Tennessee Guard to Aid in Florence relief

November 14, 2018

By Megan Hollaway
Freelance Writer

The Tennessee National Guard has pledged their support to the citizens of South Carolina to aid in relief for Hurricane Florence. The National Guard is an incredibly flexible and diverse multi-functional section of the army, and those serving in it are always prepared to drop their civilian lives and aid the citizens in the states no matter the emergency. Hurricane Florence, which devastated sections of eastern coastline, has proved a big job for the Tennessee National Guard. In early October more than 100 personnel left Athens, armed with equipment and supplies to work for nearly two weeks.

Since the 2012 Unity of Effort initiative, which passed to encourage the National Guards involvement in the relief from disasters, the speed and accuracy of relief has increased- especially through hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, Michael, and now Florence. The Unity of Effort incentive was put in place to maintain a clear chain of command and clearly define the Guards role in the disaster response. There are now set training sessions during basics that help soldiers prepare for emergencies, not of active combat, but for the protection of our own citizens from the elements.

The National Guard has also participated recently with search and rescue missions, as well as delved into the fascinating work of the Arpad Vass, an Oak Ridge Scientist and Forensic Anthropologist. This work is to ensure that the soldiers of the guard are prepared to work in any terrain and have skills relevant to forensic excursions.
The National Guard of Mountain City is currently looking for recruits to serve their state and country by being a Guardsman. There has been a change to the previous restrictions about tattoos, and the recruitment officers are now happy to accept applications from individuals with some ink. While disaster relief is not the sole job of the National Guard, it is an incredibly important one, and the citizens of South Carolina’s coast are thankful for the involvement of the Tennessee Guard.

While ending a busy season in assisting those in need the Guard was please to promote Tommy H. Baker, of Huntingdon, to Major General in a ceremony held at the Tennessee National Guard Headquarters on Friday, November 9, 2018. Baker, the Assistant Adjutant General-Army, Tennessee National Guard, is responsible for the training and supervision of the more than 9,000 Soldiers in the Tennessee Army National Guard.

“Maj. Gen. Baker has a long and accomplished career with the Tennessee National Guard and it was an honor to get to the opportunity to promote an officer as deserving as him,” said Maj. Gen. Terry “Max” Haston, Tennessee’s Adjutant General. “He is a gifted leader and an invaluable member of my team.”

Baker is a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee-Martin with a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration. He received his master’s degree in Business Administration specializing in Military Management from Touro University, and is a 2011 graduate of the United States Army War College with a master’s degree in Strategic Studies.

Community mourns passing of Bill Brookshire

November 14, 2018

Bill Brookshire

Bill Brookshire

By Tamas Mondovics

The town of Mountain City is once again mourning the loss of another one of its most beloved, respected, admired longtime resident Mr. Billy Carroll Brookshire, better known as “Bill”, who passed away Sunday morning, November 11, 2018, at his home. He was 85. Born in Mountain City, TN on June 7, 1933, to the late Samuel Stacy and Bonnie Mae Carver Brookshire, Bill was one of the original founders of Johnson County Bank in 1975 and became president in 1983, and has served on the JCB Board of Directors consistently through the years.

A Johnson County High School graduate, the County has always been home for Bill and will be fondly remembered by his friends and family as deeply devoted to his daughters and their deceased mother, Myrtle Duncan Brookshire. Since he lost his father in his teens, as the eldest son, Bill became the patriarch on whom his mother and siblings could rely on, for help and support.  Bill enjoyed supporting many community projects that included the 4-H Poultry, Little League Baseball,  Heritage Hall, The JC Arts Center, and The JC Senior Heating Assistance to name a few.  Bill was said to be the quintessential self-made man who achieved success in life with passion, courage, and dedication. Because of his energy and ingenuity, he was able not only to live well, but was known as a genuinely good, caring and kind person.

He cared about people, the community and often reached out to those in need. His willingness and desire to step out at great risk to grow a new bank for his community showed character of strength and bravery. His contributions have undoubtedly added to the growth of Johnson County on many levels.  Giving testimony to his love for people, respect for others and the devotion to his community, as bank president, Bill’s first step was to declare it to be “The People’s Bank” making a promise to provide friendly and courteous service, as well as a better way to bank adding, “The best customers make the best bank.  He stressed hard work ethics of the bank employees including the need to treat customers better than they would want to be treated themselves if they were the customer.

“We are a family,’ he said. “This was my mother’s advice.”

Bill is survived by his two loving daughters, Teresa Sillstrop and husband, Ted, of Greer, SC and Bonnie Reece and husband, Chris, of Mountain City, TN; two brothers, Jack Brookshire and wife, Louise, of Maryland and Richard Brookshire and wife, Lillian, of Boone; a sister, Nancy Garrick, of Mountain City, TN; his extended family, the Johnson County Bank employees and spouses, along with a lifelong friend Mary Ann Johnson Adams.
Bill also enjoyed spending time with his two step-grandchildren, Jack Dedrick and Anna Marie Dedrick, both of Wilmington, NC.

As the community reflects Bill’s passing with great sadness, his legacy will live on for generations.  Bill had no plans on retiring. “I want to be right here at this bank; this is home.”

Thank you Bill. You will be greatly missed.  Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, at 7 p.m. at Dewey Christian Church, 3548 Hwy 67W, with Preacher C.D. “Bud” Gentry and Preacher Frank Ransom officiating. A private burial will be held at Brookshire Cemetery with Preacher Bill Worley officiating. The family will receive friends from 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, three hours prior to the funeral service.
Flowers accepted or memorials may be made to Johnson County Senior Heating Assistance, PO Box 208, Mountain City, TN 37683. Johnson County Bank will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 15.

Tennessee students break records with highest-ever ACT score and participation rate

November 7, 2018

Department Commissioner Candice McQueen today announced that Tennessee public school students have once again broken the previous year’s record by earning an average composite score of 20.2 on the ACT in 2018. Tennessee public high school graduates improved from the 2017 average of 20.1, with more than 2,000 additional students taking the exam this year, bringing the state’s participation rate up to 97 percent – also a new record high. The results also show that 1,463 more Tennessee public school graduates became eligible for the HOPE scholarship by earning composite scores of 21 or higher.

Additionally, the 63,104 public school graduates who took the ACT increased their average score in most subject areas.  The average ACT score for the public school graduating class of 2018 in each subject area was:

• 19.7 in English, up 0.2 points,

• 19.5 in math, up 0.1 points,

• 20.7 in reading, up 0.3 points; and

• 20.3 in science, same as 2017.

“The ACT provides an opportunity for our students to  show they are college and career ready, and seeing a higher average score at the same time more students are taking the test is a true testament to the work that is happening in Tennessee schools,” Commissioner McQueen said. “Our schools are increasingly moving toward deeper teaching and learning that meets our higher expectations, and that focus pays off on tests] like the ACT and SAT.”

Other encouraging results show that students who are economically disadvantaged grew at a faster rate that than any other student group, including all students. These students’ scores grew an average of 0.2 points, bringing their average composite score up to a 17.7 compared to a 17.5 in 2017.] Additionally, students who are economically disadvantaged outpaced their peers by growth of the percent of students scoring a 21 or higher. In 2018, 23 percent of students who are economically disadvantaged earned a score of 21 higher compared to 21.2 in 2017.

Tennessee has focused on improving ACT results and expanding all students’ access to college and career readiness opportunities more broadly. The class of 2018 was the second group to have access to a free opportunity to retake the ACT, which the department expanded to ensure more  students can retake the exam. As Tennessee has removed barriers to retaking the ACT, the state has seen promising results from all students, specifically those who are economically disadvantaged, as previously noted.

Nearly 52,000 students in the class of 2018 participated in the department’s ACT Senior Retake Day last fall. Of those, nearly 40 percent increased their overall score. Tennessee is the first and only state to offer this opportunity on a statewide scale. ACT results serve as a nationally normed measure to indicate college and career readiness. Under a new state accountability measure, called the Ready Graduate, earning a 21 on the ACT (or the equivalent on the SAT) is one of the four ways that students can indicate that they are prepared for life after high school and able to seamlessly enroll in post-secondary education and enter the workplace or the military.

While ACT is a survey test that is given in students’ 11th grade year and looks at the scope of what they have learned throughout their K-12 education, it is complemented by TNReady, which is a deeper, standards- based test at looks at what students learn annually and provides teachers and families with feedback each year. Together, assessments like the ACT and SAT along with TNReady help to make sure students are ready for their chosen path after high school.

“With increased ACT access and participation, our state has sent a strong signal to the country that Tennessee is committed to providing opportunities for our students’ futures,” Commissioner Mc- Queen said. “With these results, more students are able to receive scholarship dollars, gain entry to post-secondary programs, and eliminate the need for remedial classes, allowing them to start their journey to lifetime success from day one.”

District scores The department uses students’ best ACT scores— meaning that if a student took the ACT multiple times, the score included in today’s results is his or her highest score. This data is different than the results reported nationally by ACT, which are based on the last score a student received, regardless of whether it was the highest, and also include private school results. Germantown Municipal School District had the highest district ACT composite in the state for the third year in a row, posting a 25.9 average, up from their 2017 average of 25.5. Additionally, Moore County Schools posted the largest gains in the state from 2017 to 2018, raising its average composite by 1.7 points to 20.6.

Three districts had more than 80 percent of their students scoring at or above a 21 on the ACT or the SAT equivalent: Germantown Municipal School District (85.6 percent), Williamson County Schools (81.2 percent), and Collierville Schools (80.8 percent).

Additional takeaways from the 2018 ACT results:

• More than 1,200 additional graduates hit all four  college ready benchmarks on the ACT test in 2018 compared to 2017.

• Within each subject area, 57.7 percent of public school students met the college ready benchmark in English, 31.6 percent met the benchmark  in math, 41.8 percent met the benchmark in reading, and 32.2 percent met the science benchmark.

• 22 districts had 100 percent of students participate in taking the ACT. To learn more about the department’s ACT initiatives, please visit the department’s website or
contact Jerre Maynor, director of student readiness and pathways, at Jerre. Maynor@tn.gov.

West Nile Virus detected in five Tennessee horses

November 8, 2018

NASHVILLE– The state veterinarian has announced five new cases of horses sickened by West Nile Virus (WNV) in East Tennessee. Two horses in Washington County recently tested positive for WNV. Bradley, Cumberland, and Sullivan Counties are reporting one case in each county. Sick horses cannot directly infect people with WNV. Mosquitoes and other biting insects are responsible for transmission of WNV. Symptoms in horses may include fever, weakness, loss of appetite, or convulsions. The illness can cause lasting effects and, in some cases, can be fatal.

“Even though it is starting to feel like fall, mosquito- borne illnesses remain a health threat for horses in Tennessee,” State Veterinarian Dr. Charles Hatcher said. “Horse owners should take preventative measures to protect their livestock year round. The vaccine for WNV is extremely effective. Your veterinarian can help you
decide the best vaccination plan for your horse.”

Other tips include:
• Never share needles, dental, or surgical equipment among different animals.

• Eliminate standing water sources where insects may gather and breed.

• Manage manure and disposal.

• Apply fly sprays and insect repellents as needed. The C. E. Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory now offers a full line of equine disease testing, including
WNV, equine infectious anemia (EIA), equine herpes virus (EHV), equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and equine influenza
virus (EIV). Contact your veterinarian for more information.

$110K raised to support ACS fight against breast cancer

November 7, 2018

By Greg Broy

Approximately 1,000 walkers from the Tri- Cities area came together on Sunday, October 28 at Founder’s Park for the American Cancer Society (ACS) Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk and raised $110,000 to help the ACS save more lives from breast cancer.

“Sunday’s event was a moving example how – united – we can make huge progress toward a world without breast cancer,” said Holly Booker, community development manager for the ACS in the Tri-Cities. “Our Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk helps the ACS fund groundbreaking research into causes, prevention, and treatments for breast cancer, provide free rides to chemo and places to stay near hospitals, a live 24/7 cancer helpline, and so much more.”

Since 1993, 14 million Making Strides supporters have raised more than $870 million nationwide. This year Avon joined the ACS as the first-ever National Presenting Sponsor. For over 130 years, Avon has inspired the financial independence, health and well being of women – and the fight against breast cancer is central to their mission.

Making Strides participants can be proud of a 39 percent drop in breast cancer death rates since 1989, but there is still much more to do. Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women and is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women.

According to the American Cancer Society Cancer Facts & Figures 2018, more than 266,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die from the disease this year. In Tennessee, 5,590 women will be diagnosed this year, and 920 will die from the disease. In Virginia, 7,510 women will be diagnosed this year, and 1,090 will die from the disease.

It’s not too late to donate to the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in the Tri-Cities. Visit MakingStridesWalk.org/ TriCitiesTN to help the American Cancer Society continue saving lives. For free breast cancer information and resources or to donate, visit the ACS, anytime day or night, at cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345. The 2018 Tri-Cities walk is made possible in part by the generous support of many local companies including Ballad Health, Citi, Edward Jones, Humana, Pizza Plus, and State of Franklin Healthcare Associates

Search warrant nets drugs, guns and possible moonshine

November 7, 2018


Members of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office present the results of a recent search warrant at 793 Dark Hollow Private Drive. Following the search Stewart Bunting, 59, was arrested and is now awaiting his court appearance later this month.

By Tamas Mondovics

Armed with valuable information provided by a concerned citizen, Johnson County Sheriff’s deputies supported by The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) were able to obtain and execute a search warrant for the residence and property of Stewart Bunting at 793 Dark Hollow Private Drive.

Stewart Bunting


According to JCSO, during the search, Bunting, 59, was found to be in possession of at least 29 marijuana plants, 326 unknown pills, cash, guns, miscellaneous drug paraphernalia, grow lights, miscellaneous ammunition, marijuana seeds and possibly moonshine. Bunting was initially charged with the following charges: Manufacture of marijuana for resale; Possession of Schedule VI drugs; Possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Maintaining a dwelling for the sale of drugs.

Bunting’s bail was been set $126,500, and is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, November 14, 2018. JCSO officials said that the investigation is ongoing and more charges may be pending.

For more information please visit www.johnsoncountysd.org.

Traffic stop leads to chase, ends with motorcycle crash

November 7, 2018

Andrew Gwinn

Upon his arrest, drugs and drug paraphernalia (above) was found on Andrew Gwinn, 23 after he attempted to flee on his motorcycle from law enforcement officers following a routine traffic stop.

By Tamas Mondovics

A recent incident involving a Butler man that ended in a wreck reassures many that running from the law doesn’t pay off.According to Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, on Thursday, October 25, 2018, a deputy attempted to make a traffic stop on a motorcycle in the area of Hwy 421.  The individual now identified 23-year-old, Andrew Gwinn of Butler, refused to stop and began to attempt to flee turning onto Forge Creek Road.  Deputies reported that approximately one mile after turning onto Forge Creek Rd, the Gwinn lost control and wrecked his motorcycle.  EMS was called to the scene to check the on Gwinn and noticed that he was in possession of numerous substances and pills.

After being transported and treated for leg pain, Gwinn was arrested for the following charges: Felony Evading Arrest by Motor Vehicle; Felony Possession of Schedule II Drugs; Felony possession of Schedule II Drugs with the intent to sale; Felony Possession of Schedule VI Drugs; Felony Possession is Schedule VI drugs with intent to sale; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Driving without a motorcycle license. For more information please visit www.johnsoncountysd.org.

Explore sustainable farming

October 31, 2018


Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture and the Organic Growers School are excited to announce a one-day visioning workshop for aspiring farmers! If you’re in the exploratory stages of starting your own farm, this entry-level workshop is designed just for you! You will receive practical, common-sense information on sustainable farming and how to move forward.

Participants will:
• Learn about sustainable farming careers in Western North Carolina.

• Discover and assess your resources, skills and farming intentions.

• Begin to develop an educational plan toward farming.

• Connect with regional training opportunities and support networks.

• Prioritize their next steps toward their farming goals.

• Hear from experienced farmers running successful farms in WNC.

What Past Participants Say:
“I realized my realities and where I am in my process of starting a farm and then all the resources that I was given to help me move forward with my plan. Also, the farmer panel was super informative.”

“I realized more about what would be a good fit for me. The resources shared are excellent.”

Featured farmer panel:
Casey Jordaan and Tyler Hoskinson of Mountainwise Farm, Zionville, NC

Casey and Tyler’s approach to farming and working with the land is an intuitive, collaborative process. By choosing cultural practices that are regenerative, earth-based and ecological, they focus on giving back to the land, for all that it abundantly gave to them. Focusing primarily on salad greens and mushroom production, they cultivate only one & a half acres throughout the growing season. Casey and Tyler participated in a Farm Dreams workshop in 2014 as they began to develop their farm.

Jacob Crigler of Full Moon Farm, Triplett, NC

Jacob and his partner Kara Dodson operate Full Moon Farm, a small farm dedicated to providing healthy, fresh food grown with horse power & earth centered values. During the growing season, they grow food for family tables and area restaurants and can be found at the King Street Market, High Country Food Hub, and their farm stand.

Workshop Details:
Saturday, November 10, 2018 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center
252 Poplar Grove Rd.
Boone, NC 28607

Cost: $55, $35 (Organic Growers School CRAFT & Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture Members)

For More Information and to Register, Visit: https://organicgrowersschool.org/farmers/farm-dreams/

Organic Growers School is the premiere provider of practical and affordable organic education in the Southern Appalachians, building a vibrant food & farming community by boosting the success of organic home growers and farmers in our region. Our hands-on training, workshops, conferences and partnerships inspire, educate, and support people to farm, garden, and live organically.

Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture is dedicated to strengthening the High Country’s local food system by supporting women and their families with resources, education, and skills related to sustainable food and agriculture.

GoJoCo Kids Club bicycle winners

October 31, 2018

Joco kids

Ben Nelson and Gunner Shull were excited to learn they were the winners of the GoJoCo Kids Club grand prize! Photo by Jana Jones

By Jana Jones

“My son wakes up on  Saturday mornings asking when we can go to the Farmers Market.” Gunner Shull’s mom, Danielle, told the GoJoCo Kids Club volunteers.

He added how excited he is to participate in the activities held at the Farmers Market from May until October.

“My sons are eating vegetables that I didn’t even know they would eat.” Julian and Daniel Palmer’s mom confesses.

The GoJoCo Kids Club at the Farmers Market began May of this year. As part of the GoJoCo Healthier Tennessee initiative, the Kids Club has multiple goals. The first goal is to teach children that they have choices of what to eat and why they would want to choose foods that are good for their body, help them run faster, think better and feel better rather than foods that can harm them.  They learned that eating healthy vegetables is fun and delicious.

Each week the participants made fun, healthy snacks like tortilla roll-ups shaped like mice or apple butterflies or red pepper spiders. The second goal of the GoJoCo Kids Club was to introduce children to active, simple games they can play in their free time. Each child had the opportunity to learn Chinese jump rope, hopscotch, or run in an obstacle course.

Any child that participated at least ten times from May until October had their name placed in a drawing to earn a free bicycle. This past Saturday, the six children who reached this requirement came to the last GoJoCo Club of this season to find out the winners.  The GoJoCo Committee members voted to not only give a bicycle to a younger child and one to an older child, but they decided to award every child a prize. The winners of the bicycle drawing were Gunner Shull, age 5, and Ben Nelson, age 10.  Additionally, Julian Palmer, Daniel Palmer, Evan Perkins, and Jillian Perkins were all awarded new scooters. Each child also received a helmet.

The Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) wants to thank the GoJoCo Committee members for sponsoring this bike give away and supporting the Kids Club in so many other ways.  The GoJoCo Kids Club will continue in 2019 starting the first Saturday in May at the outdoor Farmers Market. Beginning this Saturday, November 3, the JCFM will move indoors to the Welcome Center basement. Stay tuned to the latest updates by following the JCFM Facebook page.

Medicare open enrollment event

October 31, 2018

Medicare’s Part D Annual Enrollment Period is October 15 – December 7. This is the period each year when Medicare beneficiaries can join, switch or drop their Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage coverage. Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans change their coverage and costs each year, so it is important to review your plan and compare it to others on the market every fall. This year, the Johnson County Senior Center is partnering with the Tennessee State Health Insurance Assistance Program (TN SHIP) and ETSU’s College of Public Health to provide free and objective assistance in comparing Part D and Medicare Advantage plans.

Trained Medicare counselors will be on hand on October 18th from 9am-12pm to assist Medicare beneficiaries and their families in comparing Part D or Medicare Advantage plans for 2019. Appointments are preferred for this event. For more information and to set up an appointment please call (423) 727-8883.

Tennessee SHIP is a free program designed to help people in Tennessee with Medicare. Counselors are specially trained to answer questions and provide objective, easy-to-understand information about Medicare. SHIP receives grant funding from the Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, to provide direct, local assistance to Medicare beneficiaries through one-on-one, counseling sessions (both in-person and over the phone), presentations, and public education programs.

Peyton Pavusek named the Good Neighbor for October 2018

Good Neighbor October 2018

Sponsored by the local chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma International, this award recognizes students in Middle School who have a generous spirit, a willingness to help when needed, and who put others before self.  Peyton is described as a young man who is kind, honest, eager to learn and respectful of everyone with whom he interacts. He is a positive influence on his classmates and can be counted on to make good decisions. Dr. Robert Heath, Principal of JCMS, joined Sheila Cruse, representing Gamma Mu, in presenting Peyton with letters of congratulations.
Photo Submitted

Health Resources Center opens new Johnson City location

October 24, 2018

HRC ribbon-cutting

The Wellness Center partners with Ballad health to make the new Health Resources Center possible. Submitted photo.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – To better serve the community, the Health Resources Center of Ballad Health has relocated its Johnson City location inside The Wellness Center.The new location, which was unveiled during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, Sept. 28, expands the Health Resources Center’s space and offers easier access for the community, including a first-floor entrance and ample parking.

“Moving to The Wellness Center gives us the opportunity to expand our audience and serve even more people who are interested in improving their health and reaching their wellness goals,” said Laurel McKinney, manager of the Health Resources Center.  “We’re excited to serve our communities through this new center, and we thank Ballad Health for giving us the privilege to reach even more people.”

The Health Resources Center in Johnson City is located at 200 Med Tech Parkway, Suite 2A, and open to the public Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.  For more than 20 years, the Health Resources Center has offered classes, seminars, screenings and blood pressure checks to the public, as well as community events and outreach. The center is staffed with experienced registered nurses and other health professionals, including a registered dietitian and diabetes educator. In addition to its office in The Wellness Center, the Health Resources Center also has a location inside the Fort Henry Mall in Kingsport.

Haslam lead TN to celebrate children with Child Health Week 2018

October 24, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Governor Bill Haslam proclaimed October 1-7, 2018 Child Health Week in Tennessee. Child Health Week is a time to celebrate and raise awareness around what Tennessee is doing to promote the health of our most important resource: Tennessee’s children.

Behaviors that negatively impact health including excessive caloric intake, physical inactivity, nicotine addiction and other substance use disorders such as opioid misuse often begin in childhood. Together, these risk factors are known as “The Big 4” and are strongly tied to premature deaths among Tennesseans.

“The Tennessee Department of Health mission is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee, and that starts with us coming together in our communities to do all we can to protect our precious kids from the life-shortening diseases that can come from the Big Four,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH.

“While things like clean water, vaccines and well care prevent many of the deadly infectious diseases of the past, it is harder than ever for parents and caregivers to protect kids from nicotine and other addictive drugs, too much sugar and too little activity. Each of us has a role to play in doing our part to help keep Tennessee children safe, healthy and on track.”

Supporting Healthy Habits from the Start
Excessive caloric intake and physical inactivity contribute to obesity, which in turn may lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The TDH Gold Sneaker Initiative works to promote healthy nutrition and physical activity in early childhood by enhancing policies related to the health and wellness of young children cared for in licensed childcare facilities across Tennessee.Gold Sneaker-recognized childcare facilities agree to provide increased physical activity and age-appropriate nutrition for their children, as well as a tobacco-free campus. Learn more at www.tn.gov/health/goldsneaker.html.

Preventing Exposure to Secondhand Smoke
Exposure to secondhand smoke is a great threat to a child’s health. Adults who are using tobacco products are encouraged to call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine, a toll-free service provided by the Tennessee Department of Health for free, personalized support to assist Tennesseans in ending their tobacco use. Quitting tobacco use can be difficult, but the QuitLine provides support and free nicotine replacement therapy to increase the chances of success. For help, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The program is also available online at www.tnquitline.com.

Pregnant women can get specialized help in quitting smoking through the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program now offered at all Tennessee county health departments. Participants in this program earn vouchers for free diapers for each month they remain tobacco-free up to one year after their babies are born. Contact your local health department for information or visit www.babyandmetobaccofree.org/find-a-location/tennessee/ to find a location.
Preventing Substance AbuseOpioid addiction affects Tennessee’s children as their parents are lost to overdose, impairment or incarceration. Children who experience significant trauma during childhood are also at higher risk for drug use. Those seeking assistance can call the Tennessee RedLine 24 hours a day at 1-800-889-9789. Tennesseans can help stop opioid misuse by taking unused medications to a local prescription drop box. Find one by visiting http://countitlockitdropit.org/.

Engaging children in healthy behaviors and activities greatly reduces their risk for illness and death from chronic diseases. To see how Tennesseans across the state are celebrating Child Health Week, go to the Events Calendar at www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/mch/child-health-week-2018/chw-events-calendar.html.

Tennessee families are also encouraged to visit kidcentral tn, a one-stop shop to connect them with important information and resources provided by state government departments and agencies. The website features a comprehensive directory of state services for children and families. Learn more at kidcentraltn.com.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.

Eastern District of Tennessee to receive $294,968 to Combat Violent Crime

October 24, 2018

J. Douglas Overbey, United States Attorney

Staff Report

A recent release by the United States Attorney J. Douglas Overbey Eastern District of Tennessee’s office announced that Attorney General Sessions commemorated the reinvigoration of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.

The AG also announced awards of almost $28 million in grant funding to combat violent crime through PSN and another $3 million for training and technical assistance to develop and implement violent crime reduction strategies and enhance services and resources for victims of violent crime. That is good news for The Eastern District of Tennessee as the region was awarded $294,968 for use by the recently formed PSN Task Force, consisting of representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement, in its efforts to reduce violent crime in the district.

“Project Safe Neighborhoods is a proven program with demonstrated results,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “We know that the most effective strategy to reduce violent crime is based on sound policing policies that have proven effective over many years, which includes being targeted and responsive to community needs. I have empowered our United States Attorneys to focus enforcement efforts against the most violent criminals in their districts, and directed that they work together with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and community partners to develop tailored solutions to the unique violent crime problems they face. Each United States Attorney has prioritized the PSN program, and I am confident that it will continue to reduce crime, save lives, and restore safety to our communities.”

“We are committed to driving down violent crime across the Eastern District of Tennessee,” said U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey. “The PSN Task Force plans to attack the violent crime problem by identifying significant offenders and targeting them for prosecution. Though collaboration and cooperation with our  local, state and federal law enforcement and prosecutorial partners, our goal is to  reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer.”
The release in part added that PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.  As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Through the enhanced PSN, the Department is targeting the most violent criminals in the most violent areas, utilizing policing tools that did not exist even a few years ago. Tools like crime gun intelligence centers (CGIC), which combine intelligence from gunshot detection systems, ballistics, gun tracing, and good old-fashioned police work, help to develop real-time leads on the “traffickers and trigger pullers” who are fueling the violence in their communities. By using modern technologies and cutting-edge police work, the Justice Department is deploying resources strategically to provide the greatest return on our community-based anti-violence efforts, the release said.

Tennessee man gets 17 years for distribution of Methamphetamine and possession of firearm

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – On October 3, 2018, Trinity Scott Johnson, 39, of Morristown, Tennessee, was sentenced by the Honorable J. Ronnie Greer, U.S. District Court Judge, to serve 17 years in federal prison. Johnson pleaded guilty in July 2018 to conspiracy to distribute over 50 grams of methamphetamine (meth) or “Ice” and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.

In February 2018, following an investigation conducted by the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department, a suspicious person report to police caused Johnson to be arrested at an unoccupied residence in Morristown, Tennessee. When officers arrived, it appeared that the front door of the residence had been kicked in and Johnson was leaving the residence.

During a consent search of that residence, officers found a plastic grocery bag containing a large sealed bag of meth, a black bag containing four separate bags of meth, a camera case containing another bag of meth, a glass jar containing 15 bags of marijuana, and another separate bag of marijuana. The meth was field tested and weighed 1,169 grams. The marijuana weighed 25 grams. Officers also found drug paraphernalia, digital scales, two pistols, 17 guns, two shotgun barrels, numerous shotgun shells, 9mm rounds, and three .380 caliber rounds of ammunition in the residence. Johnson was interviewed and admitted ownership of the meth.

Johnson said he began using and selling gram quantities of meth in August 2016. After his first supplier was arrested, he found a new supplier who provided him larger quantities of meth. He admitted to purchasing ounce and half-kilogram quantities of meth from his second supplier on multiple occasions for approximately six months. After this supplier was arrested, Johnson found a third supplier who provided half-kilogram quantities of meth. Over the next six months, he purchased multiple half-kilograms of meth from the third supplier, until that supplier was also arrested.

While dealing with the third supplier Johnson met his fourth supplier who sold kilogram and half-kilograms of meth to him. Johnson stated that he always paid cash, $11,000 for a half-kilogram of meth, but could not recall how many times he purchased half-kilograms from this fourth supplier. He estimated he purchased at least 15, but not as many as 20, kilograms of meth from this supplier.

Johnson consented to a search of his residence in Morristown, Tennessee. During that search, officers located a safe in the bedroom closet containing seven guns and ammunition, 13 bags of meth, 12 bags of marijuana, a bag of cocaine, and drug paraphernalia (digital scales, empty bags, pipes). Field weight of the methamphetamine was 175.4 grams, field weight of the marijuana was 194.7 grams, and field weight of the cocaine was 8.1 grams.

All of Johnson’s co-defendants have pleaded guilty to offenses related to this conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing. Truman Lee Jones, 33, of Russellville, Tennessee, is set to be sentenced on November 11, 2018, and faces 10 years to life in federal prison. Amanda Marie Hilton, 36, of Whitesburg, Tennessee, is set to be sentenced on November 19, 2018, and faces five to 40 years in federal prison. Colby McGwire Scarlett, 20, of Morristown, Tennessee, faces 10 years to life in federal prison and is set to be sentenced on January 6, 2019. Jessica James, 30, of Morristown, Tennessee, also faces 10 years to life in federal prison and is set to be sentenced on February 6, 2019. Finally, sentencing for Megan Gilliam, 25, of Morristown, Tennessee, is set for February 11, 2019. She also faces 10 years to life in federal prison.

Agencies involved in this investigation included the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department and FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert. M. Reeves represented the United States in court proceedings. This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

This case was also the result of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s drug supply reduction strategy. OCDETF was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies in cooperation with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

Youth softball coach nabbed in TBI investigation

October 24, 2018

Shawn Braden

Staff Report

Special Agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation have obtained indictments for a Dyersburg man, who stands accused of exposing at least two girls he coached on a youth softball team to inappropriate photographs.
At the request of 29th District Attorney General Danny Goodman, TBI Agents began investigating Shawn Milton Braden, 32, on July 30.  During the course of the investigation, Agents developed information that Braden, a coach for a girls’ softball team for BigTyme Athletics in Dyer County, showed and sent inappropriate photographs to underage females on his team on several occasions earlier in the month of July.

On Monday, the Dyer County Grand Jury returned indictments, charging the Dyersburg man with two counts of Solicitation of a Minor and two counts of Soliciting Sexual Exploitation of a Minor by Electronic Means.
On Tuesday, he turned himself into TBI Agents and was subsequently booked into the Dyer County Jail on $10,000 bond.

Murder suspect commits suicide

October 24, 2018

Steve Mack Miller

Staff Report

The Carter County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Wednesday morning that Steve Mack Miller killed himself Tuesday night from a gunshot wound. Sheriff Dexter Lunceford stated the shooting took place last night and the department learned this morning he passed away from the incident.
Miller, 64, of Hampton, was charged with second degree murder in September in the shooting death of Alan Jansma at the Hampton McDonald’s according to the sheriff’s office. Miller was being held at the Carter County Detention Center but made bond last month. Miller recently appeared in court with his preliminary case being moved to November.

Second Annual Golden Mile boast of success

October 17, 2018

Golden Mile

Close to 130 senior adults met at the Senior Center for the second Annual Golden Mile. A few of the participants were (Left to right) John and Mary Forrester, Naomi Hammons and Glen Humphrey. Submitted photo

By Joan Payne

Rather than the previously planned venue of Ralph Stout Park, to enjoy a leisurely walk, more than 130 senior adults, met last month at the Johnson County Senior Center.  The venue change was the result of inclement weather but did not diminish the event’s spirit. The walk was first initiated by Johnson County Senior Center Director, Kathy Motsinger, a year ago to promote fitness and movement for all the participants.  Coordinated by former Johnson County High School physical education teacher and coach, Joan Payne, the Golden Mile was again a great success.

There was enthusiastic participation from those who were barely seniors to others who were 90 plus years young. All registered participants received a maroon Golden Mile t-shirt to commemorate the event and each of the 74 persons who completed any of the three levels of the “symbolic” Golden Mile walk were recognized with a gold ribbon for their efforts.

After the completion of their walk, the participants were also rewarded with a nutritious lunch/cookout, which was catered by the First Tennessee Human Resource Agency Nutrition Program with the able assistance of master grillers Terry Hodge and Robert Wilson.  They were well served by Center volunteers and JCHS students from the Lifetime Sports Club. Many of the seniors finished off their meal by preparing their own Smores dessert on an open fire pit on the front porch of the Center. The seniors participated in other activities such as billiards, table tennis, “corn hole”, Rook, and blood pressure checks while waiting  for all walkers to finish their trek.

Promotional and gift displays by local vendors were also provided by Amedisys, and Ballad Health. Randy Dandur and the “Famous Unknown” provided musical entertainment from many genres throughout the entire event. Shirts and meals for the event were graciously sponsored by members of the Extra Mile Ministries, Barbara Seals, Joe Herman, and Priscilla Herman. Shoun Lumber Company and J. R. Campbell, former JCHS basketball coach, provided unique woodcraft door prizes.  The blood pressure checks were compliments of the Johnson County Community Hospital.

The Johnson County Senior Center especially thanks community sponsors. Without support from the sponsors and others like them such special activities for our seniors to enjoy would not be possible.

UT Agriculture Chancellor and Extension faculty honored on the national level

October 17, 2018

UT Award winners

UT honorees pose together. Left to right: UT Institute of Agriculture Chancellor Tim Cross, Linda Bower with th UT Ext.’s Eastern Region Office and Ann Berry of UT Ext. Family and Consumer Sciences. Not pictured: Heather Sedges Walalce with UT Ext. Family and Consumer Sciences. Photo courtesy of the Greeneville Sun.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The humble gentleman who leads thousands of employees at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture statewide is being recognized for his commitment to Extension and outreach work.

UTIA Chancellor Tim Cross has been selected as the 2018 Distinguished Service Ruby Award winner by Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) – an organization that includes thousands of Extension professionals from land grant universities. He received the organization’s most prestigious accolade at the ESP national meeting Oct. 2 in Manhattan, Kansas.

“This is certainly an unexpected honor, and I’m truly humbled to receive this prestigious award from Epsilon Sigma Phi – an organization that I have deep admiration for,” Cross says. “I consider this a team award that I share with all those I’ve had the pleasure of working with throughout my career, including my Extension co-workers, industry partners and the generous donors who make so much of our work possible.”

Cross has an academic career that spans three decades and three states – including time at Fort Hays State University in Kansas and Oregon State University. In 1994, he joined UTIA in the Department of Agricultural Economics. Cross has also served as dean of UT Extension and is now UTIA’s third chancellor.

Cross has served on the National Extension Committee on Policy, National Council for Food and Agricultural Research, as well as the Tennessee Governor’s Rural Task Force and Health Committee. He established a strategic plan that has improved statewide Extension branding, implemented a peer mentoring program, developed professional development training for faculty and agents, and provided a healthy lifestyles program for all Extension employees.

Linda Bower, UT Extension Eastern Region leader for Family and Consumer Sciences, is the recipient of the ESP Administrative Leadership Award for her outstanding service as an Extension educator and for leadership. Bower is among four recipients for this national recognition.

Ann Berry with UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences and a past ESP national president, received the Continued Excellence Award for her exceptional service in delivering educational programs that significantly impact and improve lives. In her career, Berry has worked with Extension in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Heather Sedges Wallace, also with UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences, was honored by ESP with the Joint Council of Extension Professionals Award for Creative Excellence. Wallace was recognized for her innovative work that catalyzed rural community engagement in addressing wellness and childhood trauma using a policy, systems and environment (PSE) approach.

Cross credits the success of Extension to dedicated people and partnerships. “UT Extension has more than a 100-year history of advancing Tennessee, thanks to exceptional county financial support, dedicated employees and volunteers, and a strong partnership with our 1890 institution – Tennessee State University,” he says. “Long term successful state programs tend to result in professionals who are heavily engaged in associations like Epsilon Sigma Phi, providing effective leadership in the form of officers and receiving their share of recognition as award winners.”

School board votes for new security measures

October 17,2018


Mischelle Simcox, superintendent, and Cheri Long, Principal, stand with the Roan Creek elementary student leaders, Emma Eller, Catie McFadden, Amelia Stout, Gabbi Crowder, Vada Clifton, Hazel Luttrell, Bailey Martin, as they receive their awards. Photo By Megan Hollaway

By Megan Hollaway
Freelance Writer

The Johnson County School Board began this month’s meeting by honoring eight students, one from each grade at Roan Creek Elementary. The students nominated and voted to be the student leaders of each grade included, Bailey Martin, Hazel Luttrell, Vada Clifton, Gabbi Crowder, Amelia Stout, Catie McFadden, Logan Davis, and Emma Eller were.

Cheri Long, the Principal of Roan Creek Elementary, said, “We couldn’t have student leaders without good parents and good teachers. I would like to recognize both as we recognize these student leaders.”

Another school to be recognized is Laurel Elementary, for being named the reward school for Johnson County this year.The School Board also voted to install a new, special kind of security system. Raptor Technologies will be installed in every school throughout the county, within twelve to 14 weeks.According to school officials the security system will scan the ID of every individual to enter the schools, and ensure they are not on the sex offenders list.

“If a person on the sex offenders list were to enter a school, the principal and the school board superintendent would be immediately notified,” Johnson County Schools Director Mischelle Simcox.

Another use for the raptor technologies is an app designed for teachers to ensure the safety of their students during a lockdown. After being put into lockdown, the teacher would either check that yes, each student is in their classroom, or no, that one or two students were out of their room when the lockdown occurred.

“This allows for, if a teacher pulls a student out of the hall and into their classroom, there is a platform for teachers and administration at the school to know which students are accounted for,” Simcox said.

A few new items in the budget, such as the RN salary in the budget, to make a distinction from the LPN salary were also discussed. The supplies and materials allocations have been made to each school for the inter-and-extra-circular

The upcoming election may mean more money for county schools as the half-cent increase in sales tax in the county would bring in approximately two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in sales revenue for the schools.
For more information about Johnson County Schools please visit www.jocoed.net.