Types of blood donations

Donating blood is a selfless decision. Blood donors may not know it, but they save lives every day.According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. Cancer patients, organ transplant recipients and accident victims are just some of the types of people who benefit from blood donations every day.

There are different types of blood donations, and making the right type of donation can ensure a contribution is as valuable as it can be. The following is a rundown of the various types of blood donations, courtesy of the Red Cross.

Whole blood donation
“Whole blood” is the term used to describe the blood that flows through your veins. This blood contains red cells, white cells and platelets, suspended in plasma. A whole blood donation is the most flexible type of donation because it can be transfused in its original form or used to help multiple people after being separated into its specific components (i.e., red cells, plasma and platelets). The donation itself does not take much time, though donors should expect to spend about an hour at the donation center, which includes their post-donation recovery time. All blood types make ideal whole blood donations.

Power red donation
A power red donation allows donors to donate two units of red blood cells during a single donation. But unlike a whole blood donation, donors who make a power red donation have their plasma and platelets returned to them during the donation process. A power red donation typically takes around 30 minutes longer than a whole blood donation, but the Red Cross notes that power red donors may feel more hydrated after donating than whole blood donors because they don’t lose the liquid portion of their blood during the donation process. Power red donations are typically given to trauma patients and newborns and may be administered during emergency transfusions during births. Blood types that are ideal for power red donations include O positive, O negative, A negative, and B negative.

Platelet donation
Platelets are tiny cells in the blood that form clots and stop bleeding. Platelet donations take between 2.5 to three hours, and platelets are typically given to people fighting cancer, chronic disease and traumatic injuries. Platelet donations last just five days, so platelet donors are in high demand. During a platelet donation, platelets and some plasma are collected by an aspheresis machine, and red cells and most of the plasma is then returned to donors. Platelets are not collected at blood drives, and prospective platelet donors must visit Red Cross donation centers. People with A positive, A negative, B positive, O positive, AB positive, and AB negative blood types are ideal platelet donors.

AB elite plasma donation
AB plasma can be given to anyone regardless of their blood type. During an AB elite donation, plasma is collected and separated from other components in the blood. Red blood cells and platelets are then returned to donors. Donors with AB blood are ideal for AB elite plasma donations, which only take a few minutes more than a standard blood donation. Type AB plasma is the only universal type and can be given to patients of any blood type, making these donations especially valuable.

More information about blood donations can be found at redcrossblood.org

Senior News

Local seniors from the Johnson County Senior Center pose with donations for Rescue DOG End of Life Sanctuary. Submitted photo.

By Meg Dickens

The Johnson County Senior Center will be collecting donations for the Rescue DOG End of Life Sanctuary. The sanctuary welcomes all donations such as food, warm clothing and treats for the animals. The center will also collect Christmas gifts for the sanctuary.

Senior Center Spokesperson Valerie Edes learned of Melissa Gentry’s work from friend and fellow center member Pat Grindstaff. Seniors were quick to jump on board to help.

“All is greatly appreciated by us, especially those life-long friends you can bring into your life,” says Edes.
Edes encourages the public to adopt a “life-long friend” at the shelter. She is passionate about the cause. Edes feels that many animals are suffering and deserve help. This time of year is a crucial point for this help. Low temperatures can be deadly to animals left out in the cold

Before adopting a pet, remember that they are a big responsibility. Pet owners overwhelmingly say that it is well worth the effort.
Donations can be sent to End of Life Sanctuary, Care of Melissa Gentry at 254 South Shady Street in Mountain City. Gentry can be reached at 423-956-2564.

Bring in the new year with a good deed or new best friend. The seniors at the Johnson County Senior Center wish blessings on you.

Find out more at the Johnson County Senior Center at 128 College Street in Mountain City, TN.

TDH updates health advisory on e-cigarettes

By Meg Dickens

Vaping has continuously grown in popularity since its introduction in 2007. Mountain City’s population falls at approximately 2,500 and has been the home of at least two vape shops: 421 Vapor and Crossroads Vapor. Now the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) is updating its health advisory on these electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) due to recent federal actions and new evidence of potential harm.

New risks cited in the new TDH Public Health Advisory include the following:
• Nicotine is highly dangerous to developing brains. Despite this, nearly 90 percent of adult smokers started before adulthood.

• Substantial evidence supports that youth ENDS use increases the risk of smoking cigarettes, etc.

• In Tennessee, nearly half of high school students have used these products, and 11.5 percent report current use.

• Those who use ENDS to quit smoking conventional tobacco products usually continue to smoke cigarettes and could be less likely to quit than nonusers.

“Growing evidence has raised the level of concern about the serious risks posed by these products to the health of everyone involved, especially children and teens,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Both current and potential users of all electronic nicotine delivery systems should be aware e-cigarettes may create a variety of dangers for the user and bystanders exposed to the products.”

One such danger is bronchial obliterans (BO), which is colloquially known as Popcorn Lungs. This condition causes shortness of breath and coughing by damaging the lungs’ smallest airways. Inhaling a chemical present in microwave popcorn can also cause this condition.

Public opinion is split. Locals who wish to be kept anonymous spoke about their experiences with these devices. Two locals spoke of ENDS’ bad quality causing leaks and its chemical taste. Two others spoke about how these devices have been helpful in weaning themselves off nicotine. The latter group consists of a male and female. The female no longer smokes cigarettes and is down to a low nicotine concentration vape juice. The TDH is not convinced that ENDS are as safe as others tend to believe.

“While electronic nicotine delivery systems are promoted as smoking cessation devices, their safety and effectiveness have not been demonstrated,” said TDH Chief Medical Officer David Reagan, MD, Ph.D. “ENDS have been shown to expose users and bystanders to chemicals and metals that may harm health. Their use as smoking cessation devices does not provide a clear benefit over the numerous Food and Drug Administration-approved products available to smokers who want to overcome nicotine addiction.”

New designs and flavors continue to entice the younger generations according to TDH Assistant Commissioner for Family Health and Wellness Morgan McDonald, MD. The most recent National Youth Tobacco Survey shows a large increase in ENDS uses in school-age users. High school students’ use increased by 78 percent and middle school students’ use increased by 48 percent.

For free assistance and support in ending a nicotine addiction, call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.tnquitline.org.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.

Keep your natural tree fresh this Christmas

Natural Christmas tree afficionados love the authenticity such trees provide during the holiday season. Natural trees also provide a unique aroma that can make holiday celebrations feel more homey.
When purchasing natural trees, holiday celebrants, especially those who like to buy their trees in early December, may be concerned about keeping their trees fresh throughout the holiday season. The following tips can help trees last until the final present is unwrapped and the last of the egg nog has been consumed.
· Buy a freshly cut tree. Whenever possible, celebrants should cut their own trees. This ensures that the tree they bring home is fresh, increasing the chances it will remain so throughout the season. If it’s not possible to cut your own tree, the National Fire Protection Association notes that fresh trees should have green needles that do not come off when touched. Trees that appear to be dried out or those that shed needles when touched should be avoided.
· Protect trees on the way home. The Tree Care Industry Association advises consumers to protect their Christmas trees as they transport them home. Wrap the tree in a plastic wrap so it makes it home damage-free. A damaged tree might not make it through the holiday season.

· Cut pre-cut trees before leaving the lot. Pre-cut trees can make it through the holiday season looking their best, but buyers should request that employees cut as much as two inches off the bottom of the tree before leaving the lot. Once trees are cut, sap begins to seal their base, making it hard for them to absorb water. By requesting that between one and two inches be removed from the bottom of the tree at the time of purchase, buyers are ensuring their trees will be able to absorb the water they’ll need to make it through the season when they get home.
· Place the tree in water immediately to prevent the base of the tree from drying out. Freshly cut trees may initially need the water in their tree stands filled in the morning and then again in the evening. As the season progresses, trees likely won’t need their stands filled more than once per day.
· Place the tree away from heat sources. Placing trees away from heat sources, such as radiators, fireplaces, heating vents, and lights, reduces the likelihood that trees will dry out and also reduces the risk of fire.

Businesses earn grants to grow rural Tennessee

NASHVILLE—Members of the media are invited to the announcement of the latest Agriculture Enterprise Fund (AEF) grant recipients at the West Tennessee Farmers Market in Jackson, Tenn. on Dec. 17 at 4 PM.

The AEF is an incentive program that provides assistance to new and expanding..Tennessee agriculture,..food,.and forestry..businesses, particularly in rural counties. The program first awarded grants in Dec. of 2017 and has since made a total economic impact of more than $25 million throughout the state.

From new companies to those that are established and looking to grow, the businesses receiving grants are located in the following counties: Bedford, Fayette, Humphreys, Macon, Sullivan, and Wilson. Some projects will have significant impact locally, while others will have impact across Tennessee.

Tennessee.Agriculture Commissioner..Jai Templeton and Tennessee Economic and Community Development Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brooxie Carlton will offer comments.

AEF grant recipients will be available for interview. Photos of and contact information for projects and businesses receiving funding will be provided at the announcement.

You can find more information about the Agriculture.Enterprise Fund online at www.tn.gov/agriculture/businesses/aef.html..

Staying food safe during the holidays

Holidays bring an abundance of cooking and leftover food. Safe food preparation and storage is an important part of holiday safety.

During the winter months, farming and gardening slows down – but it does not mean we are not still eating the foods we have worked hard for all year long, canned, frozen or are stored for the cold winter months. During the holidays it can become more challenging due to extra food preparation, meal planning, as well as serving and storing foods in higher quantity. Here are a few tips to make food safety a sure thing during the holiday season.

Make sure you are washing your hands, utensils, countertops and cuttings boards with hot, soapy water! Wash hands for 20-seconds. Serve all your prepared food on clean platters, avoid using plates that may have come in contact with raw meat or poultry. Be careful to separate raw and cooked foods so you do not accidentally cross contaminate. Change up your knife if you were cutting raw meat, and then needing to chop vegetables. Cook your meats thoroughly and use a food thermometer to make sure foods are reaching their safe minimal internal temperatures.

When you go to store your prepared foods, think about keeping food at the proper temperatures. Clean out your fridge to have proper space for items needed or work with family and friends to spread food to where it can be properly stored until the event.

If you have leftovers, consider placing them in the freezer to keep the fridge available for immediate needs. Freezing leftovers can be a great way to store food for later consumption. If you need to just keep something hot or cold temporarily – consider using insulated containers. These can help keep heat in (140o or above), or add a few ice packs and keep things at a nice chilly temperature (40o or below). Use a thermometer to be sure your food is being properly stored.

As you serve, keep in mind dishes that include cream pies, creamed vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood or dishes with eggs or dairy do not need to sit at room temperature for longer than two hours. This can cause harmful bacteria to begin to grow.

The USDA recommends using a FoodKeeper app to have a handy go-to guide for safe food storage and preparation. There is also additional information on the USDA website www.usda.gov or the FoodSafety website at www.foodsafety.gov. For additional questions or for more information, feel free to contact your local UT/TSU Extension Agent.

Source: USDA https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2017/12/14/usda-provides-tips-keep-holiday-food-safe-home-or-when-traveling and FoodSafety.gov .

Kirk named Superintended for the Tennessee School for the Deaf


By Tamas Mondovics


Tennessee Commissioner of Education Dr. Candice McQueen was happy to announce last week that beginning in January 2019, Dr. Vicki Kirk will serve as the official and full-time superintendent of the Tennessee School for the Deaf.
“As many of you know, Dr. Kirk has been serving our students at TSD in an interim capacity since March, and in that time, her vision, compassion, and focus on high expectations has been a tremendous asset to the TSD community,” McQueen said.
McQueen confirmed that Kirk has already taken on key initiatives, including expanding access to services and working with TSD leadership to develop a strategic plan for student success, and has laid a framework for continued growth.
“We are honored that she will move into this role full time and continue to build on the progress we are already starting to see at the three TSD campuses across the state,” she said.
The appointment also means that Kirk will be transitioning from her role as deputy commissioner and chief academic officer at the
beginning of January.
Kirk has been with the department since April 2015, and during her time she has reportedly led many of the strategies within the department’s Read to be Ready work – which encompasses a number of our initiatives that are designed to increase the number of students who are reading on grade level by the time they reach third grade – and spearheaded critical work to implement new math, English language arts, science, and social studies standards.
During her time with the
department Kirk has also overseen the phase-in of Response to Instruction and Intervention (RTI2) into high school and RTI2 guidance enhancements and support.
We are appreciative of Dr. Kirk’s service to our 70,000
educators and 1 million students and believe she has built a strong foundation upon which we will continue our reading, standards, RTI2 and academic-focused work.
McQueen’s comfodenca in the new TSD leader was clear when she said, “Kirk’s guiding belief in the potential in every child in Tennessee has been an embodiment of our All Means All priority, and I know she will continue to shape and support a culture that reflects that belief at TSD.”

Regional Leadership Day

Seven members of the JC Leadership Class of 2019, Marissa Mullins, Zach Peake, Kelly Dugger, Jeff Young, Lindsey Wills, Angel Gilley, and Kelly Turner. attended Regional Leadership Day at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce hosted by Leadership Kingsport and Eastman. Photo submitted.

Approximately 130 attendees from eight leadership groups around the region enjoyed the 2018 Regional Leadership Day held last month in Kingsport.
Throughout the day, the group heard from a variety of speakers on the value of great leaders and leadership and how they can impact their families, jobs, and communities.
The day was kicked off by Kingsport Chamber President & CEO, Colonel USMCR (Ret) Miles Burdine presenting a very colorful presentation titled “Scrubbing Toilets with Enthusiasm”.
Next up was a Regional Panel Discussion with the Board Chairs of Bristol, Johnson City, and Kingsport Chambers of Commerce.
The panel took questions from the audience and talked about how these metropolitan areas are trying to work together as one unit along with the smaller communities in the region to promote and grow the economy.
After lunch, the keynote speaker was David Golden, Senior Vice-President, Chief Legal Officer and
Corporate Secretary of Eastman
Chemical Company.
Golden spoke on “Asking the Tough Questions” and how to respond.
He opened with the quote, “If you want better answers, you need to ask better questions.”
As a well represented group, the embers of the Johnson County Leadership Class enjoyed a day of meeting new people,
getting to hear some wonderful speakers, and spending time
wreflecting on how they can be better leaders for Johnson County and area communities.
Those interested in participating in the JC Leadership program, may contact Celeste Simcox Dunn at csimcox90@hotmail.com or call 423-727-7922.

Breaking News: Mountain City bomb threat


By Tamas Mondovics




After nearly a three-hour wait, at around 4:45 pm, and with the assistance of a bomb-sniffing dog from the Johnson City Police Department’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit, Mountain City Police Chief Denver Church and Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester confirmed that the scene at the Johnson County Counseling Center had been cleared.


“Thankfully, no explosives were found inside and or around the building,” Church said. The outcome was similar to all of the reported cases of bomb threats around the Country, at the time of this report.


Earlier Update:

There have been multiple reports of emailed bomb threats to businesses, universities, and newspapers across the country.


Mountain City Police Chief, Denver Church confirmed that today’s bomb threat emailed to the Johnson County Counseling Center at 301 Donnelly Street is the only one reported here in Mountain City.


Law enforcement departments, confirm that there have been dozens of threats made across the country, and so far, no credible threats have been found.


“These threats are also being reported to other locations nationwide, and we do not know their credibility at this time,” Church said.


Church said that officers are now waiting for one of their Bomb-sniffing dogs to search the building before it can be cleared.

“The dog can go through the building in just a few minutes,” he said. “If we find something we will be here all night.”


No motive has been identified, but according to some officials, the threats are financially motivated.


In New York where multiple threats were reported police said (on Twitter) that there was an “email being circulated containing a bomb threat asking for bitcoin payment” but that no devices had been found.


The search continues, and even with no credible threat it shook up residents and caused fear across the country.


Original post:

Law enforcement officers responded to a bomb threat sent via email to the Johnson County Counseling Center in Mountain City TN across from the Mountain City Elementary School this afternoon. (12/13)


According to Mountain City Police Chief Denver Church, dispatch received a call at around 1:50 PM on Thursday afternoon.


Church said, “The threat revealed that the bomb may not bring down the building but would cause injury to those inside.”


Police officers and deputies evacuated the building and immediate area.


Mountain City Elementary School is on soft lockdown for the time being.


At around 2:45 pm a member of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation arrived to assess the situation and follow protocol to clear the building.


Officials asked the employees at the counseling center to be patient as it may take an hour or more to make sure the building is safe.


School official said that students are not allowed to leave the building at this time, and they will determine the next step in connection with today’s dismissal. Please visit this site for an update as it becomes available.

Doe Elementary Leaders of the week

Doe Elementary School students, Roman Dugger, Layla Furches, Isabella Moses, Grayson Hensley, Serenity Richardson, Bristol Ford, Jonah Adams Rayne Williams, Katie Buehrer are enjoying the spotlight as leaders of the week. Photo Submitted

Students compete in annual 4-H County Public Speaking Contest

4-H 6th Grade Divison (L-R) Front row: A.J. Laing, Joshua Ransom, Audrey Decker.Middle row: Avy Sherrill, Elijah Lewis, Ariana Spencer, Landell Walker, Silas Averill. Back row: Cameron Crowder and Alana Gaud. Not pictured: Emma Eller.

4-H 4th Grade Divison. L-R) Front row: Gavin Curd, Catie McFadden, Matthew Davis.
Back row: Ella Icenhour, Emma Brown, Addy Snyder and Eric Chant.

The Annual 4-H County Public Speaking Contest was held Thursday, November 29, 2018 at Mountain City Elementary School. Students in 4th, 5th & 6th grades from across Johnson County competed for top honors in this competition.

The 1st place winner of the 4th grade division was Gavin Curd, from Doe Elementary, Ella Icenhour from Mountain City Elementary placed 2nd, and Catie McFadden from Roan Creek Elementary got 3rd place. Other 4th grade competitors were Emma Brown, Eric Chant, Matthew Davis and Addy Snyder.

In the 5th grade division, Lexi Mullins from Mountain City Elementary placed 1st, Izzy Lewis, home school student from Shady, was 2nd, and Julia Crews from Mountain City Elementary was 3rd. Kaitlyn Buehrer, Maddie Colson, Carson Jennings, Chloe Sutherland, Owen Taylor, Sarah Worlock, and Keegan Wright were 5th grade competitors as well.

1st place in the 6th grade competition went to Elijah Lewis, home school student from Shady Valley, 2nd place went to Ariana Spencer from Mountain City Elementary and 3rd place went to Joshua Ransom, homeschool student from Butler. 6th grade students Silas Averill, Cameron Crowder, Audrey Decker, Emma Eller, Alana Gaud, A.J. Laing, Avy Sherrill & Landell Walker also participated in the contest.

Congratulations to all of the winners and participants. We are so proud of all of your accomplishments! Special thanks to all of the parents, judges, and 4-H Honor Club members for their support of the 4-H program.

Doe Elementary Leaders of the week

Doe Elementary School students, Roman Dugger, Layla Furches, Isabella Moses, Grayson Hensley, Serenity Richardson, Bristol Ford, Jonah Adams Rayne Williams, Katie Buehrer are enjoying the spotlight as leaders of the week. Photo Submitted

New SRO at JC High School Campus

Carl Hatley

By Jill Penley

While the vast majority of schools are secure, and students are relatively safe while there, the presence of a uniformed officer certainly enhances the protection.
The Johnson County Board of Education values the district’s school resource officers, or SROs, which are members of the law enforcement community who teach, counsel, and protect schools, students, faculty and staff.
“We appreciate of the school board and the county commission for funding us an additional SRO for our school system,” said Dr. Mischelle Simcox, Director of Schools, who suggests when SROs are integrated into the school system, the benefits go beyond reduced violence in schools. Many officers build relationships with students while serving teachers, and administrators to help solve problems.
After 10 years of serving as the SRO on the high school campus, Deputy SRO Mark Gladden is serving that position at the district’s elementary schools and Deputy SRO Carl Hatley was recently moved to the high school/middle school campus. Hatley, who is also an advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT) with Johnson County Emergency Rescue Squad Inc., looks forward to this new adventure.
Johnson County High School Principal Lisa Throop is glad to have an officer on campus. “We have had an SRO at JCHS all 11 years that I have been here,” said Throop, “and we are very fortunate to have one.”

Providing for those in need during the holiday

November 28, 2018

DHT Thanksgiving

Asher Milsap, a third-grade student at Doe Elementary School, gave the gift of his time to pass Hershey Hugs and real hugs to those in attendance. He and Lillian are sharing a hug. Submitted Photo.

By Tamas Mondovics

The Danny Herman Trucking Company fed hundreds of the lonely and needy in Johnson County on Thanksgiving Day, last week. Base location for the project was the Senior Center where volunteers, both the very young and older all worked together side by side to serve both food and love to those who ate their meal at the center or had food delivered to their homes. The event was the third consecutive year for Herman Trucking to provided this gift to the community. Patriarch of the Herman Family, Danny Herman was present to visit and share his spirit of generosity with the guests.
—Tamas Mondovics

House fire serves as safety reminder

November 28, 2018

Divide Rd fire 2

Second District Volunteer Fire Department firefighters work on an early morning residential fire on Divide Road in Mountain City, Monday. According to officials the fire started in the kitchen or dining area. Thanks to the speedy response of the local fire units, the flames were quickly brought under control sparing most of the home and mainly causing water and smoke damage. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

Update: Two adults and four children previously stayed in this residence. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.

By Tamas Mondovics

On Monday, November 26, at around 9 a.m. Johnson County volunteer firefighters responded to a call of a structure fire on  Divide Rd, just outside Mountain City. While no one was hurt, the smoke and water damage to the home was extensive. Sadly, at least for a while, a young mother and a toddler will have to find another place to call home. Of course, the incident could have been worse. According to Second District firefighter Lieutenant Brett Hibberts, the fire that likely originated in the kitchen or living room area was quickly contained thanks to the two volunteer units’ speedy response.

The call was the second structure-fire call of the same morning and a sobering reminder of the importance of fire safety, especially during the holidays. Hibberts emphasized that electrical issues, chimney and Christmas tree fires are on the top of the list.

“Never plug a portable heater into a multi-outlet,” he said.

Holiday Fire Safety 7

A firefighter ready for action as a Christmas tree goes up in flames within seconds during a recent fire safety demonstration event that drew attention to the need to be safety conscious especially during the holidays. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

Once the spark was struck, during a recent holiday fire-safety-demonstration event, the flames fully engulfed and burnt a mid-size Christmas tree to a crisp within seconds. The demonstration was designed to educate residents while featuring the proper use of fire extinguishers, space heaters, the need of smoke and CO alarms, Christmas tree and holiday lights safety as well as cooking safely, including turkey frying.

Hibberts mentioned that fire prevention is a top priority for all fire departments. To better serve residents the region’s volunteer departments are always collaborating with a unified message to keep families safe throughout the holiday season and beyond.

“We are all in it together to protect the community,” Hibberts said.

Aside from burning candles, the use of the fireplace, or Christmas tree light decoration, fire danger often surrounds the kitchen. Officials are urging residents to never use oil or grease fryer in, or under, a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, deck or any other structure that can catch fire.

“Frying a turkey takes extra safety measures,” Hibberts said, adding, “Make sure that the turkey is completely thawed, and that the oil does not exceed the required temperature, which in most cases is about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Keeping children and pets away from the cooking area was a visible tip, during the fire safety demonstration as the frozen bird was dropped into the overheated oil, which quickly fired back, literally. Christmas tree safety tips include the replacing of broken bulbs, damaged cords, adding water to the tree stand daily, not blocking any exit or entryways, as well as the setting up a tree at least three feet away from any heat source.

“One in three Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical problems,” Hibberts said, adding, “This should be the most festive time of the year, and we are working hard to make sure that it doesn’t end in tragedy.”

The second district volunteer fire department is hosting its biggest fundraiser of the year selling Christmas trees on US 421 across the Pioneer Village Plaza. Hibberts hoped to convey a reminder that area fire departments all operate voluntarily and function based on community support. The more the department is supported, the better the service they can offer.

For a full list of safety tips, visit www.nfpa.org/safety-information/safety-tip-sheets.

Tenn Education Commissioner takes national non-profit post

November 28, 2018

Candice McQueen


By Tamas Mondovics

National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) names Dr. Candice McQueen as CEO Lowell Milken, chairman, and founder of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), recently announced that Tennessee Education Commissioner Dr. Candice McQueen was selected to serve as the organization’s new CEO. McQueen is not going far. According to the NIET release, as part of this transition, the non-profit organization will have a new base of operations located in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I will be leaving my role as commissioner in early January, and Gov. Haslam will name an interim commissioner soon,” McQueen said, adding that while she excited about this new opportunity, it is hard to leave her team. “Each of you is an incredible and needed leader in this work, whether you are supporting our assessment program, managing federal and state grants, creating new opportunities for students to prepare for college and careers, serving students who are in our most vulnerable populations, developing new tools and materials for educators, overseeing our finances and operations, or leading our school improvement work. You are laser-focused on doing the right thing for Tennessee’s students every single day – and I take heart in knowing you will continue this good work in the months and years to come. I look forward to continuing to support your work even as I move into this new role with NIET,” she said in a statement announcing her departure.

McQueen has served as Tennessee’s education commissioner for the past four years, during which time the state saw record high graduation rates, college-going rates, ACT scores, an increase in teacher support and leadership opportunities and salaries, and an expansive early education initiative to improve student reading proficiency in the state. At NIET, McQueen is said to lead a talented and diverse staff of educators, researchers and policy experts to further the organization’s mission of ensuring a highly skilled, strongly motivated, and competitively compensated teacher for every classroom in America.

“Candice McQueen understands that highly effective teachers can truly transform the lives of our children, our classrooms, our communities, and our future,” said NIET chairman and founder, Lowell Milken. “Dr. McQueen’s deep experience in developing and supporting great teachers and her proven leadership in working with so many state and local partners will enable us to expand and strengthen NIET’s work across the country.”

Prior to serving as Tennessee’s education commissioner, McQueen was first an award-winning teacher; then faculty member, department chair, and dean of Lipscomb University’s College of Education in Nashville.

“Serving as Tennessee’s commissioner of education while our state has made such historic gains in student achievement and college readiness has been an incredible privilege,” said McQueen. “But great learning always begins with great teaching. So I am excited for this opportunity to join NIET to build upon our lessons learned in Tennessee and serve teachers and students all across the nation.”

While overall successful, McQueen’s time at the TDOE helm was not without challenges, including the issue of the state’s TNReady statewide assessment test, which became one of the most-discussed topics needing fixing. Problems have reportedly persisted, including the statement that TNReady testing issues were the result of a “deliberate attack,” which was later said to be an unauthorized change by Questar, the testing vendor to its systems during the testing. Officials spoke highly of McQueen’s efforts to ensure TNReady was a success.

McQueen will begin her new role as NIET CEO, in mid-January 2019, and spoke highly of her former position and her colleagues when she said, “You have made the last four years an opportunity of a lifetime, and I am honored to have served our 1 million students alongside you.”

Free flu vaccination event Dec. 5

November 28, 2018

By Tamas Mondovics

Statewide free flu vaccination event “FightFluTN” will be available in Johnson County Wednesday, December 5. The Johnson County Health Department is once again offering flu vaccines at no charge to the community during a special “FightFluTN” vaccination event now scheduled for Wednesday, December 5, 2018.

“Getting a flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, your family and others from the flu and help keep our community healthy,” said Johnson County Health Director Caroline Hurt.

Hurt emphasized that the flu can make people very sick, resulting in keeping residents away from work, school and other activities, put a patient in the hospital or even take one’s life. “We urge everyone in Johnson County who has not received a flu shot yet to get one now, and this event is a great time to do it.”

The Johnson County Health Department will provide flu shots at no cost to anyone who wishes to receive one at 715 West Main Street in Mountain City from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

Flu kills. Seasonal influenza is responsible for thousands of premature deaths in Tennessee and across the U.S. every year. So far in this decade:

-More than 1,500 American children have died from seasonal influenza

-51 children in Tennessee have died from seasonal influenza

-185 American children died from seasonal flu just last year

-About 80 percent of the children who died from seasonal flu had not been fully vaccinated

-Half of the children who died from seasonal flu had no known pre-existing risk condition

-Two out of three children who died from seasonal flu lost their lives within seven days of getting sick

-Six out of 10 children who died from seasonal flu lost their lives after being admitted to the hospital

Angie Stout with the JCHD in Mountain City noted that seasonal influenza activity is spreading in Johnson County and across Tennessee and is expected to continue for months, so it’s essential for anyone over six months of age who hasn’t had a flu shot this flu season to get one now.

“The flu vaccine is especially important for infants, young children, pregnant women, adults over age 50 and those with chronic medical conditions,” Stout said, adding, “The flu shot remains the best protection against influenza.”

Flu symptoms may reportedly include fever over 100 degrees, body aches, fatigue, cough and often a sore throat, along with a runny or stuffy nose, headaches, chills, and sometimes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It is often difficult to tell the difference between the flu and a cold as they present with similar symptoms. If one gets the flu, it is recommended to stay at home to prevent infecting others, drink plenty of water and clear fluids.

Other steps to help prevent one from getting sick include hand washing often with soap and water, and scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth as well as sick people, if possible. Getting lots of sleep and exercise, and eating healthy foods are all on the list.

For more information about the flu and getting a flu vaccine, call the Johnson County Health Department at 423-727-9731 or visit www.tn.gov/health/cedep/immunization-program/ip/flu-in-tennessee/influenza-immunization.html.

Robotics Teams take home gold

November 21, 2018

By Megan Hollaway
Freelance Writer

The Middle School Gymnasium was packed with students from middle and high schools all over northeast Tennessee this past Saturday. For the third year running, The Johnson County Robotics team hosted the annual Turkey Call Robotics Tournament with a whopping eighteen teams competing. Robotics is part of the Stem classification of classes and extracurricular activities. It encourages students to use critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaborative skills.

The atmosphere was tense and excited while the teams drove their creations and completed tasks. The Johnson County High School team walked away as Tournament Champions and won an award in skills. The Johnson County Middle School Team also enjoyed the spotlight after winning in the excellence, design, and sportsmanship categories.

Johnson County Middle School eighth-grade science teacher, Susan Quave, who also teaches the Robotics class, who was tournament director for the Turkey Call Robotics Tournament said, “We have a really good team this year. I am very proud of these kids.”

Quave added, “Proud we all are for the champion teams of Johnson County, and also the teams from the other schools. There were robots of all difficulty levels competing, in all ages of middle and high school students. It was a community experience.”

Wyatt Decker, an eighth-grade student at the Johnson County Middle School, said, “We have been working on our robot ever since the school year started. Robotics is my favorite class.”

There is a shortage of adults in STEM Jobs in the state making such programs like robotics an essential part of the school curriculum. In addition to this, there are hundreds of scholarships for STEM students, and for competing in Robotics.


Friends of Tennis

November 21, 2018


Paul Maulden, a member of the Friends of Tennispassionately explains the problems plaguing thecurrent tennis courts at Cunningham Park. Photo by Marlana Ward.

By Marlana Ward & Tamas Mondovics

Though Mountain City may still have to wait for new public tennis courts, city officials along with local community members and organizations affirmed their support for the project at the November Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting. Local tennis enthusiast and representative of the newly formed Friends of Tennis group, Paul Maulden came to the meeting prepared to share with the board the information he had been asked to collect by the group at a previous council meeting. Maulden presented those on the board with multiple sheets of figures about the town’s present lack of tennis facilities and the estimated costs to construct two well-made courts for public use. While discussions amongst town citizens and officials about plans for the courts at Cunningham Park have been ongoing since 2017, the project met a significant setback due to the scheduling of grant applications.

“We were hoping to apply in 2018,” Maulden explained in an interview before Monday night’s meeting. “However, that deadline passed by and the next opportunity to apply will be in 2020.”

Even though this type of setback might discourage some, Maulden being a self proclaimed optimist sees the bright side to the delay.

“The applications will be published in January 2020 with a return deadline of April 2020. It is a little of “hurry up and wait,” but some actions have to take place before applying for the Local Park and Recreation Fund grant. These include at least three public meetings, a recreational needs assessment, and demonstrations of civic and non-governmental group support.”

When it comes to local support, Maulden and the Friends of Tennis have been well received at various club gatherings as they visit to share their passion for the project. “I recently went to the Newcomers Club meeting on Harbin Hill, and they were so receptive to listening,” Maulden shared in the interview.

“Instead of waiting for the next month’s meeting, they wanted to sign up right then as contacts and are presently waiting to be re-contacted to help in any tennis efforts. I am also scheduled to speak to the Butler Ruritan Club who have contacted us and are willing to donate a tennis court net they have to help the project.”

At the city council meeting on Monday, November 13, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen expressed their support for the project and the need for public courts to be provided to the community. They encouraged Maulden to continue pursuing the project and funding for the tennis courts.

When asked if the current courts at Cunningham Park could be temporarily patched since the new courts would not be installed until late summer 2021 if all went well with grant applications, Maulden immediately voiced his concern about the current courts, “Those courts were not constructed correctly in the beginning, and any money spent on those courts is money tossed.”

Maulden then proceeded to give a visual example of the grading problems with the existing courts at Cunningham Park by having JCHS Tennis Coach Zach Pittman stand on a five-gallon bucket to demonstrate the differences in height on the court.

Pittman also shared at the meeting how the JCHS Tennis Team could assist in the project: “Principal Lisa Throop has stated that any sports team must participate in community service. I can have my players help do part of the work on the new courts.”

Due to the concerns of the present state of the tennis courts at Cunningham Park, Mayor Kevin Parsons recommended the courts to be officially closed, and a sign posted to inform residents that the courts were in the process of being renovated. Parsons also mentioned that another temporary option for the court during the application process is to clean it up take the nets down and reseal the surface, so the “parcel could be used temporarily as a skate park.

To allow for community members who wish to be involved in the project now through donations, Maulden asked if the town could open an account specifically for the tennis court project. Parsons suggested that a special line item being made within the city budget for the project and ensured that City Recorder Sheila Shaw would make sure that any donations made toward the project would go directly to that fund.

Maulden also suggested that a simple letter supporting the project is also appreciated. Those wishing to learn more about the Friends of Tennis and the new court project may call Paul Maulden at 727-4302 for information.

Interim Road Superintendent approved

November 21, 2018

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

Darrell Reece & Jeff Wagner

Former Road Superintendent Darrell Reece, left and Interim Road Superintendent Jeff Wagner.
File Photo

Jeff Wagner was sworn in as interim Road Superintendent during the Johnson County Commissioners meeting last week. Wagner will fill the position previously held by the late Darrell Reece Members of Reece’s family were in attendance to show their support for Wagner as he was sworn in. Wagner was the only candidate of five presented to the commission to be nominated for appointment. He was nominated by Commissioner Freddy Phipps and the vote was unanimous with all fourteen commissioners present voting in favor.