Adam Dickson chosen as new Langston Centre supervisor

Adam Dickson has been selected as the first Langston Centre supervisor.


The Johnson City Parks and Recreation Department has selected Adam Dickson to become the first Langston Centre supervisor. Dickson’s first day will be Monday, July 22.

“We are very excited to have Adam join our team to oversee the new Langston Centre,” said James Ellis, Parks and Recreation director. “Adam’s past experience with volunteer groups and nonprofits as well as his knowledge and involvement of the Langston project and the community made him our candidate of choice.” 

He currently serves as vice mayor on the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen, and formerly served as Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union regional community development coordinator.

Dickson holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Carson-Newman University and a master’s degree in public administration from East Tennessee State University. He has been an adjunct political science instructor at ETSU for more than 14 years, lecturing on issues related to American politics and teaching a course designed to expose students to a variety of political philosophies.

“I know and understand the desire of LEAD to see the Langston Centre properly memorialize their alma mater while also set a tone of inclusion and community for Johnson City and the Tri-Cities region,” Dickson said. “Volunteers will be essential in the early days of the Langston Centre. I believe that I have the interpersonal communications skills to interact with a variety of groups and organizations.”

LEAD is an acronym for Langston Education and Arts Development Inc., an organization founded by alumni of Langston High School to preserve the integrity, legacy and historical value of the property, which served as the City’s African-American public high school from 1893 until 1965 when Johnson City Schools were completely integrated. The City of Johnson City began extensive renovation of the building in October 2018, turning the school’s gymnasium and former shop area into the Langston Centre.

Located at 315 Elm St., Langston Centre is slated to open this fall with the central goal of providing cultural arts and education to the public. The two-story, nearly 13,000 square-foot facility will host events and programming in the arts, music and a wide array of educational classes and assistance for youth, including job preparation.

County mayor vetoes athletic facilities project change order


Staff Writer

The Washington County Commission is ready to see the county athletic facility project at Boones Creek in its next phase, but now, that won’t happen until bids are received for the project.

Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy vetoed a resolution to authorize a change order for BurWil Construction Co. to do preliminary work on the athletic facility site for no more than $800,000 after it was passed by the Washington County Commission at its Monday, June 24 meeting.

“When we got to looking at the construction documents to find out where to go to reference the change order,” Grandy told the Herald & Tribune, “it turns out there really wasn’t anything in there that allowed a change order like that to take place. So what I did was veto the resolution that was passed by the commission so that it wasn’t enacted.”

Now a new resolution, which was passed by the county’s budget committee on Wednesday, July 10, calls for an open bid process. The new resolution will be considered by the commission at the upcoming Monday, July 22 meeting.

“It talks about the same amount of money, a $800,000 maximum. it talks about phase one being the site work,” Grandy said, “the grading of the dirt to make it level for the fields and putting in the underground utility and seeding and that sort of thing. But it does include a bid process. That was probably the biggest piece of the change. We couldn’t make the change order through the original contractor, BurWil.”

Sending the next phase of the project out to bid will likely set the project back, Grandy said, with bids expected to go out in late July or early August.

“It’ll slow (the project) down a little, but the reality is the track wasn’t going to be ready and the fields weren’t going to be ready at the beginning of school anyway because of the amount of time it took the committee to sort of get to where they were,” Grandy said. “So unfortunately, we had to put it on pause for a few weeks.

“But when you think about it, that (Commerce, Industry and Agriculture) committee’s been wrestling around with this thing since November, so to get it right and do it the right way, we just have to take the extra time.”

The CIA Committee took over the discussion of the athletic complex after a joint task force between Johnson City and Washington County officials was dissolved and the city opted out of partnering with the county on a potential sports complex at the site. Since then, the committee has discussed plans for the athletic facilities project as well as getting the site at least partially complete by the time school starts on Aug. 5.

“We’re trying make sure the children have something other than piles of dirt this fall,” CIA Chairman Phil Carriger said at the June meeting. “We’ve looked at a this thing. We’ve talked about it. It’s time to do something for the children.”

At the June meeting, multiple commissioners were also concerned that the resolution didn’t involve receiving bids for the next phase of the project.

“This is a considerable amount of money,” Commissioner Mike Ford said at the June meeting. “I just wonder, wouldn’t it be prudent to put this out for big? It’s a government project. If I’m wrong, someone tell me I’m wrong.”

The next county commission meeting will be held on Monday, July 24, at 6 p.m. at the George Jaynes Justice Center, located at 108 W Jackson Blvd. #1210, Jonesborough.

BOE approves tuition-based pre-K program


Staff Writer

Come Aug. 5, the new Boones Creek School will welcome K-8 students. But the building will welcome a locally funded, tuition-based pre-K program as well.

In a 6-3 vote, the Washington County Board of Education opted to make the pre-K program at Boones Creek a first-come-first-served, tuition-based program at the board’s Tuesday, July 9 meeting. To fund the program, the school board opted to use $150,000 from its fund balance reserves.

“Because of this new school and because of where it is and because of our desire to attract students to that location, the school board decided to use money out of its fund balance for this recurring expense to the tune of $150,000,” Director of Schools Bill Flanary told the Herald & Tribune. “So this is the first program that we’ll have that is entirely funded locally. That is why the school board decided to go on a tuition basis.”

The cost for the program is $125 a week or $4,500 for the year and will be lead by a certified teacher from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with extended hours offered for an extra cost. But for some board members, the cost of the program is a concern when considering students who couldn’t afford it.

“How many would love to come and can’t pay?” board member Jason Day asked at the meeting. “If we’re doing this to help the kids, I don’t know why you couldn’t (take kids who couldn’t pay). Life ain’t fair, but it ain’t fair to the kids that don’t get to come either.

“I just thought we were in the business to help kids.”

Boones Creek will host the only tuition-based, pre-K program in the county. The school system also offers pre-K programs at Grandview Elementary, Gray Elementary, Lamar Elementary and Ridgeview Elementary.

Grandview, Gray and Lamar offer a voluntary lottery pre-K program that accepts economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, students identified as English Language Learners, students in state custody, students who are at-risk for failure due to circumstances of abuse or neglect and any other students who meet the age requirement. Grandview and Ridgeview also offer a special education pre-K program. Those pre-K programs do not require a fee.

Board member David Hammond said that he also felt there are families in the Boones Creek area who could utilize the program but couldn’t afford it.

“Where is the next closest pre-k? Because if you have one who can’t afford it — and there is a need in certain areas in the Boones Creek district where they just can’t afford it,” Hammond said. “I always thought this program was intended to give a leg up to students to help them succeed in kindergarten on up. I always thought we had the pre-Ks not based solely on room (in the school), but on the need of the county.”

Flanary said that because the program is supported through fund balance dollars, the board is hoping the program will be able to financially support its self in the future.

“With the Boones Creek program being completely funded locally, we can do about what we want to,” Flanary said. “I am sensitive to David Hammond’s desire to have a program for economically disadvantaged families, but this one has kind of got to pay for its self because we’re using the fund balance. It’s one-time money going into a recurring program. That teacher has to be paid every year. It needs to generate a little income.”

Flanary added that the program goes beyond childcare; it’s designed to offer an educational opportunity for students to get ahead before entering kindergarten.

“We and the board feels like it’s just a good investment for the community, the school and, most importantly, those 4-year-olds,” Flanary said. “It gives them a real leg up on being literate as they go into kindergarten.”

“We added the teacher to payroll just this week. She’s a veteran and I talked with her and she’s going to be a dandy. She really is tuned in to that pre-K mindset.”

Washington County Director of Elementary Education Karla Kyte said 13 parents had submitted an application for the program. She also said the state has approved the program and that one teacher can work with 10 pre-k students at a time and once the program hits 11, an instructional assistant must be added. Flanary said the goal is to enroll 20 children in the program.

If the 20-student goal is not reached, Flanary said the school system could also spark interest at its ribbon cutting event set to celebrate the new Boones Creek School on Saturday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“If we’re still marketing the program, we will mention that (at the event) and will hopefully have a whole bunch of families to market that to,” Flanary said. “With any luck, we will have already hit our 20 and maybe are beyond that.”

County moves ahead with plans for athletic facility


Staff Writer

Update: Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy vetoed the resolution that was approved by the commission at the Monday, June 24 meeting. On Wednesday, July 10, the Washington County Budget Committee discussed and approved sending a resolution to the commission to receive bids for preliminary electrical and underground work for the the county athletic facilities project in Boones Creek.

As the new Boones Creek School nears completion, the Washington County Commission has also made it a goal to see that at least a portion of the county athletic facilities behind the school are complete as well.

At the June 24 meeting, the commission approved a resolution for a concept plan and a plan of work not to exceed $800,000. The resolution passed 8-5. Commissioners Steve Light, Kent Harris, Jerome Fitzgerald, Danny Edens and Mike Ford were opposed. Commissioner Robbie Tester abstained from the vote and Jodi Jones was absent.

This step in the project includes basic preliminary work set to be done before the equipment currently on the site is moved. Tommy Burleson of Burleson Construction Co. said it would cost about $100,000 if the equipment had to be brought back to the site and if the dirt currently on the site had to be hauled back in, which Commissioner and Commerce Industry and Agriculture Committee Chairman Phil Carriger said he felt would only slow the process.

“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to come up with a resolution that allows the project to proceed with moving dirt, installing drainage, underground utilities, shaping fields and installing grass while the contractors are at the site,” Carriger said. “Then later on your CIA can take a look at what additional things we want to do out there.”

However, some commissioners were concerned with the $800,000 price tag.

Commissioner Kent Harris said he felt $800,000 was a lot to take out of the $3.2 million budgeted for the Boones Creek athletic facilities.

“What I hate for us to do is spend this kind of money,” Harris said. “I think it’s going to hurt what we really wanna do out there. I think we can do this for a lot less. I think it’s just an outrageous number.

“I think it’s obvious someone else doesn’t have our same goal of keeping the price down on this project.”

Burleson added that $227,000 of the $800,000 for the preliminary work was for the design portion of the project.

Meanwhile, commissioners were also concerned about bidding the project.

“This is a considerable amount of money,” Commissioner Mike Ford said. “I just wonder, wouldn’t it be prudent to put this out for bid? It’s a government project. If I’m wrong, someone tell me I’m wrong.”

In June of 2017, the commission approved the contract with BurWil and a plan to grade and provide “other site development work related to the construction of a county athletic facility and park.” Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy reminded the commission that there are two contracts, one contract for the school and another for the athletic site, which is a county project and not that of the school system’s.

He also said the contract for the county athletic facilities at Boones Creek included leaving the site “finished”, but that changes would be needed for future developments if the work on the land is not complete.

“I think the suggestion was to bring the change order with BurWil to have the shape of the county’s field facility shaped the way of the site plan,” Grandy said. “The way the site plan is currently designed, from the school to Highland Church Road, there is about a 10-foot gradual slope towards the road. The track and the football field area, there’s an elevation change in one corner of the field to the other.

“So if it is finished the way the plans currently call for, the track area will be out of level, the soccer field and football field area would also have the same slope and the softball and baseball field areas would have to be reshaped.”

Carriger said with school starting on Aug. 5, one of the CIA Committee’s goals was to make sure the Boones Creek School students had grass and at least a portion of the county athletic facility site ready for use.

“I think we would like to have this presentable for the kids to go to school in August,” Carriger said. “I think we felt like we had the construction equipment already there. Our thought was that it was prudent to proceed to get the dirt moved, get it sloped the right way, get the grass seed on so we could look at it in the future … there is a lot that we discussed, but we felt like time was of the essence and that with the August opening date, we needed to do something.”

Boiler rises to top of school priority list


Staff Writer

The Washington County School System recently placed a new maintenance need at the top of its list.

At Washington County’s Health, Education and Welfare Committee meeting on Thursday, July 3, commissioners unanimously approved a plan to replace the boiler at David Crockett High School for $196,000.

The boiler replacement is a maintenance need the school system’s director of schools, Bill Flanary, and maintenance supervisor, Phillip Patrick, said was not currently on the school district’s list of maintenance improvement needs, but has quickly risen to the top.

“On our large list of priorities, this boiler was not on that list,” Patrick said to the HEW Committee. “But it’s a situation where you do your maintenance, one day it finally goes and you have to replace it. That’s where this falls. That boiler’s probably outlived itself by about 10 years.”

Patrick said the boiler, which school officials said was at least 30 years old, went out in the spring, but it was able to be patched in order to make it through the remainder of the school year. Now, the plan is to replace the boiler with a three-boiler system that is expected to be more efficient.

“What we’re going to have is three Lockinvar condensing boilers,” Patrick said. “They’re smaller boilers, but they’ll have some redundancy. We lose one, we’ll have some time to replace it and, quite possibly, get one at a cheaper price because we wouldn’t have to do an emergency purchase for the replacement. The efficiency should be good enough to offset some of the natural gas costs.”

The boiler replacement will most likely also be part of the energy savings plan the Washington County Board of Education will be evaluating. Energy Savings Group, a Johnson City-based company that helps improve an organization or business’s energy efficiency.

At the school board’s June meeting, ESG Business Development Manager Russ Nelson said the boilers are certain to be part of the comprehensive energy saving plan for the school system, which the board of education will consider. The board of education later discussed the ESG plans on Monday, June 17, but no action was taken.

“We have a phenomenal project depending on what you choose to include in it,” Nelson said to the board during the boiler discussion. “It will definitely pay for itself from energy and maintenance (cost reductions). We’ve got over 2,000 hours of engineering into this now. We’ve really learned a lot about your buildings. We don’t have any question these boilers are gonna make the project. And if you chose to not do some of the heavy HVAC replacement work, that’s the really slow payback stuff. That’s just work you need to do. I don’t see any reason (not to). This is a win-win for the schools and the county.”

Family still searching for lost Chihuahua

“Spudz” was last seen on Route 34.


If you’re out and about near Davy Crockett Road, keep watch for a dog that has recently gone missing in the area.

“Spudz” or “Spudderz” is a 1-year-old female Chihuahua that was last seen on Old State Route 34 on June 25. She is brindle and has a white stripe down her nose.

“She’s a bit shy,” owner Trinity Nance said. “She does bark, but she isn’t mean or aggressive. So if someone picked her up, she’s really calm and collected. She’s cautious but friendly.”

Nance also said the dog will respond to certain words if found.

“Certain things that you say, she’ll respond to like her name or if you say ‘puppy pops’,” Nance said, “because thats what we say when we give them treats and they get excited.

“What we’re hoping for is that someone picked her up. We miss her so much.”

In the meantime, fliers have been posted throughout town in hopes that what they feel like is a missing part of their family will be found.

“It’s a family dog,” Nance said. “It definitely feels like we’ve lost a member of the family.”

If found, please call (423) 552-7741 or (423) 552-0296.

County takes another look at autopsy budget


Staff Writer

Washington County approved its budget for the upcoming fiscal year Monday, but not before commissioners discussed the county’s medical examiner budget that the commission cut by $217,000.

In a 13-1 vote, the county commission approved a motion from Commissioner Mike Ford to reduce the county medical examiner line item to $63,000. Ford also requested the county’s safety committee take up the discussion in future meetings. Commissioner Larry England was opposed to the motion and Jodi Jones was absent.

During the public hearing portion of the meeting, Washington County Constable John Daniel said that Washington County changed medical examiners in 2011 and currently has a contract with East Tennessee State University. Because the ETSU department works under the state health commission, he said, the number of autopsies has risen.

“We took ETSU as our medical examiner,” Daniel said. “They are actually working for the state health commissioner so that means that they have to follow those rules. That’s how our autopsies went from 40 to now they’re doing over 672 autopsies a year.

“If you were a local medical examiner, you were appointed by your county commission. You did not have to go by those rules. Those rules were only meant for the people who worked for the state.”

An interim medical examiner was appointed by the former county mayor, Dan Eldridge, to finish out the former examiner’s term in June of 2018, which was approved by the commission in a 24-0 vote. However, the contract with ETSU expired on September 30, 2018 and was extended, Washington County Attorney Allyson Wilkinson said.

Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy also said the examiner’s term expires in September of 2019, meaning the contract and the examiner’s term aren’t aligned.

“You had a five-year appointment for a medical examiner and a four-year contract,” Grandy said. “They’re still out of sync and I’m not sure how you rectify it. The statute requires that the term is for five years. There may be a way around it. That seems like a CTAS (County Technical Assistance Service) question.”

However, some commissioners felt the commission was left out of the process.

According to Tennessee Code Annotated 38-7-104, “A county medical examiner shall be appointed by the county mayor, subject to confirmation by the county legislative body, based on a recommendation from a convention of physicians resident in the county.” Though the interim examiner was approved in June of 2018, some commissioners were just learning of the extended contract with ETSU.

“I’m finding a lot of this out tonight,” Commissioner Danny Edens said. “I’m having a real problem finding out how we got to this point to start with, how the legislative body was completely left out of this process. That’s how it feels to me that the legislative body was completely passed over and left out of this process. How do we get to the point where this legislative body was left out of the process altogether?”

Wilkinson said the last time the required convention of physicians was held to provide a medical examiner recommendation was 2014. Then, two more interims were appointed, including the current examiner.

“In the meantime, the contracts didn’t line up for timing purposes and the ETSU contract expired September 30, 2018,” Wilkinson explained. “It was extended and then the issue of the medical examiner was not raised. It wasn’t in our office to calendar anything to put in front of the body.”

Ford’s original motion regarding the medical examiner budget would have removed the funds for the line item. Instead, the commission opted to set the budget at $63,000 to make it through the next 90 days.

“If we cut this back to zero, where are our autopsies going tomorrow?,” Chairman Greg Matherly asked. “I’d rather take those 90 days than no option at all.”

Meanwhile, Ford remained that the commission was unaware of the medical examiner issue.

“We can’t build schools, we can’t do the things we’ve got to do and we’re talking about over a quarter of a million dollars in one year,” Ford said. “We need to know what’s going on. I feel like an ostrich with my head stuck in the sand sometimes. I’ve asked on several occasions, you have to admit I have, about this medical examiner thing for several months.

“$280,000 is a lot of money,” Grandy replied. “It’s just that we had this task of forensics. It was budgeted last year. It was in last year’s budget. So it’s not as if the money appropriation hasn’t come before the legislative body. It has. Here we are looking at it again.”

K-9s show off their skills at Paws in Blue

Officer Dustin Fleming and his K-9 partner, Loki, of the Jonesborough K-9 unit, wait for the events.


H&T Correspondent

Dog lovers and those who wished to support local law enforcement attended the second annual fundraiser for Paws in Blue on Saturday, June 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Jonesborough Middle School’s football field. 

At last year’s fundraiser there were nine dogs who participated in the competition demonstration this year the number increased to 11.

“It’s called a competition demonstration because the dogs will be competing for some things, but then they will also go through an obstacle course that will demonstrate things they have to do on the job, such as jump through a window,” said Paws in Blue President Ruth Verhegge.

The K-9s that took part in the day’s events were from the Jonesborough Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Johnson City Police Department, Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department.

The purpose of the fundraiser was to raise money for the Jonesborough Police Department to add a fourth dog to their K-9 Unit and to have funds to take care of the dogs.

Verhegge said she wants to have a cushion balance, meaning the money set aside will finance things that the dogs and unit will need in the future. She used Loki, the senior dog of the unit, as an example of this.

Officer William Rhodes and Mali entertains crowd on the agility obstacle course.

“Most K-9s retire around age 10 and he’s eight years old, so we need to have money to replace him when he retires,” said Verhegge.

She also said that money is needed for vet bills and other things that the dogs need.

The money raised Saturday will be used to buy the fourth K-9 and provide money for the program.

Verhegge said the amount needed to support one dog is about $3,000.

The celebrity bagging event that took place Friday at Food City raised $1,500 for Paws in Blue. While final numbers for Saturday’s event are not yet complete, funds raised at both events are currently estimated to be about $4,000.

Major Jamie Aistrop, the emcee of the fundraiser, said that Paws in Blue has been beneficial to the Jonesborough police department because they did not always have the finances needed to keep their program going, such as when a dog retired, and a replacement was needed.

“It’s important for Jonesborough to have a K-9 unit first and foremost because it’s a good public relations tool and secondly, it acts as a crime determent,” Aistrop said.

He said that people are aware that Jonesborough has drug dogs and are not afraid to use them. He believes that this cuts down the amount of narcotics in the area.

Jonesborough is known for hosting events and the K-9 unit is used to protecting those who attend them. Cygan, one of the dogs in the unit, is certified in explosive detection and is used for such situations.

The first part of the fundraiser began with the article search. Each dog had to find six different items within three minutes.

Loki and his handler officer Dustin Fleming won the article search finding all the items within 35 seconds.

The second category of the competition was fastest dog. The dogs were unleashed and commanded to apprehend a decoy suspect. The dog that took the least amount of time to get from the starting point to the decoy won the category, which was Rudi from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Before the competition continued, several of the dogs and their handlers went through the agility course set up on the football field.

The first dog that went through was Mali from the Washington County Sheriff’s office. He made the crowd laugh when he, at first, refused to go up the ramp and instead went under and around. He even tried to go up the side before finally running up the ramp.

Rudi went through the agility course with the least amount of difficulty.

The third category of the competition was recall, which means that the dog who responded to their handler’s command to stop before biting the decoy’s arm to apprehend would win.

Cygan won by stopping immediately when his handler officer Hannah Fleming called out the command.

Wanting to give the dogs a break from the heat and physical activity, the event organizers decided to take a break.

Several of the officers that took part in the day’s events participated in the donut eating contest.

The fourth and final category of the competition was hardest bite, which was won by Rudi.

At the end of the competition demonstration, winners of each category were named and given a trophy.

Rudi and his handler officer, Roger Antone, were named the Regional Top Dog because Rudi did well in the four-category point system shown above.

More than 100 people attended the fundraiser, and several brought their dogs to enjoy the sun and activities.

Those with dogs were asked to stay up near the bleachers so that the K-9s would not get distracted from their task.

One couple, the Malcolms from Bristol, Virginia, said they saw Verhegge on the news and decided to come out and see the K-9s. They brought their two-year-old rescued German shepherd out because it’s a good way to socialize her.

“We really enjoyed it, especially the recall, and appreciate them putting it on,” said Mrs. Malcolm.

Lisa Larrick and her daughter Sharon, residences of Jonesborough, attended the fundraisers because they love dogs and wanted to show their support for the police department.

Both the dogs and law enforcement are very important to them because six months ago their dog Daisy was stolen, and Lisa is grateful for the work that officers are putting in to bring Daisy back home.

The Larricks wanted to show their gratitude and support for all that the Jonesborough police do by attending the fundraiser.

Aside from the competition, the fundraiser also had vendors and booths set up for local organizations.

The vendors were Young Living, Duke and Fox custom per embroidery, Krispy Kreme, Chick-Fil-A, Lowe’s and Sticky Paws Bakery.

Civitan presents check for dog park


The Town of Jonesborough received a $25,000 sponsorship for its new dog park from the Jonesborough Civitan Club at Monday night’s Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.

This is the second funding source that the Town has received for the new park, the first being a $25,000 grant from the Randy Boyd Foundation. The Civitan Club will receive naming rights for the park as part of their donation. The new park is set to be named “Jonesborough Civitan Dog Park”.

The new park will be Jonesborough’s first dog park, and an amenity that has been in high demand. Community members have voiced the need for an exclusive park for furry friends at community input meetings over a number of years. The hope is to serve town residents and surrounding community with a space for owners to bring their dogs to run and play.

Jonesborough Civitan Dog Park will be located off of State Route 34, adjacent to the new municipal garage facility. It will be outfitted with a fence enclosure so that dogs can safely run off-leash in a wide-open space.  In addition, the park will contain shade trees, beautiful landscaping, benches for seating and dog waste stations. 

Succeeding phases of development for the dog park include an interactive water feature for the dogs as well as pavilions and walking trails.

Additional funding is still being sought by the town for the dog park.  Recreation Capital Projects Planner Rachel Conger says that she is actively seeking donations from the community and area businesses. 

“Many of us love and treat our furry friends like they are one of our own children — we take them for rides in the car and everywhere we take our families. We are excited to be able to provide a park exclusively for our dogs. In addition, children and adults alike will be able to come and play with their furry friends here. It’s not just a space for dogs, but also for humans to be able to play and interact with their pets.” 

Conger said any inquiries related to the dog park or potential donations can be directed to her at (423) 791-3869.         

New StoryTown Brigade members receive certification

Photo features left to right, Guerry McConnell, Beverly Harrison, Tom Hitchcock, Catherine Shealy, Wallace Shealy and Jules Corriere. (Not pictured are Pam Gosnell, Stephen Goodman, and Mary Noel)


As the Jonesborough StoryTown Initiative gains momentum, having produced four plays and a radio show series, as well as collecting dozens of community stories, the new training program has been busy training StoryTown Brigade members in order to meet the demands of all the new programming.

This spring, a class of eight new story collectors met to learn best practices in story collecting. Their training included learning about the art of framing questions, the importance of active listening, and other interview techniques, as well as where to look for potential storytellers in their own community. Through class training and hands-on field experience, the group learned about conducting story circles and one-on-one interviews, and even touched briefly on indexing, archiving, and identifying keywords in collected stories.

The group was certified on May 28, and will now join the growing team of StoryTown Brigade members, who are contributing to the larger effort to collect stories from community members in Washington County and the region. These stories will be used in interpretive pieces, such as at the Chuckey Depot, as well as in creative pieces, such as the annual community plays at the McKinney Center and the Senior Center. The original stories and transcripts will be archived at the Heritage Alliance, and available to the public, as part of the StoryTown’s initativie to capture the stories of the rich culture and heritage of the region.

More importantly, the StoryTown Initiative is especially seeking stories to fill in the gaps of missing history, including stories from the African American community and from among local veterans.

During this training, led by the McKinney Center’s Jules Corriere, the class also had the experience of learning about the history of the storytelling movement by Jimmy Neil Smith, founder of the National Storytelling Festival. Smith provides valuable insight into the growing field of storytelling, and how it has helped the Town of Jonesborough prosper.

Members of this newly certified class are: Pam Gosnell, Stephen Goodman, Beverly Harrison, Tom Hitchcock, Mary Noel, Guerry McConnell, Catherine Shealy, and Wallace Shealy. They will soon be seen throughout the region, collecting stories for these important projects.

Those interested in joining the fall training, or in sharing a story should contact the McKinney Center at (423) 753-0562. The next training will take place beginning in August. There will also be a special class for Home School students in story collecting, also starting at the end of August, during the fall semester at the McKinney Center.

New historical marker designates home’s importance

The Keebler-Keefauver House, located on Hales Chapel Road in Gray, now boasts a new historical marker in its front yard.


On Friday, May 31st, the Keebler-Keefauver House at 632 Hales Chapel Road, Gray, received the 57th Tennessee Historical Marker placed within Washington County’s bounds, in a ceremony held by Johnson City officials who currently own the historic structure.

This marker stands proudly in the front yard of the home in the Keebler’s Crossroads community. Constructed in the 1850s – while some historical writings suggest construction as early as 1842 and others show completion as late as 1860 — the Keebler-Keefauver House is a grand example of federal-style brick homes that dot the county’s landscape. James Keebler (1789-1859) of Berkeley County, Virginia, had the four-room structure built of hand-made brick and hand-blown glass windows, which was possibly constructed by slaves owned by Keebler, as well as an outdoor kitchen, which was later used as a smokehouse.

In 1923, the large kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and two porches were added, and some additional additions made at later dates.

James Keebler first married Mary Rector and had seven children: Rector, Malinda, Oziah, Sally, Mary, James Jr., and Enoch. After Mary’s death, he married Sarah Haws (1795-1888) in 1827, with whom he had seven children: Catharine, Volentine, John A., Benjamine, and Sarah. Joseph and Sarah are buried on the property in the Keebler Cemetery, established circa 1850s. According to the WCCL – a survey performed by the WPA in the 1930s, four Keebler family members’ graves were found in this cemetery along with graves of slaves.

In the 1940s, the cemetery was cleaned off with permission of the Keebler family, yet James and Sarah’s markers survived and are housed on the property today.

In 1950, Weldon Faw and Malinda B. Keefauver purchased the farm from Joseph G. “Joe” Keefauver, which began the legacy of the Keeland Dairy Farm. With the purchase of the farm, the Keefauver’s began purchasing registered Holstein cattle, which they showed in many fairs all across the region winning many ribbons and awards.

In 1963, the farm was sold to their son and his wife, William “Billy Joe” J. and Jean Leonard Keefauver. In 1987, the dairy herd was sold, while some Holstein heifers and beef cattle remained.

In 2009, the City of Johnson City purchased the farm to create a new city park, which never has come to fruition due to new annexation laws that have been passed since the purchase.

Nearly a decade later, city officials continue to debate ideas for use of the old farm that include: a city park, a history museum, a new subdivision, and/or an agricultural education center.

German company opts for local industrial park

Local officials and EDM-Papst representatives pose in front of the new sign.


Staff Writer

German air conditioning component company, EBM-Papst, has officially made its decision on the location for its newest manufacturing site. Now, it will call Washington County home.

The electric motor and fan manufacturer plans to bring 200 jobs and a $37 million investment to the county. But at the announcement event for the new employer on Thursday, May 16, at the Washington County Industrial Park, local, state and EBM-Papst officials were focusing on the community minded aspect.

“It’s about a local partnership. And at the end of the day, it’s the company that falls in love with the local community and that works vice versa,” Bob Rolfe, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner, said. “This is a company that has searched the U.S. in a very competitive process, looked at multiple states, multiple sites in Tennessee and at the end of the day they picked your community. We’re very excited about this.”

EBM-Papst was deciding between another site in Tennessee and one in Texas. However, the company’s president, Mark Shiring, said numerous factors led the group to Tennessee’s oldest county.

“We selected Johnson City for several reasons. The location has a good proximity to our customer base providing good access for transportation,” Shiring said. “The community was very welcoming to our team and the interest was high in our project. There’s an active (economic development board) and we see the preservation revitalization of the downtown and surrounding area.”

Shiring also noted East Tennessee State University and the local Tennessee College of Applied Technology centers would provide the company a job pool and educational opportunities for potential employees.

Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy said at the event that he feels EBM-Papst will be “a great fit” for many reasons. But the top of his list is the company’s focus on the local community.

“One of the things that encouraged me the most about these folks is they made site visits to our community that we didn’t even know about,” Grandy said. “(They were) interfacing with our people here, doing a little shopping, doing a little dining … They saw growth, they saw things that made them want to be a part of our community. And that’s the kind of people we want to have be part of our community. It’s really been a nice combination.”

BOE struggles with budget revisions for upcoming year


Staff Writer

It was back to the drawing board for the Washington County Board of Education to revise its budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The board’s budget revision was spurred after the county’s budget committee requested the board rework its budget and reduce the $1.8 million out-of-balance amount.

During the Wednesday, May 15, meeting to revise the budget, the board opted to keep a two percent raise for all employees, but managed to cut its out-of-balance amount by $800,000. The new budget passed in a 4-3 vote. Board members Keith Ervin, Phillip McLain, Todd Ganger and Annette Buchanan were in favor. Mary Beth Dellinger, Chad Fleenor and Jason Day were opposed. Mitch Meredith was absent.

“The commission asked us ‘to work on it’,” Director of Washington County Schools Bill Flanary said. “There was no mandate to balance a budget. That’s where we are with the county commission.”

Washington County Schools Finance Director Brad Hale said part of the board’s budget challenge has been an increase in expenses and a decrease in revenue. Part of that revenue has been lost, he said, due to declining student enrollment in the Washington County School System.

Between fiscal year 2017 and 2018, the district lost 100 students. At the high end of the spectrum, David Crockett High School lost 54 students, West View Elementary School lost 40 and Jonesborough Elementary loss 33. Meanwhile, Ridgeview Elementary School gained 42, Boones Creek Middle School gained 16, University School gained 12 and Jonesborough Middle School gained 12. The total estimated negative funding impact through the decline in enrollment was $473,142.

“That’s the crunch,” Hale said to the board after presenting enrollment figures. “That’s the big reason we’re getting into situations where our expenses are going up more than our revenue each year. It’s a big part of it. If we had another $473,000, our gap would be a lot smaller than where it is right now. That’s a full one percent raise.”

To combat the loss of revenue, the board opted to cut out most of its “wish list” items such as vans, system vehicle needs, coaching supplements, and a third-party substitute teacher scheduling program among other items.

In addition to must-have items such as step increases, retirement contribution increases and University School revenue sharing, the board voted to keep half of the cost of text books ($250,000), and a technology tech ($50,000). The board also kept one assistant principal at Jonesborough’s elementary and middle schools and a career and technical education position, both of which were budget neutral.

The board also approved a pay scale adjustment for food service employees.

Food Service Director Caitlin Shew requested a 10 percent pay scale adjustment. The board opted to fund a five percent pay scale adjustment with in a 6-2 vote. Ganger, Hammond, Dellinger, Buchanan, McLain and Day were in favor. Fleenor and Ervin were opposed.

“We’ve cut our costs in many different ways and we want to invest this money back into our employees,” Shew said. “So that’s what we’re asking you all to let us do.”

The employees also fall under the two percent raise umbrella included in the board’s current budget. However, Shew and some board members said they felt the five percent pay scale increase was less of a raise and more of an adjustment.

“It’s not, in my opinion, a raise,” Shew said. “We’ve adjusted pay scales to get in line with competing systems. That’s what we’re asking for, not necessarily a raise, but to get our pay scale in more of a competing fashion.”

The board asked that Shew return to request another five percent adjustment during next year’s budget season.

Memorial Day Holiday Weekend traditional starts Tennessee’s summer boating season

Boating season kicks off this Memorial Day Weekend.

NASHVILLE — The 2019 Memorial Day holiday weekend is May 24-27 and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wants to emphasize the use of life jackets along with boating in a safe and responsible manner.

The Memorial Day holiday weekend is regarded as the unofficial start to the summer boating season and is one of the year’s busiest boating weekends. Last year, there were no boating-related fatalities over the holiday weekend for the fourth consecutive year.

Over the 2018 Memorial Day weekend, there were 10 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests. TWRA wildlife officers reported three injury incidents accident and a pair of property damage incidents.

Along with the use of life jackets, TWRA wants to stress the responsible use of alcohol while boating. It is important to consider the effects of drinking and driving whether on water or land. In a boat on the water, the effects of alcohol increase because of external stressors such as engine vibration, wave motion and glare from the sun.  Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Tennessee.

For many residents, the Memorial Day weekend will be the first time to have the boat on the water this year. TWRA officials say taking a few minutes to check some of the boat components may be the key to having a nice, safe outing. Performing a simple maintenance check before getting on the water may prevent problems. Check hoses to make sure they are in good shape. Make sure the lights work and carry extra fuses and bulbs.

In addition, TWRA urges all boaters to remember the basics:

  • have a wearable life jacket for every person onboard
  • if your boat is 16 feet or longer, there must be a Type IV throwable device onboard
  • have onboard a working fire extinguisher if you have enclosed fuel compartments or cabins
  • children age 12 and younger must wear a life jacket at all times while the boat is underway – drifting is considered underway
  • any boat operator born after January 1, 1989 must have onboard the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate
  • choose a designated boat operator
  • make sure there is a current boat registration

Boat Operation Basics:

  • keep a proper lookout at all times
  • maintain a safe speed
  • cut the engine while boarding from the water or entering the water from the boat
  • be aware of the carbon monoxide hazards that exist and keep fresh air flowing
  • “no wake” means idle speed
  • boating safety courses – log onto for information.

School daze: Jonesborough project voted down by county


Staff Writer

For the first time since county and school officials in Washington County first discussed plans for the Jonesborough School, a design plan saw the commission floor on Monday night.

Two-plus years and a new commission later, the resolution to approve the design plan and the property adjacent to the current Jonesborough schools failed in a unanimous 0-13 vote. Commissioners Robbie Tester and Freddie Malone were absent.

The project has seen split votes on design plans from the school board, resolutions without recommendation from both the Health Education and Welfare Committee and the Budget Committee, and numerous workshops for county and school officials over the past two years. But questions remained for commissioners — namely, how to pay for the project.

“If we approve this to move forward now we are making the decision tonight that we are going to do something to pay for it,” Commissioner Jim Wheeler said. “At some point, that money has to come from somewhere.”

The county’s finance director, Mitch Meredith, who is also a school board member, said after August or September, 9 pennies left over from the Boones Creek project will be free to use for the Jonesborough School project. Meredith also said 7 new pennies would be needed through a tax increase in order to start the project currently.

“We will need some extra pennies as I reported to the budget committee,” Meredith said to the commission. “My recommendation is that you’re going to need another 7 pennies for you to hold onto. Otherwise, you will completely eradicate your capital projects fund.”

For commissioners, discussions of pennies from the 2016 tax increase

and a potential 7-cent tax increase warranted concern before the final vote.

“We don’t even know tonight if the 7 cents will even take care of building the school,” Commissioner Mike Ford said. “How can we vote on something when we don’t even know if that’s going to work? We need to have our heads together enough to know what we’re spending, know what we’re doing, what’s going to happen.

“I can’t vote tonight to put the taxpayers in debt $20 plus million and not have our facts together. It’s time that we start doing something.”

Wheeler asked Meredith how the former commission planned to pay for the Jonesborough School in 2017 when the group set a $20,750,000 budget for a school renovation and academic magnet project in Jonesborough. Meredith said it was planned to be paid for through “deferral or elimination of several capital projects that have already occurred” along with added debt.

“It was going to require some debt,” Meredith said, “but not to the tune you’re looking for today.”

Those same funding options were discussed an hour before the commission meeting when the Washington County Board of Education held a called meeting to talk about the Jonesborough School project. However, Chairman Keith Ervin said he called the meeting to get the board’s permission to tell the commission that the school board doesn’t want to start the project until March of 2020.

“If they can get a group of the tax money to come in,” Ervin said, “we can pay for Jonesborough like we did for Boones Creek.”

However, board members said they felt it was now the commission’s decision.

“Everything about this is up to them now,” board member Todd Ganger said. “Our job was to pick scheme, send it to them. It’s their job to accept it, reject it, go along with it, whatever.”

In addition to funding concerns, the commission also discussed another part of the “Scheme 6” design plan: the purchase of the McCoy property for $777,900.

The property, which is adjacent to the current Jonesborough schools, has seen its share of hold ups with more than seven option extensions and a slew of property restrictions set on the acreage by neighboring business Lowe’s Home Improvement. Though Washington County Attorney Tom Seeley said all restrictions related to a school building project have been lifted by Lowe’s on the property, some commissioners said they felt an appraisal needed to be done on the property before the purchase.

“We need to know what it’s worth,” Ford said. “I want to know what I’m buying when I buy something. I want to know what the worth of it is.”

Though the Jonesborough project is, yet again, left without a clear direction, commissioners suggested the county and school board create a task force to organize a plan for the Jonesborough project, along with a more streamlined process where county committees and the project are concerned.

“This is so frustrating,” Commissioner Jodi Jones said. “I know if I feel frustrated, it’s a fraction of how frustrated so many people must feel to see us sitting up here stuck.

“We need to stay in dialogue (with the school board). We need a better process for making this plan happen. This process of passing the ball back and forth doesn’t seem to work very well.”

BrightRidge completes phase one of expanded services

BrightRidge celebrated its expanded broadband services in downtown Jonesborough last Thursday.


Staff Writer

BrightRidge announced the completion of Phase One of its $64 million investment in  broadband services around the region last Thursday at Main Street Café in downtown Jonesborough.

“Here today, in the oldest town in the state of Tennessee, we’re launching the opportunity for a 10 Gb service,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said, “The fastest speeds known out there on broadband, for this area and this town.

“I want to thank Zac (Jenkins) from Main Street Café for being that first business customer to really step forward and say, ‘Hey, I want to have BrightRidge broadband. I want to be the first person to launch this out and to use it.”

According to a BrightRidge press release, “Jonesborough becomes only the sixth area in the country with 10 Gigabit residential internet services” as well as being the first provider to “launch with 10 Gb service available to all fiber customers in its service area”.

Jenkins, owner of the Main Street Café, said he was “tickled to death to be the first (customer) for the service, and it’s been a great service … We’re just thrilled that this little town is getting the fastest internet that’s known in the world. And that’s really cool. We’re up there with places like Los Angeles, Dallas, all those big cities. And then there’s little old Jonesborough and I think that’s a really awesome thing we’re doing.”

As the first customer of BrightRidge, Main Street Café has had the new fiber internet since the March and April time period.

“We were one of their beta testers, their first testers, and there was only one time where it went out for maybe 10 minutes, and then, boom, it was back up again and we haven’t had any more problems. And that was the first couple of days. It’s been great.”

Jenkins added that because of the age of the building that holds his business, they had been unable to fully utilize their internet capabilities.

“It’s helped because it’s reliable. We’re not using a cash register … we’re using a Point of Sale, and it’s connected to the internet. So my business relies on having internet capability to be able to take credit cards. It’s just a lot better and faster.”

Jenkins also was one of the first to subscribe to the residential services, and said that it has also been reliable and he has been pleased with it.

Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest spoke at the ribbon cutting and told those gathered that BrightRidge’s broadband investment could yield positive results for many others.

“It gives Jonesborough an opportunity to attract residents who might want to work from home. Having this type of service is not going to just benefit business like Zac here at Main Street Café.

“It’s going to benefit others, we should have people searching for office spaces here. We’re excited about what high-speed internet can do for us here.”

Town brings in Pinnacle Awards


Staff Writer

The 22nd Annual Pinnacle Awards, held last Friday at the Bristol Train Station and organized by the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, became a showpiece for the Town of Jonesborough as eight Pinnacle Awards were awarded to Jonesborough area individuals, groups or their accomplishments.

In order to recognize the tourism industry’s top performers in Northeast Tennessee, and as part of National Travel & Tourism Week, a panel of judges from the tourism and advertising industry associated with the Southeast Tourism Society ranked the top entry in 25 categories.

Much of Jonesborough’s success stems from the town employees who make up the team that provides publicity, advertising and much more for Jonesborough and the events throughout Jonesborough, as Town Administrator Bob Browning can attest.

“Our guys meet very often and we have a really good group. We wouldn’t be doing the kinds of things we do to win eight Pinnacles without there being a really good comprehensive interaction.”

Local winners included:

Advertising and Promotions, Brochure or Guide:

Jonesborough Visitors Guide

Advertising and Promotions, Rack Card:

Jonesborough Yarn Exchange Season Rack Card

Advertising and Promotions, Long Video:

Jonesborough Yarn Ex

BrightRidge ‘flips the switch’ on Telford solar farm

The first solar farm in the Tri-Cities was launched Tuesday in Telford.


BrightRidge, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Silicon Ranch “Flipped the Switch” on the Tri-Cities’ first solar farm on Tuesday, May 7, formally inaugurating production from a FIVE-megawatt solar farm near Telford.

BrightRidge officials also announced that 87 percent of its community solar production has already been allocated to subscribing commercial and residential customers. BrightRidge offers customers a monthly or long-term lease.

“This was not a hard sell at all,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said. “Without an official marketing push, both commercial and residential customers jumped on this opportunity. It demonstrates real demand in our marketplace for a clean energy product that avoids the high cost of private commercial and residential solar installations.”

Under the BrightRidge Solar Community, 500 kW was set aside for commercial and residential customers. Currently, only 65 kW in capacity is left to purchase under the program.

Silicon Ranch, which built the 40-acre solar farm, generates up to 8 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, with zero carbon emissions and zero water consumption. This is enough capacity to power more than 500 homes.

“The success of this community solar project demonstrates that BrightRidge represents the best of public power,” Silicon Ranch Co-Founder and CEO Matt Kisber said. “BrightRidge Directors and staff deserve enormous credit for listening to those they serve and establishing the right partnerships to deliver what customers want and need. Silicon Ranch is honored to be part of the BrightRidge team.”

The entire project was developed in partnership with TVA under its Distributed Solar Solutions program.

“Partnership projects like the BrightRidge solar farm align to the mission of TVA,” said Chris Hansen, director, TVA Origination and Renewables. “Community solar combines energy and environmental stewardship to provide access to customers and businesses who support clean energy.”

BrightRidge, TVA and Silicon Ranch all agreed on the importance of readily available solar energy to power future economic development efforts.

“Clean energy is increasingly a factor in economic development, and equally important to many of our customers,” Dykes said. “Whether electric, broadband, solar or future products, we aim to deliver affordable, innovative products that offer value for all of our customers.”

The solar facility, owned by Silicon Ranch and constructed by McCarthy Building Companies, deploys 41,760 solar panel modules manufactured by First Solar. These modules are mounted on 2,262 single-axis piles guided by 174 trackers.

BrightRidge maintains a meter on its website at which shows daily production. For more information on the BrightRidge Community Solar offering, please visit or phone (423)952-5000 and select electric from the menu.

Heritage Fair to showcase Washington County’s history


For Chad Bailey, this month’s Washington County Heritage Fair is about more than honoring the region’s history; it’s also about fostering a love for that history in its youth.

“Students interested in the region’s history stay here, spend money here and get jobs here,” said Bailey, president of the Jonesborough Genealogical Society that is sponsoring the event.

They also, he said, can become the future generation that helps preserve the rich and varied legacy found in Washington County’s past.

The idea for the fair originated last year as the JGS board was undergoing a transition. New board memberS had joined, as older board member stepped down. Members were looking for a new endeavor that could capture both young and old alike.

The Heritage Fair was borne, a three-part event that is open to the public, but specifically targets Washington County students. The event is intended to showcase local heritage and culture, is set for Friday, May 17, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will include three parts: 1) a 5th-8th Grade Student Heritage Poster Competition, 2)  Individual/Organization Exhibitions, and 3) Living History Timeline.

Residents and visitors are asked to begin the day at the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center and Emporium, 117 Boone Street, where participants can register and pick up a program of the day’s events.

In addition, the 5th-8th Grade Student Heritage Poster Competition and Individual/Organization Exhibitions will be displayed in the auditorium and classroom.

The 5th-8th Grade Student Heritage Poster Competition brings together 70 area students from Washington County’s public and private schools for a combined learning experiences where students’ knowledge of local heritage and culture are presented in a unique and creative ways displayed on a tri-fold board in three specific categories.

Each project will be judged by judicial panel. Winners will be selected by grade and category and announced during an Awards Ceremony at 2 p.m. in the Visitors Center Auditorium.

In addition, the teacher of the winner of Best in Show will receive a $500 cash prize provided through several organizations including the Jonesborough Genealogical Society, John Sevier-Sarah Hawkins Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Boones Creek Historical Trust, and the Fort Watauga Chapter of the Children of the American Revolution.

The Individual/Organization Exhibitions will bring together over 20 local heritage and cultural organizations and sites in the Visitors Center, giving participants an opportunity to engage with heritage and cultural sites, knowledge, and techniques they may have never seen or used before.

This exhibition provides visitors a taste of public and private heritage sites. In addition, organizations will showcase their missions, visions, programming, and projects to the public through the use of visual and oratory exhibitions.

Knowledgeable individuals will also have the opportunity to showcase their individual research, cultural work, and crafts to provide another perspective of learning to the next generation.

Other organizations will provide 45-minute presentations on local heritage and cultural topics in the Community Room of the Washington County-Jonesborough Library, 200 Sabin Drive, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

These include Anne G’Fellers Mason with the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, speaking on “Using Drama to Tell Your Story;” Langston Education & Arts Development (LEAD, INC.), speaking on “Brief History of Black Education in Johnson City and Washington County;” Deborah Webb with the Northeast Tennessee Community Help Center, speaking on “The Past, Present, and Future of the Northeast Tennessee Community Help Center;” Boones Creek Historical Trust; and others to be announced.

The Washington County-Jonesborough Library will also be doing a demonstration of the new scanning systems in the library’s Genealogy and History Center.

Finally, the Living History Timeline, which will be presented in Mill Springs Park, 104 Spring Street, and Jimmy Neil Smith Storytelling Park, 111 W. College Street, will consist of tradespeople and reenactors in two particular time period-based camps from pre-Revolutionary to early 20th Century regalia.

Beginning at the Jonesborough Visitors Center, partakers will move through time by walking the streets of Tennessee’s oldest town where they can view and learn about the town’s preservation efforts and past as well as delving into topics and experiences in the town’s historical façade with its storied-past.

Beginning at 9 a.m. at Mill Springs Park, participants will take part in six distinct stations of the Pre-Revolutionary to 1850s era, which will include the telling of the story of the Overmountain Men from Historical Interpreter, Steve Ricker, Programs Director of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, at the Gazebo at Mill Springs Park; Robert K. Rambo, portraying Cherokee Peace Chief Attakullakulla; Jackie Fischer, Park Manager of David Crockett Birthplace, speaking on the role of women in Cherokee Culture; Kings Mountain Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution’s period weapons tent; Starlet Williams, former historical interpreter of Ruth, the Cobb family’s cook, at Rocky Mount State Historic Site for 27 years, speaking on slave medicine; Doug Ledbetter, former president of the Nolichucky Chapter of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association, demonstrating colonial woodworking and history of the Nolichucky area during settlement; and Debra Thompson, demonstrating basket weaving techniques.

Also beginning at 9 a.m. at Jimmy Neil Smith Storytelling Park, participants will take part in six distinct stations of the Civil War to early 20th Century era, which will include Civil War Historians Michael and Elizabeth Baird Hardy, demonstrating, speaking, and presenting the military, civilian, and gender roles of the war within three stations; David and Matthew Simerly, father and son living historians, will present a station on the Importance of the Doughboy and WWI; the State of Franklin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will present the 19th Amendment and Women’s Suffrage Movement; and the Storytown Brigade will demonstrate oral history techniques and collect stories from the day’s experience.

Other heritage sites will be open throughout town including the Washington County-Jonesborough Museum in the Jonesborough Visitors Center, 117 Boone Street; the Genealogy and History Center in the Washington County-Jonesborough Library, 200 Sabin Drive; the Chester Inn State Historic Site and Museum (116 W. Main Street) will open at 11 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.; the Chuckey Depot Museum (2nd Avenue) will open at 1 p.m. and close at 5 p.m.; the McKinney Center at Booker T. Washington School (103 Franklin Avenue) will open at 8 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.; and the Washington County Department of Records Management and Archives (103 W. Main Street) will open at 8 a.m. and close at noon.

For more information on the Washington County Heritage Fair, visit the Jonesborough Genealogical Society’s website at or pick up a copy of the Jonesborough Herald and Tribune and read the update and answer the trivia question each Wednesday up to the fair.

School board member arrested on new charge

David Hammond has been a school board member since 2015.


Staff Writer

A member of the Washington County Board of Education has been arrested for the second time in two months.

According to a Johnson City Police report, David Hammond was arrested on Thursday, April 18, and charged with violation of an order of protection, which resulted from the situation that resulted in Hammond’s arrest on Friday, March 22. Hammond was charged with simple domestic assault during the March arrest.

According to the report, police arrived at Hammond’s residence at 115 Beechnut St. on Tuesday, April 16, after Hammond’s girlfriend called 911, claiming he was holding her hostage. The report also says police found the two walking out of the apartment. She said she had been in contact with Hammond and came to his apartment to “spend time with him.”

Following the second arrest, BOE Attorney Scott Bennett released a statement saying that because the case is in the hands of the court and is not a board matter, Hammond “has all the rights and duties of any board member until a court declares otherwise.”

As for the board, BOE Chairman Keith Ervin said all the board can do is wait for the court’s decision.

“I do not like the prestige,” Ervin said. “The Washington County School System does not need that kind of press. We just have to deal with it.”

There has been no change in Hammond’s status as a BOE member. Ervin said Hammond has the option of resigning, but he has no requirement to do so.

“The attorney says we can tell him if we don’t like it,” Ervin said. “We can ask him to resign, but he wouldn’t have to if he doesn’t want to.”

According to state law, an elected official can be censured as a way of expressing disapproval or voters can create a petition for a recall of an election official’s position. TCA 8‑47‑101 states that county officials may be ousted from office for “committing any act violating any penal statute involving moral turpitude.”

Hammond appeared in court on Monday, April 22 and waived a preliminary hearing for the assault charge. He is scheduled to return to court on July 31.