believed in his employees and always thanked us and told us how much he appreciated the work we had done,” he said. “That made us want to work harder and do a good job.” Atwood feels he has lost a good friend, and while replacing him will be impossible, the county board of commission is given the task of appointing a qualified replacement to the position he held.

According to County Attorney Perry Stout, who has spent time researching the situation and consulted with County Technical Assistance Service and the attorney for the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board (THOCB), the road superintendent is required to designate an interim in case something like this occurs. “Darrell did designate his deputy, Tracy Atwood to run the road department,” said Stout, “until the county commission can appoint a qualified replacement within 120 days.”

Stout explained the process when he said “The THOCB is sending a packet to the local election office so we can advertise the position. Those wishing to apply can send them the proper paperwork to be certified as qualified to hold the position.”

The THOCB will provide the commission with a list of those who applied and qualified. Per state law, the county legislative body fills vacancies in elected county offices, temporarily. The appointee serves until a successor is elected at the next countywide general election for which the candidate has sufficient time to qualify, which would be 2020. The county attorney agrees with Atwood’s assessment of his boss.

“Darrell was a good man and was easy to work with,” said Stout. “I spent a lot of time working with him on the two lawsuits we have had on the road list issues, and I couldn’t have asked for a better client during that time,” adding, “he will certainly be missed.”

Local businesswoman beats breast cancer

Nencie Svensen

Grateful Mountain City residents Bjorn, Lucy and Nancie Svensen pause for a photo as the community prepares to celebrate the 2018 Cancer Awareness month. Photo by Jill Penley

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

While every woman of a certain age knows an annual mammogram is recommended, sometimes it has to hit home for us to realize the real importance of doing so. Such was the case for Nancie Svensen, travel specialist, and owner of Customized Travel in Mountain City. Reeling from the recent loss of her best friend to cancer, she decided to schedule
a mammogram in her honor.

“I had been fairly consistent about getting it done annually,” said Svensen, “but recently things had gotten in the way, and it was put off for about a year.”

Svensen stresses there is really no excuse for not getting them. “It’s not that big of a deal,” she said. “Our own Johnson County Community Hospital has excellent imaging equipment, which was a recent project of our own Johnson County Community Hospital Foundation. There’s little wait, and everyone there is so pleasant.”

Svensen had had several previous screenings, and related “little lumps and bumps had been detected before,” even to the extent a biopsy was warranted several years back, which came back benign. This screening and its results would be different.

According to the American Cancer Society, a woman living in the U.S. has a 12.4 percent,
or a one-in-eight, lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Each story is certainly unique, but Svensen describes her journey as “remarkably positive.”

“Blessed with good fortune, wonderful family and friends, experience and comfort with doctors and hospitals, an appreciation of what I can do and what is out of my hands, and an incredibly strong faith that Heaven is a better place, fear never entered the picture,” said Svensen.

Thus armed, her journey began. The little shadow captured via mammography was indeed
breast cancer.

“My wonderful local physician was the first to let me know gently,” said Svensen.

Fortunately, the lump was tiny and seemed to have been caught very early. “Later the radiology team in Johnson City was exquisitely caring and thoughtful,” said Svensen, recalling when they sat with her and her husband Bjorn to review details and options.

“My first decision was not to hide it,” she said. “We had been invited out that evening, and there, I told my friends and added that it wasn’t a secret; they could feel free to share with others if they wanted.”

Svensen’s friends and family offered support, and her two sisters sprang into action.

“Living out of town, they insisted I come to stay with either one of them while dealing with
this,” she said.

Realizing she was facing a “marathon not a sprint,” she agreed. “Teams were assembled, appointments were made, the car was loaded, and husband, dog Lucy and I were off,”
exclaimed Svensen, who stresses teamwork is tremendously important on so many levels.

Medically, she was introduced to a huge network of medical professionals and facilities. Svensen will be forever grateful for the support of family and friends.

“They housed us, fed us, loved us, shared perspective, listened to us vent, and kept us entertained,” she said, and knowing she would be away for a while and would need assistance upon return, a small team of friends agreed to help around the house by watering flowers, getting the mail, and doing yard work during her treatment.“When anyone asked what they could do, prayer was always the first request,” said Svensen, “and trust me, it really worked. I had a lot of prayers seeing me through this, and I felt it.”

One lump turned out to be two and then three. Bilateral lumpectomies revealed that it was not one kind of breast cancer but two, and the sizes of the lumps were larger than expected, but Svensen and crew kept the faith. “What a sense of humor the Lord has,” she stated. “He kept moving the finish line!”

A number of options were presented including everything from removal of the lumps followed by chemotherapy and radiation to a full bilateral mastectomy.

“No one told me what to do but rather carefully explained the options and left it up to me to decide,” said Svensen. “For me and my situation in life, the answer was clear, and proceeded with some very major surgery.”

Months later as she and her husband were sitting with her oncologist, Svensen recalls asking how many years it would take to be declared free from cancer.

“We were shocked by her answer. She said I was cancer free right now, even using the word cured!”

Gratitude is a major player in the Svensens’ lives. “We are grateful for so many things,” she said. “First of all, grateful to God for everything, and we tell him that frequently! Bjorn and I are grateful for each other, our family, friends including neighbors, and for our sweet dog Lucy.”

She also expresses gratitude for the community support. “We’re grateful for our beautiful town and all the wonderful people in it,” said Svensen. “We’re grateful for the outstanding medical team with which I was blessed, and we’re grateful for the


October brings opportunity to support breast cancer awareness

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the cooler weather that accompanies the autumn month makes it a popular time for fundraising events to benefit the different awareness organizations in the region.Whether the event is a physical challenge or a fun, girls-night-out, bringing families and supporters together with the mission of furthering breast cancer awareness is a goal that affects many each year.

Leading into Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Tri-Cities will be hosting the “Little Pink Dress Party” on September 29. This event is a celebration held for survivors featuring music, refreshments, and a silent auction. The party will be held at The Gallery Event Center on Spring Street in Johnson City. It is free for survivors to attend and guests are welcome to join for $20.

On Saturday, October 13, the American Cancer Society will be hosting a Breast Cancer Awareness 5K Walk and Run at Caldwell Community College in Hudson, NC. Registration for the 5K is $25, and all proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. Individuals who are unable to participate in the race are invited to support the cause as a “phantom runner” and can receive the race-themed shirt.

In Elizabethton, TN, the Train Dirty Fitness Breast Cancer Fundraiser will be taking place on Tuesday, October 16 beginning at 6 pm. The event will be held at the Anytime Fitness Center near Ingles, and for $5, supporters can join a fun class with some surprises. “Participating in this event will give the participants 90 minutes of fun and community,” expressed Instructor Crystal Honeycutt.

“We will dance, laugh, and burn mega calories.”
Honeycutt sees the personal side of these events with one of the ladies on her team having experienced breast cancer first hand. “Not only have many of my community within Train Dirty Fitness fought breast cancer, but one of my TDF team members is a breast cancer survivor,” she explained. “She plays such a vital role in the success of TDF as a company, my local classes, and the events with TDF. I can’t imagine not doing my part to show her and the other women how loved they are.”

It is the outpouring of support as a community that Honeycutt sees as a major reason why participation is important. “The impact we make is to show all those suffering or have suffered from breast cancer that she is not alone. We stand with every sister, so she feels the strength of the community.”

The Tri-Cities Making Strides team has another fun evening out planned for October 19 at the Blackthorn Club in Jonesborough, TN. Going from 6 to 9 pm, this fundraiser offers four rounds of musical bingo and hors-d’oeuvres for $40 per guest going to benefit the American Cancer Society. Rounding out the October Events, the East Tennessee State University Student Nurses’ Association will be hosting the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk on Sunday, October 28 at Founders Park in Johnson City. Registration begins at 1 pm, and the race is set to start at 3 pm.

“Dollars raised by Making Strides supporters help the American Cancer Society ensure no one faces breast cancer alone by funding innovative breast cancer research; promoting education and risk reduction; and providing comprehensive patient support to those who need it most,” stated Community Development Manager Holly Booker in a release on behalf of the American Cancer Society.

It is estimated that over 250,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer each year according to the American Cancer Society. As each year more families and acquaintances are affected, the outpouring of support from communities through fundraising events such as this help bring a message of support to those who are going through a difficult journey and their loved ones.

Support for survivors, community outreach

JCCT yard sale check

Kathy Henderson, JCCT President presents Flo Bellamy with a $100 check for Johnson County Cancer Support. The money is proceeds from Community Theatre’s recent yard sale. Photo submitted

By Megan Hollaway
Freelance Writer

There is a strong sense of community and a sense of care and responsibility in Mountain City, a fact highlighted by the Johnson County Cancer Support Group. Founded in 1994 by a collection of women, the group initially ran its program out of a church, supporting members of the community who were sick with an illness that can leave people with no money and no hope. Flo Bellamy, the head of the organization says there has never been anyone legitimate turned away from receiving help from the group.

The Johnson County Cancer Support Group provides gas money, nutritional supplements such as Boost and Ensure, and funds to travel to treatments that would otherwise be impossible to reach. There has even been outreach from this support group in a more extreme manner, from rent assistance to electric bill assistance. This group remains a non-profit and the two women who run it receive no salary. Flo says that the group’s current drive stems from the effect of the illness.

“If you know or have known anyone with cancer, you never want anyone to live with that pain.”

Flo emphasized, the number of community members that helped throughout the years is nearly innumerable and if it weren’t for the help of Bobbie Smith, who works with the financial aspects of this great endeavor.

When asked about the way that an organization like the Cancer Support Center manage to help so many people, Flo said, “We have never run out of money. There was once only a dollar and twenty-three cents in our bank account- and that’s when the community rallied for us, to keep us going.”

On the parting topic of the year’s accomplishments, Flo said that the real achievement for this year is the fact the center is still up and running.

“All thanks to a community who is here for us and if we ever think we are not going to make it or think we might go under, the community comes through for us,” she said.

A community like the one in Mountain City is indeed unique, and hard to come by. That much is evident in the testament of the Johnson County Cancer Support group, and the community that keeps it going.

Celebrating strength in cancer survivors

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

The annual Cancer Survivors’ Dinner is a celebration of those who have overcome their diagnosis past and present. Survivors meet and fellowship with others who have gone through the same hardships and have survived.The dinner is scheduled for Saturday, September 29 at the Crewette building located at 203 Vandilla Street on. Activities will start at 4 pm. Survivors and guests will take a short walk around the block, which emulates cancer walks often run by the American Cancer Society. The walks are often 3-5 miles.
Event Coordinator Sandy Snyder reduced the distance to get the point across without putting undue strain on guests. While on the walk, participants will release balloons in honor of cancer survivors and those who were not as lucky. The dinner will start after they return.

The event happens to fall directly before Breast Cancer Awareness Month with its theme revolving around strength. The 24 Johnson County Bank employees and 11 Levi Retirees are coming together to celebrate the lives and strength of these survivors.Breast Cancer Awareness Month is more important than many realize. Event organizers emphasized that the awareness month in fact a health campaign that reaches all across the world and funds for life-saving research.

According to the American Association for Cancer Research, Breast Cancer accounts for 15 percent of all new cancer cases and is the second highest cause of cancer-related deaths for American women.The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that more than 240,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 women die from the disease annually. Hence, many agree that to honor, support and help those suffering from a cancer diagnosis is vital.

According to a recent update, 72 survivors are confirmed to attend. The numbers fall at 127 attendees including guests. The Levi Retirees report that previous dinner numbers averaged 140 attendees.

“I think that 127 guests are pretty good considering there was no dinner last year and the guest list was unavailable,” said Snyder.

A thank you to the Levi Retirees and Johnson County Bank employees for taking time to support and encourage local survivors is rightfully in order.

TAEP workshop scheduled for September 27 at Farm Bureau

Submitted by Rick May
UT Ext. Director

The Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP) was established in 2005 to provide cost share dollars to agricultural producers for the purpose of making long-term investments in Tennessee farms and communities. Participation allows producers to maximize farm profits, adapt to changing market situations, improve operation safety, increase farm efficiency, and make positive economic impact in their communities.

The annual application period is October 1 – 15, 2018. A workshop has been scheduled in Johnson County for Thursday, September 27th in the Farm Bureau basement at 7:00 p.m. to assist producers with their applications and answer any questions that they may have regarding the TAEP program. The 2019 applications will be available at the workshop and John Hodges with the TN Department of Agriculture will be available to answer any questions from the producers.

TAEP programs available include genetics, grain storage, hay storage, livestock equipment, livestock solutions, working facility cover, poultry grower and producer diversification. More information on each of these programs can be found on their website:

Approval notifications are scheduled to be mailed in mid-December. Program purchases can be made starting October 1, 2018 and must be completed by the program’s final reimbursement request deadline. Participants are encouraged to make purchases and submit reimbursement requests in a timely manner to avoid processing delays at deadline time. Payments are based upon expenses for eligible program items.

For more information acontact the UT/TSU Extension office at 727-816.

Time running out to enter the Good Sports School Challenge

By Tamas Mondovics

Time is running out for schools across the state to have the chance to win money to support their environmental programs through the Good Sports School Challenge. The deadline for schools to enter the school challenge and the chance to win both money and a trip to a UT Football Game is Friday, October 5, 2018.

According to officials eight schools will be awarded $1,000 for the Good Sports Always Give Back (GSAR) School challenge; one exemplary school will be awarded $1,500 for the GSAR Sustainability Steward Award; and one school will be awarded $1,500 for the Best New Program. Schools that are actively reducing waste, providing environmental education in their school or who have a program in place to reduce their overall impact through energy and water conservation, recycling programs, the use of green space or
other environmental programs, should visit www.

The 10 winning schools will also receive a special tailgate celebration at a University
of Tennessee football game, as well as be recognized during an on-field presentation. K-12 schools in Tennessee can nominate their school to win at

USDA launches trade mitigation programs

USDA launched the trade mitigation package aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. Producers of certain commodities can now sign up for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP).

USDA provided details in August of the programs to be employed. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will administer the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) to provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat producers. An announcement about further payments will be made in the coming months, if warranted. USDA is currently working to determine how to address market disruptions for producers of almonds and sweet cherries.

The sign-up period for MFP is now open and runs through Jan. 15, 2019, with information and instructions provided at MFP provides payments to cotton, corn, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat producers who have been significantly impacted by actions of foreign governments result ing in the loss of traditional exports. Eligible producers should apply after harvest is complete, as payments will only be issued once production is reported.

A payment will be issued on 50 percent of the producer’s total production, multiplied by the MFP rate for a specific commodity. A second payment period, if warranted, will be determined by the USDA.

Market Facilitation Program
Commodity Est. Initial Payment* (in $1,000s)

$0.06/lb. $276,900

$0.01/bu. $96,000

Dairy (milk)
$0.12/cwt. $127,400

Pork (hogs)
$8.00/head $290,300

$1.65/bu. $3,629,700

$0.86/bu. $156,800

$0.14/bu. $119,200

Total $4,696,300
**Initial payment rate on 50% of production

MFP payments are limited to a combined $125,000 for corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat capped per person or legal entity. MFP payments are also limited to a combined $125,000 for dairy and hog producers. Applicants must also have an average adjusted gross income for tax years 2014, 2015, and 2016 of less than $900,000. Applicants must also comply with the provisions of the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation regulations.

For more information contact the Johnson County FSA office at 119 S Murphey Street, Mountain City, by telephone at (423) 727-9744 or interested producers can visit