Jerry Dunn sentenced to 30 years in prison for kidnapping a teenage boy

Jerry Wayne Dunn, 38, of Mountain City, Tennessee was sentenced to 30 years in prison Monday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Greeneville. The sentence was the result of a guilty plea by Dunn on February 5, 2010 to a federal grand jury indictment charging him with kidnapping and with committing that offense on a minor after previously being convicted of a sex offense.
The indictment and subsequent conviction of Dunn was the result of an investigation conducted by the United States Marshals Service and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. Dunn was convicted in 1997 in Johnson County Criminal Court for rape and served eight years in the Tennessee Department of Corrections. On August 28, 2005, he lured a teenage boy with video games and took the teenager from Mountain City to Slidell, Louisiana where they lived for more than three years. During that time the victim was given a new name and deprived of formal education, medical and dental care. Dunn assumed an alias identity to conceal his real identity because he was wanted on state court warrants and for failure to register as a sex offender under Tennessee law. Dunn and his victim were featured on the national syndicated television show, “America’s Most Wanted.” They were recovered in December 2008, when he and his victim returned to Mountain City, Tennessee. In addition, the court ordered him to remain on federal supervised release for the remainder of his life and to pay a $200 special assessment to the court. Dunn has remained in custody since his arrest on December 5, 2008.
Gregg L. Sullivan, acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, noted that “studies prove that a very high percentage of abducted children never return. Fortunately, Dunn’s victim has returned to his family. This investigation was brought as part of the continuing effort by the Department of Justice and the United States Marshals Service to implement the Adam Walsh Act which was enacted in 2006. Our office will continue to pursue child predators with every law enforcement tool available.”
The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Helen Smith.
This case was brought as part of Public Safe Childhood (PSC), a department initiative launched in 2006 that aims to combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state, tribal and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information visit

Street Changed to memorialize fallen emergency worker~Joe Barlow Way

Street named changed to memorialize fallen emergency worker.
Previously “911 Avenue,” the street near the Johnson County EMS was officially changed to “Joe Barlow Way” during a ceremony on Tuesday, August 10th. Nearly a year ago, Barlow was killed while in a traffic accident near Butler while transporting a patient to Johnson City Medical Center. “He is definitely missed and was a fine man that did a lot for us,” said City Mayor Kevin Parsons during this month’s city council meeting when the decision was made to commemorate Barlow in this way. Family, friends and former co-workers were in attendance for the solemn occasion.

$1,444,000 state grant approved for airport; awaiting county’s decision

Governor Phil Bredesen announced Monday that an aeronautics grant in the amount of $1,440,000 has been approved for the Johnson County Airport.
“From moving people to moving freight, the airports in Tennessee are vital pieces of the state’s overall economy and travel system,” said Bredesen. “Tennessee’s airports are often the front doors to our communities, welcoming visitors from across the globe, so it’s important to keep them up to date in order to stay competitive and efficient at meeting the needs of both businesses and travelers.”
With a cost of approximately $1,600,000 to reconstruct a runway at the airport, the state has agreed to pay 90%. This would leave the county to cover around $160,000 of the total cost. Funds from this aeronautics grant would be used to reconstruct a runway at the airport. The grant is made available through the state’s aeronautics division.
“This division administers federal and state funding to assist in the location, design, construction and maintenance of Tennessee’s diverse public aviation system,” reported TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. “We are pleased to be able to provide millions of dollars each year for the betterment of our airports.”
Except for routine expenditures, grant applications are reviewed by the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission (TAC), which is a five member board charged with policy planning and with regulating changes in the state airport system plan.
TAC Chair Fred Culbreath explained, “As Tennessee’s communities continue to grow, the airports must keep pace. These grants are vital to many airports in Tennessee and our board examines the applications carefully to ensure the proper state and local matching funds are in place and that the grants will be put to good use.”

The TDOT Aeronautics Division has the responsibility of inspecting and licensing the state’s 126 heliports and 75 public/general aviation airports. The Division also provides aircraft and related services for state government and staffing for the Tennessee Aeronatics Commission. Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey and Representative Jason Mumpower helped secure these funds for the Johnson County Airport.

Squatters’ Rights

For whatever reason, this mother duck chose to build her nest and lay her eggs in one of the mulch beds at Johnson County Bank. Vonnie Smith, who takes care of the flowers at the bank, has been keeping a watchful eye on the nest since she first noticed it during the Sunflower Festival in Mountain City. She was delighted one morning this week to see four of the ten eggs had hatched. Only time will tell about the remaining eggs, but Mama is still keeping them warm in expectation of more ducklings. The girls at the bank are concerned about their safety with the nest being very close to the road and the bank’s entrance. A call to the wildlife folks about the possibility of moving the nest to a “safer neighborhood” proved unfruitful. The mallards belong to a protected species and cannot be moved. It seems the only alternative is to make the public aware of their plight and ask drivers in the area to be cautious. Let’s all make a conscious effort to keep this mother and her babies safe. We hope the picture above is worth the proverbial thousand words, because they are just too precious for words.

Always magic at the county fair

The Johnson County Chamber of Commerce once again brought fun and entertainment to local residents with the fourth annual Johnson County Fair. To the delight of many children, both young and old, the sights and smells that only a fair can bring tempted many at the Johnson County Chamber Park this past week.
Although it rained the first two evenings of the fair, the weather did not dampen the spirits of those who came out to enjoy some fun. Children gleefully ran from one ride to the other, their faces alight with smiles and laughter. There were 14 rides this year at the county fair, ranging from mild and calm for the weak of heart to wilder rides for those dare devils who like a little more excitement. These included your must have Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, train ride, bumper cars and pirate ships that rocked high into the hot, summer air. For an additional fee, children could enjoy a pony ride. A county fair wouldn’t be complete without the stuffed animals and prizes that could be won. The smells of sausages, hamburgers and hot dogs, chili dogs, burritos, candy apples and funnel cakes drifted through the air, bringing an appetite to many visitors. Stephen Springer of Laurel Bloomery was once again cooking at a local Johnson County event with his Tex-Mex food freshly made from the Mexicali Blue Cantina. “I expect a big crowd tonight, “ Springer said.
The fair began on Wednesday evening and continued through Saturday, August 14th. There were plenty of activities planned, in addition to the rides. There was local gospel musicians, a talent show, an ATV rally and Johnson County’s own Cruisers Club. A local poker run was planned, as well as an Olympic tractor show from Galax, Virginia, bringing 25 to 35 tractors with them for this event. A group of local musicians, known as Lonesome Dove, entertained the audience Saturday evening. Bob Mink, Barry and Quint Reece, Mike Taylor and Jack Profitt are the members of this talented group. Locals organizations presented exhibits pertaining to gardening, canning and field crops, along with home economics and agricultural mechanics. Flipping hamburgers on the grill, Melody Grayson, Chamber vice-president, was pleased with the turnout at the county fair, despite the evening storms.
The rides and games were provided by Sunshine Amusements out of Florida. From March until October, various crews of approximately 20 employees travel throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, New Jersey and Florida providing rides, games, amusement and most importantly, fun, to various communities. According to Garth Nicely from Kingsport, Tennessee, the crews travel to approximately 35 county fairs during the carnival season. Often the employees will sleep in campers or go to local hotels as they travel up and down the east coast. Watching the children running from ride to ride and listening to their laughter, Nicely mused, “There’s a lot of magic to a county fair.”

After 12 years, school board bids farewell to Kenneth Gregg

Johnson County schools opened the new school year with a half-day registration session last Friday, August 6th, with an enrollment of 2,038 students in grades one through 12, up 11 students from the previous school year.
“We are off to a great start this year,” said Director of Schools Morris Woodring. “Everything seems to be going smooth A lot of work went into getting school back in session.”
After serving Johnson County for 12 years, Kenneth Gregg participated in his last meeting Thursday evening as a member of the Johnson County Board of Education. Gregg, who was narrowly defeated in the August general election for the third district school board seat, humbly thanked the board for the outpouring of support. “Being on the board has been a lot more benefit to me than I have been to Johnson County Schools,” he said before being presented with a plaque of appreciation from school board chairman Howard Carlton and director of schools Morris Woodring.
Josh Hamilton, Student School Board member, was happy to report that the school year is off to a terrific start in the halls of Johnson County High School. “A lot is going on as the year begins,” he reported, “but students and teachers are off to a great start.” Hamilton made the board aware of several upcoming events including “Race to the Top” training for teachers, school photo day, the golf and football teams’ jamborees, the volleyball team’s tournament and the marching band’s recent band camp.
As part of the consent agenda, the board of education approved both a management team, and a discipline hearing authority committee for the new school year in addition to an overnight field trip for the JCHS band to participate in concert festival in Orlando, Florida in the spring. Also approved was an agreement for pest control with Bennett’s Termite & Pest Elimination.
The 2009-2010 agreement between the Johnson County Education Association and Johnson County Board of Education was also approved.
Russell Robinson, School Finance Coordinator, briefed members of the board as to budget status. “We’re still in the closing process,” he reported. “Although we are now operating in a new year, financial reports are still being finalized and certified to close out the year.” Robinson did report that “maintenance of effort” was achieved by the county for the previous school year by an estimated $4,500. Woodring quickly pointed out that due to the realization of “negative growth” for the past two years, a penny is generating less than it did last year.” Early indications show county property taxes down some $36,000 from projected amounts and sales taxes also lagging behind projections by just over $11,000.
The following personnel decisions were presented:
Transfers – Wayne Shepherd from materials clerk to custodian/maintenance and Eric Clifton from mowing/bus driver to dispatch/materials clerk.
Hires – Robbie McCulloch as JCHS girls asst. basketball coach, Robin Lee as JCHS asst. cheerleading coach, Sarah Campbell as CSH health counselor, Albert Strahorn as bus driver, Edsel Smith, Jr. as mowing/bus driver, Penny Gentry as JCHS track coach, Nicholas Perkins as JCMS Special Education teacher and JCHS asst. baseball coach, Lynne Fortener as Special Education teacher at Doe, Gary Horne a JCMS asst. football coach, Michelee Henson as part-time instructional asst. at SVE, Keith Mullen as school nutrition food stocker, Jane Winters as part-time librarian at SVE, Christi Gentry as substitute for Teresa Mullen at MCE
A list of the 2010-2011 School nutrition substitutes, custodial substitutes, and substitute teachers were also presented.
Volunteers – Tom Kerley, JCMS football

Campbell wins Republican primary; Potter County Mayor

The courthouse lawn was packed this past Thursday evening as local Johnson Countians came out in large numbers to be present for the announcement of the winners of the local elections. As the close of the polls drew near and voting results would soon be known, the air was filled with anticipation as voters waited to see if their favorite candidates would indeed win.
Larry Potter was elected the new mayor of Johnson County, winning with 28 percent of the vote. Potter beat Jerry Jordan by a mere 49 votes. Jordan was in the lead for much of the evening until the final totals were posted. Ten hopefuls ran for the office of mayor. Potter will serve a four-year term.
Incumbent Mike Reece was reelected as Johnson County’s sheriff for another four-year term, receiving 40 percent of the vote. Reece beat Roger Gentry, a former Johnson County sheriff, with a 399 vote lead.
“I’m pleased that I won,” said Potter in a post-election interview. “We ran a good race.” Potter acknowledged that here in Johnson County, as across the country, employment is on the minds of everyone. “Tourism can and will have to play an important part of our economy,” continued Potter. He plans on utilizing the beauty of the county to the fullest extent possible. “Jobs are always going to be the number one priority,” Potter added. Willing to listen to and receive ideas from everyone, he says, “My door will always be open. It’s not about Larry Potter. “It’s about Johnson County.”
Tammy Fenner was reelected as Johnson County Clerk for another four-year term with 69 percent of the vote, with hopeful Doug McGlamery receiving 31 percent. Incumbent Carolyn Wilson Hawkins was reelected as Circuit Court Clerk, receiving 59 percent of the vote over Patricia Grindstaff with 41 percent. Current Road Superintendent Tony Jennings received 45 percent of the vote followed by Rick Curd with 29 percent and Mack Stout with 26 percent. Sue Hensley, Trustee, and Trish Hartley, Register, both were reelected with no opposition.
In the race for county commissioners, Bill Adams, Jack R. Profitt and Mike Taylor were the winners for the first district. In district two, Lester R. Dunn won over Larry L. Nichols. In the third district, Freddy Phipps, Jerry Grindstaff and Dean L. Stout were all reelected. In the fourth district, Rick Snyder and Jonathan Pleasant are the new commissioners. In the fifth district, Jimmy Lowe, John S. Brookshire and Jerry Gentry were the winners. In the sixth district, Huey L. Long won with 70 percent of the vote. In district seven, Gina Y. Meade was elected to her first term as a commissioner, along with returning Emily G. Millsaps. Norman E. Miller was reelected as Johnson County Constable receiving 45 percent of the vote.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this weeks, The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!

Local attorney and Mtn. City icon, Tom Grayson, dead at 85

Thomas R. “Tom” Grayson, 85, a local attorney and long-time familiar face in Mountain City, passed away Saturday, August 7, 2010 at Watauga Medical Center.
TomGrayson opened his private law practice in Mountain City in 1952, fresh out of law school. Some 58 years later, Grayson still made his way to the same office on Main Street until a few short weeks before his death.
Although his law partners have handled all court cases for a few years now, Grayson still assisted clients in various ways such as preparing wills, deeds, and powers-of-attorney. In an interview with The Tomahawk in 2008 he said he had no time for the “R” word. “I really enjoy what I’m doing, which is why I’m still working and not retiring,” Grayson said. “I actually like coming into the office and being able to work.”
During his extensive practice Grayson served in many community legal capacities including local veteran’s service officer. He also served as the county attorney for many years, during the time when the Forge Creek Highway was acquired and built, the relocation of new Highway 421 to Boone, and construction of the present Johnson County Courthouse before its new addition.
Grayson’s practice grew from a general small town practice to attainment of general counsel for Farmers State Bank, general counsel for Mountain Electric Cooperative for many years, local counsel for Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company, Farm Bureau, and local counsel for several insurance carriers which he represented in conjunction with Leco Manufacturing, Burlington Industries, Melville or Blue Ridge Shoe, State Automobile Insurance Company, Southern Glove Manufacturing Company, just to name a few.
“As county attorney and attorney for the Industrial Board, Tom was very instrumental behind the scenes in the location of most, if not all of the early industries in the county,” said George Wright, his law partner for many years, “including Leco Manufacturing, Burlington Industries, Blue Ridge Shoe Co., Greensboro Mfg., the former Glove Plant, and Iron Mountain Stoneware where he was also a member of the Board of Directors.”
A full obituary is in today’s paper on page B-4.

New Photos For Pick of the Pics!!

Sunflower Festival, Tea Party, Maggie Flynn Play @ Heritage Hall, Relay for Life 2010, Gods Outdoor Disciples, So Much Updated and online!! Check them all out get em on your favorite merchandise or print copy. We update these picks on a weekly basis so stop by every week or everyday and check out all our local picks you never know maybe you will be snapped!!

2010 Johnson County UNOFFICIAL Election Results

County Mayor
Larry Potter 1,560 votes, 28%
Jerry S. Jordan 1,511 28%
Scott Teague 829 15%
*others listed in this week’s Tomahawk

Mike Reece 2,124 40%
Roger Gentry 1,725 32%
Edward F. Hoak 1,349 25%
*others listed in this week’s Tomahawk

Road Superintendent
Tony Jennings 2,303 45%
Rick L. Curd 1,468 29%
Mack Stout 1,326 26%

County Clerk
Tammie C. Fenner 3,688 69%
Doug McGlamery 1,645 31%

Circuit Clerk
Carolyn Wilson Hawkins 3,130 59%
Patricia G. Grindstaff 2,142 41%

School Bd. – Dist. 3
Kevin Long 926 35%
Gerald K. Buckles 878 33%

Constable Dist. 2 (both elected)
Norman E. Miller 1,205 45%
Earl S. Johnson 857 32%

County Commissioner Dist. 1 (top 3 elected)
Bill Adams 644 25%
Jack R. Proffitt 498 19%
Mike Taylor 420 16%
*others listed in this week’s Tomahawk

County Commissioner Dist. 2 (1 elected)
Lester R. Dunn 206 52%
Larry L. Nichols 187 48%

County Commissioner Dist. 3 (top 3 elected)
Freddy Phipps 624 29%
Jerry Grindstaff 529 25%
Dean L. Stout 531 25%
*others listed in this week’s Tomahawk

County Commissioner Dist. 4 (top 2 elected)
Rick Snyder 483 37%
Jonathan Pleasant 369 28%
*others listed in this week’s Tomahawk

County Commissioner Dist. 5 (top 3 elected)
Jimmy Lowe 452 26%
John S. Brookshire 423 24%
Jerry Gentry 390 23%

County Commissioner Dist. 6 (top 1 elected)
Huey L. Long 274 70%
Lydia M. Lewis 120 30%

County Commissioner Dist. 7 (top 1 elected)
Gina Y. Meade 389 36%
Roby Dunn 352 32%
Emily G. Millsaps 354 32%

Congressman Phil Roe stops in at The Tomahawk

Congressman Phil Roe stops in at The Tomahawk office to chat with employees while in Mountain City Monday morning. He was in town to remind citizens of the importance of voting in Thursday’s primary and local election. The congressman will visit Mountain City again on Monday, August 9th to host a town hall. The event will be at the Crewette building from noon until 1:30 p.m. Pizza will be served. The public is invited to bring questions and suggestions for Congressman Roe.

Tea Party shares philosophies for country with large crowd

Mountain City’s Ralph Stout Park became the site of Johnson County’s first Tea Party rally Saturday night. With the bleachers full of supporters and many more standing on the surrounding grounds, a big crowd was in attendance to hear a variety of speakers delivering the ideals and principals of the Tea party while at the same time rejoicing in patriotism and voicing misgivings about the current status of our state and federal governments.
Formed in 2009, the Tea party takes its name from the historical tea party movement in Boston, where protestors dumped barrels of British tea into Boston Harbor in anger towards increased taxation and a lack of representation within the British parliament. The modern Tea party is made up of traditional Americans who want to see positive conservative changes in the government, especially on the national level. Many feel that the rights of the states within the union are being abused and also want to see many current government plans, such as the recent health care bill, repealed.
One of the important documents that the Tea Party supports is the Contract from America, which is a list of the ten most important goals and ideals of the movement. The party asks all political candidates to pledge to this contract in the hope of seeing future changes in the government. The first of these goals is to have all new bills brought before the federal government to have backing directly from the U.S. Constitution. Others include demanding a balanced budget, removing the Obama healthcare bill, develop a simpler and more fair tax system, and a reduction in government spending.
Several candidates were present at the rally, including some such as State Representative candidate Timothy Hill, who have signed the Contract from America and are proud members of the Tea Party. Hill stated, “I am the only candidate in the Bristol Tea Party and it is great to see such a wonderful event in Johnson County, to see so many people who care about the constitution and our nation. I feel it is always important to support the constitution and the nation, and it all starts right here.”
Hill was not the only state representative candidate at the rally, however. Both Sherry Greene Grubb and Johnson County’s own Scotty Campbell were present and participating in the evening’s events. Grubb has been involved in several Tea party activities including the march on Washington D.C. on September 12, 2009. Other local politicians, including county mayor candidates David Pleasant, Larry Potter, and Jerry Jordan were present as well.
The rally began with the presentation of an early United States flag by the honor guard. This flag, which has six pointed stars, was of an early design that was common in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Following the presentation of the flag, Johnson County High School student, Kevin Eller, gave a remarkable rendition of the national anthem. Tea Party member Ray Comeaux led the pledge and Dwayne Dickson led the rally in prayer.
The first speaker was Kershaw Getty, who came onto the stage to deliver a speech concerning the life of founding father Benjamin Franklin. Dressed in full costume, and addressing the audience from the position of Franklin, Getty delivered a memorable presentation, citing the religious and political beliefs of one of our nation’s most important figures. Struther Smith, a representative of the Tenth Amendment Foundation, followed Getty. Smith delivered a speech detailing the different clauses of the recent health care bill and informed the audience that the foundation is filing a lawsuit against the law.
Other speakers included Dick Woods, describing the fair tax measure, retired pharmacist Toni Carti talking about historical figures and the republic, Dr. Carolyn Love, Mark Herr, Kim White, and Tom Pope. At times the audience got involved, waving flags with the Tea Party rallying cry of “Don’t Tread on Me,” alluding to the earlier revolution use of the same slogan. Signs bearing testaments to the ideals of the Tea Party were spread throughout the crowd, and at times audience members would call out questions.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this weeks The Tomahawk available at local newsstands today

School starts Friday

The 2010-2011 school year for grades one-12 will begin with student registration on Friday, August 6th from 8:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Lunch and breakfast will not be served that day. Monday, August 9th will be the first full day for students.
Kindergarten, Head Start, Pre-K, and pre-school children with disabilities will not begin school until August 12th. The appropriate program staff will contact parents of children in these programs who have completed registration. Parents of these children who have not completed registration should do so immediately at the school office. Kindergarten questions should be directed to 423-727-2649 or 727-2640; Head Start or Pre-K questions to 423-727-2618 or 727-2640.

Campbell says mailer is ‘illegal, immoral … and false’

A recent mailer has been making the rounds through some households in Johnson County regarding Republican state representative candidate Scotty Campbell. It claims to document who he may or may not have worked for, along with his political party allegiances. The mailer, which was sent without a disclaimer, says Campbell worked for and supported Democrats. He is portrayed as a Democratic donkey with a Republican elephant mask covering his face.
“This is illegal, immoral, unethical and false,” said Campbell, “Clearly this should have a disclaimer.” Although the source is not known, Campbell believes that this mailer could have come from any one of his opponents. “This is illegal if this is what took place,” continued Campbell, “They are not being honest with the people of Johnson County. They failed to follow Tennessee campaign laws.” According to laws pertaining to political advertising, any group using print media as a means of communicating a political message about a candidate must contain a disclaimer stating the name of the group and its treasurer. Even as few as two or three individuals constitute a group when resources are pooled for that purpose.
According to staff at the Mountain City post office, there were approximately 200 mailers sent out per route. There are ten routes within the city and Johnson County. It appears that the mailers were processed in Johnson City before arriving locally.
“I’m making every effort to continue with my positive and conservative Republican message,” Campbell added. “I am grateful that Tennessee Right to Life has given me 100 percent approval and I will continue to be pro-life.” He added that the National Rifle Association has rated him as a pro-hunting candidate. “I’m glad they recognize my committement to protect the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms,” he said.
With respect to the claim that Campbell worked for Democrats, the candidate said, “I have never been employed by a Democrat. When I was a teenager, I interned with two members of Congress. I was never a paid intern. However, I did receive a one-time stipend to offset housing, transportation and food expenses.” He continued, “As a young man from Johnson County, I was delighted with the opportunity to intern in the United States Congress.” As an intern, Campbell spent four weeks working in the office of Bob Clement, and three weeks in the office of Harold Ford, Jr. He added that what appears to be a check stub on the mailer is not; that it is apparently a computer generated graphic.
“Whoever attacked me has failed to inform Johnson County that I have worked for one Republican state senator and three Republican state representatives. I am the only candidate that has been employed by the state senate and the state house. I am proud and humbled by my experience, but the wasteful spending and lobbyists are both out of control. This election is about the people of Johnson County and one-third of Sullivan County,” Campbell said.
“As a Johnson Countian, I am very proud to have served as the senior legislative assistant to the Speaker of our House of Representatives,” he said. Campbell believes that he is the first Johnson Countian in over 20 years to run for state representative, with Barton Hawkins from Johnson County being a former representative.
Campbell has been under another attack during his campaign. Brochures that were allegedly from the Nature Conservancy in Shady Valley were distributed that gave their endorsement to Scotty Campbell. Campbell disputes this mailer and the information it provided. “Clearly this is a federal offense. The state director of the Nature Conservancy sent a letter to me telling me that the Nature Conservancy has not endorsed me. It is illegal for them to endorse any candidate. If anyone defeats me, I hope it is of their own accomplishments rather than by negative attacks,” he said.
Opponent Timothy Hill was present at the Sunflower Festival, as was Campbell. Surprised at the recent mailer concerning Campbell, Hill stated, “The mailer was not authorized by my campaign. This is the first I have heard of it,” Hill continued. “I encourage people to look at the facts, no matter the mail piece, the card or the situation.”

Local homes robbed by individuals claiming to be working for Mountain Electric Co-Op

Reports have been coming in to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department in recent weeks of robberies and attempted robberies by three individuals identifying themselves as Mountain Electric employees.
According to Sheriff Mike Reece, two well dressed men and a woman have been knocking on doors in Johnson County, telling the home owners they are working with Mountain Electric to verify property lines in order to trim and cut trees they say are obstructing power lines. They then ask the residents to go outside with them and point out the property boundaries to them. The female says that she needs to call her supervisor from her cell phone and report their findings to their home office. She stays on the phone throughout the tour, talking to the person on the other end of the line. When the unsuspecting homeowners return to their house, they find they have been robbed.
Sheriff Reece says the individuals are in reality perpetrating a rather sophisticated and well coordinated scam and are in no way associated with Mountain Electric. The phone call is actually being placed to a partner that is waiting nearby and as soon as the homeowners have exited the house (almost always without locking it as they are not going far), he enters and steals valuables that are small and can be easily and quickly removed, i.e. jewelry, cash, etc. The thief knows exactly when to leave the premises as he is prompted by the female on the phone when they are about to reenter.
The team has mainly been preying on the elderly, most recently victimizing a couple in the Forge Creek area. Officials warn that they appear quite legitimate, dressed in business attire and conducting themselves in a very polite and professional manner. The female, possibly Hispanic, has been described as having black hair worn in a bun at the back of her head. They have been seen in a silver van as well as a white four-door car. One witness thought the van might have had Virginia license plates.
Any suspicious vehicles or individuals should be reported to the sheriff’s department at 727-7761.

Budget passes with small raise for county employees

Due to restrictions that require the county to give a set notice on the finalization of each year’s budget, last month’s county commission meeting required a recess to allow a special budget meeting. This meeting was held last Tuesday night, with 12 commissioners present.
County Mayor Dick Grayson presented the new budget to the commission and began by stating that the biggest increase was on the part of the election commission, which must now meet new state requirements. Grayson stated that everything else had remained relatively the same.
The county did not increase any positions this year. There was also one point of business that would shift one item of funding to a new category within the sheriff’s department.
The big issue of the night, however, came when Grayson brought up the issue of giving the county employees a raise.
According to Grayson it has been three years since the county gave its employees a raise, and although the budget committee voted against a raise several months ago, new figures show that it would be possible to give up to a three percent raise. At three percent the county would have to pay approximately $40,000 to cover the raise plus more than $10,000 for benefits, with a total cost of approximately $60,000. Other figures were also given to the commissioners at a lesser percentage with a decrease in the total cost each time.
Following some discussion on the various costs of various rates, Commissioner John Brookshire stated that while he supported the county employees, he thought it would be more beneficial to the county taxpayers to wait until the end of the year and give bonuses. This would better protect the county’s funding in case something comes up through the year that would require immediate attention.
Other commissioners cited that it had been several years since the employees were given a raise and although the economic situation of the county is not at its best, there is a healthy fund balance in the budget that would cover the cost. Following this discussion, Commissioner Roby Dunn made a motion to accept the full three percent raise, which was seconded by Commissioner Larry Potter. The motion passed eight to four, with commissioners John Brookshire, Jimmy Lowe, Jerry Grindstaff, and Dean Stout voting against, and commissioners Bill Adams, Glenn Arney, Lester Dunn, Roby Dunn, Freddy Phipps, Emily Millsaps, Larry Potter, and Jack Proffitt voting in favor.
Following the vote, School Superintendent Morris Woodring spoke before the commission stating that in the budget committee meeting that originally voted down the raises, Woodring was promised that if any raises were to be given, the schools’ support staff would be included as well. The support staff is made up of all non-professional school personnel including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, teachers’ assistants, janitors, and maintenance workers.
Acknowledging that this had been discussed, the commission requested an approximate amount that would be required to include these employees as well. According to Woodring, to cover the more than 120 employees would cost an additional $100,000. Several questions were asked about whether or not the teachers were scheduled to receive a raise, to which Woodring stated that there were currently no plans to do so, and only a slight possibility of a bonus for the teachers from the state later on.
However due to certain restrictions, funding cannot go to the schools from the county’s fund balance and therefore the county cannot give the school support staff a raise as it can the general county employees. Chairman Freddy Phipps asked if the funding could come from within the schools’ own budget, but Woodring stated that this would require the action of the school board, which he has no authority over.
Following no further discussion on the issue, the commission moved on to accept the budget with the changes that the commission had made.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this weeks, The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands this week..

Tomahawk wins multiple Tennessee Press awards

The Tennessee Press Association and the University of Tennessee recently announced the results of the 2010 newspaper contest.
The Tomahawk brought home three awards including a first-place ranking for make-up and appearance, second-place in the best feature photograph category and fourth in best education reporting.
“I was particularly proud of the top ranking in make-up and appearance,” said Angie Gambill, editor of The Tomahawk. “The entry included last year’s Fourth of July fireworks front page, and I took a little bit of a chance when doing that layout. I chose to use a black background to showcase the fireworks which was something I had never done on such a large scale. I’m really pleased it worked out so well.”
Gambill’s photo array of Randy McKinney’s spring plow day caught the judge’s eye and captured the second-place award in feature photographs. One of the photos is shown above and others are on page A-8 inside today’s paper.
Assistant editor Jill Penley and freelance writer Paula Walter landed a fourth-place judgement in best education reporting. “Jill always turns out top-notch work in all areas, but her interest and dedication to the Johnson County school system seems to bring out the very best in her writing skills,” said Gambill. “I’m so glad the judges recognized her exceptional talent.”
Paula Walter has been writing consistently for The Tomahawk for slightly over a year now. “She is an excellent writer and we are fortunate to have her on board,” said Gambill. “This has been her first experience in journalism and she has adapted to it amazingly. We’re all proud that she already has a state press award notch on her belt.”

New business bringing seasonal jobs to county

Paul Smith of Cool Springs Nursery has bought the tobacco warehouse on South Shady and is going to use it in producing wreaths and roping for garden centers and retail stores. Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons was instrumental in helping the industry make the decision to move their operation from Ashe County, NC to Mountain City.
At present, the facility will employ 40 or more workers who will be making all types of greenery items during the fall and winter season. Cool Springs has plans to expand the business to other seasons in the coming years, and with that comes the potential to employ many more people for much longer periods of time.
Johnson County has a great tradition producing this type of product, and Smith is looking for workers who have experience in this area. He says that he is also looking for people who can supply Fraser Fir, white pine, magnolia, boxwood and other types of greenery in large volumes. Please call Paul at 828-387-6139 if you would like to work or supply greenery.

Sunflower Festival Saturday

Mountain City’s annual Sunflower Festival will be held this SATURDAY, July 24th, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Main Street.
There will be a sunflower contest, kids’ inflatables, a quilt show, a beauty pageant, and live music all day. Food vendors will be serving barbecue, Mexican food, snow cones, ice cream and much more. Arts, crafts, antiques, handmade jewelry, metal works, and more will be available from over 80 vendors. See the ad on page A-12 of today’s Tomahawk for more information.