Atwood to play for King University

JCHS Longhorn 2019 stand-out Blake Atwood, right, with his father JCHS basketball coach Austin Atwood, has signed with King University for the 2019-2020 season. Submitted photo.

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

Johnson County’s All-Northeast boys’ basketball player of the year, Blake Atwood officially signed with King University for the 2019-2020, basketball season.
Several colleges were knocking at Atwood’s door for the chance to have the 6’2 point guard play for their schools, but after careful consideration, the young athlete chose King University.
The Mr. Basketball finalist says that his main reason for choosing King was the respect he has for head coach, George Pitts.
“Coach Pitts has been around a long time and is a great coach, the last half of the season he was at almost every one of my games,” Atwood said.
Atwood emphasized that Coach Pitts likes his team to shoot a lot of threes and play high-pressure defense adding “this playstyle fits me perfectly.” The respect is mutual with Pitts as well. The head basketball coach emphasized his choice for Atwood when he said, “I recruited Blake all season. I watched him play six to eight times, but when he got 34 points against Fulton at sub-state, I had no doubt I wanted him.”
Pitts explained how valuable Atwood will be for King basketball. “Blake is an excellent student, so I don’t have to worry about class issues, he knows basketball, he’s been well-coached, but the main thing is; he works hard and is committed to getting stronger.”
Pitts also feels that Atwood is the kind of student and athlete that King University looks for in a future enrollee.
“Blake has a good chance to play this year if he continues to learn and get better as he goes along,” he said.
Johnson County Coach and Blake’s dad, Austin Atwood couldn’t be happier with his son’s choice. “I like Coach Pitts, he’s a great coach and will be good for Blake.”
The JCHS coach has a lot of admiration for his All-Conference son as well, “Blake can score from all three levels, rebounds extremely well, and can defend; he’s just a tough, gritty, hard-nosed player that simply knows how to play; I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Blake averaged 27 points, seven rebounds, four assists per game and was around 92 percent at the free-throw line. He also dominated the weekly ranks among Northeast Tennessee Players in basketball and demonstrated there are talented athletes east of Knoxville.
The gifted player could have had his choices of
colleges, but his decision to play for a local university
will allow the Johnson
County community to watch him fulfill his lifelong
dream of playing college basketball.

Senior News

Seniors from the Johnson County Senior Center bring joy to residents at Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center during Cheer Up the Lonely Day. Seniors delivered home-made cards and brought smiles to residents’ faces.
Right: Teddy Bays visits with former senior center member Madge Taylor.
Submitted photos.

Greg asks: How can I help my elderly parents realize the limits they have as they age?

Hello Greg, and Thank you. This is no easy question to answer, yet a very important one for you and many others of your generation. In general, I would like to address some of the areas of concern that many adult-children care-givers are faced with.
Activities of Daily Living – Are they able to do their daily hygiene, make food, take out the garbage, clean, etc.?
Safety issues – Can they cook, walk, drive or bath safely?
Medical issues – Are they making and getting to appointments, reading labels of medicines, taking appropriate doses? Are their needs being met in the case of chronic illness or recovery from one?
Financial & Legal issues – Are their affairs in order, is their will up to date, do they have advanced directives, are the bills being paid, are they being targeted through identity theft or fear tactics to pay an unknown entity?
Environment – Is their home safe, does it need repairs or enhancements for safety and proper use?
Relationship issues – Are they able to communicate their needs and desires clearly, are family members being tolerant and understanding, are they able to find peace in their day? Are the important conversations happening to best ensure best outcomes?
These are just some of the issues that you are being faced with. In addition, the emotional push-back and out-right refusal of some elderly parents makes your role very difficult. How do you lovingly respect their desires, while insisting on modifying their lives? How do you deal with your own stress and guilt while doing this?
Without knowing the specifics, it is difficult to specifically guide you, but I would suggest that you look into these categories and start with making modifications to one at a time. If possible, get another adult that they respect to help support you, as this is a very emotional journey for the adult-children too, i.e., take care of yourself too!
I would suggest a best-selling book: How to Care for Aging Parents: A One-Stop Resource for All Your Medical, Financial, Housing, and Emotional Issues by Virginia Morris as I resource for your dilemma.
All the best, Greg. This is a tough one, indeed.

Johnson County School Board gives Special Education high priority

By Meg Dickens

With the start of the 2019-2020 school year only weeks away, members of the Johnson County School Board had a long list of topics to cover during its regularly scheduled monthly meeting held in Mountain City, TN, last week.

While all of the topics on the roster merit equal attention, one specific agenda item, namely Special Education, received some much-deserved consideration, especially since the program and what it should accomplish is often misunderstood.

Special education is the practice of educating students with a focus on their individual differences and needs. The program is for students with mental, physical, or emotional functioning ability issues as well as gifted students. These students do not fit with the pace of the established curriculum. This specialized care is part of the education system and comes at no extra cost to the families.According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 14 percent of the public school population is in some form of Special Education.

The Tennessee Department of Education states, “Special education is not a place. It is the most intensive intervention along the continuum of service defined by individual need, services, and placement.”

Special Education can be broken down into six major categories: Push-in Services, Pull-out Services, Inclusive Classrooms, Exclusive Classrooms, Specialty Schools, and Residential Programs. Johnson County Schools focuses on the first four categories that can be classified as Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

“Individualized special education services allow the majority of our special education students to earn a regular high school diploma, and many go on to college and other post-secondary programs,” said Special Education Supervisor Paula Norton. “There are several other diploma options for special education students who are not candidates for a regular diploma. The ultimate goal for our students with disabilities is to be a fully functioning member of the community, just like their typically developing peers.”

There are a few changes in Special Education staffing for Johnson County Schools’ 2019-2020 school year. Kim Laws will now work with children at Mountain City Elementary, and Allen Trivette will work with children at Roan Creek Elementary. Trivette worked in the Johnson County School system for a brief stint previously but resigned due to family illness. Both of these staff changes became effective on July 1, 2019.

Mountain City Elementary is still looking for a new Special Education teacher. The previously hired individual found a job closer to home and resigned. Anyone interested in the position should visit for more information or contact Special Education Supervisor Paula Norton at


2019 Adult Education Graduation sports sizable Johnson County class

By Tamas Mondovics
Johnson County graduates joined Washington and Carter County graduates for the first-ever, combined Adult Education Graduation Ceremony last month.
According to school officials, family and friends gathered at Munsey Methodist in Johnson City to celebrate the accomplishments of the 2018-2019 graduates ranging in age from 18 to 64, who earned their ‘High School Equivalency Diploma.’
The graduating class was made up of a diverse group of adult students with a desire to better their lives by attaining their goal of earning their diploma.
Nearly thirty Johnson
County residents earned their High School Equivalency Diploma this year, which has the potential to change the lives of the graduates and their families for generations to come.
In a recent release, the Johnson County Adult Education Office emphasized that earning an equivalency diploma opens doors for both employment and
educational opportunities.
“The majority of Johnson County graduates are now choosing to further their education, which is due in large part, to the Governor’s “Drive to 55” program, which offers two years of free college to Tennessee residents, regardless of age,” said lead Instructor Karla Prudhomme.
For more information or to register for classes,
call the Johnson County Adult Education office 460-3330.

Senior News

Members of the Johnson County Senior Center celebrate Fourth of July last week. The activities included food, and entertainment. Submitted photos

By Tamas Mondovics
As always, it has been a busy week for all members at the Johnson County Senior Center, located at 28 College Street in Mountain City, TN.
Between the Fourth of July festivities and the weekly health checkups, there was no shortage of activities that continues to be a much-welcomed feature of the center led by Kathy Motsinger and her talented crew taking care of the sizable crowd that visits the center each day.
“Our Independence Day Celebration was a nice addition to our weekly routine,” Motsinger said. “We had a fun party on Wednesday, July 3, as everyone ate free and played Bingo afterward.”
Festivities included the Senior Jam group that sang and entertained everyone. Patriotic music was played throughout the day, while everyone joined in for a fun sing along.
Of course, the annual event did not take focus away from the center’s weekly routine of health checkups. Blood pressure checks are available at the center every week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The center offers a wide variety of health-related services such as diabetes classes, the Silver Sneakers exercise program, health fairs, support groups, and more.

Programs such as the new Veterans’ Cafe allow seniors to connect with others in the same circumstances. Physician Dr. Daniel Jones noticed the positive difference the center makes.
Motsinger added that High Country Imaging will offer health screenings on Tuesday, July 30, at 10 a.m. For more information, please call the senior center (423) 727-8883.

Horseshoe tourney completes Fourth of July festivities

Winners of the Horseshoe Tournament at Ralph Stout Park on July 4, left, third place Ogene Greer, first place Lynn Combs and second place Bill Greer. Photo by Beth Cox

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

When the Fourth of July rolls around, most people think about fireworks and cookouts, but for nine people this Fourth of July meant horseshoe tournament time at Ralph Stout Park.
The sun was shining, and it was a bit warm but perfect for the annual tournament that has been bringing competitors to the park for more than fifteen years.
The event is held three times a year; Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day. The Town of Mountain City hosts the competition by providing signage, location along with trophies for the winners.
According to event organizers, the tourney is open to ages sixteen years and older.
Ladies and the guys play against each other, but women along with men over seventy years of age pitch the horseshoes from thirty feet away, instead of forty. The first person to get twenty-five points wins and continues to the next round. The tournament follows the horseshoe state rules.

From left, Lynn Combs, Charlie Coram, watch Ogene Greer as he sends his shoe towards the pit during the Horseshoe Tournament at Ralph Stout Park on July 4. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

Participants at this year’s tournament had an early prediction that the man to beat was Ogene Greer.
Greer did not disappoint throughout most of the tournament, as he easily made his way through the winners’ bracket and ended up facing off with his brother, Bill Greer in the semi-finals.
The competition against brothers seemed to have been going on for quite some time with Ogene usually coming out the winner; however, Bill had bragging rights in this year’s tourney by winning against his brother to
take on Lynn Combs in the finals.

Vietnam Veteran Charlie Coram pitching a horseshoe at the July 4 tournament. Photo by Beth Cox

Combs lost to Ogene earlier, but the tournament is double elimination, so Combs had the opportunity to compete in the losers’ bracket.
Combs pushed through beating James Sherwood and Elmer Johnson before pitching horseshoes once again and ultimately winning against Ogene which secured Combs a spot to the finals. Combs was the tournament winner with brothers Bill and Ogene capturing the second and third place titles, respectively.
The horseshoe tournament may not draw the spectators most sports venues do, but the game itself is about much more than horseshoes.
It is a slow pace, simple game that allows time for socializing and laughing with each other.

Elmer Johnson pitches the shoe to the pit as Michael Brennan looks on. Photo by Beth Cox

Mary Lou Brennan, who has been playing since she was a child but had been competing in Mountain City for the past two years said, “The horseshoe tournament is a nice social event for me and my husband, Michael to compete but also get to know people a little better and have fun.”

Levi Retireers giving back to the community

Bernice Reece of the Levi Retirees is shown presenting a check to Liane Lindauer of Children’s Bible Missions (CBM). The proceeds are from a Levi Retiree dinner for CBM held on Friday, May 3, 2019.

Bernice Reece of the Levi Retirees is shown presenting a check to Dennis Henson and Robin Cress of the Johnson County Shriners. The proceeds are from a Levi Retirees breakfast held for the Shriners on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Submitted photos.

TBI releases annual School Crime and Domestic Violence studies

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released two new studies today, detailing the volume and nature of crime on school campuses and crime identified as having a domestic violence nexus. Both studies utilize data from the Tennessee Incident Based Reporting System (TIBRS).

Among the findings of
‘School Crime 2018’:
•The overall number of offenses reported as having occurred on a school campus increased 13.9 percent from 2016 to 2018.
•Simple Assault was the most frequently reported offense, at 37.6 percent.
•The month of September had the highest frequency of reported school crimes.
•Females accounted for 53.3 percent of reported victims.

Among the findings of
‘Domestic Violence 2018’:
•A total of 73,568 offenses were reported as domestic-related in 2018, reflecting a decrease of 5.8 percent from 2017 to 2018.
•Of the reported domestic violence offenses, 49,455 of them were reported as Simple Assault.
•Females were three times more likely to be victimized than males, accounting for 71.1 percent of all reported domestic violence victims.
•Domestic violence was reported as a factor in 98 murders in 2018.
“The issue of domestic violence is by no means a novel problem in American society,” said TBI Director David Rausch. “The persistence of domestic violence and the large number of related incidents reported to law enforcement necessitate continued awareness about this issue.”
Both reports are now available for further review and download on the TBI’s website:

Dealing with heat stress in cattle

Submitted By Rick Thomason

Being proactive is the best approach for dealing with heat stress in cattle. Having a solid management plan in place to address heat stress could pay big dividends in the form of maintained animal performance during periods of heat and in avoiding death losses in severe cases. Here are 3 steps you can take to help deal with heat stress in cattle.

Step one: Identify animals that are most susceptible to heat stress.
•Animals that are overweight have the least amount of lung capacity relative to body weight.
• Animals that are very young and very old also are at increased risk. They do not have the physiologic reserves to withstand prolonged periods of heat.
•Animals with dark hides are at a higher risk of suffering heat stress. Deaths of black-hided cattle on pasture without shade and limited supplies of water have been recorded. Research has shown that in cattle that were genetically closely related but had different hide colors, cattle with dark hides had a 2 F higher core body temperature than their cohorts with lighter-colored hide.

Step two: Develop an action plan for heat stress. The action plan is the essential actions you will take to protect the animals most susceptible to heat stress. The action plan
should include the following:
•Animals in heat stress need to drink water, so have plenty of it readily available. Cattle consume more water on hot days.
•Provide shade. Providing shade stops solar radiation from increasing body temperature. Cattle will congregate naturally under available shade.
•Air movement is an additional factor that promotes animal cooling. A breeze or wind moving over the hide of cattle promotes evaporative cooling.
•Control flies as much as possible because hot cattle tend to bunch together and flies only will add to the stress of
hot days.
•And maybe the most important, do not work cattle during temperature extremes. If working cattle is absolutely necessary, keep working time as short as possible, use calm animal-handling techniques to minimize stress related to handling, and consider running smaller groups through the facility or into holding pens. Provide sufficient water in holding pens. Get started as early in the morning as daylight will allow. Do not work in the evening after a heat-stress day; cattle need this time to recover. Reconsider the necessity of working cattle during these periods; some working events need to be postponed or canceled.

Step three: Know when to intervene.
•Heat stress is driven by a combination of factors. Temperature and humidity are two of the most frequently cited issues. A Livestock Weather Hazard Guide can be found at:
•Understanding that heat stress in cattle is cumulative is important. If the evening temperatures do not cool low enough, cattle cannot fully recover physiologically before the next onset of heat. Cattle are at danger of death from heat exposure when the following occur:
•The heat index is 75 or greater for a 72 hour period
•The heat index during a 48 hour period is no lower than 79 during the day and no lower than 75 during the night
•The daytime heat index reaches 84 or higher for two consecutive days

Heat in summertime is not avoidable. However, you can take preventive measures before temperatures reach dangerous levels to minimize impacts of heat stress on cattle.

*Source: Dr. C.R. Dahlen, Beef Cattle Specialist & Dr. C.L. Stoltenow, Veterinarian; North Dakota State University

You’ve got this!

By Tracy Becker Licensed counselor tracy becker answers your questions.

Susan asked: What is a good parenting program?

I am so delighted to tell you all that she and I have been working to get Positive Parenting with a Plan by Dr Mathew Johnson together for her family. She couldn’t be happier.

Here are the positives she reported to me: 1) that the stress in the home is drastically decreased, because now everyone knows what is expected to them at all times. There is never any questions about behavior or consequences.

2) The children, ages 4 and 6, both boys, are thriving. The school year ended great. There are a lot fewer incidents of bickering, fighting and tattling. 3) She and her husband are now on the same page about parenting where this had been a struggle in the past.
4) She realized that both she and her husband were parenting from their own personal emotional state of mind, thus their reactions to the children were based on this and not on family values.

5) They feel completely empowered as a family and confident about the success and happiness of everyone through using this program. 6) The boys were very excited and enthusiastic about the program, and even at such young ages, understood all the family rules (based on family values) and participated in designing the program.

7) Both children love that the program is fair, and that parents have to abide by the rules too. 8) By using the Good Habit cards (the consequences) the children learn valuable life lessons and learn how to make positive contributions to their family and community.

Susan stated that the only downside was taking the time to train her and her husband to use the program all the time and not fall back into emotional parenting. She said it took about 2 weeks to adjust and now things run more smoothly than they ever thought they would.

I would like to thank Susan for trusting me to help guide her and her family on this journey. I am very happy for them. Please know I am available to teach you one on one, or you can always organize a group of parents that want to learn together.

Senior News

Robert Glenn celebrates with friends at the Johnson County Senior Center, after he won a silver medal and two gold medals from the games in table tennis. The senior center presented him with a special Olympic medal. Left to right: Vanessa Nelson, Robert Glenn, and Beverly Mckinney. Submitted photo.

Locals Ken Erickson (left) and Robert Glenn (right) represent Johnson County in the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The 2019 games were sponsored by Humana. Submitted photo.

Managing cool season lawns

By Rick Thomason

As we transition out of the spring and into summer, cool-season lawns in Johnson County need extra care. Cool-season lawns don’t like hot, humid weather. It becomes apparent when the days and nights start to heat up. Lawns can suffer if rain becomes scarce unless you have an irrigation system. This could be a possibility down the road.

Proper mowing is the best action you can take to help manage your lawn during the summer. Mow only when necessary instead of using a certain day of the week for your mowing day.Cool-season grasses slow their growth during hot summer days, so they may not need mowing every week unless we keep getting lots of rain.

Maintaining your mowing height between 3 to 3½ inches will help the lawn grasses recover much quicker and continue growing well during the hot summer days. Never cut off more than a third of the height of the lawn at one time. This means that you should time your mowing when the grass gets 4 to 5 inches tall and mow down to the height of 3 to 3½ inches. Regular mowing will help prevent the need for bagging the clippings. When the grass is cut regularly, clippings can be left on the lawn where they will decompose in a couple of days.

Never fertilize cool-season lawns in the summer. High levels of nitrogen can damage and kill these grasses during hot weather. Nitrogen in combination with hot temperatures encourages brown patches, a common fungal disease of cool-season grasses.

Try to avoid watering the lawn in the summer. The lawn can endure some dry weather, and sprinklers encourage the lawn to become dependent on frequent watering. If you start watering your lawn in the summer, you will need to keep doing this regularly or risk the loss of some of your lawn grasses dying. Frequent watering causes shallow root growth and makes the lawn grasses less drought tolerant.

By following these few simple practices in managing your lawn this summer, you should be able to enjoy a green and vibrant lawn this fall. Well maintained lawns and landscapes not only add to the aesthetics but also to the value of your home.

For more information on lawn maintenance, check out our UT Extension publication on “Fertilization and Management of Home Lawns” at

Honoring those who have faithfully served

Local Honor Guard members pose with Greg Poe, Pastor, First Free Will Baptist Church, Mountain City, TN Photo by Jill Penley

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

United States Congress and the Department of Defense have promised that every eligible veteran is entitled to a military honors funeral when they pass. The harsh reality is that our military is not always able to fulfill this promise. Fortunately, there are honor guards and other veterans’ groups who believe that this promise and this debt we all owe to our veterans needs to be a reality.
They stand in salute of fellow veterans as their family members say a final goodbye. Honor Guard members from East Tennessee help perform full military honors at veteran’s funerals weekly, sometimes daily. They volunteer their time to make sure their fellow men and women have a service they so much deserve.
“The rendering of Military Funeral Honors,” explained Terry G. Reece, who serves as Chaplain for the Johnson County Honor Guard, “is a way to show the deep gratitude to those who, in the time of war and peace, have faithfully defended our country.” An honor guard detail for the burial of an eligible veteran consists of not less than two members of the Armed Forces, is in fact, mandated by law.
Reece, who served in the US Army during Vietnam, considers it an honor to perform this service. He has participated in more than 1,000 funeral services in the past 30 years. “We have a great group locally,” said Reece, who said there are currently 18 local honor guard members. “We used to have more,” he said, “but sadly, all our WWII vets are now gone.”
Today, there are over 33 million living American Veterans who participated in America’s wars. Nationally there are more than two million living war era veterans who bear the physical and mental scars of wars fought during their lives. In the East Tennessee area alone, there are over 70,000.
With every day that passes, many veterans who stood in defense of our country die. Their only memorials are the grave sites throughout America.

Art Center salutes heroes

Tate Davis, United States Marines Photo by Tia Thomas

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

Johnson County Art Center director, Cristy Dunn has once again joined forces with local photographer Tia Thomas to work on another “journeys” showcase wall. The two partnered together for last year’s “senior picture day.”
This year’s wall is about local veterans, consisting of portraits and interviews. of the veterans.
“Everybody has a story, and everybody’s story needs to be told,” Thomas said, “I don’t think people realize how many veterans are in Johnson County, so we saw an opportunity to honor them and their legacy.”
Dunn and Thomas emphasized that it was imperative to feature WWII veterans because they are the oldest population, and it is important for people to hear their stories.
Both ladies expressed how honored they were to have the veterans share their stories.
“We knew it was important to hear the wisdom they shared, and to be able to archive these stories, so people will know there is so much more than what is taught in a history class.”
Thomas is responsible for the eighteen veterans’ portraits, which will be framed and hung on the wall, along with a video that highlights the veterans’ interviews. The interviews in their entirety can be seen on the Johnson County Art Center’s website.
Vietnam veteran Harold Mastranunzio sponsored the portraits, while Ken Wiley interviewed the veterans.
Wiley has significant experience in the area of interviewing as he has been collecting stories about
veterans for over twenty years. His work can be found at the Johnson County Library.
Kelley St. Germain from Germain Media and Appalachian Memory Keepers was responsible for filming and editing. St. Germain was so moved by the veterans’ stories; he did not charge for editing the videos.
Dunn shared a portion of what will be on display throughout July with opening day on the fourth. Ten veterans were interviewed for this unique project.
It is noteworthy that a couple of interviews have Dr. Rollin Vickers talking about the Battle of the Bulge and another has Bobbie Smith, who was the inspiration for the veteran wall, discussing the obstacles she overcame to achieve one of the highest ranks in the military.
Dunn and Thomas are grateful to all who sponsored this special event, former Sheriff Mike Reece, Iron Mountain Inn and funding by the Tennessee Arts Commission. Thomas explains how emotional the project was, “we were just amazed by their sacrifice and their humility.” The veterans’ wall will be open to the public
after the Fourth of July parade.
Below is a sample of Tia Thomas’ work, which will be featured in July at the Johnson County Center for the Arts.

Johnson County honors local veterans

The Johnson County Courthouse has permanent memorials on its lawn honoring soldiers and first responders. Decorations are added to the lawn each patriotic holiday. Photos by Meg Dickens

By Meg Dickens

The Tomahawk’s In Honor, In Memory special edition, pays tribute to local heroes from the past and present. Johnson County and the surrounding areas are dotted with memorials and programs dedicated to the cause. A few of these include the Johnson County Veterans Memorial Wall, the Johnson County Courthouse monuments, Butler Museum’s American Veterans Memorial Walk, and Damascus’ Wheel of Freedom Veterans Memorial.

Patriotic Holidays
There are many holidays focused on memorializing these heroes, including the upcoming Independence Day. Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day are frequently confused with each other. Gaining a better understanding can help locals celebrate to the fullest.
There is no affiliation with the military on Independence Day despite misconceptions. Gun salutes affiliated with this holiday represent the Thirteen Colonies and celebrate America’s break from England. Memorial Day and Veterans Day are very similar. The main dividing factor has to do with the focus. Memorial Day celebrates passed soldiers while Veterans Day celebrates both living and dead soldiers.

Ralph Stout Park holds the Johnson County Memorial Wall along with other monuments memorializing local veterans. Wayne Stegall, Worley Hall, and many more are honored at this site. American Legion Post 61 honored Glenda Smith on May 25, 2009, for her efforts to bring this memorial to life.
American Veterans Memorial Walk for Veterans of All Wars is a walkway made from individual bricks purchased by the public. Each brick is engraved in honor or in memory of any veteran. Interested parties can find this memorial across from the Butler Museum.
The Damascus Wheel of Freedom has five “spokes” representing different branches of the military. They all meet in the center where the American flag and military flags fly. This monument also has a POW and MIA chair set aside. Find
it at the Damascus Town Park.
The monuments at the Johnson County Courthouse honor locals lost in the armed forces and first responders alike. An empty seat is set aside in honor of the Prisoners of War (POW) and Missing in Action (MIA) soldiers. The courthouse dons festive outdoor decorations during Memorial Day.

Local Veterans Benefits
Good fortune came to local veterans in the form of retired Marine Ralph Hutto. Hutto advocates for veterans and helps them receive the compensation they deserve through his work with the Veterans Service office of Mountain City. Hutto also served with the Honor Guard and local American Legion.
“Our county is 13th out of over 90 counties in the state when it comes to revenue per veteran,” said Hutto.
The James H. Quillen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, known simply as the VA, is the source for local veteran care. This type of healthcare system provides for veterans regardless of their situation. Veterans can receive help with housing, employment, and caregiver support. Explore or visit the local VA for more information on possible benefits and qualifications.

Tennessee Wildlife Calendar Contest winners selected

By Tamas Mondovics

The winning entries for the much-anticipated 2019-2020 Tennessee Wildlife magazine photo contest have been selected by staff members of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and did not disappoint nature and photography enthusiasts.
According to TWRA officials, its staff have gone through and selected the winning pieces from hundreds of submissions and had the challenge to narrow the entries to 13 photos that will appear in the calendar issue.
The photographers with the selected entries are Jimmy Baker (Normandy), John Bell (Martin), Donna Bourdon (Ooltewah), Sharon Cardin (Nashville), Jeffery Cashdollar (Goodlettsville), Jennifer Jenson (Bowling Green, Ky.), Larry Patterson (Hendersonville), Rick Small (Rock Hill, S.C.), Brian Shults (Alcoa), and Mary Glynn Williamson (Nashville).
The 2019-20 calendar will begin with the month of August and continues through the following July. Other entries will be kept on file and could have the opportunity to appear in future agency publications and on the agency’s website.
The staff of Tennessee Wildlife congratulates the winners and reminds photographers that if your photo was not chosen, next year’s entry could be a winner.
Rules and deadlines for the 2020-21 Tennessee Wildlife photo contest will appear in future issues of the magazine and also in the fall on the TWRA website. Photographers will again be invited to submit their best photos on fishing and wildlife species native to the Volunteer State, and fishing and hunting scenes in Tennessee.
Of course, such contests are just a fraction of what the agency offers to residents. In a recent press release TWRA highlighted the agency’s mission, goal and purpose including it focus to preserve, conserve, manage, protect, and enhance the fish and wildlife of the state and their habitats for the use,
benefit, and enjoyment of the citizens of Tennessee and its visitors.
“The Agency will foster the safe use of the state’s waters through a program of law enforcement, education, and access,” the release stated.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency was established in 1949 and was called the Game and Fish Commission. Completely reorganized in 1974, it now consists of more than 600 professionals dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and enhancement of Tennessee’s fish and wildlife for the enjoyment of all Tennesseans and our visitors.
TWRA is directed by a 13-member commission of private citizens appointed by the governor, the speaker
of the House of Representatives, and the speaker of the senate.
TWRA is funded largely through the monies generated by licenses and permits purchased by hunters, anglers, and other outdoor-enthusiasts. Yet the Agency plays a major, though often unseen, role in the life of every Tennessean.

Art in the Garden event coming June 29

Staff Report

Whether you are looking for inspiration for your own gardening ventures or simply have an appreciation for beautiful landscapes, art and music, you need to make plans to be in Mountain City for Art in the Garden on Saturday, June 29.
Beginning at the Johnson County Center for the Arts at 127 College Street, the tour kicks off at 9 a.m. Tour goers may travel at their own pace to explore the exquisite gardens of Caroline and Wiley Roark, Brenda Church and Evelyn Cook, which are included among the Morning Gardens.
Lunch follows the morning tour at Silver Keys Bed and Breakfast in Doe from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. and is included with the purchase of the $20 Art in the Garden ticket.
During the lunch hour a contest for the wildest gardening hat or bonnet will be held as well as the drawings for some amazing prizes.
From 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. the Afternoon Gardens are all in the Circle Drive area and include the stunning grounds of Richard and Judy Walsh, Nancy Garrick, Sharon Cretsinger and Nancy and Gary Lewis.
“This special day will be a treat for all the senses and is a wonderful way to spend the day in Johnson County while helping support the Art Center,” said Nancy Garrick, event organizer. “We hope to make it an annual event.”
Proceeds from this event will go toward the Johnson County Center for the Arts’ building purchase. Advance tickets are available at The Johnson County Center for the Arts, Shay Brey, The Johnson County Welcome Center and House of Flowers.
Tickets may also be purchased on the day of the tour at the Johnson County Center for the Arts, which will open at 8:30 a.m. The rain date is the following Saturday on July 6.
For more information call, 423-460-3313 or 423-727-7988.Contact: Nancy Garrick 423-727-7988

Yards to Paradise: Tomatoes in every yard


By Max Phelps

Almost everyone can grow tomatoes, and there are at least a handful of good reasons for doing so.
Just about everyone loves tomatoes, if not fresh in a salad or on a sandwich, then in the form of sauce on the pizza or added to a homemade soup or something. And, they are so easy to grow that a
5 year old can do it. So, let’s take a moment to consider some tomatoes in your
yard, garden, planter or flowerbed.
The fruits from a tomato plant (we called them vegetables when I was a child) are nutritious as well as delicious. And, they come in many shapes and sizes, with the plants also having great variability.
I’ve often planted seeds to raise my own plants, but unless you have a greenhouse or grow room, plants obtained from the farm store or local greenhouse will bear fruit sooner than starting from seeds. Then, for larger plantings, or for later or main plantings, or for a fall crop, growing more plants from seeds is the cheap way to go, and you can also have whichever variety you want rather than buying only the plants grown for commercial sales. (Buying left over, deeply discounted, overgrown plants in July is also a cheap option—and if you dig a big enough hole to bury most of the stems, they will recover and grow well for you most of the time.)
Some of my favorites are Early Girl which I buy plants of for the quickest ripe tomato usually. Then, yellow cherry or pear tomatoes, Chocolate cherry, Black Krim, Celebrity and Mr. Stripey are often on my list. Except for the Celebrity, I usually start the others from seeds. But, with literally hundreds of tomato varieties in some seed catalogs, you can try growing many hybrids and many heirloom varieties. The old standby for canning tomatoes has long been ‘Rutgers’. Roma and other Italian meaty types make the best sauce or paste. Perhaps you should visit a local farmers market or co-op and try several tomato varieties.
Not everyone wants a traditional garden, or rows of staked tomatoes in the landscape. But, there are dwarf determinate types for a flowerpot. And there are tall-growing indeterminate types such as many of the cherry tomatoes which work well on a trellis or lattice or even in the back of the flower bed. My elderly mother has some growing up the porch railings. They can be tied to any pole such as that supporting a bird feeder or birdhouse. Or, if you just let them grow on the ground like watermelons or squash, you’ll still harvest many juicy tomatoes for the table over the course of the summer.
Some useful information in closing: There are various tomato diseases, and some of the newer hybrids have multiple resistances. On the other hand, if you’re using potting soil in a raised bed…there should be no diseases, so you may plant any variety you like. Newly cleared woodlands are usually free of diseases, too.
Take note of how many days from seed to ripe fruit, or how many days from seedling to ripe fruit. If you’re in a hurry for early tomatoes, don’t plant the “big boy” types that take 80 to 100 days to ripen. Likewise, in the fall, these big guys probably won’t ripen (although you may enjoy fried green tomatoes from them, or could put them in a sunny window or with ripening apples or pears to
help them turn from green to ripe).
Universally loved, and so easy to grow, and with them coming in so many flavors and colors, why wouldn’t you want a tomato plant? It is fun to watch things grow, and all the more if it’s also fun to eat them.
It’s not too late to get started, as tomatoes love warm weather and sunny days. They also do OK in partial shade and cooler weather. Temperatures in the 90’s or 100’s can stop some varieties from setting fruit until fall-like temperatures or monsoon season sets in. I think I’m going to check on the tomato seeds I planted last week, and maybe even plant some more in little pots. I hope you’ll be inspired to produce a fresh ripe tomato in your yard before the year is gone. You’ll be delighted with the results.
The author is a landscaper. Comments welcome. Email:

RC Jet Aerobatics National Championship makes debut in Mountain City

The 2019 RC Jet Aerobatics National Championship featured the skills and expertise of nine pilots from across the country last week. The event held at the Johnson County Airport proved to be a great success for the sport and is promising to soon return to the region for an even larger competition. Photos by Tamas Mondovics

By Tamas Mondovics

Nine pilots from across the country brought an impressive amount of aviation skill, experience, that displayed spectacular aerobatics to ensure the anticipated success of the first-ever large scale remote control Jet Aerobatics national Championship held last week in Mountain City, TN.
Event organizers could not ask for a better location, surroundings, and venue than the Johnson County Airport, 611 Airport Rd. just west of town, which welcomed the public for the three-day event.
“The airport and surrounding area are extremely beautiful and definitely a special place to fly,” said event organizer Matt Balazs, who traveled from Greenville NC, to welcome all participants and to make sure that the competition lived up to its name.

“Everyone was absolutely great to meet,” Balazs said, “We all very much enjoyed the hospitality, and support extended to us by Johnson County Airport manager Dave Garris, as well as the folks at the Pickled Beet restaurant, who prepared us some really amazing food. The entire experience was simply fantastic.”
While that may say a lot about the community and its desire to promote some of the best outdoor attractions and entertainment possible to the region, last week’s jet aerobatics championship put Mountain City on the map, with more to come.
Balazs explained that four classes were flown during the competition resulting first place winners that included – F3S – 1st place, Archie Stafford from Great Mills, MD, flying a CARF Mephisto; -Scale – 1st place, Rod Snyder from Johnson City, TN, flying a CARF Skygate Hawk; – Basic – 1st place, Adam Falk from Charlotte, NC, flying a Skymaster 2.5m Viper Jet, and – EDF – 1st place, Craig Baker from Appling, GA, flying a Freewing Singer 90.
The weekend’s competition is still very new for RC (radio controlled) jet aircraft. Many of the attendees for the event were regional, and national champions with aerobatic airplanes from two divisions including Pattern, and Scale Aerobatics, which according to Balazs, are 40 percent scale versions of full-sized airplanes.

“Turbine jet-powered aircraft are the most complex and the pinnacle of the hobby,” Balazs said, adding that these planes are difficult to really fly well, especially in a precision aerobatic event. “This is the newest aerobatic discipline to be recognized internationally by FAI, who is the world sanctioning organization for all air sports. This is drawing many people to the
Jet aircraft and jet aerobatics.”
Balazs put things in perspective as he talked about the bottom line and the competition’s future in connection with the region, when he said, “We are planning a much bigger event to be hosted in Mountain City next year, which will bring a much broader and diverse group with very different jet aircraft. Many of us have had the opportunity to fly all over the US, and some all over the world and will tell you that Mountain City is a very special place, definitely one of the best places to fly. We will be back.”
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More photos by Tamas Mondovics