Suba’s named ‘Best Overall’

It came as no surprise to regular diners at Suba’s Restaurant when Bryan Stevens of The Elizabethton Star newspaper named the popular eatery his ‘Best Overall Dining Experience.’
Stevens, a columnist with The Star, reviews area restaurants and annually names winners in several categories from various locations. Elizabethton, Johnson City, Kingsport, Gray, Roan Mountain, and Mars Hill, NC were among those honored, but the top title of “Best Overall Dining Experience” was endowed upon Johnson County’s own Suba’s Restaurant.

“It’s truly an honor to be recognized for our hard work. We really believe in and love what we do,” said an obviously pleased Richard Suba.
“We would like to take this time to thank everyone for their support because without them none of this would have been possible,” added his wife, Luanne.
The couple opened the restaurant in 1998. Successful from the start, their clientele and popularity continues to grow 12 years later.

“I still cannot believe it took me so long to pay my first visit to Suba’s Restaurant,” Stevens remarks in his “Eating Out” column. “For some great food prepared with attention to detail and creative flair, diners cannot miss with Suba’s. In addition, the extensive menu should assure that there’s something for every member of a dining party…”
Stevens has nothing but praise for the restaurant from appetizers through dessert. “Each course of the meal was simply fantastic.”
Suba’s Restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., taking the last reservation at 1:30. Dinner is served Wednesday and Thursday starting at 5 p.m. with the last reservation taken at 7:30. Friday and Saturday’s dinner schedule is 5 till 8:30 p.m.
Reservations are not required but are highly recommended by both Stevens and the Subas.

Jones faces five felony theft charges

A Johnson County man is facing five counts of felony theft, after being charged late last week. Billy Luther Jones, 66, of Dry Hill was arrested at his home after being accused of scamming several individuals over a nearly six-year period beginning in 2005. Jones is listed as president of the Viper Corporation, a company name that he allegedly used to make himself appear as a legitimate businessman. Living with the company vice-president, Sherry Charles Barker, in their home on Dry Hill Road, Jones reportedly sold land that he didn’t actually own to several local residents, including property that comprises the Ridges Subdivision.

Following several isolated incidents, a group of seven individuals who each claimed to have been cheated by Jones came together to press criminal charges against him, accusing Jones of selling land that he didn’t own, borrowing large sums of money that he did not pay back, and for property rentals that he didn’t pay for. Marilyn Good, Terry Wallace, Elizabeth Wallace, Richard Dugger, Carolyn Dugger, Tracy Presnell, and Ben Logan approached the district attorney with the case.

According to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Kristin Helm, the district attorney’s office turned the case over to the TBI on January 22, 2009. The case stated that Jones had been taking investment money for land development on property that did not actually belong to him. The total sum of the money involved was more than $250,000. Jones was indicted on February 24, 2010, and TBI made the arrest on February 26th.

For complete details please pick up your copy of this weeks, The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!

Local woman, others facing numerous meth related charges

Kelly Tester, 22, of Johnson County is facing numerous charges in connection with methamphetamine production.
Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris recently announced charges against Tester in connection with a “suspicious” fire that destroyed a trailer on Piney Grove Road in Erwin during the production of methamphetamine in January. The trailer, owned by Tester’s grandparents, was said to have been abandoned at the time of the blaze.
More recently, Tester, along with Jason Eldred, 29, were arrested and charged with manufacture of methamphetamine, initializing the process of meth manufacture and possession of drug paraphernalia after authorities discovered the two allegedly operating a meth lab out of a room at the Budget Inn hotel in Unicoi on March 2nd.
Subsequently, on Friday of last week, an agent with the First Judicial District Drug Task Force, Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department, and officers with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department went to Shouns Manor Apartments to interview Colleen Stevens and Adam Potter in connection with the investigation concerning the ongoing meth lab investigation in Unicoi County. According to Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece while investigators were at the residence, precursors to the production of methamphetamine were located in plain view. After consent was given to search the residence, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department Meth Task Force Team was called to the location where they dismantled a clandestine lab. “Two children were living at the location,” reported Sheriff Mike Reece. “The children were released to another relative and child protective services were contacted.”
Colleen Stevens, 31, and Adam Lee Potter, 23, were arrested and charged with initiating a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine, two counts of aggravated child abuse, possession of Schedule II drugs for resale and felony possession of drug paraphernalia.
The residence has been quarantined and the investigation is ongoing.

Stone Mtn. neighbors come to the rescue

The winter of 2010 has been long and eventful.  Snow storm after snow storm has pounded Johnson County and the surrounding areas.  For Kathy and Ben Devine, who reside up on Stone Mountain, this winter is one they will never forget.
Recently, the Devines ventured out into the snowy terrain with their dog, Stony.  A two-year old black lab mix, Stony was named after the mountain upon which his family lives.  Out on a late afternoon walk with his masters, Stony heard a noise off in the distance and took off running.
Soon Stony was out of sight of the Devines.  Calling for their dog for close to 30 minutes, the Devines spotted Stony about 30 feet down the side of the road.  The snow was four to five feet deep in many areas.  Stony was lying in the snow, unable to move.  The snow was far too deep and too wet to allow Stony to get up on his own.
Ben Devine trudged back up to their house, returning with a rope and their four-wheeler.  He made it down the mountain to help his beloved pet, but he, too, struggled as the snow was up to his waist.  Kathy, holding the other end of the rope, tied it around her waist and attempted to pull Ben out of the snow.  That feat was beyond her physical strength and ability. Now both Stony and Ben were stuck in the drifts.
 Luckily, neighbors Ed and Lou Ann Hoak were able to lend their help in rescuing both Ben and Stony out of the deep snow.  After retrieving their truck, a harness and calling 911 for help, Ed Hoak threw the harness down to Ben, instructing him to put the harness around him.  Attaching the rope to the 4-wheeler and truck, Ed, Lou Ann and Kathy worked as a team to attempt to pull Ben up.  This rescue failed.  Ed Hoak, sick with bronchitis, went off the road into the deep snow to give assistance to Ben.  With the help of Kathy, Lou Ann, ropes and two vehicles, Ben was finally pulled up.
This left Stony still stranded.  Ed Hoak was able to get the harness around himself and lift Stony up.  Stony is a large dog, weighing close to 100 pounds. According to Kathy Devine, “Stony was petrified.”  Frightened and exhausted, Stony tried to bite at Hoak to get away.  Luckily, Hoak and Stony were finally pulled up onto the road.
For complete details, please pick up your copy of this weeks, The Tomahawk available at local newsstands today!

Meth use is on the rise

Throughout many areas of the United States, methamphetamine production and use is on the rise. Tennessee has not escaped this dangerous and deadly epidemic. Methamphetamine lab seizures rose an astounding 76 percent in 2009 for the State of Tennessee over the previous year.
While Mexican drug trafficking organizations had been the main suppliers and distributors of methamphetamine throughout much of the country, domestic laboratories have sprung up across the United States. Methamphetamine labs, also known as meth labs, have expanded from the southwest region of the United States, across the country to the eastern section of the United States. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, many methamphetamine labs are located in the rural areas of the Appalachians Mountains in eastern Tennessee.
According to Tommy Farmer, State Director for the Meth Task Force for the State of Tennessee, there were 1,437 meth lab seizures in 2009. Farmer added that Johnson County saw a decrease of ten percent from 2008, with nine meth lab seizures in 2009. According to Farmer, McMinn County had the largest number of meth lab seizures in 2009. McMinn County is located between Knoxville and Chattanooga. “I commend Tennessee in our approach,” said Farmer. He attributes the rise in seizures to better methods of determining lab locations and the intolerance that the public is building for this dangerous drug. Farmer added that Tennessee has an aggressive approach to the rising methamphetamine problems the state faces. Due to its physical location, Farmer added, “Tennessee is impacted greatly by other surrounding states.” According to Farmer, of the 1,437 meth lab seizures, 1,260 arrests were made.
Meth is made from common and easily obtainable chemicals. The Meth Free Tennessee Act of 2005 was implemented to limit the sale of pharmaceutical ingredients that are used in methamphetamine production. The purchase of over-the counter cold and sinus medications that contain pseudoephedrine have become limited and regulated. Purchases of any products such as Sudafed, Aleve Cough and Cold and Claritin-D contain pseudoephedrine. The Meth Free Tennessee Act of 2005 limits the amount per day and per month any individual can purchase. Customers must show picture identification and sign for their purchase. The names of all individuals who purchase any product containing pseudoephedrine are entered onto a log that is submitted every 30 days to the Meth Task Force. However, meth addicts and manufacturers often travel from pharmacy to pharmacy, often crossing state lines to obtain the maximum amount that they can purchase from each location. These individuals are referred to as “smurfs,” according to Farmer. The pseudoephedrine-containing medications are traded for meth or sold to the meth manufacturers.
While many methamphetamine labs are often set up in out-of-the-way, clandestine areas, new ways of producing meth have arisen. The most common is known as “shake and bake.” This method has increased in popularity not only in Tennessee, but across the nation. This methodology is faster than the traditional methods. However, it is extremely dangerous as the chemicals needed for this process are highly volatile, resulting in explosions. “Our burn units are bursting at the seams, “ said Farmer. At this time, “60 to 70 percent of lab seizures are shake and bake,” Farmer added.
Methamphetamine causes devastating effects upon users, their families and communities. Methamphetamine use destroys families and individuals. Communities with meth users often see an increase in burglaries and thefts as users look for ways to obtain money. Children of methamphetamine users often are abused and neglected. They become separated from their parents as they are placed in foster homes. The children who are living in or around meth labs can suffer brain damage from the devastating fumes. Residue left behind can cause chemical burns to anyone who comes in contact with meth production remains. Methamphetamine use during pregnancy can lead to premature birth, along with developmental and growth disorders.
For every pound of meth that is produced, five to six pounds of toxic waste remains. Left-over chemicals are often poured down drains or left on the ground. Some of these chemicals stay in the ground for many years. Byproducts of meth production are often left in open fields where they can be absorbed into crops and water sources. Residue from methamphetamine production is found on furniture, walls, air vents and eating surfaces. Production can be set up anywhere. Chemical smells are associated with recent meth production. Some of these smells include: ammonia, cat-urine odors, nail polish remover, bleach and drainer cleaner. According to Farmer, motel rooms are used as temporary meth labs. Leave the premises if you notice any chemical odors as meth residue may be present.
Methamphetamine has horrific effects upon the user’s body and mind, playing havoc with the central nervous system. Long-lasting brain damage can occur, including violent behavior, anxiety, paranoia, memory loss, confusion, aggression, irritability and seizures. Users experience an increased risk of brain damage, stroke, heart attack and a compromised immune system. Gums can turn black, known as “meth mouth.” Specific components in methamphetamine are acidic, causing rapid and often irreversible damage to teeth and gums. Bones become brittle, causing them to break easily. Users also lose weight rapidly, leading to malnutrition. Dependent on a variety of factors, the average life span of a methamphetamine addict is typically five to seven years.

Commissioners grant extra funds for road department

This month’s meeting of the Johnson County commission began with an address by County Mayor Dick Grayson concerning budget amendments. Because of the recent weather issues the county highway department has depleted its funds and an amendment of $116,000 had to be made to the budget to cover expenses. According to Grayson this will be the last funding that can be granted to the highway department, which has used more gravel this year than the previous seven years.
Highway Superintendent Tony Jennings was on hand to address the commission on the subject. According to Jennings, “this has been the worst continuous winter in recent memory.” The amount of snowfall and number of snowstorms has caused the department to work overtime and has resulted in $43,000 being spent in chat for the month of January alone and an additional $20,000 so far in February.
To make things worse, the two percent of the gas tax that the highway department counts on for revenue isn’t going quite as far due to the fewer numbers of cars on the highway because of the weather. According to Jennings, “We do the best with what we’ve got to do with, but if your service isn’t quite as grand as it once was, now you know why.”
Linda Fallin, Mike Long, Lisa Osbourne, Janice Russell, and Earl Howard, Jr. were approved as notaries by the commission followed by a request made from Perianne Stanley of the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce. Stanley informed the commission about an upcoming leadership class, which trains employees in various occupations for leadership roles in the county. These classes are a part of the 3-Star Program the county is currently enrolled in. The cost for enrollment in the class is $250 each year, which is paid by the employer. Typically the county sends one employee each year to the classes to maintain their status in the 3-Star Program. Other organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce also sponsor employees to send to the class and typically there are between six and 12 that go from Johnson County each year. Continuing this tradition, a motion was made to give County Mayor Dick Grayson authority to select an employee to sponsor.
Under the recommendation of the purchasing committee, the commission reviewed bid offers for two county purchases. A low bid of $648.94 was accepted for food supplies for inmates at the county jail and a bid of $285.45 per year to lease a 5.19-acre lot, for agricultural purposes, was also authorized.
ETSU medical student, Shae Connor, presented the commission with information about a program that takes World War II veterans from the county to see the WWII memorial in Washington D.C. Honor Flight, and its Knoxville hub Honor Air, provide an opportunity for the veterans to see the monument first hand. Prior to 2004 there were no World War II memorials in Washington. According to Connors research, Johnson County has at least 150 living WW2 veterans, 70 of whom she has contact information on.
Each year Honor Air makes two trips to Washington to take the veterans, one in April and the other in October. Although it costs $500 to sponsor a single veteran, the veterans themselves pay nothing. Connor is currently trying to raise money to send at least 10 of Johnson County’s WWII veterans on the April trip and as many as possible in the fall. Having presented to the city council and various military organizations including the Honor Guard, American Legion, and VFW of Mountain City, Connor has managed to secure funding for seven veterans, but she hopes to be able to provide the service to any of the veterans that would want to go.
The trip includes two nights hotel stay, meals, transportation to Knoxville, and the plane ride to and from Washington D.C. Honor Air provides for any medical needs for the trip and medical staff are on hand if a need should arise. Following Connor’s presentation, Commissioner Cliff Dunn made a motion for the county to sponsor four veterans for the program. This motion was seconded by Commissioner Emily Milsaps and carried unanimously.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this weeks The Tomahawk available at local newsstands today!

VFDs hold first exercise at new training grounds

On February 13th, a very cold day (22 to 28 degrees) here in the mountains of East Tennessee, the first live fire training exercise was carried out by six East Tennessee Volunteer Fire Departments. The new live fire training grounds are located in Johnson County at the Neva Volunteer Fire Department in Mountain City, Tennessee. The departments that participated in the training were Butler, Dry Run, First District, Hampton Valley, Neva and Shady Valley fire departments.
On the grounds, there are areas to simulate different types of fire scenarios. There is a burn building that simulates fire conditions that a fire fighter will come in contact with during a structure fire. The burn building has been fitted with a sprinkler system and stand pipe for the safety of the firefighters and instructors. There is an area with a car that has been stripped to meet all local EPA rules to simulate a car fire. There is also a propane tank and dumpster area to simulate a fire in these areas. All fire areas are fed with propane and multiple safety cut off values have been installed for protection.
Beside the fire fighting training, there has been a training tower built to help in rope rescue and multi level search and rescue.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this weeks The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!

Johnson County rated tenth unhealthiest in State

In a recent study released this week by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Johnson County was determined to be the tenth least-healthy county in the State of Tennessee.
The County Heath Rankings is the first report that looks at each of the counties within the United States to assess the health of the population.  This study used a standard formula that measures the general health and longevity of the population in each of the counties within each state.
The County Health Ranking report looks at five standardized measures that appraise the general health of the counties.  The areas include the number of people dying before the age of 75, the percentage of people who are in fair or poor health, the number of days people who report being in poor mental health and the percentage of low-birthweight newborns. Researchers used the latest data available from 2000 to 2008 to determine the ranking for each county.
The report delves further as factors are looked into that affect the health of people in four specific categories.  These include health behavior, clinical care, social and economic factors, along with physical environment.  Some of the health factors that are included in this study are adult smoking and obesity, binge drinking and teenage pregnancy.  The report also takes into account the number of uninsured adults, the availability of primary care providers, along with preventable hospital stays.   High school graduation statistics, the number of children living in poverty, the percentage of violent crimes, access to healthy food, air pollution levels and the number of liquor stores all are considered in this standardized formula.  “The health of a community depends on many factors, including individual behaviors, the quality of health care, education, jobs and the environment,” said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN.  “While rankings like this can assist in seeing where the strengths and weaknesses are in a community, ultimately it takes all of us – public health, health care, business, education, and government sectors and individuals – to take steps and create programs and policies that help people lead healthier lives.”
According to the County Health Rankings report, during the time period specified to determine these findings, Johnson County saw 11,434 people die before the age of 75.  Eleven percent of babies born fell below the average birth weight, which is four percent above the target rate for Tennessee.  Thirty-two percent of adults in Johnson County are considered obese, above the target rate of 28 percent. There were 64 babies born to teenage mothers.  The death rate attributed to motor vehicles was 31 in this time period, far above the targeted rate of 19.  The number of children living in poverty within Johnson County for this specific time period was 33 percent, above the targeted 17 percent.  Johnson County schools had a positive 86 percent of their students graduating from high school, above the state targeted percentage of 84.
According to the County Health Rankings report, only 20 percent of Johnson Countians have access to healthy foods.  The goal value for this particular category is 80 percent.
While Johnson County ranked 85 out of the 95 counties in Tennessee, there are areas in which they excel.  According to Beth Rader, Public Information Officer for Northeast Regional Health Department for the State of Tennessee, Johnson County ranks 25th in the state for access to clinical health care.  This not only encompasses access to health care but the quality of care.
“There are some good things going on in Johnson County,” added Rader.  She believes that the recent county ranking report will help identify and compare problems areas within the counties and look for a solution.  On a positive note, Rader added that the number of smokers within the State of Tennessee has declined from 26.7 percent to 23.1 percent. The northeast region of the state ranks number one in the State of Tennessee for immunizations for children under the age of two.  Tennessee as a whole ranks fourth in the nation for childhood immunizations.  According to Rader, it’s going to take a whole community, businesses and schools to work together towards better health.  “Individuals need to take responsibility for their own health,” said Rader.
For complete details please pick up your copy of The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!

Roe running for re-election

Dr. Phil Roe announced his re-election bid to the U.S. House of Representatives at 11:30 Monday morning to a large group of supporters at City Hall in Johnson City. Two years ago, Roe launched his bid for Congress from the same location.
The ceremony was emceed by Linda Buckles of Sullivan County, and opened with The Pledge of Allegiance led by Sara Sellers of Carter County. Two significant endorsements were announced by Sheriff Kent Harris of Unicoi County; the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Tennessee Right To Life. Sheriff Harris read prepared endorsement statements from each organization expressing their affirmation of Phil Roe for his 100 percent voting record with both groups.
“As a member of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, I am certainly pleased with the Tennessee Right To Life endorsement,” Roe stated. “As a strong voice for the Pro-Life cause, I will continue to represent east Tennessee values,” he continued. “As an advocate for the Second Amendment, I am also honored by the NRA endorsement.”
Roe presented a first term “Progress Report,” highlighting the issue she has worked on during his first year. “Supporting the rights of patients and opposing government takeover of healthcare is a top priority,” Rose said. “I have proposed common-sense healthcare reforms to increase quality of care and lower costs.” He gave specific examples such as: allowing individuals to purchase insurance across state lines, and allowing small businesses to band together to purchase insurance. Dr Roe served as leading member of the GOP Doctors’ Caucus during his first term.
The “Progress Report” also focused on creating jobs. Roe introduced the Economic Stimulus for Rural Communities Act, which created a tax credit for rural employers when they hire a worker from a rural community. Roe also outlined his co-sponsorship of the Economic Recovery and Middle Class Tax Relief Act. Roe emphasized his opposition to “job-killing policies” proposed by Washington, DC Democrats, such as the carbon tax and applying carbon emission limits to farmers.
Roe promoted fiscal responsibility by co-sponsoring the Balanced Budget Amendment and by opposing the wasteful stimulus bill, which spent over $700 billion without reducing unemployment. Rose also co-sponsored legislation to permanently repeal the death tax.
A veteran himself, Phil Roe secured a position to the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and is the Ranking Republican on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. He supported legislation to strengthen the VA’s program to reduce the number of homeless veterans. He also supported legislation to end the penalty of deducting veterans’ disability payments from their retirement benefits. “I’m going to hold Congress’ feet to the fire to make sure the promises made to our veterans are kept,” Roe stated.
“I co-sponsored and voted for legislation blocking the Congressional pay increase for 2010,” Roe exclaimed. “It is particularly insulting to people during these serious times to even consider a pay raise for members of Congress,” he continued, noting the unemployment statistics of the First District.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this week’s, The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!!

School bus “stop arms” equipped with traffic camera for violators

School buses are considered some of the safest vehicles on the road – 70 times safer than cars, light trucks and vans; however, students are being harmed, and in some cases, killed as they enter and exit the bus. Such was the case last spring when seven year-old Sedryc Simmons was hit by a car while trying to get on the school bus in Warren County, Tennessee.
In Tennessee and in every state, drivers must stop when the stop arm is extended and red lights are flashing on both sides of an undivided highway. Although bus drivers initiate the “stop arm,” motorists continue to speed past the extended arm. These motorists are endangering children and breaking the law, and several local Departments of Motor Vehicles are taking steps to educate the general public with after-the-fact tickets.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this week’s, The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!

Tester arrested on meth charges

Following up on an investigation of a search warrant that was executed on February 2nd, at a residence on Spear Branch Road, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has made an arrest as a result of this investigation. Twenty two year old, Kelly L. Tester, of Erwin, Tennessee is being charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and initiate process to manufacture methamphetamine. Her bond has been set for $30,000 and court date is set for March 17, 2010.

Eastern Eight to double size of Wayland Place

It was back to business for the Mountain City Planning Commission on Thursday night January 28th at City Hall.
Ann Cooper, Assistant Executive Director of Eastern Eight Housing Development, along with Bill Masoner of First Tennessee Development District, and Mike Royston of Impact Builders appeared before the commission with a request for site plan approval for a two story, eight unit apartment building to be constructed at Wayland Place Apartment complex at 134 Wayland Street. The proposed structure would measure 50 feet by 75 feet. The lower four apartments will consist of one apartment that will be fully handicapped accessible, and three apartments that can accommodate handicapped visitors. The four apartments on the upper floor will be regular two-bedroom apartments. Impact Builders has contracted to construct the new building for Eastern Eight, which will be measured, cut, and nailed on site. The Uniform Building Codes will be met throughout the construction. Brad Eastridge, city building inspector, was on hand to discuss the building permit process with the representatives of the project. The contractor, Impact Builders, assumes all responsibility to meet or exceed any and all code requirements. Wayland Place currently has an eight-unit apartment complex located between Wayland and Mary Streets in Mountain City. The new building will be constructed facing the existing apartment structure. Charles Alley of the State Planning Office did suggest to Ms Cooper that some kind of landscaping be included in the design plans. The proposed plan was approved unanimously by the commissioners.
Charles Alley then presented each commissioner with a Certificate of Education for training held in July of 2009. Members of the Planning Commission are required to attend annual training classes administered by MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Services) of the University of Tennessee.
As Mr. Alley continues to put the Land Use and Transportation Plan together, he showed commissioners some of the aerial maps that will be a part of the comprehensive plan. Due to the extensive details that will be included, the project is taking longer than expected.
Last month the Planning Commission had discussed the fact that the city still does not have a certified building inspector. The state allows one year for a building inspector to pass a test for certification. Brad Eastridge explained that he is studying for the test, and needs a little more time. The commission feels that Eastridge should be given additional time, since he has been preparing for several months, and serving in that capacity..
All Mountain City Planning Commission meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled to be held on Thursday night, February 25th at 7PM at City Hall.

Church receives prison term, Carpenter arrested

Tony Church, 36, from Butler, Tennessee man will spend 123 months in prison in connection with three separate methan labs with which he was associated. Johnson County deputies discovered a meth lab in June of 2008 at Church’s home and later Erwin police found a mobile lab in the back of his co-defendant, Kristy Dawn Dugger’s, truck. Additionally, police discovered a third lab at the hotel room the two were staying at in Johnson City, Tennessee. Dugger was sentenced to 18 months in prison earlier.
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A Mountain City was arrested in Watauga County, North Carolina, for possession of “meth precurcors” with intent to manufacture methamphetamine. According to the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, detectives received information that the suspect, William Wayne Carpenter, was going to various pharmacies in western North Carolina purchasing items used to manufacture methamphetamine. During the investigation, officers found evidence of purchases of iodine and pseudoephedrine products from different pharmacies upon a search of the Carpenter vehicle. Detectives also found evidence of the purchase of pseudoephedrine products at different pharmacies throughout the area. Carpenter was arrested and placed in the Watauga County Detention Center under a $12,000.00 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 11th, 2010. According the Watauga County Sheriff’s Department, the investigation is ongoing and further arrests are expected.

Bizzies, Coffehouse CLOSED

Two of Johnson County’s favorite eateries have announced they are closing their doors leaving many area residents reeling. Folks will no longer have access to Biz Burgers or specialty coffee as both Bizzies, 365 South Shady Street, and The Coffeehouse, 122 Murphy Street, have recently announced business closings.
Bizzies was the first closing casualty, abruptly publishing a note on the windows of the business on January 22nd announcing that the restaurant would be closing forever and that equipment would be sold at public auction. First introduced in 1992, Glenn and Kevin Parsons’ stab at the fast food industry quickly caught on in Johnson County. Offering freshly made hamburgers, chicken strips, seasoned fries, and a super-sized sweet tea, Bizzies quickly became the “go-to” spot for many looking for an alternative to franchise fast food restaurants. From its brightly decorated bee-adorned exterior to its top selling menu items, many passing through the county were also drawn to the Parsons’ establishment.
“When I purchased all of the equipment from the old Boone Trail Dairy Bar a couple of years ago, my father and I began talking of closing Bizzies,” explained Parsons. “We discussed future plans of continuing the tradition of those one-of-a-kind burgers and chicken the Ashleys had for over 50 years.” Keeping with the familiar Boone Trail Dairy Bar, or “J.D.’s”, theme, Parsons enlisted the assistance of Shirley Shelton, a 40-year employee of the landmark dairy bar to help incorporate some of the food items into the Quickshop Grill’s menu.
“Almost immediately, the popularity of that duplicated taste helped us to know that this was the right time to make the decision to close Bizzies,” said Parsons. “My parents have worked hard their whole life and are at the age that they deserve to enjoy retirement without the hassles of operating a small business, and Ann and I are in the process of buying out their share of Parsons Quickshop/Marathon.”  
While closing one door has literally opened another, you’ll still find many of Bizzies most popular items available on the Quickshop Grill menu. “I’m sure that I will miss having my parents help in operating the businesses we held together for over 18 years but I know everyone wishes them a long and happy retirement,” said Parsons.  “Of course, part of the negotiations included a free meal for them every once in awhile or it might have been ‘every awhile,’ I guess I’d better re-check that one.”
Another popular food establishment has announced some big changes. Formerly Craig’s Coffee House, named for the previous owner, The Coffeehouse has become more than just a coffee shop, especially to the daily patrons who swing by for their morning conversations, or to the lunch crowd who have enjoyed soups, sandwiches and salads at this central location for the past decade. Craig Sluder, who still owns the building, reports several inquiries as interested parties are considering taking on the business, so, after a hiatus for some remodeling within the next month, the coffee and camaraderie is expected to resume and continue for years to come.

City Council talks pool, WWI veterans and water

February’s monthly meeting of the Mountain City Council began with a presentation by ETSU medical student, Shae Conner. An organization known as Honor Air in Knoxville, TN flies military veterans to Washington D.C. to see the war memorials there. The service costs about $500 per veteran and is typically provided through the generosity of the community where the veterans reside. Noticing the large numbers of veterans in Johnson County, especially World War II veterans, Conner has been raising funds to send as many World War II vets as possible to see the WWII Memorial in Washington D.C.
Having only done estimate work on the total number of World War II veterans in the county, Mayor Parsons requested an exact figure on how many people would actually be interested in the proposal. Parsons explained that the city would be willing to cooperate with Conner’s plan but would have to have a better idea of how much funding would be required.
Howard Carlton was present representing the Johnson County Little
League. Carlton requested permission to hold a Little League parade on April 10th at 9 a.m. as well as a roadblock for fundraising on April 16th and 17th. Another fundraising roadblock was also requested for the Johnson County High School band boosters on March 6th.
Returning from a trip to Nashville, Mayor Parsons informed the council of a proposal by Governor Phil Bredesen that would allow
Johnson County to keep the presence of state law enforcement in the county. The proposal would raise license renewals and new license fees to $46.00 and would apply only to class D licenses. To alleviate some of the costs, renewals would occur every eight years instead of the present five years.
Dan Devane, from the Datamatic Company was on hand again this month to answer any questions the council might have concerning the possible purchase of a new wireless, automatic meter reading system. Some concern was raised by city recorder Terry Reece, who questioned Devane about some of the problems that had been reported from other water systems that had used the Datamatic product. Mr. Devane informed the council that earlier products had seen problems, but the current Mozaic meter reading system would definitely work for Mountain City. Devane went further, saying that his company would be more than happy to take members of the council to one of the cities in the region that is currently using the system to see it in action. Bridgeport, Alabama is one of the closest and has seen great success with Datamatic’s product. Not wanting to rush into the purchase, the council will hold a work session to review other
companies’ proposals.
Further discussion was held concerning repairs to the city pool. Costs to bring the pool back into shape are estimated at $27,000 to $30,000. Alderman Keeble made a point to say, “While the pool is actually a drain on funds for the city, I don’t feel we should let the citizens of Mountain City down, and we should provide this service.” Faced with repairing the pool or closing it, a motion was made to create a budget amendment found in reserve funds to put the pool back into operation. Since this is a repair that will only last a few years, further discussion will be held at a later time concerning the possibility of a new year-round pool.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this week’s The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!

McMillian says that winter is far from over

Although winter just began a little over a month ago, the winter of 2009-2010 has been challenging. Wave after wave of frigid air and snowy weather has seemed to dominate the weather patterns over much of the area.
Bill McMillan, chief forecaster for Mountain City Weather Center, believes, “This is the worst winter we’ve had since 1995-1996.” McMillan became infatuated with weather when the Blizzard of 1993 hit much of the eastern United States. He was 10 years old at the time.
McMillan created Mountain City Weather Center in 2003. Along with Brandon Massey, Joe Reedy and Josh Burleson, they work tirelessly following weather patterns to bring accurate weather forecasts to Johnson County. “Weather is my passion,” said McMillan.
The dedicated crew at Mountain City Weather Center have been exceptionally busy this winter season. According to McMillan, a fading and weakened El Nino has helped to lock in colder and stormier weather into the eastern third of the United States. He believes the second half of the winter is going to continue to be cold and snowy. This pattern will likely continue through March and possibly into April. A frigid air pattern will dominant our region in mid-February. “This is an amazing weather pattern we are in,” McMillan said. He believes that this trend of colder winter weather could continue for the next 10 to 20 years. He likened this trend to the winters experienced during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Even before the first snowflake fell upon our region, Mountain City Weather Center had forecast 55 inches of snow for Mountain City for this winter season. Snowfall amounts notoriously vary throughout the county due to upslope regions, making precise accumulation figures impossible, but the winter is well ahead of schedule to usual January numbers.
With promises of a continuing cold and wet winter, preparation is essential. Make sure your vehicle(s) are in good working order. Check the tread on your tires to make sure they do not need replacing. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), you should keep an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes a shovel, scraper, flashlight, water, snacks, matches, battery-powered radio, blankets, first-aid kit, tow chain or rope, booster cables, emergency flares and a fluorescent distress flag. FEMA also suggests keeping extra hats, gloves and even socks that could be essential in helping to keep you warm if you become stranded. Kitty litter or sand can help improve traction for your vehicle if needed. Keep your cell phone fully charged at all time.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this week’s The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!

Commissioners to request two state troopers remain in Johnson County

Thursday, January 21 was the monthly meeting of the Johnson County Commission.
The meeting began with a unanimous approval of budget amendments followed by the approval of two notaries, Patricia Burchette and Donna K. Hammons. A $10,000 county official bond for deputy sheriff Freddy Forrester was approved.
This month was the time for quarterly reports from the various county departments. Most had submitted their reports with little or no discussion, but a few issues did arise. The planning commission discussed a bond reduction for the ridge’s subdivision and also held a special meeting concerning subdivisions at the Red Tail Mountain golf course.
The new hangar at the county airport is nearly completed, but a problem has risen concerning the hangar door. As cold weather freezes the ground, the door will not close properly.
Timothy Stanley has been hired to replace Dean Winters at the county waste management facility in Doe Valley. Stanley was one of 49 applicants and has a qualified military background as well as experience in managing a business and roadwork.
The Cold Springs Utility District made a request for the approval of a new commissioner. Charles Icenhour, who recently passed away, formerly held the position. Bill H. Icenhour was nominated as the new commissioner and was voted in unanimously.
Former economic developer Tom Anderson presented more information to the council concerning the creation of a part time position to help continue economic development in Johnson County. The job would be approximately 15 hours weekly with an annual salary of around $10,000. The county has agreed to pay 75% of this cost while the city pays the remaining 25%. A job description is underway and the courthouse would most likely house the office of the contracted employee.
Tamara McNaughton presented the commission with details about the Johnson County community food assessment and planning project. Funded by the USDA, the project will evaluate all the ways that people living in poverty in the county receive food. The assessment will cover food security and will take an inventory of all of the various organizations and programs that help people receive food including food drives at the high school, WIC, food stamps, meals at the community center and senior center, meals on wheels, as well as many church organizations. Essentially the study is to determine the needs of the people of Johnson County.
The project will consist of six study groups, one to focus on producers and five for consumers. USDA funding for the project will hopefully go to furthering things like the local farmers market or even a mobile farmers market to sell locally grown produce. Several meetings are planned to ask people in the community to help in the study by giving information on where they get their meals, what programs they use the most, and how the situation could be made better. The USDA grant can be given as $125,000 for one year or $300,000 for three years.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this week’s The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!

Neighborhood Services Centers running on empty

With the country in an on-going economic crisis, more and more people have come to rely upon financial assistance to get them through these tough and challenging times. Across the eight counties of northeast Tennessee, budgets and funding for those agencies offering help to those in the most need have been stretched to full capacity.
Johnson County Neighborhood Service Center has recently seen a large influx of applicants who previously did not fall into the criteria to receive financial assistance. These programs were designed to provide aid for qualifying individuals or families in times of need. Due to changes in the poverty guidelines, all of the nine Neighborhood Services Centers for northeast Tennessee have been inundated with people needing basic help to survive.
The eight-county region received an additional $1.7 million on top of their yearly funding to assist individuals and families that met the financial requirements. Due to the high demand, monies have quickly been exhausted. Johnson County is not alone in this plight. All of these centers have utilized the majority of their funding.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this week’s The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!