Local man arrested for aggravated rape in NC

captured FBI top 10 criminal

                              Fletcher

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced the capture of one latest top 10 most wanted last week. According to TBI Robert “Bobby” Fletcher, 57, of Mountain City TN, was wanted for aggravated rape and other charges and arrested by authorities in Avery County, North Carolina. Fletcher was added to the TBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list on Tuesday, August 7, but it took only a couple of days before law enforcement officials caught up with him in North Carolina.

Fletcher had a number of charges and has outstanding warrants for his arrest including cockfighting, according to information from the TBI released last Wednesday. Fletcher now faces an additional charge of possession of a potentially vicious dog by a convicted felon and numerous drug violations.

During his arrest, the most serious charges against Fletcher were two counts of aggravated rape. TBI urged residents to considered Fletcher dangerous. According to TBI agents a $2,500 reward was also offered for information to lead to Fletcher’s capture. Individuals on TBI’s Most Wanted list should all be considered armed and dangerous, and should only be approached with extreme caution, the agency said. Current charges of the top 10 suspects include first-degree (murder) homicide (4), Rape (4), assault and robbery (1) and kidnapping and assault (1).

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was born as a result of a highly publicized murder in Greene County in December of 1949. The heinous crime aroused the emotions of citizens throughout the region. In an address to the Tennessee Press Association in January of 1951, John M. Jones, Sr., publisher of the Greeneville Sun, called for the creation of an unbiased state agency to assist local law enforcement in the investigation of serious crimes.

Since that time, the Bureau has grown significantly, and continues to meet the demands of providing up-to-date investigative, forensic science, and support to Tennessee’s entire criminal justice system. To date, 412 fugitives have been apprehended since the inception of the TBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted program.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts can call their local law enforcement agency or 1-800-824-3463.

Senior Center hosts annual Luau, boasts of future services

Senior Center Luau

Johnson County Senior Center director Kathy Motsinger (center) is joined by John Payne, Danea Marchall, Ollie Phipps, Bob and Minnie Miller for a photo during the center’s annual Luau festivities held last week in Mountain City. The event was well attended and was a great success. Photo by Tamas Mondovics.

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

The Johnson County Senior Center (JCSC) 128 North College Street, located in the heart of Mountain City TN, is known as a multi-purpose center providing services for people 60 and older and for keeping its guests busy, with a wide variety of daily activities. The center’s reputation was confirmed once again last week during the annual Johnson County Senior Center Luau, which has seen an excellent turnout bringing more than 122 residents together from across the county. According to JCSC director Katherine Motsinger, the event was a great success.

“The event was well attended, enjoyed and much appreciated by everyone,” Motsinger said but added that while at times passed other functions drew a much larger crowd, it was a nice event for area senior. “We were very pleased.”

Since taking the helm, Motsinger, formerly at the Johnson County High School, has been working hard improve things including working to receive much-needed grants for the center as well as drawing on her community friends and local contacts. One such support recently awarded to the center came as the result of teamwork, seeking a grant for establishing a new transportation program in the county. The proposed initiative hoped to provide residents with rides to the doctor appointments, the senior center, and other transportation needs. Under the direction of Motsinger and the support of a large number of local officials and community advocates, the center is asked for volunteers to help the program come to the county and make a difference in the lives of local seniors.

The effort did not fall on deaf ears as representatives from the JCSC met with officials from the Tennessee chapter of the Southwest Area Agency of Aging and Disability to determine eligibility to establish the My Ride Johnson County program with excellent results.

“I am happy to report that we did receive a grant,” Motsinger said, adding that the group is now working on making good use of the support that meeting earlier this week discussing the Transportation Grant that was awarded to the center. This program will benefit many senior citizens in our county,” she said.

JCSC also hosted a Brian Games Competition ahead of the District Senior Brain Games Competition scheduled for Thursday, August 23. The Regional Competition will be held on Monday, September 24.

“Our team “First Sunrise Seniors” has a very good chance of winning,” Motsinger said.

For more information about the many exciting events and activities at the Johnson County Senior Center, please visit its page on Facebook.

Veterans urged to review Tricare changes

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

Recently, a supplemental insurance company utilized by some local veterans announced changes, which could affect costs for retirees, active-duty, and future retirees. Tricare and Tricare for Life will be facing these changes as a result of inner-company and Congressionally ordered adjustments.

“Tricare is a health care program for those on active duty and do not have to pay anything if not stationed near or on a military base,” said Karen Manuel from the Johnson County Veterans Services Office. “Tricare for Life is for military retirees with 20 or more years in service who also must have Medicare Part A and B. If they have Medicare A and B, Tricare for Life can pay their Medicare co pay.”

“Tricare is considered secondary coverage,” Manuel explained. “After your doctor, hospital, or pharmacy is paid by a veteran’s other health insurance, they will file a claim with Tricare or send a bill for any remaining costs. If a veteran receives a bill, they send it to Tricare.”

According to www.military.com, some changes, which affect retired military personnel include: Tricare for Life users will only be impacted by an update to when deductibles and catastrophic caps reset; Tricare plan names, region borders, and managing contractors are changing January 1; All Tricare standard retirees and Tricare Retired Reserve users will see point-of-service fee changes; Retirees of the future force will face annual enrollment fees for all plans; current retirees continue to pay an enrollment fee for Tricare Prime only. For active duty personnel, the most noticeable change will be with the point of service fees moving to a flat cost which will mean higher costs for some visits and lower for others.

Also changing is the way in which participants enroll or switch between Tricare plans. Open enrollment for Tricare will take place in November and December. Changes to a plan during the year will only be allowed following what the company deems a “qualifying life event.”

Military personnel who enrolled in the military after January 1, 2018, will face higher health care costs through Tricare. Their charges will be on a different scale and will include higher registration fees, higher caps, and different point of service charges.

While these changes are essential to those who qualify, Manuel shares that the changes will not affect every veteran, “There will be little change to our local veterans. It just depends on the type of plan they are on. Some will see an increase and others may stay the same. Veterans should contact Tricare to see if they will be affected.”

Veterans and active duty personnel may contact Tricare East by phone at 1-800-444-5445. Tricare information and answers to questions can also be found online at www.tricare.mil.

Mountain City celebrates musical tradition

Long Journey Home

Temple Reece puts the finishing touches on a new mural, which will be revealed during the 4th Annual Long Journey Home celebration scheduled for Labor Day weekend. Photo by Jinifer Rae

By Jinifer Rae
Freelance Writer

Old-time music will be heard throughout Johnson County this Labor Day weekend as residents bring the past to life during the 4th Annual Long Journey Home celebration. “Black Smoke a Risin’, and It Surely is a Train” is the theme of this year’s four-day Long Journey Home Tour and Festival honoring the iconic old-time mountain music style that shaped country music as we know it. Befitting its musical heritage, Johnson County is located as far as northeast in Tennessee as one can get, equally sharing the hills and hollers of Cherokee National Forest and Watauga Lake.

Nestled within those hills, lies Mountain City, where once again much of the musical celebration will take place. According to event organizers and members of the Long Journey Home Committee, Temple Reece and Cristy Dunn, the festivities are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Thursday, August 30, with the Senior Center Dinner Concert and Dance.

“The committee has a special kickoff planned for Thursday night before anything else gets started,” Reece said. “Diners will enjoy the live music provided by The Long Journey Home House Band complete with an old-fashioned cake walk.”

Of course, that is only the beginning, as the festivities will continue throughout the following three days with a series of art and quilt shows on Friday and Saturday at the Johnson County Art Center and at the First Christian Church Christian Life Center, respectively. One of the most anticipated parts of the celebration is once again scheduled for Friday evening, with Buskin’ on Main Street, a special round of festivities that promises to bring the small town to life with music, friends, and plenty of good food. Reece emphasized that country music, as we know it today was shaped by some of Johnson County’s famous historical residents.

The first to make a recording of the now well-known song “The Ballad of Tom Dooley,” G.B Grayson, will be commemorated on Saturday at the unveiling of a new mural honoring the blind fiddler, painted by Reece. The newest painting entitled “It Surely is a Train” will be the fifth in the series depicting Johnson County’s early country music icons.

Following the unveiling, guests will have an opportunity to enjoy a self-guided musical heritage tour, which will begin at Maymead, the site of one of the old Mountain City train depots with the music of Grayson. Aside from The Ballad of Tom Dooley, Grayson’s short career also produced Train 45, Handsome Molly, and nearly 40 other songs that became the standards of Bluegrass and early country music. The tour will guide visitors and music lovers to various sites throughout the county, concluding the day with performances of the Piney Woods Boys from the album, Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s, now on the National Recording Registry, followed by an open community jam session at the home place of Fred Price.

“Guests are encouraged to bring a quilt or lawn chair and be ready to take a trip back in time and follow the tour to five sites throughout the county, with the opportunity to hear murder ballads on the creek bank to commemorate the capture of Tom Dooley, and experience the signature claw-hammer banjo style of Clarence “Tom” Ashley played on the front porch of his home place,” Dunn said in a recent press release.

This year’s festivities will close on Sunday afternoon with a traditional gospel Sunday Singin’ at historic Heritage
Hall in downtown Mountain City.

For more information, please contact Cristy Dunn at 423-957-6346 or Evelyn Cook at 423-727-8700, or cdunnoriginals@hotmail.com or visit www.longjourneyhome.net.

Butler woman dies in motorcycle crash

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

In an update, THP reported that a Butler woman was killed in a motorcycle accident on Highway 91 in Johnson County last Saturday. According to THP officials a 2007 Honda Shadow motorcycle driven by 54-year-old Loren Garland of Butler, Tennessee was traveling south on Highway 91 and crested a hill. THP said that Garland applied his brakes because another vehicle was waiting to turn onto Dollarsville Road when he lost control of his motorcycle, traveled into the northbound lane and was hit by an ambulance, driven by 38-year-old Nicola Phillips of Lebanon. The passenger on the motorcycle, 45-year-old Betsy Brown of Butler, who was wearing a helmet, was killed as the result of the crash. Garland was reportedly injured in the accident. THP said criminal charges are pending.

Students reap rich blessings at 11th Annual Back to School Bash

By David Holloway
Staff Writer

Nearly 400 residents, 75 of them volunteers from Mountain City and surrounding areas attended the 11th Annual Back To School Bash held last month at Old Mill Music Park in Laurel Bloomery. The weather for this year’s event was a wonderful blessing as it provided an absolutely beautiful day for the outdoor festivities. A new addition to the event began on Friday evening with the first annual Youth Encounter, which gave close to 100 young people in attendance a chance to enjoy praise and worship music, followed by a message from Scooter Murphy.

Old Mill Ministries, founded in 2007 by missionaries Andy and Lisa Zeggert, coordinated the annual Back To School Bash. With the assistance of Freedom Christian Center in Mooresville, NC and several other ministries and supporters, Old Mill Ministries is able to reach out to the citizens of Johnson County and provide much-needed clothes and school supplies for the upcoming school year.

“South Mountain Baptist Association has several churches represented,” said Jill Lowe, one of the team members for the event. “There is a group from Princeton, NC here with about 60 youth volunteering running most of the games.”

Musicians from the Johnson County JAM group played several songs around lunchtime, while volunteers served hot dogs and chips for lunch for free to those in attendance. Many enjoyed face painting and playing corn hole or volleyball.After lunch, Refit, a fitness group from North Carolina took the stage. Refit is an exercise program that is set to upbeat Christian music. The dance moves do not require someone to be a professional dancer to join in but are simple enough that most people can do them. Refit started dancing to the first song and invited the crowd to join in either at their seats or to come up on stage. Before long, approximately 40 people were dancing on stage.
Around 2 p.m. a service time was held beginning with 20 minutes of praise and worship music. Following the music time, Murphy preached the message for the service, ending with an altar call, which resulted in 61 people accepting Jesus as their Savior.

Following the service time, the children in attendance were called out by their grade in school to form a line to receive a backpack full of school supplies. Various ministers prayed over each group of children and pronounced blessings over them for a prosperous school year. Following the distribution of all the backpacks, a dismissal prayer offered to close the event.

The community has seen another successful Back To School Bash, and students were sent forth to conquer their schoolwork with much hope for the new school year.

Annual Joe Barlow cruise-in and memorial ride draws large crowd

By Jinifer Rae
Freelance Writer

Mountain City’s Main Street looked very different on Friday night as excited spectators came to the 8th annual car and bike show benefitting the Joe Barlow Scholarship fund. Dozens of vintage, classic, antique, hot rods, and muscle cars, as well as motorcycles, lined the streets for visitors to admire.  A feeling of a community coming together was unquestionably felt as friends and neighbors greeted one another and remembered Barlow.

“I really appreciate everyone coming out,” said Nancy Bentley, Barlow’s sister. “Dave and Tina Lipford helped sponsor the event, and they are wonderful, they do a lot for the community, and this event gets bigger and bigger every year.”

Joe Barlow, 55, a twenty year veteran of the Johnson County EMS, died in the line of duty as a result of a tragic two-vehicle accident in 2009 at the Johnson City Medical Center. According to law enforcement officials, the wreck happened on Highway 67 at mile marker 2, about a mile north of Butler in Johnson County. According to THP an oncoming vehicle crossed the center lane of Highway 67 and hit the Johnson County Rescue Squad ambulance driven by Barlow pushing the ambulance off the road, flipping it over an embankment. Rescue squad worker Kevin Colson of Laurel Bloomery was also in the ambulance at the time. But last week’s memorial was not about Joe’s tragic accident but about his life, as classic rock and roll played in the background, people of all ages enjoyed a beautiful evening including some of the delicious food offered such as homemade baked goods, BBQ, and Oreo pops. Proceeds from the evening cruise-in as well as the Joe Barlow Memorial Ride held the following morning, go to the Joe Barlow Scholarship Fund. Bentley explained that as it has been the case in the past eight years, the purpose of the scholarship is to help high school graduating seniors seeking education in the medical field.

“Last year we were able to assist two students with $1,000 each,” she said adding that interested students must fill out an application, meet certain grade requirements, and of course “have a financial need to be eligible to receive the award.”

To complete the event on Saturday morning a large group of bikers departed from Ralph Stout Park for the memorial ride; the journey that began in Mountain City, going through Laurel Bloomery to Damascus and White Top Mountain before making a full circle. Judging by the turnout and the funds raised, the cruise-in and the 120-mile long memorial ride organized by local motorcycle group, the Johnson County Knights, continues to be a very successful way to help keep the scholarship program going.
For more information visit our website at www.johnsoncountyknights.com.

Johnson County to swear in new mayor, new sheriff

Eddie Tester

Eddie Tester points to the number of (unofficial) votes he received in the county general election on Thursday evening at the entrance of the Johnson County Courthouse. Tester defeated incumbent Mike Reece who has served as Johnson County Sheriff for three terms. Photo contributed

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

For the most part, Johnson County voters chose to retain incumbents in Thursday’s county general election howbeit some by slim margins. Two major upsets, however, sent shock waves across the county as a new sheriff and new county mayor are expected to be sworn in and begin serving come September based on unofficial election results from the Johnson County Election Commission.The August 2 election, which served as the county’s General Election as well as party primary elections for state and federal offices, saw a total of 5,326 of Johnson County’s 11,083 registered voters cast ballots in the election, for a voter turnout rate of 48.06 percent.

Sheriff
After serving as Johnson County Sheriff for three terms, incumbent Mike 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 4,052 votes, garnering 77 percent of the vote. Reece had 727, and the third candidate on the ballot, Johnny Roberts, a deputy with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department and former Johnson County Sheriff, received 480 votes.

Mayor
The county mayor’s race was a close one as Mike Taylor unseated incumbent Johnson County Mayor Larry Potter by just a 122-vote margin in Thursday’s General Election. Taylor, an elementary school teacher and director of Junior Appalachian Musicians, or JAM, received 51 percent of the vote to defeat Potter, who got just less than 49 percent.

Courthouse
Voters chose to retain all other county officials housed in the Johnson County Courthouse. Running unopposed in the election, Tammie C. Fenner will return to County Clerk’s office for a third term by receiving 4,301 votes of confidence. Lisa J. Crowder, Johnson County Trustee incumbent, defeated Michael Trivette taking over 72 percent of the vote, while Circuit Court Clerk, Melissa Hollaway, received 3,655 votes, 73 percent of the vote, to defeat challenger Katherine Mink.  Incumbents also retained the offices of Register of Deeds and Road Superintendent as Freida May Gwinn received 50 percent of the vote to defeat two opponents, Pamela S. Brown and Jeffrey D. Rupard, to remain Johnson County Register. Darrell Reece will return as Road Superintendent after defeating challenger James Kenneth Moody by taking over 62 percent of the vote.

School board
Only two school board seats, representing District 1 and District 3, were on the ballot in this election. Incumbent Howard L. Carlton retained his seat in District 1 receiving 45 more votes than challenger Russell G. Robinson. Two seats were up for grabs in District 3 where Gary Matheson gained the most votes, 1,057, to earn a seat on the school board, followed by incumbent Kevin V. Long, who received 853 votes, allowing him to remain on the board of education.

Constable
Constables elected were James E. Brown, who will continue to represent District 1, and Dave Quave and Ray Lunceford who will continue to represent District 3. In District 2, longtime constable Norman E. Miller received 1,290 votes followed by Key Kernaghan with 553 votes. The two held off three challengers: Keith H. Estevens, Lee Farley and Ben Price.

County Commission
Several incumbents will retain seats on the county board of commissioners, and there will also be some new faces serving on the board. Incumbents Bill Adams and Eugene Campbell gained the highest number of votes in a field of five candidates. Joey Norris was elected to the third seat, currently occupied by Mike Taylor, who chose to run for County Mayor. Scott Mast defeated Lester R. Dunn to retain his place on the board to represent District 2. In District 3, Jerry Grindstaff was the only incumbent to retain his seat on the board. Freddy Phipps, who has served as the board’s chairman in the past, got the most votes for this district, followed by newcomer Berna Arnold, who gained a seat on the board garnering over 19 percent of the vote. In District 4, incumbents Tommy Poore and Rick Snyder will retain their seats by defeating two challengers, Terry Brown and Leon Odom.  Incumbent Jimmy Lowe received enough votes to retain his seat in District 5. Joining him are Megan McEwen, who earned the highest number of votes in this district, followed by Jerry Gentry.  In District 6, one of the closest races of the evening, incumbent Huey L Long narrowly lost his bid to return to the commission, being defeated by David McQueen by a margin of only six votes, 207 to 201. Commissioners Gina Y. Meade and Evelyn W. Hill will retain their seats on the board as they ran unopposed.

State
In the state primary, Republican Bill Lee took Johnson County with 1,350 votes. Randy Boyd followed with 1,276, and Diane Black got 1,027 votes. This was the trend in
the area with Lee getting 36 percent of the vote, or 20,300 votes, in his primary in Washington, Carter, Unicoi, Johnson and Sullivan counties combined, besting five other challengers. Lee’s proportion was similar statewide, with unofficial results from the Secretary of State showing him with 37 percent at the end of the  night. Karl Dean, chosen to represent the Democratic Party in the governor’s race in November, was the top pick of Democrats in both Johnson County, with 380 votes, and northeast  Tennessee, with 6,181 votes. Dean took 79 percent of the vote statewide. In Johnson County, Craig Fitzhugh and  Mazianne Vale Payne tied with 73 votes each; however, Fitzhugh remained the second runner across the five East  Tennessee counties garnering 17 percent of the vote, which was even with his total proportion for the state. Payne got 602 votes across the five counties.

Johnson County sees large turnout during early voting period

David and Sidney Timbs

Dr. David Timbs accompanies daughter, Sidney Timbs, a University of Tennessee student, as she exercises her right to vote for the first time by taking advantage of the early voting period at the Johnson County Election Commission office. Photo by Jill Penley

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

With just a few days until the state primary and county general election, local election officials report a large number of early votes cast. According to Johnson County Administrator of Elections Cheri Lipford, when early voting polls closed on Saturday at noon, 3,148 ballots had been cast. Sidney Timbs, a first-time voter, was among those choosing to cast a ballot during this period.

“I’m home from the University of Tennessee for the summer,” said Timbs. “I’m working at Appalachian Christian Camp this summer and will be working on Election Day. Since it was my first time being eligible to vote, I wanted to make sure I was able to vote. Early voting was great because I was able to participate.”

Timbs’ father, Dr. David Timbs, accompanied her as she cast her vote for the first time. “Early voting is so convenient and allows us to exercise our privilege to vote just in case something comes up on Election Day,” said Dr. Timbs. “There really is no reason not to take advantage of the opportunity.”

During the last state primary and county general election in August 2014, Lipford said a total of 5,498 residents cast ballots, with 3,606 voters choosing to take part in absentee and early voting instead of waiting until Election Day. The overall voter turnout for that election was just shy of 50 percent, according to Lipford.

“In order to have your voice heard in this election, you must vote at your polling place on Election Day, August 2, 2018,” said Lipford.”
When heading to the polls, residents must present a federal or Tennessee state ID containing the voter’s name and photograph unless an exemption, such as a hospitalized voter or residents of a licensed nursing home or assisted living center and who vote at the facility, applies.For a complete list of exemptions, visit GoVoteTN.com or call the Johnson County Election Commission at 423-727-8592.

Any of the following IDs may be used, even if expired: Tennessee driver license with your photo, United States Passport, photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, photo ID issued by the federal or Tennessee state government, United States military photo ID, and Tennessee handgun carry permit with your photo.The courthouse lawn is typically the site where the candidates and citizens gather to wait for election results. It has become such a tradition; hundreds converged on the area in 2014.

New program to assist elderly, handicapped

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

In a continued effort to lend a helping hand to support the elderly and the handicapped or disabled, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) has launched a new program last month. Appropriately called Forget Me Not, the program follows suit with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and its recently introduced initiative “Silver Care.”

“I have decided to launch the new program with only changing its name,” said Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece. Reece explained that Forget Me Not is designed to do a telephone welfare check on the elderly, handicapped or disabled in the county. And for a good reason; something as simple as a phone call to an elderly person could save their life.

“Many do not have anyone to at least call and check on their welfare,” Reece said. “This is what we want to do to provide assistance for those who do not have someone that can or is able to check on these persons every day.”

According to JCSO officials, the agency receives many calls on a weekly basis for welfare checks, prompting Reece and his office to work on implementing the program for some time.

“I am pleased to announce the implementation of the new program, Forget Me Not, on Friday, July 27, 2018. Interested persons can fill out a form with contact information that also includes what time of day that they would like to be contacted. The form asks participants for additional information that will assist with JCSO dispatching as well as an actual welfare check if the person cannot be reached.

“Dispatchers will call them each day to check on them,” Reece said. “If they don’t get any kind of response, then we will send an officer to their home.”

All information sent to the Sheriff’s Office regarding names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. will be kept confidential, officials said. Forms can be picked up at the Sheriff’s Office and the Johnson County Senior Center. Those interested can request a form sent to them by mail or email.  Completed forms can be turned in to the Sheriff’s Office located at 999 Honeysuckle Street or the Johnson County Senior Center in Mountain City TN.  Forms can also be faxed (Fax: 423-460-3041) or emailed to patricia@johnsoncountysd.org at the Sheriff’s Office. For further questions, please call 423-727-7761

Volunteers needed for new Senior Center program

Johnson County Senior Center

Representatives from the Johnson County Senior Center came together to seek a grant for establishing a new transportation program in the county. The center is asking for volunteers to help the program come to the county and make a difference in the lives of local seniors. Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Senior Center.

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

The need for reliable transportation is one of the greatest concerns for many senior citizens. Recently, the Johnson County Senior Center began looking for new ways to address this need by working to obtain a grant that would finance a new program primarily designed to assist seniors with transportation needs. The proposed initiative would provide residents with rides to the doctor appointments, the senior center, and other transportation needs. However, to see this new program come to Johnson County, the Senior Center is seeking help from the community.

On Tuesday, July 24, representatives from the Johnson County Senior Center met with officials from the Tennessee chapter of the Southwest Area Agency of Aging and Disability to determine eligibility and begin work towards the grant for establishing the My Ride Johnson County program. The 21 people in attendance listened to explanations of the program and gave testimonies of the need for such a program in the county.
One of the first items to accomplish for grant eligibility was the establishment of a steering committee for the Johnson County My Ride program.
Nancy Wills, Tom Neeves, Willie Hammons, Naomi Hammons, Evelyn Hill, and Dr. John Payne agreed to serve as members of the committee. The steering committee is responsible for helping ensure that the county meets grant requirements and identifying the best opportunities for the grant to be used in connection with the My Ride program.

Another requirement for the grant to be awarded depends on the willingness of dedicated citizens that step forward and give of their time to help the seniors in the county.
“The grant requires that we have at least ten volunteers registered to help with the program,” said Senior Center Director Kathy Motsinger.
The Senior Center welcomes volunteers regularly, and some of those who have served in some capacity at the center were present at the July 24 meeting to share their sentiments towards volunteering with the county’s seniors.

Ted Trivette, Johnson County resident and center volunteer shared how his mother and father benefited from the county’s Meals on Wheels program and how their experience with the center inspired him to volunteer his time to assist others. Trivette, who has been delivering meals to homebound seniors for more than two years explained, “I don’t believe in just taking and never giving back. That’s why I volunteer.”
Also eager to share her passion for volunteering, county resident Linda Moon expressed her feelings regarding her participation in the center’s current Meals on Wheels in an email to the center. “It is about more than just delivering a meal,” she said. “I know that some days, I am the only person that one of my clients sees.”

Moon went on to explain her anticipation for the new My Ride program. “It would be a wonderful program for our community,” she stated. “So many seniors have difficulty getting to doctor appointments and having this resource would be wonderful and take some anxiety out of their lives.”
Similar My Ride programs have been implemented in other areas and have seen positive reception and results as the grant guide states: “Senior volunteer transportation partners on this grant are well known and accomplished within their local communities for providing reliable, accessible, affordable, and safe transportation. Each partner program was developed with strong community input and forged strategic partnerships to build a successful model that would meet the needs of its particular senior population.”

The need for a dedicated transportation program is one that Motsinger experiences regularly. “There are days where I am on the phone constantly trying to get rides for scheduled for doctors appointments,” she shared. “We need a transportation program in our county, and this grant would provide funds for someone to help.”

The Johnson County Senior Center is going to depend on the county’s response and willingness to serve to see the My Ride program established. With the steering committee in place and working to fulfill the technical requirements for the grant, it is the need for caring volunteers that is most pressing. Anyone interested in volunteering at the Senior Center is encouraged to call 727-8883.

A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition welcomes new director

Trish Burchette

                  Burchette

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

Children, teens and adolescents in Johnson County face many risks almost unknown to past generations including widespread drug availability. Responding to these risks before they become problematic and pervasive can be difficult, but it is the continuing mission of at least one local non-profit organization to do so, and that organization now has a new director and many innovative ideas in the works.

“I am very excited to be able to come back to work to my hometown,” said Trish Burchette, new executive director at the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, “and be an active part of this great community.”

To officially welcome the new director and showcase the many resources available to the community, the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition will host an “Open House” on Friday, August 10 from 1-3pm at 138 East Main Street in Mountain City.

After working in Bristol for the past seven years in sales, marketing and project management, Burchette, a Johnson County native with deep roots in the community, is now getting settled in at the agency. Many locals will remember her from the many years she owned and taught at Tricia’s School of Dance/Twirl and Modeling and she remains a Women’s Ministry leader at First Christian Church of Mountain City.

She joins a dynamic staff ready to unveil some exciting events aimed at keeping children safe and teaching them how to make wise decisions. “We are also working on some great new projects for the community that we hope will be very beneficial to everyone,” said Burchette. “Our main focus at this time is to reconnect with the community and focus on education and prevention of drug/alcohol and tobacco use.”

One of the most recent focuses of the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition involves student leadership. A newly formed Youth Coalition is looking to open new doors at Johnson County High School. “We are excited to be able to work with the young people in our community through the direction of a Youth Coalition,” said Burchette, “and hope many of our young people will be excited about making significant change in their future and community.”

“A.C.T.I.O.N is here to serve the community of Johnson County by connecting individuals with information on various drugs resources such as information on treatment facilities within 100 miles of Johnson County in every direction; medication lock boxes and proper disposal; recovery resources with times and locations; and community service options for youth and adults,” said Denise Woods, Prevention Coordinator, who explained the organization provides a gamut of campaigns and programs which can be utilized by community members “Our mission is to help Johnson County become free of substance abuse and provide a pathway from addiction to a healthier lifestyle,” she said. Woods is responsible for implementing substance use education and coordinating programs and campaigns for the community at large. “My community is important to me as well as the health and well-being of our youth and their future,” said Woods.

Program coordinator, Kandas Motsinger, also remains concerned about the future of the area’s youth.
“As a mother, I want to raise my son in a healthy and drug-free community,” said Motsinger. “This is why I do what I do. To grow healthy, drug-free children and to provide support to my fellow community members struggling with substance use or addiction.”

Another program coordinator with the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, Ryan Fletcher, works primarily in tobacco education and underage drinking prevention. He also facilitates Moral Reconation Therapy at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department for local inmates along with Ms.Woods. “Every life matters,” said Fletcher, “and my goal is to always show kindness and love by reaching out to those in need. By doing a small part, I want to help continue to make Johnson County the great community that I’ve always known and loved.”

Established in 2005, the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition (Alliance of Citizens Together Improving Our Neighborhoods) was initially a product of an HRSA (Human Resource and Service Administration) grant, aimed at increasing mental health services in the county and America’s Promise movement. Funding also comes through various state and federal grants.

Since its inception, the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition has expanded, and with the assistance of state and federal grant funding, supports and sponsors several youth development programs such as SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) and MTC (Mobile Team Challenge). They also host RBS (Responsible Beverage Server) training and numerous sobriety checkpoints in partnership with law enforcement in addition to mentoring and facilitating new coalitions Throughout Northeast TN.Roxanne Roedel handles the administrative duties for the coalition and rounds out the staff.

For more information visit the A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition office at 138 East Main Street in Mountain City. TN, or call 423-727-0780.

ACTION Coalition Staff at CADCA

(l to r) Ryan Fletcher, Denise Woods, Trish Burchette, Kandas Motsinger pose for a photo while attending the CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) Convention, an annual training event that hosts more
than 2,000 prevention specialists from across the world. Submitted photo

Imagination Library works to ensure a life-long love for reading

Children's author Jessica Jones and son

Jessica Jones and her son Caleb enjoy a quiet moment of reading one of the books received from the Imagination Library. The Jones family is one of many families in Johnson County to benefi t from the program since its inception
in 2005. Photos courtesy of Jessica Jones

By Marlana Ward

Freelance Writer

Reading has always been among the most important skills a person can develop. The ability to read opens up doors personally, professionally, and creatively. In Tennessee, the Imagination Library created by Dolly Parton has been ensuring that youth state-wide are given the tools to develop reading skills early and carry a love of reading throughout their lives.
The Imagination Library was officially launched in Sevier County, Tennessee in 1995. The program was received very positively, and its effects on children and families garnered national attention. The program was expanded statewide beginning in 2004 and came to Johnson County in 2005.
The program is free to enroll in and is open to any Tennessee child from birth to five years of age. Penguin Random House mails the books out to families monthly and special editions are printed specifically for the program. The high-quality books received are suited for many years of bedtime stories and family time, which can lead to better literacy skills.
“Reading aloud to a child is highly recognized as the single most important activity leading to literacy acquisition,” said Johnson County Imagination Library Board Co-Chair Betty Brown. “Providing books to the home is a unique opportunity for family engagement, vocabulary and reading skills development.”
Currently, there are 739 Johnson County children enrolled in the Imagination Library program. Families that are enrolled in the program are working to equip their children for learning when they begin school as Brown shared, “Teachers have shared with me how children that have been a part of this program are much more prepared to begin the process of learning to read because of their parents reading the Imagination Library books to
them.”
The Imagination Library is well supported by the Johnson County community as residents seek to help the youth of the county succeed. “The community has been great in their support of the program through their donations, allowing us to be a part of community events like the Sunflower Festival and volunteering in our annual carnival,” stated Brown. “We appreciate the community’s support of our children and literacy.”
The Imagination Library Carnival has grown to be a much-anticipated yearly event and the plans for this year’s event promise great fun for the youth of the community. “The carnival will be held at the First Methodist Church due to construction at the library on Tuesday, August 28 from 4 p.m.-7 p.m.,” Brown said. “This event is held to promote family involvement in promoting literacy and interaction for all stakeholders with a children’s author or illustrator as well as have fun participating in events such as the ‘Bouncy House’ and face painting.”
This year’s featured author is Jessica Young, and many opportunities to meet Young and hear her perform will be available over the course of the week. “Children’s author, Jessica Young will be doing presentations for Pre-K through six grades at Heritage Hall August 27, 28 and 29 through a partnership with the Johnson County School System and the Johnson County Community Foundation,” said Brown. “Mrs. Young will also do a presentation for teachers on Monday afternoon, August 27, on the ‘Read to be Ready’ initiative in Tennessee at the School Board Office.”
The Imagination Library program is free to all Tennessee families with preschool age children. To enroll in the program, parents can visit www.imaginationlibrary.com or visit the Johnson County Library.

Foundation awards $40K in community support

2018 scholarship recipients photo

Johnson County Education Growth Scholarship Recipients Krista Summerow, Hailey Neely and Makayla Bilodeau and Johnson County Scholarship Recipients Sydney Manuel, Chase McGlamery and Holly Lay pose for a photo during the Johnson County Community Foundation Awards Ceremony held last week at the Johnson County Public Library in Mountain City.
Photo by Samantha Amick.

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

A large group of residents, county and city representatives and several Johnson County High School students attended the annual Johnson County Community Foundation (JCCF) grant reception and scholarship awards ceremony last week. According to JCCF Board Chairman Carol Stout, the reception for students who received scholarships and the 17 local organizations who received grants at the Johnson County Public Library meeting room in Mountain City, boasted of giving back to the community nearly $40,000. Since 1999, more than $1.3 million has been awarded in grants and scholarships.

“It is an honor to work with the members of the Johnson County Community Foundation Advisory Board,” said Trudy Hughes, Vice President of Regional Advancement.

Hughes emphasized that community leaders and volunteers serve tirelessly, securing contributions to increase the endowed funds so that the investment income is available for grants to deserving community organizations and projects.

“Funds are also made available by this means for scholarships for students pursuing post-secondary educational opportunities,” Hughes said, adding, “Johnson County is certainly one of the lead affiliate funds in our region and one which I am most pleased to serve.”

The Dry Run Volunteer Fire department was awarded funds to purchase protective gear for use when responding to house fires. The Friends of the Johnson County Library received funds to assist with their Read to be Ready program which will be bringing children’s author Jessica Young to Mountain City for programs for the county’s elementary students as well as a special training session for county teachers and parents. Heritage Hall was given monies to improve the security of the theater for performers and audience members.

A fall concert and summer day camp will be the goal for the money awarded to the Johnson County Arts Council’s Junior Appalachian Musicians
(JAM) program. The council also received funds for a marquee sign to be placed outside the Johnson County Center for the Arts. Additional funds were given to support the council’s Long Journey Home Celebration. The Johnson County Farmers Market was given funds to assist their efforts with the GoJoCo Kids Club. The market and community supporters intend to use the money to encourage kids to make the right nutritional decisions.

Johnson County High School had four programs awarded funds. The school’s Skills USA involvement was supported with an award for future travels to and participation in the national competition. The FFA was given money to add Virtual Reality capabilities to the classroom. The school’s Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) received money to allow four qualifying students to travel to the HOSA International Leadership Conference in Dallas, TX. The JCHS volleyball team was given the needed funds to finish purchasing team uniforms for away games.

The Johnson County Middle School’s VEX Robotics Team received money to continue the team’s participation in robotics competitions. Johnson County Humane Society was also supported with funds to continue their Spay and Neuter Incentive Program. Funds for an Outdoor Socialization
Project sought by the Johnson County Senior Center was also awarded. The money will be used to build an area for outdoor gathering that would benefit the senior center, Masons, Shriners, and Eastern Star all of which are in need of additional space.

The Mountain States Foundation’s plans to install three “Little Free Library” in local elementary schools, was funded to encourage healthier living
with literacy. Second Harvest Food Bank’s Food for Kids Backpack Program was awarded money to continue efforts to ensure at-risk youth do not go hungry during weekends and holiday breaks. The 4-H Camp Scholarship Program was given funds to allow students to attend 4-H summer camps and conferences at a discounted rate. JCCF was pleased with the total of $39,202.50 invested in the community through the various program and organization awards.

2018 Grantees & Board Photo

Johnson County Community Foundation Advisory Board with 2018 Grant Award Winners. Photo by Samantha Amick at the recent awards ceremony at the Johnson County Public Library in Mountain City. Photo by Samantha Amick

Gavel strikes amid high tensions

july meeting

The Johnson County Commission met on July 17 to discuss budget proposals and other county business. The majority of the meeting was business as usual, but the end of the meeting saw tensions and voices rise as the stress of Election Day builds. Photo by Marlana Ward.

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

Recess was called, but the meeting was far from over.

This month’s Johnson County Commissioners’ meeting held last Tuesday, with less than five private citizens in attendance was business as usual for the first forty-five minutes, before things took a drastic turn prompting attendees to sit up and take note. It was the final commissioners meeting before the upcoming county elections adding to rising tensions in the room that had everyone talking as they left the courthouse.

The majority of the meeting dealt with the county’s operating budget for 2018-2019. County Accounting and Budget Director Russell Robinson presented the commissioners with a proposed budget and went over details contained within the packet of information they were given. The group was encouraged to study the materials in preparation for the special August 6 public hearing on the budget when the citizens of Johnson County have an opportunity to speak and give their thoughts on the budget. Following the public hearing, the commission meeting would reconvene, and a vote would be held on the budget. But when Robinson finished, and Commission Chairman Mike Taylor asked the commissioners if someone would like to make the motion for the meeting to be recessed until August 6, things turned interesting with tensions running high.

According to recordings obtained from the County Clerks office, it was at this time that Commissioner Jerry Grindstaff stood up and asked to be allowed to speak on a matter. With notes in hand, Grindstaff brought up previous votes concerning cost-of-living raises for county employees implying that Taylor had been resistant to the raises for county employees and that while at one point Taylor had requested the county consider a three percent raise, he had only mentioned it but did not push for the increase.Taylor then repeatedly hit the gavel over the judge’s bench
and spoke of how the commission meeting was “not the place for political speeches” and that he had supported the raises adding, “My votes were on record and could be reviewed.”

The tension in the room got even higher as Taylor again asked for someone to a motion for the meeting to be recessed. Grindstaff then motioned
and Taylor hit the gavel to make it official when County Mayor Larry Potter asked if Taylor was going to allow other officials present to speak
as is customary before the conclusion of commissioner meetings.

The awkward tense back and forth continued as Taylor replied that the meeting was not officially adjourned but rather, recessed and that any other business would have to be discussed when the group met again on August 6. Potter then asked if he “would not be allowed to speak?” Taylor replied with another question asking if what Potter had to say was “in connection to what Grindstaff had already said or political in any nature,” adding, “The gavel had already come down on the meeting so it would need to wait.”

Potter would not have it; stood up and said, “I am going to speak.” The first item on Potter’s list was to ask the commissioners if they would want to consider the August 6 reconvening as the official monthly meeting and not have to meet twice in August. Taylor asked if the new business could be brought up at that meeting and County Attorney Perry Stout assured all that it could be done legally. No vote was taken.

The second item Potter wanted to discuss was that he had been approached by local officials asking if county offices could be closed on Election
Day, August 2, as had been done in the past. Because the meeting had been closed before the item could be brought up; once again, no vote was taken.

The meeting then came to an uneasy, tension filled end as everyone gathering their belongings walked towards the exit wondering about the awkward interaction between the county’s leaders they had just witnessed. The Johnson County Commission will reconvene for a public hearing about the county budget on August 6 at 6 p.m. at the Johnson County Courthouse.

Johnson County Library breaks ground on third expansion project

Library Groundbreaking

Johnson County Community Foundation Advisory Board with 2018 Grant Award Winners. Photo by Samantha Amick at the recent awards ceremony at the Johnson County Public Library in Mountain City. Photo by Samantha Amick.

By Jinifer Rae

The Johnson County Library held a much-anticipated groundbreaking ceremony last week, to commemorate the start of construction for its long awaited new addition. While some come to the library expecting a quiet time, with more than 50,000 visitors each year, the facility, can be a bustling place prompting patrons to eagerly anticipate the completion of the building’s newest expansion.

Last October, JCPL has received a $100,000 Library Construction Grant from the Tennessee State Library and Archives toward the expansion of its current facility. The help of the grant gave library staff the opportunity to make plans for the nearly $300,000 project to create an approximately 1,150 square feet addition at the front of the building, which will provide a much-needed and necessary, usable area. The existing building currently houses stack areas, offices, restrooms, and a limited reading area; however according to library officials, additional space is needed for an adequate Reading Room.

The proposed one story addition will incorporate a new reading room and an HVAC equipment room. The addition will be a reading and reference room with tables around so people can work in a quiet space,” said Library Director, Linda Icenhour, adding that at the beginning of the project, plans called for a slab, a wall and a roof.

“But things have changed,” she said. “The architect couldn’t make that happen the way we envisioned it so we ended up with three walls, a slab and a roof. The contractor was able to review the plans, and some changes were made, which also reduced the cost of the expansion by $10,000.”

No renovations of the interior of the existing building are included in the finalplan, but roof adjustments are necessary to integrate the new addition. The recent groundbreaking also received a monetary donation from another generous benefactor.

“Kathleen Mount not only donated the money, but as a 30-year board member, she has been the backbone of the library for many years,” Icenhour said.

While it is in one of Tennessee’s smallest counties, reportedly more than half of the population possesses a library card.

“Our library is an invaluable resource in our community,” said Icenhour. “This facility continues to be busy with a constant daily flow of library patrons.”

To sum up the bottom line of the project she said, “This expansion project, will greatly improve and accommodate the growing number of our residents who enjoy and rely on the library to meet their needs.”

The library is also selling bricks for at $100 apiece that can be purchased in memory or in honor of someone. Individual smaller donations are also welcome. The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

For more information about JCPL please visit www.johnsoncolib.org.

Annual Sunflower Festival draws crowd from near and far

 

Visitors from near and far enjoying a nice variety of crafts as well as music and food, as they walk down Main Street during the 14th Annual Sunflower Festival held last week in Mountain City. The event saw nearly 3,000 attended the daylong festival, which according to organizers was much larger and welcomed turnout.

Story by Jinifer Rae
Photos by Tamas Mondovics

Downtown took on a whole new look this weekend as the streets of Church, and Main, in Mountain City TN was inundated with visitors from all over the state. Many came to enjoy crafts, music, food, and, of course, sunflowers.
Event organizers, Renee Proffitt and Misste Phillippi expected more than three thousand people to attend Mountain City’s 14th annual Sunflower Festival and, they were by no means disappointed.
“I am very pleased with the attendance at this year’s event,” Phillipi said. “We have received a much bigger turnout than in the past, which is a great thing as it boosts tourism and puts our city and community on the map.”
Some attended the event looking forward to the annual beauty pageant, the car show, the quilt show, or the beautiful yearly sunflower contest. Visitors also enjoyed browsing the huge assortment of wares offered by more than 74
vendors.
From organic soap, wood-worked furniture, artwork, and crafts, there was something for everyone. Local businesses were also open encouraging visitors to shop local with special deals just for the Sunflower Festival.
The food presented this year was sure to tempt any palette. People lined around the block to get a taste of BBQ, kettle corn, homemade ice cream, and a large enough assortment of baked goods available to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Delicious treats could also be enjoyed while listening to daylong music offered in the nearby grassy area.
People attending were invited to continue enjoying events scheduled for later in the evening.
Following the festival, Heritage Hall presented “Phantom,” an old-time rock and roll music free concert at Ralph Stout Park.
Younger visitors to this year’s event were in for a special treat, as a wet slide gave ample opportunity to have some fun and get out of the heat.
Proffitt emphasized that the annual Sunflower Festival “is not possible without support from our amazing sponsors, Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, Walkers Title, Johnson County Bank, Farmer State Bank, Hux-Lipford Funeral Home, Bob Stout Construction, Mike Trivette, and Mountain Heritage Reality.”
Proffitt also wanted to thank McDonald’s, Hardees, Poblanos, Mike’s BBQ, Little Caesars, and Honeybees for their wonderful contributions to this year’s festival along with the Town of Mountain City and the city workers who were there all day helping with everything from set-up, and to clean up at the end of the day.
“You guys were amazing, and we can never thank you enough,” Proffitt said. “We would also like to thank the downtown businesses that allowed us to use electrical and water outlets. Thank you to Dan Lipford for organizing an amazing car show and our wonderful judges who came out to help us with the hard decision of picking winners. We would also like to thank Heritage Hall for coming to us last year with a wonderful opportunity that helped create a full day of entertainment for the whole family. Phantom did an amazing job.
Last, but definitely not least Proffitt thanked all the volunteers and vendors.
“You made the festival happen,” she said. “All of you working with us made the 14th Annual Sunflower Festival an overwhelming success.”

TWRA to launch new boating regulations

TWRA has announced the installment of two new laws concerning recreational boating safety.

By Tamas Mondovics

Editor

The 2018 summer recreational boating season is well underway as local residents and out-of-state visitors take advantage of their favorite vacation spots and the state’s breathtaking waterways.
To increase safety while boating on Tennessee waters, TWRA has announced the installment of two new laws concerning recreational boating, which went into effect on Sunday July 1.
According to TWRA officials, the first of the two new laws now in effect is a requirement similar to the “Move Over” law on land.
As written, the new law will require boaters to slow to no wake speed within 100 feet of a law enforcement vessel that is displaying flashing blue lights, TWRA said.
The agency also reported that effective this month, exemption from boating education for renters of watercraft is no longer be available.
The law now states that “Tennessee residents born after Jan. 1, 1989 are required to pass a boater education exam administered by an approved representative of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in order to operate any motorized vessel over 8.5 horsepower. Out of state residents born after Jan. 1, 1989 must show proof of successful completion of a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating safety course. Non-resident certification may be from their home state or any state issued course.”
Officials explained that those who have already made reservations or entered into contracts with marinas are encouraged to continue with their plans, but are asked to complete an approved boater education course before renting again.
In a recent online interview TWRA officer Rusty Thomson emphasized several basic laws for all to keep in mind.
“Just like hunters were required to take a class since 1969, if you were born after January 1, 1989 boaters have to take a boating education class,” Thomson said.
Thomson added that in his opinion the boating education test is a “fairly hard test” to take loaded with boating terminology, which would be good for new or experienced boaters to be familiar with prior to taking the class.
Tennessee residents born after the Jan.1, 1989 can purchase a Type 600 Exam Permit online or from any hunting and fishing license vendor for a cost of $10 and go to a testing location to take the exam or take a class. Locations for testing and for classes can be found on the TWRA website under the boating section.
If your boating safety card is lost or stolen, you may purchase a Type 605 license from a license agent for $5.00. The duplicate card will be mailed approximately two weeks from purchase date.
For study materials telephone (615) 781-6682.

In honor, in memory

Delmer Fred Simcox
US Air Force

He was stationed in Sacramento California. Delmer‘ s wife Rachel passed away November 1, 2014. Delmer and his daughters Debbie and Frank Fortuna, Dianne and Steve Sexton and son Nathan all live in Port Deposit Maryland. Stacy Sexton Bates and husband Bryan live in Aberdeen
Maryland. Delmer is the son of the late Dana and Ruth Simcox.


Randell Frank Simcox
US Army

He was stationed in Germany and participated in Desert Storm. Randy lives in Laurel Bloomery Tennessee with his wife Susan and children Caitlin, Ethan and Ella Ruth. Randy is the son of Frank Simcox and Lewis Baumgardner. Randy is the grandson of the late Dana and Ruth Simcox.


Leonard Frank Simcox
US Army

He was stationed in Fort Jackson South Carolina. Frank lives in Boone North Carolina with his wife Linda. Frank‘s sons Randy and wife Susan live in Laurel Bloomery Tennessee with their children Caitlin Ethan and Ella route, while David lives in Nashville Tennessee. Frank’s daughter, Marsha Robinson and son Jakob live in Mountain City, Tennessee.


John Bascom Simcox
US Army

He served during the Korean War being stationed in Japan. John passed away May 14, 2016. John’s widow and her son Ernest and wife Sherry live in Creston North Carolina. Grandson Josh and wife Pam live in Zionsville North Carolina. John was the son of the late Dana and Ruth Simcox.


Robert Glenn Parsons

Served from 1968 to 1970 and was Stationed in Fort Bragg, NC, Fort Sill , OK and Hanau, Germany. He is my biggest supporter as Mayor and is a big influence in my life and is always there for his grandchildren.


Paul E Johnson Sr.
US Army

Enlisted in the US Army in 1959 he was stationed at Fort Hood,TX. He was in Auto Maintenance rank SP4 E4 during his service. He was a recognized as a Sharpshooter and received a Good Conduct Medal. He served 2 years in the US Army.


Sgt. Randolph Stout
US Army 3rd Battalion 7th Artillery


Nuremberg, Germany 1966-68
(Drafted out of Johnson County, TN)

Local Volunteers’ work to preserve county history

documents

Handwritten records and notes provide glimpses into life in early Johnson County. Several surprising discoveries of how the county handled money and esponsibilities have already been made. Each piece of paper holds the potential to shed new light on the community’s ancestors and their values. Photo by Marlana Ward

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

“It is important that we preserve this history for future generations.”

Johnson County has many genealogy and history enthusiasts. To these individuals who find purpose and passion in pouring over historical documents and online family history sites, nothing is more important to their search than official documents and accounts of their ancestors. Recently, a small group of local “Archive Volunteers” volunteers began a project, which has the potential to help many enthusiasts in their pursuit of history in Johnson County.
The project began when the condition of the county’s historical records was shared with a few, concerned individuals. The books and records containing court documents, receipts from county offices, and other records from the beginnings of Johnson County were being stored in a building without climate control or proper storage, and the documents were showing significant signs of deterioration.

The first step in the preservation process was to remove the files, books, and other records from the building they were being stored into a more hospitable environment with room for the volunteers to begin their work. A location was found which provided the needed space and security and work began.

Currently, the volunteers are still sorting through the many, many records and painstakingly cleaning as much of the debris as possible from folders, papers, and books. Some of the documents found date back to the 1830’s and as such, require great patience and care in reviewing the information contained within. Unfortunately, due to the inadequate care and storage of the documents in decades past, some of the materials found were significantly damaged.
Volunteers have gained glimpses into life for early Johnson County citizens. For example, when the county road department would come to a residential road to do repairs, every citizen who lived on that road was expected to work for the department as an employee throughout the repairs unless a medical excuse from a doctor or trusted witness was provided.

It has also been discovered how the county took on responsibilities for its citizens that would be unheard of today. The county government supported the county home for invalids and even paid for the burials of a surprising number of citizens not necessarily limited to those considered indigent. A record was also found which showed that the county paid for a local child to be sent to a school for the blind in Nashville.

One story found within the records was the death of Johnson Grindstaff in 1924. Near the Doeville community, a body was found in the middle of the road. Upon discovery, a coroner’s inquest was called for, and the county coroner along with six men from the community came out to investigate. People questioned in the city reported hearing at least five gunshots that evening. The deceased man was identified as Grindstaff, and it was determined he had been hit shot three times. He had been hit in the wrist, the tenth rib, and as recorded, “in the union suit.” “Once the inquest was complete, the seven men left the body lying in the street and went home. It is unknown who finally came to lay Grindstaff to rest. His official death certificate listed his cause of death as “shot by an unknown person.”

Another interesting account in the records is that of the polling place for the 5th District in the Neva community. According to county files, in 1907 the county was petitioned to pay for the use of a citizen’s building for hosting the elections. It was noted that before this, elections were held under a large tree on the citizen’s property. The tree was also where early military in the area would muster for official business. After a few years, the gentleman’s father who owned the property with the tree allowed the use of a room in his house for the elections. Upon the gentleman’s passing, his son still allowed the polling place on his property but moved the location to a room within the mill. According to the documents found, the property owner’s request for reimbursement for the use of his building came after repeated instances of those at the elections “hiding their hooch around his property and causing a ruckus.” The county refused to pay the man, and he went on to write a poem about the incidents.

The Archive Volunteers are working diligently to preserve stories such as these for future generations. “Preserving these documents will give us a sense of how our ancestors lived and dealt with day to day life in Johnson County,” one volunteer shared. “It is important that we preserve this history for future generations.”

The group understands the importance of historic preservation and realizes the vital role these documents could play in a person’s journey to find their family history. As stated by a group representative, “The volunteers dedicate their time and effort piecing together odd bits of information and documents to aid others

with their own genealogical and historical quests.”
The project will be a lengthy one, as the group must take great care as they go through each piece of history. The Archive Volunteers hope that in the next few years the cleaning, sorting, and initial cataloging of the records will be completed and the group can begin creating a digital catalog of the information for the public to share.