Whatever Happened to an Affordable College Education?

As U.S. college students and their families know all too well, the cost of higher education in the United States has skyrocketed in recent decades.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, between 2008 and 2017, the average cost of attending a four-year public college, adjusted for inflation, increased in every state in the nation.
In Arizona, tuition soared by 90 percent. Over the past 40 years, the average cost of attending a four-year college increased by over 150 percent for both public and private institutions.
By the 2017-2018 school year, the average annual cost at public colleges stood at $25,290 for in-state students and $40,940 for out-of-state students, while the average annual cost for students at private colleges reached $50,900.
In the past, many public colleges had been tuition-free or charged minimal fees for attendance, thanks in part to the federal Land Grant College Act of 1862. But now that’s “just history.” The University of California, founded in 1868, was tuition-free until the 1980s. Today, that university estimates that an in-state student’s annual cost for tuition, room, board, books, and related items is $35,300; for an out-of-state student, it’s $64,300.
Not surprisingly, far fewer students now attend college. Between the fall of 2010 and the fall of 2018, college and university enrollment in the United States plummeted by two million students.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranks 13th in its percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds who have some kind of college or university credentials, lagging behind South Korea, Russia, Lithuania, and other nations.
Furthermore, among those American students who do manage to attend college, the soaring cost of higher education is channeling them away from their studies and into jobs that will help cover their expenses. As a Georgetown University report has revealed, more than 70 percent of American college students hold jobs while attending school. Indeed, 40 percent of U.S. undergraduates work at least 30 hours a week at these jobs, and 25 percent of employed students work full-time.
Such employment, of course, covers no more than a fraction of the enormous cost of a college education; therefore, students are forced to take out loans and incur very substantial debt to banks and other lending institutions.
In 2017, roughly 70 percent of students reportedly graduated from college with significant debt. According to published reports, in 2018, over 44 million Americans collectively held nearly $1.5 trillion in student debt. The average student loan borrower had $37,172 in student loans a $20,000 increase from 13 years before.
Why are students facing these barriers to a college education? Are the expenses for maintaining a modern college or university that much greater now than in the past?
Certainly not when it comes to faculty. After all, tenured faculty and faculty in positions that can lead to tenure have increasingly been replaced by miserably-paid adjunct and contingent instructors migrant laborers who now constitute about three-quarters of the instructional faculty at U.S. colleges and universities. Adjunct faculty paid a few thousand dollars per course, often fall below the official federal poverty line. As a result, about a quarter of them receives public assistance, including food stamps.
By contrast, higher education’s administrative costs are substantially greater than in the past, both because of the vast multiplication of administrators and their soaring incomes. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, in 2016 (the last year for which figures are available), there were 73 private and public college administrators with annual compensation packages that ran from $1 million to nearly $5 million each.
Even so, the major factor behind the disastrous financial squeeze upon students and their families is the cutback in government funding for higher education.
According to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, between 2008 and 2017 states cut their annual funding for public colleges by nearly $9 billion (after adjusting for inflation).
Of the 49 states studied, 44 spent less per student in the 2017 school year than in 2008. Given the fact that states and to lesser extent localities covered most of the costs of teaching and instruction at these public colleges, the schools made up the difference with tuition increases, cuts to educational or other services, or both.
For example, SUNY, New York State’s large public university system, remained tuition-free until 1963, but thereafter, students and their parents were forced to shoulder an increasing percentage of the costs. This process accelerated from 2007-2008 to 2018-2019, when annual state funding plummeted from $1.36 billion to $700 million. As a result, student tuition now covers nearly 75 percent of the operating costs of the state’s four-year public colleges and university centers. This is not atypical.
This government disinvestment in public higher education reflects the usual pressure from the wealthy and their conservative allies to slash taxes for the rich and reduce public services.
“We used to tax the rich and invest in public goods like affordable higher education,” one observer remarked. “Today, we cut taxes on the rich and then borrow from them.”
Of course, it’s quite possible to make college affordable once again. The United States is far wealthier now than in the past, with a bumper crop of excessively rich people who could be taxed for this purpose.
Beginning with his 2016 presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders has called for the elimination of undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges, plus student loan reforms, funded by a tax on Wall Street speculation. More recently, Elizabeth Warren has championed a plan to eliminate the cost of tuition and fees at public colleges, as well as to reduce student debt, by establishing a small annual federal wealth tax on households with fortunes of over $50 million.
Certainly, something should be done to restore Americans’ right to an affordable college education.

Dr. Lawrence Wittner, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany and the author of Confronting the Bomb (Stanford University Press).

Proud father boasts of daughter’s achievements

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

Considering that thousands of students across the state and the nation enjoyed the spotlight, Lauren Mackenzie Souder graduation from Cocke County High School in Newport, Tennessee last month may not be all that special to most.
But to Sauder’s parents, Julie and Steve Sauder, a former Johnson County resident whose brother and parents still live in the county, this event is extra special, and for a good reason.
For starters, Mackenzie, the granddaughter of Spencer and Cathy Souder of Laurel Bloomery, graduated third in her class of 279 with a 4.42 G.P.A. as an A.P. Scholar, member of the National Honors Society and Treasurer of the National Beta Club.
She was a member of the Advanced Choir for three years and has earned 30 college credits during her high school career.
In addition to her excellent performance in the classroom, Mackenzie excelled in athletics as a three-sport athlete playing on the Varsity basketball team for four years, starting at point guard for three of those years.
“She led her team in assists and serving as a captain in her senior season,” Steve proudly said, while adding that Mackenzie enjoyed the spotlight as an All-Conference performer in Soccer, scoring more than 50 goals in her career.
“She was captain for three years, named first-team All-Conference for three years, and capped off a remarkable career her Senior season being named the District 2 Class AA Soccer Forward of the Year,” he said.
The athletic accomplishments continue including Mackenzie’s spot on the track and field team, after qualifying for the Sectionals during her Junior and Senior seasons.
She also qualified in the 100-meter dash, 400-meter dash, and the 4 x 100 relay her Junior year and in her Senior season, qualified for the 100-meter dash and tied the school record in the 200-meter dash.
But there is more. Mackenzie is a member of First Free Will Baptist Church in Newport and participates annually in the National C.T.S. Competitions that include Bible Bowl, Bible Memorization, Vocals, Duets, and Trios.
To assist her future endeavors, Mackenzie has received several scholarships, including the Presidential Academic Performance award to ETSU, the Richard and Peggy Harwood Memorial Scholarship, along with the J. Pritchard Barnes Memorial Scholarship. She plans to attend ETSU to study Accounting.
Great job Mackenzie.

A very unusual hay year in Johnson County

 

By Rick Thomason

UT/TSU-Johnson County Extension Director

It was so good seeing lots of hay harvested during the last two weeks of May this year. In the 40 plus years, I’ve been living and working in Johnson County, I’ve never seen haymaking weather as good in the month of May as it was this year.
In Hamblen County, where I grew up, we always started putting up our hay in May. However, in the mountains, the weather usually doesn’t cooperate with us enough to put up hay this early. It is either not hot enough to cure the hay, which means that you have to leave it mowed down in the field for a longer period or it rains every other day which increases the risk for getting the hay damaged.
This year, however, we had two good weeks of hot, dry weather for farmers to get in their hay fields early. I sure hope that you took advantage of this time to put up some of your hay crops. Your livestock will undoubtedly appreciate it this winter when you start feeding them this hay.
Now, why is this so important to get the hay up this early? The stage of growth greatly influences hay quality.
When grasses are in what we call their vegetative or leafy state that is when they are the most nutritious for feeding livestock. Once the grasses start into their reproductive stage (making seed heads), the quality of the hay drops significantly.
Most years in Johnson County due to our weather, the hay crop gets overripe before our farmers have a chance to get it harvested. This makes for some poor quality hay to feed the livestock in the winter. The hay has large sturdy stems and is not very nutritious, which means that the farmers have to supplement it with some grain.
Another good reason to get the hay up early is that with our short growing season in the mountains, this will allow for more re-growth this summer to use for a second cutting of hay this fall. If you were one of the ones who got up some of your hay crops during the last two weeks of May, I would highly encourage you to get the bales out of the field as soon as possible so that it won’t hinder the re-growth of the grasses in your hay field. I don’t like to see rolls of hay left sitting in the fields for weeks and even months in the summer.
It is recommended that you store your hay inside if at all possible to preserve the quality of your hay. Just make sure the hay is dry before storing it in the barn. High moisture will cause the bales to heat up, which increases the chance of barn fires.
If it is necessary to store some hay outdoors, try to keep it off the ground using pallets or large stones and covered with a tarp if possible. Do not store hay in fencerows, under trees or in the shade of buildings as this increases spoilage of your hay. Arrange your hay rolls with the ends facing north to south and if the bales are going to be left uncovered, leave some space between your hay rolls to allow for more air movement. Hay rolls stored outside uncovered will have losses of about 1/3, so feed these to your livestock first this winter.

June is National Dairy Month

Tennessee has approximately 205 dairy farms and Dairy cows in the state to produce nearly 73.7 million gallons of milk per year. Photo by Bill Ward.

By Leigh Anne Shull
Farm Bureau Women

The Johnson County Farm Bureau Women would like to encourage the support and recognition of June Dairy Month.
June Dairy Month began in 1937 as “National Milk Month” to encourage drinking milk.
Today, the state of Tennessee has approximately 205 dairy farms according to the Dairy Alliance of Tennessee.
The top five milk-producing counties in Tennessee include Bedford, Bradley, Loudon, McMinn and Monroe.
Dairy cows in Tennessee provide an average of 1,992 gallons of milk per year, in which the total amount of milk produced within the state is 73.7 million gallons. In the year 2018, 98 percent of all milk produced in Tennessee was used and consumed in the form of fluid milk.
There are many beneficial reasons to support the dairy industry which include: Milk is produced in every state and is the perfect example of a fresh, farm-to- table product. It is also nutritious.
Milk, cheese and other dairy foods are simple, easy ways to get the energy and nutrients that your family needs.
The next time one puts milk on cereal, put cheese on pizza, or eat a cup of yogurt or ice cream, it might be a good idea to think about the dairy farmers who make it possible for all to enjoy these delicious products throughout the year.
Anyone interested in becoming involved in the Farm Bureau Women of Johnson County may email fbwjoco@gmail.com for more information.

Ralph Stout to be inducted into National High School Hall of Fame

TSSAA referee, Larry Hutchinson talks about his friend Ralph Stout, while being interview by NFHS documentary film producer in preparation of Stout’s induction into the National High School Hall of Fame. Stout will be the twelfth person and third official from the state of Tennessee to be inducted. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

“Ralph was the best, and I wanted to learn from the best,” said The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA), referee Larry Hutchinson while asked to say a few words about his friend, the late Ralph Stout, one of the greatest basketball and football officials to ever put on a striped shirt.
Hutchinson was just one four people interviewed in Mountain City, TN by Rick Waggner a National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) documentary film producer last month ahead of Stout’s, upcoming induction into the National High School Hall of Fame.
Stout will become the twelfth person and third official from the state of Tennessee to be inducted.
The event, which in itself will be a special time for all associated with NFHS as hosting its 37th Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and the 100th NFHS Annual Summer Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, June 30 at the JW Marriott Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Sports memorabilia, including photos, and gear, honor the late Ralph Stout, one of the greatest basketball and football officials to ever put on a striped shirt.

 
Stout, passed away on August 18, 2017, at the age of 96, and was a loving husband to Margie for 75 years and a wonderful father to Sonny, Mary Beth, Linda, Carole, and Jeff. He will be inducted posthumously.
Of course, there is no shortage of stories and fine memories connected to Ralph’s career, thanks to his famed and one-of-a-kind officiating high school football and basketball from 1946 until 1992.
“Ralph was a special person and highly committed, to his work,” Hutchinson said, adding, “He knew the rules. Everyone was well aware that if Ralph did not have or know the answer to an officiating question, nobody knew.”
During his 65 years with the TSSAA, he served as an official, a supervisor, and commissioner. He officiated in conferences including Southern, OVC, SEC, ACC, VSAC, and NBA.
He refereed eighteen district tournaments and twelve regional tournaments for the association. He served as the official’s supervisor for Region 1 football and basketball from 1990 until 2000.
Ralph boast of a plethora of awards and accolades including (in order) being inducted into the Naismath Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1968), TSSAA Hall of Fame (1984), Northeast Hall of Fame (1989), Lincoln Memorial University Hall of Fame (1989), and Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame (1992) just to name a few.
In a statement to the media, Bernard Childress, Executive Director of TSSAA, spoke highly of Stout and was proud of him representing the state.


“We are extremely happy for Ralph’s family. He was such a well-known and respected official in Tennessee, and not just at the high school level, but at all levels. Ralph Stout made so many contributions in both basketball and football throughout his officiating career. We are honored to have him represent our state as an inductee into the National High School Hall of Fame. This is a very proud moment for the state of Tennessee and TSSAA, but most of all, it’s a proud moment for Ralph’s family. We appreciate all of his years of service to TSSAA, it’s member schools, and the student-athletes that he had an impact on. He is greatly missed.”
Ralph worked in his family jewelry business for over forty-five years. He was elected mayor of Mountain City in 1947 and served with distinction for nineteen years but that he gave his all to officiating there is little doubt. For this, he holds a place of honor in the proud history of Tennessee sports.
Hutchinson recalled that his friend “passed on a Friday night, while teams around the state were playing the game.”
TSSAA supervisor and friend Jim Cradic agreed, adding that Ralph was reading the ruled book the night he died.
“He studied that book until the end, and he knew it inside out, that’s for sure,” Cradic said. I will miss him and his knowledge of the game.”
At the end of June 2019, Ralph will take his rightful place among the previous Tennessee inductees such as Rick Insell, Catherine Neely, the late Jim Smiddy, the late Buck Van Huss, and the late Boyce Smith, all coaches. The late Bill Pack was inducted into the Hall of Fame as an official, as well as the late Billy Schrivner of Jackson. Ronnie Carter, former Executive Director of TSSAA, was inducted as an administrator. Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, Nikki McCray-Penson, and Steve Spurrier have all been inducted as athletes from Tennessee.
The National High School Hall of Fame was started in 1982 by the NFHS to honor high school athletes, coaches, contest officials, administrators, performing arts coaches/directors and others for their extraordinary achievements and accomplishments in high school sports and performing arts programs. This year’s class increases the number of individuals in the Hall of Fame to 482.

Yards to Paradise — Why put trees in yards?

By Max Phelps

Many newly constructed homes look like plastic houses from a Monopoly game—all alike, and all rowed up along the street. (If a large healthy native tree or two could have been left, that would have helped immensely.)
These homes, along with fresh concrete drives, walks or patios, and fresh unpainted decks of treated pine, almost have the appearance of a skeleton with naked bones. It’s little wonder most cities now require a few shrubs or trees be planted. (Unfortunately, most designers or builders are only interested in meeting the technicalities, not in pretty landscaping, so good intentions have not translated into eliminating the Monopoly house look hardly at all. Two maple trees and six shrubs does not a good landscape make!)
Why put trees in yards? And why are two red maples or two callery pears not good landscaping? Some folks just want to get out of where they are and into a new home, and I get that. But, with time, there is the need to make the yard look more natural, like it probably did before the land was cleared and the bulldozers flattened the hills (and the topsoil was scooped up and sold). Most homeowners eventually want to apply their personality, or that of their spouse, to the yard and dress it to compliment the house.
This is really when the trees should be planted; this is where planting trees can be justified. When the owners are ready to make the place look more like an individualized paradise rather than a cookie cutter house.
Trees play many useful roles in the landscape. They can frame the house to show it off better, or they can be planted to hide the house from the street. Moderating the temperature with shade, moderating the wind with a windbreak, creating privacy, screening eyesores, attracting wildlife, producing fruit or nuts, are some of the ways trees can be used to meet our needs as homeowners. Then, there is also simply personal preference or likes.
Well placed and carefully chosen trees can add greatly to the looks and comforts of a home. Be sure to select a tree or two that will age to perfection; most fast-growing trees become problems in 20 or 30 years. Try mixing up the trees, for diversity is good for many reasons.
Specimen trees can add much to a yard’s looks. But, “specimen” by definition, isn’t “several”. Rather, it’s one tree that is outstanding. (Any nurseryman that tries to sell you on several specimen trees at one time is thinking of his next vacation more than how your yard will benefit!)
Shade trees are what the name says; they provide shade. Any large tree can be a ‘shade’ tree. Even evergreen trees—although they typically are recommended for the north or west side of the house.
What are some good shade trees? Well, it depends on where you live. Trees that are planted for shade in Ohio are not the same as those planted in Florida. In in my area, oaks, maples, sweet or black gum, tulip poplar, and the ubiquitous Bradford pear are used extensively. Sycamore, linden, elms, catalpa, buckeye, walnut, hickory, ash (until the borer problem), cypress, willow and zelkova are sometimes chosen. Southern magnolias, America hollies, pines, firs and spruces are evergreen options.
Breaking the wind from hitting your house full strength is best done with shrubbery, trees in the middle, then more shrubbery…a multi-layered planting. True windbreaks are planted some distance from the house…certainly not close enough that they would blow down and damage the home.
Screening either things we don’t want to look at, or to keep others from looking in on us, this is what we mean by planting trees for screening purposes. There are so many possibilities, so I’ll not try to list them. Both big trees, small trees, or shrubbery can be employed in screening. Even large clumps of grass or lawn ornaments or outdoor structures can serve in this function.
Greenery is good at muffling noises. Planting a row of trees or a hedge between you and traffic, the neighbor’s parties, or even between a cozy spot and your own home, can help with enjoying your place. Plus, the greenery cleans air pollution. (Well, some trees contribute pollen which is called pollution at times I suppose. Female trees would be best in that regard, but most people select males because of no nuts or seeds and make pollen problems worse.)
Shrubs (shrubby little trees, really) are useful where something tall isn’t required. Hiding the trash cans, doghouse, or gas tank come to mind. And, in a large lovely layered landscape, tall, medium and short plants create the most luxurious look.
Wildlife prefers less lawn and more trees. For food, shelter, nesting, hiding, and various other reasons.
Trees make our homes prettier, and our neighbors nicer. Another good reason to plant trees.
Spending a few hundred dollars on trees to make your two hundred thousand dollar home look better is a no-brainer! Even the tiny cottage benefits from good greenery around it.
Hiring professional help can get it done speedily and correctly, but if economics is a factor, small trees from a nursery or even those from a mail order house that come in a big box can work out fine. And our grandparents simply went to the woods or roadside and dug up something and took it home and planted it in their yard.
Fleshing out the seleton of your place with trees and shrubs should be a fun adventure. Think of it as putting clothes on a naked body, and it will take on more appleal
if you’re having trouble getting excited about tree
planting!

Invasive tick detected in Tennessee

The Asian longhorned tick has now spread to 11 states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there is no evidence that the tick has transmitted pathogens to humans or animals in the U.S. Submitted photo

Press Release

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, Tennessee Department of Health, and University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) today announced the detection of the invasive Asian longhorned tick in Tennessee.
The Asian longhorned tick has now spread to 11 states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there is no evidence that the tick has transmitted pathogens to humans or animals in the U.S.
Two Asian longhorned ticks were recently found on a dog in Union County, and five were found on a cow in Roane County. In the U.S., the tick has been reported on 17 different mammal species.
“Tennessee has a relatively large amount and variety of ticks,” Dr. R.T. Trout Fryxell, Associate Professor of Medical and Veterinary Entomology for UTIA, said. “It is important to be diligent and keep an eye out for all ticks because many varieties can transmit pathogens or cause painful bites.”

Tips to prevent tick
bites in animals and
livestock include:

•Coordinate with your veterinarian to determine appropriate pest prevention for pets and livestock.

•Check pets and livestock for ticks frequently.

•Remove any ticks by pulling from the attachment site of the tick bite with tweezers.

•Monitor your pets and livestock for any changes in health.

If your animals are bitten by a tick, Dr. Trout Fryxell suggests putting the tick in a ziplock bag, writing down the date and where the tick was most likely encountered, and storing it in a freezer. If any symptoms of a tick-borne disease begin to develop, you should bring the tick to your veterinarian.
For additional information about the longhorned tick in the United States, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/fs-longhorned-tick.pdf. To find more information on tick-borne diseases, visit www.cdc.gov/ticks/tickbornediseases/index.html.

New rules for Tennessee’s Hemp Program

Farmers in Tennessee have been growing and researching Hemp since the pilot program began in 2015. Submitted photo

Press Release

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is announcing rule changes for the state’s hemp program to better serve hemp producers.
“Farmers have been growing and researching this crop in Tennessee since the program began in 2015 as a pilot program,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “The hemp industry and federal laws have changed in recent years, and we’re updating our program rules to be more consistent with how other crop programs are managed.”
The application period for a license to grow hemp is now open year-round. Grower applications can be found online at www.tn.gov/agriculture/farms/hemp-industry.html. Licenses will expire June 30 of each year, and all grower licenses issued in 2019 will expire June, 2020.

Other program
changes include:

•Hemp processors will no longer be required to register through TDA.

•The hemp program will no longer issue licenses for certified seed breeders. However, anyone manufacturing, distributing, or labeling seed should be licensed through TDA’s Ag Inputs section.

•Growers will still need movement permits when transporting rooted plants and are now required to be permitted when moving harvested hemp from their growing site.

TDA has licensed more than 2,900 hemp growers in 2019. In 2018, TDA approved 226 hemp producer applications.
Federal and state laws require Tennessee hemp growers be licensed through TDA’s hemp program. While the 2018 Farm Bill removes hemp from the list of federally controlled substances, it remains illegal to grow hemp without a license through an approved state program.
The Tennessee General Assembly enacted Public Chapter 916 in 2014, tasking the department with development of a licensing and inspection program for the production of hemp in Tennessee. You will find more information about Tennessee’s hemp program at www.tn.gov/agriculture/farms/hemp-industry.html.

Doe Mountain Recreation Area sees increase in tourism

Hitting the ATV Trails Saturday at Doe Mountain Recreation Area.

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

That Tate Davis, executive director of Doe Mountain Recreation Area (DMRA), is optimistic about the direction of DMRA; there is little doubt.
Memorial Day weekend sales that have steadily increased since 2017 saw a 20 percent increase in permits sold this year compared to last year.
“Permit sales had increased double digits for the year by the end of May,” said Davis, who credits social media as being a huge reason for the growth of DMRA.
Facebook gets the word out about DMRA through the Facebook boost for people interested in all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and dirt bikes within a 100-150-mile radius reaching an estimated 5000-6000 people. DMRA board member, Dave Jones was instrumental in giving tips on how to maximize social media exposure.
Another significant factor that has helped is the rating from Northeast Tourism Association listing DMRA as fifth, for ATV and off highway vehicles (OHV) and fifth, as being the best winter hikes in Northeast Tennessee.
“I knew once people came, they would like it and want to come back and it shows through the number of annual permits we have sold this year,” Davis said.
The Kettlefoot Fire Tower restoration has been “the crowning jewel” and one of the biggest tourist attractions for DMRA as it has brought a lot of publicity and more visitors to the region.
“We are one of the few places that restore old fire towers due to the liability and cost,” Davis added.
As for moving forward, DMRA has big plans.
“I would like to see more rental vehicles and have guided tours available, Davis said adding that he would also like to have an OHV festival in the future, but anticipates having at least an organized OHV ride this summer.
The last thing on the executive director’s wish list is zip line, which he feels would also increase sales, thanks to their popularity, especially in Northeast Tennessee.”
Davis expresses his appreciation for the support of the DMRA board, “I have big ideas, and I am encouraged by the help I get through the DMRA Board of Directors.”
For more information about Doe Mountain Recreation Area contact the office at 423-460-1295.

Mayor Taylor signs Art Appreciation proclamation

Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor is joined by Temple Reece, Nancy Garrick, Evelyn Cook, and Cristy Dunn, as he signs the Art Appreciation Proclamation declaring June 24-28 Art Appreciation Week in Johnson County. Photo by Beth Cox

By Beth Cox
Freelance writer

Art Appreciation Week is a way of recognizing and honoring all of the talented people in Johnson County.
There are, of course, many talented people in Johnson County with a diverse background in the arts that encompass everything from painting, photography,
music, woodworking, jewelry making, pottery, and gardening.
The Johnson County Arts Council and the Johnson County Center for the Arts, are celebrating all of the different forms of artwork in the community in June.
“It’s our way of letting the talented artists know how proud the citizens of our community are of their contributions to the arts which enriches the lives of all who call Johnson County their home,” said Nancy Garrick, President of the Johnson County Arts Council
Art Appreciation Week is scheduled from June 24-June 29.
The proclamation notes, “Art enhances every aspect of life in Johnson County-improving our economy, enriching our civic life,
driving tourism, and
exerting a positive influence on the education of our children.”
Many activities are planned for the week including a garden tour.
For more information please contact the Johnson County Art Council or the Johnson County Center for the Arts.

Healthy life choices take center stage at Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

The Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County located at 917 Crossroads Dr. in Mountain City is a faith-based, non-profit, all-volunteer group that provides for the needs of pregnant women and their babies in the community.
The Center began assisting women in July of
2010 providing educational material, tangible resources, emotional support, and spiritual
support during and after pregnancy.
To continue its ongoing support, the Center offers clients much encouragement to make healthy life choices, including life skills, prenatal education, and healthy
parenting.
“We also provide free pregnancy tests, community health referrals, baby clothing, baby furnishings, diapers, and wipes,” said Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County director Judith Hoekstra. “We would be happy to have you
come visit and take a short tour.”
Hoekstra added that a baby crib and a mattress could also be earned by proving ten doctor visits.
The Pregnancy Support Center of Johnson County is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
For more information, please call 423-727-8600. Director is Judith “Kip” Hoekstra.

Fatalities reported at start of summer boating season

A sailboat takes advantage of a breezy day on Watauga Lake earlier this week, while dozens of boats await their captains at the start of the 2019 summer boating season. With boating season in full swing, local agencies are urging boaters to wear life jackets and keep boating safety in the forefront while on the water. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

By Tamas Mondovics
Editor

In the wake of the traditional National Safe Boating Week (May 18-24), and Memorial Day Weekend, the 2019 summer boating season is now in full swing.
To educate the public about the importance of safe boating practices and wearing life jackets while on the water, local agencies and law enforcement officials joined forces with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency in a weeklong effort urging boaters to put safety first throughout the entire 2019 boating season.
“Safe Boating Week is the perfect opportunity before the first major holiday weekend of the year to remind boaters about safety equipment,” said Betsy Woods, TWRA Boating Education Coordinator. “It is also the time to make maintenance checks and all that is needed so they can have a great time on the water and be safe.”
The effort, of course, is for a good reason. Over the 2018 Memorial Day weekend, there were ten boating under the influence (BUI) arrests. TWRA wildlife officers reported three injury-incidents accident and a pair of property damage incidents.
TWRA has reported that there were no boating-related fatalities over the 2019 Memorial Day holiday weekend, which marks the fifth consecutive year without a boating fatality over the holiday weekend.
Unfortunately, 2019 already had its share of boating accidents resulting in fatalities, including the most recent report of TWRA responding to a call of a boat collision on Thursday, May 30 around 9:45 p.m. The accident reportedly occurred near the Hobson Pike Bridge on Percy Priest Lake. Upon arrival, officers reported two boats and three individuals involved. Two occupants in one of the vessels suffered severe injuries. One individual died at the scene, and the other was taken to Vanderbilt Hospital in critical condition. The operator of the second vessel sustained minor injuries.
Preliminary investigation suggests both boats were under power and moving at the time of the collision although the exact cause of the accident is still under investigation. TWRA investigators impounded both vessels for further analysis.
Officials reported that the fatality is the second boating death of 2019 in Tennessee.
During the period from May 24-27, there were five injury incidents and six property damage incidents. TWRA Region IV in East Tennessee had two of the injury and five property damage incidents.
TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement officers made 21 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests, the most since the same number was reported in 2016 over the holiday weekend. The figure shows an increase from ten in 2018.
TWRA also wants to stress the responsible use of alcohol while boating, as well as to consider the effects of drinking and driving, whether on water or land. In a boat on the water, the effects of alcohol increase because of external stressors such as engine vibration, wave motion, and glare from the sun. Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Tennessee.
For many residents, the Memorial Day weekend was the first time to have the boat on the water this year.
TWRA officials say taking a few minutes to check some of the boat components may be the key to having a nice, safe outing.
Performing a simple maintenance check before getting on the water may prevent problems. Check hoses to make sure they are in good shape. Make sure the lights work and carry extra fuses and bulbs.

• Have a wearable life jacket for every person onboard
• If your boat is 16 feet or longer, there must be a Type IV throwable device onboard
• Have onboard a working fire extinguisher if you have enclosed fuel compartments or cabins
• Children age 12 and younger must wear a life jacket at all times while the boat is underway – drifting is considered underway
• Any boat operator born after January 1, 1989, must have onboard the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate
• Choose a designated boat operator
• Make sure there is a current boat registration
• Maintain a safe speed
• Boating safety courses – log onto
www.tnwildlife.org for information.

Program focuses on training teachers on computation and STEM

Staff Report

JOHNSON CITY – Twelve teacher candidates from East Tennessee State University’s Clemmer College will spend the upcoming year as student teachers in a new curriculum that focuses on incorporating computation and digital
learning with STEM and language arts in elementary school classrooms.
The initiative is part of a new $665,887 project funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Quality Program called “Integrating STEM and Literacy with Computation in Elementary Education,” or iSLICEE.
Teachers from local school districts have been recruited for iSLICEE and will serve as mentors to these twelve students. This summer, the mentors will spend a week on campus learning best-practices and strategies for integrating coding, digital learning and the components of computational thinking into STEM and language arts curricula.
The educational experience will also be enhanced through the use of robotics for teaching coding.
This fall, the participating students will be assigned to one of the mentors during their year-long residency experience.
“We want our teacher candidates to not only be a generation of consumers of digital technology but also to have an understanding of how to use these tools to further computational thinking in the classrooms,” said Dr. Chih-Che Tai, principal investigator of the project and assistant director of the ETSU Center of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Education.
For the past several years, Tai and his colleagues have led similar initiatives at ETSU that have provided training to elementary, middle and high school educators from the across the region on best-practices in teaching science, math and literature.
In addition to the grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the Center of
Excellence has received funding from the Tennessee
Department of Education and the Tennessee Higher
Education Commission.
The current iSLICEE
program is a joint effort
between the Clemmer College, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Graduate Studies and nine regional school districts.

Education and practices for economically smart farming

Submitted by
Sarah Ransom

Farming isn’t an easy profession.
However, education and some methods can assist in making production more lucrative and improve quality.
Producers in Tennessee have weathered many financially challenging years in the past, and current farmers will continue to farm and see many economic shifts.
For those looking into farming, be prepared to experience a vast variety of farming economics. Chuck Danehower, a farm management specialist with the University of Tennessee Extension, says younger farmers who hope to weather economic downturns would do well to learn from their elders.
Danehower shared six traits that financially successful farmers share,
“It might help some producers to adopt traits that have helped others survive and thrive,” Danehower said.
1. Successful producers develop a farm financial plan that includes estimated crop incomes and expenses and acreage plans. It also analyzes any potential changes in their operation. “Generally, depending on the operation, the plan will explore alternative acreages and price scenarios,” he said. The plans include building up capital reserves whenever possible. A rule of thumb is to have 20 percent to 25 percent of revenues as reserves with a goal of 33 percent. “A strong capital reserve position can go a long way toward reducing financial stress in operation,” he said.
2. Successful producers stick to the basics. “Tried, true and proven fertility programs along with sound varieties have allowed producers to make it through challenging years and they have helped enhance profits during good times,” Danehower said. “One of the most basic operations in a cropping program is soil testing. By using and following soil tests, the optimum amount of fertility can be employed for maximum economic yields.”
3. Successful producers select top varieties. “They choose carefully based on the correct environment, including weed, insect, and disease problems. They also monitor fields regularly,” Danehower said. Not only do producers have to apply the right control method, but it has to be done at the right time to be effective. “Keeping up to date production and financial records is a must in today’s operations,” he said.
4. Successful producers keep records. “Records can help a producer fine-tune operations. A thorough analysis of records can distinguish between crops that are making money and those that are not. Successful farmers are also constantly evaluating technology for what will work on their farm. It could be new genetics in varieties, precision agriculture applications or changes in equipment such as automatic section control on planters.
5. Successful producers do not worry about who owns an income-producing asset but whether it can increase their profits by using it. “In Tennessee center pivots have been installed in the last few years on leased ground where the producers may own only a portion of the system. It can make economic sense for both the landowner and producer to own the system, as long as both see an increase in income,” Danehower said.
6. Successful producers change or update their equipment only when it makes economic sense, not necessarily for income tax benefits. “The tax benefit derived from the Section 179 Deduction on purchased equipment may reduce taxes in that one year, but if it is purchased with borrowed money, the payments can continue for several years,” explained Danehower. “This can put a crimp in a cash flow plan.”
Danehower reminds all producers that decisions that are made and habits that are formed during profitable times have more potential to help you through challenging years that are sure to come.
UT/TSU Extension delivers educational programs
and research-based information to citizens throughout the state.

ETSU Professor Launches STEM Program in Libraries for Young Dual-Language Learners

Staff report

JOHNSON CITY – Learning experiences aimed at building skills in math, science and literacy are being introduced to children as early as preschool. Unfortunately, kids who are dual-language learners often fall behind their peers during these early stages.
A program created by an East Tennessee State University faculty member that helps preschool children and their families who speak Spanish is now being piloted here in
the Northeast Tennessee region.
“Young children who are dual-language learners are making up an increasingly large proportion of the early childhood classrooms across the nation,” said Dr. Alissa Lange, an associate professor of early childhood education in the Clemmer College.
While living in New Jersey, Lange established the Math and Science Story Time (MASST) program which is a library-based early education initiative for students and parents. The program has shown to be effective in increasing children’s knowledge of key math and science concepts as well as informing family members about quality books and activities within these fields.
Previous evaluations of MASST have been in large urban settings, but through a grant from the university’s Research and Development Committee (RDC), Lange is administering the program in areas surrounding ETSU, including the Johnson City Public Library.
MASST involves eight sessions: four dedicated to math and four for science.
“We offer a lot of different activities and stories for the kids during the program and there are opportunities for the parents to get involved as well and to reinforce these exercises at home,” Lange said. “The children are given a series of Spanish-language books to take home.”
Johnson City Public Library ran MASST last summer with RDC funding and during the winter with funding from the Friends of the Library.
JCPL will start a third series of MASST on May 14 at 6 p.m. Lange is looking to take MASST into other local communities in partnership with the Holston River Regional Library.
She is the co-author of the new book, “Teaching STEM in the Preschool Classroom” published by Teachers College Press at Columbia University.

Johnson County 4-H students showcase skills at sub-regional competition

Pictured L-R: (front) Brookelyn Lawley, Gavin Curd, Brylee Gentry, Shayla Sileo, Chole Sutherland (back) Jocelyn Stout, Landell Walker, Joshua Ransom, and Dalton Ward. Photo submitted

Submitted by
Danielle Pleasant

Winners of the county achievement contest were invited to attend the sub-regional Upper 8 Achievement Day competition on Thursday, May 9, in Bulls Gap.
Students from eight Upper East Tennessee counties showcased their knowledge and skills with demonstrations and tabletop exhibits ranging the twenty-six 4-H project areas.
From clothing to cows and food to forestry, our students’ exhibited their very best project work.
“We are so proud of our youth and their accomplishments,” said Danielle Pleasant with UT/TSU Extension – Johnson County.
“They have worked hard to
get to this level of
competition,
winning first in their classroom competition, then again at the county level.”
Pleasant said that the group showcased the talents and skills of nine dedicated 4-H’ers that traveled to
the competition and represented Johnson County
well.
“Congratulations to all our winners and a special thanks to all the parents and supporters of our youth and 4-H program,” she said.
In the 4th grade, division participants include: Brylee Gentry placing 1st in Line and Design and Gavin Curd placing 1st in Performing Arts and Recreation
In the 5th grade, division participants include Dalton Ward placing 1st in Beef; Brookelyn Lawley placing 2nd in Clothing and Textiles; Chloe Sutherland placing
1st Companion Animal; Shayla Sileo placing 1st in Food Science and Jocelyn Stout placing 2nd in Line and Design.
In the 6th-8th grade,
division participants include: Joshua Ransom placing 1st in Citizenship and Landell Walker placing 1st in forestry, wildlife, and fisheries.

Summer fun start with a splash

Makayla Church, 7, and her sister Emma 4, of Mountain City, TN make a splash at the Johnson County Swimming Pool in Mountain City earlier this week. The girls attend school in the morning and are rewarded for their hard work with some much-deserved poolside fun the rest of the day. The Johnson County pool is managed by Earl Gambill and is enjoyed by young and old during the summer months. See more pool fun photos on page B-8. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

TVA supports Johnson County STEM efforts

Press release

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-The Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated (a TVA retiree organization), recently awarded two Johnson County Schools, Roan Creek Elementary two $2,500 grants and Shady Valley Elementary School a $5,000 grant for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education projects.
The grant award is part of $580,000 in competitive STEM grants awarded to 161 schools across TVA’s seven-state service territory.
Across the Valley, educators submitted projects large and small, to further their STEM education initiatives in the classroom.
The project that Roan Creek Elementary that Rob Timbs and Amber Greever will be using the grants for will incorporate the use of K’NEX and Sphero Bolt robotic educational kits.
The students will use the kits to learn how to code, create, and design structures to solve real-world problems associated with engineering.
The students will also identify and demonstrate how technology can be used for different purposes and recognize that energy is present when objects move and convert energy from one form to another.
According to Glenda Harris, a teacher at Shady Valley Elementary, their school will use the funds to study conservation efforts and wetlands, including the Nature Conservancy School Yard Springs, located behind the school. Ms. Amy Lashlee will also be assisting with the program as well.
The competitive grant program provided teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000, and preference was given to grant applications that explored TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development and community problem-solving. Schools who receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA distributor.

“The goal of the program was to help further STEM education across the Valley,” said Crickmar. “We knew this program would be popular and competitive, and now we’re are looking forward to seeing the impact these projects have.”
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.
TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity.
In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation, and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job
creation.
A full list of the grant recipients can be found at www.tvastem.com.

Farmers Markets Create Communities Within Communities

Staff Report
CNASHVILLE — Tennessee’s farmers markets are providing more than just a place to find fresh food. They are furnishing an environment that allows the community to flourish. This year, many farmers markets are hosting special events for families and communities to enjoy, while fostering personal connections to those who produce nutritious food across the state.
The Van Buren County Farmers Market is celebrating the week of Independence Day with additional market days and fireworks the evening of July 3. “Right now it’s not quite time for produce in this area, but we are looking forward to
ramping up business during the upcoming harvests,” Van Buren County Farmers Market manager and County Mayor Greg Wilson said.
For 2019, the Henderson Farmers Market plans to have special Friday events, including a kid’s day, a community health day
sponsored by local health companies, a Tennessee Beef Month celebration, and
more.“The Henderson Farmers Market is all about community, and this community has patiently waited for a farmers market for years,” Chester County extension agent and market manager Steve Rickman said. “Our customers come out to
shop and to socialize with their friends. Every Friday is truly a special event in this community. “
The Pikeville Farmers Market in Bledsoe County has grown from hosting 15 vendors to 50 in the last 3 years. The market now has a meat vendor offering
beef, lamb, and pork and
will have live music, cooking demonstrations, and food trucks. “It’s a big deal to have this market,” Pikeville Farmers Market manager Melissa Mooneyham said. “To see what it’s done for our community is something I’m really proud of.”
The Tennessee’s farmers markets directory can be accessed at www.PickTNProducts.org and via the Pick TN mobile app.
Follow Pick Tennessee on Facebook, Twitter, and
Instagram for seasonal
updates and information about farm related
events, activities, and products.

JCFM “Fresh Program” returns

By Sarah Ransom

The pantry is empty, and the refrigerator is bare. You know what time it is . . . time to shop for groceries. You can get groceries at any shopping center, but there is a great way to support your local farmers and get the freshest produce (as well as some other delicious treats).
To help you make the most of the farmers’ market shopping experience, here are some suggestions:
1. Arrive early, but not too early. For the best selection, be sure to arrive early to the farmers’ market. However, do not arrive too early. Many farmers’ markets have strict start times. Vendors may not be able to sell to you before the market officially opens.
2. Bring a bag. It is a good plan to bring a bag or basket with you to the market. Unlike a grocery store, many vendors do not provide bags for your items.
3. Have fun! Farmers’ markets are social, festive events. Take time to talk with your fellow shoppers and the vendors selling your food. Who knows? You may learn a new way to prepare your favorite fruit or vegetable.
4. Bring a cooler preferably one with wheels. Using a cooler helps protect your perishable items (cheeses, meats, dairy products) while you shop. In addition, a cooler will help you get these items home safely.
5. Talk to the vendors. Unlike the grocery store, farmers’ markets allow you the opportunity to talk – in most cases – to the person who grew the food you are purchasing. Use this opportunity to your advantage and ask away.
6. Be prepared for choices – lots of them. At the farmers’ market, you may find more than one variety of the fruits or vegetables you are needing. Deciding on all these choices can be overwhelming. To help, talk with the vendors and the other shoppers. Both can help you make a selection that best meets your food needs.
7. Ask questions. Don’t assume that all the foods at your farmers’ market are organic, grown in your community, or even grown by the vendor selling them. Markets have very different rules governing the types of items that can be sold. Asking the vendor is the best way to find out the information you need.
8. Seek out the information booth. Almost all markets have an information booth where you can ask questions about the market.
So, grab your favorite shopping bag and head out the door – it’s a great way to support your local farmers and enjoy consuming agricultural products from your neighborhood.