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Business owners form community advocacy group

Mountain City. Photo By Tia Thomas

By Meg Dickens

Local business owners in Mountain City TN, are making a concerted effort and are now reaching out to encourage positive change. And for a good reason. Johnson County got its name from early Doe River settler Thomas Johnson. Since its establishment in 1836, Johnson County and the county seat Mountain City have continued to change. Businesses come and go. Johnson County used to have a movie theater, drive-in, bowling alley, and a skating rink.
New businesses such as the Johnson County Center for the Arts, KFC, Taco Bell, and new liquor stores have shown up in the last few years.

As a community advocacy group, spearheaded by Mountain Antiques owner John Coolahan and Sassy Kats owner Sylvia Silverburg, the initiative is promising to deal with the public daily and field questions from visitors about changes. Both owners have a history of helping the community and decided to band together to encourage improvement and growth.

“We’re trying to gather like-minded people who love Johnson County, but think there are a few things that can be done to make it a little more special,” said Coolahan. “We will get everybody’s ideas to see how we go forward.”

Johnson County is rich in natural beauty. There are trails, waterfalls, and excellent trout fishing in the area that many people do not know about. Now Doe Mountain is the center of a new Adventure Tourism District, which should encourage new businesses to move into the area. Coolahan explained that in the past, local groups had had help. As part of the Downtown Committee, locals placed trashcans, put out flowers, and other similar acts to help the area. This committee no longer has funding.

Coolahan added that Johnson County qualified for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s Tennessee Downtowns program grant, which supplies funds to spruce up storefronts. Business owners only needed to pay a 25 percent match.

The new community advocacy group’s first meeting is scheduled to be held downstairs at the Johnson County Welcome Center on Thursday, February 20, at 6 p.m. During this meeting, the committee will officially form and decide on a specific mission statement. The meeting is planned as an open forum where anyone can voice their thoughts and concerns. Speak to John Coolahan or Sylvia Silverburg for more information or to join the group.