August commission meeting draws good attendance

This month’s meeting of the Johnson County Commission was well-attended as many citizens came out to hear discussions about topics they were passionate about and hoped to see action taken on by the county representatives. Among the night’s topics were two items, which especially drew good numbers to the courtroom in support.

A large portion of the public citizens in attendance were there to support County Extension Agent Rick Thomason in his quest to have the county commit to the Ag Center idea he presented a few months ago. Among those in attendance to show support were members of the JCHS FFA and others involved in the local agricultural scene as well as civic organizations interested in the use of the proposed center.

At the May commission meeting, Thomason had given a presentation asking the group to help facilitate an Ag Center which would also serve as a meeting place for local civic organizations to utilize as well. During that May meeting, Thomason was given the go ahead to explore funding options and to return to the commission with estimates on costs and how much the county would be responsible for if  the project received the green light.
Thomason spoke to the commissioners and answered questions from the group. Commissioner Mike Taylor presented a number of concerns the commissioners had mentioned about the project during the night’s earlier held budget committee meeting so all commissioners were made aware of previous discussions.

A number of the commissioners currently seated voiced that they did not want to commit the county to the project on the cusp of a transition to new commissioners and it was once again tabled to be presented again at the next meeting. Johnson County Commissioners will meet on September 20 at 7 p.m. at the Johnson County Courthouse.
For more information about the Johnson County Board of Commission, please visit

Looking forward to retirement

Reece says goodbye to law enforcement after 38 years of service.

By Tamas Mondovics

After nearly four decades of serving his community in a variety of law enforcement functions, three-term Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece says goodbye to law enforcement next month.

“I am very proud and thankful of the staff I have been able to lead during these 12 years and to work alongside many of them for a lot longer during my 38 years of law enforcement,” Reece said, just days following Johnson County’s general election on Thursday, August 2, 2018.

After serving as Sheriff for three terms, incumbent Reece was defeated by Eddie Tester, a veteran law enforcement officer, who has served as a Tennessee State Trooper for the past 18 years. Tester received 77 percent of the vote and successfully ensured his place as future Sheriff of Johnson County. While Reece emphasized that timing is everything and that he is looking forward to retirement, spending time with family and remaining active in his community, the longtime lawman leaves a big shoe for Tester to fill.

For the first four years, Reece is credited with an improved jail rating; increase revenue for the county and work of maintaining a strong, well-trained staff. Since his election as Sheriff, Reece focused his priority on investigating the high number of open cases as well as drug enforcement issues. Reece was the first to apply for medical reimbursement for State inmates and has continued this effort throughout his 12 years as Sheriff.

“I am proud of getting back pay for a year prior,” he said adding, “It is a significant amount of money.”

He has also helped many agencies in the community through inmate labor including the expansion to the Sheriff’s Department to allow housing of 9-1-1 and Emergency management under one roof and a training and operations room.

“We focused on keeping the maximum number of inmates, which resulted in an astounding increase in the County’s budget,” Reece added. “The money the jail generated helped to fund other offices and county needs where there was no money.”

“As it is the case across the state and the nation, budget issues affect every department,” Reece said. “You have to have the same number of employees in the jail whether you have 40 inmates or 115. It is mandated according to the capacity the jail can hold. Our staff worked extra hard, so did I to be successful in this goal.”Reece added, “County Commissioners were very thankful during the first years, and then they seemed just to expect that we would continue this with no money coming back to the jail for employees.”

In 2014, Reece was elected as the first third-term Sheriff, since the 4-year terms began nearly 40 years ago. “This means a great deal to me, my family and our department,” he said. During his time as Sheriff, the JCSO staff completed many specialized training including Joe Woodard, Chief Deputy’s invitation to and completion of the first ever TBI Training Academy Tennessee had to offer. “That says a lot about our county,” he said. “I always encouraged our officers to be the very best they could be and encouraged training opportunities.”

During all these years and especially the past 12 years as Sheriff, Reece went on many calls; some he said was very heartbreaking and changed him forever as he had to deliver devastating news to families and by following the law, “make decisions and take actions that were very difficult.”

Reece emphasized that over the years his office had many challenges and hurdles like working within a low budget, people being trained and leaving for better opportunities and lack of the general public’s knowledge of how the Sheriff’s Department operates, adding that the guidelines and mandates are not optional and leave no room for error.

“There are some things people think are the Sheriff’s decision or choice and although he takes responsibility, he actually has no authority in them at all,” he said. “It is also difficult for officers who work hard, to do a great job and receive criticism instead of praise.”

Reece wishes the Sheriff’s Department and New Sheriff much growth and success and mainly safety for all officers and staff and, of course, the community. “I am very thankful for the opportunity the citizens of Johnson County gave me to serve as Sheriff for the past 12 years. It has been an honor.”

Note From The Tomahawk Editor:
The Tomahawk wishes to express its sincere appreciation and gratitude for the service provided by Sheriff Reece. His leadership has led the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office for many years, and the success of the department is a direct result of his efforts and dedication. Sheriff Reece’s commitment to quality and professional integrity has set the bar for future leadership positions. Thank you, Sheriff Reece, enjoy every minute of your retirement, and we know your legacy of kindness, respect, and integrity lives on in Johnson County.

Your Friends at The Tomahawk

TN Daily Composite Market Report, USDA-TN Dept. of Ag. Market News

Last Updated 8/13/2018
Reported auctions on Saturday, Aug 11, 2018, at Carthage, Crossville,and Greeneville.

Receipts: 1,585
Last Week 2,415
Last Year 3,110

Compared to the same sales last week,

Carthage: This sale was not reported on Saturday, August 11.

Crossville: Slaughter cows/bulls steady. Feeder steers mostly steady instances 4.00 lower. Feeder bulls 4.00 to 8.00 higher. Feeder heifers steady to 4.00 lower.

Greeneville: Slaughter cows mostly steady. Slaughter bulls 5.00 lower.Feeder steers mostly steady. Feeder bulls 1.00 to 2.00 higher. Feeder heifers 1.00 to 2.00 lower.

• Slaughter Cows Boners
80-85 pct lean 45.00-63.00;

• Slaughter Cows Lean
85-90 pct lean 42.00-53.00; • Slaughter Bulls 1100-2200 lbs 67.50-87.00.

• Steers Medium and Large
1-2: 300-400 lbs 157.50-176.00; 400-500 lbs145.00-170.00; 500-600 lbs 130.00-159.00; 600-700 lbs 130.00-151.00;700-800 lbs 127.00-140.00.

Bulls Medium and Large 1-2:
400-500 lbs139.00-165.00; 500-600 lbs 130.00-151.00; 600-700 lbs 118.00-140.00;700-800 lbs 110.00-122.00.

• Heifers Medium and Large 1-2:

300-400 lbs132.00-167.00; 400-500 lbs 125.00-158.00; 500-600 lbs 119.00-146.00;600-700 lbs 119.00-133.00; 700-800 lbs 110.00-123.00.

Source: Tennessee Dept of Ag-USDA Market News, Nashville, TN Jodee Inman, OIC (502)782-4139

Conservation Reserve Program signup deadline August 17

Producers Must File by August 17, One-Year Extension Available to Holders of Many Expiring Contracts Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce reminded producers that the deadline to sign up for enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is Friday, August 17, 2018.

“Any agricultural producer that has eligible land should review the benefits of this program,” said Fordyce. “It removes from production marginal, erodible land and, in doing so, improves water quality, increases wildlife habitat and provides more opportunities for recreational activities, including fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing.”

For this year’s signup, limited priority practices are available for continuous enrollment. They include grassed waterways, filter strips, riparian buffers, wetland restoration and others. View a full list of practices. FSA will use updated soil rental rates to make annual rental payments, reflecting current values. It will not offer incentive payments as part of the new signup.USDA will not open a general signup this year, however, a one-year extension will be offered to existing CRP participants with expiring CRP contracts of 14 years or less.

CRP Grasslands
Additionally, FSA established new ranking criteria for CRP grasslands. To guarantee all CRP grasslands offers are treated equally, applicants who previously applied (prior to the current sign-up period) will be asked to reapply using the new ranking criteria.

About CRP
In return for enrolling land in CRP, USDA, through FSA on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), provides participants that remove sensitive lands from production and plant certain grasses, shrubs and trees that improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and increase wildlife habitat with annual rental payments and cost-share assistance. Landowners enter into contracts that last between 10 and 15 years.

Signed into law by President Reagan in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. Thanks to voluntary participation by farmers, ranchers and private landowners, CRP has improved water quality, reduced soil erosion and increased habitat for endangered and threatened species. The new changes to CRP do not impact the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, a related program offered by CCC and state partners.

Producers wanting to apply for the CRP continuous signup or CRP grasslands should contact their USDA service center. More information on CRP can be found at

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

Economic Development Fund Grant Awarded to Farmers Market

Visitors browse the Johnson County Farmers Market at Ralph Stout Park. The Market is celebrating 10 years of serving residents and visitors bringing economic growth to Mountain City. Photo submitted by Jana Jones.

By Jana Jones
Farmers Market Manager

The Economic Development Fund (EDF) of East Tennessee was established at the East Tennessee Foundation in 1991 to support charitable and economic programs aimed at fostering regional economic development. The EDF is open to 25 counties in East Tennessee.

The Johnson County Farmers Market was one of three recipients of the awards for September 2018 through August 2020. The Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) is celebrating its 10th year this season. Since 2015 the average customer attendance has increased over 100 percent from 100 customers in a three-hour window to 230. Gross sales have also increased by over 150 percent since 2015.

With the additional funds provided by the EDF, the JCFM will be able to continue to expand their impact to improve economic growth in Johnson County. The funds will be used for improving their website and expanding marketing and by attracting more customers, more quality vendors become involved, which in turn sustains customer loyalty.

Providing additional income to more vendors and attracting more people to our county to spend their dollars at other businesses are two of the ways the JCFM proposes to impact economic development in the county. The JCFM has added a Mid-Week Market as well as the Winter Market to be able to offer fresh produce all year long.

The Mid-Week Market is held on Tuesdays from 3:30 until 6:30 at Ralph Stout Park while the harvest is abundant, which enables customers getting off work to have access to farm-fresh products before heading home.

The 2018-2019, winter season will be the second that the JCFM has offered an indoor market in the basement of the Welcome Center starting the first Saturday in November and running through April.

The goal of the JCFM is to offer quality products and maintain a great reputation in the community. Openings for additional vendors for the Saturday, Tuesday, and winter markets are now available.

For more information about applying or upcoming activities at the market, go to

Johnson County Farmers Market celebrates National Farmers Market Week with its annual tomato tasting contest

By Jana Jones
Farmers Market Manager

The Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) joins markets across the country in celebrating National Farmers Market Week from August 5-11. On Saturday, August 11 the JCFM will celebrate locally by having our annual Tomato Tasting Contest. This is a favorite every year as customers will be able to sample over 15 varieties of tomatoes including heirlooms not found in supermarkets such as Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry, and Marvel Stripe. Sarah Ransom, Consumer Science Extension Agent of Johnson County, will be at the market to help voters of all ages decide the winners.

As demand for local food continues to grow, so too have the opportunities for America’s farmers to market fresh food directly to the consumer. According to statistics recently released by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), farmers markets and farm stands account for roughly $2 billion of the $3 billion that Americans spend annually on farm-direct products . This revenue, in turn, supports the livelihoods of more than 165,000 mostly small and mid-sized farms and ranches.
2018 marks the 10th year the Johnson County Farmers Market has been serving the area. There are18 farmers, ranchers and growers throughout the season selling a wide variety of products including pasture raised chicken eggs, grass-fed beef, pasture raised pork, organic vegetables, herbs, berries, apples, grapes, herbal infused vinegars, plants, apple cider vinegar, jams, jellies, pickles and other canned and dried foods. The JCFM also features many local artisans and bakers that are favorites to our customers. When consumers spend their dollars buying from local producers and crafters, they are giving a valuable and much needed economic boost for the region.

“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming a healthy, prosperous food systems,” says Jen Cheek, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Vendors are teaching customers about agriculture and sharing recipes and new foods with their neighbors. Markets are making people and communities stronger and healthier.”

The Johnson County Farmers Market is located at Ralph Stout Park every Saturday from 9 until noon. There is also now have a Tuesday Farmers Market open from 3:30 until 6:30 for the convenience of those getting off of work. Tickets for the Farm-to-Table Harvest Celebration Dinner August 18th are available at the Johnson County Welcome Center and at the Manager’s Tent during the Saturday Farmers Market. Tickets always sell out, so get your tickets early! Follow the JCFM on Facebook to see weekly updates.

The importance of nutrition in the classroom

Johnson County Cafeteria Staff 2018-2019

The complete Johnson County cafeteria staff poses with Nutrition Director Kathy McCulloch. Submitted photo.

By Meg Dickens
Freelance Writer

As school starts back, parents and school officials alike are gearing up for what that entails. It is time for early mornings, catching the bus, gathering supplies and focusing on all of the little details that make up the school year. One important detail that many overlook in the hustle and bustle is nutrition. Students that are underfed or have an unhealthy diet are less likely to be able to absorb course materials. In fact, CDC studies show that students who eat well have increased academic performance, better education behavior and better cognitive skills.

The Johnson County area is below the poverty level. This qualifies the county for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program. This means that all students are offered breakfast and lunch free of charge. Johnson County has been involved with this program since 2014 when Kathy McCulloch took over as School Nutrition Director. McCulloch formerly taught Culinary Arts at Johnson County High School.

“Teaching the requirements and regulations of safety and sanitation in the classroom and carrying that into this position was a true aid,” McCulloch explained.

Johnson County Schools follow the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). These programs lay out the foundation for all school nutrition based on USDA guidelines. USDA guidelines revolve around five major food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and protein. Few changes have occurred in recent years other than an increase in whole grain requirements six years ago.

Meal portion requirements are distinguished by grade. Students from kindergarten to eighth grade fit into one category while ninth to twelfth grade students fit into another. The latter receives increased portions on select foods. Outside of this, students may purchase à la Carte items. According to the CDC, “These items may be an entrée or side item from a school meal (e.g., a vegetable side dish) or other items that are not part of the school meal (e.g., chips). All à la Carte foods must meet Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards.”

McCulloch asks that parents encourage their children to go through the cafeteria line daily even if they have packed a lunch. This helps the county meet the criteria for CEP, which allows Johnson County Schools to continue providing free meals to all students. McCulloch is passionate about this cause and wants the public to understand just how important it is to the community. “Our goal is to feed as many students as we can each day.”

If the requirements are not met, the system will revert back to the household income based system used before 2014. CEP has been renewed for the 2018-2019 school year. Whether it continues into the 2019-2020, school year is in the public’s hands.

For more information on Johnson County nutrition or CEP, contact Kathy McCulloch at (423) 727-2657 or via email at

Safety takes center stage with active shooter drill

By Tamas Mondovics

“This exercise was as real and intense as it gets,” said newly hired Johnson County High School music teacher Nathan Jones, 24, following a recent mock intruder, active shooter drill organized by Johnson County Schools JCS).

The event—designed to ensure that the sounds and actions of an armed intruder could be clearly heard and felt—involved all district personnel while joining forces with the Johnson County Emergency Management Agency (JOCOEMA) the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) and the Mountain City Police Department (MCPD).“Safety is the top priority of the Johnson County School System,” said Angie Wills, Ed.S. Supervisor of Elementary Education. “We are continually reviewing our procedures and plans to ensure that we are doing as much as possible to protect students while they are in our care.”Johnson County Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox explained that ahead of the recent drill, the district and all schools were required to do a thorough update to their individual school improvement plans this year.

“We have been planning this event in collaboration with area law enforcement and the Johnson County Emergency Management office for the past two years, Simcox said. “Although the start of the school year is and should be a happy time, we felt that this drill was important for the safety of all our students and staff.”

The nearly two-hour intense drill supervised by EMA Director Jason Blevins and EMA Operations Manager Mike Sumner was both well organized and executed. “This is an event that benefits all of us,” Sumner said, adding that sadly this day and age such events are on everyone’s mind. Blevins agreed when he said, “We must be ready. If this was to happen, we have to think about what to do or what we should and should not do.” With the intruder scenario in motion, the seven-member Johnson County Special Response Team (SRT), with the assistance of local law enforcement officers and deputies went to work and quickly disengaged and disarmed the bad guy, followed by systematically clearing out and securing the Johnson County High School campus room by room.

“We are taking every opportunity to ensure that our schools are safe and that we are all prepared to handle the situations we don’t want to happen,” said SRT Commander Sgt. Jeff Norman. The Special Response Team also included investigators Matthew Cress, Brad Sutherland, Cpl. Josh Peter’s, as well as SRO deputies Mark Gladden, Chris Lipford and Adam Worley.

Of course, the recent active shooter drill is by no means the only safety measures being taken by school officials. “All schools participate in monthly required drills that include, fire, earthquake, tornado, and armed intruder drills,” Wills said. “These drills must be logged and are checked by the state fire marshal. The lead district security officer is sent to additional training and shares best practices with our other two district security officers.” District administration has also met with the city mayor to discuss safety measures, and the city police department is supporting our city schools by providing extra security throughout the day.

“We have also been in communication with the sheriff’s deputies who are providing additional security checks to our county schools,” Wills said. Currently, JCS has one full time school resource officer that serves the JCMS and JCHS complex. The district has updated its school entrances at the majority of its campuses with secured entrances. The district plans to continue this project until all doors are made more secure. The school board has also appropriated funds this year to upgrade the now outdated security camera system. JCMS and JCHS students are also provided an avenue to report safety concerns anonymously through an app called STOP IT.

“This notifies administration immediately so that situations can be investigated in real time,” Wills said. “Again, safety is our top priority, and we welcome suggestions that would help to make our schools safer.”

Perhaps, on a personal note, Jones summed up the day nicely when he said, “I appreciate the County and all involved doing this for us to keep us safe, doing their job so we can do ours.”

For more information about Johnson County Schools please, visit

Simcox reminds teachers, staff to work together in unity

Mischelle Simcox

Director of Schools for Johnson County School System Mischelle Simcox addresses a large crowd of teachers and staff during a back to school celebration to kickoff the 2018-2019 school year. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

By Tamas Mondovics

More than 300 teachers and Johnson County Schools staff members gathered last week to kick off the 2018-2019, school year with a back to school celebration last week at the Johnson County High School gymnasium.The celebration, which included the recognition of recent teachers of the year, 25 years of service employees as well as new hires, began with an inspiring speech presented to the large crowd by Director of Schools for Johnson County School System Mischelle Simcox.

“The beginning of a new school year reminds us that the future holds infinite possibilities,” Simcox said as she addressed her audience adding, “I hope that everyone had a relaxing summer, filled with lots of adventure.”Under the theme “Together We Can…Move Mountains” Simcox emphasized what JCS can accomplish during the upcoming season including the admonition that “together we can do anything we put our minds to,” and that “together we can ensure the success of all of our students.”

Simcox assured the staff that JCS is always researching strategies and programs that will benefit its students “to make sure that all of our students are college and, or career ready.”

As it is the case each school year across the nation, safety is always a top priority, and JCS is also searching out grant opportunities to help provide its staff with additional resources.

In a recent letter, Simcox included some highlights for the 2018-2019 school year:
•Our projected student enrollment PreK-12th grade is 2042 students, with the breakdown for each school as follows:
•Doe Elementary – 168
•Laurel Elementary – 58
•Mountain City Elementary – 491
•Roan Creek Elementary – 380
•Shady Valley Elementary – 27
•Johnson County Middle School – 328
•Johnson County High School – 590

•We have hired 17 new teachers and several assistants, custodians and bus drivers for the 2018-19 school year
•We received the second highest average with portfolio scores in the first district with our Pre-K, Headstart, Kindergarten and First Grade students. The first district makes up 15 systems in upper-east TN.
•The 2018 TNReady
student assessment showed that Johnson County High School was #8 in High School ELA in the top 10 districts by showing improvement.
•We placed emphasis on Literacy last school year, and it showed in our scores at all schools.
•All of our students will receive breakfast and lunch meals at no charge. Faculty and Staff can enjoy breakfast for $1.85 and Lunch for $3.25.
•We will be adding an additional SRO to our school system this year.
•We will be receiving additional funds in Safety from the state to help upgrade facilities.
•We offer the 21st-century grant, which provides academic and remediation opportunities for students before and after school at JCMS and JCHS.
•We offer the LEAPS grant, which provides academic and remediation opportunities for students before and after school at Doe, Mountain City and Roan Creek elementary.
•We recently received the 3-star grant to help to pay for the ACT Work Keys testing that is required to gain the Work Ready Community designation. The remaining funds will equally be dispersed between Johnson County Middle School and Johnson County High School Robotics.
•We received the Perkins Reserve Grant, which will be utilized in various programs in our CTE Department for equipment and industry certification tests.
• We were excited to receive our third GEAR UP grant. This 6-year grant will help continue to increase our college-going rate. GEAR UP has been very good to our students, and we are so thankful that we were chosen again to have this grant opportunity.
•Summer projects came together nicely, and all of our schools look great. The bridge to the hill is finally open. We added classrooms and a technology lab to the JCMS library. A special thank you to Barry Bishop, the Maintenance Department and Northeast Correctional Center for all of their hard work this summer.•We are currently working with our local mayor and several businesses to help bring the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) program to our CTE program at JCHS. This high-quality competence based training will provide students and adults in Johnson County with additional programs to make them career ready.
“I am excited about beginning the 2018-2019 school year, and I am looking forward to having all of our students back in class,” Simcox added. “I hope that everyone is ready for the excitement of the new school year.”

Rotary Club celebrates new members, community at annual dinner

Howard and Flo

Rotary Member Howard Moon presents a check to Flo Bellamy, Community Center Director at the annual Installation Dinner.


Rotary Club new members

Rotary inducts new members – Ron Drake, Chris Dandurand, Randy Dandurand, Addie Bobbit, Matt Lipford with Rotary President Mark Sijthoff at the annual Installation Dinner.
Photos courtesy of the Johnson County Rotary Club.

1958 Longhorns celebrate

JCHS Class of '58 reunion

The class of 1958 JCHS celebrated the 60th year anniversary on Friday, July 20, at Silverkeys B & B with the Kody Norris band & a barbecue on the patio. We had a great time.  On Saturday, July 21st we had lunch at the First Methodist Church with the Levi Retirees catering. Mrs. Evelyn Cook spoke on the culture of Appalachia.  Saturday night many of the class attended Heritage Hall to see David Holt & Josh Goforth bluegrass band.  Pictured are the following classmates:  First Row (left to right): Jim Everett, Daisy Everett, Linda Eggers Beckner, Shirley Morefield Widner, Mary Alice Snyder Norris, Earlene Wallace Reece, Carolyn Milam Morrison, Barbara Osborne Medley, Carolyn Arnold Breeding, Brenda McQueen McEwen, Carolyn Tester Wagner, Ed Matheson, Mary Ann Lowe Worley, Evelyn Cook.  Back Row (left to right): Robert Glenn, Ben Simcox, Dick Brookshire, Darlena Dugger Mixson, Tommy Worley, John Snyder, Jack Stout, Truett Pleasant, Paul Stegall, J. R. Long, Bill Grindstaff, Fred Ramsey and Park Grant. Photo submitted.

Adult education now open for GED, HiSET classes

By Tamas Mondovics

It was only a few weeks ago that a large group of Johnson and Carter County students celebrated the fruit of their labor as new graduates of the Northeast State Community College Adult Education Program.The event held at Heritage Hall in Mountain City was a fitting conclusion following the hard work, dedication and commitment displayed on the part of all participants.To help many more with the desire and need of earning a High School Equivalency Diploma, registration for Day and Night classes for the 2018-2019 school year is now available in Johnson County.

“Earning your High School Equivalency Diploma can help you enter the job market, get that promotion, or enter technical school or college- your future opportunities are endless,” said TN Adult Education Lead Instructor (District 1) for Johnson and carter Counties, Karla Prudhomme M.A.Ed. As reported, the majority of the graduates go on to attend a technical or community college especially since the governor rolled out the TN Promise and the TN Reconnect programs that give non-traditional students, those over the age of 26, the same opportunity of two years of free college or technical school.”

To register for the 2018-2019 GED / HiSET classes and for information or enrollment in the Adult Education program, please call (423) 460-3330, or stop by the new classrooms located at 372 Cold Springs Road, in the DHS/Food Stamp office building- side entrance.

Watauga Lake Watershed Alliance seeking volunteers for clean up

clean up

Volunteers are hard at work during the annual Watauga Lake cleanup. Organizers are once again seeking volunteers for the upcoming cleanup scheduled for September. Photo courtesy of the Watauga Lake Watershed Alliance.

By Jinifer Rae
Freelance Writer

The Watauga Lake Watershed Alliance is once again looking for volunteers to join in helping its annual clean up at Watauga Lake. This year’s cleanup event marks the ninth anniversary since its origination by Mary Salter, and the need for an annual cleanup has continued thanks to the support and assistance of many volunteers. Last year, nearly 50 volunteers helped remove more than 8,000 pounds of waste from the lake. The upcoming clean up scheduled for September will once again have the assistance of Johnson and Carter county solid waste departments that are donating dumpsters to remove this year’s collected waste.

Of course the clean effort is for a good reason. Watauga Lake was completed in 1948, and since then visitors have continued to come to the water to enjoy fishing, swimming, camping, boating, and much more. With the increase of visitors, unfortunately comes an increase in the amount of waste and debris. The annual Watauga Lake clean up event is scheduled this year for Saturday, September 15, 2018. Registration is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sink Boat Ramp on Johnson county side of the lake, and on the Carter county side, volunteers can register at Fish Springs Mariana. There is no cost to register for the event and supplies needed for the volunteers will be provided. In addition to gloves and the trash bags, water, snacks, and T-shirts are available this year.

Volunteers are again needed to assist in cleaning up the shoreline, but organizers are also asking people who enjoy being on the water to come and help access the difficult to reach areas of the lake. Lakeshore Marina and Fish Springs Marina have sponsored workboats for volunteers, but more is needed.

Rita Cowan, chairperson for Watauga Lake Cleanup and a member of the Watauga Lake Watershed Alliance, stated “Anyone who can get in a kayak, canoe, fishing boat, even a pontoon, we would like to come and help pick up debris out of the coves, even if you can only hold one bag in your canoe, it will make a big difference.”

Cowan added “Watauga Lake is special, it has lots of inlets and almost hidden areas where debris can collect that’s why we need as many in water vehicles as possible. We would really like to have many more turn out this year to help.”

For more information please visit

4-H Horse Clinic and Show Scheduled for August 18

By Rick Thomason

Do you have a child who is interested in learning more about horses? If so, the Johnson County 4-H will be having a Horse Clinic on Saturday, August 18th. The clinic will be conducted at the Chamber Park located on Hwy. 67W in Doe. Students do not need to own a horse in order to participate. This is a hands-on experience, so students will get the chance to interact safely with several different horses.

The clinic will begin at 9:30 a.m. and introduce students to horse safety, general horse care, proper grooming techniques, approaching and leading a horse safely, tack & equipment, saddle fitting, hoof maintenance & shoeing while maintaining safety for both the individual and the horse. The clinic is a hands-on learning experience so all students must wear close toed shoes to participate. Parents must sign a waiver for all youth under 18 years old in order for them to participate.

The Johnson County 4-H Horse Judging team will be selling pizza, chips and a drink for $5.00 to raise money for this year’s horse judging events. Lunch will be served at 12:00 noon.Immediately after the horse clinic and lunch we will be conducting the Johnson County 4-H Horse Show. The 4-H Horse Show allows 4th-12th grade 4-H’ers to exhibit their horses in a variety of disciplines in a safe and fun environment. All riders are required to wear SEI/ASTM approved helmets.

The following classes will be available for the show. Lead Line (riders 4-8 years old), Halter Showmanship, Halter Conformation, Western Pleasure (2 gait), Western Pleasure (3 gait), Western Horsemanship, Trail, Barrel Racing and Pole Bending.Both the Horse Clinic and Show are free of charge, however, we request that you pre-register your child at the 4-H office prior to the event. For questions or additional information, contact Danielle Pleasant at 727-8161 or

Concerts in full swing on Mountain Music Stage

JAM at Harbin Hills

Johnson County JAM guitarist, Joshua Holloway, smiles to the camera during a recent benefit concert on The Mountain Stage at Harbin Hill Farms. Photo by Jonathan Holloway.

By Tamas Mondovics

Area residents could not have asked for better weather as they attended the recent benefit concert on the Mountain Music Stage at Harbin Hill Farms. Under sunny skies, and amidst the beauty of Doe and Iron Mountains, the Kody Norris Band and the Johnson County JAM kids performed for an audience of nearly 100 people last Saturday.

“This was the second of five planned benefit concerts being held this season,” said Harbin Hills farm owner and concert organizer Richard A. Calkins. “The first benefited the new Johnson County Arts Center.”

Last week’s concert was by no means the end of the outdoor music-filled festivities on The Mountain Music Stage this season. Calkins said that the fun at the farm was far from over as upcoming concerts include many talented musicians to entertain his guests. The next concert featuring the Privette Family Bluegrass Gospel Band is scheduled for Saturday, August 11, in support of the Food Banks operated by First Christian Church and Saint Anthony’s Bread.

Jack Proffit and his Back Roads Bluegrass Band, is also on the scheduled for this month playing on Saturday, August 25, in support of the Johnson County Library’s Building Fund. Steve Dunfee, will be playing on Saturday, September 22, in support of the Flo Bellamy Funds, (Cancer Support and Feed the Kids after School).

For additional details on these events, including where to buy tickets in advance, please check the Tomahawk’s Calendar of Events each week.

Heritage Hall to present “Mark Twain and Mr. Clemens, Tonight”

By Jinifer Rae

Johnson County and Mountain City residents are once again in for a treat thanks to a presentation of “Mark Twain and Mr. Clemens, Tonight” by actor, historian, and musician Kurt Sutton at Heritage Hall in Mountain City. Sutton’s performance scheduled for Saturday, August 4, at 7 p.m. will feature his wit and satire of Mark Twain that has been entertaining audiences with much success.Mark Twain fans are anxiously awaiting the upcoming show, an evening that is promising to be a fun-filled event with Sutton bringing Samuel Langhorne Clemens, the creator of Mark Twain to life.

Clemens was born on November 30, 1835, in the tiny village of Florida, Missouri, the sixth child of John and Jane Clemens. He used the pen name Mark Twain to write about the now famous characters of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. The stories became major classics of American literature.At 34, the handsome, red-haired, affable, canny, egocentric and ambitious journalist, and traveler, Clemens had become one of the most popular and famous writers in America. He was also a riverboat pilot, journalist, lecturer, entrepreneur, and inventor. Twain died on April 21, 1910, in Redding, Connecticut.

“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” remain cherished treasures to read for old and young alike. It is the love of those stories that compelled Sutton to portray an older Clemens, dressed in the famous white suit. But it is not just his appearance that is promising to transform audiences back to a bygone era.

As a former teacher of history, Sutton has honed his ability to make the past come to life. For the past seven years, people have come from all over to be entertained by his representation of the iconic Clemens. While listening to the stories, audiences are invited to participate. Sutton plays a variety of instruments and encourages the audience to join in singing songs from the past. “Bicycle Built for Two” and “Old Time Religion” are just two of fan favorites.

Music is not the only thing in store for audiences attending. Twain’s wit and wisdom combined with the love of music are sure to make the evening unforgettable. Since tickets are sure to sell out fast, call Heritage Hall 423-727-7444 and leave a message to reserve your seat.

2018 election polling place update

The bridge construction over Furnace Creek on Fairground Lane, leading to Johnson County High School, 290 Fairground Hill, in Mountain City is now complete. Detour signs in and around the project have been removed and regular traffic flow including the traditional school drop off, and pickup route has resumed giving nearby neighborhoods a much-welcomed relief from the increased school traffic during the season.

The project completion also means that voters in Mountain City, TN assigned to the high school (7-City) are to now use Fairground Lane to enter and exit the school grounds as their polling place. Johnson County Election officials are urging residents to be familiar with this update ahead of the upcoming Election Day on Thursday August 2, 2018.

Music appreciation 101


Mike Taylor accepting a check for $2,500 from East TN
Foundation/Johnson County Community Foundation to
benefit the JAM program.


“The East Tennessee Community Foundation is a non-profit group working together to make our community better,” said Mike Taylor. “They have been very supportive of JAM. This year’s grant will be used to fund a summer camp for JAM students and provide an evening concert for our students and their parents. This will allow our students to see the workings of a professional group of entertainers.”

Doe Valley Fire Department

For over 42 years, the Doe Valley Volunteer Fire Department has been serving the Doe community. The department seeks out various ways to serve community members and offers aid to not only Doe but surrounding areas as well. The work of the Doe Valley VFD goes beyond answering calls for fires and involves assisting in other emergencies as well as community outreach.

“We are a emergency shelter in case of severe weather,” Doe VFD member Jonathan Lunceford explained. “We set up landing zones for wings air rescue and every year we go to doe elementary to do fire safety with the kids.”

For the Doe VFD, it is the relationships with the community that drive the members as they answer 80-100 calls each year. “We strive to make the community safer and provide aid during a emergency,” Lunceford added. “We are there for the people of Doe Valley and Johnson County when they are going through their worst times.”

Community outreach and various emergency response is a major part of the Doe Valley VFD. Ensuring a safer community through educating the youth and being prepared to assist in helicopter landings for Wings Air Rescue is part of the job for the volunteers at the department

Trade Fire Department


The Trade community contributes greatly to their local VFD. Through dinners, raffles, and other donations, the people of the community support the volunteers who risk their lives to answer emergency calls.