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Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

The Johnson City Public Library has been able to grow membership with new programs on genealogy research and computer training, adding to digital media collections and overall building improvements.

Renovations, new digital offerings, programs broaden library’s audience By JENNIFER SPROUSE Press Staff Writer

The Johnson City Public Library has become so much more than a place to check out books for a class assignment or research paper. In fact, improvements in digital media, reference collections and the overall look of the library have improved, bringing with them valuable everyday services benefitting the public. Over the last year or so, the library was in the process of a renovation project that brought in new carpet and a refinishing project for its wood flooring, but Bob Swanay, director of the library, said the major improvements happened on the second floor. “We created the additional study rooms, we created the computer center, we created the media center; and it’s a fairly dynamic new layout. The new computer center is more than just rearranging the computers. It’s positioned us to be able to offer training opportunities on just a wide variety of subjects,” Swanay said. “Most recently, we have had

classes on how to use social media, genealogy, how to do ancestry research and a lot of time we’ll do classes like that in conjunction with a new library resource.” In reference to genealogy research, the library has subscribed to, and visitors of the library can use the service for free to look into their own family histories. Swanay said he and his staff offer a variety of training classes and individual help, which include resume writing, interviewing help, how to use an online resource, how to download an e-book and how to submit a job application online. “Librarians have shifted more into a role of an instructor. It’s not so much that people come here with a question and we answer it,” he said. “What we have to do is help people figure out how to do these things.” One new part of the library Swanay is proud of is the new media center. “I love it. It is comfortable to browse,” he said. “There’s plenty of room for us to grow and have more material.” The center has an array of DVDs, CDs, audio books, MP3 discs and a database that patrons can look up and check out e-books on a Kindle, Nook or iPad.

“The range of options is just dizzying,” Swanay said. “I think the most popular element of that would be the DVD collection and the DVD collection is something that we have really that’s been patron driven.” He said the overall collection, including documentaries, National Geographic films, The History Channel episodes, biographies mixed in with non-fiction movies and various television series, could possibly put the library’s selection ahead of any retail store, Netflix or Redbox. But library purists can rest assured the books are still a hot item. “Our books are checking out quite well. Overall, last year for example, just in total checkout, it was still a record-breaking year and that’s including having been closed for two week at two separate occasions for the renovations,” Swanay said. The library offers many kidfriendly programs, including the popular summer reading programs. “There has to be a place in the community that you can take your kids and come together, not just get the books, but a place to come and be with other people and come to the programs,” Swanay

said. And for the older students, either in high school or at the collegiate level, the library has ditched the study carrels and switched to a more open layout for study days and nights. “Young people tend to study in groups of two, threes. They prefer to sit at a table with a laptop with someone else maybe,” he said. “The vast preference for student studying is to have a table or to have study rooms.” Three study rooms were also added toward the back of the library on the second floor for group studying or discussions. Swanay said even during the recession a few years ago, the library kept, and even added, its patrons, in part because of their free services and library improvements. “I think what’s happened is a lot of the people that we’ve gained, even if they’re doing better now, we’ve kept them. We’ve broadened our audience and seemed to have held it,” he said. “I hope that we can still continue to grow and we still have a lot of people that are new to the area that are discovering the library. “We’re trying to keep it relevant and keep it moving along.”

Wood floors are refinished, new carpet installed and major renovations have been done on the second floor.

Downtown flood mitigation plan is much like a puzzle: one piece at a time By GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

So where is Johnson City when it comes to curing, or at least significantly curtailing, flood damage downtown when the “big ones” come, such as in 2003 and 2012, as well as the notorious “frog stranglers” — the short duration, high-intensity summer drenchings? Perhaps the easiest way for a layperson to wrap his or her head around the city’s roughly $30 million long-range flood mitigation plan is to imagine a large puzzle of the city, completely finished and lying face up on a flat table. Now, remove the pieces that are known trouble spots. Basically, this is how the city began to identify what needed to be done and where shortly after the 2003 flood. The pieces will be replaced, but they will not look the same. They each will be intentionally altered. Buildings will be missing, replaced by opened creek culverts and retention and detention basins. Some creeks will be widened and redirected, and areas nearby will be lowered to hold and release water. Some downtown businesses have and will find new homes. When will the puzzle be completed? That is the $30 million question. The 2003 flood caused heavy downtown flooding and prompted the formation a Storm Water Advisory Task Force and later the Downtown Storm Water Task Force. The result was the targeting of each major drainage basin downtown, and in 2007 the establishment of a storm water fee to help pay for the opening up and rerouting of King and Brush creeks and the creation of public, pedestrian-friendly greenspace to compliment the work. So far, a combination of $6 million in issued debt and various in-house efforts,

This site will become Founder’s Park, a large greenspace area between Wilson Avenue, Main and Commerce streets and the Norfolk Southern Railway tracks. such as the McClure Street project, have shown the city has left the starting blocks. The first of eight planned phases of downtown flood mitigation gained traction in October when a $2.8 million bid by Johnson City’s Thomas Construction Co. to build the 5-acre Founder’s Park stormwater/park project was approved. Officials admit the opening of Brush Creek at Founder’s Park will result in minimal overall help for downtown flooding. But again, it is only one piece of the puzzle. “My first conversation with you (City Commission) about flooding was August 2008,” Don Mauldin, Knoxville’s Lamar Dunn & Associates’ executive vice president and lead consultant/engineer for the city’s long-range flood mitigation plan told commissioners last month. “Understanding we had $6 million out of

the $30 million overall plan, we elected to tackle — inside budget constraints — the flooding we get often when it rains hard in the spring and summer.” Within the $6 million spending constraints, the city also is nearing a second phase. The site on which this phase would be constructed includes a swath of land where U-Haul now sits, where Cutshall’s Automotive has been demolished, a site being vacated by WW Cab Co., and an inhouse reshaping of King Creek, which sits adjacent to U-Haul. There are no specific design plans or cost estimates for this phase. A third project that picked up speed the past few months is the King Creek surface retention pond project. Owners of six properties bound by West Market, Boone, King and Montgomery streets negotiated and settled with the city for a total of about $1 million, and these buildings have been demolished. The properties were needed to upgrade stormwater improvements generated by flooding on King Creek. The plan includes providing retention areas that could hold runoff and let it flow into a lower portion of the creek. These first three phases are expected to bring relief, but the city may not begin work on King Creek pond right away. And U-Haul, the final piece of the puzzle in that phase, has not yet been fitted into place. “There are eight pieces which make up the $30 million plan, and several of these exceed $6 million,” said City Manager Pete Peterson. “What we tried to do was address the areas that flood most frequently. “Everybody needs to remember there are eight components, and no single piece will produce the ultimate results you want to get to. But incrementally, we’re working our way toward the end result.”

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Work to expand Brush Creek is one piece of an eightpart plan to end flooding issues downtown.

Page Design/Mike Murphy

Page 2F, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

Renovations will turn the former Tennessee National Bank building into a commercial and residential property.

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

The old CC&O Railroad Depot has been purchased by Tupolo Honey Cafe for a new Tennessee restaurant location.

City, private sector work to revitalize downtown By MADISON MATHEWS Press Staff Writer

Downtown Johnson City used to be a major hub of activity. That dwindled when developers began eyeing north Johnson City as the next phase in the area’s growth. Focus is once again being put on the downtown area as it moves towards revitalization and regaining the traction it had during its heyday. “I think we’re just beginning. I think that’s what it says. The city’s investing a lot of money in downtown and the private sector is too. When those two forces get together a lot of really good things can happen,” Washington County Economic Development Council Director of Redevelopment Shannon Castillo said. In the last year, downtown Johnson City saw major developments, including the sale of the historic CC&O Railroad Depot, which is being transformed into Tupelo Honey Cafe’s second Tennessee location; construction on a 27,000-square-foot apartment and retail complex on the corner of South Roan Street and State of Franklin Road; the purchase of the former Tennessee National Bank building, which will be turned into a mixed-use commercial and residential property; renovation of one of the old buildings along Spring Street, which was turned into The Battery; and Tupelo, Miss.-based Renasant

Bank locating its flagship TriCities branch at the former First Tennessee Bank financial center at 103 King St. The momentum the downtown area has experienced has given business owners, such as Nelson Fine Art owner Dick Nelson, even more confidence as development continues to grow. “We need 100 Tupelo Honeys down here. We need 20 galleries. The more activity there is, the more confidence other people have to come and hang their shingle out as they’ve seen other people do it; plus we’re already bringing more traffic downtown,” he said. As more and more developments happen, Nelson said, more businesses will begin moving to the area. He believes a stronger downtown will play a vital role in that kind of growth. “I don’t think you’re going to recognize the whole area from the interstate through the university in five years. It’ll be all new,” he said. The city also made strides in bettering the downtown infrastructure through its $30 million flood mitigation plan. Throughout the last several months, buildings have been demolished and underground work has progressed to move the city’s plans along. As momentum in downtown was kicking into high gear, the Washington County Economic Development Council unveiled its revitalization plan, which laid out many prospects that are already in the works for coming years. The key elements of the plan include creating a permanent open-air farmers market adjacent to Founder’s Park, moving Hands On! Regional Museum from its current location to a new facility on Cherry Street, creating a greater East Tennessee State University presence downtown

through the use of several cityowned buildings in the 300 block of East Main Street where Hands On! is currently located, and creating greenspace with an outdoor amphitheater near the Johnson City Public Library between Millard and King streets. Designs for the new permanent open-air Johnson City Farmer’s Market have been approved by the Johnson City Development Authority and is on a fast-track with city officials. The new structure, which will be adjacent to Founder’s Park on land bound by Wilson Avenue, Commerce and Main streets, is 43-feet wide and contains 62 spots covered by a traditional-style roof, and 31 additional vendor spots outside. With the new design, vendors would be able to back their vehicles into each slot, making it more accessible than setting up in the cramped parking lot at Cherry Street. Public Works director Phil Pindzola said all the work being done by the city will increase both development activity and pedestrian activity in the downtown area. “When you do that you’re bringing people downtown, and when you bring people downtown then the investors will follow and see that, with all the activity, it will be a good place to invest. That’s what we hope to see occur,” he said. A vibrant, thriving downtown can then be used as a marketing tool to help stimulate economic development in Washington County. “It just is a place that I think has a grand opportunity to be an identifier for the community,” Pindzola said.

Northeast State ready to select design for downtown campus By REX BARBER Assistant News Editor

Bids for renovation of the Downtown Centre have gone out, and soon Northeast State Community College leaders will select the firm that will get the old building ready for class — hopefully in time for the fall semester. “We’ve got a lot of things, moving parts from here until August,” NSCC President Janice Gilliam said. “We’re working very hard to get into the building in August, but it may be next spring.” Construction time is dependent upon the process of selecting a contractor to renovate the building, which used to be a county courthouse. Work could begin by June. Shaw & Shanks Architects, based in Johnson City, completed design work for Downtown Centre renovations in Johnson City. The design plans allow Northeast State to move ahead with construction that will meet required building, fire and city codes and create space for offices and classrooms for the college’s Northeast State at Johnson City teaching location. Northeast State signed a fiveyear lease for the Downtown Centre with the Johnson City Development Authority, which has committed $1 million in funds for interior renovations. The building is located at 101 E. Market St. According to an NSCC news release, the building’s exterior has been pressure-washed, cleaned and painted with a 3-color scheme. Signage will be placed on the building in the near future, including a digital sign near the intersection of Buffalo and

Market streets. In addition, the college’s plant operations personnel have cleaned the building’s interior courtyard and are landscaping the area. The college recently received $180,000 in funds from the state’s new Clean Tennessee Energy Grant Program to replace the building’s HVAC system. The college proposes to install two boilers as part of the replacement for the HVAC system in the facility. The building’s current HVAC system has been in the building since its construction in 1986. The new system will increase thermal efficiency from 75 percent to 95 percent and overall annual HVAC operating costs are projected to decrease from $60,000 to about $46,000. Despite having to wait on bids and the selection process, some

minor renovations are going on now, Gilliam said, including moldy sheetrock abatement and some other smaller projects. Because of these projects the building and attached parking garage have been closed to the public. “Just as soon as the building is open we will reopen that to the public,” Gilliam said. Gilliam said students have already shown an interest in attending class at the Downtown Centre. Gilliam said she was excited to have the facility open. “We’re very appreciative of the Johnson City Development Authority and Johnson City and Washington County for supporting us in this effort,” Gilliam said. “We believe it’s going to take off with a boom.”

Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

The building at the corner of South Roan and State of Franklin has been torn down. Construction on a luxury apartment building and retail complex has begun on the site.

Rails to Trail Johnson City to Elizabethton, TN Formerly 10 miles of the East Tennessee and Western Carolina Railroad

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Johnson City Press, Page 3F

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

The Chamber of Commerce can provide pamplets and information to residents. From left, executive director Brenda Whitson, executive secretary Elisa Britt, director of sales Sarah Rowan and director of operations Barbara Mentgen.

Features attract relocators to Johnson City and region By JENNIFER SPROUSE Press Staff Writer

There’s a lot to consider when relocating to a new area, such as finding housing, school systems, jobs and, of course, entertainment. For those moving to Johnson City, a visit to the Chamber of Commerce is the perfect starting place for new residents to figure out just what the city and region have to offer. Gary Mabrey, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Johnson City, Jonesborough and Washington County, said the area has a variety of aspects that make it attractive to those looking to relocate. He said there are many historical and educational attractions to experience with the family, such as a visit to Rocky Mount Living History Museum, Hands On! Regional Museum, TiptonHaynes State Historic Site, as well as the International Storytelling Center. “We can historically take care of you, we can childlike take care of you and if you want to get wet — Wetlands Water Park in Jonesborough,” Mabrey said. Other featured attractions in the area include the Appalachian Fairgrounds, B. Carroll Reece Museum, Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway, Farmhouse Gallery and Gardens, Gray Fossil Site, as well as Freedom Hall Civic Center. For people who value athletic activities, facilities such as Civitan, Metro-Kiwanis, Rotary, Willow Springs and Winged Deer parks have playgrounds; soccer, baseball and softball fields; a disc golf course and trails where residents can walk and run. There are also athletic opportunities at Science Hill and Liberty Bell schools, including

a swimming pool, skate park, tennis courts and a walking trail around the campuses. There are also a variety of golf courses to choose from including Buffalo Valley Golf Course, the Blackthorn Club, Graysburg Hills, Johnson City Country Club and Pine Oaks Golf Course. The region also is home to many universities, including East Tennessee State University, Milligan College, King College, Tusculum College, Bethel University, as well as Northeast State Community College. Mabrey said one selling point in the region would be the medical field and medical accessibility. He said there are only two academic health science centers in the United States –– one at Ohio State University and the other at ETSU. “What makes us unique? We’re near a (Veterans Affairs Medical Center). Our College of Pharmacy is the only private college of pharmacy not funded by your tax money or anybody’s tax money in the state of Tennessee,” Mabrey said. “The best thing we have going for us is the VA. The VA allowed us to have a College of Medicine.” The Johnson City School System and Washington County Department of Education host the area’s public schools, and private schools include Ashley Academy, Providence Academy and St. Mary’s School. “As far as we’re concerned you can get educated here,” Mabrey said. “This county has one of the best high school graduation percentages, as well as college graduation percentages in the state.” He said the area is perfect to start your own business, and it has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. For more, go to and

Government, education and health services top jobs in JC By MADISON MATHEWS Press Staff Writer

Government, education and health services, and retail are the top three job sectors in the Johnson City metropolitan statistical area, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Government sits at about 18,000, followed by education and health services at around 14,000, and retail trade at about 10,000. The rest of the job market in Johnson City MSA, which includes Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties, is rounded out by sectors such as professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, finance and others in the top 10. Local economist Steb Hipple said Johnson City’s job market is fairly typical of most of America right now. “It’s a pattern that matches what’s going on in the United States, and that’s been a longterm decline in the importance of manufacturing,” he said. “In place of that, we have increasing jobs in service sectors, and in service sectors it’s not surprising that education and health would be very important and government will be very important.” With the number of schools located in the Johnson City MSA and the inclusion of ETSU, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home, and Johnson City Medical Center in the area, Hipple said, it’s no surprise that education and health services and government top the list. “The pattern in Johnson City is much more typical of the nation as a whole compared to what you would have in Kingsport and Bristol. Kingsport and Bristol are much more based on manufacturing than most places,” he said. Manufacturing tops the data in the Kingsport-Bristol MSA, which includes Sullivan and Hawkins counties in Tennessee and Washington and Scott counties in Virginia. Because of the presence of Eastman Chemical Company and


Steb Hipple several other large manufacturers in those areas, Hipple said, manufacturing plays a larger role, unlike Johnson City and


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much of the rest of the country. While manufacturing continued to grow in both Kingsport and Bristol, other enterprises began sprouting up early on in Johnson City’s history, such as the National Soldiers Home and East Tennessee State Normal School, which paved the way for future industries in the city. As more people begin shopping online, retail trade could drop in the list, Hipple said, but government and education and health services would continue to lead the job sectors in the Johnson City area. “We might well see professional and business services, which is next on the list, becoming more important than retail,” he said. “I would expect that government and education and health services in Johnson City would continue to be the major engines of new employment.”

File photo

Johnson City has been recognized by CNN Money, Forbes Magazine, Kiplinger, Zillow and other publications for being affordable, good for business and career, stable and overall a good place to live.

Johnson City continues to gain recognition as good place to live By JAN HEARNE Press Tempo Editor

Bristol better keep an eye on its slogan because national rankings continue to prove Johnson City is a good place to live. A sampling: ■ CNN Money 2012 ranked Johnson City the 23rd most affordable place to live in the United States. ■ Forbes Magazine, June 2012, ranked Johnson City and our small metro area of Unicoi, Carter and Washington counties 14th in its rankings as Best Place for Business and Careers out of 150 small metros in the United States ■ Kiplinger, August 2012, ranked Johnson City fifth out of 10 most affordable metros in the United States ■ Zillow, September 2011, ranked Johnson City one of the top 10 U.S. metro areas with the greatest five-year gain in real estate values

“These rankings give you a feel for the stability of this region,” Gary Mabrey, president and CEO of the area Chamber of Commerce. “The Forbes (2012) ranking to me is one ... which signals exactly how well we’re doing as a community and region. We were ranked 14th best small metro for business and careers. “That is significant because the year before we were ranked 34th and that is significant because we’re one of 150 or so small metros. The Forbes ranking is one we look forward to every year.” Publications like CNN Money, Forbes and others look at a number of factors when ranking areas. “They’ve got metrics to defy my understanding,” Mabrey said. “They look at everything from cost of living, to cost of doing business, to crime rate, educational attainment, income, job development, in-migration, outmigration. In more recent years,

they’ve looked at mortgages and things like that. “The constants are colleges and universities, cost of living, cost of doing business, educational attainment income and the like. They’ve been pretty stable variables.” In its evaluation in 2012, CNN Money, based its ranking of Johnson City as the 23rd most affordable place on housing and health care. The median home price in Johnson City was listed as $126,800, about 30 percent less than the national median. “Johnson City is known for high-quality — and low-cost — health care,” the analysis read. “The city boasts six major medical facilities, including the region’s only shock trauma center and a children’s hospital.” “All of these rankings say a lot of hard work is being done by our business community and volunteers,” Mabrey said, adding it’s good to be recognized for all the hard work.

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Page 4F, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Contibuted/David Ramsey

A fly fisherman on Rocky Fork Creek.

Contibuted/David Ramsey

A view of Rocky Fork from Beauty Spot on Unaka Mountain in Unicoi County.

2,000 acres soon to be Rocky Fork state park By BRAD HICKS Erwin Bureau Chief

The property conveyance process is under way, and the state is set to soon take ownership of around 2,000 acres of property in the Rocky Fork area that will become Tennessee’s 55th state park. Gov. Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander were in Unicoi County in late October to announced approximately 2,000 acres of the nearly 10,000-acre tract of property making up Rocky Fork would become the state’s 55th state park. Rocky Fork is located along the Appalachian Trail corridor and

the North Carolina border in Unicoi and Greene counties. It is adjacent to more than 22,000 acres of U.S. Forest Servicedesignated wilderness. For a number of years, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency leased the land making up Rocky Fork from private property owners to allow the area to be used by the public for outdoor activities. When talk of the land possibly being sold to developers began, the U.S. Forest Service stepped in and expressed interest in acquiring Rocky Fork to keep it under public ownership. As land prices rose too quickly for the Forest Service to keep up with, the Conservation Fund stepped in and purchased Rocky

Fork property, which has since been conveyed to the Forest Service. The first conveyance took place in late 2008 and, in September, the Forest Service finalized its purchase of Rocky Fork property. Over the years, the Forest Service has acquired around 7,600 acres of Rocky Fork, leaving around 2,000 acres under the ownership of the Conservation Fund. This 2,000 acres is the property set to be conveyed to the state for the state park. Brock Hill, deputy commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Bureau of Parks and Conservation, said that several years ago, a feasibility study

Dry Creek residents rebuilding homes after devastating August 2012 flood By BECKY CAMPBELL Press Staff Writer

The homes along Dry Creek Road in Washington County look much different now than a year ago, and while the path getting there was difficult, the result appears to be positive. More than a half dozen new stick-built homes sit along Dry Creek Road, mostly where mobile homes were, in a massive rebuilding effort led by the county and Appalachian Service Project. That got under way after the Aug. 5 flood damaged or destroyed nearly 100 homes county-wide. Aug. 5, 2012, was a rainy Sunday that turned disastrous in a matter of hours. Officials estimate 4 inches of rain fell in about two hours, which sent a torrent of water off Buffalo Mountain and into two creeks — Dry Creek and Ramsey Creek — in that part of the county. Ramsey Creek, which winds its way through Buffalo Mountain Camp, caused significant damage to the camp’s road and the heavy downpour caused several mudslides that destroyed several buildings, including the dining hall and a few cabins. Dry Creek, which runs parallel to Dry Creek Road, became so swollen it breached its banks in several areas, tore up driveways, flooded homes and swept several from their foundations. Some residents, like Doug Wilson, were inside their homes as that happened. Wilson’s 90-yearold farmhouse — the same home he grew up in — was pushed about 100 yards off its foundation and up onto the road. It took some time to get things started, but county officials were able to procure enough donations and free labor from Appalachian Service Project to rebuild 46 homes in the affected areas. Wilson was the first to receive a new home, free of charge to him, and just in time for Thanksgiving last year. All the new homes are pretty much the same — three bedrooms, one bath, living room, kitchen and laundry room inside a 24-by-36 structure — but are more sound than what the flood washed away or damaged beyond repair. Work is continuing on the rebuilding effort and will until all the new homes are built. One of the big problems residents faced after the flood was learning that their homeowners or renters insurance would not cover flood damage. For the residents who were approved for new homes, it worked out OK for the most part. But for families like Bill and Wanalynn Chapman, whose home was damaged nearly beyond repair and who didn’t qualify as

low-income, the challenge was more daunting. With the kindness of strangers and friends alike, the Chapmans were able to completely rebuild the interior of their home. The outside brick structure remained sound through the flood, but the Chapmans lost many possessions, as well as a dozen miniatures horses and donkeys. They own WW Miniature Horse Farm, and the flood came so quickly there was no time to get the horses — which included five dwarf horses — to safety.

After the water receded some, they were able take the horses to another farm and house them there free of charge. With a lot of determination, the Chapmans were back in their home by Christmas and had all of their animals back, as well. There’s still more work being done, not only at the Chapmans but at other homes, too. The creek has also been repaired, and officials hope it’s enough to keep the water where it belongs — in the creek channel.

was completed to get an idea of what amenities could be placed in the Rocky Fork area should it become a state park. Tentative plans at this point include the construction of a ranger station/visitors’ center, installation of additional trails in the area, picnic areas and shelter, restrooms and campsites. An interpretation of the Flint Creek Battle site is also in the plans. Hill also said Rocky Fork will offer visitors 16 miles of trout streams, educational opportunities and a close proximity to the Appalachian Trail. The timeframe on when this work will begin or when the park will open to the public has not been set.


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Johnson City Press, Page 5F

Shopping abounds in region By JENNIFER SPROUSE Press Staff Writer

Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

Phil Bachman Toyota Scion in Johnson City.

Tri-Cities offers plenty of options for buying and maintaining a car By JENNIFER SPROUSE Press Staff Writer

You’ve probably heard their slogans and current deals during a commercial break while watching your favorite TV show, but if you’re searching for your next vehicle, shopping in the TriCities could prove to be successful as the region’s dealerships offer a wide variety for every customer. From your American-made vehicles, to imported favorites such as Nissan and Toyota, the area has a little bit of both, including specialty vehicles. Johnson City’s vehicle hot spot would be what locals refer to as “The Motor Mile,” where people can stop by Phil Bachman Toyota Scion, Tri-Cities Nissan, Champion Chevrolet Cadillac, Chaparral Pontiac/Buick/GMC, Johnson City Kia and Carl Gregory Chrysler Jeep Dodge to check out their newer vehicles, as well as used cars. Other dealerships in Johnson City include Ramey Ford Lincoln, Johnson City Honda, Wallace

Imports, Friendship Hyundai of Johnson City, Wallace Subaru of Johnson City and Bill Gatton of Johnson City. Steve Grindstaff announced the sale of his Grindstaff Ford dealership in Elizabethton on March 6 to Chantz Scott, which follows the earlier reports of the sale of his Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealership to his son-in-law Adam Mullins. Grindstaff and Mullins remain partners in Kingsport Kia. Scott told the Johnson City Press that Grindstaff Ford will be renamed to Southeast Ford and the Mullins Chrysler, Dodge Jeep, Ram dealership will both be located at the Little Detroit complex in Elizabethton on West Elk Avenue. Kingsport dealerships include Wallace Nissan Mitsubishi, Toyota of Kingsport, Phil Bachman Honda, Rick Hill Imports, Courtesy Subaru, Kia of Kingsport, Lexus of Kingsport, as well as Fairway Volkswagen. Bristol, Tenn., and Va., features Bill Gatton Honda, Toyota of Bristol, Friendship Ford Hyundai Volvo of Bristol, Bill Gatton

Chevrolet-Cadillac, Friendship Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, as well as many independently owned dealerships throughout the city. There are also dealerships in Erwin, Greeneville and Gray, as well as near Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville. And with the number of auto dealerships in the area, many auto repair shops populate the region. In Johnson City, local shops like Ponder Auto Repair, Jones OK Tire Stores and Browns Mill Auto Tech are popular repair companies, while brand name shops such as Meineke Car Care Center of Johnson City, Johnson City Honda and AAA Car Care. Kingsport repairs shops include Midas Kingsport, Kingsport Tire & Auto Care Center, as well as numerous body shops, such as Bill McConnel Auto Painting and Don Hill Paint & Body Repair. Other body repair shops in the region include Dennis Powell Body Shop, Custom Car Body Shop, A&E Frame & Body and Extreme Body Works in Kingsport.

TSBDC helps regions’ small businesses grow

The Northeast Tennessee Association of REALTORS® is very proud of these award recipients from the Johnson City Area

By MADISON MATHEWS Small business is big business in Washington County, especially as the area bounces back from the recession. “The more diverse your economic base, the better it is for the whole region in economic downturns. While one particular business may fall off, other businesses pick up,” said Dr. Bob Justice, director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at East Tennessee State University. Retail trade is the third highest job sector in the Johnson City metropolitan statistical area. When it comes to the small business landscape of Washington County, Justice said retail trade was near the top and includes everything from convenience stores and jewelry shops to clothing stores and automotive dealerships. “Those firms that were strong going into the recession made it through. Those firms that were extremely weak going into the recession didn’t make it and those were in the middle, some did and some didn’t. That’s standard with any economic downturn,” he said. Justice said the retailers that succeeded during the recession were those that “sold used cars, liquor and lipstick.” The 2012 calendar year was one of the best years for small businesses in the area, as the TSBDC helped clients generate more than $11 million in new capital for start-up and expansion. TSBDC supports 10 counties — Carter, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington. “We can go in and help firms put together strategic business plans, tactical business plans. We have access to some pretty heavy duty financial analysis software so we can come in and take a look at a particular business and compare them to industry averages,” Justice said. Restaurants, recreation and fitness centers, small manufacturers and medical offices all benefitted from the TSBDC program, including two projects that exceeding $2 million each and four projects of $10,000 or less. TSBDC officials said the average financial package was $745,000 and the median was $53,000, both of which include debt and equity financing. For more about the TSBDC, visit

When it comes to shopping, the Tri-Cities offers a variety of options from the big chain stores in Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol, to the local merchants in the downtown areas of the region. Gary Mabrey, president of the Chamber of Commerce serving Johnson City, Jonesborough and Washington County, said the area provides many retail opportunities from the Bass Pro Shop at exit 407 near Sevierville, to the Mall at Johnson City, to the small, local shops, such as Main Street Mercantile, Sparrow’s Nest and the locally owned shops in downtown Jonesborough. Johnson City hosts groups of shopping centers, including Johnson City Crossings with feature stores Home Depot, Stein Mart, Circuit City, Michael’s, Petsmart, Old Navy and Best Buy. Other shopping outlets in the city include The Mall at Johnson City, Mountcastle Shopping Center, Peerless Shopping Center, Roan Centre, Shops at Franklin and the Target Center, with Target, Pier 1 Imports, Books-a-Million and T.J. Maxx. The small, quaint downtown area in Jonesborough provides unique shopping, such as Jonesborough Art Glass Gallery, Hands Around the World, The Lollipop Shop, Mauk’s of

Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press

Target, T.J. Maxx and Books-A-Million in Johnson City Jonesborough, The Christmas Shop on Main and Earth & Sky Confections. Kingsport shopping outlets include the Kingsport Pavilion off East Stone Drive, where shoppers can visit Target, Kohl’s, Shoe Carnival, Old Navy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Books-a-Million, Best Buy, as well as Michael’s. Kingsport Town Center, East Stone Commons, as well as Burlington Brands, Circuit City, Lowe’s and Home Depot are other shopping options, as well as shops in downtown

Kingsport. Numerous antique and consignment shops can be found in downtown Elizabethton. Exit 7 in Bristol, Va., has become a hub for shopping, right off of Interstate 81, including Walmart, Target and Petsmart. The Bristol Mall includes shops such as Belk, JC Penney and Sears, as well as other chain retail stores. Downtown Bristol also has many specialty shops, that include clothing and furniture stores.

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2012 Hall of Fame Hall of Fame Recipients are full tim time i e REALTORS® wit with at least ten years in the profession. They are top producing agents, contributors to RPAC, recipients of either the Silver Circle or Golden Circle Service Award, and past local, state or national officer. Hall of Fame recipients are true real estate professionals

Sandra S d Moores M Century 21 Pro-Service REALTORS®

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2012 Golden Circle Service Award Golden Circle recipients are REALTORS® who are recognized for their professionalism, service to their community, participation in the local, state, and national Association and furthering their education beyond licensing requirements.

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Outstanding Rookie is a Service Award to recognize new REALTOR® members within the Northeast Tennessee Association of REALTORS®. The Service Award is available only to those REALTOR® members during the first 24 months as a REALTOR® member of this Association. This Award is to encourage participation so that members will be more active and Lora Dowling better educated about the Association and Keller Williams Realty their industry, resulting in professionalism and improved service to improve the REALTOR® image and to recognize members who give of their time and efforts to help the industry.

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Page 6F, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

Police Chief Mark Sirois

Sirois takes command of City Police Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Fall colors at Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site

Madison Mathews/Johnson City Press

Festival goers walk the streets of Jonesborough during the National Storytelling Festival.

Attractions draw tourists who spur our economy By JAN HEARNE Press Tempo Editor

Northeast Tennessee appeals to a broad spectrum of tourists. In 2011, visitors spent more than $209.37 million in Washington County alone, an increase of 7.5 percent over 2010, Brenda Whitson, executive director of the Johnson City Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. “There’s a variety of things that brings people into our community. It’s sports, it’s meetings, it’s conferences,” she said. “Outdoor recreation is a big part of that as well. People come to hike, to enjoy our streams and waterways, to enjoy a lot of the

natural beauty we have in our region.” They also come to visit historic sites and to explore Jonesborough — Tennessee’s oldest town and the “Storytelling Capital of the World.” “People love to come in and hit Jonesborough, to really just soak up the ambience of that community,” Whitson said. “They come to hear stories, then take in Rocky Mount Museum and TiptonHaynes State Historic Site. “The state began in this region. Visitors have the chance to experience life in the frontier area when they go to those sites.” The 5-million-year-old Gray Fossil Site and its Natural History Museum bring tourists to this area, particularly seniors and

students, Whitson said. “There’s nothing on the Eastern seaboard like it,” she said. Then there’s Bristol Motor Speedway, which impacts Johnson City as well as Bristol. “You can’t discount how huge Bristol Motor Speedway is to us, not only the times of year when the races are in town. We do a lot of work with school groups that come here, particularly from North Carolina,” Whitson said. “BMS is definitely a huge economic driver for us. If you were to talk with any of our hoteliers, they can tell you what the race track means to them on a yearround basis. “Fortunately, we are continuing to sell out (hotel rooms) for both races. That is not the case for all

our neighboring communities.” With a wide variety of restaurants in Johnson City, many of them locally owned, and some particularly good barbecue restaurants in the area, food has become a reason to visit. “Food is a huge thing for us, particularly for day-trippers,” Whitson said. “People are foodies, and they like to experience a lot of local cuisines and soak in all that ambience. People love, love, love Ridgewood Barbecue. It’s still a huge draw.” Sports events are increasingly important to the area’s economy. In August, Johnson City hosted the USA/ASA Girls’ Class A 18U national championships with 95 teams competing. Whitson said the direct economic impact of

that event was almost $4 million. A new innovation in local tourism is the Southern Dozen, which promotes scenic trails for motorcyclists. “When visitors come to Zane Whitson Visitors Center (in Unicoi), they will see a large Duratran that promotes Southern Dozen. “We’re continually going to tweak some things to promote the Southern Dozen from a motorcycle standpoint and a car standpoint,” Whitson said. The Northeast Tennessee region continues to profit from its natural beauty, historical significance, cuisine and connections to NASCAR as it draws visitors from around the world.

Housing market is slowly making a comeback By JAN HEARNE Press Tempo Editor

Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press

House for sale in Gray near Ridgeview Elementary

Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press

New house construction in Boones Creek

The real estate housing market is coming back slowly but steadily, with home values inching upward. From the second quarter of 2011 to the second quarter of 2012, appreciation was 4.37 percent, according to the Federal Home Finance Administration Home Price Index, which gives annual depreciation and appreciation on new homes and refinances covered by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. “That ranked us sixth in the country,” said Jeff Keeling, director of marketing and community relations for the Washington County Economic Development Council. “We’ve been holding the top 15 percent to top third in that category over five years.” After the devastating housing market crash of 2008, building permits have begun to bounce back, but, “it hasn’t been a highly inflated bounce,” Keeling said. “Multi-family and apartments have been the focus (of development) as much as the development of single family homes. It’s better than it was three or four years ago, but it’s by no means rapid.” Ted Hensley of Century 21 in Jonesborough said, “Business was up considerably in 2012 over the previous three years,” with 99 percent of sales involving existing homes. “There’s very little in the way of lot sales,” he said. High-end homes — the

McMansions of the 1990s — are not moving well, but houses in the $110,000 to $175,000 range are doing better. Hensley said the average sale price for homes sold by his agents is $138,000. Parents of college students are looking for houses under $75,000 near East Tennessee State University, Hensley said. “When they graduate, they put them right back on the market. That’s a regular kind of business right there.” Hal Janeway of Property Experts said one-story houses with master bedrooms on the main floor are popular now, as are patio homes with “no-to-low maintenance.” “You do have a lot of baby boomers trying to scale back. That’s a good market right now. Problem is, baby boomers have to sell their (larger) houses first.” Terry Orth of Orth Construction Company, one of the area’s largest home builders, said sales are picking up. After the slump of 2008, new home construction “went downhill,” but that situation is turning around. “There’s been a tremendous shift across the country,” he said, adding the influx of retirees into the area is picking up again. “By 2002 or 2003 to 2007, I was selling a tremendous percentage of homes to out-of-towners,” Orth said. “When they couldn’t sell their homes in other parts of the country, they stopped coming. But they’re coming back.” Orth continues building new homes throughout the area, focusing on “bedroom communities that are popular with those who want to work in Kingsport or

Johnson City, but want to live a little way out of the ‘city.’” Though some clients are still looking for large luxury homes, Orth said, “Our most popular new home construction home plans are those that fall in the $175,000 to $250,000 (price range).” Like Janeway, Orth said his company has seen a trend in baby boomers looking for more manageable homes. “That influenced our decision to offer patio homes and cottages. We also chose to start this development in Johnson City due to the fact that these clients are also looking for convenience in location,” Orth said. “They want to be near shopping centers, health care, restaurants and entertainment.” Realtors agree the market is coming back, perhaps not as quickly as they would like it to, but it is coming back.

By BECKY CAMPBELL Press Staff Writer

Johnson City Police Chief Mark Sirois took command of the police department June 5, 2012 after former chief, John Lowry, retired in May. Sirois, a 20-year veteran of the department, never anticipated when he started as a patrol officer that he would one day become chief. But that’s exactly where his career path landed him. He started work at JCPD when he was 35, after already establishing a career as a graphic artist. In addition to that, Sirois is also an ordained Baptist minister. But it was a longing to give back to his community that led him to a public service career.

New EMS station reduces wait time By BECKY CAMPBELL Washington County/Johnson City EMS opened a new station in Sulphur Springs in June 2012 to cut response times to residents in that area. The station is located on Highway 81 North on land donated by Henry Walker. He and other Sulphur Springs residents had long awaited the opening. Officials said the new station’s location cut the response time to emergencies as soon as it was staffed. Prior to the opening, residents had to wait for rescue or ambulance units to drive from Jonesborough or Gray, which was at least a 15-minute trip. In addition to the medical staffing, the facility also serves as a substation for Washington County sheriff’s deputies. For now, the station is staffed by one paramedic 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Make sure to consider everything before buying home By JAN HEARNE Press Tempo Editor

The American Dream never dies, and the desire to own a home is still strong despite the economy. But, area experts advise, do some planning before you make that every expensive leap. Step one: Visit your lender and get pre-qualified for a loan, Josh McKinney, program coordinator for Eastern Eight CDC, said. “It’s at least necessary to know what price range they should be shopping in. Too many people make the mistake of shopping for a home, find one they fall in love with, talk to a lender and find out they can’t afford it and end up heartbroken.” When looking for a lender, McKinney says you should begin with someone you have a relationship with, but shop around, too. “We encourage people to get quotes from at least two others as well,” he said. “Call around, shop around, ask friends and family for a referral. Always check into government programs. THDA and USDA Rural Development — they have really great loan programs people don’t know about. It’s all about shopping around. You’ve got to beat the streets, talk to people.”

Don’t ask for a pre-approved loan until you’ve decided on a lender, McKinney cautioned. Every time a lender checks your credit report, it affects your credit score. When should you not buy a house? If you don’t have the income to support a mortgage payment, don’t try to buy. “People should step back if their credit score is lower than 640,” McKinney said. Take some time to work on your score before applying for a loan in order to get a good interest rate. Assess your lifestyle before you go house hunting, advises Terry Orth of Orth Homes. “What type of house will best suit your needs? There are a few beginning things to consider. Do you like two-level living or is it important to have everything accessible on the same floor? What is the minimum square footage that would keep your family comfortable? What area in the community is going to work best for your family?” he said. Consider location and proximity to things that are important to you, such as schools, hospitals, work and access to favorite leisure activities. McKinney agrees location is important, saying he advises clients to shop by neighborhood

rather than just look at houses. “I would identify five to 10 neighborhoods you know you want to live in,” he said. “Once you’ve picked the neighborhood, visit, then begin to focus the search for a home to those specific neighborhoods. You’re not just buying a house, you’re buying a neighborhood as well. The happiness in the home is tied to the happiness of the neighborhood.” Part of the cost of homeownership is taxes. “Take into consideration living in the city versus the county and how this will affect

you come tax time,” Orth said. Eastern Eight offers classes for prospective house buyers. Classes are scheduled for April 1-2 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. and April 13 from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at the Johnson City Eastern Eight office at 214 E. Watauga Ave. “It’s the best time to buy a house right now,” McKinney said. “Interest rates are running anywhere from 3 to 5 percent.” For more information on Eastern Eight classes and programs, visit or call 2325097.

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Page 8F, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Exit 13 to be reworked to address safety concerns, increased traffic ReX BARBER Assistant News Editor

Construction should begin this summer to change Interstate 26’s Exit 13 to improve safety and better handle the anticipated growth of the Gray community. Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer announced the $12.3 million project to improve traffic flow at the interchange by adding dual turn lanes and a new exit ramp this past summer. The project would likely take two years to complete once it is started. This project has been in the planning stages for years and was first announced in summer 2010. Traffic heading to Highway 75 often queues up on the Exit 13 ramps and presents a safety and operational hazard. The new design will add dual access and exit lanes to the interchange. The bridge spanning the interstate will also be given more

Change of plans: White got a job and never left

Broyles Florist, Inc. Broyles Florist was founded in 1947 by Blanche and Mitchell Broyles. The business is currently operated by their daughter, Sara Broyles Engel, who grew up working part time in the business through high school, college and graduate school. Broyles Florist this year celebrates its 66th anniversary and continues to uphold the extremely high standards of quality and service upon which the business was founded those many years ago. Broyles Florist is a full-service florist specializing in fresh floral arrangements for all occasions. A major goal for Sara is continually searching for new and improved floral and plant varieties such as roses with a higher petal count, a wider and more

varied color selection and a greater choice of plant varieties for her customers. To better serve the customers of Broyles Florist, Sara and her staff continually strive to always have the very best quality floral products available at both Broyles locations. Thanks to a staff of very talented and creative designers, great care is taken to ensure 100 percent satisfaction with every individual order. 214 East Mountcastle Drive Johnson City 929-2100 258 East Main Street Jonesborough 753-4211

A Family Tradition... ...for 66 Years!

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer speaking at a press conference in Gray about changes that will be made to Exit 13. lanes to handle more traffic capacity. A new ramp will be constructed for traffic on I-26 east turning right onto Highway 75, also known as Bobby Hicks Highway. This road leads to the

Tri-Cities Regional Airport to the east and East Tennessee State University’s Gray Fossil Site and Daniel Boone High School to the west. According to TDOT, an average of 21,800 vehicles travel

along Tenn. Highway 75 each day. Exit 13 provides access to and departure from Highway 75. This section of Interstate 26 has about 56,000 vehicles per day on it.

It’s a true pleasure for our family to have served you for 66 years. Thank you from all of us at BROYLES FLORIST.

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Voted Best Florist in CHOICE the Johnson City Press READERS’ Awards Readers’ Choice Awards 11 YEARS IN A ROW!


Press Staff Writer

Tw e n t y eight years ago, Robert White began working as a Johnson City Power Board meter reader with the idea he’d earn enough money to return to White college within a few months and leave his hometown behind. White, now the chief public relations officer, did eventually finish his bachelor’s degree and MBA, but it didn’t happen quite the way he’d originally planned. And he has lived in Johnson City his entire life, except for the short time at the University of Tennessee. “I had every intent to work here about six months and go back,” to school, he said. “I started working here and liked it.” He stayed in that meter reader job nearly 10 years before a promotion to warehouse supervisor. He returned to school part time. “I remember the very first day I read meters. It was a nice, crisp fall morning and I was just so thankful for being given the opportunity to work for the Power Board, and it’s been a blessing,” he said. But he didn’t want that job to be his entire life, leading him to finish his bachelor’s degree and eventually earn a master’s of business administration degree. “When people hear I read meters, they say, ‘That’s a little different,’ ” he said, referring to where he’s ended up. The most common progression from meter reader is to lineman, a job his father-in-law worked for years, but not something on White’s radar. “I was afraid of heights,” which was a big deterrent to White becoming a lineman. “It takes a lot of work,” and he had great respect for linemen, he said. “I knew I wanted to work around people. For years, as a meter reader, I got the chance to get out and see the customer,” he said. It was a 90-degree day in July 1987 after White returned from a day of meter reading — driving a pickup with no air conditioning and vinyl seats — he learned of a warehouse position. White said he received the call he was being selected for the position and discovered Power Board supervisors had their eye on him, his work ethic and skills set. He became the “go-to guy” for his fellow coworker to order materials needed to do their job. As the years in that position progressed, so did White’s responsibilities with the addition of facilities supervisor. But the opportunities didn’t stop there. In 2005, former CEO Homer G’fellers talked to White about a job he couldn’t refuse — chief public relations officer. Not only does White manage public relations, he also manages the Power Board’s customer service area. “To me it’s a wonderful marriage because it’s all about communications and it’s all about making sure there is a supreme focus on serving our customer to the highest level. There’s such a close correlation between the communications aspect of our company and how we serve our customer,” he said. “My whole goal has been to bring a high level of excellence to how we do things and a presence in our community,” White said.

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ETSU parking garage on track to open for fall semester By REX BARBER Assistant News Editor

The large parking garage that seems to be rising steadily from the ground along West State of Franklin Road should be ready for use by students at East Tennessee State University this fall. “We’re on schedule,” said Bill Rasnick, associate vice president of facilities at ETSU. “The contractors are still showing being done with the parking garage part of the project by late August, mid-tolate August.” The other portion of the project includes offices and retail space. Those aspects of the garage would probably be finished a few weeks after the garage is completed. Begun in late summer 2012, the 1,200-space parking garage on the west end of the ETSU campus involved relocating the school’s tennis court from near Warf-Pickel Hall to out near Summers-Taylor Stadium, the school’s soccer field. The total cost of both projects is $26 million. The tennis courts have been practically finished at this point, Rasnick said. “They’re ready for the spring season for athletics,” Rasnick said, adding that some of the

courts are intended for recreational use. “There’s a phase II but there are no current plans for that or funding,” Rasnick said. “Phase two is really for offices and indoor courts.” Work on the parking garage project may have been slowed due to torrents of rain in January and frequent snowfall early this winter, but the work is indeed on schedule, Rasnick said. “The weather, they couldn’t have had more difficult weather so far than what they’ve had. But they have made progress and continue to make progress.” Pre-cast concrete panels with which the garage is being constructed were delivered in the middle of February. Shipments of these have been coming in by the truckloads each day and a crane has been hoisting those pieces into place. Prior to the arrival of the precast panels, the work was all underground. The building, once finished, will look as any other academic building in the immediate vicinity. “It will have a brick facade just like the other buildings here on campus,” Rasnick said. “We picked out brick that are similar to the other buildings in that area that are brick.” Brick layers may begin work in a few weeks.

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Despite weather delays, the new parking garage project at East Tennessee State University is expected to be ready to use by mid-to-late August.

Quad project will protect pedestrians, become a gathering place for students By REX BARBER Assistant News Editor

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Gerald Thomas, with his wife Sandy, speaks at the dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting for Thomas Stadium, home of ETSU baseball.

This past spring East Tennessee State University began projects to improve pedestrian safety and create a gathering point for students. On June 4, ETSU closed the intersection of Alexander Drive and Sherrod Drive at Ball Hall, as well as the intersection of Ross Drive and Sherrod Drive at Sam Wilson Hall. This was done as part of an effort to create more greenspace and walkway areas and to eliminate vehicular traffic at a location that has a high number of pedestrians. This area is practically in the center of campus and will be known as the Quad once it is converted into greenspace later this year. Work officially began Dec. 16 with the moving of a conifer garden where the Quad will be located, which is bordered by Brooks Gym, the Campus Center Building, and Gilbreath, Ball and Sam Wilson halls. It took about two weeks to move the conifer garden, which consists of more than 100 conifers of varying species, to the east side of the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center, also known as the Mini Dome. The whole project is budgeted for $1 million. This money comes from reserve funds in the ETSU budget.

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

The conifer garden has been moved to a new location to the east side of the Mini Dome and all parking will be removed from this area in front of Brooks Gym, which will become a greenspace known as the Quad. This project ties into a 1,200space parking garage currently being built on the west side of campus. Once everything is completed, students will be able to pull directly into the parking garage and walk from there to practically any class without having to cross heavy traffic. The area where the Quad will be has long been planned for a campus greenspace with grass, landscaping and large sidewalks.

More than 10 pedestrians were hit by vehicles on campus back in 2011 and spring 2012, and that provided the incentive to proceed with the plan, first conceived in a campus master plan many years ago. Additional efforts to improve pedestrian safety at ETSU have included the installation of signs with flashing lights at crosswalks; raising crosswalks and installing new lighting.

Thomas Stadium opens for season, phase II still in plans CPA being expanded for increased use


Assistant News Editor

Fans of East Tennessee State baseball have been enjoying the comforts of a new stadium since this season began, and the school’s president has said he hopes the state-of-the-art facility will be a catalyst for economic development, as well as a boon for fans and the players. Thomas Stadium was officially dedicated in February, the day the Bucs began their 2013 season with a series against Penn State. The facility took a while to construct, as weather and the discovery of tons of rock where the field would be delayed progress. Gerald Thomas, owner of Johnson City-based Thomas Construction Company, excavated and hauled the rock away for free. The stadium now bears his name for that service. This first phase of the stadium cost about $4.2 million. General Shale Brick provided an in-kind gift of all the brick

needed for the stadium. Additionally, Thomas Construction’s preparation of the site was done for free and was worth about $500,000. ETSU President Brian Noland said on opening day he hoped the stadium would “serve as a linchpin for economic development.” Eventually, phase II calls for the expansion of the current 400 seats and the canopy. A clubhouse, locker rooms, offices, an umpire dressing room and an indoor hitting and throwing area are also included in phase II. Dave Mullins, who was athletic director as the stadium was being built and is now special assistant to the president for athletics, said feedback from players and visiting teams has been great. Fans should enjoy the scoreboard that is easily seen from the stands and allows for live replays as well as updates on the score, Mullins said. The baseball stadium is another link in the corridor along West State of Franklin Road between the campus and

downtown, Mullins said. With University Edge Apartments, the walking and bike paths recently installed, the potential for an ETSU performing arts center to be developed on West State of Franklin, prospects for the old General Mills property and the planned Founders Park project, Mullins said, the corridor is becoming more and more relevant. “No. 1, it gets our team playing on campus, so for the campus experience, I think it’s great,” Mullins said of the stadium. “But then in the development of this corridor, I think we’re beginning to see with each project that is completed some of the vision that we’ve had over the last few years about developing this corridor between the medical center, ETSU and downtown Johnson City. “So I think we’re seeing great progress. It’s going to change the use of this corridor, as well as the appearance, and I think it’s going to create a good connection between the university and the city,” Mullins said.

By REX BARBER Assistant News Editor

An expansion for the ETSU Center for Physical Activity recently got under way. Ground was officially broken on this project back in summer 2012, but work really did not begin until months later. The $7 million expansion will add about 20,000 square feet of programming space to the 100,000-square-foot facility. Included in the expansion project is an extended weight and cardio room with new strength and cardio machines; one enclosed multi-use court for basketball, volleyball and indoor soccer; two upstairs studio spaces for yoga/ Pilates, martial arts and other uses; additional restrooms and water fountains on the second floor; and a family/private use shower and changing facility on the main floor. It will also allow for the conversion of the current yoga studio into an indoor cycling studio. The creation of a field complex a short distance from the main campus for intramural sports is

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

The CPA is getting 20,000 new square feet to make room for a multi-use court, studio space and restrooms. included in the CPA project. This project will include a field house. This field complex, located at the corner of Ashley Road and Seminole Drive, is being constructed and will feature one multi-sport synthetic turf field

with one softball field with a flag football field overlaid in the outfield, as well as a multi-sport, natural Bermuda grass field with one softball field with an overlaid 120-yard by 55-yard multi-use field.

Page Design/Mike Murphy

Page 2G, Johnson City Press

First phase in Milligan dorm project could be completed by fall semester By REX BARBER Assistant News Editor

MILLIGAN COLLEGE — Construction began this year on a new dormitory complex at Milligan College by a gift of more than $4.7 million toward the site preparation and construction from Richard and Leslie Gilliam of Charlottesville, Va. The Gilliams also donated the funds for the construction of Milligan’s Gilliam Wellness Center, and they support an endowed scholarship in memory of Richard’s father, Marvin, who was a 1939 graduate of Milligan. The first phase of the housing village will consist of five buildings that should be ready by fall 2013. This phase will add 90 new beds. Ultimately the complex will have 12 buildings. The whole project is expected to cost between $10 million and $11 million. Bill Greer, president of Milligan, said Milligan trustee Bill Greene made a generous donation to the school and requested one of the dorms in the school’s new housing village be named in honor of the late Don Jeanes and his wife Clarinda. Don Jeanes passed away in August. He retired as Milligan’s president in 2011. He was succeeded by Greer.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Downtown churches seek to serve the poor By JENNIFER SPROUSE Press Staff Writer

In bigger cities, churches in the downtown area are part of an eclectic group, full of loyal members who fit in with the vibrant everyday hustle and bustle the city demands, especially on Sundays. Once upon a time, Johnson City was such a city, with lots of shops and major department stores, restaurants, as well as churches, and it was the place where people came when they said they were “going to town.” Over the years, though, some churches in the downtown area relocated for better opportunities and expansion, as well as keeping down costs that built up with being a downtown church. Some of the few that stayed and even expanded over the years include St. John’s Episcopal, Munsey Memorial United Methodist, First Presbyterian, Downtown Christian, Bethlehem Lutheran and Central Baptist churches. Douglas Grove-DeJarnett, minister of music and congregational life at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church, said the church was first called Market Street Methodist when it was started in 1871. He said the church sat about a block west of its current location on Market Street. In 1907, church members renamed the church to Munsey Memorial in honor of one of the great Methodist preachers, William Munsey. In the early ’80s, GroveDeJarnett said, church mem-

bers were “determined that this was the place they believed God had called them to be and to serve the downtown community and the area around it. “Once they made that decision, they have never departed from that in any other way, which is one of the reasons they’ve continued to expand facilities and to do a variety of different things.” He said Munsey played an important role during the John Sevier fire in 1989. “The church was deeply involved the night of the fire in a variety of different things,” Grove-DeJarnett said. “This church was ... part morgue, part hospital, part everything on that Christmas Eve fire.” He said after the fire, the church started a meal program for the poor and under-served in the community that is operated by Good Samaritan Ministries, and Munsey hosts the program in its Melting Pot. Grove-DeJarnett said that while being a church in the downtown area has provided its challenges, members also believe they are called to be there. “We just feel it’s kind of part of who God called us to be, because loving your neighbor is really important,” he said. First Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest churches in the downtown area, and was the first church in Johnson City, according to the Rev. Louis Imsande. He said the church has stayed downtown, instead of leaving like many have over the years. “I think ... many churches did do

Madison Mathews/Johnson City Press

Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church, 201 East Market Street, began in 1871 as East Market Street Methodist Church. the urban flee thing because you get more property and it’s cheaper,” Imsande said. “The obvious answer I think of why you stay in the ... urban, downtown area is because there’s ... more ministry to be done in the downtown urban area than the suburban area. Your helpless, homeless ... more

needy folks are in the downtown area.” He said other supporting ministries, such as the Haven of Mercy and The Salvation Army, are also located in the downtown area, which helps in their mission of helping those in need. “Our mission statement is to

glorify, grow and go and so ... we try to provide worship services and help folks to worship 24-7,” Imsande said. “I think that’s ... vital that we stay where we are if we really are to show God’s love to folks who are in need. “If you’re going to show folks God’s love the tangible way, folks who are needy, then ... the down-

Organ to be installed at First Presbyterian Many religions have churches in region By JENNIFER SPROUSE Press Staff Writer

First Presbyterian Church in downtown Johnson City welcomed the delivery of the parts for its new, handmade pipe organ toward the end of July, to fully replace their existing organ. The organ, complete with 2,669 pipes, 48 ranks, a console with three manuals and pedal board, was ordered by the church after its organ was missing several parts and had been subject to water leaks. Larry Dood, director of worship and music ministries for the church and First Presbyterian’s organist, Laura Cates, said the high cost estimated for the repairs that needed to be done to the organ swayed the initial decision to find another one. The church bought its new organ from Berghaus Pipe Organ Company, out of Bellwood, IL, and Cates said the organ cannot be easily duplicated. “What we’ve had to educate our congregation (on) is this instru-

ment is totally handmade. From the tiniest pipe to the tallest pipe, which is going to be 16-feet tall,” she said. “It’s really hard to put a price on craftsmanship and quality like we’re getting from Berghaus, but they were able to work with us to help us get the most instrument for the amount of money.” Cates said she hoped the arrival and installation of the new instrument would be memorable for all for many years. “We’re creating memories,” she said. “We’re just very hopeful and prayerful that this instrument is going to help us glorify God in the best way we can in our worship services on Sunday morning. We do have very high hopes for this instrument. It will bring a lot of joy to a lot of people.”


First Presbyterian Church, 105 South Boone Street, has purchased a new pipe organ from Berghaus Pipe Organ Company. Madison Mathews/Johnson City Press

In the Tri-Cities, worship opportunities are plentiful. From Protestant churches, to Catholic parishes, to non-denominational congregations, to Muslim areas of worship, to Jewish synagogues –– there are a lot of religious options in the area. For Baptist churches part of the Holston Baptist Association, there are around 100 that span the extended Tri-Cities region. Countless other Baptist churches populate the area, including those in the Watauga Baptist Association, based in Elizabethton. There are Catholic churches and numerous Methodist and Presbyterian congregations around the region. A Greek Orthodox church, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, is located in Bluff City. Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, a liberal

religious congregation, can be found in Gray. African Methodist Episcopal Zion churches are located in Johnson City, Kingsport, both Bristols and Elizabethton. Christian faiths in all denominations can be found here. In the Tri-Cities region, there are several Episcopal and Lutheran churches. There is also the Muslim Community of Northeast Tennessee at 3010 Antioch Road in Johnson City. It was established in 1992 to serve the numerous Muslim communities in Northeast Tennessee, according to its website. There are also Jewish temples around the Tri-Cities, including B’nai Sholom Congregation in Bristol, Tenn., Ruach V’Emet Tri-Cities Synagogue in Elizabethton and Congregation Ari Yehudah in Bristol, Va., as well as The Vineyard of Yahweh in Johnson City, both of which are Messianic Jewish congregations.

Milligan opens facilities to public to serve as a resource for region, community By REX BARBER Assistant News Editor

MILLIGAN COLLEGE — If your organization needs a place to meet, play, perform or simply congregate for a good lunch, Milligan College may be the answer. Lee Fierbaugh, Milligan’s vice president for enrollment management and marketing communications, said people seeking a good venue for the arts will be particularly pleased with Milligan’s venues. “Milligan’s definitely a resource to the region as well as to outside of the region,” Fierbaugh said. “We have groups that use our campus facilities year-round for a variety of things. And many of those regionally are artsrelated.” The school’s Mary B. Martin Auditorium in Seeger Memorial Chapel and the McGlothlinStreet Theatre in the Gregory Center for the Liberal Arts are both good venues for performances, Fierbaugh said. “Seeger is a very popular venue,” she said. “It’s been around for 40-plus years. And since it’s inception it has been used by a lot of outside groups. The Johnson City Symphony, of course, meets there, hosts their concerts there.” Others to use Seeger included the Johnson City Youth Ballet, The Symphony of the Mountains Youth Orchestra and various nonprofit organizations hosting benefit concerts. “So there’s a lot of groups like that that are using Seeger,” Fierbaugh said. “It’s just a beautiful facility. It is one of the largest venues of that type in the Tri-Cities region. It holds over 1,100 people.” Seating was refurbished two years ago to provide more comfort to audiences. The acoustics

are good for performance, too, Fierbaugh said. Milligan’s Gregory Center seats just under 300 people in the theater there. “It is a professional cuttingedge theater,” Fierbaugh said, adding it has all the amenities to necessary to hold a performance, including an orchestra pit. “It’s just a great facility, beautiful,” she said. “And so it seats a smaller amount ... but that makes it more of” a personal experience. Besides the main auditorium at Seeger and the theater at the Gregory Center, Milligan has Walker Auditorium in Seeger that seats 125; Hyder Auditorium in the campus science building that seats 270; and several other auditoriums and lecture halls. Milligan also hosts an array of summer programs, including sports camps, faith-based camps and conferences, and arts programs. When Milligan students

leave for summer break, the campus continues to be an active place of learning and exploration for people from this area and around the globe. Sports facilities at Milligan include a soccer complex with indoor facility; a tennis center; a fieldhouse with basketball and volleyball courts, a swimming pool, a weight room and batting cages; and baseball and softball fields. The school cafeteria, completed in 2008, is catered by Pioneer College Caterers, which provides food for many other Christian colleges and for events around the nation. The public is welcome to eat at Milligan’s cafeteria for any meal, Fierbaugh said. “The rates are reasonable and it’s good food,” she said. “We’ve been hosting the local chambers of commerce leadership the last few months and asking them to come out and have lunch with us on campus so that they can

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really connect with the campus and see the students and see the student life and what’s going on here.” That connection between community and campus is what Milligan is seeking, Fierbaugh said. “Our whole goal is really to be a resource for the region and for the community,” she said. “We are blessed and gifted with a beautiful campus and beautiful facilities, and we use those and

maximize the space here on campus but there’s still opportunities for the community to use some of that space as well. “And we want to be a resource but we also want to encourage people to come to campus because the more people that can visit Milligan’s campus, see the beauty and see the institution and what we have here, the more “I think they understand the jewel that’s in their own back

yard as far as an institution of higher education.” Visit and for more information about Milligan and opportunities for community use of the campus and programs available during the summer. Call Kathy Barnes at 461-8710 for inquiries regarding campus facilities use.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Johnson City Press, Page 3G

ETSU’s Archives of Appalachia serve as great resource for area history

Technology to assist Power Board customers By MADISON MATHEWS


Press Staff Writer

Assistant News Editor

If you’re looking for the history of this region, go no farther than the Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee State University. “We’re a collection that with our scope is Appalachian culture and life, said Amy Collins, director of the Archives. “We have around 18 million manuscripts or 800 collections dealing with Appalachia.” Besides those considerable collections, the Archives are home to around 85,000 unique and commercial sound recordings. There are more than 250,000 still and moving images at the Archives. “We’re pretty well known for our sound recordings,” Collins said. “We’re probably best known for our music collections, I would say. You know, because we do deal with the whole history of mountain, Appalachian music from early ballads right up through to today’s progressive bluegrass. “A lot of our material is of oral histories. It’s sort of the spoken word. The region is so grounded in the spoken word, whether it’s storytelling or just people telling their own story in terms of their life.” Johnson City is the central point of the Archives’ holdings, but the collections spread through Central Appalachia; however, books kept at the Archives repre-

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Items in the Archives of Appalachia at East Tennessee State University include music and sound recordings, photographs, old letters and books. Many of these items are primary source material that are preferred sources for research. sent the entirety of Appalachia. There is a lot of primary source material for research purposes at the Archives. Primary material is the original material, and it is the preferred source for most research. A master’s of Appalachian studies is planned for ETSU students. This course will have implications for the Archives due to research that will come out of that program. The new bluegrass major is also benefitting through the

Archives because of all the music there. “So again I think the intensity of the use is increasing here because of the growth of the programs here at ETSU,” Collins said. But anyone can use the Archives, not just students or ETSU professors. Many of the Archives’ collections can be viewed online at If you can’t find what you need there, the Archives staff can assist. The Archives of Appalachia

is open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located on the third floor of the Charles C. Sherrod Library on the main ETSU campus. Also be sure to check out the Archives Facebook page. “We become the steward in a sense of the tradition of the region. And I think that means a lot to people. I think people really identify closely with the region and they value that tradition. And we help to keep it and preserve it for them.”

Area is hub of higher education opportunities By REX BARBER Assistant News Editor

East Tennessee provides many options for advanced degrees, certifications and continuing training if you seek an education beyond high school. While not exhaustive, the following list of institutions of learning contains a wide variety of options for degree seekers available in the region. Perhaps the most obvious choice to get a degree is East Tennessee State University located in Johnson City. Founded in 1911, this research institution grants bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees of many kinds. According to its website,, more than 15,000 students attend the university. There are 11 colleges at the university, including colleges of pharmacy and medicine. Milligan College is a private Christian liberal arts school that was established in 1866 in Carter County. Milligan grants baccalaureate and masters degrees in many subjects, including nursing, occupational therapy. For more information on Milligan visit For a start toward that bachelors degree, Northeast State Community College is a viable option, offering associates degrees and other training. NSCC’s main campus is located in Blountville, with locations in Kingsport, Gray, Elizabethton and soon in downtown Johnson City. Students who attend NSCC can pursue degrees designed to put them on track for a bachelors degree or they can get degrees in a wide range of professions like electrician, manufacturing, welding, accounting, management and many others. Visit for more information.

In Greeneville you’ll find Tusculum College, founded in 1794 and considered the oldest college in Tennessee and among the oldest in the nation. Tusculum offers a wide range of majors and minors for students seeking bachelors and graduate degrees, including studies in biology, art, chemistry, nursing, psychology, education and much more. Visit for more information. King University was a college until recently, having expanded sufficiently in programs and breadth to attain university status. Located in Bristol, King also grants bachelors and graduate degrees in many fields. Visit for more information. Moving up into Virginia, you’ll find Emory & Henry College, founded in 1836. This is considered the oldest college in Southwest Virginia. The entire campus is on the National Historic Register. Bachelors degrees in art, biology, mass communication, political science, music and mathematics are available, as are graduate degrees in American history, community and organizational leadership and physical therapy. Visit for information. For technology courses, the Tennessee Technology Center at Elizabethton has been around since the early 1960s. The main campus is located at 426 Tenn. Highway 91. The curriculum at TTC includes courses in automotive technology, diesel mechanics, welding, electricity, business systems technology and nursing. There are about 1,000 students enrolled at the school each year. Students begin programs as openings become available. For more information on the center, visit Perhaps you want to be a cos-

metologist? If that’s the case, Johnson City is home to Jenny Lea Academy of Cosmetology. According to the academy’s website,, the school’s purpose is to educate students in the arts and sciences of cosmetology and nail technology. For those who may be seeking a technological route, ITT Technnical Institute has a branch in Johnson City. This campus has programs available in information systems and cybersecurity, electrical engineering and communications technology, drafting and design, business and criminal justice. For more information visit and search for the

Johnson City campus. In Kingsport, you’ll find the Kingsport Academic Village. The village includes the Regional Center for Health Professions, the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing and the Kingsport Center for Higher Education. Northeast State operates various appropriate programs in each building, but CarsonNewman College, King, Lincoln Memorial University and the University of Tennessee also have a presence in the Center for Higher Education. Baccalaureate and graduate programs, as well as associate degrees are available through this center. Visit for more information.

Joe O’Brien Field at Riverside Park

Sunday June 30, 2013 Morning Service • Praise to God and USA Musical • Recognition of Veterans

Elizabethton Twins VS. Johnson City Cardinals

Beginning Late Afternoon • Childrens Activities • Hot Dogs & Burgers • Ice Cream & Toppings • Gospel Concert • Fireworks

Wed., July 3rd • 7:00 p.m. Special Music Family Fun at the Ballpark Fireworks After the Game!

Watch For VBS Announcement of Dates & Times

Borderview Christian Church 1338 Bristol Highway, Elizabethton, Tennessee Phone: 542-6685

Kirk Langston, Senior Minister Andrew Norman, Associate Minister Sunday School 10:00 a.m. • Sunday Morning Worship 10:45 a.m. Sunday Evening Worship & Life Groups 6:00 p.m. • Wednesday Evening Worship & Youth Study 7:00 p.m.

Quality health care – when and where you need it.

Wellmont CVA Heart Institute

It’s nice to have choices. That’s what Wellmont Health System provides – the choice of superior health care with compassion, offering services and locations convenient for your busy life.

Offering a level of expertise unmatched in this region, the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute’s team of cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons and other practitioners offer: • General and preventive cardiology • HeartSHAPE® calcium scoring • Endovenous laser treatment • Varicose and spider vein care • Electrophysiology • Lipid and Coumadin clinics • Device clinic for pacemakers and defibrillators • Nuclear testing • Echocardiology • Vascular imaging • Stress testing • Event and Holter monitoring • Clinical research

Wellmont Outpatient Campus Conveniently located off Knob Creek Road and State of Franklin Road, the Wellmont Outpatient Campus hosts a variety of services: • Wellmont Medical Associates Dr. Bob Connell and Dr. Rita Plemmons, family medicine Open weekdays 8 a.m.–5 p.m. 423-433-6370 Dr. Mark Emery, pulmonology and sleep Open Tuesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 423-433-6370

• Wellmont Occupational Health Services Promoting healthy employees Open weekdays 8 a.m.–11 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m.–6 p.m. 423-282-0751

Shi Hui and Zhang Hao Cai are Chinese teachers.

You Are Invited To Come And Worship With Us! God & Country Day God & Country Night

Johnson City, you have a choice.

• Wellmont Urgent Care ER expertise at urgent care prices Open weekdays 8 a.m.–11 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m.–6 p.m. 423-282-0751

Madison Mathews/Johnson City Press

The Johnson City Power Board continues to stay ahead of the curve after the installation and introduction of the new advance meters, as well as a new mobile app called SmartHub. “It’s just a mobile app that’s going to allow us to give more flexibility to our customers with regard to access to their account,” said Robert White, chief public relations officer at the power board. “They’ll be able to pay their bill. They’ll be able to monitor the usage on a monthly, hourly, daily basis. They’ll be able to do bill comparisons. They’ll be able to report outages. They’ll be able to take photos with their smart phones or tablets and ... upload it to our system ... just in case they may see a tree on a power line.” White said customers will also be able to utilize GPS on their phones to pinpoint and zero in on locations with outages and then email or text that location to the power board. “The reason we are doing this is we understand in today’s environment, being able to have mobile applications,” he said. “It’s what our customers

are asking for and this is our way of responding.” As for the advance meters, this is the power board’s second generation of advance meters. “In 2009, we started deploying what we call a new advanced meter and it allows two way communication. So, it allows us to talk to the meter from the office and the meter can talk to us,” White said. “We can get meter readings from the office, as opposed to having to be within a couple hundred feet of the meter. This meter allows us to do a couple of things. It allows us to get more meter readings.” He said because of the advanced meter, it allows new technology for customers, such as the SmartHub app. “We’re pretty proud. Most of the country is just now starting with their first generation, but this is our second go-around and we’re confident,” White said. “We like to stay ahead of the curve ... so that we can provide some great services for our customers.”

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Johnson City students study Chinese language and culture By MADISON MATHEWS Students in Johnson City Schools began learning Chinese in 2012 after the school system became an affiliate network with The Confucius Institute, a nonprofit, public institute with the goal of promoting Chinese language and culture. By becoming an affiliated institute, two Chinese teachers — Zhang Hao Cai and Shi Hui — joined the ranks of the Johnson City school system and began

teaching students at North Side Elementary School and Liberty Bell Middle School. Other than a Chinese course offered at the high school level through dual-enrollment, this is the first time Johnson City has had dedicated Chinese teachers in the system. The Chinese lessons consist of teaching students how to write and speak the language, as well as learning about the culture and history of China through traditional songs and arts and crafts.

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Page 4G, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Agencies meet needs of children, seniors and others Block Grant program, the service centers provide emergency assistance with rent and utilities, federal food commodities, financial management counseling, job search assistance and referrals to other community agencies that can help individuals and families regain financial stability and avoid hunger and homelessness. UETHDA also administers the region’s Head Start program, a federally funded preschool program that helps low-income children and those with disabilities prepare for kindergarten while monitoring their health, nutrition and developmental goals and sparing their parents the cost of daycare that may prohibit them from working or attending school. Other programs administered by UETHDA include the Individual Development Program, a matched-savings program that helps qualifying families save a portion of their income for secondary education or for a first time home purchase; Weatherization Assistance that helps homeowners and renters reduce home heating and cooling costs, and a volunteer program that puts seniors and retirees in volunteer positions that match their skills and interests.

By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

To help address emergency needs for food, shelter, transportation and other essentials of daily living, the First Tennessee Human Resource Agency and the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency together provide more than two dozen specialized services and programs. While both agencies are designed to funnel federal and state funding down to communities across the Northeast Tennessee region, many of their programs are also supported by private contributions and operate as nonprofit public and private partnerships. Seniors, adults and children who reside in Washington, Sullivan, Carter, Green, Unicoi, Johnson, Hawkins and Hancock counties may qualify for the agencies’ services either by income level or by any of a variety of circumstances that put them at risk. UETHDA operates Neighborhood Services Centers in each of the eight counties. Funded primarily through the federal Community Services

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

First Tennessee Human Resource Agency is located at 704 Rolling Hills Drive. FTHRA administers 11 individual nonprofit programs, most of them designed to help seniors and disabled adults remain in their homes and out of nursing facilities for as long as possible. Its NET Trans rural transportation program provides low cost, handicap accessible on-demand

transportation to residents of Washington, Carter, Unicoi, Johnson, Greene, Sullivan and Hawkins counties who live outside areas served by municipal transit systems. The program also provides daily bus routes between Elizabethton, Erwin, Jonesborough, Johnson City and

Kingsport. Rides may be scheduled by calling NET Trans at 4618233 or 1-800-528-7776, by noon on the day before transportation is needed. FTHRA’s Personal Support Services provides seniors and disabled adults with in-home assistance with daily living needs including house cleaning, laundry, meal preparation, personal care, shopping, medication monitoring, household budgeting, and transportation to appointments. Its Adult Day Services program provides daily supervision, meals, enrichment programs and more for seniors and disabled adults who are in need of 24-hour supervision. Adult Day Services is designed to provide in-home caregivers the freedom to work, attend school or take care of responsibilities outside the home without fear of leaving their loved one alone. The program is located in Keystone Community Center and transportation is available. Meals on Wheels is a division of the FTHRA nutrition program that provides prepackaged cold meals and frozen food packages for daily delivery to the homes of approximately 1,000 seniors in the eight-county region. The nutrition program also provides

Good Samaritan Ministries: filling gaps By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

Good Samaritan Ministries’ assistance to area’s homeless and the poor topped $3 million for the first time in 2010 and last year climbed to more than $3.6 million. Through donations from area churches, businesses and individuals, government grants and foundation support, Good Samaritan provided $2,041,610 in social services to 158,332 individuals last year, primarily through the provision of emergency assistance with rent and utilities. The ministry distributed $418,872 in food to 7,009 individuals, including 2,610 people served by the ministry’s summer food program for area families who struggle to feed their children without free and reduced priced meals available during the school year; 120,445 meals served at the Melting Pot; and 1,000 food boxes a prepared holiday meals distributed to area families, seniors and disabled adults at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The ministry served 1,091 homeless individuals in 2012 with the provision food, clothing, blankets and sleeping bags, showers, comfort items and assistance accessing government benefits and other community resources. Around 800 low-income children received school supplies and clothing from the ministry. About 750 children received Easter baskets and more than 1,200 children, teens and seniors received gifts from the ministry at Christmas. Professional services delivered through Good Samaritan included the free legal clinic offered by Washington County Bar Association at the ministry’s North Roan Street offices on the first Saturday of each month, and weekly eye clinics through which Dr. Dana Grist and Lenscrafters have been filling the gap in services since 2008 for adults who can’t afford eye care. The ministry also maintains a staff of social workers who are on hand daily to help people in emergency need identify and

access a range of government and community resources. All totaled, the value of benevolent services provided by Good Samaritan last year was $3,698,662. Ministry director Sarah Wells said increased requests for assistance and the delayed release of government grant funding for housing and utilities costs allocated to prevent homelessness made 2012 one of the most difficult in the ministry’s 27-year history. Good Samaritan was founded in 1985 by East Pine Grove Park United Methodist Church to provide residents of Johnson City’s Tyler housing development

assistance with food, medicine and utilities. In its first year, the ministry’s client list included about 30 people but its outreach expanded quickly, first as a district ministry of the local United Methodist conference and later as relief ministry supported by area churches to provide assistance to homeless and low income residents of Washington, Carter, Unicoi, Johnson, Sullivan and Greene counties. Good Samaritans’ offices were originally located in the basement of an medical office building on Boone Street. For many years the ministry operated from the city’s Keystone

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Community Center and in 2005 it purchased the former Johnson City Power Board building at 100 North Roan St., where it services, staff and amenities continue to expand. The Good Samaritan building includes a suite of social service offices, a large food pantry with a walk-in freezer, a shower and laundry for the homeless men, a thrift store that helps provide revenue for the ministry, and a community room with a full kitchen that is used to facilitate many of the programs. In the year ahead, Good Samaritan plans to use a portion of two grants totaling $60,000 awarded last year through the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving program to implement a job training and placement program for veterans and at risk teens. The program will include an offsite car detailing shop where veterans and teenagers who have difficulty obtaining employment will gain job skills, work experience and income.

hot meals to congregate feeding sites for seniors in need. FTHRA’s Senior Employment Program is a federally funded onthe-job training program that helps low-income, unemployed seniors age 55 and older attain job skills through temporary parttime employment at nonprofit and government agencies across the region. The program also provides training in job search skills to help it participants find permanent employment. FTHRA also administers the Safe Passage Domestic Violence Shelter that provides emergency shelter and transitional services for men, women and children who are victims of domestic violence, a Foster Grandparents Program that matches senior volunteers with children and teens with special needs, misdemeanor probation programs in several of the eight counties, and a Generations On Line program that provides basic instruction in use of the internet for people age 55 and older. For more information about any of the FTHRA programs, call 461-8200 or visit For more information about any of the UETHDA programs, call 246-6180 or visit www.uethda. org.

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Johnson City Press, Page 5G

Local charities provide shelter, food, much more By SUE GUINN LEGG With 20 percent of the residents of Northeast Tennessee living at or below the federal poverty level and the homeless population of Washington County twice as large as any other county in the region, charitable organizations providing direct assistance with food, shelter, clothing and other basic human needs are in perpetual demand. In Johnson City there are two “transient” shelters providing emergency overnight lodging, and several “transitional” shelter programs that offer short-term housing and support services designed to help people who are homeless regain their ability to sustain a home. The city also has three public kitchens and four day centers that provide a place for people who are homeless to come in out of the elements, to shower and wash clothes, and receive help accessing other resources, including health care. The Johnson City Salvation Army Center of Hope provides an overnight emergency shelter for men, a transitional shelter for male and female veterans supported by the Veterans Administration’s per diem housing program and rare transitional shelter program for men, women and children designed to keep homeless families from being separated. Located at 200 Ashe St., the Center of Hope also maintains a public kitchen where hot lunches and dinners are available daily to anyone in need. The Salvation Army’s social services office is located directly across the street from the Center of Hope and includes a large food pantry. The office provides emer-


The River, a secure day center and faith-based ministry for women located at 125 W. Main St. gency assistance with rent, utilities and deposits, and referrals to other available resources. Haven of Mercy provides emergency overnight shelter and a transitional housing and work program for men. Located at 123 E. Millard St., Haven of Mercy provides a public dining room that is open to anyone in need Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, beginning at 4:30 p.m. The Interfaith Hospitality Network of Greater Johnson City is a network of more than 30 area churches and several hundred volunteers who together provide transitional shelter and a comprehensive range of support services

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for homeless families with children. The families initially sleep at IHN host churches while waiting for a “supportive” housing unit where they may live for more than a year, working, attending school, and saving money to regain their ability to sustain a home. During their time at the host churches, much of families’ free time is spent at the IHN day

center at 201 W. Fairview Ave. The day center provides the families with a laundry, showers and other essential services including classes in financial management and job skills. Good Samaritan Ministries is a grassroots community relief agency founded and supported by area churches. Located at 100 N. Roan St., the ministry provides a range of assistance to people who are homeless, low income and at risk, including food, rent and utilities provided through a combination of private, state and federal funding. The ministry provides a shower and laundry for men who are homeless, a thrift store where those who are in emergency need of clothing and home furnishings can shop for free, and a large food pantry that provides supplemental food to several hundred households each month. Professional services available at Good Samaritan include a staff of social workers who help families and individuals access available resources, a free legal clinic conducted monthly, a free optometry clinic for adults without access to eye care and corrective lenses, and a variety of educational programs to address problems that contribute to homelessness and financial distress. Good Samaritan administers The Melting Pot, a public dining room at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church supported by numerous area churches. The Melting Pot is open for breakfast Monday through Saturday and

lunch Monday through Friday. The River is a secure day center and faith-based resource ministry for women located at 125 West Main St. The River provides a low-cost laundry, free professional hair care, a shower, a mail center, a sewing center, life skills classes, mentoring and referrals to other local resources. The Johnson City Downtown Clinic is an outreach program of the East Tennessee State University College of Nursing located at 207 E. Myrtle Ave.. The clinic provides primary and pre-

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Page 6G, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

A new scoreboard was installed by workers from Parks and Rec on Cardinal Park’s new left-field wall.

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Activity Day celebration at Indian Trail.

South Side Elementary School students and staff particiated in International Walk to School Day by walking a few early morning laps around the school Friday morning. The program is designed to promote fitness as well as heighten environmental concerns.

Johnson City, Washington County schools improved scores on TCAP By MADISON MATHEWS Press Staff Writer

The Washington County area boasts two of the top-performing school districts in the state. Johnson City Schools ranked second in the state in mathematics on the 2012 Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, or TCAP, and ranked in the top five districts in a number of other categories, including reading and language arts and algebra. City students scored 70.2 percent in mathematics, a 3.7 percent increase from 2011 according to date released in

July by the Tennessee Department of Education. Johnson City was ranked fifth in the state in reading and language arts, scoring 67.5 percent, a 2.9 percent increase from last year. As state standards shifted with the implementation of the Common Core curriculum, city students in grades 3-8 moved to advanced levels in a number of categories in this year’s results. At the high school level, students at Science Hill High School ranked second in the state in algebra I, third in the state in algebra II and fifth in the state in both English I and English II. Washington County schools improved in nearly every TCAP

category, including mathematics, social studies and science. Students scored 86.2 percent in social studies, 66 percent in science, 55.3 percent in reading and language arts and 54.7 percent in mathematics. As with Johnson City students, Washington County students increased academic proficiency in a wide variety of categories. About two-thirds of the state’s 136 districts improved in every subject of the grades 3-8 TCAP tests, and local data mirrors the improved numbers across the state. The State Report Card for 2012 also shows both Johnson City and Washington County

schools improved ACT composite scores, as well. Science Hill scored the highest with 22.1, while Daniel Boone High School received a score of 19.8, and David Crockett High School received a score of 19.1. University School, which falls under Washington County Schools, received a composite score of 24.3. Graduation rates for both systems were higher than the state average of 90 percent. Washington County had a graduation rate of 93.8 percent, with a dropout rate of 2.5 percent. Johnson City had a graduation rate of 91.8 percent, with a dropout rate of 1.7 percent.

Necessary repairs being made to Cardinal Park By GARY GRAY Press Staff Writer

Last year, assistant city manager Charlie Stahl reported that the home of the Johnson City Cardinals, the Appalachian League champs the past two years, needed major repairs if it was going to continue to survive continued poor marks by its big league parent organization, the St. Louis Cardinals. The park, originally built in 1950, got a new right-field fence and lighting about one year ago. A few months later, city officials approved the remainder of the fence, as well as a fresh playing surface, replacement of light poles, batting cage netting, electrical and other work. Public Works director Phil Pindzola is ready to begin a

$225,500 in-house streetscape project which would tie into the new Memorial Park Community Center. This price includes $75,000 for fencing that would be brick columns and wrought iron along Legion Street and the old Lonnie Lowe Lane, which will become a pedestrian area and parking lot entrance. This also includes the cost of a new ticket office. The closing of Lonnie Lowe Drive and its conversion to a pedestrian area will tie in with a pedestrian area along the front of the new center. When this work is done, plumbing needs in the restrooms and other structures at the facility will be addressed. The city’s Parks and Recreation Department has and will do most of the maintenance work at the park.

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Jordan Beard and May Thompson are training at the Olympic Center at East Tennessee State University.

ETSU is an official Olympic training site for weightlifting By REX BARBER Assistant News Editor

Madison Mathews/Johnson City Press

Science Hill’s new gymnasium is large enough to hold the entire student body, and school leaders say this has helped build camaraderie and school spirit.

East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland announced the university was officially designated as a U.S. Olympic Training Site for weightlifting by the United States Olympic Committee. ETSU will screen athletes who apply to train at the center, and the school’s Mike Stone will design a training program specific to each athlete. Stone is director of the Exercise and Sport Science

Laboratory at ETSU and an internationally recognized scholar in the field of sport science. Those lifters selected will be admitted to ETSU and will enroll as full-time students, the school said. There are 14 Olympic Training Centers in the country. Only two other centers provide training for weightlifting. One of those is in Colorado Springs, Colo., which is the flagship training center for the USOC. The training site could expand to include additional sports like cycling.

Science Hill students now under one roof By MADISON MATHEWS Press Staff Writer

After years of construction, the entire student body of Science Hill High School is under one roof. The $23 million construction project that gave the Science Hill campus new administrative offices, a dedicated 9th Grade Academy, a dining hall and a multipurpose gymnasium officially came to an end in August. Officials said they couldn’t be happier with the new school and the opportunity to have grades 9-12 in one campus instead of spread out like before. “It was great to be able to move ninth grade up the hill. In years past, they felt like they weren’t really a part of the school. It was hard to make them feel a part of it when they were across the campus, and I think they really like not having the eighth grade as part of the high school,” said principal Melanie Riden-Bacon. “It makes them feel more grown up and it’s helped the sophomores. We’re more like a family since we’re all together in one building, and we like it that way.” The dedicated 9th Grade Academy gives freshman an

area where all of their classes are taught, allowing for a easier transition from middle school to high school. Another plus of the new campus is the new gym, which is the first gym the school has had that its entire student body can fit into, which has helped with school spirit. “The other thing that I think draws students together is they now have one gym where everyone can have pep rallies or assembly programs together as one high school. You don’t have to separate the students, so I definitely think it has built a lot of camaraderie and school spirit being together,” said director of Secondary and Student Services Janie Snyder. The new campus’ construction and reconfiguration of Liberty Bell Middle School and Indian Trail Intermediate School was all part of Johnson City Schools’ long-term learning plan. “We wanted to be able to build enough capacity at all levels so that we could add space for some elementary students, have enough space for our intermediate students and of course we’re still in a building capacity there,” Snyder said of the plan and the current construction at Indian Trail. There are about 2,300 students

enrolled at Science Hill, and the new campus was designed to hold about 3,000 students. Riden-Bacon said the extra space will allow for future growth as the city continues to see the population increase. “It’s been a huge culture shift at our school in a very big positive way. The ninth grade teachers feel much more

Introducin g

included. It’s brought a new energy to the school. School spirit is phenomenal this year. Everyone’s excited about school and seems to be enjoying it, so it’s just a great atmosphere. “We’ve got plenty of room, so we’re not on top of each other anymore and it’s been great,” she said.

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Baseball & Softball League Offers the opportunity to play baseball and softball to boys & girls ages 6 to 18 from Elizabethton/Carter County and surrounding cities and counties. Our 9 & 10 Year League Boys and 11 & 12 Year League Boys play in their own age groups and are taught the skills of pitchers holding runners on base and pitching from both windups and stretches. Base runners are taught to get leads and steal bases, while catchers are taught how to hold runners on bases or throw out baserunners and make throws on dropped third strikes. In addition, we play on 70 foot base paths. Our facilities and fields are located at Lions Field, across from The Elizabethton Golf Course. For more information call 423-547-3663 or visit “You’re invited to come by and take in some great baseball and softball games!”







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Page 8G, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Region benefits from two health care systems, College of Medicine By BECKY CAMPBELL Press Staff Writer

When you think about health care in Johnson City, many things might come to mind, but one of them is likely Mountain States Health Alliance. The large health conglomerate offers a wide variety of health care specialty options, and company officials are always looking for ways to better serve patients, according to chief financial officer Marvin Eichorn. “When you focus on the strategy of Mountain States, it’s really been the strategy of our organization to build the full continuum of care (in the system’s geographic area),” he said. “It’s more than acutecare hospitals.” Between primary care and specialty physicians, MSHA

employs around 400 doctors. “When folks need something more advanced — care that’s more advanced than strictly seeing a physician — that’s where our acute care hospitals come into play,” he said. Eichorn said MSHA operates outpatient diagnostics, physical therapy, occupational therapy, mental health and the region’s largest home health care service. The most recent integration of services is a pharmacy division. “We just recently purchased Wilson Pharmacy, and we’re putting a pharmacy (at the medical center),” he said. “We’re not trying to own or control everything, because there are a lot of good companies that provide (services). “The whole goal is not to own a bunch of stuff and have a bunch of stuff. It’s to provide a higher quality of care at a lower cost.” Even with MSHA’s obvious

Madison Mathews/Johnson City Press

Johnson City Medical Center is part of Mountain States Health Alliance. presence in Johnson City, Wellmont Health System also provides a number of medical facilities here for patients to access and utilize. Wellmont Cancer Institute

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Use of iPad app makes anatomy class less messy By REX BARBER Assistant News Editor

Gross anatomy at East Tennessee State University’s medical school used to involve referring back to several books, notes and other materials while students’ gloved hands were covered in fluid from dissecting a cadaver. The pages of these important (and expensive) texts often got messy in the process. iPads attached to swivel arms connected to the dissection tables have eliminated the need for multiple paper sources now. The tablet computers were first used in the James H. Quillen College of Medicine’s medical human gross anatomy and embryology course this semester. Each first-year medical student must take this course. Dr. Caroline Abercrombie,

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Dr. Caroline Abercrombie demonstrates the new iPads now in use in the anatomy lab at the ETSU med school.

JCMC Surgery Center expected to open summer By MADISON MATHEWS Mountain States Health Alliance broke ground on a $69 million surgery tower at Johnson City Medical Center last year in hopes that it will provide additional operating space and a greater focus on utilizing the latest technology and medical procedures available. The surgery tower is under construction and expected to be completed by this summer. The 156,000-square-foot addition to the JCMC campus will feature 16 operating suites — each 30 percent larger to house new technology and more space for patient care — along with 48 patient beds for pre- and post-operative care and a satellite pharmacy. About $35 million of the price tag will be used for state-of-theart equipment, including LED surgical lighting, a robotic imaging system, large high-definition monitors, anesthesia equipment and video monitors. The surgery center was designed to be LEED-certified as a green building by the United States Green Building Council.

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Custom Asphalt Services Custom Asphalt Services saw a big year in 2012. The company, which specializes in sealcoating, stripping, patching and concrete, tackled many projects during the year. Some of those projects were commercial and the company also did some residential projects. Custom Asphalt did projects for the Wellness Center, Shoppes of Franklin including Outback Steakhouse which included maintaining the parking lot and some sealcoating. The company also did a multitude of projects for the Johnson City Medical Center. Custom Asphalt also had some projects at the Barnes and Noble complex. The company is looking forward to big things in 2013. Custom Asphalt Services will continue to offer the most effective heavy-duty protective sealcoating available.

The company is hoping to be busy and hopes to help other businesses and homes maintain their property. Custom Asphalt expects to be busy all year with a variety of projects already lined up including working on the Storage Maxx facility. Custom Asphalt Services was founded in 1973 and opened an office in Johnson City during the year of 1981. The company employed three workers in 2011 and had the same number of employees during 2012. The principal officer is Bob Gilham, Owner. The company also contributed to a variety of charities in 2012. Some of those charities included the Special Olympics and the Make-a-wish foundation. P.O. Box 901, Johnson City, TN 423-926-2742

director of the school’s anatomy lab, said the inclusion of iPads provides a higher level of teaching because students can find answers easier by searching through apps on their iPads that display a 3-D model of the entire human body and all its systems. Students can just tap on a muscle, organ or bone for a full description of it. ETSU’s setup is unique. According to the school, no other medical college likely has this kind of anatomy lab with iPads on swivel arms.

tions. The Wellmont Breast Center and the Wellmont Medical Associates Family Medicine operate at 316 Marketplace Blvd., Suite 20. “We began to offer pulmonology and sleep services at the same location,” said Jim Wozniak, spokesman for Wellmont. In addition to these services, Wellmont Urgent Care, which opened in 2010, continues to operate at 378 Marketplace Blvd., Suite 5, and the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute serves patients at 2428 Knob Creek Road. Both systems benefit from the presence of the East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine, and according to Eichorn, work hand-in-hand when new programs are developed. “The relationship with ETSU, it happens on so many levels. The biggest one, the medical school here and their

residency program, with all our hospitals that participate in that, in any given time there’s more than 100 residents,” in MSHA facilities. An example of that, according to MSHA communications director Teresa Hicks, is the Niswonger Children’s Hospital at JCMC. “Niswonger is probably the best example. We couldn’t provide without ETSU. They’re involved in every aspect of care. Without the residency program (at ETSU) there would be no Niswonger’s,” she said. Hicks said the Children’s Hospital has four of only about 4,000 pediatric emergency physicians in the world, which she said shows the high level of medical care available here. For more information, visit their websites at www.msha. com or

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Jonesborough building its business base By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

The little town of Jonesborough is growing up, fast. From the town limits at Headtown Road to the Ingles shopping center near Persimmon Ridge, more than a dozen new or newly relocated businesses sprang up along the section of Highway 11E dubbed Andrew Jackson Boulevard in 2012. Business openings in the updated downtown historic district include three new restaurants and a BP Roadrunner on Boone Street at Jackson, and plans for a Dunkin’ Donuts are on the horizon. One of the most popular new establishments to come to Jonesborough last year, Captain D’s opened for business at 1531 E. Jackson Blvd. late last year with grand opening-day receipts that came in close to double what the franchise owner expected. Following the Pizza Plus opening just off East Jackson at 211 Headtown Road earlier in the year, Captain D’s became the second new eatery to take up residence along the new business access route that spurs off Headtown and circles back to East Jackson. Other new business shingles hanging on the east end of town include Regions Bank, which built a new building and relocated to the south side of East Jackson at Headtown Road; The Medicine

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Captain D’s opened a location in Jonesborough late last year. Shoppe, which built a new brick building at 1238 E. Jackson; a Fast Change lube service in the Food City shopping center at Forrest Drive; and Walgreens at 531 E. Jackson. On the Boones Creek Road corridor into downtown, Tractor Supply opened in the former White’s grocery building. Bomba’s Fresh Italian opened in the Fox Plaza location formerly occupied by The Daily Bread at

North Cherokee Street and West Jackson. The Parson’s Son BBQ opened in the former Volco building at West Jackson and South Cherokee. Eastman Credit Union renovated and moved into the former Region’s Bank building at West Jackson and College Street. And on the west end of town, a new Family Dollar opened at 1407 W. Jackson. Downtown, The Wedding Loft

was sold to Team Bridal of Greeneville and is now operating as Team Bridal Wedding & Event Loft. After more than 30 years on Main Street, Steve and Teva Cook put their Art Glass gallery up for sale with hopes for a set of young merchant/artists who will allow them to continue on as exhibitors. Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge put his building at 115 E.

Main St., home of the 50-plusyear-old Jonesborough Antiques Mart, on the market. Developer Dan Lowrie is restoring his second and third buildings on East Main Street and is already capturing the attention of high-end tenants including Troutdale owner Ben Zandi, who in November accepted town leaders’ invitation to come downtown for a tour. The Jonesborough General Store & Eatery, a gift shop and

diner featuring the works of local artisans and a 1950s-style soda fountain and grill, opened in Lowrie’s restored building at 107 E. Main. And a couple of doors down, East Tennessee Ghost Tours has moved to East Main and with its relocation launched Old Hickory Dinner. There’s a new 23 Bridal.Prom. Tuxedo shop at 125 West Main. Olde Courthouse Dinner is doing business on the east side of the courthouse. And The Sparrow’s Nest has become the newest gift shop on Fox Street. And still on the horizon, Jonesborough leaders and Mountain Empire Oil are continuing to negotiate the price of a strip of town-owned land situated between Town Hall and Jackson Boulevard where the company hopes to expand its BP Shell to include a Dunkin’ Donuts. All in all, it’s been a busy year for Jonesborough, and mayor Kelly Wolfe is not surprised. “If you would ask me why all this growth is in Jonesborough, I’d tell you we have close to 30,000 cars a day on 11E, and the town is proud of the fact we’re regarded as having a very pro-business environment,” Wolfe said. “And with our downtown remodel complete, the business environment downtown couldn’t be better for new businesses to thrive. “Our Board of Mayor and Aldermen has undertaken many projects to beautify Jonesborough, and we will continue to do everything we can to encourage new business and development.”

McKinney Center to open in old Jonesborough school By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Underground utility lines were installed, sidewalks were expanded and streets were repaved recently in downtown Jonesborough.

Renovations at Jonesborough’s McKinney Cultural Arts Center at Booker T. Washington School are nearing completion and expected to wrap up in May, just in time for the return of the Jonesborough Juried Art Show scheduled to open at the new center May 24. Built in 1940 with funding from the federal Works Progress Administration, the segregationera school for Jonesborough’s African-American students closed in 1964. The building was used for storage for the county school system through the 1980s and sat idle until 2010, when the town launched an initiative to restore and expand the building for use as a center for performing and cultural arts.

Named in honor of Washington County educator Ernest McKinney, the first AfricanAmerican elected to Jonesborough’s Board of Mayor and Alderman, and his son, Kevin, Jonesborough’s first AfricanAmerican mayor, the McKinney Center will provide a hands-on art instruction program for Jonesborough residents and visitors, performing arts instruction and programming for school children provided through a gift from the Mary B. Martin family, and exhibits that will tell the story of Jonesborough and its residents with special emphasis on the town’s African-American heritage. In addition to classrooms, a stage and a large exhibit area that can also be used as an auditorium, the center will include a newly constructed two-level addition with a full kitchen, restrooms and a lower-level storage area.

Downtown Jonesborough newly paved Corridor improvements coming soon

By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

The town of Jonesborough spent most of 2012 working to improve the streets in its downtown historic district, and this year will shift focus to improvements on its U.S. Highway 11E corridor and downtown gateways. The multifaceted downtown improvement project began early last year and wrapped up in December. The improvements were conducted in conjunction with replacement of the downtown district’s underground utility lines and included the removal of several on-street parking spaces near the courthouse and the addition of left and right turn lanes from the courthouse circle onto Main Street. Construction of speed tables in the downtown area is expected to begin within a few weeks. While the project will require a temporary closing of Main Street, town operations manager Craig Ford said the work can be finished within a few days, if the weather cooperates. “We’ve got it down to a science,” Ford said. Plans to redirect the traffic flow and improve safety at the entrance of the Washington County Detention Center on 11E have been approved by the state Department of Transportation and work on the project is expected to begin early this spring. The intersection has been the site of numerous accidents with serious injuries and has been given priority status. The plan calls for a reconfiguration of the center median on 11E and the construction of curbed turn lanes with concrete islands that will prevent left turns onto the highway from both the Justice Center and North

Cherokee Street. Town Administrator Bob Browning said the design is intended to eliminate the hazard created by motorists turning east out of the Justice Center toward Johnson City across the westbound traffic lane, and by those turning west from North Cherokee toward Greeeneville across the highway’s eastbound traffic lanes. Traffic leaving the Justice Center toward Johnson City will be redirected to the traffic-signalled exit at 11E and Second Avenue. Plans for construction of a traffic circle at Jonesborough’s “Five Points” intersection of West Main Street, Highway 81 South, Old State Route 34 and Depot Street also are moving forward with construction expected to begin in June. TDOT project manager Dwight Armstrong said the design includes a typical traffic roundabout with a short, onelane bypass from West Main to St. Route 34 toward David Crockett High School. The intersection is notorious for accidents with serious injuries and Armstrong said the project is being implemented to improve safety. Browning said Five Points has the largest percentage of accidents with injuries of any intersection in Jonesborough, and town leaders are anxious to see the improvements completed. “Traffic circles in themselves slow traffic down. That’s not to say you do not have accidents, but the risk of injuries is much less. We feel it’s the right thing for Five Points,” Browning said. Armstrong said the project will require easements from four property owners and the demolition of the landmark Five Point Grocery. TDOT is acquiring the store’s quarter-acre lot, and owner Kelly Street does not plan to relocate. The store is scheduled to close today.

Work to improve the Persimmon Ridge Road intersection with West Main Street has also been initiated. Preliminary plans call for reduction of the slope at the intersection and the addition of a westbound turn lane to improve safety and eliminate a more than 90-degree angle that makes it difficult for large trucks to turn west toward Erwin without entering the eastbound traffic lane. Browning said TDOT is working with the town to improve the intersection, and construction is expected to get under way sometime next year. Meanwhile, plans to improve the nearby intersection of Persimmon Ridge and Shell Road are nearing completion and will soon be presented to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for approval. A major resign of the intersection of 11E, Boone Street and the heavily traveled Tenn. Hwy. 354 (Boones Creek Road) is also on the drawing board but is expected to take a couple of years to accomplish. Browning said traffic at the intersection had increased tremendously with the growth of Johnson City into Boones Creek and Gray. Daily traffic backups are already occurring on the 354 approach to 11E and will become worse as Johnson City continues to expand northward. Plans call for widening the intersection to include double turn lanes off and onto 11E but are complicated by a creek on the west side of 354, a high embankment to the east and a number of entrances to commercial properties in the area. Browning said the town has submitted a design for improvement of the intersection to TDOT’s regional office in Knoxville and is working with the Tennessee Transportation Assistance Program at the University of Tennessee on traffic counts that will help secure state funding for the project.

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

The town of Jonesborough now owns the International Storytelling Center building and will lease it to ISC.

Town of Jonesborough gets possession of ISC building By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

The town of Jonesborough completed its much-anticipated purchase of the iconic International Storytelling Center on Main Street and officially took possession of the building in early February. The town purchased the building out of bankruptcy from the nonprofit International Storytelling Center organization through a $1 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development. The purchase agreement was

initiated in July after the ISC organization, which defaulted on more than $2.6 million in debt to RD on the center’s construction, announced it was unable to come up with sufficient funding to retain the building. The agreement includes provisions for the town to lease the building to ISC and for ISC to continue to use a majority of the building for storytelling productions, including the annual International Storytelling Festival held each October in Jonesborough. ISC’s lease payments will be used to pay the town’s debt on the building.

Page 2H, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Access to Justice program assists residents with court issues By BECKY CAMPBELL Press Staff Writer

The court systems in Tennessee — both criminal and civil — can be pretty intimidating to someone with little or no experience in legal issues, but there’s a new push to make it easier for all. “The Tennessee Supreme Court is dedicated to making our judicial system accessible to most anyone,” said Tony Seaton, a local attorney and advocate for court access. “They started the program Access to Justice around 2008. They created a commission and it’s charged with putting together and implementing a strategic plan to try to make it statewide ... to do everything we can to foster access to justice statewide,” he said. That effort includes eliminating language barrier issues and promoting more cooperation between lawyers, judges, appellate judges and Supreme Court judges. But the Washington County Bar Association attorneys didn’t just sit by and let everything happen on the state level. They took action, too. “We’ve got three programs. One is a monthly clinic the first Saturday of each month at Good Samaritan Ministries,” Seaton

Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press

The new George P. Jaynes Washingon County Justice Center in Jonesborough. said. The walk-in clinic is open 9-11 a.m. “We have lawyer volunteers, paralegal volunteers and interpreter volunteers. It’s for anyone,” he said.

The second thing in Washington County is a once-amonth volunteer day in General Sessions Court to help people with civil cases. “It’s usually to represent

been gracious to put all the people who are self-represented on the same day so we can make volunteer lawyers and mediators available,” Seaton said. The free assistance is impor-

debtors, but we’ll represent any case,” he said. “The third thing is we go to Chancery and Circuit Court once a month. Our judges have

tant for how the court system works, according to Seaton. “It’s important to the functioning of justice. Those of us who are lawyers are dedicated to have a good judicial system,” so people are treated fairly, he said. “Our bar association is even more in tune in that we’re trying to improve communication issues at the new courthouse,” so people who need the help can find it, Seaton said. Judges are also getting involved, he said. “It used to be that circuit judges had 15 contested divorces,” with the parties representing themselves. It was difficult to get the issues resolved, but “now we have free mediators and volunteer lawyers who will assist people who file divorces on their own.” The program in Washington County has been used as a model for other jurisdictions that are trying to make courts more accessible to citizens. “Our program is sound, it’s ongoing and we’re continually reaching out to legal services, the judges and private lawyers to see what more we can do,” Seaton said. “Our program here in Washington County is really a model. Ours just goes above and beyond a clinic. “The purpose of what we do is to help people resolve their civil issues. We help facilitate and make a difference.”

Community Crime Reduction Project to target downtown, Mountain Home areas By BECKY CAMPBELL Press Staff Writer

Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Johnson City Police School Resource Officer David Holtsclaw greets South Side Elementary School students on the first day of school.

Johnson City Police Officer Jeff LeGault with a K-9 officer.

Police department, sheriff’s office always looking for potential officer candidates By BECKY CAMPBELL Press Staff Writer

If you’ve ever considered becoming a police officer but haven’t really explored the idea, it’s never too late or too early to get started. The Johnson City Police Department in recent years has increased recruiting efforts for police officers, and when Chief Mark Sirois took the helm in June 2012, he wanted to ramp up that plan. “The Johnson City Police Department is expanding the recruiting efforts to build upon methods we have traditionally used in order to maximize our opportunities to ensure the very best pool of candidates from which to chose, which in turn will further our goal of providing the very best service we can to our city,” Sirois said. A new source of qualified employees the department wants to explore is community-level recruiting, the chief said. The idea is to look for “potential candidates in our own community who may have an interest in law enforcement as a career, but may not be aware of what steps to take to get them where they need to be,” he said.

Sirois, who had a career as a graphic artist prior to becoming a police officer, is an example of an adult who decided he wanted to serve his community, so he believes there are others in Johnson City who feel the same. “The objective would be to have a police department that is more reflective of the community it serves, insomuch as it can be,” he said. JCPD also hopes to find continued interest through the Junior Police Academy and Explorer programs. These focus on young people interested in learning about law enforcement or building a foundation for a future career in the field, Sirois said. “Other methods can also be utilized, such as Internet, military, colleges, high schools and employer referrals,” he said. Recruiting efforts at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office also focus on community interest. Chief operations officer Leighta Laitinen said qualified females interested in law enforcement are hard to find for the department. “They’re getting harder and harder to find,” Laitinen said. “It is difficult to recruit females for this type of work. Many do not want to work in this environment. It is physically and mentally challenging. It is a problem across the

nation, not just our department.” Like JCPD, the sheriff’s office actively recruits new employees in various ways. “We send representatives, including females and minorities, to career fairs and conduct recruiting activities at community events. We also advertise vacancies on our website,” Laitinen said. “We strive to hire people with good character and integrity. In many cases, working in a jail is the first contact new employees have had with criminals and the criminal mind set,” she said. “Both detention officers and sworn (patrol) officers must have a clear criminal history, be able to pass a physical — including a drug test — and a psychological exam.” Laitinen said new hires can quickly discover law enforcement isn’t the job for them. “Our facility is direct supervision, so the officers must be in the housing areas with the inmates, which is difficult and stressful. “Not everyone is suited for this type of work. A detention officer must be assertive and must be in charge, must be constantly on guard against being conned or intimidated, must be able to enforce rules on the inmates in a firm, fair, and con-

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sistent manner and must be able to work shift work that includes weekends and holidays.” Like most law enforcement departments, JCPD and the sheriff’s office work hard to provide the best benefits and pay possible. “Having competitive salaries and benefits are crucial in recruitment for law enforcement and even more crucial in officer retention ... otherwise we just train officers for other departments with better pay and benefits,” Laitinen said. For more information about becoming a law enforcement officer at either the JCPD or Washington County Sheriff’s Office, visit their respective websites at or

The Johnson City Police Department will soon launch a new project designed to reduce crime and improve quality of life in a targeted area, becoming one of a handful of participating cities in the state. It’s the Tennessee Targeted Community Crime Reduction Project, which utilizes a three-year $800,000 grant to get the program started. “TCCRP is similar in concept to the Weed and Seed that we had for four years. It is more targeted (and) has four prongs — pre-enforcement intervention, enforcement, neighborhood revitalization and offender intervention,” said Johnson City Police Chief Mark Sirois. Instead of such a large community that Weed and Seed included, which was named Central City, this new program pulls in the boundaries to two more focused areas. The designated locations are the downtown area and the Mountain Home neighborhood area, Sirois said. “The idea is that, whereas we had such a large community in Central City for Weed and Seed, we have two targeted areas. You look at your violent crime — robbery, aggravated assault, rape, homicides — and your drug related crime, primarily,” he said. Also taken into consideration are “quality of life crimes,” he said. Those include public intoxication, criminal trespassing and prostitution, which may not be serious crimes but contribute to people’s perception of safety in the neighborhood. “You look where those are predominant. Plus you look at burglaries and even thefts, because much of that is

related to drugs,” Sirois said. “What you’re trying to do is reduce your drug-related and violent crime over the long term but you can’t do that by only enforcement.” Partnered between the police department and private and public agencies, the intent is to establish programs for at-risk youth to keep kids from turning to crime, or programs for offenders being re-introduced to the community to help them stay clear of crime. Neighborhood revitalization is also part of the program, and partnerships with agencies like Appalachian Service Project can pave the way to cleaning up rundown properties. “If you’ve got rundown properties, you hook up with partners like ASP and they can bring resources in and upgrade the housing,” Sirois said. “On offender intervention, we’re working the Tennessee Department of Corrections Division of Probation and Parole. “We’re working with them for offenders in this particular area to determine what type of services do they need. Do they need anger management? Do they need a day reporting center? Do they need more monitoring? It might be literacy, job skills, that type of thing,” he said. “Where are the gaps in all four of those (areas)? Find where the gaps are, plug the gaps up with programs and apply those over the long term over a small area.” The goal is to benefit not only the targeted areas, but also the city as a whole. TCCRP is still in the “strategic planning phase,” which should be complete by the end of March. Once that is finished, the police department will begin implementing the plan, Sirois said.

“RX for Success: Partnerships” is our continued goal for 2013! Dr. Larry Calhoun, Board Chair, ETSU Gatton College of Pharmacy

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Johnson City Press, Page 3H


The old North American Rayon Corp. power plant and third unit facility will be demolished this year. Contributed/Eastman

Eastman Chemical Co. has been an anchor of manufacturing in the Tri-Cities region.


An employment anchor

Rayon plant demolition start of new plan for city By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

ELIZABETHTON — Tom Anderson’s job as president of the Carter County Tomorrow organization is to encourage businesses and industry to locate in Carter County. He believes his job will be getting easier as industrialists begin to realize it makes good sense to manufacture their products in the United States. Anderson said some manufacturing jobs, such as textiles, will probably never come back. There are other industries where the cost of shipping items halfway around the globe and then transporting them from distant ports is not economically justified. “The furniture industry is a good example,” Anderson said. The heavy and bulky items take up a lot of space in shipping containers and truck trailers. There is also plenty of raw material and woodworking know-how that is a valuable incentive for building quality furniture in the Appalachian region. “It is cheaper to make it in the United States than in China,” Anderson said. There is another industry that Anderson said continued to grow in the region even during the most difficult of the recent recession — car factories in the South. “The automotive industry has stayed strong,” Anderson said. He said the Tri-Cities is strategically located to provide parts

for plants in Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky. While the automotive industry has a growing presence in the region, Anderson said the 500pound gorilla of Tri-Cities industry is Eastman Chemical Co. Eastman had its start in 1920. After experiencing severe shortages of raw materials during World War II, Kodak founder George Eastman began looking for alternative sources for methanol, acetone and other key raw materials. He found Kingsport was a good central location for manufacturing these materials and Eastman got its start. Tennessee Eastman grew into an industrial giant under the Kodak umbrella and eventually became the largest industrial employer in the state. In 1994, Eastman was spun off from Kodak and became the 10th largest chemical company in the United States and 37th largest in the world. It continues to prosper. Anderson said Eastman has continued to acquire chemical manufacturing assets around the world, but has maintained its corporate presence in the TriCities. He said the company continues to be a leading employer for the region, both in the number of people it employs and the wages it provides. While Eastman has been a key industry for the Tri-Cities for nearly a century, the industrial traditions of the region go back much further. While most of Tennessee was concentrating on agriculture, the Tri-Cities region

was developing several early industries. One of the earliest was the iron industry, and some early iron ore mines and early forges from the 19th century can still be seen. The local iron industry continued to supply local needs throughout the century, and John Wilder hoped to expand the industry with the establishment of a high quality iron ore mine at Cranberry and an industrial base at Carnegie in Johnson City. While much of the early industrial efforts were by local entrepreneurs, the 20th century brought an impetus from outside the region. In addition to Eastman’s influence, two German rayon plants, Bemberg and Glanzstoff, were established in Elizabethton in the 1920s. Kingsport continued to attract large industrial investment, including the Kingsport Press book printing business and Holston Ordnance Works, manufacturing military explosives. Like the rest of the nation, industry has declined in the TriCities in recent years, but Anderson sees many signs of a resurgence in the region. Anderson said he sees positive growth in Carter County, where Snap-on Tools has recently undergone a major expansion and NCI Buildings Systems continues to see increased demand for its metal buildings. NCI has even reversed a long trend in manufacturing. The company has manufactured steel buildings that were shipped to China for erection.

Snap-on Tools expands in Carter County By JOHN THOMPSON ELIZABETHTON — One of the most successful industries in the region is the Snap-on plant on State Line Road, which underwent another expansion in 2012. Appropriately, plant manager Jon Carley announced the expansion to local community leaders during a meeting of the Carter County Tomorrow economic development group in January last year. Corporate headquarters in Kenosa, Wis., had reached a decision to build a 23,000-squarefoot expansion on the 140,000square-foot facility. Snap-on Tools in Elizabethton produces various types of hand tools, including wrenches and ratchets. The Carter County location is one of three U.S. hand tool plants within the Snap-on Tools Group supporting automotive technicians worldwide. “Snap-on Tools is proud to manufacture the most preferred professional hand tools in the industry and to be an important part of the Elizabethton community for more than 37 years,” Carley said at the

time the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development made the announcement across the state. “We’re grateful for the support of the state and local organizations and all of our associates that helped make this expansion possible,” Carley said. “In addition to providing manufacturing flexibility, the expansion will also include improved common areas for our associates.” Carley said demand for the tools manufactured at the Elizabethton plant has grown as a result of two factors. First, the continued worldwide respect for tools carrying the Snap-on trademark and second, the increased number of products made here. The result was a busy factory in a tight space. Snap-on headquarters began considering an expansion to the plant last year. Carter County Tomorrow president Tom Anderson discussed the possible expansion, but hid the identity of the company under the cover name of Project Quest until the final decision was made. The corporate decision to expand in Elizabethton came after the factory had a great year

despite the recession, seeing a double-digit increase in shipping in 2011. Carley had previously said the recession actually helped the local factory. More people were keeping their cars longer, and that meant professional auto mechanics were buying more of the ratchets, wrenches and other tools made in Elizabethton. Snap-on Tools was founded in 1920 and has grown to a $2.6 billion Standard and Poor’s 500 company. Its presence in Elizabethton dates from 1974, according to the Carter County History website. At the time, Snap-on had three plants in Wisconsin and Illinois. The original Elizabethton plant contained 5,000 square feet and employed fewer than 20 people. The original task of the plant was to convert raw steel bars into forgings for wrenches. The forgings were sent to other Snap-on plants for final processing. The next year, the plant was expanded by 21,000 feet and the workforce was quadrupled. The biggest expansion to the Elizabethton plant came in 1981, when a 73,000 square-foot addition was built at an expenditure of $6 million.

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ELIZABETHTON — After standing for nearly 90 years, North American Rayon Corp.’s remaining buildings on the west end of Elizabethton will be coming down this year to make way for commercial and residential development along the Watauga River. M&R Acquisitions of Birmingham, Ala., acquired the North American Rayon power plant building and the polyester building (third unit) at the end of January. Elizabethton planning director Jon Hartman said M&R plans to salvage what they can in the building and then bring it down. Hartman said he did not know the company’s timetable. “There have been a lot of people who have asked about salvaging some of the old bricks,” Hartman said. “We are very excited to see these dilapidated buildings come down. This will really open up a lot of this old industrial land for development. ... The demolition of these buildings will enhance the gateway to the proposed (tax increment financing) redevelopment district and the city of Elizabethton.” Much of the original North American property has already been redeveloped, especially the strip along West Elk Avenue where several restaurants and commercial buildings have been built, and deeper into the property, where Walmart and Lowe’s have built large retail stores.

North American was one of two rayon factories built side by side by German textile manufacturers in the 1920s. The other factory, Bemberg, remains, although it no longer is in production. A portion of Bemberg is still used by economic developer Charles Von Cannon as a small business incubator. Bemberg, an affiliate of Vereinigte Glanzstoff-Fabriken, was the first factory to be built in Elizabethton and began manufacturing in October 1926. In August 1928, VGF began production in the second factory it built in Elizabethton, then called American Glantzstoff. The plants created a boom for the city and the region that lasted until the start of the Great Depression. Both factories continued to operate through the economic

hard times of the 1930s and the war years. As with other textile industries, the two plants found stiff competition from overseas producers in the postwar years. Bemberg filed for bankruptcy in 1974. North American continued to operate and received a boost from manufacturing carbonized rayon for the space shuttle program. The workforce at the plant continued to shrink. The end finally came when a huge fire burned the roof of the main building during the last week of February and the first week of March 2000. The city and the Carter County Tomorrow economic development organization have plans to convert the section of Watauga River property just east of the plants into a commercial and residential riverfront.

Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter The Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter had a very busy year in 2012. The shelter took in 7,728 animals during the course of the year. The shelter placed 2,548 animals in new homes after adoption and returned 636 animals to their owners. Unfortunately, the shelter had to humanely put 4,544 animals to sleep because the animals could not find a home. The Animal Control Board also purchased land for a new facility during the year. Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter has big plans for the future. With the land for a new site now purchased, plans are in the works to build a larger and more modern facility to service the growing community better. A goal has also been set to have a spay/neuter clinic to stop unwanted litters being born and brought to the shelter.

The shelter also wants to plan more educational programs in the future. The Animal Shelter also will work more closely with national rescue groups and continue to work closely with local Veterinarians to promote healthy and happy pets. The Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter was founded in Johnson City in 1985. It is a non-profit organization that employs 12 part-time employees and four full-time employees. Principal officers and department heads are Debbie Dobbs, Director; Joy Sexton, Assistant Director; and Randy Buchanan Sr., ACO. The shelter is open seven days a week from noon to 5 p.m. 525 Sells Avenue, Johnson City, TN 423-926-8769

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Page 4H , Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Carter County: a guide By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

Carter County and Elizabethton are blessed with some of the region’s highest and most beautiful mountains, some of its most historic sites and plenty of recreational opportunities. Much of the county’s oldest history is along the banks of the Watauga River — one of the first areas of white settlement in Tennessee. The Watauga was a magnet for settlement long before Columbus. Archeologists believe the first settlements along the Watauga River took place during the Woodland Era, which began more than 2,000 years ago. In the 1960s, archeologists from the University of Tennessee found many artifacts in fields adjacent to U.S. Highway 321 in an area just downstream from Sycamore Shoals. The fertile Watauga Valley proved just as attractive to white settlers in the last days of the American colonial period. Even though King George had proclaimed in 1763 that the land must be reserved for the Cherokee, many whites ignored the royal command and settled in the lower sections of the river in the 1760s. The area grew so rapidly that settlers soon felt the need for an organized government. With the area lying beyond the king’s proclamation line, the settlers looked inward rather than seeking help from royal colonial governors. The result was a gathering of 13 commissioners who created the Watauga Association in 1762. Although the document they wrote has been lost, historians found it a significant achievement. Theodore Roosevelt wrote in “The Winning of the West” that the Wataugans were the “first men of American birth to establish a free and independent community on the continent.” The Daughters of the American Revolution placed a bronze plaque on a boulder on the lawn of the courthouse in 1923 to commemorate the Watauga Association. The monument still stands today. The historic focal point of the Watauga River is a section known as Sycamore Shoals. Several major historical events took place there. The Transylvania Purchase took place at the Shoals in March 1775. More than 1,000 Cherokee gathered here for a negotiation between land speculator Richard Henderson and several Cherokee chiefs, including Attakullakulla and Oconostota. The negotiations led to the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals, in which the chiefs agreed to the sale of 20 million acres in Kentucky and Middle Tennessee. Although the land deal was overturned, it did have many repercussions, including a split among the Cherokees, with those opposed to the treaty joining with Chief Dragging Canoe in forming the Chicamauga group. It also led to the commissioning of Daniel Boone to build the Wilderness Road to Kentucky. With the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Dragging Canoe and his followers returned to Sycamore Shoals and attacked Fort Watauga. A re-creation of the fort now stands on the grounds of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area. Another historic event took place at the Shoals in 1780 — the mustering of the Overmountain Men at Sycamore Shoals for their journey across the mountains to meet the forces of British Major Patrick Ferguson. The two sides came together at the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina and led General Charles Cornwallis to give up his attempts to pacify the Southern colonies.

Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

The Elizabethton Covered Bridge is open after recent renovations.

Covered Bridge gets facelift By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

John Thompson/Johnson City Press

Sycamore Shoals has always been a gathering place. It is a popular state park located in Elizabethton. The recreational and natural attractions of Carter County are also impressive. Once again, much of the recreational opportunities center on the Watauga. There are two dams of the Tennessee Valley Authority on the river, the Watauga Dam and just downstream, the Wilbur Dam. The lakes created by the dams offer smallmouth bass, rainbow trout and crappie fishing opportunities. There are recreational areas established on the lakes that provide camping, picnicking and swimming. There are several docks on Watauga Lake that provide access for boaters. The Watauga River and its tributaries have also become a popular location for fly fishermen, and there is a section of the Watauga downstream from Sycamore Shoals that has been designated a trophy trout stream. Several large waterfalls are located on the Watauga and its tributaries. These include Laurel Fork Falls and Coon Den Falls in the Dennis Cove area. On the Elk River, there are the Elk River Falls just over the border in North Carolina and Twisting Falls; and in the Stoney Creek area, you can find the Blue Hole series of falls and recreation area off Panhandle Road. Much of the south and eastern end of the county is mountainous

and much of the mountains are in the Cherokee National Forest. The forest service has created several recreational areas in the forest. There is also Roan Mountain State Park at the base of the Roan Massif. The park offers a conference center, cabins, campgrounds, picnic areas, a swimming pool, a historic farm and hiking trails. The top of the Roan can be reached by taking Tenn. Highway 143 south from the village of Roan Mountain. The road crosses into North Carolina at Carver’s Gap (elevation 5,512 feet). There is a parking area for hikers to access the spectacular views from Round Bald, Jane Bald and Grassy Ridge Bald (elevation 6,160 feet). By taking a right turn at the gap onto a Pisgah National Forest service road, the Cloudland Rhododendron Gardens can be reached, as well as the Roan High Point (elevation 6,285 feet). All of these high points are connected by the Appalachian Trail, which runs along Carter County’s border and through the mountainous heart of the county. The route takes a huge “S” shape through the county, encompassing around 90 miles of the trail. Along with the many trails of the Cherokee National Forest, there are plenty of opportunities to access the most mountainous sections of the county.

ELIZABETHTON — The most photographed structure in Carter County is looking especially beautiful after a $400,000 renovation that was completed last year. The project was funded by a $320,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration and an $80,000 matching grant from the city. The work was done by Allegheny Restoration and Builders of Morgantown, W.Va., under the direction of master craftsman Jon Smith, who is an expert at restoring covered bridges. Structural and cosmetic repairs were made on the 130-year-old bridge. Smith said most of the poplar siding was in good shape. The old boards received a new

coat of paint from Paul Tickle Restoration and Painting out of Asheville, N.C. “They did an excellent job,” Elizabethton planning director Jon Hartman said of the restoration work. “They had a lot of attention to detail.” The bridge also received some state-of-the-art improvements. Hartman said the bridge has new lighting that makes it much brighter at night. Other improvements include safeguards against arson that has destroyed some covered bridges in other sections of the nation. That includes a sprinkler system for the bridge. Because the bridge is exposed to the elements, the sprinkler system is a dry type that is not subject to freezing. The bridge also has a security video system to provide better monitoring. The historic bridge was built in

1882 at a cost to the county of $3,000 for the bridge and $300 for the approaches to the bridge. The bridge was designed by Thomas E. Matson, a civil engineer who also helped build the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina narrow gauge railroad through the mountains. Matson also served as mayor of Johnson City and president of Johnson City Foundry and Machine Works. Because Matson became very familiar with building railroad bridges for ET&WNC, he naturally used a design commonly used for railroad bridges, the Howe truss design. The total length of the bridge is 154.3 feet. The curb-to-curb width is 16.4 feet. The substructure is masonry stone and concrete. Each end of the bridge features a projecting truncated gabled roofline.

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Johnson City Press, Page 5H

New jail finally opens in Carter County By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

ELIZABETHTON — The new Carter County Detention Center opened for business last June after several months of preparations and training for the staff. The new jail is quite a contrast from the two facilities it is replacing. The old jail was built with 1970s technology and the modular jail “pods” were simply temporary structures designed as temporary housing until the new jail was completed. The combined capacity of the two older facilities was 202. The new jail has a capacity of 296 and is designed to eventually house 500 by completing the unfinished upper floors. One of the problems of the old jail was that there were many blind corners and sections where the corrections officers could not see what the prisoners were doing.

Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press

The new Carter County Detention Center opened in June. The new jail was built with a central control tower to help alleviate that problem, but all the thick glass installed in the hallways and stalls means that direct sight lines are still blocked. To alleviate that problem, more than 250 security cameras have been installed. More security cameras are still being installed by the sher-

iff’s department. The department is working to install cameras at every entrance to the Carter County Courthouse and the Carter County Justice Center. “We are also installing panic alarms,” said Sheriff Chris Mathes. One of the biggest differences between the new jail and the old jail is simply the size.

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The old had was 25,000 square feet. The new jail has 150,000 square feet. The old jail had three air conditioners. The new jail has 27 air conditioners. One of the most obvious improvements is the jail kitchen, which is equipped modern high quality food preparation equipment and storage. The large kitchen is even a money saver because it has the pantry space to allow the jail to buy non-perishable items in large volume when bargains are found. The jail has also started growing a garden to keep the kitchen supplied with fresh vegetables during the growing season.

Free Service Tire Company Free Service Tire Company had a lot of accomplishments during the year of 2012. The company purchased new service equipment for the company’s retail automotive centers. Free Service Tire moved the retread plants to Kingsport Truck Tire and Service Center location to be in accordance with the City of Johnson City’s flood mitigation plans. The company purchased and remodeled the Mazer Printing Company building that allowed the company to consolidate the Wholesale Distribution Center and the Corporate Office to increase capacity and efficiency. The Wholesale Distribution Center will have over 129,000 square feet of space and the office will have 10,000 square feet of space. Free Service has big plans for 2013 including celebrating being in business for 94 years. The company will continue to increase tire sales and service sales as well as implementing the new enterprise resource planning system. Free Service also plans to

expand Wholesale Distributing Centers with a 2013 trade show and want to continue growth in the Knoxville area with an expansion of the company’s Knoxville Commercial Truck Tire Center. The company was founded in Johnson City in 1919. Principal officers are Lewis Wexler,Sr., Chairman/CEO; Lewis Wexler, Jr., President; Harrison Wexler, Executive Vice President-Commerical Operations; Matt Wilhjelm, Vice President of Finance; Ron Brady, Vice President of Wholesale Operations; and Dennis Pritchett, Vice President/General Manager of Retail Operations. Free Service contributed to East Tennessee State University, United Way, Young Life, Boy Scouts of America and many other civic and charitable organizations during 2012. 205 E. Mountcastle Dr. 183 Lynn Road, Johnson City, TN 423-979-2250

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Veterans Affairs Medical Center improving services By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

MOUNTAIN HOME — For 110 years, the Mountain Home Veterans Affairs Medical Center has fulfilled its mission “to care for him who shall have borne the battle,” and the service and care that Mountain Home provides continues to expand. Steve Hillis, chief business officer at Mountain Home, said there are several new services being provided this year. One of the newest is one that has been sorely needed as the hospital has continued to grow and parking has become more difficult. Valet parking service for patients became available last year. Hillis said the valet service was a need that had been identified some time ago. “It has met with a lot of success,” Hillis said. The valet station is located in the circle area between Building 160 (Primary Care) and Building 69. Patients who wish to use the service should follow the circle to the valet attendant, present their vehicle keys, receive a claim ticket and proceed inside for their medical appointment. Patients must be prepared to show the valet attendant either their appointment letter or their VA patient identification card. The free service is provided

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Free valet parking service for patients is available 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Mountain Home campus. from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays except federal holidays. Tipping is not permitted, and the contractor is insured. The valet service is needed because of the high demand for the medical center’s services and programs. Services are available to 170,000 veterans serving in a 41 county area of Tennessee,

Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina. Hillis said the medical center provides treatment for a wide range of health problems, including cancer, general surgery, medicine, audiology and speech-language pathology, mental health, eye care hospice and palliative care and many

other areas. Hillis said the hospital has recently upgraded its cardiac care. While high-risk heart patients are treated at hospitals that specialize in that area, Mountain Home is treating more low-risk patients and has recently upgraded its catheterization lab. Some of the other areas of med-

ical care the hospital provides include: allergy/immunology, critical care, endocrinology, gastroenterology/hepatology, general medicine, hematology and oncology, infectious diseases, pulmonary, respiratory therapy, nephrology, neurology and a sleep lab. While the medical center’s most

obvious presence is at Mountain Home, its programs are spread throughout its 41 county area, including several communitybased outpatient clinics at Knoxville, Morristown, Rogersville and Sevierville in Tennessee and Bristol and Norton in Virginia. There are also rural outreach clinics in Virginia at Jonesville, Marion and Vansant. Hillis said veterans who have not used VA hospital services can determine their eligibility in several ways. To begin the process, veterans must fill out the Application for Health Care Benefits form, which can be downloaded at The form can be submitted online, or mailed to: VA Medical Center, Business Office (136B2), P.O. Box 4000, Mountain Home, TN, 37684. Veterans may also bring the form to the medical center. The enrollment office is in Building 200, 1st Floor, Room B-118. To speak to someone in the enrollment office, call 926-1171 (or 877-573-3529), extension 7507. Hillis said another new website for VA health benefits is www. Hillis said the medical center also has an extensive volunteer program. For information on volunteering, call 926-1171, ext. 2487.

Steel Stamps evolves to meet the times By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

John Thompson/Johnson City Press

Proposed site of the Elizabethton Fish Hatchery. The fish hatchery would anchor new riverfront commercial and residential district.

Business opportunities help to grow Carter Co. By JOHN THOMPSON Elizabethton Bureau Chief

ELIZABETHTON — Carter County got its start on the riverfront of the Watauga River and that is where local planners and economic developers hope to start a revival of Carter County business. Just upstream from historic Sycamore Shoals lies the riverfront property that was once one of the world’s foremost centers of rayon production. Now, Carter County Tomorrow president Tom Anderson hopes to convert the industrial site into an attractive commercial and residential area using tax increment financing and the construction of a state-of-theart fish hatchery as a magnet. The proposed development of the riverfront is just one sign of business development that has Anderson and other Elizabetehton leaders excited about the city’s business future. Even though the riverfront is still on the drawing board, the city has seen several major business and industrial investments, Anderson said. One of the most encouraging signs was the decision by Snap-on Tools to construct a 23,000-square-foot expansion to its 140,000-square-foot Elizabethton factory. Anderson said the expansion allowed the company to also expand its workforce to 400. There was also growth in several other Elizabethton manufacturers, Anderson said. These include growth and more employment at NCI

Building Systems and International Paper. Along with the industrial growth, there is also an upsurge in retail and professional business. The most prominent example is the new facilities Medical Care clinic, built on the site of the former Inland Container factory. The new clinic has 27 exam rooms, 11 bathrooms, two waiting areas, an X-ray room and lab. The clinic has lots of space for other development on its campus and building. The latest commercial investment on the west side of town is a new Waffle House restaurant. One key need the city has identified is a hotel. Anderson has been negotiating with hotel developers to construct a hotel that would be a part of an internationally recognized hotel chain. The city has also worked to preserve its downtown business district. A downtown business association works to encourage and promote the local entrepreneurs who operate nearly all of the businesses in the downtown district. The group has been prominent in improving and maintaining the area. During Saturdays from April to October, the Carter County Car Club holds cruiseins and car shows downtown, helping to draw people to the downtown area. There are also several community events in the downtown area during the year. The biggest event is Covered Bridge Days that run for several days in early June. Other events are downtown parades at Christmas and Independence Day.

ELIZABETHTON — Neil Friedman, president of Sossner Steel Stamps, knows it takes a willingness to change when times are changing. The company makes stamps that are used to engrave trade marks and logos on a large variety of products familiar to most Americans. Friedman said Sossner’s was once in the happy situation of manufacturing highly profitable steel stamps to several customers who purchased large amounts of the company’s products. The customers included the cigarette manufacturers, who purchased Sossner Stamps to print the brand name on each individual cigarette. Because paper is abrasive, the cigarette companies were constantly having to order more stamps from Sossner. “We had a lot of profitability,” Friedman said. Like nearly all businesses, Sossner’s saw its sales begin to slip during the recession in 2008. Although Sossner’s has been in business for 100 years, Friedman saw the declining profitability of his company as a sign he had to make changes. Russell Lacy, general manager of the plant on Judge Don Lewis Boulevard, said it was not easy to make radical changes. “We had a third generation owner. We had a lot of older customers who had been with us for many years. Things were always done in a certain way.” Friedman said one of the managers who is no longer with the company did not adjust to the changes, particularly as competitors started dropping their prices. “He thought our stamps must have been made out of platinum,” Friedman said. The result was that Sossner’s prices were no longer competitive. In the old days of customer loyalty, that might not have been a critical problem, but Friedman said that is not the case today. “There is no loyalty today,” he said, adding that long time customers are likely to go to a different company over a lower price that is a small fraction of a single percent different. Although material costs have spiraled and labor costs continue to rise because of the rocketing costs of health insurance, Friedman knew he had to cut his prices to remain competitive. He had to cut prices drastically. Lacy said Friedman has a much different vision for the company. He still wants the company to grow, but instead of relying on a few large customers, Friedman wants to broaden his base with a lot more smaller customers. This has another advantage.

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Sossner is now less vulnerable when a big customer is lost. Friedman remembers back in 1994 when Sossner lost Craftsman as a customer. At the time, Craftsman bought about 40 percent of the company’s products. “It was real hard,” Friedman said. Now the company is relying on larger volume and a larger customer base, even though it is making less profit. One success is the return of Snap-on Tools as a customer. Although Snap-on has a large plant in Elizabethton, for many years Sossner’s did not provide the stamps to make the familiar Snap-on logo on each tool. That has now changed, with Sossner making the stamps for tools made in Elizabethton, but also for every Snap-on tool made in the United States. Despite making less profit, Friedman has been plowing investments back into his company to upgrade equipment, such as state-of-the-art computer numerical control milling machines. Some of the equipment Sossner’s uses can cost up to $250,000. One problem for Sossner is when he finds an expensive but effective new machine, he can’t buy more right away. He must purchase the machines as the money becomes available, taking

a longer time to re-equip. “In the past, if I saw something that was good, I might buy six at one time, Friedman said. Another recent investment was to buy Sparks Steel Stamps in New York City. Friedman said Sparks was started when his father, Jerry Friedman, moved Sossner’s from New York to Elizabethton. Sparks was founded by some Sossner’s employees who did not make the move. The new company took a lot of the New York jewelry business away from Sossner’s. With

the purchase of Sparks, Sossner’s has regained those customers. Another radical change for Friedman was to convert a part of Sossner’s into a tool and die making operation. He said around a third of his business now comes from the tool and die end of the business. Friedman is proving that it takes more than producing highquality products to stay in business in these challenging times. It takes the willingness to change from “the way things have always been done.”

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Johnson City Press, Page 7H

Infrastructure improvements planned in Erwin, Unicoi Co. By BRAD HICKS Erwin Bureau Chief

ERWIN — A slew of ongoing projects throughout Unicoi County will eventually provide convenience, information and recreation to residents and visitors to the county, as well as aid businesses in the community. The downtown revitalization project is under way in the town of Erwin, and town officials are hopeful the project’s first phase will be complete by the first weekend of October, in time for the Unicoi County Apple Festival. Phase I of the downtown revitalization project will cover Second Street to Gay Street, and work will include sidewalk and crosswalk improvements, street widening, implementation of underground utilities and the installation of landscaping and new lighting. In July 2011, the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved an agreement with consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates to complete the downtown revitalization master plan. This plan was presented to the board in February 2012. Along with aesthetic and infrastructure improvements, a primary component of the revitalization project is to address stormwater issues in the downtown area. Erwin mayor Doris Hensley said the railroad overpass project is another significant one that will move forward in the coming year. Preliminary work has already begun on the project, which calls for the construction of an approximately half-mile

bridge-type overpass that will pass over the CSX rail line that often delays traffic along Second Street. Hensley said construction on the overpass will begin some time in the spring, and the project, which is being overseen by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, is set to be completed in the fall of 2014. Hensley said the project should not only help alleviate traffic issues along Second Street, but it should also help attract businesses to locate in available property along Second Street, as well as make the downtown area more accessible. “With that railroad overpass, I think it also opens up the town for more business,” Hensley said. “It’s going to be easily accessible ... with the overpass and the revitalization, I think that’s going to enhance the opportunities for entrepreneurship and other businesses locating in the downtown area.” Hensley said she and other town officials are also “excited” about the prospect of a new Unicoi County Memorial Hospital, which is currently set to be constructed on the southern end of Erwin. In November, the UCMH Board of Control voted to move forward with a proposal from Mountain States Health Alliance to acquire UCMH. “With that, I think that we’ll see more businesses locate in that area,” Hensley said. “There will be jobs created from the hospital.” Town of Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch said the town’s visitors information center will be open soon. An official opening for the facility, which will be located

directly off Exit 32 of Interstate 26, is set for early April. Lynch said some of the town’s offices, including its municipal court office, parks and recreation office and Unicoi Business Alliance office, will be located in the center. He said an office for the Tanasi Heritage and Arts Center, along with local artwork, will also be located in the facility. Lynch said the purpose of the visitors center will be to serve visitors to the town and provide tourist information on attractions in the town, Unicoi County and the surrounding area. Town officials also hope ground will be broken on the community kitchen and community center project this year. Lynch said the project has been in the works for a couple of years. Lynch said the center will not only provide educational opportunities, but will serve as a location where residents may can their own food products for home use and resale. Lynch said the community kitchen will include areas for canning, baking and drying. “It’ll serve as an educational facility and a service to the local citizens, as well as a business incubator,” Lynch said. Ground has already been broken on a project that, when complete, should provide an added convenience to one of the town of Unicoi’s most popular attractions. A pavilion, which will include restrooms and picnic areas, is under construction at the trailhead for the Pinnacle Fire Tower hiking/biking trail, which is also located off Exit 32. “This Pinnacle Trail has turned out to be one of the most used trails in east Tennessee,” Lynch said.

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

A railroad overpass project will be done at the CSX railroad crossing on Second Street going into the Erwin Railroad yard between Interstate 26 and Main Street in Erwin. Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch said improvements to the rail spur that serves businesses located in the Riverview Industrial Park should be completed by the late spring to early summer. The spur will be repaired with the assistance of grant funding. “It’s going to replace some tracks that are very old and replace a bunch of cross ties and switch points and things like that,” he said. “We want to make it safer for the railroad to operate in it and keep it open to serve the industries in that area.” Greg Lynch said he also expects there will be some type of movement on the state park at Rocky Fork, although he said it is uncertain how much will be done in the coming year. In October, Gov. Bill

Haslam and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander were in Unicoi County to announce that around 2,000 acres of property in the Rocky Fork area currently owned by the Conservation Fund will become that state’s 55th state park. The Conservation Fund is currently in the process of conveying this property to the state. “We’re not sure what, at this point, what all will transpire,” Lynch said. “Probably, needless to say, it won’t be open this year, but we’ll be moving toward that this year.” Lynch said he is also excited about the continuing work of the county’s economic development director Tish Oldham, who was brought in to serve the county late last year through a partner-

ship with East Tennessee State University. Oldham was named director of Community Outreach and Economic Development with ETSU’s Center for Community Outreach and Applied Research last year. She was brought into the county to help expand and attract small business, encourage entrepreneurship, facilitate the downtown revitalization project, enhance tourism opportunities and support strategic planning for economic expansion. “We look forward to her bringing some new ideas to the table and moving some of our things forward that we’ve been talking about doing,” Lynch said.

Region offers plenty of camping, hiking opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts camping opportunities for tents and RVs. Grandview Ranch and RV Park is located in the Limestone Cove area and caters to RV campers. The North Indian Creek Campground, also located in Unicoi in the Limestone Cove area, is also open year-round and serves self-contained campers and RVs with more than 20 campsites with full hookups. Although not located in Unicoi County, the Riverview Campground, located on Highway 107 in Washington County, is only minutes away. The campground is open year-round and offers more than 20 full hookups, 10 tent sites, a pavilion and showers.

By BRAD HICKS Erwin Bureau Chief

Along with scenic views and such outdoor opportunities as fishing, rafting and hunting, Unicoi County offers residents and visitors plenty of hiking and camping opportunities. More than 50 miles of the nearly 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail are located in Unicoi County. In 2010, the county was officially designated as an Appalachian Trail Community by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, making it the first community in Tennessee and fourth community in the country to receive the designation. There are six trailheads to the Appalachian Trail in Unicoi, each offering parking. The trailheads are: ■ Devil’s Fork trailhead, located near the North Carolina line on Tennessee Highway 352. ■ Iron Mountain Gap trailhead, the northern-most trailhead located on Tenn. Highway 107 near the North Carolina line. ■ Sam’s Gap trailhead, located south of the Flag Pond community along the Old Asheville Highway. ■ Spivey Gap trailhead, with parking for the trailhead located just across the state line on U.S. Highway 19W. ■ Indian Grave Gap trailhead, located on Tennessee Highway 395 (Rock Creek Road) near the state line. ■ Chestoa trailhead, located near the Nolichucky River south of the Temple Hill Exit. While the nation’s longest trail certainly has a presence in Unicoi County, the Appalachian Trail does not provide the sole opportunity for hiking enthusiasts. The Pinnacle Fire Tower is located at Jack Snider Park off Exit 32 of Interstate 26 in the town of Unicoi. The nearly fivemile hiking/biking trail, which had its grand opening in the latter part of 2011, winds its way up Buffalo Mountain. At the trail’s terminus is the recently renovated Pinnacle Fire Tower. The trail and fire tower are owned by the U.S. Forest Service, and the trailhead is owned by the town. Town officials are planning to construct a pavilion at the trailhead to provide hikers with restrooms, access to hot and cold water and picnic tables. Since the mid-1990s, the town of Erwin has offered a venue for hiking and biking enthusiasts with the Erwin Linear Trail. The approximately 4.5-mile trail essentially connects the south end of the town to the north end, starting around Holiday Inn Express, passing by the industrial park and connecting to Harris Hollow Road near Fishery Park. Despite its location in the heart of Erwin, the Linear Trail is located in a natural setting, with water features such as ponds and North Indian Creek located along the route. Portions are also surrounded by wooded areas. The town is also working on the construction of a pedestrian tunnel that would go under Harris Hollow Road to complete the section of the trail from McDonald’s in Erwin and Fishery Park.


Campers can find plenty to enjoy in Unicoi County. There are also a number of camping opportunities throughout the county for those wishing to extend their stay in the area. The Nolichucky Gorge Campground is located on Jones Branch Road along the Nolichucky River in Erwin. The campground, which is open year-round, offers cabins, RV sites and tent platforms. Rock Creek Recreation Area, located on Rock Creek Road in the Cherokee National Forest in Erwin, provides tent and RV camping opportunities. Each campsite offers a picnic area, fire pit and lantern post.

Uncle Johnny’s Hostel is also located on River Road in Erwin along the Nolichucky River, a short walk from the Appalachian Trail, and is open year-round. Amenities there include dormitory-style hostels, private rooms, cabins, tent camping, picnic areas, free Internet with Wi-Fi, laundry service, a restroom facility, kayak, canoe and tube rentals and shuttle services for hikers. Other camping areas include Double D Roost, located on Temple Hill Road and open yearround. Double D Roost offers

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Dining choices keep growing in Tri-Cities By JAN HEARNE Press Tempo Editor

In the past year, “coming soon” signs have heralded the arrival of a number of new restaurants in the area: C. Mae’s Bakery and Cafe, Bomba’s Fresh Italian, Holy Taco and Alfredo’s, among others. The most touted and anticipated opening is that of Tupelo Honey Cafe, which will be located in the Clinchfield Railroad depot and is expected to open early 2014. “Tupelo Honey Cafe’s opening in the historic Clinchfield railroad depot will have a tremendous impact on downtown’s revitalization,” Washington County Economic Development Council Director of Redevelopment Shannon Castillo said. Castillo said that with the restaurant’s popularity and loyal, engaged customer base, its opening at any Johnson City location would make a splash, but that several factors combine to magnify the impact at the site Tupelo Honey’s management team chose. “If you consider other revitalization already occurring downtown and the growth along the ETSU to downtown corridor, throw in the fact that they’ll be in one of Johnson City’s most important historic buildings, and add in all the infrastructure and amenities the City of Johnson City is investing in downtown, the result is a recipe for great success,” Castillo said. “It will join the other great restaurants downtown as a way to draw people in, and its opening will coincide nicely with other great destinations coming on line downtown such as Founders Park and the new

Farmers Market.” The number of national restaurant chains in Johnson City keeps growing, something WCEDC Interim CEO Mitch Miller attributed to the stability outside developers see in the local economy. “Some of the chains that have settled here in recent years and even recent months speak to the viability of this market to attract and retain high-profile chain restaurants,” Miller said. “We expect that with continued growth of Washington County and the Johnson City metro area, additional chains that people see in other metro areas will settle here.” With more than 63,000 people and a local economy driven by health care and education, the market is also an attractive place for independent restaurants, Miller said. “Johnson City has had good success relative to other places with respect to the establishment and support of local restaurants over the past decade or so, and that’s a trend that seems to be continuing,” he said. Barbara Mentgen, director of operations for the local Chamber of Commerce, said she has “no doubt” that restaurants play a role in a visitors experience and the experience of the people who live here. “Once visitors get established in a hotel, they want to know about dining and shopping opportunities. You can count on that,” she said. What draws restaurants to this area is demographics, effective buying income, median age and population statistics, Mentgen said. “Having a very diverse community is important. You can have all types of food here.”

LeeTalbert/Johnson City Press

Tupelo Honey Cafe has purchased the old train depot in downtown Johnson City and has begun renovation to the building that will house the restaurant’s second Tennessee location.

Tupelo Honey Cafe is based in Asheville, N.C.

Fine dining: Bomba’s Fresh Italian brings new tastes to Jonesborough By JAN HEARNE Press Tempo Editor


ETSU is raising funds to cover 25 percent of the cost of a performing arts center to be built in Johnson City.

Plans being made for performing arts center at ETSU By REX BARBER Assistant News Editor

In his proposed 2013-14 budget, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam recommended approval for ETSU to use $1.5 million to begin planning for a fine and performing arts center, which is projected to cost approximately $38 million. ETSU will be required to fund 25 percent of that project. Should the budget be approved, ETSU would be able to use that $1.5 million beginning July 1. The hope is the $9.5 million would be raised by July 2014 and the state will provide the rest of the $38 million to begin construction at that time. Jim Martin, a local benefactor for the arts at ETSU, donated $3 million earlier this year to the fundraising effort, bringing his total giving to ETSU for the arts to $7 million. Martin founded the Mary B.

Martin School of the Arts at ETSU a few years ago in honor of his late wife. ETSU President Brian Noland said the $9.5 million goal is only the minimum amount to get the building built. Noland said a new arts initiative on campus will expand arts programs, renovation of current facilities and scholarships, endowments and graduate assistantships. Lot 1 is a possible location for the fine arts center, although negotiations are ongoing with the City of Johnson City for that property. Lot 1 is a piece of land across West State of Franklin Road from the university and adjacent to Millennium Centre. ETSU had been interested in buying this property for years and was even approved for a purchase price of $1.1 million by the State Building Commission. But that price is old now and likely not valid.

A relative newcomer to the Tri-Cities restaurant scene is Bomba’s Fresh Italian in Jonesborough. Owners Alex and Breelyn Bomba opened the restaurant in late September at the location previously occupied by Daily Bread. The couple were working for Main Street Cafe & Catering, owned by Breelyn’s parents, when they saw the opportunity to open their own restaurant. “We were in the right place at the right time,” Alex said. “The space became available and they left the equipment, tables and chairs, which lessened my initial investment and made it more feasible to do.” The decision to serve Italian food was a “market decision,” Alex said. “Jonesborough didn’t have an Italian restaurant. Italian is one of the more popular cuisines in America. Every small town needs an Italian restaurant, and we were happy to provide it.” Alex, who went to culinary school at Sullivan University in Louisville, Ky., was executive chef at Main Street. Before that, he worked as a chef at Eventide Restaurant in Arlington, Va. He also worked as a chef at restaurants in Washington, D.C., and in Louisville. He drew on his kitchen experience when it came time to create a menu. “I have most of this stuff in my head anyway. It was more of a task of putting it on paper. You want a variety, with fish, chicken, pork, vegetarian, gluten free. One or two dishes that could satisfy any guest who could walk through the door. “I believe in streamlined, simple menus we can change as the seasons change and people’s tastes change. You make sure you have a nice variety even though there’s only 14 choices on the menu,” he said. Although he and Breelyn created a business model before they opened the restaurant, they remain flexible, listening to what their customers have to say. Originally they were closed on Sunday, but so many people told them they wanted a place to eat on Sunday, the Bombas changed the schedule. “Sunday is one of our better days to be open,” Alex said. Their customer base comes from the town of Jonesborough, tourist trade and increasingly from Johnson City. “Our regulars are people who knew us from Jonesborough,” Alex said. “But it’s started branching out more and more with people driving out once a week or every other week from Johnson City to

Madison Mathews/Johnson City Press

The tortellini vodka at Bomba’s Fresh Italian have a nice night out. There’s also a good bit of tourist traffic. The bed and breakfasts and AmercInn have been nice enough to refer their guests to us.” Alex said one of the biggest challenges in any business is finding and training staff. “We’ve been lucky here. We hired more people than we needed knowing there would be some natural attrition. We’re down to a pretty good staff we’re happy with.” Having a well-trained staff allows Alex to spend time with customers and attend to business details. He still likes to be in the kitchen, however. “I’m responsible for the chef specials; I do that on my own,” he said. “I do the monthly wine dinner, which is a five-course dinner paired with wines. I do most of the cooking for those. Cooking is what got me into the business.” Bomba’s Fresh Italian is located at 125 E. Jackson Blvd. in Jonesborough. Hours are Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 5-9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed Monday. For more information, call 913-4685.

Alex Bomba, chef and owner of Bomba’s Fresh Italian

Page 2I, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 31, 2013

NET Media Group formed from regional newspapers By HANK HAYES NET News Service The Northeast Tennessee Media Group was created last year to offer a much broader advertising solution and more efficient local news delivery for its customers. The group produces print, digital and video content. Group members include the Kingsport Times-News, Johnson City Press, Erwin Record, Jonesborough Herald and Tribune, The Tomahawk, and the Times Digital Group. All of the properties are owned by Sandusky Newspapers Inc. “Previously, we always functioned like we were individual marketplaces,” said Keith Wilson, the group’s president and publisher of the Kingsport Times-News. “We have recognized the world has changed, and if we go to market as a group and offer advertisers a very deep buy into the Northeast Tennessee market, we would find more success. That’s what we’ve seen. ... We offer better.” Wilson pointed out the group is the largest media organization in the region. Other area

news outlets have separate individual owners. “The news products do work best when operated as community news,” Wilson noted. “While we may have opportunities to do common things, like sports coverage, the people in Johnson City really don’t care about [Kingsport’s] Dobyns-Bennett High School. The people in Johnson City want to know about their community and their local schools. ... We’ve had news content sharing for years, and that will continue. We leave it to the local editor to determine whether the news coming out of

Kingsport has relevance to the Johnson City market and vice versa. [But] the core of the news products will be local, local, local news.” Wilson said that after a decade of competition among the properties in the group, all its employees have been working together. “I think it’s only going to get better,” Wilson said. “I think a lot of the culture we had to deal with takes a while to get our head around — how to work with your brother-in-law as opposed to competing with him. We’re starting to find our footing

on that. The main thing is we saw it as a better way to serve the advertising community by offering a larger option.” According to the Tennessee Press Association, the group serves more than 70,000 print subscribers. There are also about a half million combined unique visitors monthly to the websites of the Kingsport TimesNews and Johnson City Press. To sign up for the group’s daily e-mail news blast, visit For more about the Kingsport Times-News, visit www. For more about the Johnson City Press, visit For more about the Times Digital Group, visit For more about The Erwin Record, visit www.erwinrecord. net. For more about The Tomahawk, visit For more about the Jonesborough Herald and Tribune, visit

Locally owned businesses are core of Erwin By BRAD HICKS


Work has begun to revitalize downtown Erwin with sidewalk and crosswalk improvements, landscaping and new lighting. Utility work will be done and the town will fix stormwater issues.

Downtown revitalization to address stormwater issues

Erwin Bureau Chief


Erwin Bureau Chief

ERWIN — From antiques and good eats to hardware and furniture, the town of Erwin offers customers a myriad of shopping and dining opportunities. Many of Erwin’s businesses, including chain restaurants and service stations, are spread throughout town. However, Erwin’s downtown area, in particular, offers consumers diverse opportunities. Several of the downtown businesses have been mainstays in the heart of Erwin for decades, including the Capitol Theater, which has been located on Main Avenue for more than 70 years. Roller Pharmacy, located along the same strip as the theater, has operated as a family owned business for nearly 50 years. Just across the way is the Clinchfield Pharmacy, which has been in business since the late 1920s. Another downtown business that has weathered economic storms over the years is Baker’s Shoe Repair & Saddle Shop, which has been part of the downtown business community for 32 years. The business offers shoe repair and saddle work, as well as making custom belts, wallets, Bible covers, holsters and knife sheaths. Owner Tony Baker said his store’s location on Main Avenue and its proximity to surrounding businesses has benefited his shop over the years. “All those people see that Baker’s is still here, and they remember us when they need us,” Baker said. “We have some customers that are weekly, some that are monthly, annual customers, biannual, so whenever they come in, sometimes every 10 years, I’ve seen somebody who said, ‘I didn’t know if you were still here.’ ” Newer businesses have also found their places in the downtown business community. The Hawg-N-Dawg restaurant, which offers a limited menu based and centered around barbecue and hot dogs and offers full-line catering services, recently celebrating its third year of business.

ERWIN — Work on Erwin’s downtown revitalization project is under way, and town officials are hopeful that the improvements the first phase brings will be in place in the coming months. The first phase of the project covers the area from 50 feet north of Gay Street through Second Street, and officials hope the phase will be completed by the end of September, ahead of the Unicoi County Apple Festival held in early October.

Milligan College

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Hawg-N-Dawg in Erwin Owner Lou Snider said regardless of where a business is located, the key to longevity is for that business to make a name for itself. He said the Hawg-N-Dawg has accomplished this through good old-fashioned word of mouth. “The Hawg-N-Dawg is popular because we now have name recognition,” Snider said. “We’re part of the neighborhood. We are the neighbor that lives on this street. We are the downtown merchant on the corner of Union and Main.” Ben McNabb, owner of Keesecker Appliance & Furniture Co., which will celebrate its 67th year of business in Erwin in June, said his business’ location along Main Avenue in downtown Erwin offers convenience to customers from surrounding areas, including parts of North Carolina. “The great thing is that we are accessible,” McNabb said. “You don’t have to fight the traffic, and we, especially this store, have a lot of things that are not offered at other places in Erwin, and even south Johnson City.”

McNabb said there is a Downtown Merchants Association for businesses in downtown Erwin, and businesses in the area support each other as much as possible. “We do try to promote each other as much as we can, and we try to patronize each other as much as we can,” McNabb said. “That’s what it’s about. We want the downtown to survive, and we know how difficult it is for small businesses to work. And there’s a lot of things out there against us, but if we don’t make it, then there’s a loss for the community, and we are here for the community.” Baker agreed that it is important for business owners in the downtown community to support each other. “Somebody may be coming to the Hawg-N-Dawg to eat and see us,” Baker said. “Sometimes, people will come in here and say ‘Where’s a good place to get some lunch?’ So you mention the drug stores, the Choo Choo, the HawgN-Dawg, give them a list of all the fast foods and where they’re at.”

Treatment facility to be upgraded By BRAD HICKS The Erwin Board of Public Utilities has recently completed upgrades to its railroad well water treatment facility. This new facility will provide up to 1.3 million gallons of reliable, highquality drinking water per day to Erwin and surrounding areas. Upgrades to the facility included site improvements and construction of a new building that houses the addition of a two-cell horizontal dual media sand filter and a two-cell activated carbon filter, with these filters being contained in two tanks. These tanks are 10 feet in diameter and more than 22 feet long, with a volume of 13,300 gallons in each tank. Other improvements include a a variable frequency drive, new electrical service, new chemical feed equipment and new controls. The plant is being connected to Erwin Utilities’ Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System to allow for remote monitoring and control of the facility. “Filters are normally not required on true groundwater sources like the railroad well,” said Matthew Rice, Erwin Utilities director of water and wastewater. “Groundwater sources already provide a high quality water, and unlike surface water sources,

Phase I work includes sidewalk and crosswalk improvements, landscaping, widening of roads, installation of new lighting and installation of underground utilities. Besides these improvements, the goal of downtown revitalization to is address stormwater issues in the downtown area. In July 2011, the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved an agreement with Nashville-based consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates to complete the downtown revitalization master plan. Kimley-Horn representatives presented this master plan to town officials in February 2012.

they are not susceptible to fluctuations in water quality due to weather events. The filters were installed to protect the public water supply from contaminants such as volatile organic compounds. Sampling results have never exceeded any of the maximum contaminant levels for VOCs, but these improvements will protect the public from future increases in contaminants.” The total cost of the improvements was $2,287,160. Funding of $1,067,000 was provided through the Environmental Protection

Agency, and $500,000 was provided through a Community Development Black Grant. An additional $700,000 was provided by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s State Revolving Loan Fund, which contains a 20 percent principle forgiveness. “Erwin Utilities is proud to have secured $1,707,000 in grant funding for this project,” Rice said. “We expect that our customers will have reliable, highquality water produced by this facility for years into the future.”

Coldwell Banker Security Real Estate The year of 2012 was a landmark year for Coldwell Banker Security. Coldwell Banker Security specializes in residential, condominium, multi-family, new construction and commercial real estate. The company achieved 30 years in business under the ownership of Sandy Johnston. A new server was installed to better track and run the business and the company grew its production while also expanding by hiring two new employees. Also the Vice President and Principal Broker, Jason Johnston, received the Mark Keesecker Humanitarian Award. Coldwell Banker Security has already started 2013 off on a good foot. The market has begun to see improvement over the 18 months, and that bodes well for real estate companies. The company is optimistic

that real estate will prosper and create jobs within the local economy. Coldwell Banker is headquartered in Parsippany, NJ. The company was started in 1903 by Colbert Coldwell and Benjamin Banker after the great San Francisco earthquake. The company now has a presence in 50 countries with over 3,100 offices. The total of sales in the United States totals $178 billion. The Johnson City office was opened in 1983 by Sandy Johnston. The principal officers in Johnson City are Sandy Johnston, Owner and Principal Broker; Jason Johnston, Vice President, Principal Broker and Managing Broker. 200 Princeton Road, Johnson City, TN 423-282-2595

McNabb said business owners are also looking forward to the downtown revitalization project, the first phase of which will move forward this spring. “It’s a neat atmosphere, and a lot of the things we’re focused on with the downtown revitalization is focused on keeping that downtown atmosphere and keeping these businesses open,” McNabb said. “It’s a neat opportunity to show what we do have, and we need more businesses down here for sure. I think there’s a ton of opportunity down here.” Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley commended Erwin’s business owners for their continuing promotion of their businesses and the diversity they offer consumers. “I think that our town is a unique little town in that we do have diversity in what we have to offer,” Hensley said. “We have everything from the antiques to the drug stores (and) restaurants, and I think that the people here have really done a good job promoting their business and give a quality product.”

It’s been a year filled with new opportunities at Milligan College. Those opportunities affect almost every area of the college — from new programs and building projects to the exciting achievements of its students, faculty and staff. In the past year, the college has added several new undergraduate and graduate programs in order to educate men and women to be servant leaders in a variety of fields. The college now offers more than 30 undergraduate majors and four master’s degrees. Milligan now offers a Master of Science in counseling (MSC) degree to help meet a rapidly growing demand for more professionals in the mental health field. The counseling program offers concentrations in school counseling and clinical mental health counseling. In addition, Milligan recently signed a cooperative agreement with Emmanuel Christian Seminary to offer a certificate of graduate study in counseling ministry. The college’s highly regarded Master of Business Administration (MBA) program added three specialized tracks in leadership, healthcare management and operations management. Executive certificates also are available for students who already have an MBA or equivalent degree. Milligan also added a new political science major for undergraduate students and signed an articulation agreement that enables Milligan to offer its bachelor of science degree in child and youth development on Walters State Community College’s Morristown campus. There were other significant academic achievements in the past year, including an announcement that Milligan received reaffirmation of its accreditation for the next 10 years from its accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and SchoolsCommission on Colleges (SACS-COC).

The opportunities Milligan provides in the areas of scholarship, community and faith have been recognized in various ways over the past year. In August, Milligan ranked among the top 100 baccalaureate colleges in the nation by Washington Monthly. U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 “America’s Best Colleges” ranked Milligan sixth overall, third among Best Value Schools, and sixth on the “A+ Schools for B Students” list in the Regional Colleges in the South classification. This spring, Milligan was one of six institutions in Tennessee to be named to the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction. One of only 100 institutions selected nationwide, this designation is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. Last August, Milligan welcomed its second-largest fall enrollment in college history, with 1,164 students. To accommodate the growing student population, President Bill Greer announced in April 2012 that a new student housing village would be made possible by the largest single gift ever made to the college. Construction on the first five residence halls began last summer and will be completed and ready for students to move in this fall. One of the new residence halls will be named in honor of Milligan’s 14th president and first lady, Don and Clarinda Jeanes. Don served as Milligan’s president for 14 years until his retirement in 2011. He passed away unexpectedly last fall. “Our new housing will ensure continued growth and make sure we provide the best experience possible to our students,” Greer said. For more information about the opportunities at Milligan, visit

We’re Celebrating 15 Years in the Same Location!

Home Sweet Home

Thank you to all our agents, family, friends and customers who have supported us throughout the years. We look forward to many more successful years of helping turn dream homes into reality. 269 Boones Creek Road, Suite 4 Johnson City, Tennessee (423) 952-0226 Fax: (423) 610-1535

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Johnson City Press, Page 3I

Unicoi County home to several financial institutions By BRAD HICKS Erwin Bureau Chief

ERWIN — You might think of Unicoi County as home to trails, streams and other outdoor opportunities, but it is also home to several financial institutions that have been serving members of the community for decades. Clinchfield Federal Credit Unicoi, located along Main Avenue in Erwin, organized in 1947 with the initial focus of serving employees of the Clinchfield Railroad. In 1982, the credit union began accepting different groups, and now anyone who lives, works or attends school in Unicoi County can become a member. CFCU CEO Sandy Lingerfelt said members of the credit union not only

reside in Unicoi County, but the institution also has members from Carter County, Washington County and Mitchell and Madison counties in North Carolina. “We are truly Unicoi County’s homegrown financial institution, and that’s very much one of our strengths,” Lingerfelt said. Today, CFCU has approximately 6,300 members and around $72 million in assets. The institution offers full banking services, which includes electronic bill pay, online banking and debit and credit cards. Lingerfelt also said CFCU offers low loan rates, is focusing on offering members restructuring of their debts and sponsors “Cash Mob” events in which CFCU chooses a local businesses and encourages its members to patronize the business. CFCU employees more than 20

people, and 76 percent of its membership can drive to the centrally located institution within 15 minutes of their homes, Lingerfelt said. She said credit unions differ from banks in that credit unions are member-owned, and the members have to vote on the credit union’s directors. While one member saves, another borrows and all share in the process, Lingerfelt said. Lingerfelt said CFCU’s more than 60 years in Unicoi County has had a positive impact on the community. She said the credit union’s emphasis will continue to be on service and taking care of its members’ financial needs. “We save people thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars,” she said. “Our membership, when they join, they tend to keep their account here the rest of

their life. I’ve been here 35 years, and I’ve taken care of grandchildren for people that have been members since I’ve been here. “We’re not interested in necessarily expanding all over Tennessee or anything. What we want to do is grow from within and serve our members that we have and their families and take care of them.” Mountain Commerce Bank has its headquarters in Unicoi County and has also served the banking needs of county residents for a number of years, but just recently under that name. MCB President/ CEO Bill Edwards said MCB acquired Erwin National Bank in 2006. While the name was changed, MCB kept the charter of Erwin National, which was chartered in 1910. MCB has three locations in

Unicoi County — two along Main Avenue in Erwin and one along Unicoi Drive in the town of Unicoi. MCB employees approximately 15 people in the county, has around $110 million in deposits and has 50-60 percent of the total market share in Unicoi County, Edwards said. “Our customers are very loyal, and we’ve been very loyal to the market,” Edwards said, as MCB added a location in Erwin after its acquisition of Erwin National Bank. Edwards said MCB’s tagline — “Hometown Service. Smart Technology” — sums up the services offered by the bank. He said MCB offers services such as online banking, automatic check scan and deposit for businesses, competitive interest rates, consumer and commercial loans and

in-house mortgages that allow customers to make mortgage payments at MCB branch locations. He also said the excellent service offered by MCB employees to its customers is another benefit of banking with MCB. “We offer just about anything you can think of that a bigger bank would offer at very competitive rates, delivered with your hometown banking team,” Edwards said. “They go to church and live in the same communities as our customers live in.” Edwards also said MCB customers enjoy the convenience, extended hours and technology provided by the bank. “We’ve been here since 1910. We’ve got three locations and a great staff,” he said. “Why bank anywhere else?”

Washington County’s records have safe home in new archives By GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

ETSU researchers have conducted a study of large and small hospitals and proposes that rural small hospitals operate more efficiently than larger ones because they must do so to survive. Unicoi County Memorial Hospital’s Pauline Vaughn Medical Building is shown.

Though new archivist Ned Irwin has been on board awhile, delays kept truckloads of county records on the street instead of inside a newly created Preservation of Records Department located in the courthouse annex, or old jail. Demolition of the annex took longer than expected, and there was a long wait on shelving, but Irwin is now placing important court records and deeds, some dating back more than 230 years. Meanwhile, two floors of the old jail adjoining the Washington County Courthouse have been transformed into what is now called the Washington County Archive Annex. A reception, or help-desk area, has been created, a former inmate processing center has been converted into a kitchen area and storage and work spaces have been created throughout. Irwin

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Washington County’s new archives in the old jail now has its first documents. said other records may be deemed temporary, such as certain receipts and other materials that by state law have various retention requirements. That means every two, three or five years, some documents cycle out. In July, rows and rows of books

documenting the minutes from Criminal, Circuit and Juvenile courts were placed on 20 units of archival shelves. The shelves were paid for with a $5,000 grant from the secretary of state’s office and the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

UCMH, Mountain States agreement nears finalization City revamping Juvenile Court By BRAD HICKS


Erwin Bureau Chief

Press Staff Writer

ERWIN — The definitive agreement between Mountain States Health Alliance and Unicoi County Memorial Hospital is nearing finalization, which will allow MSHA’s acquisition of the community hospital to move forward. MSHA President/CEO Dennis Vonderfecht previously said once the UCMH Board of Control votes to accept the agreement, it will be sent to the attorney general’s office for review. The office will look to make sure MSHA paid a fair price to acquire UCMH and if the acquisition process was followed from a legal standpoint. After the attorney general’s review is complete, which is expected sometime in the spring, MSHA will begin its strategic planning process for a Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press new UCMH to identify the size Unicoi County Memorial Hospital’s Vic Foti, R.N., of the facility, required number checks equipment in the ER. of beds and services for the new hospital. After this, MSHA will prepare and submit to the state a Certificate of Need to purchase of property for the System. Commitments outlined new UCMH, and hospital offi- in the MSHA proposal included replace UCMH. MSHA will then select the cials have targeted approxi- the construction of a new acute architect and construction firm, mately 45 acres near the Temple care facility within the limits of Erwin, assumption of all of and construction is expected to Hill Exit. In November, the UCMH UCMH’s debt and financial begin around July 2015, Vonderfecht said. He said the Board of Control voted to obligations and voluntary connew hospital could be ready approve the acquisition pro- tributions of $750,000 each to posal from MSHA over one Unicoi County and Erwin. around February 2017. MSHA must also finalize the submitted by Wellmont Health

If everything goes according to plan, Johnson City will open the doors to the completely renovated Juvenile Court near the first of next year. The City Commission has agreed to enter in to a roughly $1.1 million contact with Kingsport’s Armstrong Construction to renovate the former Seniors’ Center for use as Johnson City’s Juvenile Court. Architect Thomas Weems said construction should begin soon and the contractor will have 270 days to complete the contract. Renovations of the 10,000-square-foot building at 607 E. Myrtle Ave. will nearly double the size of the current court at 102 W. Myrtle Ave. Judge Sharon M. Green has been conducting court in a room that is only 13 feet wide. This has caused tensions to rise in a setting meant for resolution, but the renovation will include a courtroom that will be about 25 to 35 feet wide. The new court also will include a conference room used for “child and family team meetings.” The drive-thru portion of the old Seniors’ Center will be demolished to make way for a large lobby, or waiting area, that will double the number of chairs from 30 to 60, Green said.

Tony Duncan/ Johnson City Press

Current Johnson City Juvenile Court

Numan’s Cafe and Sports Bar Numan’s Café and Sports Bar had a remarkable 2012. The company completely updated the second floor, spending over $100,000 in renovations. Some of that money also went to installing new windows in the front of the bar. The bar offered 12 draft beers this year along with a full service restaurant. The sports bar also has big plans for 2013. When Northeast State Community College makes the move to downtown Johnson City, Numan’s plans to make their bar non-smoking and make their restaurant a 24 hour per day service. The company has seen great growth over the last few years, growing in double digits, and expects to continue growing in double digits for the

next three years. All of that growth has led Numan’s to hire four more workers over the course of 2012. The company employed 22 people at the end of 2011 and by the end of 2012, that number had grown to 26. The bar also saw an increase in overall sales. Sales in 2011 were around $900,000, but in 2012 sales were over $1 million. The company was founded in Downtown Johnson City in 1993. The principal officers and department heads are Dan Numan, Owner; Jan Numan, Owner; and Janice Broyles, General Manager. 225 E. Main Street, Johnson City, TN 423-926-7665

NFS awarded major contracts to provide fuel, material to Navy By BRAD HICKS Erwin Bureau Chief

Two contracts totaling more than $100 million awarded to Nuclear Fuel Services late last year went into effect this year. The contracts were awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Naval Reactors Laboratory Field Office and were announced in November. The first contract includes the manufacture and delivery of fuel and support activities for the U.S. Naval Propulsion Program. The second provides for the development of material for future Naval Reactors programs. NFS spokeswoman Lauri Turpin said previously that the contracts are for one year. NFS has been the sole manufacturer of nuclear fuel for the Navy’s fleet of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines

since 1964. “NFS is pleased to continue our important work for the U.S. Department of Energy and the Naval Reactors program,” NFS President Joe Henry said at the time the contracts were

announced. “We are pleased that our work supports U.S. national defense programs, and we are excited to use our technical capabilities and expertise to develop the next generation of nuclear fuel.”

East Tennessee Rent-Alls East Tennessee Rent-Alls reached a significant milestone in the year 2012. The company celebrated being in business for 50 years during the month of September. East Tenn. Rent-Alls specialize in equipment rentals, party wedding and special event rentals. The company rents tools for homeowners, contractors and industries. Sales for the company rose by $400,000 in 2012, going from $7 million in 2011 to $7.4 million in 2012. The company did lose two workers, reducing the workforce from 45 in 2011 to 43 in 2012. Plans are in place for 2013 to improve upon 2013. East Tenn. Rent-Alls will increase employee training with equipment manufacturers and increase online training as well. The company will also introduce a customer appreciation Friday by offering a free lunch. The company is cautiously

optimistic in 2013 and is very optimistic for the next five years. East Tenn. Rent-Alls was founded in Johnson City in 1962. Principal officers for the company are Jim Baker and Judy Baker, Owners; Josh Baxton, Vice President; John Hayes, General Manager; Sherry Vassacotti, Collaborate Manager; and Leonard Bryant, Bobcat of the Mountain Empire Manager. The company was very involved in charity projects throughout 2012. Overall, East Tenn. Rent Alls donated $15,000 to charity. Some of that money was contributed to East Tennessee State Athletics, American Cancer Society, United Way, BSA and many others. 3711 Bristol Highway Johnson City, TN 423-282-3221

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Parks and Recreation makes life fun By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

Want to have some fun? Get outdoors? Get some exercise? Play? Swim? Golf? Meet people who share your interests? Make a meaningful contribution? Johnson City’s parks and recreation programs are for you. Ball fields, gyms, quality outdoor spaces, picnic facilities, pools, arts, crafts and cultural programming, summer camps and after-school programs, special seasonal events and more are all available for free or for a minimal fee at a park or recreation center nearby. For interests that run from disc golf to needlecrafts, youth soccer to senior tennis, music to kickboxing and ballet to kayaking, the Parks and Recreation Department’s mission is to provide the opportunity. For a look at the latest roundup of what’s up in the parks, the city’s Spring and Summer Fun Guide, an 81-page, color illustrated directory of everything available and planned through the end of September can be found online at, or may be obtained by visiting the Parks and Recreation Department’s office at Winged Deer Park. If you still can’t find what your looking for, the department wants your input and is ready to respond with the space and the programming desired, and to allow you to add to the offerings. Volunteer opportunities, sponsorship information, summer job openings and how to submit new ideas are all listed in detail on Page 2 of the


Fun Guide. Facilities available at the new Memorial Park Community Center have added greatly to the season’s Parks and Recreation programming, particularly in aquatics. The Memorial Center’s therapy pool with a handicap lift now makes it possible for people of all physical capabilities to have a dip, while the new lap pool has added the space and programming time needed for swimmers of all ages to stretch out and splash. Classes at the pools range from Mommy and Me swim lessons for infants to deep water aerobics and an American Red Cross Life Guard certification course. Kayakers meet Tuesday evenings. And two-hour pool parties with

lifeguard services start at $90. Spring and summer athletics include adult and youth softball, soccer and dodge ball leagues, ladies and family basketball nights, children and senior tennis clinics, a “Back to School 3 on 3 Basketball Slam,” and a mid-September Punt, Pass and Kick competition for kids. The department’s seven-week roster of summer camp and workshop programs includes no less than 15 sports, nature and performing arts camps and 28 specialty workshops that range from modeling and drama, to hip hop and rock music. Prices start at $30 for a one-week camp to $150 for the seven-week Fit to Play program at the new Memorial Park Community Center.

Dance, music, fitness and education programs run from April through September. Offerings include tumbling for toddlers, aerobics for arthritis, yoga, belly dancing, strength conditioning, cooking, basic to advanced computer courses, sewing, foreign languages and more. Ready to go golfing? This year marks the 50th anniversary of the city’s Pine Oaks course, and the monthlong celebration planned for July includes a weekly series of discount fees and passes for men, women and children. With so much to do and so much to chose from, the best approach may be to come out and play, and find out more about what’s happening next at the parks near you.

‘Rails-to-Trails’ project gaining steam BY GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

A stretch of the ET Railway running through the Happy Valley Community.

The Tweetsie Trail, the first “rails-to-trails” project in East Tennessee, is locked in and gaining momentum. Durham, N.C.-based Alta/ Greenways has assembled the master plan that will serve as a guide for the 10-mile pedestrian-friendly path from Johnson City to Elizabethton. Genesee & Wyoming, the parent company of East Tennessee Railway, agreed to Johnson City’s $600,000 offer for a 10-mile stretch of land on which the unused lines run from Alabama and Legion streets and end near the State Line Drive-In in Elizabethton. Work has been under way to remove tracks and other equipment from the site for several months. The right-of-way agreement, which returns the land to the railroad if its use as a trail goes away, gave ETR up to two years to clear the land, and that timeline is nearing an end. “Rails-to-Trails,” or “railbanking,” allows an out-of-use railroad corridor to be converted for interim trail use, thereby preserving the corridor until such time as rail service is deemed feasible or necessary again. Railbanking not only allows the construction of trails for public use, but it preserves these scenic corridors. The nearest rails-to-trails facility currently in use, the

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Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

A crew from C & S Rail Services, LLC, started removing the East Tennessee Railway rails that run parallel to West Elk Avenue near Sycamore Shoals Hospital in Elizabethton. C & S has approximately 10 miles of track to take up. Each rail weighs about 1,300 pounds. Virginia Creeper Trail, begins in Abingdon, Va. Elizabethton and Johnson City officials now are meeting regularly to turn the plans on paper into a reality.

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26 new luxury apartments coming to Johnson City BY MADISON MATHEWS Work began in October on a 26-unit luxury apartment complex that’s set to transform the landscape of downtown Johnson City. Two long-vacant buildings at the corner of South Roan Street and State of Franklin Road were demolished to make way for Paxton Place, a $2 million residential/commercial project led by Main at Roan Partners LLC. The 27,000-square-foot, threestory building will feature twoand three-bedroom apartments ranging from 635 to 1,056 square feet. Rent will range between $800 to $1,000 per month, including all utilities. A planned retail space for a coffee shop is also included in the project. The project takes its name from company partner Tim Paxton Jones, who died last year after a lengthy bout with cancer. He managed the Johnson City Press for nearly a quarter century, and was instrumental in paving the way for many of the current developments happening in downtown Johnson City. Construction is expected to be completed in about a year.


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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Johnson City Press, Page 5I

A new Pal’s along Boones Creek Road

Dave Boyd/Johnson City Press

Plan to spur Exit 17 development Photo/Contributed

The old CC&O train depot was visited by Tupelo Honey Cafe representatives.

By MADISON MATHEWS Press Staff Writer

Tupelo Honey picks JC By MADISON MATHEWS Press Staff Writer

The popular Asheville, N.C.based restaurant Tupelo Honey Cafe announced in July it would open its fourth location at the historic CC&O Railroad Depot in downtown Johnson City. The move to open in Johnson City followed months of speculation after the Tri-Cities area won a social media campaign in which fans could vote for the restaurant’s next location. In the end, the decision to make Johnson City Tupelo Honey’s new home was spurred by the location of the depot and the revitalization efforts by the Washington County Economic Development Council, the Johnson City Development Authority and the city. Local company Rainey Contracting will be doing the renovation of the building, with Uwe Rothe serving as architect Developers are pursing a tax credit through the Investment Tax Credit Program, which is 20 percent of what an owner spends rehabilitating a historic structure. The eatery is expected to open in early 2014.

The Washington County Economic Development Council and Johnson City Development Authority recently approved a plan creating a tax increment financing, or TIF, district that will spur private development on about 100 acres of undeveloped land off Boones Creek Exit 17 of Interstate 26. Officials hope the future retail and commercial development project will keep Johnson City on top when it comes to regional retail dominance. TIF is a method utilized by local governments to pay for community improvements with future tax revenues. A TIF plan is approved by a local government to redevelop an area by paying for the cost of public or private improvements out of future growth in taxes attributed to the new development. Leaders believe this project will allow Johnson City to compete with surrounding areas and add to the sales tax base in the county. Other developments in Boones Creek include a new Pal’s and McDonald’s that have opened along Boones Creek Road.

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Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

The old CC&O Depot


Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

A nearly two-year, $1.7 million renovation of the Reece Museum is practically finished. Originally built in the 1920s as the campus’ first library, the museum is one of the oldest structures on campus. It was in need of upgrades to the electrical system, the lighting, windows and HVAC system.These upgrades should allow the museum to attract notable exhibits after it reopens to the public in April.

New two-level Jonesborough Seniors Center in works By SUE GUINN LEGG Press Staff Writer

Plans for a new two-level Jonesborough Seniors Center to be built adjacent to the McKinney Cultural Arts Center at Booker T. Washington School were approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in November and submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development for approval. Designed by Ken Ross Architects, the center will feature a variety of activity rooms for classes, games and arts and crafts; a com-

puter lab; a commercial kitchen; and a large multiuse area for dances, meetings, meals and other large gatherings. The plans call for the building’s lower level to be left unfinished and completed for additional programming as funds become available, including anticipated funding for the project from Washington County. Rural Development has approved a $2.3 million loan for the building’s construction. Town Administrator Bob Browning said the project will be advertised for bids as soon as RD approves the design.

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

The 22 plots that make up the Carver Peace Garden at the Carver Rec Center are productive and in prime growing season as families and groups enjoy the bounty of the land.

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

A few of Charles Bullock's fresh-picked snap peas.

Community gardens make life greener By JENNIFER SPROUSE Press Staff Writer

Community gardens have been sprouting up all over the region, as a diversity of gardeners has been breaking ground to grow produce and plants. The Carver Peace Gardens, located on the grounds of the Carver Recreation Center in Johnson City, was started for a master gardener project that Sam Jones was completing in 2007. The area set aside for the garden hosts 22 plots, ranging in size of 20 by 30 feet or 15 by 20 feet, for individuals, groups and families.

Jones said the growers who have embraced the community garden all come from various backgrounds, including a microbiologist, a man and his family from Africa and a Russian immigrant, as well as a group of medical students from the James H. Quillen College of Medicine. Coming up on its sixth growing season, Jones said she feels as though the garden has come a long way from what it once was. She said the group of growers at Carver grow a variety of crops including beans, corn, squash, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes, cabbages, onions and peppers. “I think ... being on city property makes it seem more like it’s

a people’s garden, instead of a private garden,” Jones said. “We have retirees, we have people from other countries, we have students, we have single moms, families, young people, old people. I think that our neighborhood is beginning to promote it and be proud of it and accept it that this is a people’s garden. It’s not just for a select few.” Located behind First Presbyterian Church in downtown Kingsport, the Harvest of Hope Community Garden was founded in the spring of 2011 as part of the United Way of Greater Kingsport’s Hunger Task Force initiative and is sponsored by the United Way of Greater Kingsport, AARP, First Presbyterian and

Tennessee Master Gardeners. Susan Lodal, chair of the United Way of Greater Kingsport’s Hunger Task Force, said in the garden’s first year they had around 39 garden plots and they offered them to Interfaith Hospitality Network, Salvation Army and Kitchen of Hope. “Our goal early on was to educate people to be able to take this ... garden bed and actually grow some food, use that space the best that they are able to and to grow the food for themselves or to share with others,” Lodal said. She said some of the food grown in the garden has been tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, squash, green beans, lettuce and cabbage.

Bethlehem Lutheran restores glass By JENNIFER SPROUSE Press Staff Writer

The 62-year-old stained glass windows in Bethlehem Lutheran Church went through an extensive cleaning and repair process in September, and in turn the worship area gained new lighting. Church Art Glass Inc., of Clinton, Ky., was hired for the repair work after the windows began leaking after a bad storm. The process of cleaning and repairing the glass windows included a process called historical releading, where the workers disassembled the stained glass panels piece by piece and discarded all the old lead came and put in new lead came. An exterior protective covering was placed on the windows to add a layer of protection to the windows that have special meaning to Bethlehem’s church members. “In each window is a central symbol. Each symbol represents something very important to the Christian faith,” Judy Watson, church member and stained glass committee member said. “The windows aren’t just for beauty, they have a very powerful message.” She said the windows had not had any maintenance before now, but said she was already

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Robert Hall inspects the condition of one of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary of Bethlehem Lutheran Church. seeing improvements in the lighting in the church sanctuary. “One of the workers brought me into the sanctuary and ... you could see which windows had

been worked on and cleaned and which ones hadn’t. The sun came out and the colors just came across the pews and onto the carpet and I’d never seen it like that before. It was amazing,”

Watson said. Bethlehem church members celebrated the newly repaired and restored windows at a rededication ceremony and open house Oct. 7.

Ron Campbell/Johnson City Press

Dogs always are ready for adoption at the Washington County/Johnson City Animal Control Center.

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

Carver Peace Garden

Frontier Health Progress Edition 2013 This past year, Frontier Health initiated local crisis transportation, introduced new services for veterans; expanded employment opportunities; and new evidencedbased treatment for children dealing with trauma and healthy lifestyles curricula. Frontier Health’s Tennessee Division of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities received four-star status. Frontier Health served 54,569 individuals during Fiscal 2012 in 12 counties of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Frontier Health’s 1,008 employees represent 11,454 years of service, ranging from 44 years of service to new hires. Staff traveled 1,709,333 miles during Fiscal 2012 to provide services in a 12,000 square mile coverage area. Getting someone in a mental health crisis to the level of care they needed often hinged on whether or not they could get to the facility. Now, thanks to Frontier Health transportation services established through grant funding, crisis therapists can find the most appropriate voluntary care for someone including crisis, detoxification, residential substance abuse treatment, the Crisis Stabilization Unit and voluntary inpatient treatment at Woodridge Hospital. Frontier Health transportation staff provides about 180 transports locally each month in the eight-county region of Northeast Tennessee. Transportation is available through TennCare but it can take between four to six hours. Quicker transport allows someone to get the care they need before they decompensate further and to avoid unnecessary waiting. Crisis staff can also evaluate individuals at outpatient sites during office hours and transport them to needed services, often reducing the need for emergency room care for mental health crises. Frontier Health’s Drug and Alcohol Services and Residential Drug and Alcohol Services received the highest overall customer satisfaction results of all participating national organizations in the Mental Health Consumers Association’s 2012 annual customer satisfaction survey. Frontier Health assisted local veterans thanks to a new vocational services program in partnership with the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The program provides pre-vocational, vocational and work adjustment services to veterans with disabilities who are seeking to reenter the work force. The vocational rehabilitation program helps veterans struggling with traditional employment programs to reintegrate into a work setting. Referrals are accepted though the Veterans Administration. Frontier Health has served eight veterans since February 2012. A locally owned international company is overcoming barriers using sign language and visual signaling devices. The manufacturer is working to bring manufacturing and outsourced jobs back to Northeast Tennessee and are eager to employ people through the Department of Rehabilitative Services. The company brought in the Communication Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a division of Frontier Health, to help over-

come potential communication barriers. CCDHH began teaching weekly American Sign Language and Deaf Culture classes to the owner, management and other interested employees. Frontier Health’s Victory Centers added the Healthy Lifestyles curriculum for all members at the three centers in Johnson City, Greeneville and Kingsport. Staff took advantage of training to add the evidenced-based My Health, My Choice, My Life’s curriculum. Frontier Health’s Victory Center is the first Tennessee psychosocial rehabilitation program to offer the new curricula. Victory Center staff, who are certified by the state, co-teach Chronic Disease Self-Management and Diabetes SelfManagement programs. These programs are also offered at peer support facilities around the state, including programs at Frontier Health’s peer support centers. Frontier Health successfully implemented the Federal government’s Health Care Year One of the “Meaningful Use,” initiative using a certified electronic health record in a meaningful manner to improve the quality of care. Funds received from the Meaningful Use initiative will enable Frontier Health to accomplish the goals of using technology to improve the quality of care, engage individuals and families in their health care, to improve the coordination of care, and overall health, while maintaining a safe, secure Electronic Health Record. Frontier Health’s fully integrated EHR has been in place since 2005 and actually began working on a fully integrated Electronic Health Record in 1997, with development of different facets beginning in the early 1990s. Frontier Health introduced a new treatment for children, who may respond uniquely to trauma. Understanding this concept, the agency introduced the evidenced-based trauma focused behavioral therapy, or Attachment, Self-Regulation and Competency (ARC), developed by Blaustein and Kinninburgh in Brookline, Mass. Debriefings were provided to area law enforcement divisions. Community education was provided by Frontier Health staff at universities, colleges, physician groups, Remote Area Medical events, Area Agency on Aging, community events, United Ways, chambers of commerce, community and social service organizations, faith-based organizations, malls, senior centers, businesses and school systems. In addition to Frontier Health’s historical partnership with the ETSU Department of Psychology for practicum placement of their doctoral students, in 2012 Frontier Health’s doctoral internship program was credentialed by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) standards. Frontier Health interviewed APPIC candidates and accepted three national placements. Frontier Health is the region’s leading provider of behavioral health, mental health, substance abuse, co-occurring, intellectual and developmental disabilities, recovery and vocational rehabilitation services. Frontier Health has been providing services since 1957.

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Shelter looking for funds to build new facility By GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

The lead consultant from a firm hired this fall by the Animal Control Board has conducted a feasibility study to see if there is $1.75 million out there to build the new Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter’s “footprint.” Knoxville’s Dickerson, Bakker and Associates Senior Consulting Associate Gary Taylor said in December that 40-50 potential donors were being lined up for interviews. City Manager and Board Chairman Pete Peterson said that during the fundraising campaign, there’s going to be a need for someone to do these additional tasks to keep the process going. Debbie Dobbs, the shelter’s director and board member, is someone who has been kept extremely busy trying to juggle paperwork while dealing with the

shelter’s operation and staying in close contact with the architect for their new digs. Meanwhile, Taylor has set a course of action that will follow, including telephone calls to potential donors

and email communiques with roughly 500 people. These efforts will be followed up with an online survey meant to capture the interest and secure the intentions of other potential donors.

General Shale General Shale had a very productive year in 2012. The company, which manufactures masonry products, added a few new items to their extensive inventory. Along with offering brick, thin brick, thin rock and pavers, General Shale added 10 new products to its portfolio. The company added various masonry products, colors and textures. The company also added outdoor lighting, grills, smokers and BBQ accessories. General Shale has big plans for 2013. The company will continue to innovate to meet the needs of their customers and to excel past customers’ expectations. General Shale will also continue to offer the best product selection to homeowners, builders, contractors and designers. General Shale was founded in Johnson City in 1928. The company’s headquarters are in Johnson City with local offices spread across the United States and Cana-

da. The principal officer for General Shale is Dick Green, Chief Executive Officer. The company employed 1,200 people across all locations. General Shale was very involved in community projects and local charities throughout 2012. The company donated masonry products to the Habitat for Humanity, East Tennessee State University’s new baseball stadium and also donated computers to Mary Hughes School. General Shale also worked closely with the United Way during the charities Week of Caring. The company also worked closely with the Johnson City Adult Day Care Center. General Shale also contributed to various charitable organizations and opportunities across the company’s 50 locations. General Shale 3015 Bristol Highway, Johnson City, TN 423-282-4661

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Members practice ballroom dancing in the cafe at the Memorial Park Community Center.

Community center benefits all ages By GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

When ground was broken for Johnson City’s new Memorial Park Community Center in October 2010, not everyone agreed the $15 million recreation facility would live up to its billing as a legitimate home for the city’s Seniors’ Center activities as well as place for the Parks and Recreation Department to expand and shine. The 67,000-square-foot multigenerational facility recently opened its doors, and time will tell if the investment was worth it. But for now, the gains are obvious. The programing plan is shared by both the city’s Seniors’ Center and its Parks and Recreation Department. Both the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and Senior Center Advisory Council unanimously agreed on the plan, which gives seniors 27,000 square feet of space with which to work

— more than double the existing Seniors’ Center capacity of 12,000 square feet. Not only do seniors have more elbow room; they get time. There are 1,260 hours of scheduling available. Of that, nearly 65 percent has been marked for senior use; about 35 percent will be set aside for parks and recreation programing, which leaves more than 500 hours available for future use. It should be noted that this is a public facility. It does include a senior component, and people may have to check on availability. But it is meant for all ages. “I can tell you right now, you can do everything here,” said Roger Blakeley, Parks and Recreation Department director. “The real interesting thing is we’re putting seniors with everyone else. We’ve developed a bridge.” Monthly passes range from $35 for resident students and seniors to $60 for a non-resident family pass, so the doors won’t shut on a

Realty Executives Realty Executives had a record breaking year in 2012. It was a record year for sales and 12 agents from the company received national awards for their outstanding work. Overall sales increased by $4 million from 2011 to 2012. In 2011, the company had $57 million in sales while in 2012, that number increased to $61 million. The company specializes in real estate sales. Realty Executives employs 40 agents that strive to offer a superior level of informed, professional real estate services to buyers and sellers in Johnson City. The company is hoping to have another record year for sales in 2013. Realty Executives wants to increase sales and improve all services offered by the company for an easier buying and selling experience for the customer. Since the housing market

is quickly improving to pre-recession levels, the company expects 2013 to be an excellent year. Realty Executives also expects to see improvement every year for the next five years. The company was founded in Phoenix, AZ in 1978. The company expanded and opened up offices in Johnson City in 1997. Since that time, Realty Executives has grown to be the second largest real estate agency in Johnson City. The principal officers for Realty Executives are Fred Goodwin, Agent/Owner; Bill Hedges, Agent/ Owner; and Steve Clouse, Agent/Owner. 2694 Boones Creek Road Johnson City, TN 423-952-0226

visitor from Cincinnati in town on a trip. Folks also can pick and choose their activities, which include monthly and daily passes. These are available for those wanting to swim in the lap pool, hit the fitness room or play billiards. Aerobics classes also are offered on a monthly or daily rate. The daily rate, for example, is $2. A monthly pass to the fitness room for students and those over 50 is $10. That’s about 30 cents a day. “Our goal is for this to be one community,” said Amanda Hollifield, the center’s operations manager. “We have something for every age group. You’ve got recreation services and senior services. It’s new, but we’re very receptive to ways we can make it better. We want feedback. We’re very open to that.” Residents and others likely will be impressed with the first-class

aquatics area; the large gymnasium, which includes eight basketball/volleyball courts, retractable bleachers, state-of-the-art wireless scoreboards and sound system; billiards room; two workout areas; media room; performing arts room and four fullsize tennis courts. The center includes a cafe, and Chef Richard Erskine, Southwest Culinary & Hospitality College president, has been hired to oversee the preparation of breakfast and lunch. His services also will be employed at special events and lunches and dinners served in the center’s dining room. Hollifield said security cameras are in place throughout the building that can be monitored at the two reception areas (general recreation and senior activity entrances). Meanwhile, every room in the facility is equipped with sensory lighting that detects

Natural Foods Market Natural Foods Market had a big year in 2012. The company increased participation in the “Shop Local” movement by introducing several new product lines from local vendors. Natural Foods also expanded the gluten-free grocery and frozen section to meet the growing demand for those products. The company also provided lectures, demonstrations and samplings of gluten-free products at local Gluten-free Support Group meetings. The market also began a regular monthly series of health lectures at the new Johnson City Memorial Park Community Center. While 2012 was a big year, Natural Foods Market has even bigger plans for the future. The company plans to increase community outreach for health education. The outreach to schools, churches, support groups and civic clubs is a part of a larger plan to help guide more people to become proactive in their own healthcare. Natural Foods is also planning on increasing staff training

with national trade shows, webinars and seminars to become more knowledgeable. The company plans to actively pursue more networking with local health-care professionals. The company was founded in Johnson City in 1981. Principal officers for Natural Foods Market are Patsy Meridith, CEO/ General Manager; and Anthony Stump, Assistant Manager and Technical Advisor. Natural Foods Market was also involved in community service projects during 2012. The company supplied food on a weekly basis to Second Harvest Food Bank, supported Appalachian Harvest Organic Farmer’s Cooperative and sponsored events for Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. 3211 Peoples Street Suite #74 Johnson City, TN 423-610-1200

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Washington County’s Jonesborough courthouse undergoing renovations Press Staff Writer

Washington County’s Jonesborough courthouse is undergoing more than $250,000 in renovations — a move that has caused a local government version of musical chairs. Johnson City architect Fred Ward and Asheville, N.C.-based Professional Business Interiors have teamed to produce an overall plan. County Mayor Dan Eldridge and County Attorney John Rambo will call the second floor home. Some departments and offices have or will switch places. Most of the planned renovations are on the courthouse’s second floor, including a total renovation of the commission chambers, including a minor but muchappreciated comfort — padded

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chairs. The courtroom, which serves as commission chambers, will be completely revamped. Plans call for 25 commissioners to sit in a “U” shape facing the audience from a raised position. There also will be room below at a table, where the parliamentarian, county clerk and county attorney will sit in front of the commissioners. In addition to these changes, the courthouse’s exterior will undergo lead abatement and get a fresh coat of paint. The large front doors at the main entrance will be replaced, and a key card swipe to access the second floor at the stairwell will be installed. The second and third floor both will get new carpeting and vinyl cove bases, and the entire second floor will get a new HVAC system, acoustical ceilings, plumbing and electrical, blinds, and doors and frames.

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County government adding positions, updating offices, archives By GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

Washington County’s government is getting a bit long in the tooth, but it has, of late, made some strides in its structure and in its offerings to the public. This local government has been around longer than any other county, city or town in Tennessee — longer, in fact, than Tennessee has been a state. Washington County’s government predates Tennessee by 19 years, stretching back to 1777, when a group of pioneers who had crossed the Allegheny Mountains and settled in the area’s river valleys established a government in Jonesborough. At the time, Washington County was admitted as a part of North Carolina and called the Washington District — the first governmental division named in honor of George Washington. Its early leaders included John Sevier, Tennessee’s first governor and, before that, governor of the short-lived (178589) State of Franklin. Today, Washington County’s government is in the middle of making some long and important strides. For starters, the historic Jonesborough courthouse is wrapping up more than $250,000 in renovations. Johnson City architect Fred Ward and Asheville, N.C.-based Professional Business Interiors designed the changes. County mayor Dan Eldridge patiently waited for his new office space to become available, and John

Rambo, the county’s in-house attorney, has found a place to call home. Both are on the old courthouse’s second floor. Some departments and offices have or will be switching places, and county archivist Ned Irwin is moving into a newly created Preservation of Records Department. Most of the renovations are on the courthouse’s second floor, including a total renovation of commission chambers and a minor but much-appreciated comfort — padded chairs. The courtroom, which serves as commission chambers, has been completely revamped. About a halfdozen new wooden benches have been installed for attendees and others, who, thanks to a new design, are now able to see the whites of commissioners eyes — at least most of them. Commissioners now sit in a “U” shape facing the audience from a raised position. In the middle of this formation, the commission chair can take his or her seat. There also is room below at a table, where the parliamentarian, county clerk and county attorney sit in front of the commissioners. Meanwhile, the county’s firstever in-house residential building codes inspector was hired in July, and the county began issuing permits without state assistance a few months later, marking the start of a move meant to close communication gaps and quicken the overall process. Scott Chapman, a former builder, still is familiarizing himself with his new home

Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press

County attorney John Rambo in his office at the Washington County Courthouse in downtown Jonesborough. inside the Washington County Zoning Administrators Office, but he already has created a new “Builders Hand-Out,” which provides developers, builders and contractors with detailed information. “I came up with a list of steps, which takes them through the four different stages of inspection, and you can’t go from one step to the next without finishing the one before,” he said.

“One of the things I learned as a builder was when you’re having an inspection and you’re turned down, you have to list in writing what the violations are. This way, they can go to the code book and see exactly what needs to be done. That speeds up the reinspection.” On a legal note, John Rambo received the final and official nod from the Washington County Commission to become the coun-

ty’s first full-time attorney. A months-long process cleared a major procedural hurdle when the General Assembly approved a private act creating the position. Rambo now is a county employee who has brought with him two staff members who were employed at his private practice. This move goes hand-in-hand with the creation of a new Legal Services Advisory Committee to

help establish and oversee the office. The county also took another step forward by hiring Jonesborough native Irwin to become the county’s first archivist. “I really feel very humbled by this, because this is a first for Washington County,” said the soft-spoken Irwin. Two floors of the old jail adjoining the Washington County Courthouse were transformed to accommodate some of the records. A reception, or help-desk area, has been created from what used to serve as an inmate processing center. Irwin said there is space converted into a kitchen area and storage work spaces have been created throughout. Irwin will head the new county historical archives being fitted in the old county office building. Once called the County Court, the modern County Commission actually functions as the legislative body of county government, working primarily through the committee system. Whether it is payment of bills, approval of expenditures, approval of the budget, zoning changes or new legislation, committee actions do not take on the color of law until approved by a vote of the full commission. There are 25 commissioners in Washington County, serving in nine commission districts. Each commission district comprises several of the 40 Civil Districts, each of which is a voting precinct. To learn more about Washington County government, go to www. or call 753-1666.

Stormwater program will cut red tape, could help attract new development By GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

Contributed/City of Johnson City

The JC 101 class at a Bomb Squad demonstration.

Informative JC 101 class takes guesswork out of city government By GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

Want to know how the city assembles its budget? What types of training police officers must have? How city courts are run? How the jail system works, or where your waste water goes and what happens to it when it gets there? If you’re curious. If you’re concerned. If you want to ask questions and see how things work for yourself, then JC 101 is for you. It’s casual, but informative. It’s also free. This city program has been designed for the benefit of all Johnson City citizens and to enhance and develop awareness and understanding of the government’s role in the community. The objective is to provide residents with the information and background necessary to address issues and work together for the enhancement of their community. The program consists of 24 hours of government information to include presentations, tours and a question-and-answer period during each class. Classes meet at various locations throughout the city from 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays, with graduation certificates presented at a City

Commission meeting. JC 101 is offered in the spring and fall each year. “We want our citizens to be informed about their government,” said Lorena Bennett, the Community Relations Department’s community customer service coordinator, who heads the program and also serves as a liaison between the city and neighborhood groups. Citizens applying for JC 101 must be 21 or older, have no criminal history other than minor traffic violations, commit to attendance of most classes and sign all required waivers and agreement forms. Participants agree to submit to a background check to verify all information given in their application. JC 101 classes are limited to 20 participants per session. Dress is business casual, and comfortable shoes are recommended, because you will scoot around one of the waste water plants, venture out to witness various exercises by the police and fire departments and at times just stretch out and enjoy the conversation or scenery. Some of the things you’ll get “schooled” on include the city’s form of government, finance and budgeting. You’ll also get a detailed overview of the police department, tour the jail and visit City Hall.

Most classes require a leisurely van ride to various locations. On occasion, the van is used as a tour bus to give you visual aspects of what you might only have read or heard about. And it’s not at all something to endure. A pleasant atmosphere, including some tasty meals, are par for the course. When all is said and done, you will stand in front of the City Commission and receive your diplomas to verify you have completed the quest. The Community Relations Department provides information to the public about government activities and services in a variety of formats: the governmental information channel (JCTV), the city’s website, citizen awareness classes, annual reports, presentations, publications and news releases. Bennett can help find the answers to your questions or the appropriate city employee who can help. Applications to participate in JC 101 can be faxed to 434-6085, emailed to or mailed to Community Relations, City of Johnson City, P.O. Box 2150, Johnson City, TN 37605. Participants will be notified by mail, email, and/or phone call. If you have questions about the program, call Bennett at 434-6022.

Washington County is moving toward an ideal combination of better environmental protection and less expensive business regulation with its participation in a pilot stormwater permit program developed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The change, which began in mid-January, is expected to boost local economic development, as the program involves just five of Tennessee’s 95 counties and is being studied by the federal Environmental Protection Agency as a possible national model. “We’re one of five counties out of 95,” said Washington County zoning administrator Michael Rutherford. “(TDEC and EPA) will be using information we can provide to them for use in expanding this move. It means less people in the field for the state, so they save money. And storm water inspection is something we’ve already been doing. “The five communities will be helping design the future for communities statewide.” Other pilot communities include Bristol, Knox County, Cookeville and Knoxville. Under the current system, when developers begin turning in plans, prior to even grading a site, they must show how both the volume and quality of stormwater are controlled. The first application is made to TDEC’s field office in Johnson City. The developer pays the required fees, and TDEC reviews and approves the plans. Developers then must submit the same plans to the county, pay again and wait for a grading permit. When developers plan a subdivision or commercial site, they must include methods by which erosion is controlled. The state requires creation of on-site water detention so that runoff to neighboring properties is no more than it was before the development is in place. As material leaves job sites, runoff will pick up contaminants no matter

Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press

Mike Rutherford and Troy Ebbert, with the Washington County Zoning Administrator’s office, explain how flood plain management works while using a topographical map of the Dry Creek area in Washington County. where it goes, so sedimentary ponds and silt fences are used. “This means it will be 50 percent less expense for the developer to get the needed erosion, sedimentation and control permit, and the bonus is there will be no extra requirements,” Rutherford said. “It will be faster and cheaper. “The EPA mandates water quality standards to the states, and the mandates trickle downhill from there to us. It’s a water-quality issue that comes from Washington, D.C., to Washington County. “The state mandates that we do a lot of legwork, but we’re doing everything twice — two sets of plans, two meetings to get instructions — so the decision now is to turn the permitting over to local governments.” The reduction in red tape should give Washington County a leg up in attracting development and growing its economy, the county’s principal planner, Troy Ebbert, said. “Being in this program means we’ll be able to cut the time from the approval of the project to the grand opening by up to 90 days,” Ebbert said. “This will put revenue into the business three months faster, giving a startup company a better chance of sur-

Ebbert, an inspector, explains how the sediment pond and the silt fence work on a construction site in regard to containing contaminants so they do not eventually enter the water supply. vival. “Residential contractors will be able to begin building and selling lots up to three months faster and will decrease the amount of interest paid on the project. Basically, it will speed up development, increase the tax base and make Washington County more competitive.”

Page Design/Mike Murphy

Page 2J, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Food City: Region’s grocery giant NET NEWS SERVICE K-VA-T Food Stores Inc. is the corporate banner of a supermarket chain operating in three states under the name Food City. This privately held, family owned company has grown through the years by expansion and acquisition. Food City’s downtown Kingsport store opened in 2011, and the retail center it anchors continues to attract new tenants, shoppers and diners to the redeveloped site of what once was heralded as the largest book manufacturer in the world. The downtown Food City includes 48,500 square feet featuring a drive-through pharmacy, sit-down cafe and fuel station. Food City constructed another 24,000 square feet of retail and office space at the site. Early on in plans for the development, Food City officials promised to design elements to remember what the property once was. For decades the site was a book manufacturing plant, first as the Kingsport Press, then as Arcata Graphics, then as Quebecor World. Quebecor donated the 20-acre property to Kingsport in 2007 after it closed its facility there in 2006. Food City purchased 8.5 acres on the Center Street and Press Street side for $1 million from the city to develop its new grocery store. In keeping with the site’s history, Food City named an on-site meeting and banquet facility The Press Room. With seating for up to 120, The Press Room is modern, spacious and equipped with a state-of-theart audio-visual system. From a one-hour meeting to an all-day seminar, The Press Room offers everything needed to conduct an effective meeting. Catering is available at The Press Room for breakfast, lunch or dinner — to fit a variety of tastes and budget guidelines. In addition to business and community group meetings, The Press Room is available for family and high school reunions, bridal showers, birthday parties or other group events and special occasions. The Press Room is named in honor of the Kingsport Press, which was initially established in 1922 on the same location. Additions to the Food City chain in 2012 included a new store on Euclid Avenue in Bristol, Va., while additions this year include a nearly 50,000-square-foot store in Greeneville that opened in February and stores in Powell and Vonroe. With 106 stores across Southeast Kentucky, Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee, K-VA-T is an acronym of its trade area: Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee. The chain serves a current trade area population of more


Ned Jilton II/NET News Service

Volunteers work on the assembly line at Food City on Eastman Road in Kingsport to pack the boxes for the Santa Train. than 2.5 million people and more than 980,000 households. The Food City banner dates back to 1918, when a store opened in Greeneville, Tenn., but K-VA-T Food Stores real beginning was in 1955 when founder Jack C. Smith, his father, Curtis, cousin, Ernest, and uncle, Earl, opened their first store in Grundy, Va. Since that time, Food City has grown in leaps by acquisitions of several Piggly Wiggly operations in Southwest Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, along with Quality Foods/Food City, White Stores, Winn-Dixie and BI-LO units in east Tennessee. The company has also grown steadily by expansion into new areas, filling in gaps in the trade area with new units and always remodeling and replacing current units to stay on the cutting edge of grocery technology, product selection and consumer demand. K-VA-T Food Stores follows national marketing trends such as in-store pharmacies and its “Gas ‘N Go” fuel stations. The company is communityoriented and involved in local efforts as well as Food City initiatives like Food City School Bucks/ Apples for the Students, in which the company has donated millions of dollars worth of equipment to schools in the K-VA-T trade area. Food City also partners with farmers in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee to bring local produce to its customers, which helps local farmers and satisfies customer demand. K-VA-T Food Stores has its own 1.2-million-square-foot distribution center in Abingdon, Va. The company also offers customers private label choices under the labels Food City, Food Club, Kern’s, Kay’s, Lay’s,

Photo by Jonathan McCoy

Food City president Steve Smith, left, with Richard Petty after Petty presented Smith with one of his famous cowboy hats and allowed him to wear Petty’s sunglasses during on-stage ceremonies celebrating the 25th anniversary of Food City Family Race Night. Terry’s, Moore’s, Harvest Club, Bistro Deli Classics, Paws, Valu Time, Full Circle, Top Care, World Classic, Academix, Domestix, Electrix and Easy Clix. A subsidiary arm of K-VA-T Food Stores, Misty Mountain Spring Water, LLC, bottles spring water for sale (more than 16 million gallons) in Food City stores and under private labels for other customers. A notable launch in 2012 was Food City’s reintroduction of the

Banana Flip snack cake. Another was revival of the Chuck Wagon dog food line. K-VA-T Food Stores Inc. continues to grow and share its growth with associates. As of 2012, more than 15 percent of the company was owned by Food City associates through its profitsharing plan. K-VA-T Food Stores Inc. ranked 55th on Supermarket News Top 75 Retailers (2012) with $2.1 billion in sales.

Government buck stops with city residents By GARY B. GRAY Press Staff Writer

A glance at a city government flow chart on Johnson City’s relatively new website illustrates that city residents are “boss” — at least they are prominently positioned on top. Now most are well aware that local governments have policies and procedures in place that take the City Commission, for example, from point A to point Z. But in the end, the city manager, police, fire and other essential employees derive their pay from you. Johnson City’s administrative arm consists of the offices of the city manager, assistant city managers and budget manager. The City Commission appoints a city manager to serve as the CEO under its leadership to oversee operations of the government within the guidelines of the city charter. City Manager Pete Peterson is responsible for implementing policies established by commissioners by enforcing all adopted resolutions and ordinances. At the same time, he serves at that elected body’s pleasure. Commissioners hired him, and they have the power to fire him. The two assistant city managers, each responsible for different divisions/departments, serve as support to the city manager in managing day-to-day operations. Peterson says the community is a thriving one because 60,000plus residents are actively engaged. “Neighborhood action committees, problem-solving task forces, public boards and committees and outreach programs are creating a resilient, more cohesive community and strengthening government in its role of protecting and serving citizens,” he said. “I hope to hear from you. Share your perspectives. Volunteer your skills. Help us make Johnson City the best place to live, work and raise a family.” “Serving citizens” is a key

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phrase. That should be the end goal, right? So what’s in it for you? What do you get out of this local government and its 900 employees? Protection, to start with. “Every day, the 149 sworn men and women of our police department provide law enforcement service to the citizens of Johnson City and to those who visit our community,” said police chief Mark Sirois. “Our 26 civilian employees serve the public in records, administrative and support functions, as well. We have a dedicated, well-trained and motivated workforce, and we are committed to partnering with the community to keep our city a safe and secure place to enjoy life.” Meanwhile, the Johnson City Fire Department serves all city residents as well as 12,390 East Tennessee State University students, 400 Veterans AffairsMountain Home residents and thousands of daily commuters. The department has 120 members, 110 of whom are dedicated to fire suppression, hazmat and medical first-response operations. The department operates three shifts with approximately 35 firefighters working per 24-hour shift. Firefighters respond from

nine fire stations, operating nine pumpers, three ladder trucks and one incident command vehicle. These two departments, funded by local taxes, are where Johnson City residents get a big bang for their buck. But there also are a multitude of services that provide everything from the most basic need, such as clean drinking water, to a plethora of recreational opportunities. Another essential service is provided by Solid Waste Services, which manages garbage and recycling collection services for residential and commercial customers. About 95 percent of customers within the city have automated solid waste collection services. There also is an extensive recycling program that includes curbside services, convenience sites, e-waste programs and much more. The city also fills a need by offering the Johnson City Transit System, which operates fixedroute services and demandresponse services, which include paratransit services for ADAcertified individuals with disabilities, Job Access and various demand-response call-in services. And whether it’s in a city

Mahoney’s Outfitters Mahoney’s Outfitters saw significant growth during 2012. The company saw prominent growth in shooting sports as well as in sale of stand-up paddleboards. The team worked together to maintain inventory levels that more than satisfied customer demand. New brands were introduced in all departments and were well accepted by customers throughout 2012. The growth led Mahoney’s to hire four more employees during the year. Mahoney’s employed 60 people in 2011 and by the end of 2012 Mahoney’s employed 64 people. Mahoney’s expects big things in 2013. The company foresees paddle sports as being a huge area of growth this year, especially with summer right around the corner. The company doesn’t expect paddle sports to replace firearms or shooting sports as their most popular departments. In order to achieve those expectations, Mahoney’s has put a very specific formula in place. The company has always taken the

approach to supply the region with the products that have received awards from media outlets. The company also listens to customers on their likes and dislikes and tries to reflect their customer’s wants. As a result, Mahoney’s has eliminated some brands that were falling behind the curve and introduced some strong up-andcoming brands. The company has also gone more deeply into the strongest brand so customers can have the best choices among multiple brands. Mahoney’s was founded in Johnson City in 1960. Principal officers are Dan Mahoney, President; Sean Mahoney, Vice President; and Katie Mahoney, Manager, Ladies. Mahoney’s has participated in numerous community service projects across the area that has supported charities, schools, churches and not-for-profit groups. 830 Sunset Drive, Johnson City, TN 423-282-5417

vehicle or your own mode of transport, streets must be maintained. The city’s street division provides your road system, including all related structures and facilities, that improve the quality of life for residents and visitors. The list of services goes on and on, and many are a hundred times more subtle than a large, red fire engine. Various city departments are “counting beans,” setting traffic signals, mapping the land, planning flood fixes, patching sidewalks, providing educational opportunities and otherwise running a city. Yep, you’re paying for this. But remember, you also are on the receiving end of the services.

Eastman Credit Union added more branches to extend its reach in 2012, and that growth is translating into more loans and more members. The Kingsport-based financial institution added more than 11,300 members last year and grew its loan portfolio by 9.8 percent, said ECU president and CEO Olan O. Jones. “The loan growth was across the board in all the product lines, from mortgage loans to consumer loans to business loans to credit cards,” Jones said. “But interestingly, our loan losses or write-offs are at historically low levels.” Founded in 1934, ECU is a not-for-profit financial services cooperative with more than $2.5 billion in assets. It serves more than 141,000 members in all 50 states and several foreign countries. ECU serves those who live, work, worship, attend school or own a business in most of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, as well as a portion of Texas. The organization employs more than 500 people. In recent years, ECU has expanded its branch network to offer more convenience to its members. Last year, the organization opened new branches in Johnson City, Bristol, Va., and Abingdon, Va. The new Johnson City office is located next to Fresh Market; the Bristol, Va., branch is located at Exit 7 on Lee Highway; and the new Abingdon office is located at the entry point of the new Food City headquarters complex on Valley Street. “We opened those three facilities last year and they’re all moving forward quite nicely,” Jones said.

ECU also opened three new branches in 2011 — in Duffield, Va., Gray and at Holston Valley Medical Center. “So in a two-year period, we basically picked up six facilities,” Jones said. “We’ve had a strong response to those as well as our other locations, and that’s what has driven our loan growth and membership growth.” He said ECU is now located where it wants to be in the communities where it is chartered to serve. Jones said that while the organization plans to open another branch in Longview, Texas, later this year, its local expansion is complete — at least for now. “The rate and pace of new facilities opening at least for a few years will slow down,” Jones said. ECU once again this year distributed an extraordinary dividend to eligible members. The $5 million payout marked ECU’s 16th consecutive year of offering the bonus. “We’ve awarded $55 million back to our eligible members since we started doing this in 1998,” Jones said. In addition, ECU is performing well based on recent surveys. Jones said the organization surveyed members by mail as it has for more than 20 years, and the feedback was positive. “We’ve always gotten great responses and good ratings from our members, but we got the best-ever member-service rating this past year than we’ve ever gotten,” Jones said. A recent employee survey also showed the organization is on the right track, he said. For more information about ECU, visit www.ecu. org.

Citizens Bank Citizens Bank experienced a very good year during 2012. The bank was voted number one by the readers of the Johnson City Press. The bank also ended 2012 on strong financial footing and maintained a strong capital base. Citizens Bank also has a tier one capital ratio of 12.19 percent, which is well in excess of regulatory requirements. The bank increased assets by over $40 million from 2011 to 2012. During the year of 2011, Citizens Bank had $609 million in assets and in 2012, Citizens Bank increased assets to $651 million. Citizens Bank has laid out a plan for the future. The bank will continue to expand services and products to meet the financial needs of the community, both personal and commercial. The bank will also strive to offer products and services to help customers achieve financial success. The bank was founded in 1934 in

Elizabethton, Tenn. Citizens Bank opened offices in Johnson City in 1993 with locations at Peoples Street and West State of Franklin. Principal officers are Rick Storey, Sr., Vice President; Cindy Anderson, State of Franklin Branch Manager; Cinda Byrd, University Branch Manager. Citizens Bank was also very involved in the community during 2012. The company participated in community service projects with Relay for Life, Second Harvest Food Bank, Holston Habitat for Humanity, Girls, Inc., United Way, Salvation Army, Blue Plum Festival, Doe River Gorge, Johnson City/Washington County Chamber and many more. Citizens Bank 300 Broad Street, Elizabethton, TN 423-547-2183

Andrew Johnson Bank Andrew Johnson Bank saw growth during 2012 that led to exceptional financial gain for the bank. During 2012, the bank’s net income increased 55 percent. The increase in net income allowed the bank to increase tier one capital ratio from 8.73 percent of avenue assets in 2011 to 9.02 percent at the end of 2012. Andrew Johnson Bank is excited for 2013 and is looking forward to implementing their plans for the future. The company will continue promoting a high interest checking account throughout the year. Andrew Johnson Bank will also remain available for competitive loan rates and as always will offer their professional expertise to customers. The company also plans to increase market share by providing relevant financial products combined with exemplary customer service. The bank also has plans to expand their footprint in Washington and Bradley

counties. The bank was established in Greeneville, TN in 1975. The company opened offices in Johnson City in 2001. The principal officers are Bill Hickerson, President and CEO; Art Rambo, Washington County Executive SVP; and Ted Ganger, City Executive, SVP. Andrew Johnson Bank was heavily involved in community activities and charity during 2012. The company donated close to $111,000 to Tusculum College, East Tennessee State University, the Boys and Girls club, YMCA and the United Way. The bank also participated in community service projects including the United Way, American Cancer Relay for life and wine tasting and helped with the Ronald McDonald House. 124 N. Main Street, Greeneville, TN 423-783-1813


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Johnson City Press, Page 3J

Fall Branch theater moving to Kingsport By HANK HAYES NET News Service

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Holston Medical Group ATAC Data Center in Duffield, Va.

Holston Medical Group: meeting regional needs By LEIGH ANN LAUBE NET News Service As Holston Medical Group has grown through the years, it has added physicians, built new facilities and expanded services. These are tangible aspects of the organization that, founded in 1977, has grown to more than 800 employees, including 150 physicians and mid-level providers. HMG has locations throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. In the past year, HMG’s accomplishments have not been as visually obvious, but still important when it comes to its patients. Last May, HMG joined the OnePartner Health Information Exchange, which offers the secure, electronic exchange of health information among providers. In August, Dr. Scott Fowler, president of OnePartner and also president of Holston Medical Group, was given the Business Journal’s Innovation Award for the progressive advancement of electronic health records utilization and the development of a regional health information exchange. And, in December, HMG, State of Franklin Healthcare Associates, Medical Care PLLC, Mountain Region Family Medicine and Highlands Physicians Inc. joined to form Qualuable Medical Professionals, one of the region’s three Accountable Care Organizations. “Why are we doing this and what is the real purpose? The focus is trying to take the patient and put them at the center of the system of care, and that’s a difficult concept for patients,” Fowler said. The goals are sharing patient data among physicians, reducing duplication of services, eliminating the need for paper exchanges among doctors and improving patient care. “It’s an amplification of the value of the relationship that exists between a patient and a knowledgeable provider and all the information that’s out there and available to that relationship, that pair of people,” Fowler said. HMG became the region’s first fully integrated user of electronic medical records in 1995 and today is considered a leader in electronic medical record utilization. “What this builds on is what patients are familiar with, and what they want — doctors who are unconflicted and focused on them, that they can trust, a navigator, a partner, a trusted adviser, a skilled provider and educated one. “There’s a lot of noise right now with all the health care change, but for us it’s very clear. It’s doing a better job for the patient as the professionals who are charged and have taken the oath to do this kind of thing.” The first duty the provider has is quality of care and outcome, Fowler said. “There’s a lot of waste in our system, too, and if we don’t manage that, we’re not going to do a good job with patients,” he said. Fowler said he understands concern on the part of patients, particularly if they believe change is simply a means of health-care providers trying to make more money. “Patients have a right to be somewhat concerned about any of these changes and what the purposes are,” he said. “For the patient they have two pieces, one is our economy. What’s the cost of health care and can they afford to get the best health care? This will improve that

for them. “The name Qualuable, our 500-doctor collaboration, it really is a description of what we intend this relationship to be,” he said. The name Qualuable is an amalgam of “quality” and “valuable.” Like other providers, HMG is preparing for the provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which are taking effect during several years. But those changes won’t affect HMG’s patientcentered focus. “Our intention is to do what we’ve done — lead the way in a professional model of medicine, a physician-led coordinated system that’s focused on the duty that physicians have to their patients,” Fowler said. “This is about team. You need to remember that a physician may be in charge of a group of patients, but there’s Pharm.D., physical therapy, care coordinators, there’s a whole team. This is about building teams and using them to the highest level we can. “HMG is also part of a multistate collaborative that’s developing around these same ideas. The HIE we’re using is potentially a national model. HMG will be going around to

other groups like us to find the best practices and build the best models in multiple states. That’s the OnePartner Health Information Exchange.”

Christian performing arts group LampLight Theatre is coming to downtown Kingsport. LampLight has acquired the old Strand Theatre building on Broad Street and will relocate there. The nonprofit organization is putting its Fall Branch theater location and facilities up for sale. “We are excited about what this will do for our ministry and for the downtown Kingsport area,” said Billy Wayne Arrington, LampLight founder and manager. “We are looking forward to establishing great relationships with the businesses and organizations. We know that this will bring a great deal of patronage for businesses and companies in the surrounding area as well. “Currently, at any given time, we are working with 100-plus volunteers not including the patrons to our theater. We are excited about bringing our folks to downtown. Our ministry seeks to be salt and light to the community.” Restoration Fellowship Church will continue using the property until the first week of April, and its last service there should be today, Arrington said. LampLight’s goal is to hold a

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“grand opening” the weekend of May 31. Renovations on the property will include restoring the marquee, installing vintage seating, expanding the stage, creating a gift shop and upgrading the heating and cooling system. “While this may sound like a lot, we have teams and individuals that have already looked at the different projects,” Arrington said. “Their estimated time of completion ... is less than two weeks. We are going to need a lot of support and prayers as we move forward.” The purchase price was not

disclosed, but LampLight has met its minimum goal of achieving about $5,000 per month in pledges to cover the mortgage, utilities and insurance, Arrington said. LampLight Theatre offers Christian-based entertainment in theatrical productions, dinner theaters, concerts, conferences, seasonal events and outreach opportunities for at-risk youth. Donations are tax-deductible. To make a donation, or to fulfill a previous pledge, call LampLight at 245-1551. For more, go to www.

Page 4J, Johnson City Press

Sunday, March 31, 2013

MeadowView adding Aquatic center coming to Kingsport demonstration winery By MATTHEW LANE NET News Service


KINGSPORT — The Model City will make one of its biggest splashes in the city’s history later this spring. The Kingsport aquatic center has been a project years in the making. It has gone through several iterations of Boards of Mayor and Aldermen, and thousands of man-hours have been devoted to the brainstorming, planning, design and construction of the 85,000-square-foot facility located behind the Cattails driving range off Wilcox Drive. The idea behind the aquatic center has been that Kingsport is woefully under-served when it comes to pools. Legion Pool had been leaking and suffering from structural and internal damage for years, costing the city thousands of dollars in maintenance and repairs every year, not to mention the down time for swimmers and water enthusiasts. Riverview’s pool was replaced with a splash pad, the pool at Dobyns-Bennett High School only had very limited hours for senior citizens wishing to swim while the pool at Warriors’ Path State Park also had been closed periodically in recent years. In light of all that, city officials decided to replace Legion Pool with an expanded aquatic center, with both indoor and outdoor features. Ultimately, the concept grew and Kingsport partnered with the YMCA, choosing to colocate with the nonprofit’s new wellness center. But the project has not been without its fair share of debate and controversy, from the original bids coming in $3 million over budget, to how large the facility would ultimately be and what types of features would be included, to whether the Meadowview site is too far on the edge of town and inaccessible to walkers and bikers. Other concerns dealt with the future of Legion Pool, how


The Kingsport aquatic center will be an 85,000-square-foot facility located on this property behind Cattails driving range off Wilcox Drive. The city is partnering with the YMCA to include the Y’s new Wellmont wellness center. expensive the entrance fees would be and the fairness of the city partnering with the YMCA on the venture. In the end though, city officials and the BMA managed to weather all those storms and kept pushing forward with the project to where it is today — on the verge of being completed and open for business. In case you haven’t driven by the facility or read the newspaper, the $26.3 million aquatic center project is comprised of two parts. Kingsport’s portion includes a 50,000-square-foot indoor facility (natatorium) with a 50-meter competition/lap pool and three springboards, a zeroentry 25-yard warm-water pool, and a leisure pool with slide. The outdoor elements will include two water slides, a lazy river, climbing structure, beach volleyball court and concession stand. Adjacent to this facility will be the new YMCA Wellmont

Center — a two-story, 35,000-square-foot wellness center with fitness and exercise equipment, gymnasium, a multi-level indoor playground, outdoor playground and ChildWatch area for preschoolers. The facility also includes a multi-purpose room for meetings and classes; space for cardio, stretch and strength exercises; area for free weights; cycling studio and space for group exercise, such as Zumba, pilates and yoga. To oversee the day-to-day operations at the facility, Kingsport has tapped a Bristol, Va., high school alumna, Kari Matheney, for the director’s position and is currently accepting applications for the roughly 60 part-time lifeguards to man the facility. In early March, the city began accepting applications for memberships to the aquatic center and announced various fees associated with swimming lessons and room rentals at the

facility. The YMCA located a trailer on the site to begin accepting new memberships to its facility as well. To help market and promote the new joint venture, Kingsport employed the services of Moxley Carmichael of Knoxville earlier this year, while the YMCA brought on board the Corporate Image of Bristol. A new Facebook page has been established for the aquatic center, providing news, updates and photographs on the multimillion-dollar project; the YMCA has also been doing similar things on its social media sites. As it stands now, construction has progressed well since the groundbreaking in December 2011 with only minor delays and a few change orders. City officials are banking on work wrapping up in less than two months with a ribbon cutting ceremony tentatively scheduled for May 17.

A local entrepreneur partnered with the city of Kingsport last year to bring a unique wine experience to the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center. And while the project has had some setbacks and delays, the final product is expected to be well worth the wait. For the past 18 months, Kingsport has been working with Michael Reedy, the owner of Reedy Creek Cellars of Sullivan County, to establish a demonstration winery on the MeadowView property, where visitors would be able to sample various wines and see the winemaking process — actual grapes crushed, pumped into temperature-controlled tanks, fermented and bottled all on site. The project also called for the creation of a wine-themed meeting room in the executive conference wing, dubbed the Fieldstone Cellar, tying in with the demonstration winery and suited for banquet-style events, including conferences, wedding receptions and award ceremonies. The MeadowView wine label consists of five white wines, five red wines and two rosé wines, all consisting of at least 75 percent fruit from the Reedy Creek vineyards in Bristol. Other labels in the family include Reedy Creek (from the farm in Bristol) and Fallen Oak (the estate brand). “The wines for the 2011 vintage have been available and selling well inside MeadowView since the holidays, and we’ll begin bottling the 2012 vintage later this spring,” Reedy said. “We have also placed the Reedy Creek and Fallen Oak brands in a few retail and restaurant locations in the Tri-Cities to a very good reception. ... Folks are very supportive of the local aspects of our wines.” The winery has its tanks installed, boxes of wine bottles are in storage and the equipment necessary for on-site bottling is in place. However, there

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MeadowView, Kingsport and Reedy Creek Cellars have partnered together to build a demonstration winery at MeadowView. has been some delay in the opening of the winery to the public. Since the winery was established in the old golf maintenance building, a temporary structure for the golf maintenance equipment had to be built while a site was located for a new, permanent building. It has taken longer than expected to build a new golf maintenance building and dismantle the temporary shed. However, the temporary building is down, the parking lot is being restored and the final brick work is taking place on the winery. Reedy said the tasting room is virtually complete. “We could not be more happy with the support from our partnership with Marriott. Things have not moved as quickly as we would have liked, but it has been worth the wait,” Reedy said. “We hope to be at full operational strength later this spring and we’ll be working slowly with (MeadowView) over the next few weeks creating an integrated wine experience unlike anything in our region.”

ETSU opens new site in Academic Village in Kingsport By RICK WAGNER NET News Service East Tennessee State University has joined the higher education operations in downtown Kingsport. More than 60 upper-division and graduate ETSU courses in business, nursing and education are being offered this spring semester at the Regional Center for Applied Technology. Although not in the Kingsport Center for Higher Education as originally proposed before the city built KCHE, ETSU’s new site next to Food City on the former Kingsport Press property brings another four-year institution to a permanent home downtown. ETSU began offering upper division bachelor’s courses and master’s-level classes at the Regional Center for Advanced Technology in January. Plans are to move those to a permanent site in 4,990 square feet of space in the Food City shopping center on the former Kingsport Press property. ETSU’s presence downtown will further increase the chances for students to start and finish a four-year degree downtown, one of the goals in forming the Academic Village. ETSU’s expansion into the area of the Academic Village is being done in conjunction with Northeast State Community College and the city of Kingsport, said Rick Osborn, dean of the ETSU School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach. Osborn and Trish Stafford, director of ETSU in Kingsport, said the expansion will not affect ETSU’s University Center at

Allandale in the Hawkins County portion of the city, an operation that will continue to offer lowerdivision courses. The city Board of Mayor and Aldermen agreed to lease the RCAT space in November. The lease runs through the summer semester. In the fall semester, starting in August, the 4,990 square feet in the Food City center will house ETSU’s part of the Academic Village. “In many states the thought of a community college and university working together is a conversation that doesn’t occur,” ETSU president Brian Noland said in November. “That’s a conversation that occurs here every day of the week. As we look at opportunities to come, I really think what we’re doing here is just the beginning. “I see unlimited potential in Kingsport and ultimately it’s a part of who we are as an institution.” ETSU has approximately 500 students enrolled at its Allandale campus and estimates approximately 670 students would be attending the 60 to 70 classes the university plans to bring downtown. By 2018, ETSU estimates that number would grow to nearly 1,000 students. In early March, ETSU announced that Elaine Boone will be coordinator of the university’s activities in the Academic Village, working in collaboration with the Kingsport Higher Education Commission that oversees the village. A Kingsport native and Dobyns-Bennett High School graduate, Boone has taught for 25 years, including stints with Kingsport City Schools; Washington County Schools; the

Morris-Baker Funeral Home and Cremation Services The year of 2012 was a good year for Morris-Baker Funeral Home and Cremation Services. The company was named “Best Funeral Home” by the readers of the Johnson City Press in October. Morris-Baker offers the full range of funeral and memorial services, pre-planning, caskets, urns and other funeral items that would be expected from a full service funeral home. Morris-Baker has big plans for the future of their business. Beginning in April 2013, the funeral home will commence the update of the facility’s foyer, reception office, lobby and visitation rooms. The updates will convert one visitation room into an event space for family meals and catered receptions. The company has also set long term goals. In the next five years, the company will complete the interior remodeling project. Morris-Baker will also reach a milestone as it celebrates 100 years of service to Johnson City. The funeral home will also com-

plete half of the staff’s and owner’s 10 year vision for the company. All of these goals will work to support the company’s mission of providing healing experiences to those who have been impacted by the death of a loved one. Morris-Baker was founded in Johnson City in 1915. The funeral home’s principal officers and department heads are Preston McKee, President; Harriet Baker, Funeral Director; Calvin W. James, Operations Manager; Gregory A. Harris, Sr., Assistant Operations Manager; and C. Renee Garland, Business Manager. The company contributed approximately $7,500 to charity in 2012. Morris-Baker also participated in the United Way campaign as a pacesetter and Preston McKee served as a board member to the United Way. 2001 E. Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, TN 423-282-1521

Abilene, Texas, Independent School District; McMurry University; Tusculum College; Northeast State Community College and ETSU. She has developed curricula, advised students, supervised interns and served as an administrator. In addition, she was co-owner and manager of a small business. Boone has been teaching management and marketing classes as an adjunct faculty member in the ETSU College of Business and Technology since 2006. “The dream the citizens of Kingsport put in place ... I think this is the last element of that dream,” Noland said of ETSU joining the village. “Students (can) take all their courses at public institutions and realize the benefits that are presented through a seamless nature of a two-year and four-year institution working together.” NSCC president Janice Gilliam has said approximately 80 percent of NSCC students who transfer to some other higher education institution transfer to ETSU. “Our mission is about access, completion and community. This certainly fills out the gaps in Kingsport, and we look forward to having an additional option,” Gilliam said. Seven years ago when the higher education center in down-

town Kingsport was gaining momentum, city officials pitched the idea of ETSU selling the University Center in the Allandale community and using the proceeds to fund the construction of a facility downtown. ETSU officials were involved in initial discussions about the Academic Village, including a mid-decade visit by then-president Paul Stanton and other ETSU officials to a South Carolina mall converted into a multi-school higher education center. ETSU chose not to be involved at the time, however, and the city went about funding the construction on its own, part of what became a $20 million city investment downtown. The head of King College, one of the schools active downtown even before the Academic Village, said the new ETSU site in Kingsport is great news for the academic village downtown. “We are completely supportive of the intent of the educational village downtown,” King president Greg Jordan said. King, to be renamed King University on June 1, uses space at the KCHE and on Main Street. “We’re delighted,” Jordan said of ETSU’s new presence downtown. “The original vision was to have a variety of programs.”

Noland said ETSU sees an expansion into downtown Kingsport as a good opportunity for students who have taken two years of courses in the academic village to gain a four-year degree. ETSU also hopes to work with Kingsport business and industry, government and health care agencies to help respond to their workforce needs. “We started from day one working with ETSU and felt strongly they needed to be a part of Kingsport to accomplish the goals we have set for higher education,” said Kingsport mayor Dennis Phillips. “In my opinion, we have the opportunity to double the 2,000 students who are (in the Academic Village) now, and to have another university with the reputation ETSU has is extremely important,” Phillips said. “This will allow students closer to Kingsport to get a fouryear degree without having to travel to Johnson City, and I believe this will have little to no negative impact on (ETSU’s) main campus.”

Bert Bach, ETSU provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the plan is “part of a significant expansion” of ETSU in Kingsport, and an “expansion of our program and enrollment footprint.” “We really want this to be in response to the Complete College Tennessee Act, where all of the programming in downtown will be in cohorts and not individual courses,” Bach said. “We’re also going to try and make this a onestop shop for students, rather than having them run to (ETSU’s) Johnson City campus, where students can address issues of transfer, communications and financial aid.” Kingsport’s Academic Village consists of five higher education facilities in the downtown area with more than 2,000 students enrolled. The Academic Village includes the RCAT building, the Regional Center for Health Professions, the Kingsport Center for Higher Education, the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing and the Pal Barger School of Automotive Technology.

Expanded Wellmont Cancer Institute services provide hope for Johnson City-area cancer patients The Wellmont Cancer Institute has significantly enhanced the options for cancer care in Johnson City. Its new Wesley Street office provides a broad range of services. Along with oncology and hematology services and infusion therapies, including chemotherapy, patients now have access to leading-edge clinical trials close to home. These offerings are in addition to mammography services provided by the Wellmont Breast Center on Marketplace Boulevard and genetic counseling services, both of which have been well received by the community. The Wesley Street practice is led by board-certified oncologists Dr. Jamal Maatouk and Dr. Fadi Abu-Shahin, with both bringing a depth of compassion during a challenging time for patients and families. But for Drs. Maatouk and Abu-Shahin, their goal – and that of the Wellmont Cancer Institute – is to not only treat the disease, but to provide hope. Joining them in this mission is boardcertified advanced nurse practitioner Myra Blankenship, who is experienced in cancer care. A cancer survivor herself, Blankenship has a deep appreciation for her patients’ unique needs. For patients and families, much hope is provided through a multidisciplinary team of specialists consisting of a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, surgeon, radiologist, pathologist and other caregivers, who meet to review individual cases and design a personalized care plan for each patient. This same comprehensive approach is offered by the accredited Wellmont Breast Center, which has provided life-saving digital mammographies in Johnson City for nearly a year. And women can take comfort knowing that dedicated breast radiologists

read their mammograms. All breast cancer patients – as well as lung cancer patients – work with a patient navigator throughout their treatments. The navigator’s role is to guide them through their treatment journey. For individuals who may be at high risk for cancer, such as those who have two or more family members with cancer, genetic counseling can assess their likelihood of developing the disease. Genetic testing and analysis is conducted by the cancer institute’s own Debbie Pencarinha, the only board-certified and licensed genetic counselor in Northeast Tennessee. This service is offered at the Wesley Street location. At-risk individuals will also find comfort and support in the Wellmont Cancer Institute’s high-risk clinic, also available at the Wesley Street office. There, boardcertified advanced oncology nurse practitioner Wendy Vogel works with patients to develop plans for possible prevention and treatment needs. Rounding out the cancer institute’s offerings is a robust and innovative clinical trial program, which provides Johnson City-area residents access to carefully selected, cutting-edge treatments. Lengthy trips to a major university medical center are no longer necessary with this option available within the community. Wellmont is committed to the Johnson City area and ensuring the community has access to excellent care close to home. Comprehensive services combined with compassionate care are indeed providing hope for many patients in the region. For more information on the Wellmont Cancer Institute’s presence in Johnson City or to schedule an appointment, please call 423928-3020.





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“Because Your Employees Deserve More Than Just Paycheck.�





Licensed & Insured Roy Glass Owner Oversees All “The Dependable People who Depend on You

929-8374 Out of Town Call 1-800-688-8374



926-3337 854-9042


724 W. Walnut St.

“The Clear Favorite Since 1915!� Call 926-9164 for Service



Neal Story & Son, Inc.

(formerly Wilson Pharmacy)

400 N. State of Franklin Rd. 523 N. State of Franklin Rd. 2685 Boones Creek Rd. 1657 E. Stone Dr.                  ! " 926-6154


RooďŹ ng, Guttering, Hot Air Furnaces

304 E. Maple St.




1949–YEARS–2013 Serving Johnson City Since 1981

Tri-Cities Communications

Sara Broyles Engel Owner-Operator

258 E. Main St., Jonesborough, TN

283-0618 The Finest Radio Communications System Service and Maintenance








Blackburn, Childers & Steagall, PLC CertiďŹ ed Public Accountants and Consultants 801-B Sunset Dr. Johnson City, TN


Kingsport–246-1725 Greeneville–638-8516


Need It? Rent It!

423-282-3221 Visit Our New Location 3711 Bristol Hwy. Johnson City










Serving Johnson City Since 1981

Cost Effective Solutions For Any Size Business from The Payroll Professionals

1107 N. ROAN ST., Johnson City, TN





2001 Oakland Ave., Johnson City

214 E. Mountcastle Dr., Johnson City, TN



Preston McKee, President


MOONEY’S The “ONLY� Coldwell Banker franchise serving the Tri-Cities since 1983.

204 W. Main St. Johnson City, TN





3042 Boones Creek Rd. Johnson City, TN


210 Princeton Road Johnson City, TN 37601


Johnson City Press

Tennessee’s Oldest Restaurant

Peerless Center 2531 North Roan Street Johnson City

Buffalo & Ashe Sts. Johnson City, TN


Ph. 926-8511 The largest selection of premium cigars and tobaccos in East Tennessee? Corner of Bualo & Walnut.


Family owned and operated for three generations


Beverage and Tobacco Shop




Providing trusted personal service to families since 1915



GREENEVILLE • 423-638-8164 JOHNSON CITY • 423-534-7972 ERWIN • 423-388-5165 MORRISTOWN • 423-318-2199








MECHANICAL CONTRACTORS SINCE 1891 Fax 423-753-6528 Publisher: Lynn J. Richardson




Larry Jilton, Owner Ben Moore, Manager 1016 W. Market St., Johnson City (423) 929-8109 (423) 928-6362

• Heavy Duty Sealcoating • Striping • Patching • Snow Removal


Fax (423) 928-2666







We do make a dierence! A staďŹƒng service with open doors for a better fuure. 378 Marketplace Blvd., Suite 3 Johnson City, TN 37604


115 Woodlawn Dr. Johnson City, TN



Reader’s Choice Winner

Church Brothers



Family Fun Store Operating from the same location for nearly three decades!

We Service Offering: What We • Jacuzzi Hot Tubs & Spas Sell! • Olhausen & Legacy Billiards • Gameroom Furniture & Games • Above Ground Pools • Pools & Spa Chemicals

Voted Best Pool & Spa Company 5 Years in a Row!

917 W. Watauga Ave. • Johnson City (423)


Voted #1 Mattress Store 4 Years in a Row! “Thank You Johnson City for selecting Zak’s as your favorite mattress store for the fourth year in a row. From all of us at Zak’s, we vote Johnson City as the #1 Community in the Nation!” “We greatly appreciate our loyal customers.” – Scott Bowman

4524 N. RoanSt. Johnson City 423-282-4951 1-866-516-ZAKS (9257) Mon.-Sat. 9am-8pm Closed Sunday

With Heartfelt Gratitude, We Thank You for Voting us #1

Harold Dishner, Agent 107 N. Roan Street Johnson City, TN 37601 Bus: 423-926-6000

Where healing begins . . .


Thank you for your Reader’s Choice vote and the opportunity to serve as your agent.

Compassionate, Comfortable, Creative service is within your reach . . . 2001 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City


Voted Best Hearing Aid Company in Johnson City, Kingsport & Bristol! ★ Best Customer Service ★ Best Prices ★ Best Selection ★ Best Fit ★ Best Locations DOCTOR RECOMMENDED ★ Best Technology ★ Best Evaluations JOHNSON CITY ★ Best Warranty 308 Sunset Drive Smartest and 423.282.4327 ★ World’s Smallest Hearing KINGSPORT • BRISTOL Aid (RIC)

Voted The Tri-Cities Best 8th Year in a Row!

State Farm, Bloomington, IL


Better, Faster, Cleaner Call Now For An Appointment! Steve Huff Wizard of Plumbing


#1 Three Years in a Row!

Johnson City Press - Progress Edition 2013