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


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.

Johnson Co. man indicted, arrested on drug charges



By Tamas Mondovics

An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation TBI has led to the indictment and arrest of a Johnson County man in connection with a marijuana grow operation. According to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart, in June, TBI Special Agents with the Drug Investigation Division, working alongside the Governor’s Task Force on Marijuana Eradication and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, began investigating reports of a marijuana grow operation on property located in the 100 block of J. Johnson Road in Mountain City.

Agents said that during the course of the investigation, it was determined that Frank Chiono, 59, was the person responsible for growing the marijuana.The Johnson County Grand Jury returned indictments last week, charging Chiono with one count of Manufacture of Schedule VI. Drug. Chiono was then arrested and booked into the Johnson County Jail and released on his own recognizance.

City council faces criticism after voting down property purchase

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

“The entire board is in support of getting something in place for our youth.” -Alderman, Bob Morrison 

Does Johnson County need a youth center? Most residents would agree it would be beneficial. Where should it be built and who will pay for it? That is where the agreement ends. Rumors swirled and social media was abuzz after the City Council narrowly voted against moving forward with plans to purchase property for a proposed youth center. While those who voted against the proposal, Vice Mayor Jerry Jordan, Alderman Kenny Icenhour, and Aldermen Bud Crosswhite, were vilified, they insist their reservations were to the particular piece of property, located on Highway 421, which once housed a skating rink, not to the concept of seeing a youth center.

The issue, which has been debated and discussed at length over the past year, has now produced some noticeable contention between council members with accusations of abuse of power, even leading to some asserting they will not seek re-election.

“I don’t want our taxpayers to think I’m against a youth center,” said Vice Mayor Jerry Jordan. “The reason I voted against it was the building would be too expensive to remodel.” Jordan points out the property in question, currently owned by the Estate of Paul Brown, has too many safety issues at present. “If this property was deeded to the town and someone got hurt in the ruin down building we would be liable,” said Jordan. “We know that the town’s insurance carrier will not insure this building.”

Jordan also recalls the numerous issues that arose after the Town of Mountain City purchased the “old Ramsey’s building” on Main Street, including the discovery of asbestos. “The unknown cost for tearing the building down is another reason I couldn’t see the town spending money on.”

“The entire board is in support of getting something in place for our youth,” said Alderman Bob Morrison. “I supported the proposal in order to move forward so that we would have the legal right to pursue grant money.” Morrison states the issue would be moot without the securing of grants. “Without grant money, there is no way to proceed,” he said.

While many were up in arms when word began to spread that the council had voted down a youth center, few perhaps stopped to recognize the Town of Mountain City, with a population of less than 2,500 citizens, currently manages and maintains two municipal parks. The John Cunningham Park, located on College Street adjacent to the Community Center in downtown Mountain City, has a playground, tennis courts, swimming pool facilities, and a baseball field while the picturesque Ralph Stout Park, situate along Highway 42, includes a large pond, both paved and mulched walking trails, a bicycle trail, baseball and softball fields, a well-equipped playground, picnic areas with pavilions, disc golf course, a skateboard park, basketball courts and horseshoe pits.

The Johnson County/Mountain City Community Center offers after-school tutoring and activities for Johnson County students through the Lottery for Education After Schools Program (LEAPs). Additionally, many local churches have constructed youth centers and offer continuous programs and activities.

Several city taxpayers, especially those not too keen on seeing a tax increase, question what a youth center might provide that is not already available to area children and teens. In neighboring cities, the majority of widely utilized activities are provided by the private sector such as movie theaters, miniature golf, zip-lines and other recreational-type businesses.

Highland Games ready for annual four-day competition

A parade of pipers circles the field at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. The Games return for their 63rd year July 12-15. Photos by Skip Sickler | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation


By Tamas Mondovics


Grandfather Mountain is ready to host the 63rd Annual Highland Games this week.
The competition held on July 12-15 is promising of bagpipes, Scottish athletics, Highland melodies, Celtic cuisine, crafts aplenty and tons of tartans, as the Games take attendees back in time to the rich cultural traditions of Scotland in a setting not so different from the mountains and glens some 3,600 miles away.
The event begins Thursday afternoon, with Border collie sheepherding demonstrations, Celtic entertainment, the running of “The Bear” and the opening ceremonies.
Saturday will see the test of extreme endurance as the Grandfather Mountain Marathon winds from Appalachian State University in Boone to the site of the Games in Linville.
During a torchlight ceremony on Thursday evening, representatives of more than 100 clans are prepared to celebrate their heritage and to announce their families’ participation in the gathering.
Guests often bring dinner or purchase concessions at the field to enjoy a picnic at the opening ceremonies.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday will once again be filled with competitions in traditional heavyweight Scottish athletic events, highland dancing competitions, bagpipe band parades, piping, drumming and harp competitions, sheepherding demonstrations by Scottish border collies and concerts, featuring a colorful soundscape of Celtic music.
The nation’s top Scottish athletes clash Saturday in traditional heavyweight events, such as “Turning the Caber” and “Tossing the Sheaf.”
In the caber toss, athletes flip a telephone pole-sized log end over end. The sheaf toss challenges athletes to loft a 16-pound sack of hay over a bar more than 20 feet high.
Other ancient tests of strength await the contestants, including highland wrestling, the hammer throw and various weight throws.
Children are by no means left out of the festivities, as the Games will again host youth highland wrestling clinics and competitions, foot races and tug-of-war battles.
None would be complete was it not for the Games’ musical offerings including sets by Seven Nations, Nic Hudson, Rathkeltair, Scottish Octopus and Blue Ridge Brass, while the Saturday Celtic sessions feature Alasdair White, Ed Miller, Chambless and Muse, Seamus Kennedy and Piper Jones Band.
Other performers throughout the weekend’s daytime musical offerings include Billy Jackson & Gráinne Hambly, Atlantic North, Brothers McLeod and Marybeth McQueen.
The event is truly history in action as visitors get a chance to learn about their own Scottish ancestry and genealogy at clan tents or browse the open-air market for Gaelic and tartan gift items.
Adult admission to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games is $15 Thursday, $20 Friday, $30 Saturday and $15 Sunday. Tickets cover all activities in the meadows, which last from early morning to midnight Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $5 each day for children ages 5-12, and children younger than 5 enter free.
Parking is available at the Games on Thursday and Friday on a first come, first served basis, with overflow parking at shuttle lots in Linville Friday only (no shuttle buses run on Thursday). Public parking is not available at the Games on Saturday and Sunday.
For tickets please call (828) 733-1333, or email For more information about the Games, visit

Mountain City to host STEP, Inc. Interactive Training Special Education Transition Skill-building Session

By Tamas Mondovics


Students, parents, and teachers are invited to find answers and make connections at a free postsecondary special education transition and skill-building session planed for later this month.
The event hosted to be held at the First Christian Church Education Center
401 West Main Street, Mountain City is organized and presented by STEP, Inc (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) Tennessee’s Parent Training and Information Center.
The three-phase morning, afternoon and evening programs scheduled for Thursday, July 26, 2018 is promising to offer parents, caregivers, and teacher’s special education assistance, information, and support regarding issues that impact students with disabilities.
According to event organizers, the first of the three two-hour sessions will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., and will offer training and discussion on the topic “How to Effectively Participate in Planning Your Child’s Education.”
Parent are promised to learn their rights and responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education or Act (IDEA) along with what is required in a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Tools and strategies to effectively communicate information with teachers and actively engage in decision-making for a child’s education are all on the agenda to be presented.
“Students receiving special education services have a right to receive a high-quality education that will equip them to be successful in life. Parents and caregivers have an important role in the development of their child’s education plan,” STEP Inc. spokesperson, Karen Harrison stated in a recent press release.
A second session between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. will provide free one-on-one assistance for families who would like additional assistance reviewing their child’s IEP or 504 plan, discussing placement and services, reviewing IEP goals, and planning for upcoming IEP meetings.
“STEP staff will be on hand to assist parents with their individual concerns,” Harrison said.
Perhaps one of the most important topics for many parents will be discussed during an evening and the final session from 5 pm to 7:30 pm to provide information and answer questions about preparing for life after high school for students with disabilities.
Some of the pressing subjects will include the importance of creating a well-written transition plan that includes measurable postsecondary goals; the type of diploma options in Tennessee including the new Alternate Academic Diploma; postsecondary education options available to students after high school as well as transition tools and tips to make planning for transition much easier will all be addressed.
To register for the event residents are urged to contact Nancy Bailey at 828-808-7424 or email or call the STEP office at 800-280-7837 or email
A light dinner will be provided at 5 p.m., for those who call to register. Childcare is available with prior arrangements made by July 24 by calling 828-808-7424.

Furnace Creek Bridge Project is nearing completion

Bridge at Johnson County high school over furnace creek

Workers prepare the surface before paving the new bridge over Furnace Creek connecting Fairview Avenue and Johnson County High School in Mountain City. After a lengthy pause resulting from the formation of a sinkhole at the bridge construction site, the project resumed and is now on schedule for completion by the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

By Tamas Mondovics

As last reported, earlier this summer, local school officials did not have much confidence in the timely completion of the bridge construction over Furnace Creek connecting Fairview Avenue and Johnson County High School. But that view may now be changing and based on the recent progress many are now a bit more optimistic and are holding their breath in hopes of the project reaching its deadline by the start of the new school year on Tuesday, August 7, 2018.

“We hope that the bridge construction will be completed over the summer,’ said Johnson County Director of Schools, Mischelle Simcox at the end of last season.

The bridge construction project, which began last fall, hit an unexpected snag when during excavation a good-sized sinkhole appeared in the middle of the site halting the work until further notice.Upon some inquiry by this newspaper, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) officials were clearly put on notice and responded accordingly, resulting in an immediate improvement of the project’s momentum.

According to Community Relations Officer, Mark Nagi with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, following the inspection of the sinkhole by TDOT Geotechnical Division and TDOT Environmental Division, the project resumed with filling the to approximately 10 feet wide and at least 25 feet deep sinkhole with several loads of stone.

Fast forward to today, Simcox may have her wish after all. Workers are now seen making preparations for paving the bridge as well as the connecting roadway along with some finishing touches. Once construction is done the regular school drop off, and pickup route is expected resume giving nearby neighborhoods a much-welcomed relief from the increased school traffic during the season. For more information about Johnson County schools, current projects, agenda items, please attend the upcoming Johnson County Board of Education monthly meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 12.

City to celebrate 14th Annual Sunflower Festival this Saturday


Area residents turn out in large numbers for last year’s Sunflower Festival in Mountain City. Organizers are confident of another successful event. Tomahawk File photo

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

A small town may host the annual Sunflower Festival but that does not mean it lacks big fun. Perfect for all ages, this festival, which takes place on Main and Church Streets in Mountain City, TN and surrounding area on Saturday, is celebrating its 14th year and will provide an entire day of fun.

“We have a new design for the Sunflower Festival this year,” said Renee Proffitt, a seasoned crafter, who has helped to organize the event in passed years, “and a percentage of the proceeds will go to the Johnson County Cancer Support Group.”

According to Proffitt, the festival will showcase several new vendors including some yummy new food items.
“Kids can stay cool with two wet slides this year,” said Proffitt, who confirms other past favorites will also be there such as the bouncy obstacle course. “There will also be a kiddie-train, face-painting, corn hole toss and plenty of other games to keep the little ones entertained.”

“Over 85 vendors are scheduled to be on hand,” said Proffitt, “selling all kinds of things including handmade jewelry, antiques, homemade jams, jellies, bread, and soaps.” There will also be several food vendors with all kinds of delicious goodies for sale.

“We are pleased to announce the return of the Tennessee Sunrise Quilt Guild’s quilt show,” said Proffitt, who advises the quilt show, along with many other handmade items, will be displayed at the First Christian Church, 401 West Main

Organizers have events planned throughout the entire day including the Sunflower Festival Beauty Pageant beginning at 10am and a sunflower contest at noon. “Around noon in front the main stage, prizes will be awarded for the prettiest sunflower and the largest sunflower,” said Proffitt, who asks anyone wishing to enter a sunflower in the contest to have it at the main stage no later than 9am.

As in past years, there will be live music throughout the day, and the Johnson County Cruisers invite all auto enthusiasts to the Antique, Vintage and Muscle Car Show at the corner of Church and Main Streets.

“We are also joining Heritage Hall for music at Ralph Stout Park featuring Phantom Band,” said Proffitt. “Admission is free and so is the entertainment. What’s not to love?”

Communications company seeking public input on future tower site

communications tower mtn city

The red pin at 1281 Pinecrest Street in Mountain City marks the proposed location of a 365- foot high communications tower planned by Tillman Global LLC. The company is currently seeking public input on the project.

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

A communication tower construction company has recently announced plans to place a new tower in Mountain City. The company is reaching out to the community to ensure that no historical sites will be disturbed by the construction of the new tower.In a recent public statement, it was announced:

“Tillman Infrastructure, LLC proposes to build a 365-foot self-support communications tower at the approx. vicinity of 1281 Pinecrest St., Mountain City, Johnson County, TN 37683.”

The company, which will be handling the project, is Tillman Global. As described in an official release from the company: “Tillman Global Holdings, LLC, is a holding company, and through its subsidiaries, it provides telecommunications infrastructure building and renewable energy project development services.”

In late 2017, it was announced that Tillman Infrastructure, AT&T, and Verizon were entering a partnership to improve service coverage across the country. In the release announcing the collaboration, the companies discussed the potential for hundreds of new tower sites across the United States. “These new structures will add to the overall communications infrastructure in the US, and will fulfill the need for new locations where towers do not exist today.”

“This process is not a short one,” Donna Marie Stipo from Tillman Infrastructure commented. “It will take the better part of a year to complete, and these public announcements are the beginning steps.”

“In order for us to put these plans together the real estate side of things have already been completed,” Stipo, stated. “These ads are the first step to the environmental process, and we are just seeking to reach out and let the public know.”
Stipo also commented on Tillman’s future location within Mountain City and how it relates to their future in the area. “We are looking forward to being a part of the community and providing excellent service.”

Additionally, any local businesses or organizations interested in relocating their communication equipment to the new tower location will be welcomed as Stipo added, “We are always willing to speak to someone willing to relocate to our tower.”

Tillman is asking for anyone with concerns about the construction of the tower at the proposed site of 1281 Pinecrest Street to contact them: “Public comments regarding potential effects from this site on historic properties may be submitted within 30 days from the date of this publication to Trileaf Corp, Alison Adams,, 1051 Winderley Pl, Ste 201, Maitland, FL 32751.”

Mid-Week Farmers Market begins July 24

By Tamas Mondovics
and Jana Jones

“Would you consider a mid-week market so we can buy produce after work? We can’t make it into town on Saturdays.”
These are some of the requests the Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) has received in the past, which has prompted market organizers to give it a try. Thanks to an abundance of produce to sell mid-week as well as on Saturdays, local farmers have committed to support the effort. JCFM officials emphasized that there is plenty of room for additional vendors that perhaps could only sell their wares during the week. The mid-week market will be held in Ralph Stout Park near the Farmers Market shed starting on Tuesdays, July 24 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. until the harvest slows down.

“It will be open so people getting off work will have an opportunity to shop,” organizers said.The success of the Mid-Week Market, will, of course, depend on the demand for such an offering. It takes most of the day for vendors to prepare to set up at the outdoor venue, be available for three hours, and then tear down and clean up afterward. If the community does not support such efforts, it makes sense that the vendors will not be able to continue.

“This will be a test market for two months to see if there is enough demand for a Mid-Week Farmers Market in our community,” Jones said.

JCFM is looking for more vendors for the Tuesday Market as well as the Saturday Farmers Market. Those with extra produce in their garden, or anyone who would benefit by selling their produce, eggs, processed meat, baked goods, or handmade crafts, are encouraged to contact the Market Manager at

Since the JCFM is entering the “abundant harvest” phase of the season, Jones wanted to share with readers Ratatouille with its traditional French recipe that contains zucchini, eggplant, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and garlic – all of which are now available at the Saturday Farmers Market.

In a large skillet cook 1 thinly sliced onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderately low heat, occasionally stirring, until the onion is softened.
Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and heat it over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking.
Add 3 cups of eggplant cut into ½ inch cubes (about 3 cups) and cook the mixture, occasionally stirring, for 8 minutes, or until the eggplant is softened.
Stir 1 zucchini, cut into thin slices, and 1 chopped bell pepper, and cook the mixture over the moderate heat, occasionally stirring, for 12 minutes.
Stir in 3/4 lbs chopped ripe tomatoes and cook the mixture, occasionally stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano and 1 Tbsp fresh thyme,
1/8 tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp fennel seeds, ¾ tsp salt, and pepper to taste and cook
the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute.
Stir in ½ cup shredded fresh basil leaves and combine the mix well. The Ratatouille may be made one day in advance, kept covered and chilled, and reheated before serving.

The Johnson County Farmers Market is located at Ralph Stout Park in the parking area near the children’s playground. Visitors can enjoy live music, farm-fresh produce, eggs, meat, dairy, and local handmade baked goods and craft items each Saturday morning from 9 until noon. The new “Breakfast at the Market” tent and the manager’s table that
offers “Fresh is Best” t-shirts along with other items and information are convenient additions.

JCFM offers the Fre$h Savings Program with doubles the dollars for EBT customers. Children can enjoy the GoJoCo Kids tent to make healthy snacks and participate in fun activities. Like JCFM on Facebook and see all of the current news or visit the webpage at to learn more.

Celebrate independence by remembering the fallen and honoring the living

By Jill Penley

Freelance Writer

We approach America’s 242nd Independence Day in a time when the United States does not appear “united” at all. Our country is blatantly fractured along political, cultural, spiritual and racial lines, but our differences should not be the focus this week. All Americans from “sea to shining sea” should be willing to unite in celebration of the nation’s independence by remembering those have died to provide it to us and to honor those currently defending it.
While we can never fully repay the debt owed to all of the service men and women throughout the history of the United States who gave their very lives defending our freedom, we can choose to remember their sacrifices. From the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), where over 4,000 men died in battle when Americans fought the British Empire for independence to our current global war on terrorism, blood continues to be the price for freedom. Perhaps Ronald Reagan, America’s 40th president, said it best: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
America saw the end of the military draft in 1973 and forty-five years later the consequences are still unfolding. Today, the 1.5 million people on active duty in the United States Armed Forces are volunteers. These men and women believe in their nation enough to put their lives on the line to serve it. No matter one’s political lean or special ideology, this is a heroic act and should be recognized and respected. Many would even seek to honor the many servicemen and women. Do they want it? Most do not. Do they deserve it? Most certainly do.
As of late, society has become almost at odds with the classic military values of sacrifice, unity, self-discipline, and considering the interests of the group before those of the individual. Over the past few decades American society has certainly become more individualistic, and less disciplined, with institutions such as church, family, school and military wielding less influence. Patriotism has even taken a hit with NFL players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem and politicians inciting riots via social media to further their own aspirations.
The definition of patriotism is to support one’s own country in whatever way possible. Patriotism should not be a dirty word, but a shared sentiment, one that bonds us even as we debate and disagree over the major issues of the day. Instead of bickering, fussing and defriending our fellow countrymen due to differing opinions, perhaps we should be willing to lay aside partisan politics and petty feuds, and come together as a nation to remember the price that was paid for our freedom. It makes us who we are as a nation. We should all remember, especially on the day our country was founded, that the love of our country and freedoms we enjoy unify all of us, regardless of our background or way of life.

Tenn Dept of Safety and Homeland Security roll out vertical licenses

By Tamas Mondovics


During a ceremony in Knoxville last week, the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security announced the roll out of vertical driver licenses and identification cards for people under 21-years old.
The event held at Calhoun’s On The River 400 Neyland Drive saw Tennessee Senators and Representatives along with Representatives from the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association.
The group included Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally; Senator Becky Duncan Massey- District 6; Senator Richard Briggs- District 7; Representatives Eddie Smith- District 13, Jason Zachary- District 14, Rick Staples- District 15, Bill Dunn- District 16 and Roger Kane- District 89.
Also on hand was Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David W.Purkey, Assistant Commissioner of Driver Services Lori Bullard and Director of Driver Services Michael Hogan.
According Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security the Vertical licenses will make it easier to identify people under the age of 21.
After turning 21-years-old, any licensee may obtain a horizontal printed license or ID.

TSPN seeks support to promote suicide prevention with new Tennessee license plate

Tamas Mondovics


The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) is pleased to announce, in coordination with the Jason Foundation, AFSP, and other advocacy groups, of reserving orders for official specialty license plate promoting suicide prevention authorized by state legislation.
TSPN must collect 1,000 order reservations in order to get this license plate out to the public. Without the 1,000 reservations there will not be a license plate for Tennessee, so TSPN is urging residents to spread the word.
This Tennessee license plate will be the first in the country devoted to the cause of suicide prevention.
A share of proceeds from the sale of these plates will fund TSPN’s suicide prevention efforts, all focusing on suicide prevention in Tennessee.
Residents can pre-order plates at, at a cost of $35, and have the option of specifying a four-letter code between “0001” and “1000” to go on their plate,
TSPN officials added that some codes have already been reserved. As soon as 1,000 plates are reserved, production of these license plates can begin. So pre-order a plate will ensure the viability of the project.
In any given day, three Tennesseans lose their life to suicide. These license plates will lead to unprecedented exposure for the cause of suicide prevention in Tennessee and the agencies working to prevent suicide in our state.
TSPN’s Executive Director, Scott Ridgway, asks for your help in spreading the word for the license plate, noting that “if Tennessee is able to have this license plate for suicide prevention, we will be taking another step forward towards saving lives in Tennessee.”
To get involved in suicide prevention in Tennessee, TSPN recommends that all familiarize themselves with the warning signs of suicide (listed at so they can get help for themselves and those around them as needed. TSPN is available to provide a suicide prevention or awareness trainings across the state; to request a training visit our website (

Reflect, reject and reassure


By Tamas Mondovics


When those reporting the news, become the news.

Honest, hard-working journalists are often known for putting their lives on the line to inform and educate the public they serve.
Sadly, after blasting his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom on Thursday, June 28, in Annapolis, a gunman with a pump-action shotgun killed five people, forcing those reporting the news to become the news.
Here at The Tomahawk Newspaper our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with victims and their families who are suffering as the result of this heinous, cowardly crime.
Our talented colleagues whom we lost last week included Rob Hiaasen, 59, a former feature writer for The Baltimore Sun who joined the Capital Gazette in 2010 as an assistant editor and columnist; Wendi Winters, 65, a community correspondent who headed special publications; Gerald Fischman, 61, the editorial page editor; John McNamara, 56, a staff writer who had covered high school, college and professional sports for decades; and Rebecca Smith, 34, a
sales assistant hired in November.
Two others were also injured in the attack that began about mid-afternoon at the Capital Gazette offices at 888 Bestgate Road in Annapolis.
As reported by the Capital, journalists dove under their desks pleading for help on social media during the horror-filled minutes that for all seemed like hours, including one reporter who has
reportedly described the scene as a “war zone” even as colleagues were fleeing for their lives.
The suspect, identified as Jarrod W. Ramos, 38, was taken into custody soon after the shootings, and was charged with five counts of first-degree murder. Ramos had reportedly barricaded the exit doors as part of a pre-planned attack, authorities said.
“This was a targeted attack on the Capital Gazette,” said Anne Arundel County Deputy Police Chief William Krampf. “This person was prepared today to come in. He was prepared to shoot people.”
The Capital Gazette newsroom had vowed to put out a paper on the following day, and so they did, giving testimony to the commitment and value of their profession and the community.
Thus, on Friday morning, the Capital Gazette arrived on newsstands and in front yards across Annapolis, where residents reportedly said that their hometown paper means “everything” to them.
This latest slaughter of the innocent hits close to home, and should give all of us pause to reflect on the assenting role of journalists especially those in our own community as they work to ensure we know what is going on.
As we remember the fallen at the Capital, it should also prompt us to reject the hateful rhetoric of those who find truth inconvenient or the facts uncomfortable.
Finally, the staff here at The Tomahawk is confident that our loyal readers feel the same and hope that in a small way we can all reassure our support for the journalists who tragically became the news.

TSPN responds to CDC Trends in State Suicide Rates Report

CDC Report Press Release

“Every day we lose at least one person over the age of 45.”                               -CDC Trends in State Suicide Rates Report

By Tamas Mondovics

News of well-known and influential members of the entertainment world committing suicide provided no shortage of headlines in recent weeks.The tragedies also prompted some to wonder about the prevalence of such tragic but considered by some as selfish acts that leave many loved ones heartbroken and confused with much to deal with both physically and emotionally. To put things in perspective as well as to join the dialog, the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network (TSPN) respond to the recent report through Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on “Trends in State Suicide Rates – United States, 1999-2016, and Circumstances Contributing to Suicide.” Sadly, in part TSPN emphasized that in any given day, three people in Tennessee die by suicide.

In its released response to the recent news of celebrity suicides, TSPN stated that in 2016, the number of suicides increased in young people (ages 10-18) in Tennessee, with one person in this age group lost to suicide every week. “We lose one person between the ages of 10-24 every four days, and every day we lose at least one person over the age of 45, with adults in midlife and older adults remaining at higher risk,” the release said.

The report continued, “While suicide rates in Tennessee went up only slightly in 2016 from 2015, the new figures are the highest recorded in Tennessee in more than 35 years of record-keeping. TSPN wishes to praise efforts taking place in Tennessee toward suicide prevention.”

Suicide is reportedly determined by multiple factors, including mental illness and prior suicide attempts, access to lethal means, poor coping and problem-solving skills, as well as social and economic problems.In the release TSPN’s Executive Director, Scott Ridgway, MS, highlighted that the number one risk factor for suicide is undiagnosed depression. Tennessee Governor Haslam’s Administration and his team are reportedly credited with dedicating funding to the Office of the Deputy Medical Examiner to enable Medical Examiners Tennessee to utilize updated reporting technologies as well as receive more information of suicide and training, leading to better reporting. It is said that more than 50 percent of suicides are firearm related.

With the recent press surrounding celebrity deaths by suicide, TSPN is urging all to talk openly and safely about suicide and suicide prevention resources and is recommending that “all familiarize themselves with the warning signs of suicide at so they can get help for themselves and those around them as needed. TSPN is also available to provide free suicide prevention or awareness training across the state; to request a training visit our website (

TSPN and all Tennesseans must recognize that we have our work cut out for us moving forward to better prevent suicide. Ridgway notes that “if we are really going to address the issue of suicide in Tennessee, we need additional funding in our state devoted specifically to suicide prevention efforts.”

For non-emergency information on suicide prevention, contact the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network at (615) 297-1077 or More information about TSPN is available at the agency website (

Adult Education Program celebrates graduates

Graduates pose and smile for pictures following the ceremony at Heritage Hall on June 21. The students from Johnson and Carter counties celebrated their achievement with friends, family, officials, and instructors. Photo by Marlana Ward.

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

Hard work and ambition were celebrated as the Northeast State Community College Adult Education Program held its graduation program at Heritage Hall on June 21. The night was filled with tears, smiles, and gratitude as students, faculty, and family celebrated the achievements of program participants from Johnson and Carter Counties. The parking lots surrounding Heritage Hall were filled with students and their supporters ready to celebrate this proud moment. As the graduates readied themselves to be presented on stage, representatives from state officials’ offices, the regional court system, and various school systems took their places to congratulate them.

District I Lead Instructor Karla Prudhomme was the night’s emcee and welcomed all in attendance. She thanked the families and various school and government officials for their role in helping the graduates achieve their dreams in obtaining their diplomas.
Graduates Lori Campbell and Kaice McCostlin were given an opportunity to address those in attendance and share part of their journey. Both women spoke of how their families were instrumental in inspiring them to gain their degree and how they hoped to in turn inspire their children to chase their dreams. “If you apply yourself and work hard, dreams really do come true,” McCostlin shared with the crowd.

When asked, Prudhomme later explained how one family member realizing their goal of obtaining their degree could affect generations of prospective graduates. “I have had many students bring their mothers, daughters, sons, wives, and husbands to me to get started in the program as they want their loved one to be able to have that same feeling of accomplishment,” she expressed.

After the graduates in attendance walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and shake hands with those who had helped them along their journey, Prudhomme again expressed gratitude to the various offices, businesses, and organizations which had helped make the program a success in both counties. Prudhomme especially thanked those involved with the Johnson and Carter County jails and courts for their willingness to allow the program to help individuals who were willing to try and make positive changes in their lives.
Over fifty students gained their GED through the Northeast State program this past semester.

Many of the graduates will go on to further their education as Prudhomme shared, “The majority of our graduates go on to attend a technical or community college especially since the governor rolled out the TN Promise and the TN Reconnect programs. The TN Reconnect gives those non-traditional students, those over the age of 26, the same opportunity of two years of free college or technical school.”

Following the ceremony, a reception was hosted by the Johnson County Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Graduates took the opportunity to celebrate and pose for pictures with their families, teachers, and program advocates who helped them along the way. Prudhomme further shared how the initiative of one person can affect entire families and communities, “The entire family benefits when a parent, or future parent, earn their diploma. This step alone can pull the entire family out of poverty as the door to employment opportunities is opened!”

Aldermen votes 3-2 against proposed Mountain City Youth Center


Shady Street Property

The property on South Shady Street will remain vacant for the foreseeable future as the City Council votes 3 to 2 against moving forward with proposed plans for a youth center. City officials cited concerns about the building’s structure and insurance liability as well as the current amenities such as the swimming pool, community parks and the community center as reasons to vote against the motion made by Mayor Kevin Parsons for the town to seek ownership of the property. Photo by Marlana Ward

By Marlana Ward
Freelance Writer

A final decision has been made concerning the proposed youth center and skate rink, which has been discussed and debated for the past year by the Mountain City Board of Mayor and Aldermen. With a split vote of three to two, plans to enter an agreement for the property on South Shady Street were refused. This final motion presented for a vote was the culmination of months of research and proposals made by City Mayor Kevin Parsons as well as presentations made by various interested parties at monthly board meetings as the plans for the center changed over the year. The final proposal presented before the board was outlined by Mayor Parsons as being: “The town accept the deed to the property on Highway 421 known as the ‘skating rink’ with no obligation to the city. In three years the town will either have money funded by grants and other means not to include any monies from the town’s budget. Should the town not be able to purchase the property for half of the appraised value or $126,000.00 to include both building and parking area, then the city will deed the property back to the Brown Estate.”

Mayor Parsons requested a vote at the June 4 meeting of the board, but the result was a tie due to one alderman being absent, requiring another vote to be held at a special budget workshop meeting held on June 19. It was at this meeting that Mayor Parsons and Alderman Bob Morrison voted in favor of moving forward with the center as proposed while Vice Mayor Jerry Jordan, Alderman Kenny Icenhour, and Aldermen Bud Crosswhite voted against the motion.

Before the meeting, Parsons sent an email to the Aldermen encouraging them to consider potential revenue for the town as well as providing a service previously lacking in the community. In the email he stated: “All I am asking for is the chance to make something happen for either our youth, our senior citizens, or both as it would create an opportunity for the town to keep much-needed sales tax revenue here at home especially considering what the new restaurants will do in preventing people from leaving town for the products that previously would not be available here.”

Parsons also encouraged the Aldermen to review the proposal again and to approach him with any suggestions or concerns they may have so they could be addressed. “If there are any concerns you have with approving this deal I will be glad to include that in the agreement before we accept the deed to the property with the hopes of getting something good for your community,” he further stated in the email.

While Parsons was confident in the plans for the location on South Shady Street, some of the aldermen maintained reservations about insurance liabilities and construction costs. “We cannot get insurance on the building which could open us to a possible liable law suite which in turn would drain the city financially,” Vice Mayor Jerry Jordan said in an email following the meeting. “Our city mayor is depending on getting donations to pay for the interest on the loan if we purchase the property. He also stated he could get donations to demolish the building and grants to cover the cost of the entire project. I don’t foresee him getting grants that don’t require a match of some sort. This venture could end up costing the town major bucks which I don’t think it would be fair for our city taxpayers to burden this cost.”

Parsons acknowledged the town’s concern about the insurance issues with the property but refuted those claims with information from the Brown Estate, which currently owns the property.“One of the issues that the council had–as so they say–came from our city attorney who continues to say that the building is not insurable and too much of a liability to the city. The building is currently insured through the Brown Estate.”

Jordan went on in his email to explain how the town currently seeks to meet the needs of its citizens through programs and properties currently available to residents.“We currently have Ralph Stout Park, Cunningham Park, the swimming pool, and community center that’s available to all residents of Johnson County, youth, and adults,” he said. “The city is trying to help our youth with these current assets. It would be nice to have a Youth Center in town, but the old skating rink is out of the picture for the above reasons. We need to look at a city-owned property that could be utilized to build a youth center in the future provided funding is available.”

Jordan added, “I think our city government is trying their best with the revenue we receive to help maintain our Parks and Recreations for the youth to enjoy. We definitely don’t make a profit from these departments. We need to seek outside sources and individuals that would be willing to invest their capital in building an amusement center realizing their profit would be low or even a loss. They must have a big heart to do this.”

At the time of publication, no future plans or proposals for an additional community-driven youth center are known.

Morefield on the Sheriff’s right hand

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Administrative Assistant Patricia Morefield takes the lead at the department skillfully serving the county and all of its residents. Photo submitted

By Tamas Mondovics


Many agencies across the nation are indeed filled with men and women who are unquestionably and unequivocally essential to their smooth operation.
It is also noteworthy that from the state, county and city government offices to the private sector, talented and highly qualified woman either assisting or are taking the lead, successfully giving testimony to the importance of their position of responsibility.
One such, much-valued member of Johnson County and Mountain City is Patricia Morefield, who, although somewhat behind the scenes, works tirelessly to support Sheriff Reece and his office.
Morefield was born and raised in Johnson County and has lived all of her life locally. Her parents are Dean, and Helen Gentry are of Laurel Bloomery. She also has two sisters, Deanna Gentry Schrayer and Tammy Gentry Caulkins.
“I have one son Ryan Morefield who is an upcoming sophomore at Johnson County High School this year,” she said proudly, adding that the two of them reside on Harbin Hill and “very much love the area where in which we live.”
Demonstrating her skills and talent, Patricia currently works at Johnson County Sheriff’s Office as an Administrative Assistant and has been with the department for
12 years.
Patricia’s dedicated service to her community goes a bit farther back. Before taking her role at the Sheriff’s Office, she worked at Johnson County Emergency E-911 for six years, totaling 18 years with emergency dispatch and law enforcement.
The job requires numerous different assignments on a daily basis including daily reports and count of inmates incarcerated, inmate trust fund account, state inmates credits and calculations and medical bills for inmates. Other secretarial duties include memos, letters, and timesheets for the office.
“I am in charge of all new employee orientation and much, much more,” she said, adding that while she loves the secretarial duties of her job, the downfall is that there is usually no good news on a daily basis.
“Unfortunately the community only needs an officer when there is a problem, so that leaves a lot of the bad news that the officer has to report, including theft, burglary, domestic violence, etc.,” she said.
While it takes a special person to work in law enforcement especially in emergency dispatch, Patricia fills the role just fine. And enjoys the help of the entire office.
“The officers are always willing to help anyone, but it can become very mentally stressful for them going out on the calls and then those of us that are reading such reports every day,” she said.
Patricia is undoubtedly the right person to take the lead in her position of responsibility, but she is by no means without dealing with her own daily challenges after her husband of 21 years, Chris Morefield, passed away in 2016 to suicide.
“Chris was very well known in our community and was loved and is missed by many, she said. “I am grateful for the support that our friends and family have given to my son and me.”
Once again giving testimony to her exemplary character, Patricia stepped up to the plate by turning her experience into a valuable source to serve her community.
“Due to the tragedy that happened in my life with my husband’s suicide, I have begun speaking to different groups of ladies and teaching them to find God’s story in their own lives,” she said. “God has never left me or failed me, and I want to tell others about what God can do for them as well.”
To sum things up Patricia hopes to encourage young and old, men and women, when she said, “What my husband, Chris always told my son Ryan is to “Be You.” “You are the only one that you can be responsible for when it comes to your decisions, actions, perspective, and character.”
Thank you, Patricia, for all that you do.

Imagine that

Shelia Cruse, left, of the Imagination Library Board presents, Daryel Robinson, Manager of Food Country with a book for the participation in the Home Town Label program. Food Country is proudly supporting 717 Johnson County Pre-K children who receive free books through the program. Children eligible to receive these books can go by the local library and get signed up. Photo submitted

New world record black crappie caught by Tennessee angler

Philadelphia, TN angler Lionel Ferguson proudly holds up his black crappie weighing in at 5 lbs. 7.68 oz., a catch that is now considered as the new state and world record. Submitted photo

By Tamas Mondovics


TWRA News Release


PAINT ROCK, Tenn.— The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has received results from a genetic analysis and is verifying a new state record black crappie caught by an angler from Philadelphia, Tenn. Application for world record status will have to be submitted by the angler to the International Game Fish Association.

It’s been a long four-and-a-half weeks since Lionel “Jam” Ferguson landed the big fish from a pond near Paint Rock, Tenn. but the final results have no doubt been worth the wait. This week, TWRA received verification from Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that Mr. Ferguson’s fish is a pure strain black crappie without any hybrid genes and is being certified as the new state record. At the time it was caught, TWRA Fisheries Biologist John Hammonds verified the fish as a black crappie but submitted a fin clipping for genetic testing in order to rule out the minute chance of hybridization between a black and white crappie.

According to TWRA’s fisheries division, Mr. Ferguson’s black crappie weighed 5 lbs. 7.68 oz. on scales certified by the State of Tenn. Weights and Measures Division, which outweighs the former state record of 4 lbs. 4 oz. caught by Clyde Freeman in Brown’s Creek Lake in 1985. The current world record black crappie weighing an even 5 lbs. was taken from a private lake in Missouri in 2006, according to the International Game Fish Association. TWRA will, if needed, assist Mr. Ferguson with the world record application process by providing our state application, genetic analysis from Prairie Research Institute, and professional observations from our fisheries biologists.  Although not part of the state record requirements, Mr. Ferguson’s fish measures 19 ¼ inches in length with a girth of 17 ¾ inches.

TWRA Fisheries Chief Frank Fiss says, “TWRA wishes to congratulate Mr. Ferguson by breaking a state record that’s been held for 33-years and looks forward to assisting him with the world record application process if needed.”


Earlier story:

One does not have to be a fisherman to appreciate a great catch when they hear or see of one, even when it is a “fish story.” A recent success story may not be local, but it sure gives local enthusiasts a boost for their next catch. Pending results from DNA testing, an angler from Philadelphia, TN, will reportedly own the state and world record for black crappie, breaking a state record that’s been held for more than three decades.

According to a recent release last month, Lionel Ferguson, went to a pond in Loudon Co. Just before sunset, Ferguson caught the black crappie weighing in at 5 lbs. 7.68 oz. outweighing the current state record of 4 pounds. 4 oz. caught by Clyde Freeman in Brown’s Creek Lake in 1985.According to the International Game Fish Association, the current world record black crappie weighing an even 5 lbs. was taken from a private lake in Missouri in 2006.

It has been reported that Ferguson likely caught the state record black crappie from the same pond last summer, but that fish ended up in the skillet. After weighing the fish, TWRA Fisheries Biologist John Hammonds visually inspected the fish and verified it as a black crappie but to rule out any chance of it being a hybrid between a black and white crappie, Hammonds took a fin clipping that is being sent off for DNA testing, which will take some time.

“Prayers go up, and blessings come down,” Ferguson said. A full-length feature story will appear in a future issue of
the Tennessee Wildlife Magazine.