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Swift is thankful for his association with The Tomahawk

I am thankful to have been born and raised in Johnson County. It is here I grew up, went to high school and found the work I was involved in for over 30 years. I didn’t so much as dream of a career in newspaper work, but the door was opened and I am happy that I chose to walk through that door. Moreover, I am indebted to a number of wonderful co-workers, bosses and friends who have helped and encouraged me during the time I have been associated with The Tomahawk. My wife Mary has been very supportive and I am very thankful for her support.
After attending King College in Bristol and a stint in the Army, I went to work at Adams Grocery in Mountain City. Following that I was employed at Blue Ridge Shoe Company. While I was working at Blue Ridge Shoe Company as Supply Supervisor in 1973, I was offered a job at The Tomahawk. The paper was owned and operated by Derl and Gladys McCloud. I will always be thankful to them for their trust in me. Early on I began writing sports and I was Advertising Manager for a period of time.
I am thankful too for those who have allowed me to continue to be a part of the Tomahawk. The McClouds sold the paper in 1985 to the Jones family in Johnson City who owned several other papers across Tennessee, including the Johnson City Press. In 2002, the paper was sold to Sandusky Newspapers that has owned the paper since. During the Jones ownership, D. L. Hoover was editor for a short time. I understand he went on to become editor at a daily newspaper in middle Tennessee. Deidra Smith followed Hoover and served as editor for several years. Bill Thomas is Publisher of the Tomahawk. Angie Gambill is editor. Celia Pennington was a former editor. Lee Staiger was associate editor for a number of years before moving to Florida. To all I have worked with or for, thank you for being so kind and thoughtful over the years.
Matt Hill followed me as sports editor. After Hill left The Tomahawk, Jonathan Pleasant ably served as sports editor. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Tim Chambers who has recently taken the helm as sports editor. My wife and I really appreciate the nice article he wrote recently about us.
I have had the opportunity to meet many people in government or who were or are now involved in politics.
One of my most interesting experiences was when I was assigned to cover a Ronald Reagan’s appearance at the Dobyns-Bennett gym in Kingsport when Reagan was running for president against Jimmy Carter in the election of 1980. Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys were there to entertain. I came away with some pictures of the future president, two of which were featured in The Tomahawk. One photo and a story were on the front page.
After 30 years and four months, I retired from full time employment with The Tomahawk in 2003. After taking a month off, I began this column and I continue to enjoy writing it. This is my 582nd column.