County mayor eyes school construction for 2017



Staff Writer

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The year of 2016 was one of planning for the new Boones Creek K-8 School. And now, 2017 is slated to be the year of breaking ground at the upcoming school’s site.

And that’s something Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge says must remain a priority in order for the school to open in August of 2019.

“Based on what (the school board’s) architect has given as a timeline, there are a lot of decisions that are going to have to be made in the next three months to keep this project on schedule,” Eldridge said. “If we don’t get this stuff out of the way in the next two or three months, it’s certainly going to be in jeopardy.”

So far the county commission has established a fund set aside for the new school while the school board has discussed the location at length and most recently at the last Board of Education meeting on Dec. 8, the new school’s layout. Eldridge said for the new school’s plan to run smoothly, both the county commission and the school board will need to align both groups’ concerns.

“It is so important there is good communication and collaboration during this process,” Eldridge said. “The county commission knows how much money it has to spend. The school board knows what they want in the way of a facility. There has to be a very deliberate effort made to align those two priorities. I’m disappointed that there hasn’t been more interest in making sure that those two things are aligned from the beginning. If we’re not careful, that’s going to end up being the stumbling block in the next few months.”

Finding common ground wasn’t the only concern from 2016 that will affect the new year; one of the biggest discussions the county commission faced was the tax increase. The tax hike was levied in order to fund the new Boones Creek School as part of the Washington Way plan. Eldridge said it was a decision the commissioners weren’t anxious to make. However, Eldridge is most concerned with seeing tax payers’ investments pay off through the new school.

“It is important that they see a return on that investment. And that’s what is it—it is an investment,” Eldridge said. “We raised taxes to invest in the school system. They need to see a return on that investment, not just in the form of new bricks and mortar, but even more importantly, they need to see a return on that investment in the form of improved student achievements and outcomes, career readiness, college readiness as a result of the Washington Way vision that’s been cast.”

Though the new school will be at the forefront of both the county commission and the school board’s priorities, Eldridge also has other topics he is looking forward to working on in 2017.

Eldridge said establishing a long range, general fund budget plan will help manage expenses from year to year. The financial plan will involve studying how current expenses will affect finances down the road.

“That’s not something that I would say is common in county government in Tennessee, but having that long range plan is invaluable as a management tool,” Eldridge explained. “When you project that into the future budgets, it’s amazing how you see the compounding effect of these recurring expenditures that are being approved. This is just a very important tool that we have to incorporate.”

But with all the talk of budgeting and planning, somehow the conversation with any Washington County school board member, county commissioner, or county official always circles back around to the new Boones Creek School.

“I’m optimistic that we’re gonna get this (the plan for the school) headed in the right direction. I think that long term, it’s gonna make a huge difference in Washington County,” Eldridge said. “Not just in the school system, but for everybody.”

Top Stories of 2016:Washington County brings in Kimber Halliburton

Kimber Halliburton stepped into her new role on July 1.

Kimber Halliburton stepped into her new role on July 1.

The new year is approaching, but for Washington County Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton, everything has been new.

Halliburton, the first ever female Washington County Director of Schools, took over July 1, 2016, after Ron Dykes’ retirement. And after serving as a principal in Nashville, Halliburton headed for East Tennessee with some changes in mind.

The words “Washington Way” are nearly synonymous with the new director of schools; Washington Way is the proposed constructional and instructional plan for Washington County schools and involves a range of priorities from new schools to new technology.

The original plan included a new Boones Creek K-8 school, a new Jonesborough K-8 School, and those schools’ previous locations to become the site for a magnet school. Halliburton also wanted to add a vocational site for students opting out of the college route after high school.

Though her plan has seen some revisions thus far, the Washington Way is still at the forefront of Washington County Board of Education meetings and discussions.

As of late, the BOE has been concentrating on deciding the layout of the new Boones Creek K-8 School while they also have decided to simultaneously make Jonesborough Middle School into a magnet school.

Building changes aren’t the only innovation Halliburton came ready to ignite in Washington County; Halliburton has also been an advocate for technology in the school system.

Halliburton was the principal of Waverly-Belmont which is one of two technology demonstration schools in the Nashville area. Clearly, this appreciation for technology has not been lost in the move.

From promoting the use of social media such as Twitter profiles for herself as well as school board members to aiming for a one-to-one ratio for students and technological devices, Halliburton has been clear about her intentions to equip Washington County schools with technological improvements—which should be a familiar aspect in the new year of 2017.

At the McKinney Center: Teacher restores magic in young art



“The librarian said it wasn’t art,” Chasidy Hathorn read as she pointed to the words painted on the mixed medium piece hanging on the wall of her historic home.

Hathorn, a former school teacher and now an art teacher at the McKinney Center, said “I had to retire from public school teaching because it got to the point that I couldn’t help those kids anymore. There were so many rules and so much red tape. When I got home I felt like I was crushing children’s dreams, and I wasn’t going to do that anymore. That is why I do what I do, and this painting is a reminder of that.”

As Hathorn continued up the stairs, her fingers traced the woodgrain of each picture frame surrounding the unique pieces on her wall. “When I began my journey at the McKinney Center, I found that the kids were so brilliant and fun!” she said. “It revived in me a child-like view of art.”

The McKinney Center continues to grow as an arts and humanities mecca where creativity and expression come to life.

Now in 2017, the McKinney Center will continue to incorporate classes of all kinds including the one Hathorn will teach.

From brilliantly bright, acrylic-gold speckling works of her own to creatively crafted canvas pieces by students filling her collection, it’s evident the inspiration each brings to her heart.

“Sometimes we get so caught up in details of a still life or trying to make our paintings into photographs, but these kids were just having fun and they loved it,” Hathorn said.

“I want to help them to continue that and not lose it. Let’s not take that away from them. Let them be creative, color outside those lines.”

Every time Hathorn passed a piece on her wall she smiled with each glance. These pieces of art, she believes, are sharing their story.

“And who are we to say what kids do. We are going to have a curriculum and a guide but at the same time I want them to have fun, paint their emotions, paint what they see, not what we see.”

A Mississippian at heart and a well-known artist in the region, Hathorn found a home at the McKinney Center back in 2014.

“When we first moved here I was trying to find my way,” she said. “I was almost afraid to get involved, to get settled. I finally began to explore, and I found the McKinney Center. They made me feel like home.”

While Hathorn worked on a piece inspired by her grandfather, she gently glided her brush over the words “empty chair” while she described days of the past spent with him.

She routinely took a step back while looking at the canvas, then leaned over to dip her brush into the gold paint sitting on the antique British table in the middle of her studio.

In the spring, Hathorn’s journey at the Mckinney will continue, with her teaching children’s fine arts, fine art construction and homeschool art classes. It will entail everything from mixed media collage to clay hand building, knife pallet painting, upcycling and even a bit about historic artists.

“I want them to leave confident with their talent and to know that each child is unique and special.” Hathorn said, “I don’t want them to look at each other’s works and say, ‘my work isn’t as good as so and so’s.’

“I want them to see all of their works as a masterpiece.

“I want them to leave feeling like true artists, like they are creative. I want them to make friends and I want them to leave with a sense of appreciation for art.

“Because every single one will leave as little Picassos.”

If you are interested in taking Chasidy’s class or another class at the McKinney Center email McKinney Center Director, Theresa Hammons at: [email protected] or call 423-753-0562.

Top Stories of 2016: Commission, board push ahead for new school projects


The new Boones Creek K-8 school might not break ground until the spring of the new year, but that didn’t stop the project from being a top story of 2016.

After deciding to begin what was originally part of the Washington County Director of Schools, Kimber Halliburton’s vision for the Washington Way plan of constructing two new K-8 schools and repurposing the old buildings, the new Boones Creek K-8 school got the go ahead.

The board agreed to build the new school while simultaneously making Jonesborough Middle School into a magnet school. But when it came to construction of the new Boones Creek School, however, the work had just begun.

Funding was a major player in the plan to construct this new school, but after the county commission approved a 40-cent tax increase to fund the school, it was up to the Board of Education to tackle the next obstacle—location.

From a possible location on Carroll Creek Road to a site closer to Highway 36, location for the new school was at the center of discussion throughout the year. Eventually, the board held a final vote in August that named the 56-acre site on Boones Creek Road and Highland Church Road the new official site for the school.

After funding had been set and the location had been decided, the BOE then voted on a project manager in a unanimous vote for Tom Burleson of Burleson Construction.

However, the layout wasn’t quickly approved for the project. Discussion on the size of the school and the possibility of cutting back on the number of classrooms and adding them back on at a later date took front and center at the BOE’s last meeting of the year.

If classrooms are to be added at a later date, an additional  40 percent would be added onto the cost.

The board also discussed cutting either a softball field, a baseball field, or the auxiliary gym from the new Boones Creek K-8 school layout.

During the Dec. 8 meeting, board member Keith Ervin mentioned that David Crockett High School didn’t have an auxiliary gym in relation to the new school’s plan which includes an auxiliary gym for K-8 students. But mention of high school athletic facilitates didn’t end at the board meeting.

Just a day before, Crockett’s head football coach Jeremy Bosken resigned, citing inadequate facilities among other reasons. Bosken is headed to Cleveland, Tennessee where he will act as offensive coordinator and where he will be closer to his mother and his brother who is the wrestling coach at Cleveland High School.
But proximity wasn’t his only reason for leaving; the athletic facilities at Crockett were a main component.

“It’s kinda been a controversial topic,” Bosken told the Herald & Tribune. “I’m glad it is, I really am. It was just something that I felt like kinda came to fruition over the past couple years.

“I felt like the best way to help these kids right now is to leave. And what I mean by that is, we’ve been trying to get air conditioning in the locker room and it hasn’t come. We’ve been trying to make improvements in the weight room and it’s been very little…and trying to get an auxiliary gym built…and when we’re pushing for these things, we’re not doing it to win more games.”

Though the BOE’s meetings have mostly revolved around the plans for the new Boones Creek School, board member Todd Ganger spoke to the Herald & Tribune in light of Bosken’s resignation.

Ganger said high school athletic facilities are a subject the board will need to assess.

“Granted, there is a huge need at Crockett for an auxiliary gym,” Ganger said. “And it’s been brought up and talked about—to add an auxiliary gym to a new school, it is an issue the board will have to look at. Is there a true need there? That’s just one of those things that the board, once we can get down to the nitty gritty to be at the new school or not to be at the new school, it’s something you have to really look at and focus at.”

Top Stories of 2016: Local election mirrors heat of national battle


Election time in Jonesborough has always been a period of excitement and discussion.

This year, it got a little crazier.

Up for election in the 2016 Jonesborough Board Mayor and Aldermen race were incumbent Kelly Wolfe and challenger Charlie Moore for mayor; and incumbents Terry Countermine and Adam Dickson, as well as challenger Jerome Fitzgerald for two aldermen seats.

Both Moore and Fitzgerald had served in various town capacities in the past: Moore as an alderman for one term and Fitzgerald, a well-known local resident who served on the board for 16 years and wanted to return.

What started out as a fairly respectful confrontation at the Herald & Tribune-hosted public forum in October quickly escalated into what some may have considered an all-out brawl.

Name calling, attack ads, billboards, phone calls, anonymous fliers and more, mostly targeting Wolfe, flew fast and furious.

“I don’t like anybody using the term ‘negative’ if it’s factual,” Moore told the Herald & Tribune, stressing at the time that he was not responsible for much of the campaign material that was produced by former Unicoi Co. Sheriff Kent Harris and his newly created political action committee titled “Citizens for Better Government of Washington County”.

Still, he said, that didn’t mean he didn’t agree with it.

Wolfe, on the other hand,  said he was trying to keep the campaign positive, but couldn’t resist countering his opponent’s claims.

“It has certainly not been an enjoyable election as it pertains to the ugly and sometimes crazy attacks of Mr. Moore and his supporters have seen fit to make on both me and the town,” Wolfe said prior to election day.

In the end, the voters had the final word, putting Wolfe back in office for another two years with 1,275 votes to Moore’s 1,043.

Countermine and Fitzgerald carried the aldermen election, causing Dickson to bid farewell to the board, at least for the time being.

Fitzgerald was the big winner with 1,308 votes.

Countermine came in second with 1,134 of the votes in this three-man race for two aldermen spots.

Incumbent Adam Dickson came in at 26 votes shy of reelection with 1,108 votes.

Wolfe said it was time to look ahead.

“To dwell on this too much would not be productive,” he said. “And I think people largely rendered their verdict.”

Tomita gets ready for new year, new role


David Tomita


Staff Writer

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A new year, new role and a new office are just around the corner for Washington County commissioner David Tomita — who is stepping down from his county commission role to assume his new position as the mayor of Johnson City.

During 2016’s last Washington County Commission meeting on Monday, Dec. 19, Tomita officially announced his resignation from the commission in light of his new mayoral role in Johnson City.

“He’s an asset. He’s done a great job,” Greg Matherly, chairman of the Washington County Commission said. “I kind of expected it myself. He was already the vice mayor and with his abilities and as good of a job as he’d done down here, I had no doubt that he would make an excellent mayor for the city of Johnson City.

“If I was up there on that commission, I would have voted for him to be mayor.”

Tomita has simultaneously served as a county commissioner and a Johnson City commissioner, but, his newest role as mayor left him with a decision to make.

“It was a hard decision because I really enjoyed my service on the county commission,” Tomita said. “And I did think that my being on both of them provided a pretty good bridge. Knowing the unintended consequences of what the other body is doing is helpful. It’s easier when you understand what’s going on. So I’m glad I did what I did. I never for a minute thought that there was conflict of interest.

“It would be difficult to serve as city mayor and on the county commission. There’d always be the undertones of preferential treatment and I didn’t want to do that.”

Johnson City will gain Tomita and Joe Wise, who back in May announced his resignation from the county commission if he were to gain a spot on the city commission. Though Matherly said he will miss the two commissioners, opportunity lies ahead for the county commission.

“Those two guys have filled a big role and we’re gonna miss them,” Matherly said. “But there again, you’re going to have them on the city commission which is somebody we know and they know us and they know what’s going on in the county too. Both have high level (of knowledge) of the county government and what’s going on.”

The understanding these two commissioners have is something Wise also thinks will benefit both commissions.

“I believe it helps that two members of the city commission have direct and recent experience serving on the county commission because clearly Johnson City and Washington County’s futures are inextricably linked,” Wise said. “As city commissioners, understanding the kinds of challenges and underlying issues that the county can encounter will help us be more sympathetic or more sensitive to opportunities where we can partner effectively for a mutually beneficial outcome.”

Tomita said knowing those on both the county and city commissions has helped him in the past and will help him in the future.

“It’s easier to not like people you don’t know and I think for many years the city was sort of this nameless, faceless entity,” Tomita said. “And the county was this nameless, faceless entity. It’s harder to do harmful things to people that you know and like so hopefully we can work together better. We’ve come a long way and we’ve got a long way left to go. I suspect we’ll get there.”

With 2017 just ahead, a similar aspiration was in mind for Matherly and Tomita—the chance to work together again.

“He’s been an excellent commissioner for us and we’re gonna miss him,” Matherly said. “But I think too, with him in the role as mayor, I think he’s gonna bring an understanding of county government as well as city government. I think that’s gonna be a plus for him and a plus for us.

He’s somebody we can talk to. I’m glad he’s in that role.”

Shop with a Cop: Jonesborough gets ready for annual event


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This time of year, most people shop with family and friends. But for some local boys and girls, they’re going to be shopping with a police officer or a firefighter in Tennessee’s oldest town.

Tonight, Jonesborough’s annual Shop with a Cop event will provide 73 children from around the area with a chance to receive gifts and get to know local police officers as well.

However, these kids’ families will also experience a bit of this holiday cheer. Not only are the children given already donated gifts as well as toys bought with a $150 gift card from Walmart the night of the event, but the child’s siblings are given gifts as well.

The Shop with a Cop event also provides gifts for parents to put under the tree for kids to open on Christmas.

“Some of these folks are going through a tough time,” Jonesborough’s Shop with a Cop event coordinator Sgt. Jamie Aistrop said. “And we want to make sure they have a positive holiday experience and make sure they have some gifts to open on Christmas morning regardless. That warms our hearts.”

The police and fire departments aren’t the only ones helping with the event; from wrapping gifts to providing a meal for the kids, local businesses and individuals such as the members of the Jonesborough Senior Center have sacrificed their time and money to help with the event.

“The Jonesborough community in general is just very giving,” Aistrop said. “Anytime, they’re always ready to rally around and help.”

This giving Christmas spirit doesn’t stop with the donors and volunteers, though. Aistrop said many of the kids chosen by their schools’ teachers and guidance counselors use their Walmart gift card for their family rather than for gifts for themselves.

“It really humbles you to see how appreciative these kids are and the things that they buy,” Aistrop said, “and how selfless they all are. You’d think they’d all just wanna go buy $150 worth of toys, but a lot of these are going in to buy presents for their brothers and sisters and parents and spending more of their money on their families than they do themselves.”

Though the Shop with a Cop event has provided families in the Jonesborough area with toys and other gifts for eight years now, local law enforcers take this chance to do more than just sneak a gift under the tree like old Saint Nick. Aistrop said they hope to promote positivity towards police officers to these young kids.

“Police and fire aren’t always dealing with everybody in a positive light,” Aistrop said. “Generally, when either one of us are called, there’s a problem. So it’s a really good opportunity to spend time with them in a positive manner and show them that all interaction with police and fire doesn’t have to be negative.”

In return, these officers are left with a gift from these children—but it doesn’t come in a box or a bag.

“It’s just as good for us if not better for us than it is for the kids, “ Aistrop said. “It’s a good break. It’s a great opportunity for us.”

“Just seeing the look on their faces when we escort them to Walmart, actually getting to sit down, talk to them and interact with the kids—it’d be hard for me to narrow it down to a favorite part.”

In Aistrop’s experience, overall, both kids and officers are doing more than just exchanging gifts—they’re building relationships.

“We made some really good relationships over the years with these families and these children,” Aistrop said. “There’s several that we still talk to and have moved on and don’t need the assistance anymore, but we still keep in contact with them. Once we meet these kids and spend that evening with them, that carries on for years. We make lifelong friends with them and that’s kind of the point. They remember it, we definitely remember it, and it helps us down the road in future situations.”

Major sponsors for the Shop with a Cop event include:


Kiwanis of Jonesborough

Foster Signs

Pizza Plus

Clark Family Tours

Shirt Tail Designs

Jonesborough Civitans

And many other area businesses, churches, and residents.

Pizza party donations were provided by:



Food City

Jonesboro Pizza Parlor

Rocky’s Pizza

Pizza Hut

Pizza Plus

Luke’s Pizza

Papa John’s

Tea adds special magic to festivities


Staff Writer

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Jonesborough is known for its history and so are the houses featured on this year’s Holiday Tour and Tea event that took over Tennessee’s oldest town on Sunday.

The tour started at the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center as guests gathered around the decorated Christmas trees as part of the Celebration of Trees. From there, ticket holders were shuttled from home to home to enjoy a plethora of historical abodes all dolled up for the holiday season.

“When people step off the bus after their last stop on the Holiday Tour and Tea,” Tourism and Marketing Director Cameo Waters said, “I hope they feel as if they experienced Jonesborough in a new way—as if each treasured Jonesborough establishment they encountered told a story all its own.”

The first Jonesborough home on the tour was the Deaderick/Williams home on 215 E Main Street. A.S. Deaderick built the home in 1883 and much of the style and decor from the era still thrives from wall to wall inside the house. From intricate wallpaper designs adorning the walls and ceilings to solid wood, canopy-style beds, current home owners Nansee and Bill Williams’ guests seemed to step back into an entirely different time period upon visiting the historic home.

As for Karen Childress’ home just down the road from the first stop, old-school charm wasn’t missing here either. With open rooms and a slightly more-modern-yet-reminiscent style throughout the house, the Patton/Childress home seemed to invite guests right in before any resident might have the chance to. The house also boasts a basement and entertainment room that was recently redone.

But homes weren’t the only buildings on the Holiday Tour & Tea; Team Bridal Wedding & Event Loft on Main Street offered tea, scones, soup, and other hors d’oeuvres for the tour’s guests. Meanwhile, the Chester Inn offered a holiday tour throughout the top and bottom floors of the historic building.

After the Rhein home on W. Main Street offered up the first bit of cottage charm on the tour, the Earnest/Miller home at 305 W. College Street followed suit, but with a touch of fairytale flair.

“Usually I pull out the whole Red Riding Hood collection for Christmas. I mean I’ve got dolls, I’ve got pictures, magazines, coloring books, I’ve got tea sets, marionettes, topsy-turvy dolls …” Miller said. “But I thought if you wanted to get a picture of the storybook cottage year around, you needed to see the fairy part too.”

Small iron fairies were found throughout the historic cottage; the tiny folk-tale creatures congregated everywhere from under a stained glass window to various corners of the dining room and living room areas. Guests also paraded through the Miller home passing tiny fairytale books and even a collection of buttons and pins that seemed to have been collected and displayed by fairies themselves.

The Miller home may have seemed especially enchanting, but the entire tour of some of Jonesborough’s historic homes appeared adorned with just a little bit of Christmas magic as well.

“This tour allows memories to be shared and made with family and friends,” Waters said.

“What a wonderful way to explore the Oldest Town in Tennessee all the while being immersed in the Christmas spirit.”

Winners of the spoken word

The David Crockett FFA Chapter had great success at the FFA District Public Speaking LDE’s (Leadership Development Events) held last month.

Six separate speaking contests were held on Nov. 22; David Crockett FFA won 4 of the 6 contests.

Winners shown above and listed in order, left to right, are:

Conduct of Meetings: Bailey Wynn, Anna Young, Jordan Williams, Mattie

Chase, Daniel Williams, Maddie Ferguson, Hanna Tate.

Creed Speaking: Anna Young

Extemporaneous Speaking: Alexis Freeman

Employment Skills: Chloe Ford

The winners advance to the next level of competition, Sub-Regional, to be held in December and January.

Grandview chorus students take top honors



Staff Writer

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Seven students have made Washington County history.

Students from Grandview Elementary School made it into the Tennessee All-East Honors Chorus after auditioning against 330 students from across east Tennessee to be accepted into the choir. This is the first time middle school students from a Washington County School have made it into the honors chorus.

The students include Savannah Lands, Emmalyn Casey, Hannah Decker, Grace Templin, Adina Phebus, Gideon Dowling and Josh Maupin. And for chorus member Grace Templin, the unexpected honor brought her and her friend to tears.

“It was kind of scary, but at the same time I was ready for rejection,” Templin said. “I was just ready for them to say, ‘Nope, you didn’t make it. Try again some other time.’

“When they told us, me and my friend Adina, we started crying in the gym.  We were like, ‘We did it! We made it!’”

However, it wasn’t easy. One of the students, Gideon Dowling, explained what he thought was most difficult.

“The songs were really different,” Dowling said. “The younger students couldn’t (have sang the songs), definitely. We had to learn an entirely different song.”

Leading up to the final concert, the students were also taught how to become better singers.

“I’m pretty sure we all came in here thinking we all knew how to sing like Britney Spears. And then we got taught how to properly sing,” Templin said. “So now we’re more proud of that.”

But the challenge these singers were faced with was one that Music Department and Concert Choir Director Ben Davenport knew his students could handle.

“The opportunity is there (within the students),” Davenport said. “They come and they work hard—I work them hard. I keep pushing because it’s there.”

Now Davenport and his students have been left with an honor to bring back to their school. And this is an honor they hope will go beyond the school year and reach into upcoming chorus students.

“I feel like it’s a legacy that will go on through Grandview to the ones that will soon join,” Templin said. “And that could maybe encourage kids from younger grades that are about to come in to join hopefully.”

Coach’s resignation pushes discussion of athletic needs


Jeremy Bosken


Staff Writer

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When Jeremy Bosken resigned as the head football coach at David Crockett High School on Dec. 7, it was the shot heard across Washington County.

Not just because the Pioneers would be losing one of their most successful coaches in school history, but because as he left, Bosken brought to light what he viewed as crucial athletic facilities needs at Crockett.

Bosken, who will soon be joining Cleveland High School’s coaching staff as an offensive coordinator, said he has been trying to get air conditioning in the locker room and even rallied a team of alumni and boosters to repaint locker room floors and replace the lockers themselves. Bosken said Crockett’s lack of an auxiliary gym has left numerous sports without a place to dress out before games and practices.

“Those are concerns that I honestly believe that at a 5A school, they need to be addressed,” Bosken said.

He also said he felt like the best way he could help his student athletes was to leave.

“I feel like as I do leave,” Bosken said, “the way I can help the kids there and the coaches there is just to simply bring awareness that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.”

However, Crockett isn’t the only high school in the conversation; Daniel Boone High School athletic director Danny Good said he thought Boone needed an update on their facilities as well.

“I think we need some attention on our athletic facilities,” Good said. “I think you can look at most of our opponents that we compete against and you can see their outside facilities compared to ours and we could be a step behind in that aspect of things.”

To fix this problem, Good believes it takes more than just Boone and Crockett; he believes it would take unity within the county.

“We all need to come together,” Good said. “That’s the school board, that’s the community, that’s the county commission, that’s our director of schools, that’s the mayor. Let’s all us come together and let’s set a goal. Let’s decide what we want as a community.

“I’m talking about Washington County, I’m not just talking about Boone and Crockett. I’m talking about all of us. What do we want? What do we need? There’s a need and there’s a want — what do we need. If we come together as one, we can achieve that.”

Board member Todd Ganger said Bosken’s comments have brought the discussion of updating these athletic facilities to the forefront along with recent Board of Education priorities such as the new K-8 Boones Creek School’s layout that was recently discussed at the latest school board meeting and the new technology that will soon be implemented in Washington County Schools.

“It’s just things that this board has got to continue to look at and the county commission has got to continue to look at,” Ganger said. “As board members, all we can do is relate our needs to the county commissioners and they’ve got to fund it. They’ve stepped up with the Boones Creek School and we’re trying to fulfill Mrs. Halliburton’s vision for Washington Way and implementing technology into the schools. So it just comes down to a matter of balance. “

It’s a broad spectrum of needs we have in the school system and all of our needs come with a price tag.”

The price tag on the construction of the new Boones Creek School also included a conversation about athletics; an auxiliary gym is included in the layout for the school that was presented by architect Tony Street at Thursday’s called school board meeting. Street’s presentation stated that removing the gym from the plan would save $400,000. During the board’s discussion of the plan, board member Keith Ervin brought Crockett’s athletic facilities into the conversation.

“This is a K-8,” Ervin said. “I don’t even have an auxiliary gym at Crocket, and I need one there worse than I do anywhere.”

School board members aren’t the only ones noticing the construction of these new and soon-to-be-built schools in the area.

“You’re going to have 60 percent of these kids that are going into these nice middle schools that have these facilities,” said Good. “And then when they go to high school, they’re going to kind of step down a little bit.”

For Ganger, these topics are all about finding a balance.

“Granted, there is a huge need at Crockett for an auxiliary gym,” Ganger said. “And it’s been brought up and talked about. To add an auxiliary gym to a new school, it is an issue the board will have to look at. Is there a true need there?

“That’s just one of those things that the board, once we can get down to the nitty gritty to be at the new school or not to be at the new school, it’s something you have to really look at and focus at. But just because you do not put an auxiliary gym in the new Boones Creek School, does not automatically mean you’re getting one at Crockett. You have to have that balance. You don’t not give one school something just because another school doesn’t have it.”

Ganger also said the issues the board faces take time before improvements come to life. In the meantime, rolling up their sleeves for fundraising is something that Good said Boone wouldn’t shy away from. The work put into programs such as Crockett’s football team during Bosken’s time there also didn’t go unnoticed.

“There’s a pride down there at Crockett when you talk about football now,” Ganger said. “I even told Coach Bosken after the football season this year, I told him thank you for helping build the football program — not the football team— he has built a football program down there. And I think that’s huge. And hopefully the next coach that comes in can just build on what he’s done cause he has set a nice groundwork for the next coach to come in. The next coach isn’t going to come in bare-to-nothing; he’s going to come in with something to build upon.”

The foundation the coach has set goes further back than just four years for Bosken. And that’s a story he told his players at Crockett.

“The story I tell my guys is what saved me was a football field/soccer field down the street from me. And luckily, the school always cut the grass,” Bosken recalled. “And if they didn’t cut the grass on that field, I don’t know where I would have spent most of my time. I honesty feel that if they didn’t commit to the simple things like cutting the field, or making sure it was lined and had no rocks on it…I mean I spent most of my childhood on the field. If there was’t a field for me to go to, I probably would have gotten in a lot of trouble.”

“I believe with athletic facilities and nice things, you get more kids out and coaches and parents and teachers working together. It’s a ministry. And its gonna help our community as a whole in the long run.”

In that future, Ganger hopes Bosken will one day see these changes he, in part, left Crockett in order to bring back into discussion.

“Hopefully if he comes back to Washington County 10 years down the road, he’ll see a huge change,” Ganger said. “He’ll see some of these things he was needing and wanting when he was here and hopefully they’ve been implemented.”

“He’ll see those and he’ll feel a little sense of pride because he did have something to do with the changes.”

Doggone it! Pets, owners gather for holiday day of fun, giving


Staff Writer

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There was a howlin’ good time had by all in downtown Jonesborough on Saturday.

The town’s Doggone Christmas event included dog owners and furry friends of all sizes to celebrate the holiday season as part of the Christmas in Olde Jonesborough event series.

Santa Clause sat in his sleigh as pet parents lined up to snap a picture of his or her dog with old Kris Kringle himself while a pet parade travelled down Main Street in a myriad of costumes.

But it wasn’t all just for fun.

The Humane Society of Washington County came out to celebrate the Christmas season but to also help local animals. Current president Lucinda Grady says the number of homeless animals is growing with more than 200 animals in foster care.

“Anything that can bring awareness to us, that’s great” Grandy said, “because we’re not the animal shelter. We’re a no-kill rescue and we pull animals from all of our local shelters — especially with animals that are not readily adoptable that people look over because they’re not pretty.”

Of course, there is no reason that — while helping the cause —  these pooches couldn’t also look fashionable.

Wearing fun winter garb from Santa hats to reindeer antlers, dogs who had entered in everything from the ugliest Christmas dog sweater and best holiday costume contests to the pet/owner lookalike contest took over downtown.

But no one enjoyed the costumes quite as much as the owners.

Angela Mayhew from Kingsport brought her 11-year-old Pomeranian named Kita to Doggone Christmas for their first year at the event. But Mayhew admitted the main reason she came to Jonesborough was Kita’s Christmas costume.

“(I’m here) just because I like to decorate her up and bring her out and show her off,” Mayhew said. “She probably would rather not have it on, but she does really good, doesn’t she?”

Small dogs weren’t the only canines having fun. Joseph Michaels brought his Irish Wolfhound, one of the tallest dog breeds in the world, to downtown — not for looks, but rather for socialization.

“It’s real convenient and gives us a chance to take the dogs out and let them socialize, which is good for him,” Michaels said. “You don’t want to have a dog that is this size and is not used to people.”

Though Michaels’ dog in particular was a large spectacle at the event, owning an Irish Wolfhound goes deeper than just having a furry companion—it’s part of a childhood dream, he said.

“My mom’s family’s Irish and she used to tell me about the wolfhounds in Ireland when she was a kid,” Michaels recalled. “It took a long time before I could afford to have a house and a yard and a fence. But she always told me stories about them so I wanted one.”

For those who’ve always wanted a cat, Saturday didn’t completely go to the dogs; the Humane Society of Washington County also featured their Cat Adoption Day at the Library Saturday morning as a way to get more of their feline friends adopted out.

“The director came and he wanted to work more with local organizations and bring awareness to nonprofits, and he picked us,” Grandy said. “It’s been a success. We’ve adopted four cats out already this morning and received donations down there.”

Whether these animal people and their four-legged friends were downtown for an adoption or for a picture with Santa, the love between humans and their pets was celebrated in Jonesborough this past Saturday with a particular cause in mind. The money raised at Doggone Christmas and the donations collected by the Humane Society of Washington County all go toward aiding pets and pet owners in Gatlinburg.

After the mountain town suffered a fire disaster which claimed over 700 homes and businesses last week, many humans and pets alike were left without a home. That’s where Grandy and many concerned citizens come in.

“We’re asking for donations and people can bring stuff by,” said Grandy. “Right now they’ve gotten stuff and they don’t need anything, but in two weeks they’ll need some more. So we’re letting it pile up and then in two weeks we’ll head back down there.”

“Because they’ll use what they’ve got, but they’ll run through it very quickly.”

Kiwanis Club gets ready for ‘Shop With a Cop’

As the month of December approaches, Jonesborough Kiwanis Club members are working with Sgt. Jamie Aistrop of the Jonesborough Police Department to fund the Annual “Shop With a Cop” charity event. 

Shop With A Cop was established in 2009 as a partnership between Jonesborough Kiwanis and the Jonesborough Police Department.  The goal is first and foremost to help less fortunate children and their families have the ability to enjoy a Christmas with gifts and a nice meal. 

In addition, this program is designed to introduce children to our first responders in a positive environment, and to build a positive bond between children and first responders. Each child is paired with an officer from the local police, fire and other first responders in Jonesborough and Washington County. 

Once paired, they have a meet-and-greet party at the Jonesborough Visitor Center over pizza and drinks, where the first responder and his or her new “partner” will get to know each other.   

At the end of the party, the officer will escort his/her “partner child” to Walmart, either in a police car or limousine escorted by police.   

Once in Walmart, the child will be given a gift card and he/she will go Christmas shopping for their family members as a team with the officer. 

While shopping, a second group of volunteers will be wrapping gifts for the child. This will all be given to the family along with food that has been donated or purchased.   

All this is coordinated with our county schools, other charity groups, and managed by the Jonesborough Police Department. It is a great event, and has grown financially from the ability to help 25 children in 2009 to being able to help 125 last year. 

In fact, the program has been so successful, the Johnson City Police Department has created a similar program based on the Jonesborough model. 

The reach of this program depends on funding and support from the community. There will be events throughout the weeks ahead that will serve as a vehicle to raise money so we can bring more children and families into the program.   

Tax deductible donations may also be sent to the Kiwanis of Jonesborough Foundation, PO Box 826, Jonesborough, TN 37659 or the Jonesborough Police Department at Town Hall in Jonesborough through December 17. 

For more information Sgt. Aistrop may be reached at 423-753-1045.

Receive a free t-shirt with a $25 donation

Receive a free t-shirt with a $25 donation

Letters to the Editor – Election

‘Low tax rate’ claim is not accurate

In reference to Kelly Wolfe’s query on his re-election campaign propaganda, “How have we kept Jonesborough’s property tax rate so low?” The answer is simple.  The tax rates to which Jonesborough’s property tax rate is being compared belong to municipalities which operate a school system, with the exception of Erwin. It makes good press, but the fact is, he’s trying to deceive us by comparing apples to oranges. Johnson City, Washington County, Unicoi County, and Elizabethton all operate school systems.
Operating a school system costs a municipality on the average from 40 cents to 60 cents of the property tax dollar.  Without that cost, Jonesborough should be able to provide all town services at a rate of $ .79 (assuming 40 percent to pay for a school system).  So in fact, based on the level of services provided, Jonesborough’s $1.31 is one of the highest tax rates in the region!
On another topic, Jonesborough now has the highest water and sewer rates in all East Tennessee, including Knoxville. So the question is:  How have our town leaders kept Jonesborough’s water and sewer rates so high?  Here’s how:  These are the rate and fee increases during Wolfe’s time in office as published in the Herald and Tribune and the Johnson City Press—July 2009 water bill and rate increase; July 2010 water and sewer rate increase; August 2011 property tax hike; September 2011 waste fee hike; July 2014 water and sewer rate increase; July 2014 property tax hike; July 2016 waste fee hike.
We cannot afford two more years of Kelly Wolfe.  Perhaps you don’t know Charlie Moore, but as mayor you can depend on him to be honest, forward-thinking, yet fair and fiscally-responsible; and he has no conflicts of interest.
Sam Mitchell

Former mayor weighs in at election
As a former Mayor and Alderman in Jonesborough, I find the same old over-spending rhetoric from Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe’s opposition to be the only thing you can say when you have no vision and no clue how your community can grow and improve. I heard it during my terms as mayor, Jimmy Neil Smith heard the same thing and so did Kevin McKinney during his nine years s your mayor. Yet, despite the nay-sayers, Jonesborough has experienced amazing growth and our quality of life is the envy of the region. The changes have not been dramatic, but also have been successful and long lasting. The projects and programs we initiated under Jimmy Neil Smith’s leadership like the Town Hall, Visitors Center and Library are still an essential part of our community.
Charlie Moore’s vision is to sell Wetlands Water Park and the Jackson Theatre. He is clueless to the fact that the Town would have to repay all the grant money in the pool or build another one. It is the most cost-effective municipal aquatics facility in the region and many years it has actually generated a profit. By my calculations, Kelly Wolfe has obtained over a million dollars in grants and donations to support the Jackson Theatre Project, How is Charlie Moore going to pay the back? And he obviously doesn’t know that downtown theatre renovation projects are major economic engines in the communities like Franklin, Crossville and Harriman.
Kelly Wolfe and his administration has done a tremendous job on building facilities and programs to enhance the quality of life of all residents. It is amazing what has been accomplished, and we still have one of the lowest tax trees in the region. He is an excellent leader and deserves the support of the Jonesborough residents.
Tobie Bledsoe
Former Mayor Jonesborough

Gutter attack reveals lack of positive plan
I feel compelled to offer a couple of observations on the Jonesborough Mayor’s race based on some recent misleading anonymous calls and downright nasty mailers done on behalf of candidate Charlie Moore. Evidently Mr. Moore and his friends have decided to operate from the gutter because they lack the kind of motivating positive agenda everyone should desire and expect from their elected local leaders.
Kelly and his wife Jennifer should be commended, not criticized, for their many contributions to our community.  They recently gave the money and performed most of the work needed to move the JAMA Food Pantry into its new home at Persimmon Ridge Park. There is no better expression of love for others than helping to feed a neighbor.
The Wolfes also recently pledged a sizeable contribution to help buy a building and give it to the town as part of the Jackson Theatre project.  Once open, the Jackson will be a big driver of Jonesborough’s tourism economy and will be an important way to help downtown businesses thrive in the evenings during the week.
And now, with the latest bit of mud being thrown, Charlie Moore and his band of bullies are trying to say that the donation of a vacant building to our local fire department for training purposes is somehow an abuse of power by our mayor.  Where has Charlie Moore been for the last eight years?  What has he done that was good for our community?
Do the people of Jonesborough really want someone with such a negative perspective as their leader?
I think not and hope the people of Jonesborough will join me and my family in promoting a positive, hopeful vision for our town by voting to re-elect Mayor Kelly Wolfe on November 8th.
Josh Conger

Mayor Wolfe’s results speak for themselves
For more than 40 years, I have worked in the journalism field and am now retired. Fifteen of those years were spent in Jonesborough, where I served as the publisher of the Herald & Tribune, Washington County and Jonesborough’s local paper.
During that time, I had the opportunity to see Mayor Kelly Wolfe at work. When he came into office eight years ago, he had many difficult issues facing him. But he did what he does best: he built a strong team, rolled up his sleeves and got to work, pouring countless hours into the town he so loves.
Now the results speak for themselves.
Once there was raw sewage in the creek. He fixed that problem.
Year after year, downtown businesses were flooded, causing stores to go out of business and no one wanting to locate there. That has ended.
Our newspaper had continuous coverage of the “big dig” downtown, following Mayor Wolfe as he led a team in a massive project that replaced water, power and sewer simultaneously.
It was a tough time for the town, but the result is a thriving, vibrant downtown, the birth of the Main Street Jonesborough program, and the emergence of a bustling venue for festivals and events which boosts traffic and tourism, and feeds the local economy.
Time after time, Mayor Kelly Wolfe has met obstacles and problems head-on with a positive determination and a remarkable work ethic.
As the publisher of the H&T, Mayor Wolfe and I had many frank discussions, and at times, we had to talk about some difficult issues. We didn’t always agree. But unlike many “politicians,” he was always responsive, and he answered our questions in an honest, forthright manner. His integrity is beyond reproach — certainly a rare commodity in our current political environment.
The many relationships Mayor Wolfe has developed on behalf of Jonesborough — locally, regionally and nationally — will serve the town in a positive way for many years to come.
Because of his strong leadership, the community is now looked to as an example of municipal excellence and envied because of so many things done so well.
Few towns in America have the quality of leadership Jonesborough currently enjoys.
So, for those of you who love your community, please vote for the one person who shares your passion and your dreams, who knows how to provide positive leadership, and who will work tirelessly for the town’s continued success — Mayor Kelly Wolfe.
Lynn Richardson

Alderman Dickson has shown ability to lead
I attend many Board of Mayor and Alderman meetings.  I have observed Adam as he represents all the citizens of Jonesborough.
I have noted that he was never absent. He is a team player, who wants to see Jonesborough continue to develop into a community that represents all the people, respond to the people’s needs, and be economically strong.
With Adam’s participation as an alderman, he understands that much of our growth comes from the source of sales taxes.
Therefore, he has promoted plans that attract tourism and businesses that will achieve those goals. Yet, he is sensitive to all the citizens needs and will voice his opinion to respond in their interest.
Ed Wolff

Current board is moving town in right direction
I have been a resident of Jonesborough for over 50 years. I have seen a lot of projects started and completed, but in the last few years there has been so much accomplished.
Our downtown is beautiful and I am amazed at the crowds that are on the streets especially on weekends.
I am looking forward to the Jackson Theatre being renovated. That is where I took my wife on our first date many years ago. It would be nice to take her on a date there again!
The projects that are started need to be completed and with the leadership of the Board that has Jonesborough’s interest at heart, these projects can be accomplished.
We need to continue in a positive direction that the Town is going and with the leadership of Mayor Kelly Wolfe, Alderman Terry Countermine, Alderman Adam Dickson, Alderman David Sell, and Alderman Chuck Vest, we can accomplish these goals.
All are good people – their hearts are for Jonesborough!
Please vote to keep our Town moving forward – VOTE FOR A POSITIVE TEAM FOR JONESBOROUGH – Wolfe, Countermine and Dickson.
Charles Causey

Close to source: Letter advocates Wolfe for Mayor
The upcoming Jonesborough municipal election is an important one and the tone and motives of who represents us really matters.
While not officially involved in town government, as the wife of the mayor, I am sure everyone will understand that I feel just as invested as Kelly in the success of our town.
We are privileged to live in such a wonderful place. Kelly and I have raised our daughters here and we enjoy contributing to and being an active part of the thriving Jonesborough community.
I am very troubled by the negative statements from Mr. Moore and many of those involved with his campaign.
It is telling that Mr. Moore has failed to offer any positive vision for Jonesborough. His campaign and its supporters promote negative, personal attacks that are just untrue.
I hope the voters will think past these attacks to the type of leadership we will be left with after the election should Mr. Moore be successful.
You do not have to agree with someone one hundred percent of the time to be able to appreciate his intentions.
Kelly is very passionate about promoting our town and has done an excellent job staying positive and productive with his agenda while in office, and our town is much better off for it.
It goes without saying, but I wholeheartedly endorse the great progress we have made over the last eight years with my husband, Mayor Kelly Wolfe.
We would both appreciate the opportunity to remain a part of the team that continues to make Jonesborough even better.
Jennifer Wolfe

First-hand facts help set the record straight
It’s a real shame that today’s desperate national political Washington-style politics are being adopted in our Town, with more mud and far less facts thrown about willy-nilly on anonymous fliers and mailers.
I’d like to take a minute to help wipe a bit of the rhetorical mud off and set the record straight about where our town is today by citing simple facts — truths anyone can go look up for themselves with just a few minutes in front of the keyboard.
I attend most every board meeting so I know these things firsthand.
Fact number one: Jonesborough features the lowest property tax rate in the region for a city or town offering municipal services. At a $1.31 per $100 of assessed value, Jonesborough’s tax rate is .57 cents cheaper than Johnson City, without all the traffic. Even cheaper than Erwin at $1.41.
How’d that happen, you ask? Because sales tax revenue has grown 56 percent in the last eight years, while residential and commercial construction has grown property tax collections by 46 percent in that same time frame!
So what did our current Board of Mayor and Aldermen do with the money?
Unlike Washington D.C.politicians, they actually put the money to work providing services. Like 35 percent of our streets in town being repaved! Like making the corner of Fox and Main Streets into an attractive entryway into our town. Like adding additional walking and running space for local citizens to use. Like the addition of a historic train station to boost tourism.
Let’s keep our team in place, vote Wolfe for Mayor and Countermine and Dickson for Aldermen on November 6.
Ruth Verhegge