Josh Releford signs with Florida Southern



Staff Writer

Donning a brand new Florida Southern t-shirt, David Crockett High School senior Josh Releford signed his name to a paper that will write his future on and off the basketball court. But for the star point guard, committing to Florida Southern College is a ticket to a lifelong dream as well as a weight off his shoulders.

dsc_9453-2“It was really a stress reliever because I didn’t know if I was going to play college ball,” Releford said to the Herald & Tribune at his signing on Thursday April 13 in the Crockett library. “From the beginning of the season to the middle of the season, I didn’t know if I was going to play at all. This is something I always wanted to do. No matter what level, as long as I got to play for free—and to do what I love.”

Along with landing a spot with the Lakeland, Florida squad, Releford finished his senior season shooting over 50 percent and shooting 78 percent from the free-throw line. He also tallied 146 assists and 826 points in his senior season alone. Overall, the 5-foot-9 senior scored 1,210 points at Crockett.

“He’s a competitor. He has drive. He wants to be good and he’s not afraid to be good. When you’re not afraid, you’re not afraid to fail,” Crockett boys basketball head coach John Good said. “He can hit shots because he’s not afraid to miss shots. That’s what people don’t understand. He’s in the gym everyday. He’s taking shots. He’s like, ‘If I make it, I make it. If I don’t, I’ll take it the next time I get it.’ That’s what you’ve got to love about a guy like him. That’s why he’s going to be successful down there.”

DSC_0137It might have been a given that Releford would play high school basketball, but his choice to play at Crockett all those years ago came as a surprise to some. But for the guard who left Johnson City, Crockett was the way to get to his dream of playing college basketball.

“It was something that people said he was crazy for doing it, but he had a goal and he felt like this was the best place for him,” Good said. “And that proved to come true.”

“You know, he kind of took a chance on us and made a tremendous sacrifice to come over here and we obviously appreciate it, but he gave up something to get here,” Crockett boys basketball assistant coach Tony Gordon said just before Releford signed his name. “And we’re just hoping that sacrifice continues to pay off.”

Fast forward three years, and the Pioneers had reached the state tournament Releford’s junior season and for the first time in program history. However, the Crockett senior had to find a way to lead the squad to success the following year—after losing seven of the leading eight players on the school’s roster.

“As a leader and as a senior, really I just soaked in what we did last year and I brought it with me this year to go and give it to the young kids,” Releford said. “We made it far. And the group I had my senior season, I felt like I did good leading them and it just felt like a good legacy. Some people will remember me, I hope.”

For Good, Releford served as a leading scorer and team motivator, but he also refused to let the Pioneers settle, which is something Good certainly won’t forget.

“He took over a lot of leadership. Obviously we lost a lot of pieces from the previous year, but he stepped in there and didn’t let us go into places like we were supposed to take the backseat to anybody,” Good said. “He always tried to motivate our kids and let them know that, ‘Hey, there’s a standard here and we’re not going to let it down regardless of who’s on our team or not.’”

As Releford posed for pictures with his family, now all wearing their own Florida Southern t-shirts, Good stood a few feet from the young man he had coached for the past four years. The head coach looked back on all Releford had accomplished—and was accomplishing there on a Thursday afternoon at David Crockett High School.

“Josh came in as a young man and he matured,” Good said. “He set an example for other people and for other players to follow and he had the goal to play college basketball.

“And that dream is coming true today.”

Ramsey makes stop at Kiwanis to advocate school voucher plan



Staff Writer

Former Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey’s black truck rolled down Second Avenue in search of the small yellow building in which he’d be talking with the Kiwanis Club of Jonesborough. Ramsey wasn’t in Tennessee’s oldest town to talk East Tennessee State University basketball (of which he’s a fan) or to explore the nearby downtown streets of Jonesborough.

He was on a mission to talk to Tennesseans about the Tennessee Choice & Opportunity Scholarship Act.

“We don’t understand it in Northeast Tennessee because we have great schools. But there are some areas like Memphis, like Nashville that parents need a choice on where to send their kids,”  Ramsey said. “And I’m traveling the state right now trying to spread that word.”

Ramsey has travelled to numerous towns across Tennessee as part of the tour organized by Tennesseans for Conservative Action in favor of the bill that offers scholarships to students who are zoned for a school within the bottom five percent of schools in Tennessee. This would allow students from these low-success public schools—who must also be eligible for free or reduced-price lunch—to attend a participating private school.

Ramsey said the system, as it is now, only allows a family two decisions in making sure their child attends a better school.

“We have school choice now for parents that have means,” Ramsey said. “You either have the money to send your kid to private school or you simply move. For those kids that are stuck in those failing schools in the inner city, I think they need some kind of a voucher system.”

Though the bill has gained support from many Republicans in the House, it comes with opposition as well; Ramsey said many school boards are not in favor of the act due to the fear of pulling money from public schools and putting more money into private schools.

“I’ve heard that it’s taking money away from public schools and stuff like that,” Ramsey said. “But to say that, you have to say that I’m more for the system than I am for the student. And the way most of these programs are designed, half the money stays with the school system, half goes with the students.”

As for students who might fall behind at their new private school thanks to these vouchers, Ramsey said individual education plans where multiple faculty and staff — along with the student and his or her parents — can create a plan to keep the student on the right track can also be of assistance.

Ramsey also said the bill wouldn’t really affect Northeast Tennessee.

“It won’t affect (an area like Jonesborough) at all. I really don’t think so,” Ramsey said “That’s what frustrates me at times, that we have people that aren’t necessarily for it around here when it won’t affect Northeast Tennessee at all. You’ve got to think, we’re about raising the whole ship, the whole state of Tennessee, not just us. We’re the example, not the problem.”

Ramsey also has a focus on higher education. The former Tennessee Lieutenant Governor is now on the East Tennessee State University Board of Trustees. And in his post-political career, he’s ready to help ETSU adapt its policies to that of the region.

“What works for the University of Memphis doesn’t necessarily work for East Tennessee State,” Ramsey explained. “So we passed a bill to allow each of these six four-year schools to have their own board. So now we can decide what majors we need at ETSU, what are the policies we need for ETSU. If we decide there’s a certain major at ETSU to get a good job at Eastman or somewhere else, we can do that over night instead of going through a big bureaucracy to get there.”

Jonesborough Senior Center to change hours




Beginning April 4, Jonesborough’s Senior Center will be expanding its hours.

“We’re really just responding to what our members are asking for,” said Senior Center Director Mary Sanger of the new schedule.

The center is currently open to members from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. The new hours as of April 4 will extend Tuesday and Thursday hours until 8 p.m.

“Since our membership starts at age 50, there are a lot of members who are still working,” Sanger explained.

And these members, as well as others, have been hoping for some later evening opportunities.

This will be quite a change from the old center, but it’s one Sanger sees as a normal progression as the center works to meet the needs of local seniors.

“The old center was open until 4 p.m. and that certainly was not late enough (for the new center)” she said. The decision was reached to establish an 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule and now, one year after its opening, the center is ready to expand again.

“We’ve decided do two nights a week as a starting point,” Sanger said. “You have to start somewhere. And we’re going to see what the response is.”

Members are the most excited right now about having more opportunity to use the state-of-the-art fitness center and its senior-friendly equipment. “A lot of the interest has come from people who are want to work out,” Sanger agreed.

“On Tuesdays and Thursdays, members will be able to come use the fitness center just like now.”

They will also be able to enjoy the billiards room, as well as any other rooms or amenities available at the

46th Annual Jonesborough Days Festival June 30 through July 2


Historic Jonesborough, Tennessee’s Oldest Town, will celebrate the 46th annual Jonesborough Days Festival on June 30 through July 2 with family activities, regional music, parade, fireworks and storytelling.

 The 2016 Jonesborough Days Festival will begin Thursday, June 30 at 5 p.m. and continue through Saturday July 2 at 10 p.m. The annual fireworks show will take place on Friday, July 1 at 10 p.m. and the parade will take place on Saturday, July 2 at 10 a.m.

 Thursday’s activities include the popular Food City Low County Shrimp Boil at the International Storytelling Center from 5 to 7 p.m.  Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the Jonesborough Visitors Center or International Storytelling Center.

Festival hours include Thursday, June 30 from 5 to 10 p.m., Friday, July 1 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, July 2 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.  Admission to the festival is free and open to the public.

 The festival has been voted as one of the top events in the southeast and is known for its community patriotism and nostalgic atmosphere. Various entertainment and activities will take place throughout the historic district on all three days. Doc’s Front Porch sponsored by Ferguson Enterprises will feature a variety of storytellers and musicians on the plaza at the International Storytelling Center.  The Main Stage will also feature entertainment each evening from 6 to 10 p.m. including The Beach Nite Band on Thursday, White Top Mountain Band and Blue Foxx on Friday and Jackdaw’s 7 and Amythyst Kiah on Saturday.  The festival will also host nearly 70 vendors, showcasing local handmade wares and a variety of marketplace items available. And of course, there will be some great festival food vendors serving a variety of foods from BBQ to funnel cakes.

 A new attraction for children and families this year will be the First Tennessee Foundation #OnlyInJonesborough Discovery Park located behind the Storytelling Center. There you will find lots of hands-on ways to experience activities only found in Jonesborough including McKinney Center art and performance classes, Oak Hill School sessions, period games from the Heritage Alliance and more. Visit Discovery Park on Friday and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and see what all Jonesborough has to discover.

 The Tri-State Antique Power Association will have a variety of vintage tractors and equipment on display downtown.  The eating contests will also return beginning with the Pepper Eating Contest on Friday at 5 p.m., the Olde Town Pancake Eating Contest on Saturday following the parade and the newest addition includes the Bull Dog Hot Dog Eating Contest on Saturday at 5 p.m.


The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre will also present its ever-popular 1940s USO Show with performances scheduled all weekend. And the Saratoga Social Connection will give folks a chance to relax, recharge their devices with free Wi-Fi and connect to Jonesborough’s social media accounts.

  Parking and shuttles are available at the Jonesborough Middle School for $5 per car. For a complete event schedule or for more information on the 46th Annual Jonesborough Days Festival, call 423.753.1010 or visit Jonesborough Days on Facebook.