Package Store permits approved

By Bethany Anderson
Freelance Writer

The Town of Mountain City Board of Alderman held a public Work Session, during which the board unanimously approved two package store applications.
Alderman, Bob Morrison at their previous meeting on August 6, requested the work session so that the board may more thoroughly review the applications and proposed locations.
The two applications considered were from Johnson County local, Tom Stanley, and Florida native Robert Blackwell.
Stanley’s proposed location is a building on South Shady Street in Mountain City that formerly housed a skating rink.
Blackwell’s proposed location is in the Pioneer Shopping Center between Pablano’s Restaurant and Fred’s.
Both applications were granted with a unanimous vote, with the stipulation that they pass their upcoming building inspections and are deemed “insurable.”
Before starting, the board acknowledging that City Attorney George Write was momentarily absent and would be joining the meeting later. Then the meeting officially started with Mayor Kevin Parsons explaining to those present that this was a “Work Session” requested at the previous City Council meeting to go over the package store applicants.
Morrison spoke first asking, “Is there any problem with the applications submitted?”
Parsons replied, “I think we just need to make sure that they both meet the qualifications.”
Alderman Jerry Jordon added, “I know that one of them didn’t meet the set-back requirement.”
City Recorder Sheila Shaw replied, “That was discussed at the Planning Commission meeting, and it was decided that it would be ‘grandfathered’ in.”
There was more discussion about the fact that existing buildings are considered “grandfathered” in to be exempt from the town’s regulations as to how far from the road buildings are to be set back. Then conversation quickly shifted to the inspection status of the building that formerly housed a skating rink and is now owned by Tom Stanley.
Vice-Mayor Bud Crosswhite stated, “We had that building inspected, and it wasn’t structurally sound.”
Stanley replied, “Since we’ve owned the property for the last eight months, we’ve addressed those issues.” He also added, “The issues reported either have been corrected or are in the process of being corrected.”
After brief discussions among the board as to if anyone else had any concerns or questions, Mayor Parsons called an end to the Work-Study. He then called to order and reconvened their previous City Council meeting from August 6, to make the final decision as to whether or not to grant the submitted permits for package stores.
There was then the mention of previous discussions as to whether or not both permits would be granted or just one. To which Alderman Lawrence Keeble stated, “I think that we have two permits to give, and competition is good for the soul.”
Alderman Morrison said, “I agree and would make a motion to pass this.”
After some brief discussions about the fact that the City Attorney was not yet present, the board moved forward, and both applications were granted with a unanimous vote.
Mayor Parsons then acknowledged that most present to observe the meeting was probably there to hear that decision, so he explained that since a decision had been made, they might feel free to go at that time if they wished. Most present, including the applicants and their attorneys and supporters, chose to step outside.
City Attorney George Wright then entered and joined the meeting in progress. At that time, the applicants hurriedly re-entered the building and took their seats to listen in.
Wright took his place with the board and joined the meeting in progress. He then said, “2 Sisters is ready to go, but Mr. Stanley has that building that I was told was uninsurable.”
Vice-Mayor Crosswhite then explained, “Well, we’ve already issued it to him.”
Wright replied, “Well, so long as he brings everything up to code then.” Adding, “The city doesn’t have a licensed inspector though, so you’ll have to get someone in here to do that.”
Blackwell (applicant of the proposed “2 Sisters” package store) then asked, “So we aren’t going to get our permit until we’re inspected?”
Shaw replied, “According to the ordinance, no.”
There was much discussion as to whether that would require a city inspector to approve any changes. But it was mentioned that Jesse Compton (who is listed as “Building Inspector” on the town government’s website) is not yet a licensed inspector, so the town would need to bring in an outside inspector who is licensed.
Blackwell then asked, “So, I can’t just have Jesse do it?”
Crosswhite stated, “I’d rather not use Jesse,” adding, “Someone might make a claim that we passed or failed someone for personal reasons.”
Wright then said, “We don’t have a certified inspector in town, so we’d have
to bring someone from
Carter County or someplace else.”
The issue was discussed further, and Wright then clarified that the permits were granted, but with the stipulation that they pass their
upcoming building inspections and are deemed “insurable.”
Blackwell stated, “We’re just very happy to move forward and very grateful to the city.”

Package Store Permits Approved

By Bethany Anderson

Freelance Writer


The Town of Mountain City Board of Alderman held a public Work Session, during which the board unanimously approved two package store applications.

The work session was requested by Bob Morrison at their previous meeting on August 6, so that the board may more  have time to thoroughly review the applications and proposed locations.

The two applications considered were from Johnson County local, Tom Stanley and from Florida native Robert Blackwell. 

Stanley’s proposed location is a building on south Shady Street in Mountain City that formerly housed a skating rink.

Blackwell’s proposed location is in the Pioneer Shopping Center between Pablano’s Restaurant and Fred’s.

Both applications were granted with a unanimous vote, with the stipulation that they pass their upcoming building inspections and are deemed “insurable”.

Blackwell stated, “We’re just very happy to move forward and very grateful to the city.”

Full story to follow in the next print edition of the Tomahawk newspaper on Wednesday, August 28.

Community to celebrate “Legacies” Long Journey Home

Members of the Johnson County 2019 Mural Workshops are hard at work creating a series of murals to be unveiled during the 2019 Long Journey Home music festival held annually on Labor Day weekend in Mountain City, TN. The project is led by Cristy Dunn and is funded by the Arts Fund of the Tennessee Arts Commission. Submitted photos

By Tamas Mondovics

Another year has gone by circling back to one of the community’s most enjoyable annual festivals, Long Journey Home.
According to event organizer Cristy Dunn, “just about as far northeast in Tennessee as you can get, you’ll find a county that is half Cherokee National Forest and half Watauga Lake. Nestled within those hills, lies Mountain City (appropriately named), and each year a celebration takes place honoring the iconic Old-Time mountain music style that shaped country music as we know it.”
Under the appropriate theme “Legacies” the four-day Long Journey Home Tour and Festival spans over Labor Day weekend, August 29, through September 1.
A whole lot of fun is promised to begin on Thursday with a kickoff dinner and square dance with authentic Old Time fiddling.
On Friday evening, the much-anticipated and loved Buskin’ on Main Street brings the small town to life with music, friends, and good eating.
The newest Appalachian Memory Keepers Film, Short Life of Trouble: The Legend of G.B. Grayson, will premiere Friday at dusk. Grayson, whose short career produced The Ballad of Tom Dooley, Train 45, Handsome Molly, and about 40 other songs that became the standards of Bluegrass and early country music.
On Saturday, August 31, the Musical Heritage Homecoming Tour begins at The Old Mill Music Park, where the Kody Norris Show will perform more music from G.B. Grayson.
The next stop is in downtown Mountain City, where the new mural series, “Legacies” will be unveiled.
“This new mural is the sixth in a series that honors the musical heritage of Johnson County,” Dunn said.
Dunn explained that seven teams, all part of the 2019 Mural Workshops, are currently creating the seven murals. The murals will be installed on the side of
Farmers State Bank and unveiled during Long Journey Home on Labor Day weekend.
“Each of the seven murals represents an influential album recorded by a Johnson County Musician, including House of the Rising Sun, Handsome Molly, Train 45, Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s, and The Ballad of Finley Preston. The project is funded by the Arts Fund of the Tennessee Arts Commission,” she said.
Guests are encouraged to bring a quilt or lawn chair and be ready to take a trip back in time as you experience Clarence “Tom” Ashley’s signature clawhammer banjo style played right on his front porch by Kenny Price, who learned from Tom himself.
Saturday’s tour concludes, as always, at the Fred Price Homeplace, nestled high in the mountains. The Piney Woods Boys will perform selections from the album, Old Time Music at Clarence Ashley’s, Doc Watson’s first album, now on the National Recording Registry, followed by an open community jam.
Long Journey Home closes with a traditional gospel Sunday Singin’ at historic Heritage Hall in downtown Mountain City on Sunday at 2 p.m.
“It’s about as real as it gets,” Dunn said adding, “If you were wondering whether authentic Appalachia still exists, look no further.”
For more information, please contact Cristy Dunn at 423-957-6346 or Evelyn Cook at 423-727-8700 or visit

Hess takes what others no longer need and shares with those that do

Ronnie Hess gets help from wife, Guyla, and Molly each week. For the past several years, Hess has helped the Tri-State Children’s Home and the Haven of Rest Rescue Mission, both in Bristol, Tennessee, by volunteering and donating money he makes from selling various items donated Photo by Jill Penley

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writers

When Ronnie Hess moved to Johnson County, he brought his sense of volunteerism and compassion along, and after being here some time, he has not only recognized some glaring needs in the communities that make up the county, but also the lack of coordination of available services and resources.
“There are generous folks all around,” said Hess. “They just don’t know who needs help and how to go about doing it.” That’s where Hess comes in. Hess, who once drove a truck hauling explosives and chemicals, now considers himself a “picker” who now spends most days either accepting donations for auctions and flea markets or selling his treasures to donate the proceeds to local charities and families in need.
“The Lord has blessed me,” said Hess, “and I love trying to be a blessing to others.” The process, as he explains it, is simple. “People donate items, and I set up at auctions, flea markets, and sales so I can share the rewards and meet new
For the past several years, Hess has helped the Tri-State Children’s Home and the Haven of Rest Rescue Mission, both in Bristol, Tennessee, by volunteering and donating the money he makes from selling various items donated. “When it comes to helping people,” explains Hess, “it is really true that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
Hess, who has always enjoyed talking to people, has an eye for spotting something of value. He once purchased a storage locker that contained a chest stuffed with audiotapes belonging to a Capt. J.H. Caldwell. Hess made it his personal mission to locate the family that the chest belonged to, in case the tapes contained sentimental value.
He has accepted appliances, auto parts, pool tables, furniture, electronics, and even an electric wheelchair. “If I have an item that would be helpful to someone,” said Hess, “I just give it to them and explain it was made possible by the generosity of loving neighbors; otherwise, I sell what I can and use the proceeds to help who and where I can.”
The spirit of benevolence will remain alive and well in Johnson County as long as “Ronnie Dale” is here.

Great growth in district schools

By Meg Dickens

Johnson County School officials received exciting news this past week. Both Roan Creek Elementary and the school district as a whole earned Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) level 5 distinction based on 2018-2019 test scores. TVAAS uses student learning growth through testing to measure teacher effectiveness on a scale of 1 to 5, in which the spectrum ranges from below expectations (1) to exceeds expectations (5). These numbers come from student achievement comparisons between peers with a similar testing history statewide.
“Our district showed great growth. We are so proud of the hard work of our students, teachers, and administrators,” exclaimed Elementary and Federal Programs Supervisor Angie Wills.
TVAAS originates in its current format from the 2011-2012 school year. According to SCORE (State Collaborative on Reforming Education), TVAAS evaluates teaching effectiveness through student achievement, student academic growth, and in-class observation scores. Tennessee is credited as the first state to use this type of system to measure student growth. TVAAS only measures what is within teacher control.
“We are very proud of our students and staff in the Johnson County School System for becoming a level 5 district,” said Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox. “We’re proud of Roan Creek Elementary which grew from a level 1 to a level 5 and Mountain City Elementary which grew from level 1 to just a few tenths shy of a level 5.”
This score is as impressive as it is rare. The 2017-
2018 TVAAS shows that
only 37.67 percent of Tennessee districts scored a
level 5. Johnson County itself only scored a level 1 in the 2017-2018 TVAAS. These scores attest that Johnson County made great leaps in learning in the 2018-2019 school year. Perhaps more growth is in the district’s future.

Revitalization takes center stage at county meeting

By Bethany Anderson
Freelance Writer

On Thursday, August 15, the Johnson County Commission met to discuss this month’s issues and make necessary decisions. The only absent member was Joey Norris, but because they had the needed quorum, the meeting continued.
The meeting was dominated by public comments from a resident disappointed with the current state of Mountain City who pleaded with the commissioners to bring more stores to town.
The main issue was that due to health concerns, some older residents cannot go out of town to get some of the items needed. Since such items are not available at local stores, the council was urged commission was urged to work on bringing more shopping options to the region.
County Mayor Mike Taylor replied, “I share those sentiments and agree with those comments.”
Taylor also added that he has been “in talks” with several retail chains about the possibility of coming to Johnson County. According to him, most retail outlets will only consider coming to the area if traffic significantly increases in the area, but Dollar General is currently “looking” at Shady Valley as a possible location for an upcoming store.
When asked about the revitalization of downtown and support for current businesses around town, Taylor replied, “I know there’s a grant for downtown revitalization, but as far as the city and downtown area goes, that’s in the hands of the city government.”
As it continued, the meeting shifted to talk of needed repairs for the courthouse building.
Taylor mentioned that he had met with Tom Shanks and “his crews” to conduct tests on the roof. It was decided that the building will need 3,300 square feet of new roofing. Estimates were given to replace the roof both in keeping the current skylights and with removing them.
To repair or replace the existing skylights would cost roughly $2,000 peach, so the recommendation was to remove them.
Taylor also mentioned that he had met with Johnson Controls to go over the courthouse’s HVAC system. There are various repairs needed to get the systems functioning optimally, but not as many as initially thought.
There will be meetings at Mayor Taylor’s office on August 29 at 11 a.m. and September 10 at 2 p.m. for further discussion of the matters.
Commissioner Megan McEwen shared some thoughts about her recent trip to Washington DC where she met with the federal level of commission directors. She talked of an app that would help to show areas in need of better broadband service more accurately.
McEwen mentioned a bill under consideration that would make it necessary for pre-conviction inmates’ medical needs to be paid for by their own insurance providers until a conviction was imposed.
The commission then went on to discuss the approval of a Jail Construction
Committee. Members include Scott Mast, Rick Snyder, Jerry Gentry, Bill
Adams, Jerry Grindstaff,
and Tommy Poore. The
proposal passed unanimously with the first meeting
is to be announced at a later date.
Mayor Taylor said, “We’re not ready to turn dirt just yet, but we need to have a committee in place for future projects.”
Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester was to
present an update on possible ankle monitoring in the county. Although he was pulled away for another matter and unable to attend, Johnson County Bailiff Key was there to give the update in his place.
Key said, “He (Sheriff Tester) is in talks about ankle monitoring and will get a report put together for
County Attorney Perry Stout replied, “Unless the criminal court judges are willing to take that leap with us, I don’t know if we have it in the budget.”
McEwen asked, “How accurate are they really?”
Stout answered, “They’ve come a long way, but ultimately, it’s up to the judges.”
For more information, please visit

Trade man dies in motorcycle crash

By Tamas Mondovics

Extreme high rate of speed has been ruled as the cause of the recent traffic fatality involving a motorcycle in Mountain City.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department and Tennessee Highway Patrol District 5, Public Information Officer Lt. Rick Garrison confirmed that one person died after a motorcycle crash Sunday (8/18) morning.
According to a THP report the motorcycle driven by 23-year-old Steven McGuire collided with a car on Highway 421 South near Parkdale Mills just south of town.
Officials said that McGuire was traveling south at an extremely high rate of speed, and hit the driver’s door of a 2006 Honda Civic driven by Leanna Lipford, 19, of Butler who was crossing 421.
The initial report said that McGuire was killed on impact as he and his motorcycle spun 180 degrees into an oncoming lane of traffic.
TPH officials also said
that McGuire’s helmet was
not fastened correctly, and came off when he hit the Honda.
Lipford had minor injuries and was taken to the hospital. No criminal charges have been filed.
The investigation continues.

No tax increase for Johnson County

By Katie Lamb
Freelance Writer

“The 2019 – 2020 budget passed without problems,” declares Russell Robinson, Director of Accounts and Budgets for Johnson County, after the August 5, 2019 county budget meeting conducted by the County Commission. “Also, there will be no tax increase what so ever.”
Robinson stated, “The Budget Committee focuses on four separate budgets: One, the general county budget, two, the general-purpose school budget, three, the debt service budget, and four, the general capital budget. “While the first two categories receive the bulk of all property tax, the general capital funds are allocated for patrol cars, capital improvements, and school buses.”
“The county will add some additional personnel to law enforcement for a little over $70,000,” Robinson said. “Existing manpower will be supplemented with two new road deputies. A part-time position within the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office will become a full-time position and cost roughly $15,000.
Officials also added that by state mandate, elected county officials would receive a two and a half percent pay increase for a cost of
For the first time in several years, there will be a three percent ‘Cost of living’ increase for all county employees for a sum of $80,000. There will be an increase of $6,700 for legal resources to cover services beyond the parameter of attorney retainer funds, as well as, $10,000 to be designated to support
the Johnson County 911 system.
“With the upcoming Presidential Preference Primary, $30,000 will be allocated to finance the election,” Robinson said. “It costs the county $30,000 every Presidential election cycle with partial reimbursement. Based on a state-mandated salary schedule, teachers will maintain wages and performance increases based on test scores. “It is a $70,000 per year expenditure to meet the state requirement for a differentiated step increase for teaching personnel,” he said.
Robinson affirmed that the county would not see an increase in medical insurance until 2020. “Several years ago, the state enacted the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS), and because of this, the county experienced a substantial decrease in rates for employees with an absorbed savings of $142,000.
“No county tax increase is a direct result of the TCRS,” he said.
Weighing in on the upcoming fiscal year Johnson County Commissioner Mike Taylor said, “I am excited about the upcoming year and look forward to additional growth for the county. The economy is good and unemployment is low. The budget committee has worked hard and we were able to set aside enough money to put a new roof on the courthouse and give all employees a raise.”
For more information about Johnson County, please visit

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.