Jo. Co. Schools to hire five new SROs

Sheriff Tester (center) and current SROs Gladden (left) and Murphy (right) show their support for the School Resource Officer (SRO) grant at the Johnson County School Board meeting on Thursday, August 8. Tester is in the process of hiring five new SROs to protect students at the local elementary schools. Photo by Meg Dickens

$175k grant makes officers in district schools a reality.

By Meg Dickens

The Johnson County School Board is taking further steps to ensure child safety in the 2019-2020, school year with additional security.
On August 9, Supervisor of Elementary Education Angie Wills confirmed the state’s approval of the $175,000 School Resource Officer (SRO) grant, which will go towards hiring SROs for every school in the district.
Officer Michael Murphy joined forces with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department and Johnson County Schools to protect Johnson County Middle School earlier this year.
“Unfortunately, it’s become a necessity across the nation,” School Board Chairman Howard Carlton explained. “We want to protect our kids here in Johnson County. On behalf of the Board, I want to thank you.”
Wills first announced a pending grant opportunity at the School Board’s August 8 meeting.
The grant has prompted Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester to start the process of hiring five new officers.
The county is required to provide a 25 percent local match. This match will come from the Sheriff Department, which will provide the officers with equipment such as uniforms, patrol vehicles, and more.
According to grant documentation, “SROs are duly sworn and authorized law enforcement officers assigned to a school setting.” By law, SROs must receive 40 hours of specialized training during their first year of duty and an additional 16 hours annually. These trained officers are members of the Sheriff’s Department.
“I am very excited to receive these positions from this grant as we can now ensure the safety that the students, staff, and parents deserve,” said Tester, who has been a prominent supporter of this endeavor.
Tester personally contacted Tennessee State Representative Timothy Hill in regards to this grant’s shelf-life. There are no guarantees, but Hill seems confident that this funding will continue for the foreseeable future.
“We are always looking for ways to provide the safest environment for our students and staff,” said Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox. “We thank Sheriff Tester for all the support he’s given us. We are always looking for ways to provide the safest environment for our students and staff.”
Keep an eye out for this update and more in the future. Officer Mark Gladden suggested one such update at the meeting. Officers will now take ride-along on various school buses to improve bus safety. Find out more about the Johnson County School Board and its meeting schedule at

Future of Shady Elementary in question after school board meeting

Guest speaker Ashley Worlock questions Board members at the Thursday, August 8, School Board meeting. Worlock and Carlton clashed quite a bit. Photos by Meg Dickens

By Meg Dickens

Members of the Shady Valley community came out in droves for the School Board meeting on Thursday, August 8. It was standing room only. One of the main issues focused on was the public’s petition to return Shady Valley Elementary to a PreK-6 grade institution.
Unknown to its advocates, this discussion may lead to a drastic change (closing the school altogether) in the Shady Valley community and a battle against the state.
“You have generated discussion in this county about why we haven’t done something regarding Shady Valley and its enrollment,” School Board Chairman Howard Carlton told advocate Ashley Worlock.
“When the state comes in and looks at this, they’re going to give us one of two choices. Either eliminate Shady because of the cost or spend the same money on all the other students. I can tell you the county government will not give us the money to do that.”
The School Board cites The Johnson County Per Student Expenditure, the cost the county pays per student per school, as a significant problem.
The costs are reportedly higher because of student numbers. Shady Elementary currently has 22 students. Back in its genesis, county records show that Shady housed 285 students.
Guest speaker Rick Campbell addressed the Board concerning students crossing state lines to attend
Edna Miller estimates that the current numbers fall around nine students. The previous year’s bill for 11 students showed an annual tuition rate of $3,902, a debt service cost of $251 charge per student, and a $35 book cost per student, which totals $47,046.50.
According to several Board members, it is less expensive for these students to attend Virginia schools than to bring them back to Shady. These funds also come from the state instead of the county.
“Shady Valley Elementary is essentially getting to the point where it’s closing itself,” said Chairman Carlton. “The issue of Shady Valley continuing is a real issue.”
The School Board will not reconsider their previous decision on Shady, but they will discuss its future in next month’s meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 12, at Central Office, in Mountain City. The public is welcome to attend. Anyone with ideas to preserve this historic school is encouraged to attend.

Johnson County awards Tennis Association $8,500

By Katie Lamb,
Freelance Writer

At the annual Johnson County Commission budget meeting on Monday, August 5, 2019, the Commission agreed to grant the Johnson County Tennis Association (JCTA) with $8,500 in support of the construction for new tennis courts at the Community Center at Cunningham Park in Mountain City.
The City previously donated $8,500.
The Tennessee Local Parks and Recreation Fund (LPRF) program will match the total sum of $17,000, dollar for dollar.
The JCTA, just last month, was awarded $3,000 at the 2019 Johnson County Community Foundation (JCCF) grant reception, a sum also matched by the LPRF, to help fund this endeavor.
Paul Maulden, volunteer interim director JCTA, said “We are excited to report that the Commission has approved our request and we plan to utilize the monies for United States Tennis Association (USTA) endorsed tennis courts, as well as, improved lighting.”
While there was some concern whether or not the new Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs, proposed for the project, would create electromagnetic interference with the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Maulden is working diligently to resolve any and all concerns involving LED lights for the new courts.
“LED lights are very long-lasting and do not require much maintenance,” Maulden said. “As opposed to typical metal halide lighting existing at many football fields, LED lighting lasts hundreds of hours.”
Maulden also reports, “The lifetime of this project will span two generations, with proper minimal maintenance.”
“The Johnson County Tennis Association, tennis court project, has been greatly supported by locals, including, the Republican Women of Johnson County and The Newcomers Club,” said Maulden. “There will be a meeting and fundraiser in the late fall, and all are welcome.”
For more information about JCTA or to donate, please contact Paul Maulden, at (423) 727-4302 or by email For more information about the LPRF, please visit

Council holds off on approving package store applications

By Bethany Anderson
Freelance Writer

The Town of Mountain City’s Board of Aldermen met on Tuesday, August 6, for their monthly meeting, which drew quite a crowd with the hopes of hearing the status of the submitted applications for possible future package stores in town. Unfortunately, the wait is not over.
Vice Mayor Bud Crosswhite was notably absent, but nothing was mentioned as to his whereabouts. After the customary prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, the meeting started with Mayor Kevin Parsons commenting on the “full house” present that evening.
After many more routine topics were discussed at length, the council’s discussion finally shifted to the topic that most in attendance had come to hear about: the fate of those package store applications.
City Recorder Sheila Shaw stated that the “Beer Board” that was previously decided on would need to have an organizational meeting to prepare. Shaw also mentioned that they still needed to establish term limits for board members. After some discussion, the council decided to establish a 4-year term for Beer Board members.
Wright stated that the city had thus far received 2 “suitable” applications for package stores. He added that he and Mountain City Police Chief Denver Church had met and discussed their recommendations and were prepared to make a decision.
Although it has been repeatedly mentioned by various council members as well as by the City Attorney that they can issue two permits, but that they did not necessarily have to issue both. The decision could be made to issue only one.
Alderman Keeble, who has previously stated that although the allowance for alcohol sales in town was against his own personal beliefs, he would agree to “Give the people what they voted for.”
In a seeming change of attitude, Keeble said, “I’m all in favor of issuing two
permits.” adding, “That’s going to be my stance. We have two permits to offer so we should give out two permits.”
It was ultimately decided that the council would need more time to discuss the matter, so Alderman Bob Morrison requested that they have a “work meeting” to do so. The meeting is set for Friday, August 23 at 3 p.m. at City Hall and is open to the public.
The council’s package store discussion came on the heels of the night’s additional topics such as the retirement of city employee Jerry Lipford after 33 years. Lipford was given a plaque to commemorate the event along with a letter thanking him for his many years of hard work.
The council then went on to discuss a request submitted from another resident to make the driveway behind the Senior Center a one-way drive. After some input from Church and City Attorney George Wright, it was decided that while this would be possible, it would require approval from the various property owners that it would effect including Heritage Hall, the Johnson County School Board, and the Johnson County Library among others.
It was also pointed out by Church that because this is a driveway and parking lot, not a public street, it would be more challenging to enforce a one-way direction on
Also mentioned was that the prison van used to transport inmates who are on the community service program is now out of service.
The vehicle has been reportedly tampered with and the gas tank “sugared” rendering the engine and fuel line ruined. It was quickly decided that it would cost more to repair than to replace, so instructions were given to start the search for a suitable replacement vehicle.
For more information, please visit

Officers search for Mountain City man after chase at Village Square Apartments

Johnson County K-9 Deputy T.J. Brown, front, assisted by deputies and Mountain City Police officers search for a suspect who took off on foot last Friday at the Village Square apartments in Mountain City TN. At large (at the time of writing this article) David Swift has several active warrants including those resulting from the incident. By Tamas Mondovics

By Tamas Mondovics

Following several commands to stop that resulted in a foot pursuit, a Mountain City man was able to elude local law enforcement officers last Friday and is now on the loose.
According to Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, on Friday,
August 2, 2019, K-9 Deputy T.J. Brown was out of his vehicle at Village Square Lane, speaking to the manager of the apartments when the officer observed a white male now identified as David Swift.
Aware of the active warrants out on Swift, deputy Brow repeatedly called to Swift who refused to turn
After doing this numerous times, “the male subject turned directly to the officer and was identified as David Swift.”
When the officer came toward the subject, Swift began to run on foot away from the officer.
The sheriff’s report said that a pursuit on foot pursued with the officer advising Swift multiple times to
“Other officers came to assist, but due to the
safety of the public in the area, the pursuit was discontinued and additional warrants were taken for David Swift,” Sheriff Eddie Tester said.
Current warrants for
Swift were for an attachment for failure to pay child
support and a violation of probation. Additional warrants for this incident are for evading arrest on foot, and resisting stop, halt, frisk or arrest.

Town honors Barlow during 10th Annual Car Show

Nancy Bently, Barlow’s sister, welcomes supporters of her brother Joe, during the 10th Annual memorial ride and car show. Joe, a twenty-year veteran of the Johnson County EMS, who died in the line of duty as a result of a tragic two-vehicle accident in 2009.

By Bethany Anderson
Freelance Writer

EMT Joe Barlow (aged 55 at the time of his death) was a twenty-year veteran of the Johnson County EMS. He died in the line of duty as a result of a tragic two-vehicle accident in 2009. According to law enforcement officials, the wreck happened on Highway 67 at mile marker 2, about a mile north of Butler in Johnson County.
The THP report shows that an oncoming vehicle crossed the center lane of Highway 67 and hit the Johnson County Rescue Squad ambulance driven by Barlow pushing the ambulance off the road, flipping it over an embankment.
The Johnson County Knights Motorcycle Club has helped to host an annual memorial ride and car show each year since. This year marks the 10th year of the annual event.
The event is a fundraiser for a scholarship fund. According to organizers, “The purpose of the scholarship is to help high school graduating seniors seeking education in the medical field.”
All ages came out to enjoy the vintage cars, trucks, and bikes as well as the live music and various vendors all along Main St through downtown Mountain City.
The show crowned Wade and Marina Farmer’s 1963 Buick LeSabre (left) and Donald and Melissa Farmer’s 1962 Cadillac.
Nancy Bently, Barlow’s sister, seemed pleased with the excellent turn-out and grateful for the support. She tearfully said, “Through a tragic accident and loss, our family has gotten through this with our faith.”
She added, “Many high school seniors will benefit from this fund. Our mother was always very involved in this, but she passed two
years ago. Joe had such a heart of gold that we’re still finding out things he did
from his heart even ten years later.”
For more information on the Johnson County Knights and their scholarship fund, visit their website at

Need remains for JC Animal Control Officer


By Katie Lamb,
Freelance Writer

“Johnson County is one of the few counties in Tennessee that does not have an animal control system. Without such a system, county residents can only seek help from the Sheriff’s Department when they have an animal problem or rely on the Mountain City animal control officer, if time permit and in case of an emergency.
The Sheriff will respond when he can, but his department does not have the necessary training, manpower, and facilities to handle and secure neglected, abused, abandoned, and feral animals.” This quote from the Johnson County Humane Society (JCHSI) website clearly communicates the need for county Animal Control.
“For years, we have tried to get the county involved in the need for Animal Control,” said Johnson County Humane Society Chairman, Richard Dionne. “The County Commission continues to ignore the desperate situation to employ an Animal Control Officer.”
The situation persists even after the Humane Society has appeared before the Commission many times regarding this matter. The Humane Society presented a petition with over 900 names on it asking for a county animal control presence.
“The commission remains disinterested in the subject.” Dionne expresses his disappointment, “The commission does not want to hear or talk about the necessity of County Animal Control.”
Dionne says that Mountain City employs an Animal Control Officer, but there is no such position at this time for the county. “The only option for county residents and visitors is to call the Sheriff for animal-related issues. “And the Sheriff’s Department can only respond to threatening situations.
“JCHSI offers free shots for cats and dogs during Free Shot Day At The Park and has spent $200,000 of
JCHSI funds to do so,” says Dionne.
The JCHSI meets at the Johnson County Public Library at 4 pm on the second Tuesday of every month. To become a member of the JCHSI, please visit For more information, phone 423-727-9286, write to P.O. Box 307 Mountain City, TN, 37683, send email to or visit

School Board rejects Shady Valley revote request

Editor’s note:
Dear reader,
The Tomahawk newsroom has been receiving a printed copy of the Johnson County Schools monthly meeting agenda. The Tomahawk does not print nor is it required, or obligated to print meeting agendas of the School Board, City Council or the County Commission.
Important, free public announcements sent directly to this publication are treated with the highest respect and are printed as long as space permits and are submitted in time for print.
Legal announcements are paid for and are included in our classified pages to ensure their publication.

By Meg Dickens Staff Writer, and Tamas Mondovics Editor

Sarah Worlock is an ambitious little girl. This 11-year-old loves softball, dancing, and cheerleading. She is an avid reader who dreams of becoming an orthopedic surgeon. Worlock is one of several children who can no longer attend Shady Valley Elementary due to the Johnson County School Board’s decision.
The School Board passed a vote 3-2 to downsize Shady Valley Elementary School from a PreK-6 establishment to a K-5 establishment for the 2019-2020, school year during its June 13 meeting.
Concerned citizens from around the area gathered at Shady Valley Elementary on July 26 to discuss this decision and petition for a re-vote. This conflict is still in full swing.
Sarah, her sister Katie, and her brother Cole will no longer attend school in Johnson County. Sarah will attend Damascus Middle School while her older siblings will attend Abingdon High. According to mother and retired Major Ashley Worlock, Sarah’s new school is closer than the Board’s suggestion, has smaller class sizes averaging 17 students per class, and does not require the family to cross Roan Mountain.
“It’s a relief knowing that she is not getting on that bus every day,” Worlock explained. “All of the parents are concerned with that bus ride.”
The Worlocks considered Carter County, Washington County, Sullivan County, and home schooling before settling on Washington County. School size, test scores, and school transparency were the deciding factors. Sarah’s new school is farther away than Shady but much closer than Mountain City Elementary, which is paramount in case of an emergency.
“She’s been in the same class since the third grade,” said Worlock. “It takes time for children to adjust, and they don’t take that into consideration. Sarah prefers Shady, but this is the best option available. I would consider sending Sarah back to Shady in a heartbeat if they repeal this decision.”
Ashley Worlock is still challenging the School Board’s decision.
In a recent email representing members of the Shady Valley community Worlock reached out to School Board Chairman Howard Carlton, who in reply rejected Worlock’s request to call a meeting before the school year commences.
In her email, Worlock wrote,
“Chairman Carlton,
Last week, July 25 2019, Shady Valley Residents held a town meeting, we regret you could not attend. It was during this meeting that the citizens of Shady Valley voiced their concerns with the recent School Board decision to close the 6th and PreK grades at Shady Valley Elementary. The citizens of Shady Valley respectfully request that you initiate a special meeting of the School Board to be held in Shady Valley in order to reconsider and re-vote on the decision to close the 6th and PreK grades at Shady Valley Elementary. The Shady Valley residents would like the opportunity to present all cost of this decision on the community and the ramifications this decision will set in motion.
The citizens of Shady Valley and many residents in Johnson County at large are concerned that the School Board violated several of Johnson County’s School Board Policies: i.e. Role of the Board of Education – 1.101 and Board – Community Relations 1.500.
The meeting in which a vote was taken did not have any indication of removing any grades from Shady Valley Elementary in the Agenda items. This too is a violation of state policy.
The majority of Shady Valley residents believe, as the Chairman, it is your duty and responsibility to the residents of Shady Valley and the County to call such a special meeting to make sure all the facts are considered when making such a serious decision as the Board did on June 17 2019. Due to the urgency and timeliness, your action is requested immediately.
Very Respectfully,  Ashley Worlock”

Leaving out introductory or closing pleasantries, Carlton wasted no time with his two-sentence reply of,
“I am declining your request. The Board will not reconsider their decision.”
Sent from iPhone

Worlock has a meeting with the State Department about Title I funding this week and is keeping touch with Shady officials.

School Board put on notice

July 31, 2019

Community challenges Shady Valley decision

Johnson County residents attend a meeting last week at Shady Valley Elementary School to discuss the school board’s recent controversial decision of downsizing enrolment for the 2019-2020 school year. The conference was organized by Shady Valley parent, Ashley Worlock, and welcomed local school board officials and government leaders. Photos by Meg Dickens

By Meg Dickens

Concerned citizens from around the Johnson County area gathered at Shady Valley Elementary on Thursday, July 26 to discuss the School Board’s recent decision to downsize the school from a Pre-K-6 establishment to a K-5 establishment for the 2019-2020 school year. Officials in attendance included County Mayor Mike Taylor, Sheriff Eddie Tester, Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox, Elementary and Federal Programs Supervisor Angie Wills, Finance Director Tina Lipford, Board member Kevin Long, Board member Gary Matheson, Board Secretary Serena Warren, and Johnson County Schools Secondary Supervisor Dr. Stephen Long.

Consent and notification are the strongest points of contention. Parents such as retired military Major Ashley Worlock, who is leading the charge, seemed most upset about how they found out the news.
While these parents heard about the downsizing through others in the community, Pre-k parents said that they have still not received official notification.

“They did this without discussing it with the community, the parents, etc.,” said Worlock. “They have the authority to close, consolidate, and build, but our rights were violated.”

According to the Tennessee Open Meetings Act, also known as the Sunshine Law, the School board must make the public aware of meetings. Currently, the administration posts notices at Central Office and the Johnson County Courthouse. Concerned citizens, such as mother Logan Meredith who enrolled her daughter in Shady’s Pre-K, say that this placement is inadequate due to building hours that clash with work hours. Worlock suggests sending call-outs through the already established system used by Johnson County Schools. Simcox assured the public that this information will now be available on the Johnson County Schools website ( and Facebook.

Mother and retired military Major Ashley Worlock shares her findings, thoughts, and concerns with the public. Worlock has spoken to many local officials and has been researching for the last few weeks.

“You don’t know you have a problem until there is a problem,” Board member Kevin Long explained to the crowd. “Now that we know, we can take steps to correct the issue.

According to the Johnson County Board of Education’s Board Community Relations (Policy 1.5), “In order to promote school-community interaction relating to the policy and operation of the schools, the Board will: 1. Strive to keep citizens of the school system regularly informed about all policies, problems and planning through channels of communication, its own efforts, and the office of the director of schools;”

“I think we all can agree here that they failed to do that,” said Worlock about Policy 1.5. “Especially over something as serious as this.”

According to Simcox, Shady Valley Elementary was not singled out. Enrollment is on the agenda every June, and 17 students were sent from Mountain City Elementary to Roan Creek Elementary for the 2019-2020 schoolyear. Both this change and the Shady Valley Elementary change stem from redistricting. Elementary schools were affected by redistricting in a similar case three years ago.

Worlock was also concerned about the Board’s accounting. The Johnson County Per Student Expenditure 2019-2020 spreadsheet, which calculates expense by student population, reportedly carried faulty math. Lipford agreed and acknowledged the mistake and that this spreadsheet was not present at the June meeting where their decision took place. The Board’s original estimate for Shady Valley Elementary was $15,021.81 per student; they updated this number to $18,130.26 per student as of July 23, 2019. But when following the spreadsheet, Worlock, who boasts a background in math and engineering, found that estimate to be $12,219 per student. Worlock and Lipford plan to meet to discuss from where the additional $5,911.26 stems. Outside sources of funding such as Shady Valley’s annual Cranberry Festival are not considered in these numbers.

It is noteworthy that much of the public concern stems from rumors about Shady Valley Elementary closing; the rumors have been prevalent for years. Long set the record straight emphasizing that the only discussion on closing Shady was in the previous administration and has never been brought up again.

“This is hard on everyone,” said Simcox.”I know it’s really hard on you all, and we do apologize for that. We do have an open door. Any questions you have, we’ll be happy to answer and give you the facts. All you have to do is call, or come by any time. Any of us will answer anything you have.”

With more than 150 signatures in her arsenal, Worlock plans to petition the School Board’s June decision. If the cheering crowd is any indication, she has many supporters in the Johnson County Community hoping to compel the Board to call a special session for a re-vote before school starts on August 7, 2019. The Board is willing to meet at Shady Valley Elementary, but Chairman Howard Carlton has the final say. Worlock said, “This is not over.”

Tennis association wins $3000 in grant funding

By Katie Lamb
Freelance Writer

“If a football field were built exactly like the existing tennis courts at the Community Center at Cunningham Park in Mountain City, the fifty-yard line would be three and a half feet higher than the goal line,” says Paul Maulden, volunteer interim director, Johnson County Tennis Association (JCTA), also known as Friends of Tennis.
“The existing courts, built thirty years ago, were constructed improperly,” Maulden continues that while playing, because of the gradient issue, “you are sixteen to seventeen inches higher or lower than you should be to your opponent. Now the cracks created by the heaving asphalt are so bad that the Insurance Inspector for the City has ordered the area closed until remedied. This issue is not fixable. It requires a complete rebuild.”
The JCTA, was awarded $3000 at the 2019 Johnson County Community Foundation (JCCF) grant reception last month to help fund its endeavor.
As a tennis professional for the past twenty-five years, Maulden states,
“With zero public functional tennis courts available to its 18,000 residents, Johnson County is desperate for a remedy to a problem of many years.”
In 2016, the Republican Women of Johnson County and its then-president, Ashley Worlock, organized a fundraising dinner and silent auction to benefit Friends of Tennis. The group raised and donated $3,600.
After viewing the courts, Worlock, a resident and mother, realized the necessity of the project and prompted Maulden’s tireless efforts to obtain additional funding to bring new tennis courts to the Community Center.
John Loughrin, lawyer, Grayson Wright and McEwen of Mountain City, also a JCTA volunteer, is working on developing the Association into a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
“Tennis is a life-long, life-time sport, and with no exposure to tennis, the youth of Johnson County has a distinct disadvantage,” Maulden said. “According to the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the county should have one tennis court per 1246 players. “If we were among the average, we should have fourteen courts in Johnson County.”
The Friends of Tennis have been well received and have found enthusiastic support from the community, residents, business owners, and parents. “The Tennessee Local Parks and Recreation Fund  (LPRF) will match dollar for dollar any donations made to this project
IF we show strong public support for it “ Maulden affirms.  Supporters may send contributions
directly to Tennis Project, Town of Mountain City, 210 South Church St., 37683.
Maulden said, “We are also working with the USTA, for funding and guidance. The USTA grant application is extensive, and the requirements following funding are very specific and equally elaborate, including an environmental study, strict guidelines for construction by a USTA certified tennis court builder, and follow-through procedures to offer lessons, instructions and activities.”
For more information about JCTA or to donate, please contact Paul Maulden, at (423) 727-4302 or by email For more information about the LPRF, please visit

Parsons third runner-up at Miss America Outstanding Teen Competition

Celebrating her third runner-up spot at the Miss America Outstanding Teen Competition, Johnson County’s Miss Tennessee Outstanding Teen, Taylor Parsons, right, enjoys the spotlight and photo opportunity with fellow contestants. Parsons competed with fifty-one other promising young women from across the country and was awarded a $5,000 scholarship. Submitted photo

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

Johnson ‘County’s Miss Tennessee Outstanding Teen Taylor Parsons represented her county and her state with faith, dignity, and optimism at the Miss America Outstanding Teen competition in Orlando, Florida this weekend. Parsons competed with fifty-one other promising young women from across the country.
The JCHS senior received the honor of third runner-up and was awarded a $5000 scholarship. Parsons expected to make the top 15, so she was overjoyed to place third in the country.
“All I could do was say in my head, thank you, God, thank you, God, over and over again,” Parsons said, recalling the moment she heard her name called out as the third runner up. “To place third in the nation is a pretty big deal and to make the cut from 51 girls, I was overjoyed and humbly honored.”
Parsons also won preliminary talent award and Overall Dance Award for her fiery clogging routine to the song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” She received an additional $1,000 for winning Overall Dance Award.
The talented teen was awarded altogether $9,000 in scholarship monies, which will undoubtedly help with her goal to someday be a pediatrician. She is happy with her collegiate funding awards, but the ambitious student will continue to search other scholarship opportunities.
“I will need all the help I can get since I plan to be in the medical field,” she said.
Although being in the MAOT was a one-time opportunity, Parsons has plenty to keep her busy until her reign ends as Miss Tennessee Outstanding Teen.
The Red Cross advocate will continue her message of blood donation through her MTOT platform, “The Color Red” and will continue to conduct interviews and speak at many events across the state.
“I am thankful to this organization that promotes service, style, scholarship, and success, and I am honored to continue to serve Tennessee for the rest of my reign.”
Parsons is glad to be back home with her family, friends, and puppy but states the past week will be one she will never forget. “I made 50 new friends, two very special friends from Rhode Island and Nevada, who I hope to visit soon and make more memories. I have received scholarships to aid me with college and was given opportunities for modeling. Honestly, I loved representing Mountain City and the wonderful people here and felt so much love and support from everyone as I read the encouraging messages that were sent to me throughout the week. There is truly no place like home.”
The MAOT is a sister program of the Miss America Organization that promotes academic achievement, creative accomplishment, healthy living and community involvement for girls between the ages of 13 and 17. At this ‘year’s MAOT event in
Orlando, over $175,000 in scholarship grants were handed out among the 52 contestants.

Pharmacist Gentry honored for Excellence in Pharmacy Innovation

Submitted by Lisa Hull

NASHVILLE, TN – Chad Gentry, PharmD, BCACP, CDE of Nashville, Tennessee, was recognized by the Tennessee Pharmacists Association (TPA) with the 2019 TPA Excellence in Innovation Award.
This national award, coordinated by the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations and sponsored by Upsher-Smith Laboratories, is given annually to a pharmacist that has demonstrated significant innovation in practice, resulting in improved patient care and advancement of the profession of pharmacy.
Gentry earned his Doctor of Pharmacy degree at the University of Tennessee, Memphis in 2008. After completing his Primary Care Specialty Residency at the Holston Medical Group in Kingsport, he continued to gain experience in team-based primary care delivery. Dr. Gentry helped develop the Mercury Courts Model, which brings students from pharmacy, nursing, social work, and medicine together to coordinate patient care at the Mercury Courts Clinic. Working with the interprofessional faculty team, this approach has led to more patients being on appropriate medications and better control rates for hypertension and diabetes.
Gentry is also involved in the Vanderbilt Program for Interprofessional Learning (VPIL) which places interprofessional students together for two years at various clinical settings in Nashville, and further nurturing a team-based approach to improve the health of patients and increase communication across disciplines.
He is the lead pharmacist and key contributor in a Vanderbilt University study that uses text messaging to engage diabetes patients with their treatment program. Dr. Gentry is the Lead Clinical Pharmacist at Mercury Courts Clinic and holds multiple academic appointments that include Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy, Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and Meharry Medical College.
Dr. Gentry is the Director of Experiential Quality Assurance and an Associate Professor at Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy. He
and his wife, Brooke, are expecting their first child in
TPA congratulates Dr. Chad Gentry for his outstanding work and contributions to patient care and pharmacy practice.
The Tennessee Pharmacists Association advances, protects, and promotes high-quality pharmacist-provided patient care in Tennessee. TPA is the only 501(c)6 professional organization representing pharmacists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and associate members in all pharmacy practice areas across the state. For more information, please visit the TPA website, Follow TPA on Twitter @TNPharmacists and Facebook for the latest updates.

Mayor signs Human Trafficking Week proclamation

Mayor Mike Taylor signs proclamation for the week of July 29-August 3 to be Human Trafficking Awareness Week in Johnson County to help educate Tennesseans with the knowledge to identify and prevent human trafficking. Also pictured are: Sheriff Eddie Tester, County Attorney Perry Stout, and Johnson County Health Educator Angie Stout. Photo by Beth Cox.

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

Mayor, Mike Taylor signed a proclamation last week to recognize the week of July 29-August 3 as Human Trafficking Week in Johnson County.
Johnson County Sheriff, Eddie Tester, and County Attorney Perry Stout were also on hand to acknowledge support for the proclamation.
Tester emphasized that he understands that “Johnson County needs to be vigilant regarding human trafficking.
“We border two states, so we are aware of human trafficking regarding the county,” Tester said. “All officers have attended in-services and have been trained to recognize the signs of human trafficking.”
Johnson County Health Educator Angie Stout also acknowledged that the health department employees had been trained on how to respond to this heinous crime and understand the importance of the proclamation. “Johnson County is just a few hours from several big cities but is also somewhat of a remote area which could be a potentially good location to harbor victims, so it is important to know what human trafficking is and what to look for,” Stout said.
Human trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation and provision of a person, usually a child around the age of thirteen for the purpose of a commercial sex act or labor services using force, fraud, or coercion. It is simply modern-day slavery.
The Tennessee Department of Health has recognized human trafficking as a public health concern; because of the violation of human rights and the sexual exploitation of minors, causing an increase in unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Tennessee has seen a 200 percent increase from 2016-2018 in the number of tips regarding sex trafficking involving a minor.
Human or sex trafficking is the second-fastest-growing criminal industry globally as a 32-billion-dollar industry.
The state of Tennessee has created the ITHASTOSTOP campaign to share information about Human Trafficking and what can be done to stop it.
Officials emphasized that the first step in stopping human trafficking is to know the warning signs, which involve physical appearance, behavioral issues, unusual possessions, and lack of control.
The Department of Health has established a human trafficking hotline for anyone who may need help or report any concerns regarding individuals who may be involved in human or sex trafficking.
The number is 1-855-55-TNHTH. (855) 558-6484.

Truck and Tractor Pull draws massive crowd

Smoke billowing from a truck, accompanied by the roar of the engine fills the air, while spectators watch the action during the Johnson County Truck and Tractor Pull, last Saturday, at the Johnson County Chamber Park just west of Mountain City TN. The event’s success prompted organizers to promise the annual return of the much-welcomed spectacle. Photo By Beth Cox.

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

On a hot and humid Saturday afternoon at the Johnson County Chamber Park, cars were lining up to attend the Johnson County Truck and Tractor Pull. It has been over fifteen years since the last tractor pull, so the excitement was definitely in the air as people started finding a good spot to see all the action.
The spectators had put up tents, brought out the lawn chairs, and backed their trucks in to be ready for the next several hours as they watched every class of truck and tractors pull the weighted sled the farthest.
The Johnson County Chamber of Commerce has spent several months organizing this hugely popular event. Chamber President and organizer, Gina Meade started planning for the event around November. She looked online and got the contact information for the Carolina Truck and Tractor Pullers.
“I want to thank all our sponsors,” said Mead. “The Chamber wants to send a special thank you to Maymead, Humphrey Masonry, Sam Tester with Big County excavations, Matt Eggers Fencing and Construction, and Joey Stout Grading. Also want to thank our Sheriff’s Department, Doe Valley Fire department and JoCo EMS.”
Chad Mackie with the Carolina Truck and Tractor Pullers visited the area to make sure there was adequate space for the track, the pullers, and space between the spectators and the tractor pullers. Once the approval was given, the planning began. Meade states so many came out to help make everything just right for this well-attended event.
The Chamber President credits Maymead Inc and Humphreys Masonry for helping put down the concrete beams, which were the hardest part of getting the track-ready.
Over fifty entries were hailing from three different states including two from Mountain City Pullers; Dustin Roush and Lacy Tyner. The pullers were part of the Carolina Truck and Tractor Pullers series. The National Truck Pullers Association sanctioned the event.
Most of the winners of the Saturday’s event were from North Carolina, but Dustin Roush did place in the open Street Diesel class.
Southern Rebellion, a high-energy country band out of Johnson City opened the big event with some sweet country music. The crowd got to their feet with southern rock style music, and they stayed excited well into the evening. Spectators of Saturday’s events did not leave disappointed.
Many fans echoed the same sentiments of how great it was to see the truck and tractor pull back in Mountain City. The uncontrollable high temperatures were the biggest complaint of the evening, but that did not deter the oldest to the youngest watching to see which pullers could pull the weight the farthest distance.
The momentum and excitement carried on as everyone was leaving with many fans eager for a repeat performance next year. Mark Roush remembered the last pull and was excited to see the tractor pull come back to Mountain City. He stated, ”I remember how fun they were at the park; I hope they continue doing them again.” Roush added, “I thought this one was pretty sweet even with the heat.”

Dunn accepted to IGOR exhibition

July 24, 2019

Artist Cristy Dunn presents her award-winning painting “The Fiddle Maker II.” Its Predecessor, “The Fiddle Maker,” is visible behind her. Submitted photo.

By Meg Dickens

Most locals know Cristy Dunn. The former Johnson County High School art teacher is now the Johnson County Center for the Arts Executive Director and uses art to give back to the community. Dunn announced exciting news on Sunday, July 21. Her painting “The Fiddle Maker II” was accepted into the International Guild of Realism’s 14th Annual Juried Exhibition at Principle Gallery.

This is not Dunn’s first dealing with the prestigious group. She was accepted to the International Guild of Realism (IGOR) as a professional member in January. IGOR’s mission is to give the best realists recognition, create exhibition opportunities, support members with advertising and marketing, and bridge the gap between artists and collectors. IGOR recruits the best of the best from around the world.

“I am beyond honored that my work will hang in this prestigious gallery alongside some of the best realist painters working today,” said Dunn. “Your encouragement and support are so much appreciated.”

Dunn had similar success with her painting’s predecessor “The Fiddle Maker.” At the 2016 Long Journey Home Art Show, the piece earned her Best in Show and the People’s Choice Award. Both paintings are modeled after former Ashe County resident and fiddle craftsman Alfred Michels. Michels passed away last September, but his memory remains alive in Dunn’s work.

“Like all who knew him, I count myself blessed to have met and been inspired by Alfred Michels,” Dunn stated. “He was a person who lived deliberately and simply, and he left a rare and beautiful legacy for us all.”

Dunn’s piece will be displayed at the prestigious Principle Gallery in Alexandria, Virginia from September 20 through October 15. To find out more about this event or IGOR, visit Find out more about Cristy Dunn and her award-winning paintings’ inspiration at

Lee gets an earful during stop in Mountain City

By Tamas Mondovics


I would like to inform our readers that this story contains some errors, specifically involing the topic addressed by Mrs. Sally Snyder.  First please note that Snyder’s comment about DHS was referring to the DHS office in Nashville and Not the local office.

“I really want the public to know that DHS in Nashville is the office not cooperating, the local DHS, I have no complaints with,” she said.

Also, to clarify her thoughts and comments to the Governor Snyder stated, “We are in desperate need of childcare because the in-home daycares have closed due to DHS targeting in-home babysitter’s. These babysitter’s have operated successfully for years without any complaints or incidences.

The quote, “costs are so high that working parents who also have to carry insurance…. is not correct. “  The costs WILL be too high if regulations aren’t changed so there is not so much red tape to jump through for licensed daycares to open, or in-home babysitter’s being permitted to run a daycare from their home.  Parents are having to quit their jobs because babysitter’s need to keep more than 4 kids to make a decent income. Right now, the rule states that an in-home babysitter cannot keep more than 4 kids in their home. This number needs to be increased if the babysitter can make a respectable income.”

Please acccept my apologies for the errors and misunderstandings the original article created. Mrs, Snuder has also sent a letter to the editor, which will also be published in our upcoming edition.

Thank you,

Tamas Mondovics, Editor

Original story:

To get an update on current pressing issues, a large crowd turned up to welcome Tennessee Governor Bill Lee during an informal visit to Mountain City early last week.
Lee’s visit to town came on the heels of a stop at ETSU Quillen College of Medicine in Mountain Home, TN earlier in the day when he announced the creation of a new Center for Rural Health Research.
The public event was held at the Johnson County Welcome Center, 716 South Shady Street in Mountain City, TN.“I am honored to serve you, and work on making changes to improve the lives of the people in Tennessee,” Lee began his presentation as he took a considerable time to address some of the topics he called “close to my heart.”
Topics like health care, rural broadband, education and yes, stressing the importance of faith-based community involvement.

But things got interesting during the question and answer portion of the event, when the issues Lee’s audience was really concerned with took center stage.
The first of such topic came in the form of an emotional plea by local resident and mom, Sally Snyder, about the need for some assistance with affordable daycare for working parents.
“We are in desperate need of affordable daycare in our county,” Snyder told the governor while visibly holding back tears. “We need immediate assistance,” she said. “Costs are so high that working parents who also have to carry insurance end up quitting their jobs because they cannot afford the cost of daycare.”

Sally Snyder of Mountain City pleads with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee for his assistance in changes to strict regulations that have caused in home daycares to shut down.  Photo by Tamas Mondovics

Snyder suggested a possible solution in the form of a waiver, which she said would allow parents to decide whom they wish to watch their children outside of the regulations.
“I want to address that and want to assure you that we will look into this quickly,” Lee said while drawing attention to working closely with State House Rep. Timothy Hill, (District 3).
Snyder answered back with a question, “How quick is quick? And just so you know DHS has not been cooperative at all. They don’t even want to talk to you on the phone.”
JC Lowe, a Mountain City native, who supports access to medical marijuana in Tennessee wanted clarification on the governor’s views regarding the timely topic. Lee made clear his stand on the issue when he said, “I do not support medical marijuana, and my stand on this has not changed.”


Lee also commented on his continued efforts to provide broadband to rural areas, which he agreed was vital to support area students and
help them enhance their education.


Johnson County School Board decision faces backlash

By Tamas Mondovics


The Johnson County Board of Education’s 3-2 vote last month to downsize Shady Valley Elementary School from a pre-K-6 school to a K-5 for the 2019-2020 school year is making headlines this week, raising several questions on the part of parents, the Johnson County School Board and local media.

Ashley Worlock said her youngest daughter the only 6th grader at the school was ready to begin the season at Shady Valley Elementary, the smallest elementary school in Johnson County. “I did not find this out officially from Mischelle Simcox or any of the school board members,” Worlock said. “I heard about it from someone in the community.”

The Board’s discussion of the topic came up under an agenda item titled ‘Student Enrollment’ in June, and the motion was passed in a 3-2 vote. Board member Gary Matheson, who represents Shady Valley, and Vice Chairman Kevin Long, reportedly voted against the motion.

Worlock said that after she contacted Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox, she was told that her daughter would begin her 6th-grade year at Mountain City Elementary instead.

The problem, which now involves a broader circle, has to do with the Board’s seemingly hasty decision, and the lack of communication or public notice, all of which has now found its way to be discussed at a public meeting scheduled for this evening (July 25) at Shady Valley Elementary School, organized by Worlock.

“I wasn’t aware of this coming up on the student population that night until we got into the roundtable,” Matheson said, in an interview with News Channel 11, adding, “I voted against it, number one because the people had not been notified of what was taking place.”

Simcox explanation of how the Board came to its decision involves the age-old problem of money and the question of filling a vacant teacher position since the numbers are so low. She reportedly said that the county spends about $4,000 per student at Mountain City, and more than twice as much for students at Shady Valley Elementary.

However, to Worlock whose child was reassigned to another school, the lack of notice and the subsequent explanation is unacceptable especially since parents who had registered their children for pre-K classes were not notified at all and have missed out on the opportunity to enroll their children at other nearby schools. The only option left for them is Mountain City Elementary.

Tennessee state law dictates that governing bodies must provide adequate notice ahead of meetings and special-called meetings.

Aside from placing the meeting agenda at the county courthouse and central office, Simcox reportedly said that her office sends meeting announcements to the local paper, but they don’t always get printed.  The fact, however, is that while it is true that not all free notices and announcements, that include notices from the community get printed in The Tomahawk, no notification, or statement other than the monthly agenda items that referred to the topic of annual enrolment, was received from the school board.

Important, free public announcements sent directly to this publication are treated with the highest respect as long as space permits and are submitted in time for print. Legal announcements are paid and included in our classified pages to ensure their publication.

That today’s meeting at Shady Valley Elementary School 23 TN-133, Shady Valley, TN scheduled for 6:30 p.m., which anticipates the presence of several local and possibly state officials and put the Johnson County School Board on notice, there is little doubt. “The bottom line is that I wasn’t notified or given the opportunity to consider other options for my daughter,” Worlock said. “What the School Board and Dr. Simcox did was unprofessional and borderline unethical. This affects everybody, and that is what I intend to discuss.”

Please read The Tomahawk for more updates in the coming days.


NECX partner for Offender Resource Fair

By Tamas Mondovics

The Northeast Correctional Complex (NECX) 5249 Highway 67 West in Mountain City, TN, was pleased to announce earlier this month, the hosting of its offender resource fair.
According to NECX officials, the fair promoted a total of 15 partnering agencies and nonprofits from around Eastern Tennessee and was held to assist those within 18 months of their release date.
“The event was organized to put offenders nearing release in contact with those who can provide them access to the resources needed to be successful,” NECX stated in a press release.
Offenders at the event were provided the opportunity to meet and network with agencies that specialize in employment such as the American Job Center, as well as educational institutions such as Northeast State Technical Community College and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology.
“Our programming for reentry begins the very first day they [offenders] come into our custody, but once they begin nearing their release date, that’s when it’s important to augment that programming by bringing in community-based partners for the offenders to network with,” said James Bowman II, NECX’s Offender Workforce Development Specialist.
Additional partners from Tennessee Prison Outreach Ministries and other state agencies like the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Motor Vehicles, and Department of Labor and Workforce Development were also in attendance.
“By meeting and networking with the representatives present, we’re ensuring they’re equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary and vital to successful reentry,” Bowman II said. “When our offenders succeed, our communities are safer.”
On its website, NECX explains that the facility is a time-building prison with a close custody designation and that the prison also houses offenders of other custody levels. Three hundred offenders are located at the minimum annex site in Johnson County, while another 180 offenders, who are within ten years of their eligible release date, are housed in Carter County.
“NECX offers intensive substance use and anger management counseling programs. Both sites operate extensive community service programs, which provide thousands of hours of skilled and unskilled labor to state and local government, as well as nonprofit agencies in East Tennessee. NECX offenders may attend Adult Basic Education classes or one of six vocational programs. Those who do not have a high school diploma can earn a GED certificate. In addition, NECX has mandatory Career Management for Success and Release for Success programs for those nearing release.”
For more information, please visit

Local organizations receive $60,000 in grant funding

Members of the Johnson County Community Foundation (JCCF) Advisory Board, (back to front, left to right), Russell Love, Dorothy Shupe, Dick Grayson, Brenda Potter, John Payne, Carol Stout, Cloyce Eller, Peter Wachs, Karen Cunningham, Tom Reece, Barbara Henson, Jane Ann McGee
(JCCF Chair), Minnie Miller, and Trudy Hughes (ETF Vice President for Regional Development).
Not pictured, Barbara Seals. Photo by Katie Lamb

By Katie Lamb,
Freelance Writer

Nearly twenty Johnson County programs and projects received a total of $59,700 in grant funds at the annual grant awards reception hosted by the Johnson County Public Library, Monday, July 15, 2019.
The Board of Directors of the Johnson County Community Foundation (JCCF), an affiliate of East Tennessee Foundation (ETF), presented the numerous awards.
Trudy Hughes, ETF Vice President for Regional Advancement, states, “JCCF Board members work diligently throughout the year in many service capacities.
“One is to evaluate each grant application, complete site visits, and then evaluate and determine the awards,” Hughes said. “Today, the grant award will be presented by the site visitor from the JCCF Advisory Board.”
Local government agencies, various academic programs, school organizations, as well as, senior facility assistance endeavors
and community service proposals, were several of the grant
Awards ranged from $1,200 to $3,000. Johnson County High School, Johnson County Middle School, along with, the Humane Society, the Arts Center, Friends of the Library, Second Harvest Food Bank, and the Senior Center are a few of the very appreciative grant receivers.
“We could not have done this without your very appreciated support,” a common quote from most recipients.
The JCCF and the ETF collaborate frequently distributing funds to deserving programs, individuals, and projects in the form of scholarships and grant monies.
Hughes said that while many JCCF scholarship recipients, were honored during the May awards ceremony, a prior recipient’s note demonstrates the importance of the funds and how they work supporting the community and Johnson County residents.
In part, the note read, “I received a 2008 scholarship – family and health issues occurred, yet I was able to retain this scholarship. ‘I now work in Social Services in Roanoke, VA, and have obtained my Master’s in Human Services. ‘I start my MSW in 2020, and I am thoroughly excited about it. ‘I am extremely grateful for all your organization does, has done for me, and will do for others. ‘I am ecstatic to be able to make donations now to assist other children. ‘I just felt the need to share with you how critical you were for me and how much of a difference you made for me.’”
Jane Ann McGee, JCCF Advisory Board Chair, thanked, all in attendance and said, “We the JCCF Advisory Board thank you for all the service and support you provide to our community and residents.”
For more information or to see a list of all recipients, visit For more information about grants and applications, contact Trudy Hughes at 877.524.1223 or
For more information about JCCF, to make donations, or to apply online, visit

Gardening provides much-needed therapy for seniors

Breaking green beans is something familiar for Doris Stout who has always enjoyed vegetable gardening.
Photo by Jill Penley

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

Gardening is one of the healthiest and best activities for people of any age, including seniors and seniors living in nursing homes, the benefits of garden-related activities are abounding.
It is for this reason, Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center of Mountain City, planted a vegetable garden this year involving residents and staff members in gardening activities,
raising physical activity levels and providing opportunities for meaningful interaction.
“Gardening and garden-related activities can be a fun way of getting nursing home residents more physically active and engaged,” said Lisa Stout, Quality of Life Director at Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center. “Gardening can also be a way of getting all members of the nursing home community involved in a common project.”
For those whose health will not allow the actual tending of the garden, plenty of other garden-related activities are necessary and can be beneficial like breaking beans. “In this area especially, we have a lot of former farmers or people who spent most of their lives outside,” said Mary Robinson, who met with Mike Penley, Maintenance Director and Mike Brooks, together they were able to get the ground ready for planting. Stout and Robinson assist the residents with the project. “Being inside all of the time is really tough for them,” said Robinson, “so this program provides an activity that they can relate to, that they enjoy.”
One gentleman who isn’t physically able to work in the garden keeps a close eye on it. “He’s always telling Mary if a groundhog has been visiting the vegetables,” said Stout.
The garden has made all the difference in the world to patients like Madge Taylor. While physically unable to help in the garden, Taylor certainly enjoys stringing and breaking green beans. The vegetables, including squash, cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, beans, corn, and beets, are continuing to grow and residents have already enjoyed some. “We’ve had fried squash this week,” said Stout, who expects to have a hefty harvest of beans in the next few weeks. They also planted pumpkins for the fall.
“The residents don’t stop living just because they come to a nursing home,” said Stout. “We want them to continue to live and continue to make memories.”
In addition to being therapeutic, this special vegetable garden has the ability to stimulate all five senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. For an older
adult who feels as though they’ve lost their purpose, gardening delivers a sense of meaning and accomplishment.
“It gives them a piece of home and familiarity,” said Robinson. “It makes them proud to see that something they created is being used.”
Numerous studies suggest the benefits of horticultural therapy and garden settings in reduction of pain, improvement in attention, and lessening of stress.
Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation’s parent company Signature HealthCARE, headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is a family-based healthcare company that offers
integrated services in 10 states.