Two year-old struck by stray bullet

Staff report

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office confirmed today that two-year old  Ariel Salaices of Laurel Bloomery was struck in the right side of the head by a stray bullet on March 15, while playing outside her home.  

According to information currently available at least part of the bullet remains embedded in the child’s head and the little girl is now being treated at the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Johnson County Sheriff Eddie Tester confirmed with tea media outlets morning that JCSH is still investigating the scene, where the bullet came from, and who did the shooting. 

According to News Channel 11 Christina Salaices has said that she was at work when she got  the news from local dispatch. 

“911 called me to tell me that I needed to call home, so I did and they told me they were flying her out to Johnson City…at that time I didn’t know what was going on,”  Salaices said. 

Salaices soon learned that in fact a stray bullet hit her daughter, Ariel Salaices, as she was playing on a playset in her own backyard.

The bullet that hit the back of Ariel’s head had reportedly ricocheted off of a metal post on the swing and slide set

Ariel was first flown to the Johnson City Medical Center for treatment before transported to Knoxville.

Anyone with information as to who may have been discharging a firearm in the area at that time is asked to please contact the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department.

One adult, two children taken to hospital after Hwy 167 crash

 

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, around 5:30 p.m. last Wednesday, a crash occurred near the entrance of Roan Creek Elementary School sending several people to the hospital, including two children.

A Mitsubishi Eclipse being driven by 28-year-old Joshua Phillips of Mountain City was reportedly preparing to enter the school parking area from Highway 167, when hit from behind by Dodge Ram pickup truck driven by 28-year-old Morgan Roush of Butler.

Phillips and his niece and nephew, ten-year-old twins, were taken to the Johnson City Medical Center.

Roush and his female passenger, four years old, were reportedly uninjured.

Charges are pending.

Butler Man killed in Hwy 67 crash

One person was killed and another injured in a crash on State Route 67 on last Monday.

 

The Tennessee Highway Patrol says Erick Edwards, 34, of Butler, was killed in the accident that occurred when his vehicle turned into the path of a semi-truck driven by Timothy B. Laws, 59 of Mountain City, who was also injured in the accident. The fatal accident took place at the intersection of Highway 167 and Highway 67, where several wrecks have occurred in the past few years due, at least in part, to an incline approaching the intersection which can limit view of a vehicle attempting to pull onto Highway 67.

 

 

Johnson County Farm Bureau Women National Agriculture Week Photo Contest

The photograph entitled “Tending the Sheep” (above) submitted by Joshua Ransom, a 6th-grade Home School student won first place at the recent Johnson County Farm Bureau Women National Agriculture Week Photo Contest. All submitted photos are on display at the Johnson County Center for the Arts located at 127 College Street in Mountain City, TN.

By Leigh Anne Shull

The Farm Bureau Women were pleased with the participation of 15 students from Johnson County in its recent photo contest, which focused on featuring local agriculture.
The photo contest was held and organized in celebration of National Agriculture Week (March 10-16,2019), and encouraged local students grades fourth through 12 to enter photos with the subject of “What does Agriculture mean to you?”
“We would like to recognize several students and their hard work and entering their photographs,” said Leigh Anne Shull.
The first place photo titled, “Tending the Sheep” entered by Joshua Ransom, a 6th- grade Home School student is a delight.
The second place photo entitled, “Farm 4 Life “ entered by Eli Dickens, a 6th-grade student from Roan Creek Elementary is another great piece.
The third place photo titled, “Country Beauty” entered by Sadie Hood, a 6th- grade student from Mountain City completed the top three spots.
A number of students also received honorable mention for their effort among them, Josie Grindstaff (5th grader – Mountain City Elementary), Hailey McCoy (5th grader – Mountain City Elementary), Kloi Hopkins (5th grader -Roan Creek Elementary), Emily Roark (5th grader – Roan Creek Elementary), and Deklan Thomas (10th grade Homeschool student).
Other participants in the contest included Cheyenne Combs (6th grade Homeschool), Jack Csillag (5th grader Roan Creek Elementary), Adam Manuel (11th grader- JCHS), Brady Matherly (6th grader-Doe Elementary), Margaret Morrow (12th grader- JCHS), Emily Orr (5th grader- Mountain City Elementary), and Madilynn Triplett (7th grader-JCMS).
Appropriately, all of the photos are on display at the Johnson County Center for the Arts located at 127 College Street in Mountain City, TN.
The Center for the Arts is a comprehensive art center serving the residents of Johnson County and surrounding communities and visitors to the area who are seeking authentic Appalachian artwork as well as meaningful events and enrichment experiences.
With its focus on young artists, the local art community, and Appalachian culture, the objective is to provide a place for artists of varying ages, abilities and interests to flourish by offering a venue to showcase, sell and encourage growth and learning.
Thanks to the results of the recent photo contest, the Center has every reason to be a proud supporter of the young artists.
The Farm Bureau Women would like to congratulate these students and encourage the public to stop by the
Arts Center to see the winning and honorable mention photos. Anyone interested in joining Farm Bureau Women may email fbwjoco@gmail.com with any questions.

THP targets seat belt usage statewide

By Jill Penley

Statistics don’t lie.
One of the safest choices drivers and passengers can make is buckle up.
Since state troopers are now asked to prioritize aggressive seatbelt enforcement, the admonition is a top priority now more than ever.
“In 2017, Tennessee’s average seatbelt usage rate was 88.51 percent,” said Tennessee Highway Safety Office Director Vic Donoho. “Last year, the usage rate was 88.77 percent. Through increased education, enforcement, and community involvement, we’re striving to achieve 100 percent.”
The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) has received $100,000 in federal traffic safety grants “to provide increased enforcement, public awareness campaigns and assistance to help reduce serious injury and fatal crashes on state roadways in 2019. Historically, approximately 50 percent of Tennessee’s traffic fatalities involve unbelted individuals.
The grants received recently from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and distributed through the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO), is to be used to increase seat belt usage statewide by implementing a new campaign “Belts Eliminate Loss Tragedy and Suffering,” or BELTS.
According to officials, the goal of the program is to increase the current seat belt usage rate of 88.51 percent by conducting Safetybelt School Zone Enforcement blitz in each of the eight THP Districts each month. THP will also conduct nighttime safety belt saturations.
The ultimate hope is to see a reduction in the number of fatal and injury crashes with unrestrained drivers by increasing the number of motorists wearing seat belts.
The last time Tennessee increased the seat belt fine was in 2016. Fines for not wearing a seat belt increased to $25 for a first-offense violation and $50 for second and subsequent offenses.
According to the clerk’s office, with court’s costs included, a seat belt citation in Johnson County now is $30 for the first violation and $55 for each after that.
Notwithstanding the court’s costs, the same state law specifies where the fine money goes. The law states, “the revenue generated by $15 of the $25 fine for a person’s first conviction shall be deposited in the state general fund without being designated for any specific purpose,” with the remaining $10 being “deposited in the state general fund and designated for the exclusive use of the
division of vocational rehabilitation to assist eligible individuals with disabilities,
as defined in § 49-11-602, who have been severely injured in motor vehicle accidents.”
The same formula applies for the second or subsequent conviction with the first $30 deposited into the state’s general fund and the remaining $20 deposited in the state general fund and designated for the exclusive use of the division of vocational rehabilitation to assist eligible individuals with disabilities who have been severely injured in motor vehicle accidents.
In neighboring North Carolina the penalty for a front-seat occupant’s failure to wear a seat belt is $25.50
plus $153.50 in district court costs.
Tennessee’s seat belt law is “primary enforcement,” meaning an officer can pull you over and ticket you solely for not wearing a seat belt. Drivers can also be fined for their own seat belt violation as well as the seat belt violation of passengers under 18 years old. Any passengers 16 or older who have a driver’s license will be ticketed for their own seat belt violations, though.
Another misconception is the utilization of the shoulder belt. Whatever seat belt is available must be used to its full capacity.
Both the shoulder belt and lap belt should be used when both are available.
State law mandates that your child should sit in the rear seat (when available) until they turn nine years old. However, children age 12 and under should ride in the back seat of the vehicle whenever possible as the back seat is the safest position for children.
With younger children, car seat and booster seat laws must be obeyed.
“Every year, traffic safety advocates, non-profit organizations, emergency response personnel, law enforcement, District Attorneys’ offices, and other state agencies across Tennessee seek funding through grant applications offered by the THSO,” said THSO Director Vic Donoho. “Applicants who meet the required data-driven criteria and highway safety standards are awarded grant funds to support the THSO’s mission to reduce traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities.”
Car seat and booster seat requirements can be found at www.tn.gov/safety/publicsafety/newcrd.html.

New hunting, fishing licenses required

By Megan Hollaway

Area residents now gear up for the warmer weather of spring and summer in Johnson County, are encouraged to start thinking about licensure for hunting and fishing.
That is because last year’s licenses have all expired on February 28, and before any avid fisherman or hunter can even think about catching the big one or a new set of antlers for the wall, must have a new license.
The beginning of trout fishing season is the first weekend of April, and there is only a few weeks left to get that spot on the river and bring home some of the first trout of the season for dinner.
According the State of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) the new 2019-20 Tennessee hunting and fishing licenses are now on sale.
Officials said that more than one million licenses are expected to be purchased this year.
Several ways to obtain a fishing license this year, including going online at any point at www.GoOutDoorsTennessee.com, downloading the” On the Go App” or visiting any approved licensure renewal locations in Tennessee.
For the avid hunting and fishing fan, there is a choice to buy a collectors card. This collector’s card is water proof for all the high waders and all fall-off-the-boat-ers. It also features the picture of either a duck hunting scene or a largemouth bass.
Johnson County is known for its beautiful and abundant wildlife, from the babbling Doe creek with its crawdads and little fish to the large portions of the Cherokee national forest filled with deer and birds.
The county’s natural charm and beauty are owed to local hunters and fishermen as one hundred percent of the hunting and fishing licenses fees actually goes toward the preservation of our natural wildlife.
TWRA officials emphasized that hunters and anglers have been funding Tennessee’s and the nation’s wildlife conservation for more than 100 years through license purchases.
“License purchase returns taxes paid on firearms, archery equipment, fishing gear and boat fuel to Tennessee at a rate of up to $40 per year so a license purchase is a great investment,” said Lee Wilmot in a recent press release, explaining the importance of license purchases. “This successful funding system is the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration program, which is the largest driver of wildlife conservation nationwide.”

Community supports annual 4-H Chili Cook Off and fundraiser

Winners of the annual 4-H Chili Cook Off line up for a photo at Roan Creek Elementary School. L-R, Maddie Colson, Dylan Belvins, Allie Colson, Noah Reece, Kiley Reece, Shaydun Keith, Emma Savery The event saw a large crowd of local residents who have supported the students and enjoyed the tasty selection of Chili. Photo by Sarah Ransom

By Sarah Ransom

Roan Creek Elementary School saw a sizable crowd while it hosted the annual 4-H Chili Cook-off.
Event organizers enjoyed the participation of the 18 teams of children in the tasty competition as emphasized that had the opportunity to feature three children per group.
Of course, the judges were in for a delight as they tasted delicious chili after delicious chili.
The Johnson County 4-H members were clearly committed to making their best chili to share with the community.
The winning teams included: Emmy Savery and Shaydun Keith for the unique chili.
Kiley, Noah and Sylas Reece won best for home-style chili and Dylan Blevins, Maddie Colson and Allie Closon for spiciest chili.
The trio’s work was also voted as the 2019 People’s Choice Chili.
Whitney Colson, 4-H Mom, stated “My kids enjoyed the event, they loved cooking the chili and being together with cousins. They enjoy serving the chili; it gives them a chance to feel grown-up. It’s a good thing for kids to be able to learn to cook and learn life skills.”
The Johnson County Schools and Dr. Cheri Long have received much appreciation of helping to host this year’s event.
It is said that the beauty of the 4-H program is that it’s a community program that impacts every child, which Danielle Pleasant, 4-H Agent, did not hesitate to acknowledge when she said, “The chili cook-off is a wonderful opportunity that showcases our 4-H’ers and the life skills they’ve learned.”
Pleasant added that the annual Chili Cook-off event is about more than just making a delicious pot of chili.
“Our kids learn teamwork, communication, presentation, and speaking skills,” she said. “Additionally, many work closely with friends and family to perfect their recipes allowing those relationships to build and become stronger. This event also brings our community together, allowing our volunteers, donors and supports the opportunity to interact with our youth.”
More than a hundred and fifty residents were present throughout the event, some even taking some chili home with them at the end of the night.
But the chili was not
all that was enjoyed that night.
“It’s a great function for the community and gives the opportunity for the kids to be involved in their community,” 4-H dad, Matthew Lewis said. “It’s also a good fundraiser for 4-H.”
The evening ended with a dessert auction where everything from fried apple pies, cakes, cupcakes, brownies, fudge, and coated popcorn went up for auction.
All proceeds are used in the coming year to conduct more STEM projects, communication lessons and build life skills in our children.
The community is now looking forward to the event next year.

 

Hot wheels

Local cub scouts win top spots at annual Pinewood Derby

By Bethany Anderson

The 2019 Pinewood Derby first place winner Luke Anderson, left, is joined by second and third place winners Mack White and Noah Reece. The boys represent the local Cub Scouts Pack 9 in the Overmountain District. The recent derby was held at Pack 9’s usual meeting post at the First United Methodist Church in Mountain City. Photo by Bethany Anderson

The annual Pinewood Derby is a beloved tradition for Cub Scouts all over, especially those belonging to the local Pack 9 from the Overmountain District.
This year Pack 9 boasted of six boys, who built cars and competed with confidence of success.
The official competition was held at Pack 9’s usual meeting post at the First United Methodist Church in Mountain City with the full Pack as well as many (now adult) Cub Scouts from years past in attendance.
Pack 9’s participants this year included Mack White, Sawyer Dillard, Noah Reece, Keegan Wright, Luke Anderson, and Jake Anderson. The boys took turns racing their cars two at a time with the winner of each of those smaller races competing against each other in the next rounds until it was down to the final two cars.
When said and done first place went to Luke Anderson with his “Lucky 13” green wedge car.
Second Place went to Mack White with his black and red wedge car, while Noah Reece came in third place with his black and red pickup truck.
The event was as exciting as expected and the competition was enjoyable for all who came to cheer on and show their support for the contenders.
The boys are given a specific list of rules and regulation to follow so that the competition held last Thursday was fair for all.
To be ready for each competition, participants have the option to purchase a preset kit from Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to use in their construction.
The kits include only a block of wood, four axles (nails), and four wheels.
Scouts are encouraged to personalize or decorate their cars with the help of their partners and parents. The scouts however, must complete the bulk of the carving, design, and other work.
Participants have to follow strict rules including the size and weight of each vehicle as well as the type of wheels, bearings, and other specifications.
The Annual BSA Pinewood Derby is a serious competition for many of these boys. Great care is always given to keep it a level playing field for all involved.
All cars are inspected and weighed before the competition begins to ensure that it is a fair race. Unfortunately because of weather delays, the scouts each had less than one month to complete their cars for the race.
“These young men learn and grow right before my very eyes each year in Cub Scouts,” Packmaster Jessica Dillard said. “The excitement is evident on every one of their faces when I
announce that it’s Derby time.”
Following Thursday evening’s race for the local Pack 9, the Overmountain District Race was held
in Bristol on Saturday, March 9.
Out of 64 cars racing, the first and fourth place awards went to two of local boys.
First place of the Overmountain District Pinewood Derby went to Jake Anderson, and the fourth place went to his brother Luke Anderson, sons of resident and owner of Anderson’s Diesel and Gas Garage, Freddy Anderson.
“This event helps teach our scouts about sportsmanship and competition,” Dillard said. “It shows them the joy of working hard on a project to make something they can be proud of. I’m honored to be able to provide such great experiences for the children of Pack 9. I’m proud of each and every Cub that joined us for our Pinewood Derby this year.”
For more information on the Overmountain District
of Cub Scouts, please
visit scbsa.org/districts/
overmountain or contact local Pack 9 Packmaster Jessica Dillard at (423) 727-5539.

Community Center to see improvements

By Bethany Anderson

The Johnson County Community Center no doubt benefits many children and families in the region but has been recently in need of some repairs to keep it a pleasant as well as a safe place for members
of the community to come
together.
The NECC Inmate Crew recently completed a large painting project inside and out of the center that has provided a much needed freshening up of the aging center which in turn gives those who work at and use the facility a sense of pride.
According to Parks and Recreation Director Flo Bellamy, the Johnson County Republican Women’s Club reached out to see how they could help to better the facility for the local children’s needs.
“These ladies wanted to make a difference in the lives of the children in our afterschool program,” Bellamy said. “We were given a choice as to where the money would go. I suggested Cunningham Park since the tennis courts were in such bad shape and no lasting improvements to this park have been made in a very long time.”
The Johnson County Republican Women’s Club made the generous donation of $3,600, which was received on September 25, 2017, but has now finally been put to use after much planning for the improvements to Cunningham Park’s tennis courts.
Bellamy stated, “We appreciate the efforts of Mr. Paul Maulden, Friends of Tennis, our City Recorder, City Council, Gary Phillips, and other as we move forward with this project which will provide our afterschool kids and others a safe place to play.”
Other upcoming improvement plans include repairs to the canopy over the entrance to the center. This canopy has been damaged due to the recent high winds and storms in our area but is due to be repaired this week.
For more information on the Johnson County Community Center, please visit www.mountaincitytn.org/departments/community_center or call them at (423) 727-2942.

Senior Center gets covered deck to host outdoor fun

Darrell Potter, left, and Bob Eller busy working on the early stages of a covered deck at the Johnson County Senior Center. The new addition will serve as extra space to accommodate the many
activities held at the busy facility. Photo by Meg Dickens

By Tamas Mondovics

That there is no shortage of activities at the Johnson County Senior Center, there is little doubt.
Located at 128 College Street in Mountain City, the member-supported center may just be one of the busiest event-strong activity oriented facilities the county is rightfully proud of.
Of course, with growth comes necessity including the need for a bit more room to host activities, a good problem to have according to director Kathy Motsinger.
“We have been in need of extra space, and the advisory board and myself decided that we could use some of the outside space to add square footage for some of our activities,” Motsinger said.
Motsinger explained that the Taylorsville Masonic Lodge No.243, adjacent
the senior center, owns all the property next to the Senior Center where a two men crew began to construct a covered deck or outside space after getting the permission to build.
“The members at the lodge are just as excited about the project as we are at the senior center,” Motsinger said.
Having a share in the effort, the Johnson County Shrine Club donated $500 to the project, joined by the Maple Chapter No.79 order of the Eastern Star that has also contributed the same amount.
“We will be sharing the space with them and with the community center as well as others that may need to use the space,” Motsinger said, adding, “When completed, I can move different classes or activities, pending nice weather, outside to the covered deck. The center gets crowded some days, and this will help tremendously.”
While hoping to raise money to landscape around the new addition, members are promising to host a number of outdoor activities in the coming months including cookouts for lunch, making smores during warmer evenings and enjoying special music.
For more information, please visit the Johnson County Senior Center’s Facebook page or call (423) 727-8883.

Tenn needs $50B for infrastructure

Report Compiled by Jill Penley

Tennessee’s annual estimated cost for its needed public infrastructure improvements is now nearly $50 billion, marking an increase for the third straight year.
Infrastructure, which is made up of roads, buildings, water, power supply and other utilities, is the base on which economic growth is built. There remains an underlying need for modern, efficient and reliable infrastructure in the nation, state, and county.
Recognizing the link between economic growth and adequate infrastructure, the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) is charged with developing and maintaining an inventory of public infrastructure needs “in order for the state, municipal and county governments of Tennessee to develop goals, strategies and programs which would improve the quality of life of its citizens, support livable communities, and enhance and encourage the overall economic development of the state.”
Information about Tennessee’s public infrastructure needs is drawn from data reported by local officials, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and the capital budget requests submitted by state agencies.
Local officials also report the condition of their school buildings based on definitions of “excellent, good, fair and poor” provided by TACIR staff. After compiling all the data, TACIR issues a summary report, which includes projects in the conceptual, planning and design, or construction phase at any time during the specific five-year period covered by the report.
Projects may be started or completed outside that five-year window, and most will be funded with debt.
The report also noted that funding for more than two-thirds of the estimated costs of the needed improvements was not even available when conducting the inventory.
According to the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, the estimate needed public infrastructure improvements in the state is up 11 percent from last year. As anticipated, transportation and utility projects make up most of the costs, with $25.9 billion projects identified that need to be in some sort of development between now and 2022. The second highest category was education improvements with $13.6 billion projects identified. This cost calculation includes new schools and additions, renovations, technology upgrades and money to address state and federal mandates.
The TACIR report, which includes a statewide overview chapter with information by type of infrastructure, the condition, and needs of our public school facilities, the availability of funding to meet reported needs, and a comparison of county-area needs, includes one-page summaries for each Tennessee county. The report is based on Johnson County’s 2017 population of 17,691 and reports 67 projects in the conceptual stage, 16 in the planning and development stage, and four already in construction.

Sheriff’s K9 Rico receives body armor

Johnson County’s bullet and stab protective vest recipient, Rico and his Handler, T.J. Brown pose for a photo in Mountain City. Rico received the protective gear from Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. a 501c(3) charity organization located in East Taunton, MA. The vest was donated to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office in memory of K9 Josey of the Union County Sheriff’s Office, TN.” Submitted photo.

By Tamas Mondovics

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office K9 Rico and his deputy handler JCSO Deputy T.J. Brown is ready to face the next chase, thanks to a brand new addition to Rico’s protective gear.
Rico received a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a generous donation from Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. a 501c(3) charity organization located in East Taunton, MA,
With respect and honor of K9 units across the nation, the vest is embroidered with the sentiment, “In memory of K9 Josey, Union County Sheriff’s Office, TN”.
“I am very grateful for the donation and appreciate what Vested Interest is doing for our K9 deputy-partners,” Brown said.
Brown, a longtime law enforcement veteran, who has been with Rico for more than three years emphasized that a lot of smaller departments do not have the funds to provide such protective gear. “Receiving this vest is a priceless piece of armor we need and shows the great support on behalf of our K9s.”
As referenced by Brown, such armor is by no means cheap and for a good reason as it saves lives. That is a K9 officer’s lives. There is an estimated 30,000-law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.
The donation to provide one protective vest for law enforcement K9 is $950.00. Each vest reportedly has a value between $1,744 – $2,283, and a five-year warranty and an average weight of 4-5 lbs.
“K9s are trained to wear harnesses so this vest does not hinder Rico to get the job done,” Brown said.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc’s mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States.
The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., provided more than 3,300 protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $5.7 million.
The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.
“Our K9 team here at Johnson County continues to work very hard to keep our community safe and protected as they are a huge asset to the department,” said Johnson County Sheriff, Eddie Tester.
Tester added that along with the department’s K9 recipient Rico and his handler T.J. Brown, the whole K9 team and department at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Vested Interest in K9’s, for the opportunity to be selected for the bullet and stab protective vest. “We are grateful for the donation made in memory of K9 Josey.”
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.

Heritage Hall gears up for the 14th annual talent show

By Megan Hollaway

Talent is in the air again this year as Heritage Hall gears up for the annual Talent show.
According to talent show chair Carol Stout, the Johnson County Community Foundation is pleased to showcase the talent from all the local schools and support the community foundation grants and scholarships.
“There are four categories: kindergarten-third grade, fourth-sixth grade, seventh and eighth grade, and ninth-twelfth grade,” Stout said. “However, any type of act will be considered to participate in these categories.”
Last year’s event was held in front of a full house at Heritage Hall and featured nearly three dozen students in 24 different acts and four categories of competition from K-3, 4-6, Middle School, and High School.
Stout emphasized that students from local public schools and home school are all welcome to participate.
The annual talent show is a tradition now running for fourteen years and is scheduled to take place on April 5 at 7 p.m. at Heritage Hall, a 400-seat facility, located at 211 N Church St, in Mountain City.
The box office is at 126 College Street. Box Office hours are 12 to 2 pm Tues, Wed, Thurs, and Friday. Other times guests are encouraged to call 423-727-7444 and leave a message. Door sales open 45 minutes before events. Most events have reserved seating.
The tickets for this year’s talent show are $7 each and can now be purchased online, at the box office, or the event the night of.
As it has been the case during past events a prize for first through third place, ranging from seventy-five dollars for a first place to 25 dollars for third place will once be awarded, while the night’s honorable mention act will receive a gift card to a local restaurant.
“All of the participating students are winners, however,” Stout says, “as having the talent and the bravery to perform in from of an audience like that is winning in its own way.”
That Heritage Hall is always happy to support the local talent, from the high schools, home school and the community at large
there is little doubt. While the event promotes local talented youths, the proceeds will go toward the Johnson County Community Foundations grants and scholarships for local schools as well.
The Johnson County Foundation was established in
June 2001 through the work of the Johnson County
Champion Community Committee and the generous
gifts of time, vision and resources by a group of
Johnson County residents committed to strengthening communities and improving the quality of life in Johnson County. The Johnson County Education Growth began in 2002
There is a definite tone of excitement in the air surrounding the new talent making its way to Heritage Hall this spring.

New bill would limit tobacco, vape sales to age 21 and up

By Jill Penley

Several Tennessee lawmakers are pushing to increase the minimum age to buy tobacco or vaping products from 18 to 21. Throughout most of U.S. legal history, the age of 21 was regarded as the age of full adult status. Until 1971 the legal minimum voting age was 21, and many states maintain age 21 as the legal drinking age. A bill introduced last year to “increase age restrictions for tobacco and vapor-related products” from 18 to 19 failed in the house as did a bill that would have barred adults in Tennessee from smoking in a vehicle with children.
The Republican sponsors of the bill, Sen. Shane Reeves and Rep. Bob Ramsey, insist legislation would help address Tennessee’s poor health rankings. Numerous health-related groups have backed it including the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, the American Cancer Society and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The skyrocketing growth of young people’s e-cigarette use over the past year threatens to erase the progress made in reducing youth tobacco use. It’s putting a new generation at risk for nicotine addiction,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “Despite this troubling trend, we know what works, and we must continue to use proven strategies to protect America’s youth from this preventable health risk. Youth use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe.”
Opponents of the bill raise concerns that it gives the government too much power over citizen freedoms and cite the issue of lost revenue. A legislative fiscal note estimates the bill would annually cost the state about $7 million and local governments $1 million through lost sales tax revenues. Reeves said it will save the state on health care costs for tobacco users in the long term.
Tennessee also ranks toward the bottom, currently 43rd in the U.S., with its low cigarette taxes. While the average state tax is $1.79 per pack, Tennessee’s is 62 cents per pack. The weighted average price for a pack of cigarettes nationwide is roughly $6.26, which includes statewide sales taxes but not local cigarette or sales taxes, with considerable state-to-state differences due to varying state tax rates, and different manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer pricing and discounting practices.
As of January 8, 2019, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reported six states including California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, Hawaii, and Maine, had raised the tobacco age to 21, along with at least 430 localities, including New York City, Chicago, San Antonio, Boston, Cleveland, Minneapolis, both Kansas Cities and Washington, DC. Some of the areas are in states that subsequently enacted statewide laws.
Just last month, however, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill raising the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 years old. The change makes Virginia the only Tennessee border state to do so despite active legislation being considered to all others.

Gov.’s agenda includes $4 million for STEM

By Tamas Mondovics

Legislative agenda includes $4 million to increases science, technology, engineering and mathematics in K-12 schools to court jobs of the future.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or more commonly referred to as STEM programs and initiatives have been gaining steady momentum. Students across the nation and the world are taking advantage of classes or contests such as robotics competitions are increasing in popularity.
Johnson County students are no exception as they are taking their rightful place among the very best; making use of their knowledge and STEM education.
Of course, Tennessee governor Bill Lee’s recent announcement of Future Workforce Initiative to increase science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) training in K-12 schools as part of his first-year legislative agenda for education is good news for both teachers and students.
“Our agenda advocates for increased access to career and technical education for K-12 students and a key part of this includes prioritizing STEM training,” said Lee in a recent press release from his office.
Lee emphasized that the initiative is “a direct response to the emerging technology industry and making sure our students are first in line to be qualified for technology jobs.”
In the release, officials stated that investment in STEM-focused early-college and career experiences supports the Tennessee Department of Education’s “Tennessee Pathways” Certification process, as well as
the STEM School Designation partnership with groups like Tennessee STEM
Innovation Network and Code.org.
The question of what is the goal of all of this is as important as the initiative itself.
Lee’s office stated that the Future Workforce Initiative aims to put Tennessee in the top 25 states for job creation in the technology sector by 2022 through three areas of emphasis including:
1. Launching new CTE programs focused in STEM fields with 100 new middle school programs and tripling the number of STEM-designated public schools by 2022.
2. Growing the number of teachers qualified to teach work-based learning and advanced computer science courses through STEM teacher training and implementation of K-8 computer science standards.
3. Expanding postsecondary STEM opportunities in high school through increased access to dual credit, AP courses, and dual-enrollment.
“58 percent of all STEM jobs created in the country are in computing, but only eight percent of graduates study computer science in college,” Lee said. “By exposing Tennessee students to computer science in their K-12 careers, we are ensuring our kids have every chance to land a high-quality job.”
The Governor reportedly recommends a $4 million investment to implement the Future Workforce Initiative.
“I look forward to working closely with the legislature to ensure every student has access to a high-quality career, and to get there we’ll need to make STEM education a reality for students across Tennessee,” Lee said.

Library to host Spanish/English Conversation Group

Comuniquemos is a Spanish/English conversation group beginning on Tuesday, March 5 at 6:00pm in the North Wing of the Johnson County Public Library. The group is open to anyone who is interested in practicing and improving either Spanish or English language skills. Jennifer Gillenwater, retired JCHS Spanish teacher, will be the group facilitator, helping the group transition from Spanish to English and providing it with the weekly theme. The group will meet for one hour – the 1st half hour will be in English and the 2nd half in Spanish, or vice versa, depending on the group’s needs. NATIVE SPEAKERS OF SPANISH AND ENGLISH ARE NEEDED AND ALL LEVELS ARE WELCOME! Plan to join us the 1st and 4th Tuesday of each month for this low-stress, fun way to get to know each other and hone our language skills. BRING NOTEBOOK AND PEN AND ARRIVE A LITTLE EARLY TO SIGN IN. For more information, call 768-0530.

Demolition begins on old Shouns School building

Many were saddened when the old Shouns School demolition began last week. Steeped in history, the unique structure was constructed in the early 1930s as part of the “Work Progress Administration” under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The purpose of the program was to provide work for victims of the Great Depression. The building ceased to house elementary students in 2002 when Neva and Shouns Elementary Schools were consolidated at the new Roan Creek Elementary School. RTMP, LLC purchased the property from the board of education at auction in late 2016. Photo by Melissa Fletcher

By Jill Penley

The demolition of the old Shouns School in Johnson County had stirred up a lot of emotions as many were saddened when demolition began last week. Steeped in history, the unique structure was constructed in the early 1930s as part of the “Work Progress Administration” under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The purpose of the program was to provide work for victims of the Great Depression. The building ceased to house elementary students in 2002 when the Neva and Shouns Elementary Schools were consolidated at the new Roan Creek Elementary School. A limited liability corporation associated with Redtail Mountain Golf, RTMP, LLC, purchased the property from the board of education at auction in late 2016.
When faced with bankrolling extensive renovations to older schools, the easy, and in most cases less expensive, way to go is to construct a new building altogether. Older schools often lack proper wiring for technology and do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Board of Education approved the sale at the October 2016 board meeting for $281,000. There were “numerous, concrete reasons for the sale of the building,” according to Dr. Mischelle Simcox, Director of Schools.
The historic structure sat dormant until last week when heavy equipment sporting large metal claws took the first bites out of what used to house the old school. “The owners had it inspected at first to become a private school, but that was denied due to foundation issues,” said Peter Allen Lawson, Food and Beverage Manager at Red Tail Mountain Golf Course. “They tried to get it approved for several other ideas but was denied due to all the rot and molds growing throughout the building,” Lawson said adding that the brick will be saved and used for other projects.
Some Shouns alumni are heartbroken by the loss including Janie Gentry, who attended Shouns School from fourth to eighth grade after Forge Elementary closed. “I have wonderful memories of my teachers and friends from those years,” said Gentry, who credited Mrs. Elizabeth Snyder, Mrs. Anna Boone Miller, Mrs. Basham and Mr. Ed Grindstaff for teaching her things she still remembers and uses in everyday life. “Maybe I’m just getting soft in my dotage,” she said, “but I have shed some tears this week because of the destruction of the building.”
For Teresa Potter Crowder, the sight of Shouns School being torn down is a painful one because of its sentimental value. “I began as a student teacher there and closed it as the last principal,” said Crowder. “I appreciate all those whom I had the pleasure of working with because that’s where my career began.”
“It will always hold a special place in our hearts,” said Kristy Wolfe, who met her husband at Shouns. “Jason and I both worked there,” recalled Wolfe. “He was a teacher, and I was a substitute. We got to spend a lot of time getting to know each other and eventually marrying.”
As word got around the community, many voiced dismay over not being informed of the sale of the property and the pending demolition of it, however, the 2016 auction was advertised locally, and once privately owned, the property owner has no obligation to inform the public of future plans.

A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition staff meets with legislators

Rep. Timothy Hill, left, and A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition Executive Director Trish Burchette Submitted photo

On Wednesday February 20th Trish Burchette, Executive Director of the A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition met with State Representative Timothy Hill in Nashville, Tn. She spoke briefly with the Representative from the 3rd district about ongoing substance use issues in our community, and ways prevention dollars from our State and Federal governments can assist in the education, prevention and recovery of substance use disorders. Currently there are no line items budgeted for the 97 coalitions in the State of Tennessee. The State does fund the Count It, Lock It, Drop It campaign across the state but funding for coalitions comes from Federal and State grant funding.

A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition grant coordinator Kandas Motsinger, left, with U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s 1st congressional district, Phil Roe. Submitted photo

Wednesday February 6, Kandas Motsinger, grant coordinator for A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition met with U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s 1st congressional district, Phil Roe in Washington D.C. to discuss ways to bring prevention dollars to our community. During her visit with Dr. Roe, she was able to talk about the work ACTION does and why it is vitally important to our community. For every dollar spent on substance abuse prevention, it saves an average of $10 in long term savings. As ACTION is grant funded, it is essential to maintain these prevention funds though federal and state grants. Dr. Roe is already familiar with Johnson County and was very interested and pleased to discuss the work ACTION does and how it has benefited our community for the better and to see why ACTION must continue the work it does!

A1 Auto Transport offers scholarship through essay contest

By Tamas Mondovics
A-1 Auto Transport Inc. a global leader in the auto transport industry announced scholarship opportunities for students throughout East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia. According A-1 officials, the car shipping company’s national recognition has made it possible to extend their scholarship program to all eligible students.
Scholarship programs award financial relief in the sum of $250, $500 or $1,000 per year.
Any student currently
enrolled in college, a trade school, university or other accredited institute may enter if they have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
To enter for the scholarship, qualified students must write an essay of 1,000 or more words in relation to the auto transport industry. Some examples of topics to use for these essays include the following…
• International auto transport
• Auto transport services
• Enclosed car shipping
• Open-air car shipping
• Door to door vehicle transport
• Shipping classic or antique cars
• Motorcycle shipping
• Container shipping
• Moving local or long distance and more…
All essays must be completely unique and not published anywhere else online. “A-1’s Scholarship Committee is responsible for reviewing all entries and will check for plagiarism,” said A1 spokesperson Tom Masters.
Students may submit their essays to scholarships@a1autotransport.com. Students must include their name, name of the school, email address, mailing address, and a contact number with their essays.
The deadline for essay submissions is March 10, 2019. At this time, the Scholarship Committee will begin their reviews of the essays.
At the end of March, qualified essays will be released on A-1’s website along with the student’s byline. The essays will then be voted on by the Scholarship Committee. Winners will be announced on the website as well through email. Students are allowed to share the link to their content on their social media if they’d like to share their finished work.
To learn more about this on of a kind scholarship opportunity through A-1 Auto Transport, you can go to http://www.a1autotransport.com/a-1-auto-transport-scholarship.