East Tennessee History Center to offer veterans free admission


KNOXVILLE –The East Tennessee Historical Society is inviting all veterans, active duty military, and their families to visit the Museum of East Tennessee History as special guests on Monday, Nov. 11, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., prior to and following the downtown Knoxville Veterans Day Parade.

“Tennesseans have a proud tradition of stepping to the fore in defense of our nation and earning the state the nickname, the ‘Volunteer State,’” said ETHS Director Cherel Henderson. “We are pleased to honor the contributions of our military, past and present, by inviting them to visit the museum as our special guests on this day.”

The signature exhibition Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee explores three centuries of life in our region. Visitors will find stories and artifacts from the French and Indian War to the War of 1812, and the Civil War to World War I and World War II. Also, guests will find “Betsy,” the first rifle of David Crockett, key participant at the Alamo. Additional exhibitions include the feature exhibition “It’ll Tickle Yore Innards!”: A (Hillbilly) History of Mountain Dew, where guests can explore the drink’s storied history that began here in the hills of Appalachia, and the East Tennessee Streetscape and Corner Drug Store. The Museum of East Tennessee History is located at the East Tennessee History Center, 601 S. Gay Street, Knoxville. For more information on programs, exhibitions, or museum hours, call(865) 215-8824 or visit the website at www.EastTNHistory.org.     

Mill project continues to preserve history

The tour throughout Tennessee’s oldest county involved sites such as Model Mill. The old mill’s history is being preserved while being transformed into a building for Summers-Taylor’s operations.


Special to the H&T

On Saturday, Sept. 28, the Jonesborough Genealogical Society conducted its eighth and final tour of Historic Washington County. These tours have showcased many historic sites and sounds over the past four years, within the bounds of Washington County with approximately 800 miles of county roads traveled and this tour was no different.

Four stops were showcased including the David Stuart-Jessie Moore House, an 1850s, two-story brick home in the Leesburg Community, owned by Dale Moore; the J.P. Snapp and Son House and Farm, a historic feed and seed business dating back to the early 1900s in the New Salem Community, owned by Jerry and Sharon Sayre; Tipton-Haynes Historic Site, a State Owned Historic Site dating back to the 1780s as the home of Col. John Tipton and Senator Landon Carter Haynes; and the Model Mill, built on West Walnut Street in Johnson City in 1908-1909, owned by Grant Summers.

Throughout this eight-hour tour, participants were able to see hundreds of sites on a pre-planned route that included much of the Tree Streets Historic District and the county farmland in the communities of Washington College Station, Leesburg, Conklin and others. Yet the most prolific site was the Model Mill.

Grant Summers, President of Summers-Taylor, Inc., purchased the mill from the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce in 2016 to use the building for his company’s offices. The Model Mill was constructed for George L. Carter, a famous entrepreneur who made Johnson City what it is today. The mill’s construction has continued to amaze those who work on the building and causes historians and residents to be amazed with its continual survival.

Today, the mill continues restoration work. Summers gave participants a tour of this historic mill, believed to be the first electric mill in Johnson City, and probably Washington County. Throughout the tour, the architecture of the mill was magnified and its magnificent detail in its work to keep the mill intact was displayed.

On the outside of the building, the mill was painted white, like many Johnson City buildings of the time. Summers told the group, that they tried to take the paint off the building to display the hand-fired brick that was fired on the property, yet the paint has stained the brick and could not be removed without damaging the structure.

Every window in the building was constructed on-site and were custom cut for its place. Overtime, many of these windows had been bricked and Summers had these windows opened. He mentioned that today, our windows are standardized, and custom windows are expensive, so they found ways of adding extra wood and trim in particular windows to fit. Summers also discussed the old railroad track bed that runs in front of the mill perpendicular to State of Franklin Road and an old tunnel that housed flour, meal, and feed that was transported into the railroad cars. Summers said that at one time the mill supplied special flour for KFCs all over the nation. The secret spices were brought in by train and pumped through the mill and back into to railroad car, according to some General Mills workers.

As the tour continued, participants got to see the inside of the mill. Paint had also covered the inside brick walls and wood timbers and trim, which has been removed using a baking soda solution. As the mill continues to be preserved, its beauty is continually revived as offices and modern-day plumbing and HVAC systems are added. Nearby silos are being transformed into an elevator shaft to make the building ADA compliant. Fire doors that were placed in the mill could be seen still intact.

Summers explained that the doors would have a rope attached that when a fire would break out that they rope would be burned and make the doors shut. These doors would then contain the fire to a particular section of the mill. A 2016 fire destroyed the roof and part of the third floor just after Summers purchased the building. The city fire department pumped gallons of water into the building which caused water damage to much of the wood flooring.

Much of this flooring was removed and replaced. Yet, a section of beams with burn marks still remains as a reminder. Summers said they rolled these beams over so everyone can be reminded of the fire and the buildings’ survival. The mill was built to withstand an explosion. According to Summers, flour is combustible, and the brick wall structure and arch ways in the brick helps strengthen the building and contain any protentional explosions or accidents from reaching outside the plant. It has been said through legend that Carter’s building couldn’t be destroyed, and that might be just true.

Throughout the tour of the old Model Mill, while looking out of the new windows, participants could can see the downtown Johnson City landscape including the John Sevier Center. The John Sevier Center is Johnson City’s next big preservation project, that could open up Johnson City to heritage tourism and preservation, like Jonesborough had performed decades ago.

Through private business owners, Johnson City’s preservation history has been revived in the past 10 years or so, providing for a more stable and presentable future for historic structures in the city. Projects like the Model Mill continue to provide a unique outlook of business and history to Johnson City, with plans for the headquarters of the Summers-Taylor Inc., office space for ETSU, a bakery, a potential restaurant space and outlet stores, the mill structure continues to strive as it over looks the Tree Streets Historic District and is a gateway to the West Walnut Street Corridor and Downtown Johnson City.

In search of summer deals: yard sales springing up all over

Amy Knight and Linda Anderson enjoy the sun while cutting down the clutter.


H&T Correspondent

Each year hundreds, if not thousands, of people brave the heat of summer to browse and bargain hunt at yard sales.

It has become a sort of summer ritual for many families. Some would even go in rain or snow if those holding the yard sale were able to keep their items out.

Lisa Story, a Jonesborough resident, said she enjoys going to yard sales because it’s a good way to hang out with her family.

Story, her sister and nieces spent the morning visiting different yard sales, one of which was at the home of Amy Knight at Main Street Village Road in Jonesborough.

Knight held her yard sale from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Knight’s mother, Linda Anderson, who recently moved to Jonesborough from Johnson City, helped with the yard sale.

Brenda Sluss and Lynda Jack enjoy playing a part in this summer tradition.

Some of the things they sold were clothes, furniture, rugs, lamps, decorations and children’s books.

Knight said they chose to have a yard sale in the hopes of making some extra money and to thin out the number of belongings in their home.

“We’ve always loved yard sales and used to go to them all them time,” said Anderson. “We don’t get to go to them as much anymore, but I still enjoy going when I can.”

When asked what she thought was the biggest difference between being a seller and buyer Knight laughingly said that holding a yard sale is a lot more work. She could not decide which one she liked more because she enjoys both.

“It gives you the chance to talk to people,” said Knight.

Knight said they chose to have the yard sale this past weekend because the forecast promised to be good weather for it.

She holds at least one yard sale per year usually at the end of May, beginning of June. Their subdivision usually holds a community wide yard sale around that time, and they participate in it. 

Both Knight and Anderson agreed that yard sales are a great way to get to know their neighbors.

They also stated that yard sales are good for the community not only because they allow people to get to know each other but also because it gives those hosting the sale the chance to sell a neighbor an item they may need for a reasonable price.

Knight said she has had a few buyers come looking for a specific item, though most come to browse. Some ask for tools or a particular piece of furniture.

“Someone actually asked if we had any guns for sale,” said Anderson with an echo of past surprise in her voice.

Michelle Basel and her daughter, Kaylee Hutsell, were out shopping when they saw Knight’s yard sale sign and decided to stop and take a look at the items that Knight and Anderson had set out.

Basel said that they go yard saling when they have time and that it’s sort of a family tradition. Her mother took her around to different yard sales and now she’s passing the hobby on to her daughter, who bought a makeup bag set from Knight.

“It gives you the chance to see people you haven’t spoken to for a while,” Basel said, referring to an instance where she ran into the son of a man she used to work with a few weeks ago.

Hutsell mentioned to her mother that yard sales allow people to purchase items for a price that they would not have found otherwise.

“We were able to find two wireless keyboards for me and my brother for like 10 dollars each,” said Hutsell.

Knight agreed that yard sales are a good way to find bargains. She was able secure an Italian piece of pottery that goes with a collection that she’s building at someone else’s yard sale.

“It’s also a great clean family activity that allows people to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather,” said Knight.

The only thing that Knight and Anderson said that they would change about having a yard sale and going to them is that they would choose to not get up so early and sleep in on a Saturday.

Even more yard sales took place Saturday, two of which were in Jonesborough and another in Gray.

One was the Hoxworth’s home at Upper Sand Valley Road, Jonesborough.

Kenny and Margaret Hoxworth, along with their grandson, Colton, held a weekend-long yard sale that began Friday and lasted until Sunday.

Margaret Hoxworth said that they chose to have a yard sale this weekend because the weather was good, and they wanted to get rid of some of their “stuff.”

Colton was a very energetic seller. As soon as someone walked up with a question, he was ready with an answer and could detail what items they had to sell.

The item Colton got most excited over was the ‘68 Mustang that his grandfather was selling.

“It runs great,” Kenny Hoxworth said. “It just needs a new paint job.”

They were also selling a ‘68 Ford Fairlane, a pontoon boat, 115 Johnson outboard, Toyota motor home, blue goose neck trailer, as well as box after box of household items.

Margaret Hoxworth said the thing she enjoys most about having a yard sale and going to them is the opportunity to speak to people.

Friday, for example, she got the chance to visit for an hour or more with one shopper just discussing chickens because they both had experience with them.

For Colton, it’s all about the appeal of finding things.

“I like buying stuff,” he said.

His grandfather, on the other hand, believes that “yard sales are great for the community because it helps the economy by reusing items, and it’s a good way to get to know neighbors.”

His grandmother said yard sales are good because people who would not usually be able to afford certain items can get things they need.

“If someone doesn’t have the money to buy something, sometimes we’ll lower the price to help them out,” she added

Many sales have unique choices for buyers as well.

“Last year my daughter had a yard sale where she sold chickens for $5 each and puppies for $10,” said Margaret Hoxworth.

The only negative thing the Hoxworth’s could think of when it comes to yard sales is when people don’t take down their signs when the sale is over.

Another yard sale that took place Saturday was at the home of Brenda Sluss at Shannon View Road in Gray.

Sluss decided to have a yard sale for Friday and Saturday because she just had too much stuff.

“I sold a bit yesterday, put out more things today, and still have more that I haven’t got out yet,” said Sluss.

She said that at lot of people usually come by her sales. Friday, she had at least 25 people stop by and was anticipating more by the time she put things up at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Sluss said she loves every part of yard saling, both selling and buying. Occasionally she will buy items at other yard sales and resale them at her own.

She chose to have her sale this past weekend specifically because there was no prediction of rain and she had a friend available to help her to setup and sell.

Sluss said that the work you put in and the money you make from a yard sale is worth every penny because you get more than money. You get the opportunity to have quality human interaction.

She loves getting the chance to meet new people and talk to those she knows.   

Throughout the summer months, many people will hold yard sales. Sluss cautions those that do to keep pricing in mind.

“If you no longer want it, why would anyone else spend a lot of money on it?” Sluss questioned.

Something that Sluss really likes about yard sales is that they allow people to get items that they may not have been able to afford otherwise.

She also said that it’s a good reason to get out of the house, even if the person doesn’t buy anything.

Lynda Jack, a woman who lives in the neighborhood, was walking her dog early Saturday morning when she noticed one of Sluss’s signs was down. She stopped by to let her know about it and saw some picture frames.

Jack decided to take her dog home before coming back to buy the frames for the painting that she has done.

“I would have to say my favorite thing about yard sales is finding a bargain,” said Jack, who wasted no time in buying no less than five of the frames.

She said she also likes getting to talk with others.

Just like Basel, Jack has made yard saling a family tradition and passed her love of bargain hunting onto her daughter.

A boy about 10 years old ran past Sluss and Jack, and excitedly grabbed a 40-year Mr. Coffee pot that Sluss’ mother gave her years ago for the mobile home she once used. He looked as excited about getting it as most children look on Christmas morning.

Sluss said he was there earlier and really wanted the coffeepot for his grandfather.

“He gets up every morning to make his grandpa breakfast and does a number of other chores without a word of complaint,” said Sluss.    

Yard sales or garage sales are so well known now and regularly occur, but some may not know its origins.

According to the Ultimate History Project website, the present-day yard sale held in America originates from rummage sales that emerged around the docks in port cities.

When ships came into the port unclaimed or damaged, cargo would be taken off the ship and sold. Those sales were called rummage sales.

Like most things, Americans have taken that practice and turned it into something new and creative — something that has become a summer hobby done by countless individuals and families.

Thus far, this summer is proving to be a hot one, which means there will be many more yard sales to come. As long as there are sunny days there will be people setting up to sell things they no longer want or need.

So, this summer keep your eyes open for those colorful homemade signs. You never know if they’ll lead you to something you’ll come to treasure.

Gray, Asbury find lead in water


Staff Writer

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The Washington County School System is adding two more to the list of schools in the district with an excess amount of lead in two drinking fountains.

Gray Elementary School and Asbury Optional High School each had one water fountain containing an overage of lead according to state regulations. If a school drinking fountain contains 20 parts per billion or above in its water, the school system must remove the contaminated drinking source. Other drinking sources are allowed to stay in use.

“We are trying to make arrangements for bottled water to be made available at the schools,” Washington County Director of Schools Bill Flanary said. “Although we had sources of water that did not test (for an overage of lead), we understand if a child doesn’t want to drink from any of the fountains at this point.”

Gray’s contaminated fountain was at 104 parts per billion and Asbury’s was at 1,490 parts per billion, according to results from Wingfield Environmental Inc. Flanary said the group will re-test Asbury’s sample to make sure that count is accurate.

Last week, the school system found that Boones Creek Elementary and West View Elementary had excess lead amounts in three fountains as well, totaling five fountains in the county with an overage of lead. According to state law, once the contaminated drinking source is removed, the source must be re-tested within 90 days. Flanary said the required re-testing for the effected sources is currently scheduled with Wingfield Environmental Inc.

As for the other Washington County Schools, tests on each of those fountains are complete and received adequate totals. Testing at Grandview Elementary and Ridgeview Elementary was not required because the schools were built after 1998.

But school water testing isn’t finished just yet; Starting in 2019, all Tennessee requires its school systems to test for excess lead amounts in drinking fountains in all schools built before 1998. However, the requirement didn’t initially include kitchen sources. Now, those will be tested as well.

“We haven’t started testing the kitchens. Originally (the state) said, ‘you’ll just have to test drinking fountains” and then the attorneys with the state department determined we have to also test in kitchens. So that will happen when school is out.”

As a precaution, Flanary said he called for Boones Creek Elementary School, which is a prep kitchen for other schools in the district, to cut out any recipes that require added water.

“I told them not to use the water to cook at Boones Creek Elementary School from an abundance of caution,” Flanary said. “We do not know that there is an abundance of lead at Boones Creek Elementary School, I just thought it was a good idea that we stop using it.

“Our food service supervisor told us it was a simple matter to not use added water and some recipes. I told her because we only had so many days of school left, we would keep that protocol in place until after school’s out.”

Steak Supper event coming to Lamar Ruritan

The Lamar Ruritan April Steak Supper will be held on Saturday, April 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. Dinner will include steak and gravy, three sides, drink and dessert. Cost is $9. Proceeds will go toward community projects. Beautiful, locally grown, hanging flower baskets will also be available for purchase. The Ruritan club is located adjacent to Lamar School.

Daniel Boone runners qualify for state meet

Judy Chellah and Patricia Chellah, compete in the Regional Championships held at Daniel Boone.


Staff Writer

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The Daniel Boone Girls and Boys Cross Country teams recently put on an impressive show at the Conference and Regional races.

Both teams clinched conference titles, the girls team’s first since joining the conference 20 years ago, and the boys third straight and seventh in the past eight years.

While the girls first title was sweet, Coach Len Jeffers pointed out his four senior girls and how they progressed over their careers.

“We’ve got four seniors, and all four have been varsity since their freshman year. And they’ve taken us from a team that was pretty good, but always seeming to be a little short, but in the last two years as juniors and now as seniors, the girls team has qualified both years for the state meet.

“Those four senior girls have really taken the team on their shoulders, not just by what they do on the course, but what they do off the course. The tone they set, the examples they set. They really encourage and bring along and accept the younger runners.”

The Conference meet was held at Steele Creek Park in Bristol on Oct. 18. The Boone girls varsity clinched their first Conference title by scoring 43 points, edging out D-B by four points.

Five members won All-Conference honors; Judy Chellah, Patricia Chellah, Erin Bruce, Gracie Murray and Marley McCoy. McCoy, a senior, finished her career as a four-time All-Conference winner.

The boys varsity team tied for first place with Science Hill at 35 points, and won on the higher placing of their sixth runner.

Seven runners won All-Conference for the boys; Max Austin, Conner Wingfield, Matt Huff, Mason Lewis, Evan Bruce, Graydon Hull and Jameson Cline.

The boys team has had to deal with an injury that could have sunk the entire enterprise. Chance Bowman, who was the number one for the boys, sustained an injury during the season, a stress reaction in his foot, which cost him the rest of the season.

“(Bowman) had been our number one runner, so that was hard to swallow for everybody. There again you’ve got to commend the boys. They were obviously disappointed and upset but they didn’t pout and toss the season aside,” Jeffers said.

Both teams followed that performance by clinching spots for the state championship at the Regional meet held on Oct. 25 at Boone.

Coach Len Jeffers said of the performance, “The team continuity both on and off the course. That’s been our MO this year because we don’t have what they call a “low-stick” or a front-runner like Dobyns-Bennett or Science Hill. But we’ve got a very close running pack. There’s very little separation.”

Both boys and girls teams ran another pack race, with the gap between the top five on both boys and girls within 38 seconds, according to Jeffers.

The Boone Varsity boys took first place with 46 points, while placing five on the All-Region team; Conner Wingfield, Max Austin, Matt Huff, Mason Lewis and Graydon Hull.

The Varsity girls scored a second place finish with 51 points and four members of the All-Region team; Judy Chellah, Patricia Chellah, Erin Bruce and Alanna Cloud.

For the second year in a row, both boys and girls will be heading to the state meet in Nashville, and Coach Jeffers said he believes the entire team made more than good on the goals set at the start of the year.

“Winning the conference was not a goal for the girls. It was icing on the cake. The main goal for the girls, because D-B and Science Hill girls have been so strong, the main goal was just to be in the top three to qualify.

“We felt like the boys were strong and deep enough to win both the conference and region. Of course after losing Chance, we knew it was going to be a real tussle with Science Hill.”

On preparing for the state meet this weekend, Jeffers said the team will treat the race as simply one more, and continue to stick together both on and off the course.

Beyond The Dash: Police officer’s headstone reveals only part of the story

Maple Lawn Cemetery in Jonesborough contains many murder mysteries, including that of Captain Carl Lee.  Lee was the first violent death since 1928 of a Johnson City police officer. 


In every cemetery, tombstones show us a person’s name, birth date, dash, and death date. But that little dash tells the story of a complete life that has been lived. These stories are what make up our own personal, community, and societal histories and connect us all to the past. One such story is that of Captain Carl Lee. Lee, a Johnson City Police Captain, is buried at Maple Lawn Cemetery in Jonesborough, after being killed by his wife. This cemetery contains many murder mysteries including that of Captain Carl Lee. The following story was researched by Chad Bailey, after Elaine Scott Cantrell, Geraldine Booth Greenwell, and himself, completed the survey of the cemetery in 2013.  If you know of a story like Lee’s, please send your stories to [email protected] or [email protected]

On Feb. 1, 1940, Johnson City Police Captain Carl William Lee was killed by his wife, Lucille Lee.

Carl William Lee was born Sept. 1, 1897, in Cocke County, the son of Mayor, alderman-elect, and prominent hardware and furniture dealer, William Monroe Lee and wife, Texie Ann Rowland Lee.

William Monroe Lee died just after the alderman election in 1936 and preceded Col. T. B. Hacker as mayor of Jonesborough.

Public service followed the Lee family. One son, J. Albert Lee, was an attorney, while Carl became a Johnson City police captain. Carl was survived as well by three other brothers: Elmer, Edward, and Robert, and four sisters: Haldine Lee Curtis, Mabel Lee Gross, Catherine, Zella and Annie.

The headline, “‘I Had To Do It,’ Wife Sobs After Killing Policeman Lee with Pistol Bullet Fusillade” appeared in the February 2, 1940, Johnson City Press Chronicle.

According to the article, Lee was shot around 7:20 pm at the Lee Home at 200 Montgomery Street (death certificate lists home address as 196 Montgomery Street), “just a stone’s throw from police headquarters.”  Police chief Tom Carriger and Officer James Onks were first on the seen after returning from a Johnson City Commission meeting when they saw Carl’s daughter, Betty, age 14, in the street.

Betty asked them to come in and help her. According to the report by Carriger, they found Lee face down in the bathroom and when Onks checked his pulse, he was obviously dead. After the body had been examined, six .38 caliber bullet holes had been found in the body which included a hole in the left ear, right wrist, chest, right arm muscle, right shoulder, right side of the neck, and back of the neck.

Carriger went on in his report to the Johnson City Press to say that Lucille was standing in the center of the room just wringing her hands, but was eventually escorted to police headquarters.

Carl was the first policeman to be killed in a violent act since Tom Church was killed in the summer of 1928.

Lucille and Carl had three children, Nadine, age 16; Betty, age 14; and Carl William, Jr., age. They were all at home at the time of the shooting and were in the custody of Carl’s brother, Albert, the next day.

A funeral service was held on Feb. 3, 1940, at 2 p.m. at Maple Lawn Cemetery in Jonesborough, where he rests beside his mother and father in the Garden of Eternal Rest, lot 187 B, grave 5. Lucille was arraigned on Feb. 8 and pleaded self-defense.

Carl had served with the police department since 1932, as a motorcycle officer as well as a desk sergeant. Carl was also a World War I veteran who had suffered from heart disease for years and had been in the Mountain Home Hospital several times. He served as a mechanic in the 467th motor transportation corps.

If Carl had lived, hamburgers today might have been made by a machine. Carl had been working on an automatic hamburger machine which would have brought a revolution to the fast food industry.

Sources: Johnson City Press Chronicle, February 2, 1940, “ ‘I Had To Do It,’ Wife Sobs After Killing Policeman Lee with Pistol Bullet Fusillade”. 1940 Death Certificate, Maple Lawn Cemetery Records and Survey. James Monroe Lee Obituary, Washington County, TN Obituary Project.

Yarn Exchange to hold special Memorial Day performance

The U.S.S. Forrestral.


On July 29, 1967, a fire broke out on the U.S.S. Forrestral, an aircraft carrier stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin, and engaged in combat in Vietnam.

A Zuni rocket discharged on deck, setting off a chain reaction of explosions, happening so fast there was no time to clear all of the aircraft from the deck. Incoming pilot, the future Senator John McCain, was able to fly his aircraft off the deck. But 134 service members lost their lives in the tragedy, and another 161 were wounded.

This story is recalled by Preston Hurlburt, who was in the radio room at the time of the first explosions and unaware of the carnage above, but in looming danger as the vessel became engulfed in flames.

This Memorial Day, May 28, the Jonesborough Yarn Exchange Radio Show will perform stories that honor the men and women who served in our armed forces and made the ultimate sacrifice.

Stories will also be shared from their family members and those they served with–people who were left behind to carry on their memories.

Joining the cast this month will be fan-favorites Freddie Vanderford and Brandon Turner from Buffalo, South Carolina, bringing their famous Piedmont Blues. Vanderford, who was inducted in the South Carolina Folk Life Hall of Fame for his contribution to Piedmont Blues Harmonica, has become a frequent music guest of the Yarn Exchange Radio Show, electrifying audiences with his unique talent he learned as an apprentice with Blues harpist Peg-Leg Sam Jackson.

Tickets for this event are $5 and on sale now at the Historic Visitors Center by calling 423-753-1010. Tickets are also available online at Jonesborough.com/tickets. This production is sponsored by Ballad Health and the Tennessee Arts Commission through Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts at the McKinney Center.

Player of the week

Our recent player of the week is Daniel Boone Track’s Maria Chellah. Maria represented Boone in the conference, has broken multiple school records and recently signed to continue her athletic and academic career at Lincoln Memorial University.

County adds funds for extra legal services


Staff Writer

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At Monday’s Washington County Commission meeting, the commission opted to put $105,000 from the county’s general fund toward the county’s legal services.

Washington County Attorney Tom Seeley said the Washington County Board of Education’s litigation needs have increased the amount of services the county has endured. When Commissioner Lynn Hodge asked how much of the dollars spent in legal fees could be attributed to the department of education, Seeley said he didn’t have a figure, but that half of the total figure is “definitely” from the department of education.

“I don’t think tonight I can put a percentage on that,” Seeley said. “I think it’s a significant part of it because it has had some litigation there and we also had an administrative hearing on a personnel matter that was ongoing and lasted for several days. That created some extra expense because we had to actually hire the administrative hearing officer.”

Commissioner and Budget Chairman Joe Grandy said the county budgeted around $280,000 for legal services for the fiscal year. Commission Chairman Greg Matherly added that the $105,000 added to the county’s legal services is projected to cover the county for the remainder of the fiscal year as well as costs prior to Monday night’s commission meeting.

Matherly also added that the county was covering the school board’s legal fees prior to the board’s hiring of its own attorney not provided by the county.

Among other litigation, a lawsuit for $5 million from the former David Crockett High School coach, Gerald Sensabaugh, is pending against the school board and the director of schools. Sensabaugh filed the suit in January with the U.S. District Court, and claimed administrators treaded on Sensabaugh’s first and 14th amendment rights and retaliated against the coach after he sounded off on social media about various topics concerning the school district. Sensabaugh was fired earlier this month after an investigation report concerning the case was released and recommended Sensabaugh’s termination.

The next county commission meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 23 at 6 p.m. at the justice center. The next school board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington County Department of Education.

Window Wonderland promised in Jonesborough

Jonesborough will be willed with wonders this weekend as local retailers ‘deck the halls’ with a bit of winter joy.


Feeling a little blue now that the holidays are over and the decorations are put away? Main Street Jonesborough is hosting Window Wonderland and Winter Sale Friday through Monday, Jan. 12-15 to help kick those winter blues. The event will feature displays of beautifully decorated windows throughout Downtown Jonesborough depicting winter scenes and shop some great winter sales.

It all kicks off on Friday, January 12 with voting continuing through Monday, January 15. Check out an array of decorated windows with a Winter Wonderland theme and vote for your favorite to help them win a cash prize and more. This year there are two ways you can vote, casting your ballots downtown or voting online. By voting in person, you are also entered into a drawing for $50 in JAMSA Bucks (valid anywhere JAMSA dollars are accepted in downtown Jonesborough). Ballots for in-person voting will be available at the International Storytelling Center where you will visit all the displays and vote for your favorite display up to once per day.  Online voting begins Friday, Jan. 12, so go to Main Street Jonesborough’s Facebook page to cast yours (only one vote per person).

This year, there are also two ways for downtown merchants to win:

• People’s Choice (combined in-person and online votes): Winning display receives $300 cash + $150 Lowe’s gift certificate

• Judge’s Choice (winner selected by a panel of local arts professionals): Winning display receives $300 cash + $150 Lowe’s gift certificate

A Winter Sale will also take place throughout downtown so be sure to check out the great deals offered at participating locations. Store hours will be Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. and Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit our Window Wonderland event on Main Street Jonesborough’s Facebook page for more details. Event sponsored by Main Street Jonesborough and Jonesborough Area Merchants & Service Association. So come celebrate winter, don’t hibernate and join us in kicking the winter blues in Main Street Jonesborough!

For more info visit Main Street Jonesborough’s Facebook or call (423)913-8212.

BrightRidge installs 5000th energy-saving load control device


BrightRidge, the region’s largest publicly-owned power provider, has marked the installation of its 5,000th load control device.

Load control devices divert electric usage by shutting off a system, in this case water heaters, during periods of high demand. BrightRidge calls its program TALO (Take A Load Off), and it saved system customers $211,000 in 2017 by reducing usage in times of peak demand.

“You would prefer not to have a situation where everyone is taxing the system to its fullest while the entire Tennessee Valley Authority system is at peak usage,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes said. “What we typically see is we will set a high peak and then have a rapid fall off in usage. That is not very efficient as there isn’t the volume of sales to offset the cost of the peak demand charge.”

Peak demand is critical for local power companies as they are billed an additional “demand” charge from energy generators such as TVA for the highest one hour of demand in any month. While this charge offsets the enormous costs of maintaining sufficient capacity to power the TVA grid no matter how great the demand, it represents as much as 30 percent of the wholesale power cost budget for BrightRidge.

TALO devices are installed on water heaters in multi-family and single-family residences, and activate infrequently for a two-hour duration during times of peak demand – usually very hot or very cold days.

TALO currently sheds up to 2.5 megawatts per diversion event. Typically, the BrightRidge system sets peak usage between 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

As part of the TALO program, residents who agree to install the device receive a $40 billing credit as well as free water heater maintenance for elements and thermostats as long as they continue to participate in the program.

Should a resident have need for more hot water than that stored inside the water heater during a diversion event, a participant can simply push an override button on the TALO unit.

As the electric industry adapts to high efficiency consumer products and distributed energy generation, reducing purchased power costs is vital to maintaining lowest rates possible.

“We are proud of our personnel who developed this program and the fact that installation and water heater maintenance are performed by existing in-house personnel,” Dykes said. “This is critical as we look to keep costs down for our customers.”

For more information on TALO and other BrightRidge programs, visit us online at www.brightridge.com, or call Energy Services and Marketing at (423) 952-5142.

Boone Lake Association challenges use of funds


Staff Writer

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The upcoming Tri-Cities aerospace park is a bit closer to reality after the Washington County Commission opted to set aside a portion of the county’s economic impact dollars for the project. But representatives from the Boone Lake Association are still hoping for a portion of those dollars.

The commission’s Health, Education and Welfare Committee approved sending a recommendation to the county’s budget committee to honor the BLA’s request for $20,200 out of the county’s impact money to assist the lake group’s operations.

But the decision didn’t come without lengthy discussion.

The Tennessee Valley Authority awarded the county $561,000 worth of impact dollars. And at the county commission’s Oct. 23 meeting, the group agreed to use the impact money to fund Washington County’s portion of the aerospace project. The total cost for the project will be split with Sullivan County, Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol.

“The best thing that ever happened to you all and Sullivan County and Johnson City is when that dam sprung a leak,” BLA First Vice President Tom McKee said. “If that dam had not sprung a leak, you wouldn’t be having these impact payments. These impact payments don’t come from taxpayers, this is money TVA collects from rate payers.”

McKee said in July the BLA discussed the group’s possible inability to be able to employee its staff to clean the lake after December. McKee also said the BLA told TVA the group wouldn’t have enough people to complete the clean up TVA requested.

“You all have basically said you’re dedicating all this impact money to this aerospace project, and I certainly don’t have any objections to that, but I’m saying to this committee, who’s charged with the environment, that you’re going to have an environmental disaster if we don’t get this $60,000. I think we’ve pretty well proven that to you.”

McKee also said TVA suggested the BLA request a certain percentage of funds from Johnson City, Sullivan County and Washington County. Washington County was requested to pay $20,200 and approximately $10,000 was requested from Johnson City and approximately $30,000 from Sullivan County.

Commissioner Paul Stanton said the impact dollars were designed for this sort of request, but he also took the lake’s property owners into account.

“I voted for the airport project too, but I think that impact money is there for things like this,” Stanton said. “But I am deeply bothered by the fact that some of the property owners aren’t putting in the money to help on this situation. If I were a homeowner on the lake, I’d be giving money upfront right now.”

BLA board member Ron Siegfried said over 2,000 people own property on the lake and that the most the group ever had in members was 630.

He also said when the BLA put letters in surrounding mailboxes, eight to 10 people responded.

“Does that tell you what the position is with these people on the lake? They’re just angry,” Siegfried said. “They’re not going to put any money into the BLA until the lake is back and that’s what they’ve told me.”

Committee chairman Tom Krieger suggested splitting the total request population rather than by what TVA suggested. In this case, Washington County and Johnson City would each pay $13,388 and Sullivan county would pay $33,204.

“Since the city of Johnson City has a population of 66,677 residents as of 2015, which is more than half of the 126,000 in the entire county, the case could be made for the county and Johnson City to each pay the same amount of the $30,000 requested from the BLA.”

The future of the lake’s progress and the county commission election which is slated for August 2018 also played a role in the committee’s decision.

“I suggest we settle on an amount we are willing to recommend for one year and one year only in as much as there are no guarantees the lake will be lowered in 2022. We all think it will, but we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“The current commission could sit here and make a five-year commitment,” Commissioner Rick Storey said. “But next year when the new commission comes in, they could come in and stop it right then.”

The next budget meeting is scheduled for Wednesday Nov. 15 at 9 a.m. in the first floor conference room in the historic courthouse at 100 E. Main St., Jonesborough.

Honor system egg stand hatches in community


Staff Writer

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In tall, black letters on the side of a small shed on Highland Church Road, a cooler offers cartons of farm fresh eggs ready to be sold — on the honor system.

The concept is simple; pick up a carton of eggs or two, and drop the money in the tiny wooden box for hen owner and farm operator Tony Hester, and his farm-working kids, to collect later in the day. For Hester, the egg stand started as a way to earn a few dollars from owning a piece of land and turned into a full-on, roadside operation.

“I was having a talk with a buddy of mine who made the offhand comment that he thought if you owned land, it ought to be able to help pay for itself,” Hester said. “That got me thinking what kind of agricultural endeavor could we pursue over there on Highland Church Road that could help pay for the land. That led eventually to plusing up our chicken flock.”

Now it’s not just Hester’s project; his high school-aged son and daughter clean, collect and package each egg from the flock of 450 chickens on the Hester property. But by now, they have it down to a science.

“We have spent a great deal of effort trying to do egg-laying smarter not harder,” Hester explained, laughing. “My son and daughter built those nest boxes. I set up the foundation, but I told them how to do it and they built 96 nest boxes on a single Saturday.

“The chickens lay the eggs, the eggs roll down that padded carpet into the collection gutter and that’s when the kids do a sanitizing dip and rinse and place them in a drying rack. They can do 25 to 30 dozen eggs in the same amount of time it used to take them to do about 12 dozen eggs last year.”

As for sanitation, that’s something the Hester family takes into consideration before setting up shop at the bottom of their driveway.

“We’re awfully tempted to not even do the sanitizing dip but we do that because it keeps momma happy (laughs). But they do come out very, very clean,” Hester said. “In Europe, if you want to get Grade-A eggs, you cannot wash them and you cannot refrigerate them. That way the consumer knows they are getting very clean, well-taken-care-of eggs as well as very fresh by not being refrigerated.

“Granted, FDA has different standards in the U.S., but we like to think that if we were in Europe, we’d have Grade-A European eggs.”

One might worry about the integrity of any old customer lacking the good will to pay their due, but Hester said the stand has been well-respected with little to no problems.

“It is on the honor system, but we’ve been very fortunate that a vast majority of the people do indeed leave money,” he said. “It does work very well, but it does help that we’re on a busy road and it’s highly visible.”

The stand’s not just been a side-job for the Hester kids who get to make a little money in the process; it’s also been a spectacle for passers by — and the farming family — on Highland Church Road.

“It is a lot of fun to be sitting up on the porch at the house talking to my wife or chatting on the phone with a friend and I’ll see a couple of cars pull in and get eggs in the course of the phone conversation. It’s just a lot of fun. Not typically (do they watch), but it is very fun to see that unfold.”

The stand even has a Facebook page called “Hester’s Happy Hens honor system egg stand”. And out in the community, it’s been a fun topic of conversation and somewhat of a landmark.

“We don’t know most of our customers,” Hester said. “On so many occasions in the course of conversation, the egg stand comes up. And they’ll say, ‘man we’ve been buying your eggs for two years! They’re fantastic!’It’s so fun to meet people who have been coming to our place in the past couple of years and we’ve never met them. It’s very Mayberry. It’s very gratifying.

“The stand’s only been there about three years, but it’s become a local landmark for friends—they use the egg stand to give directions to their house,” Hester said. “They’ll say, ‘if you go down Highland Church Road you’ll pass an egg stand and on we’re the next right-hand turn and the fourth house down.’ You know you’ve arrived when you become a land mark.”

But it’s not just about the eggs for Hester; he wanted to instill an appreciation for hard work and the value of a dollar in his children.

Now that the egg stand helps to pay for things such as his daughter’s phone, the stand has worked just as he hoped it would.

“Her friends said, ‘Do you pay for your phone?’ And she said, ‘No, I paid for it.’ And her friends said, ‘You must get a big allowance then.’ She said, “No. I don’t get an allowance.’ ‘Well how do you pay for your phone?’ She said, ‘I sell a lot of eggs,’” Hester said, laughing.

“She was very proud to be able to come back and tell me that story. It has just given them a big boost of confidence. I hear from all their teachers that my kids have such tremendous work ethic. And that’s very pleasing to a father.”

Food truck serves up authenticity


Staff Writer

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If you’ve driven down 11-E within the past few months, chances are you’ve seen a bright red food truck sitting at the edge of Ace Hardware’s parking lot. You might not know it while speeding past the mobile business, but upon walking up to this recent addition to Jonesborough’s lunch-time options, patrons have the options of numerous, authentic Mexican foods and an owner who is willing to share his story.

The food truck, El Lagunero, belongs to Eduardo and Claudia Rojas who are originally from Mexico. After changing his original career plans, Eduardo said he sought the United States for work and has been here for the last 32 years.

“When I was younger I did something very different. I started (to be) an engineer in Mexico,” Eduardo said. “I almost finished. I lacked one year to finish. So I wanted to try to come to the United States and that’s what I did. I said, ‘I’m just going to go and try to come back.’ I came here and started working. I see a lot of difference here than in my place. So I stayed and I’ve been here for a long while.”

Since then, Eduardo said, he has remodeled houses before his back injury and he’s also worked on the river and various farms. He even worked for a company that built cell phone towers and took him throughout the United States. But now he says he is ready for the kind of work involved with operating a food truck.

“I worked to build cell towers in other states. But now I’m tired of being everywhere around. I said, ‘Okay, that’s enough.’ I go for three weeks, one month, and come back and stay two or three days and go back again. I said ‘I’m tired’. So I started working on my own business,” Eduardo said. “It’s a lot of different. It’s almost 360 degrees around to work on a farm to work in a kitchen.”

Now, the Rojas are ready to share their native foods with the people of East Tennessee. The menu lists foods like tacos with  corn tortillas, steak quesadillas, crunchy tostadas, tortas (a Mexican sandwich) and hot tamales (which are available on Thursdays and Sundays). Though it may not be hard to find a burrito or taco at other Mexican restaurants around town, Eduardo explained to the Herald & Tribune that he is offering a more authentic take on Mexican foods.

“The sauce, my wife makes it like we make it at the house,” Eduardo said. “It’s a lot of difference. We make hot tamales like they made it in Mexico. Everything is that way.”

Not only is the food a representation of The Rojas’ homeland, but their native city, Torreón (in the state of Coahuila in Mexico), is also honored through the name of their food truck, El Lagunero.

“A long time ago it just meant ‘a big lake’ that’s what they call ‘la laguna’ there in Mexico. And the people there call it ‘Lagunero’. It used to be like a lake. Now it’s too dry. It’s like a desert but they still call it Laguna Laguerno.

“(The truck) is something that people come and see and say, ‘Oh we saw the ‘Lagunero’ and we were thinking you were from Coahuila’ and I say, ‘Yes, you are right.’ Because it’s from all the people in Lagunero.”

For Eduardo and his wife, El Lagunero is about representing where they come from, which is a place they are able to visit for vacation thanks to the flexibility of running your own food truck.

But Eduardo said that for him, the business is about sharing real Mexican food all while doing the kind of work that he enjoys most.“I like to work. And I like the way I’m going to be working in here. It makes me happy when people come and say when they leave, ‘the food was great.’ I like to let people eat something we make in Mexico,” Eduardo said, “something that’s a different style. Because most of the restaurants here is a Tex Mex. It’s a little different. And here, it’s like it would taste in Mexico. People come and they say, ‘Oh this food tastes good!’ And they come back. It makes me feel good. I can do something different.”

Battle continues as town moves toward discontinuation

Mary Anne Snyder-Sowers, daughter of an area dentist, discusses the CDC’s recommendations in regard to fluoride.


H&T Correspondent

Emotions ran high at a public debate regarding water fluoridation in Jonesborough on Thursday, July 6.

About 20 citizens of Jonesborough and surrounding areas attended the hour-long meeting, which began at 6:30 p.m. at the Jonesborough Senior Center, to debate the decision to no longer add fluoride to the Jonesborough water supply.

In February, the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 3-1 to discontinue fluoride additives in the water, but that decision has been met with opposition from members of the community, some of which are calling for another vote or a reversal of the decision.

Allen Burleson, a local dentist, has even started an online petition, along with other local medical professionals, aimed at keeping fluoridated water.

In response to such opposition, Ron Myers and other residents who support the BMA’s decision organized a  public debate to encourage more discourse on the topic, urging residents on both sides of the issue to attend.

“I think it was very productive,” Myers, a retired industrial engineer, said. “I think we got both sides of the issue discussed very well.”

Ron Myers makes a point against fluoride at Thursday’s public meeting.

The debate, which became tense at times, focused on the pros and cons of fluoridated water in the community. Several fluoridation supporters discussed the health benefits, citing the importance of fluoride in helping to prevent cavities, which supporters said is especially important in poverty-stricken areas where dental care may not be feasible for residents.

Mary Anne Snyder-Sowers, a strong supporter of water fluoridation and the daughter of an area dentist, expressed disbelief at the BMA’s decision.

“The CDC considers the reduction of tooth decay from fluoridation to be one of the top public health achievements of the twentieth century,” Snyder-Sowers said. “I don’t understand why when something is working… why do we want to break it?”

Local dentist Lon Reed agreed, saying he believed it was “wrong-headed” to remove properly adjusted fluoride from the water.

“I think you’re going to hurt children,” Reed said, “and you’re going to hurt adults.”

Reed said he attended a meeting before the vote with the purpose of addressing the BMA and was disappointed that he wasn’t allowed to speak due to not arriving in time to sign up.

“I sat through the whole meeting and the mayor denied me the floor,” Reed said. “I’m very disappointed in that because they allowed people outside the community… to take the floor and spend an inordinate amount of time.”

Another attendee admitted to a change of heart after attending the same meeting about water fluoridation last year.

“I almost had an attitude that we should take fluoride out of the water, and I was totally impressed that every single medical person who stood up and spoke about keeping fluoride in the water was passionate… and was very concerned about the children in this area,” Ed Wolff, a retired pastor, said. “When I left I had a totally different attitude.”

Those opposing water fluoridation, and who approve of the board’s decision to remove fluoride, focused their arguments on the rights of the individual, pointing out that residents should get to choose what medications they ingest.

“To me when you start force-medicating the water supply, and you don’t have a choice whether you are medicated or not. To me that’s un-American,” Myers said. “That’s like a third-world dictatorship.”

Myers and others opposing fluoridation also voiced concern over ingesting or bathing in fluoridated water due to health reasons.

“I’m really concerned about the material they choose to fluoridate the water with… which has a bunch of contaminants in it that shouldn’t be in there, like arsenic,” Myers said, “which is a known human carcinogen.”

Myers has spent about 15 years researching the topic of water fluoridation. He became interested in the subject when his wife was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid. Myers said his research suggests an underactive thyroid may be attributed to fluoridated water.

In addition, Myers said the argument for keeping fluoride in the water supply to help prevent cavities doesn’t address the real issue.

“Instead of focusing on the water…. why not address the real cause of the problem,” he said, “which is too much sugar consumption?”

Myers, who grew up in Jonesborough, is currently a resident of Johnson City, and he hopes to address the issue of water contaminants and fluoridation in Johnson City after the fluoride issue in Jonesborough is settled.

BOE dreams dashed at budget meeting


Staff Writer

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After two Washington County Board of Education budget meetings, Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton—along with interim finance director Jerry Whitaker and incoming finance director Brad Hale—sat at the conference table across from the Washington County Commission Budget Committee in hopes of getting closer to finalizing the school board’s budget. But the budget discussion looks to be far from over as the budget committee voted to send the budget back to Halliburton and the nine-member school board.

“We had a big, lofty dream” Halliburton said at the April 27 meeting just before she presented the board’s budget that is $1.4 million out of balance. “And we realize that this commission has been so good to us already. We wanted to show our support so we tried to make cuts before the cuts. The board and I, along with help from our finance directors, made several cuts before this.”

The budget includes the addition of four academic coaches, a driver’s education instructor at Daniel Boone High School, a special projects manager (with an emphasis on grant writing), ASPIRE testing to aid students prior to ACT testing, two web-based education programs for school and at-home use, literacy levels readers, a continuance of professional development with Rutherford Learning Group and graduation funds for both high schools.

The budget also includes four maintenance of effort items (or items that are must-haves due to year-to-year funding requirements). Those items are two special education teachers, one SPED instructional aide, one part-time English Second Language instructor and a five-percent increase in electrical services.

In trying to come up with a way to balance the budget, Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge weighed the upcoming facilities projects.

“I’ve got a question for the board; that $8 million athletic complex at Boones Creek appears to me to be a deal killer the way I’ve heard it,” Eldridge said. “If that complex is not part of the deal, then you don’t want that facility. You don’t want that school.

“I guess my question is, in the order of priorities, what’s more important? Balancing this budget or building an $8 million athletic complex? Because that money can help offset. It won’t make this deficit go away, but it can help offset this deficit. And I’d really like to hear from the board of education what your thoughts are in that regard.”

Eldridge said the pennies that fund those capital dollars for the athletic complex could also be pennies that fund operation expenditures. Halliburton said the school board could discuss that at their upcoming May 4 meeting.

Meanwhile, BOE chairman Jack Leonard said the board members were under the impression the athletic complex was going to be built at the same time as the Boones Creek school.

“I felt like I was threatened right then, mister mayor when you said, ‘Do you want to want your athletics or do you want to balance the budget?’ And that really upsets me because I extended my hand to you in cooperation and I have worked with you and worked with you,” Leonard said. “For this to come forward like that, that’s not fair.”

Commissioner and budget committee chairman Joe Grandy said he would like to find a way to implement the board’s budget items but that there will be no new revenue to do so.

“Mrs. Halliburton is showing you what our needs are and what she feels like will move our system forward,” Leonard said. “And we asked her to do that because we want to move our system forward. That’s what you’ve been wanting. And that’s what I’ve been wanting. That’s why I wanted to choose Mrs. Halliburton, because I thought she had new ideas to move us forward. And so she has brought those to you and we were support of that.

“You are our funding body. You have to tell us exactly what we have to do to be able to meet our needs.”

In addition to weighing facility priorities, Eldridge also considered the declining number of Washington County students a factor in the budget discussion.

“In Washington County, for a long time, we’ve made bricks and mortar the priority. I think those days are over,” Eldridge said. “There is not enough money to do both. And we’re looking at growth in revenue that doesn’t come close to offsetting the expenditures in any year. And quite frankly, from what I’m seeing, it never will again. And as long as we’ve got a school system that is shrinking in enrollment, we need to start to understand how we’re going to spend less and the actual budget begin to decrease as a result to the declining enrollment.”

Whitaker said at the board’s previous budget meeting that the county school system lost 155 students last year that resulted in a loss of $560,000 in state basic education program funding.

“We can’t sustain classrooms with 12 kids in them any longer. And I understand that,” Halliburton said when asked how the decline in students has affected the school system’s staff headcount. “Our plan is to max out our class numbers, given the dire situation of enrollment numbers.”

Halliburton said that plan is not reflected in the costs in the budget. She also said the decision to cut instructional aides has not yet been made.

The budget committee voted to send the budget back to the school board. The board’s next meeting will be on Thursday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington County Department of Education’s central office at 405 W College St. in Jonesborough.