By Meg Dickens
US Senator Marsha Blackburn paid a visit to Mountain City to meet with local elected officials and hear their concerns. A mix of state and county officials turned up, including County Mayor Mike Taylor, Tennessee Representative Timothy Hill, Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester, and Director of Schools Mischelle Simcox.
The event started with lunch catered by Johnson County High School Culinary Arts students featuring lasagna. Blackburn made a point to give the cook credit for his work. Officials made use of the cafeteria tables, taking several and
arranging them into a square so that everyone could see each other. Mayor Taylor said the prayer, and Senator Blackburn offered an open forum for everyone to voice any concerns.
“The purpose today is to meet with the local elected officials and hear firsthand how my team and I can best help and be of service to Johnson County and Mountain City and see where the emphasis needs to be,” said Senator Blackburn. “It’s great to hear from them. When you hear about things like needing to work with FEMA or needing Broadband grants, that helps us direct our activity and our energy.”
Afterward, Simcox took Senator Blackburn and company on a tour of the Johnson County CTE (Career and Technical Education) building. There Simcox briefed Senator Blackburn on current programs. Students in the construction program just sold their sixth house. The culinary arts program may be getting a food truck to serve the area. Senator Blackburn praised the school’s creativity in diverse student program options.
Blackburn had a few words to say about economic growth in the community and agreed that Tennessee is growing as a whole, and Johnson County has that potential as well. Instances such as the liquor ordinance are paving the way for new businesses to take root.
“You have a good team working together from the Chamber and local elected officials,” she said. “At the federal level, our job is to make certain that you have the right environment for business growth. That means lower taxes, less regulations, and less litigation. With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, Tennessee’s economy is growing gangbusters. You’re seeing more houses being built in Johnson County. That means more residents. You have a VA (Veteran Affairs) clinic that is going to be opening this spring. That means more people will be coming into the county. And, of course, tourism. What ‘s not to like about Johnson County?”
Blackburn also emphasized that the General Assembly is going back into session this week, and several bills related to the Second Amendment will be coming in. Johnson County Commissioners signed a proclamation during their December meeting that urges Representative Timothy Hill, Senator Jon Lundberg, and Governor Bill Lee to oppose Red Flag Laws and similar bills that would infringe on Second Amendment rights.