NECX partner for Offender Resource Fair

By Tamas Mondovics

The Northeast Correctional Complex (NECX) 5249 Highway 67 West in Mountain City, TN, was pleased to announce earlier this month, the hosting of its offender resource fair.
According to NECX officials, the fair promoted a total of 15 partnering agencies and nonprofits from around Eastern Tennessee and was held to assist those within 18 months of their release date.
“The event was organized to put offenders nearing release in contact with those who can provide them access to the resources needed to be successful,” NECX stated in a press release.
Offenders at the event were provided the opportunity to meet and network with agencies that specialize in employment such as the American Job Center, as well as educational institutions such as Northeast State Technical Community College and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology.
“Our programming for reentry begins the very first day they [offenders] come into our custody, but once they begin nearing their release date, that’s when it’s important to augment that programming by bringing in community-based partners for the offenders to network with,” said James Bowman II, NECX’s Offender Workforce Development Specialist.
Additional partners from Tennessee Prison Outreach Ministries and other state agencies like the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Motor Vehicles, and Department of Labor and Workforce Development were also in attendance.
“By meeting and networking with the representatives present, we’re ensuring they’re equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary and vital to successful reentry,” Bowman II said. “When our offenders succeed, our communities are safer.”
On its website, NECX explains that the facility is a time-building prison with a close custody designation and that the prison also houses offenders of other custody levels. Three hundred offenders are located at the minimum annex site in Johnson County, while another 180 offenders, who are within ten years of their eligible release date, are housed in Carter County.
“NECX offers intensive substance use and anger management counseling programs. Both sites operate extensive community service programs, which provide thousands of hours of skilled and unskilled labor to state and local government, as well as nonprofit agencies in East Tennessee. NECX offenders may attend Adult Basic Education classes or one of six vocational programs. Those who do not have a high school diploma can earn a GED certificate. In addition, NECX has mandatory Career Management for Success and Release for Success programs for those nearing release.”
For more information, please visit

Local organizations receive $60,000 in grant funding

Members of the Johnson County Community Foundation (JCCF) Advisory Board, (back to front, left to right), Russell Love, Dorothy Shupe, Dick Grayson, Brenda Potter, John Payne, Carol Stout, Cloyce Eller, Peter Wachs, Karen Cunningham, Tom Reece, Barbara Henson, Jane Ann McGee
(JCCF Chair), Minnie Miller, and Trudy Hughes (ETF Vice President for Regional Development).
Not pictured, Barbara Seals. Photo by Katie Lamb

By Katie Lamb,
Freelance Writer

Nearly twenty Johnson County programs and projects received a total of $59,700 in grant funds at the annual grant awards reception hosted by the Johnson County Public Library, Monday, July 15, 2019.
The Board of Directors of the Johnson County Community Foundation (JCCF), an affiliate of East Tennessee Foundation (ETF), presented the numerous awards.
Trudy Hughes, ETF Vice President for Regional Advancement, states, “JCCF Board members work diligently throughout the year in many service capacities.
“One is to evaluate each grant application, complete site visits, and then evaluate and determine the awards,” Hughes said. “Today, the grant award will be presented by the site visitor from the JCCF Advisory Board.”
Local government agencies, various academic programs, school organizations, as well as, senior facility assistance endeavors
and community service proposals, were several of the grant
Awards ranged from $1,200 to $3,000. Johnson County High School, Johnson County Middle School, along with, the Humane Society, the Arts Center, Friends of the Library, Second Harvest Food Bank, and the Senior Center are a few of the very appreciative grant receivers.
“We could not have done this without your very appreciated support,” a common quote from most recipients.
The JCCF and the ETF collaborate frequently distributing funds to deserving programs, individuals, and projects in the form of scholarships and grant monies.
Hughes said that while many JCCF scholarship recipients, were honored during the May awards ceremony, a prior recipient’s note demonstrates the importance of the funds and how they work supporting the community and Johnson County residents.
In part, the note read, “I received a 2008 scholarship – family and health issues occurred, yet I was able to retain this scholarship. ‘I now work in Social Services in Roanoke, VA, and have obtained my Master’s in Human Services. ‘I start my MSW in 2020, and I am thoroughly excited about it. ‘I am extremely grateful for all your organization does, has done for me, and will do for others. ‘I am ecstatic to be able to make donations now to assist other children. ‘I just felt the need to share with you how critical you were for me and how much of a difference you made for me.’”
Jane Ann McGee, JCCF Advisory Board Chair, thanked, all in attendance and said, “We the JCCF Advisory Board thank you for all the service and support you provide to our community and residents.”
For more information or to see a list of all recipients, visit For more information about grants and applications, contact Trudy Hughes at 877.524.1223 or
For more information about JCCF, to make donations, or to apply online, visit

Gardening provides much-needed therapy for seniors

Breaking green beans is something familiar for Doris Stout who has always enjoyed vegetable gardening.
Photo by Jill Penley

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

Gardening is one of the healthiest and best activities for people of any age, including seniors and seniors living in nursing homes, the benefits of garden-related activities are abounding.
It is for this reason, Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center of Mountain City, planted a vegetable garden this year involving residents and staff members in gardening activities,
raising physical activity levels and providing opportunities for meaningful interaction.
“Gardening and garden-related activities can be a fun way of getting nursing home residents more physically active and engaged,” said Lisa Stout, Quality of Life Director at Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center. “Gardening can also be a way of getting all members of the nursing home community involved in a common project.”
For those whose health will not allow the actual tending of the garden, plenty of other garden-related activities are necessary and can be beneficial like breaking beans. “In this area especially, we have a lot of former farmers or people who spent most of their lives outside,” said Mary Robinson, who met with Mike Penley, Maintenance Director and Mike Brooks, together they were able to get the ground ready for planting. Stout and Robinson assist the residents with the project. “Being inside all of the time is really tough for them,” said Robinson, “so this program provides an activity that they can relate to, that they enjoy.”
One gentleman who isn’t physically able to work in the garden keeps a close eye on it. “He’s always telling Mary if a groundhog has been visiting the vegetables,” said Stout.
The garden has made all the difference in the world to patients like Madge Taylor. While physically unable to help in the garden, Taylor certainly enjoys stringing and breaking green beans. The vegetables, including squash, cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, beans, corn, and beets, are continuing to grow and residents have already enjoyed some. “We’ve had fried squash this week,” said Stout, who expects to have a hefty harvest of beans in the next few weeks. They also planted pumpkins for the fall.
“The residents don’t stop living just because they come to a nursing home,” said Stout. “We want them to continue to live and continue to make memories.”
In addition to being therapeutic, this special vegetable garden has the ability to stimulate all five senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. For an older
adult who feels as though they’ve lost their purpose, gardening delivers a sense of meaning and accomplishment.
“It gives them a piece of home and familiarity,” said Robinson. “It makes them proud to see that something they created is being used.”
Numerous studies suggest the benefits of horticultural therapy and garden settings in reduction of pain, improvement in attention, and lessening of stress.
Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation’s parent company Signature HealthCARE, headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is a family-based healthcare company that offers
integrated services in 10 states.

City working on package store applications timeline


By Jill Penley

While the liquor store referendum passed in Johnson County with broad support on Nov. 6, eight months have now passed, and nary a package store has materialized proving the process is anything but simple. Since Tennessee alcohol laws are distinct in that they vary considerably by county, new laws and ordinances had to be written, reviewed, and approved before any applications could be accepted.
“We have received two package store applications,” said George Wright, city attorney, “including one from an LLC.” Wright also indicated one other potential applicant, as inquiry has been made with City Hall administrators as to the application process.
“The city council has now established a regulatory structure for the new ordinance,” explained Attorney Wright, “ensuring it is compliant with a state law that stipulates reasonable access to package stores.” Items contained within the ordinance include liquor store licensing, fees, hours of operation, store locations, store size, signage, record-keeping, enforcement, and penalties.
Wright also explains local grocery stores can begin selling beer after making an application and obtaining a license to do so. “Grocery stores” is the term used in this article to mean “food retail stores” defined by the state of Tennessee as stores with at least 20 percent of its sales from food and are at least 1,200 square feet. It excludes most convenience stores and gas stations.
One of the local Mexican restaurants has reportedly applied to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission for a “liquor by the drink” license; a type of license that is handled by the state.
Tom and Becky Stanley report they have done everything they know to do to open “Black Bear Wine & Spirits,” their proposed package store in Mountain City.
According to Becky, the couple ran the “Notice of Intent” in the newspaper
for the required time, completed the Application for Order of Compliance, and submitted it at city hall on June 7.
“We have purchased the property, and invested in-store fixtures like coolers, shelving, etc. in hopes of preparing the store to open as soon as possible,”
Becky said. “We have optimistically begun building renovations, but have had to postpone them while we wait for an Order of
Compliance from the City, which is required before applying to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.”
Since the Town of Mountain City adopted the ordinance establishing specific regulations regarding the retail sale of liquor, two applications have been
submitted, and the city attorney and chief of police are processing the applications, and background
checks are being conducted. If all specifications are met and the background check
is clear, an ‘Order of Compliance’ is subsequently issued. At this point, an application can be made at the state
level. After a completed application for a retail store is received, the application must be placed on the
agenda and approved by the TABC commission at a regular monthly commission meeting.

Family fundraises for toddler’s service dog

Kourtnee Dawne Peters, age 4, was diagnosed with ONH and autism by age 2. She is nearly blind and suffers from social anxiety, sensory overload, and many other symptoms
Submitted photo.

By Meg Dickens

Childhood is an important step in growth and development. Children should feel safe and protected.One Mountain City family is taking steps to make this possible for their little angel with man’s best friend.Four-year-old Kourtnee Dawne Peters struggles with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH) and autism. She deals with sensory overload, social anxiety, trouble communicating, motor difficulties, and noise sensitivity on a daily basis. Between her sensory difficulties and near blindness, Peters’ family realized that she is in desperate need of comfort and a seeing-eye service dog, thus launching Kourtnee’s Paws of Hope, a campaign through Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers (SDWR) to raise money for the cause.

“For her, this will make her life a lot better. We want to try and make her life more comfortable,” said Mountain City resident and Peters’ great uncle David Torbett. “We can make it where she is not so scared in life.”

One major hurdle that stands in the way is cost. Service dogs cost approximately $25,000. The exorbitant cost led the family to ask for local support.The family have hosted a yard sale, spaghetti benefit dinner, and will host a benefit bass tournament on Friday, July 19. The upcoming fundraiser will be at Fish Springs Marina at 191 Fish Springs Road in Hampton from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cost is $35 per boat with a maximum of two contestants per team per boat.

Approximately 58 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the cause while the other 42 percent goes towards the tournament. Call David Torbett at 423-895-2453 to register.
The family has raised more than $4,000 so far; a good start, but a long way to go. The goal is to provide Kourtnee a furry companion to keep her calm, safe, and

Area residents are asked to please support Kourtnee at the upcoming fundraiser or directly at her campaign on SDWR at

UETHDA to host JC Commodity Food Distribution

By Tamas Mondovics

The Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency is hosting a Commodity Distribution for Tennessee residents.
UETHDA officials said that the distribution is now scheduled for Wednesday, July 17, 2019 at the National Guard Armory at 1923 South Shady Street.
“Items will be distributed
on a first come first served basis to income eligible households
until all commodities are gone,” said UETHDA Assistant Director of Community Services, Shounda Stevenson in a recent press release adding that all recipients must be residents of Tennessee.
This project is funded under an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
To pick up their commodities, recipient must present a light blue colored commodity ID card, which is obtained by completing an application at the Neighborhood Service Center.
“We strongly encourage each recipient to complete the application the week prior to the distribution, this will be helpful in reducing wait time,” Stevenson said.
Staff will be available on site during the distribution to assist in acquiring a commodity card. If someone is picking up your commodities, they must have your ID card and be authorized on your application; limits to pickup are five (5) orders.
This year’s event will begin at 11 a.m. and will end at 1:30 p.m. or earlier if food is no longer available.
Volunteers may be available to help elderly and disabled persons carry their commodities.
A word of caution, of course, is that misrepresentation of need, or sale
or exchange of USDA commodities is prohibited and could result in a fine,
imprisonment, or both. USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance Program is available
to all eligible recipients regardless of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Civil War historian and author Michael C. Hardy

Michael C. Hardy is an American historian and author of Civil War and western North Carolina books and articles. Submitted photo.

By Tamas Mondovics

Do you have an ancestor who served in the Blue or Gray? Are you interested in finding more about his service? Or do you maybe need help understanding his records from the National Archives? Are you interested in finding a Civil War Ancestor?
The Johnson County Historical Society presents Michael C. Hardy, award-winning historian and author of twenty-four books, offering a one-day workshop on Saturday, July 27 from 1-4 p.m. at the Johnson County Library 219 N Church St Mountain City TN.
Michael C. Hardy has a passion for nineteenth-century Southern history, and is considered the “Nation’s foremost author on the Confederate Soldier.” His writing reportedly adds flesh to the vast gaps in the official Confederate records.
Hardy has penned twenty-three books, including two new releases in 2018: General Lee’s Immortals, a history of the Branch-Lane Brigade (Savas Beatie), and
Kirk’s Civil War Raids along the Blue Ridge (History Press).
Hardy’s articles have appeared in numerous magazines, and he has been featured in the recent Blood and Fury: America’s Civil War on the American Heroes
Channel and Civil War Talk Radio.
In 2010, the North Carolina Society of Historians named Hardy the North Carolina Historian of the Year. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama, and since 1995, has called western North Carolina his home.
Cost for the workshop is $10. Seating is limited. For reservations, please contact Kelly Turner at the Johnson County Welcome Center 423-727-5800.

Courthouse deals with HVAC issues

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

When the Johnson County Courthouse was constructed in 1958, architect Clarence B Kearfott and contractor, J.E. Green Company, gave little thought to central heating and even less to central air. During this time, oil and gas furnaces were improved and made more efficient, with electricity becoming the critical source of power for building systems. In the 1920s large-scale theaters and auditoriums introduced central air conditioning, and by mid-century forced air systems, which combined heating and air conditioning in the same ductwork set a new standard for comfort and convenience.
Basic heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, composed of compressor drives, chillers, condensers, and furnace, designed for even distribution, began cropping up. Consequently, almost any business or government agency has the potential to realize significant savings by improving its control of HVAC operations and improving the efficiency of the system it uses.
Per state law, the sheriff has charge of the courthouse and its upkeep, unless the county legislative body specially appoints another person for that purpose.
The law specifically directs the sheriff to “prevent trespasses, exclude intruders, and keep it and the grounds attached thereto in order, reporting from time to time the repairs required, and the expense, to the county legislative body.”
While Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester acknowledges and accepts responsibility of the security and maintenance of courthouse, his office is not in the courthouse. It is, for this reason, the county mayor assists in the process. “We inherited this antiquated building,” said Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor, “and find ourselves dealing with a roof in need of repair and sometimes heating and cooling issues.” Taylor, who isn’t sure of the age or installer of the HVAC equipment, reports poor results in having repairs completed on the unit, but has recently tracked down a company familiar with the type of system currently being utilized and plans to meet with a representative next week to discuss the situation.
“I think he will be able to give us a much better overview of what our problems are and how we can successfully make repairs,” said Mayor Taylor.
Usually, building codes and regulations govern building environments, but it’s the occupants that determine whether or not the indoor environmental quality of a public building is acceptable. Complaints about the building being too hot, cool, humid, stuffy, and/or noisy — or complaints arising due to downtime of the HVAC system — interfere with normal operations.

Continued local support needed

By Tamas Mondovics

While small in numbers, the Johnson County Humane Society has served the county well this past year and three major areas.
First on the list, by the numbers is the organization’s spay and neuter program that served 299 animals, 129 dogs, and 170 cats.
Since 2001, the Johnson County Humane Society has neutered 6428 animals, 3110 dogs, and 3318 cats at the cost of $293,565.
The organization also reported that its third annual shot-day program inoculated 250 dogs with rabies and disease preventive vaccines at no cost to county residents. We also donated 55 disease preventive vaccines to the Mountain City animal control facility.
Third, the organization has micro chipped 14 animals, at cost, to eight owners in the event Pats or lost or stolen.
“We will continue our current spay and neuter program this year, with society funds as well as grants from the state and county community fund,” said Johnson County Humane Society Board of Directors Chairman, Richard Dione. “Our spay and neuter chairperson, Joyce Gryder and grant manager Annette Sepaga have managed the programs in an excellent manner.
The society also emphasized that its rabies disease protection program for dogs is so popular in the community, it is planning on hosting the event again next year, and it also plan a cat protection program for the coming fiscal year.
“Our animal protection program is managed by chairperson Nella Dione and her great staff of volunteers,” he said.
Dione added that aluminum can sales totaled $1025.25 this past year and wanted to thank everyone who contributed their cans to the society at its container drop points located at Food Country and Food Lion stores.
“Please continue your support as all proceeds are used to help finance the programs noted above,” Dione said. “Much appreciation to Terry Wintroub for his dedicated efforts managing this program.”
The Johnson County Humane Society board again wants to thank all society members, volunteers, and friends who have contributed their time, talent, energy, and money to the organization’s various activities.
Pet owners, animal lovers, or a concerned citizen who would like to see the programs mentioned above continued or expanded, are asked to join by calling
727–4665 for society information or check the website at

Cancer Support Group thanks community for generous support

Johnson County Cancer Support Group director Flo Bellamy (second from left) is joined by Levi Retirees, Bill Adams Bernice Reece, Mae Matheson and Caroline Reece while receiving a generous donation of nearly $4,000. The donated funds were the result of a two-day fundraiser event recently held by the Levi Retirees. Photo by Rita Hewett

By Tamas Mondovics

To thank the community for their effort, Johnson County Cancer Support Group director Flo Bellamy expressed her appreciation to everyone who contributed to the Levi Retiree’s roadblock.
“This is a community effort of neighbors helping neighbors when they hear that word “cancer,” Bellamy said after receiving nearly $4,000 from the recent fundraiser.
Bellamy emphasized that Johnson County residents have always been there for each other, which clearly contributed to the event’s success.
“For two days you and the awesome Levi Retirees and friends set an example of how a community which comes together with love and compassion,” she said adding, “working together we can make a difference. We raised $3,945. Thank you so much.”
As often reported by this publication, the Johnson County Cancer Support Group’s work is always needed as new patients come to the attention of the group each week.
“We see three to four new patients per week with most of the diagnosis being lung and breast cancers,” stated
Bellamy in an earlier interview.
All funds given to the group are used to help Johnson County citizens only, so it allows community members to benefit their friends and neighbors throughout these difficult times directly.
“All of the money we receive is used to help Johnson County Cancer patients
and their families. Bellamy said.
Anyone needing more information about breast cancer can find valuable resources at,, as well as For local community members looking for guidance and support, the Johnson County Cancer Support Group can be reached
by calling Flo Bellamy
423-727-2942 or 423-727-9558.

Garden tour celebrates natures beauty

By Tamas Mondovics

Organizers of the long-anticipated Art in the Garden Tours that featured the work of local artists on and off the canvas could not have asked for a more beautiful day over the weekend to welcome a sizable crowd that sought to celebrate the county’s abundant beauty.
In advance of the special day, Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor proclaimed the week of June 23 thru June 29 as Art Appreciation Week for Johnson County
According to artists and guests, the event combined the arts, music, and gardening, and was a partnership between the Johnson County Arts Council and the Johnson County Center for the Arts.
“It was a great success and has paved the way for more of such celebrations to come,” said local artist Lewis Chapman, who was just one of the number of artists that joined a musician in each garden, while visitors enjoyed discussions on growing different plants.

The daylong celebration began at 8:30 a.m. at the Johnson County Center for the Arts with the purchase of a ticket and, of course, coffee.
The garden tour was organized by Nancy Garrick and Evelyn Cook encouraging guests to visit each garden until noon.

A hat competition for Garden Hats and Fancy Hats with first, second, and third place winners, were also on the roster. The contest title went to Kelly Turner of Mountain City.
All were urged to join the party and celebrate the county with its beauty and Art. Proceeds will be used to benefit the Johnson County Center for the Arts.
“This special day was a treat for all the senses and was a great way to support the Art Center,” Garrick said.
The day’s success has prompted organizers and participants to begin planning for next year, and beyond; making Art in the Garden Tours an annual celebration.
Proceeds from the event will now go toward the Johnson County Center for the Arts’ building purchase.

Special Person of the year

Johnson County Senior Center Director, Kathy Motsinger is joined by a group of senior residents and members of the Beta Theta Club, while being presented with a special person of the year award last week. Submitted photo.

By Tamas Mondovics

What qualifies someone as an extraordinary person? Well, the Special Person Committee of Beta Theta Club had no problem answering the question last week by choosing Johnson County Senior Center director Kathy Motsinger as a Special Person for the year 2019.
While shedding a few tears, Motsinger humbly enjoyed the spotlight on Friday, June 21 as dozens of seniors cheered her on in agreement of her nomination and subsequent recognition at the senior center.
“Kathy has made a major impact in our community since overseeing the Johnson County Senior Center,” said Sharon Holder with the Beta Theta Club. “She brought in her decorating abilities and right away improved the appearance of the center as well as arranged for more activities and equipment for the seniors to enjoy.”
Holder emphasized that trips have been a favorite part of the center, and dinners and dances have come to life. Of course, without fundraisers and work, such special events would not be possible.
That is where Motsinger’s talent enters the picture.
“Fundraising is constantly on her agenda to raise monies that are needed for prizes and goodies for bingo and fun holiday get-together not to mention equipment and renovations at the center,” Holder said.
Thanks to Motsinger’s skills, zeal, and desire to get the job done, there is no shortage fun and games including crafts, quilting, line dancing, billiards, card playing,
storytelling, music, exercising and food at the senior center.
“We wouldn’t want to forget all the health checks and informative information that is provided for our seniors,” Holder added.
The newest undertaking is My Ride TN; offering transportation to seniors without wheels.
Holder concluded, “Without a doubt, Kathy Motsinger is an extraordinary person.”

Johnson County Republican Party holds a quarterly meeting

Members of the Johnson County Republican Party meet in the Welcome Center in Mountain City. The crowd enjoyed refreshments and a motivational talk by Randy Brinkley. Submitted photo

Submitted by
Jeannie Countiss

The quarterly meeting of the Johnson County Republican Party was held June 13th at the Welcome Center. A large crowd attended and enjoyed an array of refreshments and a motivational talk by Randy Brinkley.
JCRP Chairman, Karen Weaver, introduced several ideas including billboard placements, opening, and location of the Republican Headquarters in town and upcoming events planned.
For questions or are interested in becoming a part of our active Johnson County Republican Party, please contact Karen Weaver at

Partnership leads to healthy initiative

Local residents and community leaders gather for a photo during the opening of a second medication drop box at the
Johnson County Community Hospital in Mountain City. The effort to properly dispose of out-of-date, unused or unwanted medications is a partnership between A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition and Ballad Health Foundation. Submitted photo.

Submitted by
Trish Burchette

MOUNTAIN CITY, Tenn. – The A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition – in conjunction with Ballad Health Foundation – has installed a second medication drop box for residents to safely dispose of unwanted, out-of-date and unused medications.
The new medication drop box has been installed at Johnson County Community Hospital in hopes that the community will feel comfortable with disposing of out-of-date, unused or unwanted medications, no questions asked.
“A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition is very excited to be able to partner with Ballad Health Foundation to offer another avenue for preventing misuse of medications,” said Trish Burchette, executive director of A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition. “We appreciate all the support our community and our coalition receive from Ballad Health on this and our many other projects as we work together to envision a community free of substance misuse.”
Unlocked medications can be a potential hazard for young children who can accidentally gain access them. Also, these medications can be stolen and possibly resold in the community, which poses an additional hazard. The drop box will remain locked at all times and is only emptied by deputies with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department. Medications are then disposed of properly at an off-site location.
The first drop box in the community was placed at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department in 2016 and is still in use.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition to furnish the funds
needed for a secured drop box for unwanted, out-of-
date and unused medications,” said Karen Clark, corporate director of fund development for Ballad Health Foundation.
A.C.T.I.O.N (Alliance of Citizens Together Improving Our Neighborhoods) Coalition was established in 2006 as a non-profit organization funded in part by state and federal grant funding. One of the grants the coalition
received establishes guidelines to help fight the ongoing issue of opioid misuse and abuse. The installation of a new drop box is one of the initiatives supported by this grant.

Chamber Dinner: Former Mayor among JC Chamber annual awards recipients

Submitted by Jeannie Countiss

The Johnson County Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual awards dinner, June 7th at First Christian Church Life Center.
“The event was well attended and a wonderful dinner was provided by the Pickled Beet,” Jeannie Countiss said.
Chamber President Gina Meade presented a look at the upcoming projects the Chamber is working on.
The July 4th celebration in Ralph Stout Park and parade, a Truck ad Tractor Pull, July 20th in the Chamber park are a couple of fun events planned.

Annual awards recipients:
•Mac Wright Citizen of the Year presented by Frank Arnold to Larry Potter.
•The Mary Nave Ahrends Volunteer of the Year award presented by Gina Meade to John Payne.
•The Business of the Year award presented by Steve Bishop to
Big John’s Closeouts.

Each presenter described the meaning of the awards and how they came about. All recipients were very pleased and surprised.
The Johnson County Chamber of Commerce’ offices are based in the Welcome Center located in Mountain City, which is the Johnson County seat. The Chamber is a business network to
further the interests of our members by advocating on their behalf. It is dedicated to the social and economic improvement of our business members and our
local community. It supports and sponsors many community events.
Town and communities associated with Chamber’s functions include Butler, Laurel Bloomery, Mountain City Neva, Shady Valley and Trade.
Johnson County boasts of being known as Mountain and Lake Country rich with protected natural resources for outdoor adventure destination for the whole family to visit, play and stay.

Miss Tennessee Outstanding Teen Taylor Parsons host local blood drive

Coach Zach Pittman is getting ready to donate blood at the First Christian Church Thursday and supporting tennis player and Blood Drive Coordinator Taylor Parsons. Photo by Beth Cox

By Beth Cox
Freelance Writer

The rain did not dampen the commitment of participants who came out to donate blood and to support Miss Tennessee Outstanding Teen Taylor Parsons who hosted her first blood drive held last Thursday at the First Christian Church.
Parsons was pleased with the success of the well-organized event and grateful to everyone who donated blood.
The dedicated JCHS senior began planning the drive in February because of the time and effort that is involved in having a successful event.
Parsons explained that first, she signed up with the Red Cross and then met with the East Tennessee regional coordinator in Kingsport.
Before hosting the local blood drive, Parsons attended the Life Saver Breakfast both in Kingsport and Nashville.
As a Red Cross advocate Parsons also used the radio, church “call-outs” and social media to get the message out about not only the blood drive but helpful facts about the importance of blood donation.
The teen is passionate about her Miss Tennessee Outstanding Teen’s platform, “The Color Red,” which emphasizes the importance of blood donation.
“One pint of blood can save the lives of up to three people,” she said, “which is why I feel compelled to expand my advocacy throughout the state.”
Parsons next goal is to have a blood drive in Nashville. She is currently collaborating with other coordinators across the state to make her goal a reality while encouraging people to get out and donate blood.
“Everyone can become a hero by sitting in a chair for about ten minutes and give someone a chance at a new day,” she said.
Parsons will be in Knoxville next week for the Miss Tennessee Pageant, and in July, she will be in Orlando, Florida competing for the national title.
The ambitious teen states,” I just hope to put our little town on the map.”

Economic development; Lee says rural broadband is key for state

By Tamas Mondovics

Improving rural broadband connectivity took center stage when Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee spoke to members of the newly renamed Tennessee Broadband Association earlier this month in Franklin, TN.
Lee associated prosperity and leadership with the availability of broadband Internet speeds in rural communities stating, “all areas of the state need to prosper for Tennessee to be an economic leader, and is a key to helping rural Tennesseans thrive.”
With that, Lee pledged to help foster solutions for rural broadband expansion in the future. “What happens in rural Tennessee profoundly impacts every Tennessean,” he said.
To highlight the issue during the governor, shared his personal experience and told his audience that he could not get broadband internet speeds at his home while stressing that the lack of connectivity is crippling for someone running a business or pursuing a degree.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Lee said. “Every single person in Tennessee’s life can be improved by the things that we do together.”
Lee zeroed in on economic development, health care, and educational opportunities as areas where he felt reliable broadband would have the most significant impact on rural Tennesseans.
“We’re moving in the right direction and doing what needs to be done,” Lee said, adding, “Government can’t provide broadband services all over the state. But government has a really important role. We create an environment for collaborative partnerships that will help to solve the problems of our day.”
It is where looking to the Tennessee Broadband Association, formerly the Tennessee Telecommunications Association, for the solution becomes clear.
According to officials, the Tennessee Broadband Association is comprised of independent and cooperatively owned companies that reportedly connect nearly 30 percent of the state with broadband and related services.
Together these companies are said to have invested more than $240 million in recent years to connect rural Tennesseans with fiber networks.
As to how and when all of this will takes shape remains to be seen, but Levoy Knowles, executive director of the Tennessee Broadband Association, has full confidence in Lee’s promise of support when he said “Gov. Lee has established himself as a champion for rural Tennesseans. We were honored to have him speak and believe that his time with us highlights his commitment to rural broadband expansion.”

County Commission: Updates, clarifies multiple policies

By Bethany Anderson
Freelance Writer

Policy updates took center stage during the monthly Johnson County Commission meeting held last Thursday, June 20.
After the opening prayer by Rick Snyder, the Pledge of Allegiance, roll call, and just one absence noted, the Commission had a full quorum to continue the meeting.
The topics at hand included adding a new policy to clarify the currently non-existent policy concerning culverts on properties that have a “right of way.”
The new policy states that the county will not be responsible for any maintenance on these culverts. The responsibility is to fall on the property owners.
With this being considered an “informational” policy update, not a new policy, it was noted by County Attorney Perry Stout that there would be no need to make a formal notification to residents.
It was also brought to the attention of the Commission that there are currently “at least three maybe more” versions of the County Employee Handbook.
Because they all state slightly different policies for county employees, it was suggested that the Commission make some edits to consolidate them into one comprehensive County Employee Handbook.
County Attorney Perry Stout gave the Commissioners a proposed version of the handbook to look over and make suggestions for further changes or edits.
The two biggest requests for edits concerned the drug testing policy and the holiday pay policy, both of which were addressed by Stout and Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor.
Also of concern was whether job openings would have to be posted before they are filled internally.
The suggested policy regarding holidays would state, “Employees must work the days before and after a holiday in order to be paid for that holiday.”
Stout had a request of the commissioners to add a statement clarifying that, “This policy is to be enforced at the discretion of each department head.”
The current drug policy does not call for mandatory drug testing. The suggestion made by Stout was (aside from those jobs in the Highway and Transportation Departments who have federal requirements) to again leave this up to department heads whether or not to require mandatory testing before employment is offered
When the Commission was asked to clarify who would be responsible for paying for any “mandatory” drug testing, it was stated that this would be paid for from the county budget, not from each department’s individual budget.
The Commission also decided that job openings should be posted on the county’s bulletin board, located in the courthouse, for at least one week before filling the position.
Snyder suggested, and Stout agreed, that because there were so many proposed changes that it would be best to take the time between meetings for all to review and submit any other suggested changes. The updated version will be presented at the next County Commission meeting for all to cast their vote.

Parcels evaluated for Select Tenn PEP program

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

To grow and strengthen the state’s economy, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) works to attract new businesses and facilitate the expansion and growth of existing businesses. Since Johnson County was chosen to participate in the latest round of the Select Tennessee Property Evaluation Program (PEP), things have been happening.
According to Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor, members of Austin Consulting, based in Cleveland, Ohio, were in the area recently to begin assessing and evaluating the potential of four separate parcels – two on Highway 91, North and two on U.S. Route 421 South – for possible industrial uses.
“They felt we had some great sites,” said Taylor, who explained the process of site certification. “They examine land with apparent potential for becoming a quality industrial site, and complete an extensive site
development plan, which includes conducting geotechnical services, boundary surveys, site plan development, storm water plans, utility commitment securement, and zoning and building code assessment.”
According to Taylor, a report will be available in the next 30 to 60 days evaluating the sites for future industrial use, identifying the one that best meets requirements, and establishing the next steps for final selection.
“One of the major benefits is the state will advertise the site as a certified site,” said Mayor Taylor. “The program will market the sites to a targeted group of
site selection consultants and business leaders in Tennessee’s key industry clusters.”
The Select Tennessee Certified Sites Program was developed as a rigorous process aimed at elevating Tennessee’s sites to the level of preparedness necessary for corporate investment. TNECD has launched a new website ( to market sites certified through this program to site selection consultants and business leaders in Tennessee’s key industry clusters. TNECD’s business development consultants and staff utilize the information provided in the certification process to give site selection consultants and prospects the full picture of available sites in Tennessee. Select Tennessee Certified Sites have a unique advantage when presented, due to the comprehensiveness of the information assembled.
For more information, please visit, Follow on Twitter and Instagram: @tnecd,

“Bicycle Pump Track” opens at Ralph Stout Park

By Tamas Mondovics

The recently announced installation of a bicycle pump track is now complete, and open for use within Ralph Stout Park in Mountain City.
The track is just one of the improvements that Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons had on his to-do list.
“Our plan is tailored not just for our young people but for our senior citizens and everyone in between,” he said.
The effort resulted in the announcement earlier this spring to add one of the newest phenomena, a bicycle pump track to the town’s list of outdoor activities.
As soon as it opened, the track, which is a small, looping trail system that one can ride continuously without pedaling was filled with young people riding their bikes and scooters.
The speed along the pump track is dependent on a person’s ability to gain momentum by “pumping” the tight terrain transitions of the track.
The Town of Mountain City along with the county received a grant to install the new addition to the park.

Children can ride bicycles and scooters to take advantage of the recently installed bicycle pump track at
Ralph Stout Park in Mountain City. The small, looping trail system allows a person to ride continuously without pedaling, welcomes young and old alike for a fun outdoor activity.

City Council approved moving forward with the project several months ago and promised to open the pump track in early summer.
“What makes this project even sweeter is the fact it is paid for entirely with grant money,” Parsons said in an earlier interview. “A lot of my focus as mayor has been and will continue to be working on issues to help our youth. I am really excited about this project because it can be used by both young and old.”
Children, beginners, amateurs, pros, and senior citizens on bikes, skateboards, inline skates and scooters are all allowed to take advantage of the track.